One Step for a Cross

I survived. Scratch that, I did more than survive. I came back from Papua New Guinea yesterday at 3:00, and my heart has been a beautiful mess ever since. Many times throughout the past 6 weeks I was wondering how I could tell you what I’ve been through in a way that you would understand, and so often I felt like it couldn’t be done. I could give you statistics, but that would omit any personal achievements. I could give you personal achievements, but those wouldn’t mean much to you. I’d love to tell you everything, but I don’t have enough word space for that, but I did write a nifty journal entry explaining my heart in the last week, and I’d love to share a piece of it with you.

“When you spend 6 weeks in a rainforest, you’re bound to learn some important things about your life, and why you’re here. But when you’re lead into that forest by a God who needs you there, you learn even more about how “your” life really isn’t yours at all. Very quickly, all of the “I deserve” becomes “I am blessed to receive”, the “basic human rights” turn out to not be so “basic”, and the way you’ve viewed life before those 6 weeks has forever been changed. How can you escape the forest without seeing that God is good, and that He is everywhere? He’s in the creative way the nature blends together so perfectly. He’s in the awesome power rumbling in the thunderstorms. He’s in the eyes of the tiniest child looking for some love. God is here.
PNG definitely is the land of the unexpected. You can wake up in the morning and see nothing but blue skies, not a cloud anywhere. The next thing you know, you’re out walking around when a storm erupts. I’ve learned there’s no way you can predict the future. God has a funny way of letting you know who’s in charge. We’ve been through some pretty tough times (to put it lightly), but He’s always been there to give us exactly what we need, with His perfect timing. In the middle of a 10 hour hike, and you’ve already passed the point of giving it all you’ve got. You know, without a shadow of a doubt, that God is slowly but surely lifting you you up the mountains and through the mud. Or, when you feel called to speak in front of hundreds of people, and you’re up next, when suddenly you realize, “I have no idea what I’m supposed to say.” But, you know you’re meant to speak, so you ask for the right words, and you manage to blow them out of the water for 45 minutes. Only with God.
In the end, when you’ve taken the last step, what have you learned? In the last 6 weeks, what about you has changed? Because there’s no way you can go through everything you’ve gone through and be the same girl as before. You have had the beautiful chance to experience another piece of God, a new piece of Him you understood, but hadn’t experienced. It’s changed you from the inside out. People aren’t just people any more, and money isn’t nearly as important. As I look towards my future, I no longer doubt God’s ability to provide for me, in all areas. I know He’ll provide, because I’ve been surviving off His blessings for the past 6 weeks. Crazy things happen when God is given room to be God.”

So. For those of you who like numbers. Through the six weeks, we hiked on a total of 14 days, for a total of 63 1/2 hours. On a map of Papua New Guinea from 1980, to fly straight from Kerema, our starting point, to Menyamya, our final destination, was a total of 70km. What you need to know: this map was 21 years old, and 100% inaccurate. I’m estimating that the hike was a good 150km, not including all the zig-zagging we did, plus all the inclines. At our highest altitude, we were 2280m above sea level, which is 100% accurate, because we actually started our hike by stepping out of a boat off the ocean. After reading over this, I’ve realized how this is doing the trip a huge injustice. Words are hard to piece together to give you a fair understanding of what we’ve gone through. I hope I can take some time with each of you when I get back and give you some more details. Until then, this will have to do.

When I was hiking, there were points where I felt “I have absolutely nothing left” I knew that I couldn’t go any further. My mind played games with me. Defeat merely begins to explain it. But when I got to the spot where my foot felt like a cement block, all I could remember was “One step, one more step. He took the Cross. I can take a step for that”. Where in your life have your feet stopped moving? I want you to know you can keep going. You CAN continue on, because He’s there to help you, no matter what situation you’re stuck in. This is where you can let God be God. And He’ll never stop surprising you.

Again, I want to say thank you SO much. Thank you for praying. Thank you for saying hi, for encouraging me, and for supporting me from so far away. I have been blessed so much by all of you, God is a good, good, God. I can’t wait to see all of your beautiful faces in less than 2 weeks!!!

With Strength that is not my own, Sam

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Let the games begin

Let me tell you something. If you are ever in a situation where you need to fly to Australia, make sure you have the following: sleeping pills, a water bottle, ear plugs, and most importantly of all, sleeping pills. (yes, I know I said that one twice)

After leaving my house at 10:30 Thursday morning, I’ve made it to Australia. Stepping off the last plane was the largest relief of my life. I had my bags forwarded on to Sydney from Toronto, but I needed to check them again in Sydney to send them off to Townsville. Hey dad, remember how I didn’t want 2 bags? I should have followed my instinct. My bag with all my cosmetics and adaptors and important things wasn’t carried forward from San Francisco, so that delayed me in Sydney, and I had to RACE around the airport trying to fill out reports and find my other bag, and THEN almost miss my next flight by 5 minutes, thank Jesus that I made it.

Townsville is a beautiful place. There’s palm trees, tropical flowers, LOADS of sunshine and beaches that go on for forever! There’s a waterpark close to where I stay, and we have to swim inside the nets in the sea because it is currently “stinger season”, and those are not so nice. I’m excited to explore life here for a while.

I wrote something in my journal on my first flight yesterday and realized how sad I was to leave home. I commented on how most people worry about packing clothes, and electronics, cosmetics and entertainment, and all I wanted to bring was my family. To be in 2 places at once would be the biggest blessing God could give me, but I also know this experience is something not everyone gets, and God has me here for reasons I don’t yet understand.

I hope God showers you with His blessing this week, whichever time zone you’re in. May you know His peace, and pass it along to others, as we all know He doesn’t give anything to us to keep to ourselves. Shine the light out.

Love you all so much,

With Strength that is not my own, Sam