Starting Again

I figure it’s time to start writing again. My fiancé, Jonathan, was recently put on swing shift (3:30pm-12am, I didn’t know that before he was put on it) and my once pleasantly full evenings are pleasantly quiet for the time being. It’s been 55 days since I arrived back in Washington State, and it’s 43 days until our wedding. To start my writing (hopefully) habit, here’s a list of everything that’s been going on.

  1. Wedding planning. My mom thinks that I need to be doing more of it. Apparently, I’m keeping her awake at night with my apparent lack of planning.
  2. Home buying. Jonathan and I found a house to buy in the same city that he works, about 15 minute bicycle ride away from his work. We like it, we’re hoping the bank appraiser likes it enough to tell the bank to give us the loan.
  3. Spending time with Jonathan. This should have come first on the list. It’s very nice.🙂 We go to his trumpet lessons, watch movies/TV episodes, go places and eat good food.
  4. Losing weight. The happy fifteen has struck. It’s a bit early considering we’re not even married yet. I’ve used MyFitnessPal consistently (15 whole days!) for the first time in my life. We’ll see how long that last. Apparently, I’m supposed to fit into my wedding dress.
  5. Playing with kittens. This is also very nice. There’s currently nine on the property, five hellions who are terrified of people and four munchkins who lick your ankles, they like you so much.
  6. Church and community group. We’re worshipping, learning, praying and studying with some very lovely people at Seaside Community Church.
  7. Crafts. I knit a rug/floor mat out of fabric. I also just carved a crochet hook. I also made some flowers out of tissue and crepe. I need to make a bazillion more.
  8. Time with God. I’ve been struggling with this one since being home. Focusing on relationship with God is a lot easier when you’re surrounded by people who are also focusing on him. I’ve come to the conclusion that we’re not meant to walk by ourselves. God has still managed to get in some good conversations with me when I wasn’t ignoring him!
  9. Communication. Oh…well, right. That hasn’t been happening, at least with people outside of the ones who are face to face with me. Sorry, I suck. God’s been talking to me about it, and I’m working on it. I feel like I’m always working on it!
  10. Is there supposed to be a number ten? There’s no number ten. You have before yourselves a complete and sum total of my life so far. That, and I want to go read a book! Laters!
Puyallup Fair

This is colorful and fun. We went to the fair, which I’ve been looking forward to for a year!

Explore!

As a team, one of the things we’re trying to do this year is get out a bit more and explore the beautiful and interesting places in our back yard. This week, we went to Nant Mill near Wrexham, and walked to Minera. It was the perfect day for me!

First of all, we don’t have enough space in our car to fit everyone, so I got to go by bus with two other people. Normally, this wouldn’t be so wonderful of a thing, but this time around, I didn’t know how to get where we were going. I love adventures where I don’t know the way (entirely). We managed to find the rest of the group at our starting point at Nant Mill without any problem though, thankfully.

Once we got to Nant Mill, there was no plan. (Hooray!) I love it when there aren’t any plans. We decided to walk where most people hadn’t been before. (We had taken them to Nant Mill for the team building day, but they had walked through the Plas Power Woods.) There was lots of stopping for photographs, laughter and conversation as we walked along. When we got to a field that had some cows, we decided to pray for England and Wales and for reconciliation and blessing for both nations.

And then we decided to walk all the way to Minera! There were sheep and cows and a horse along the way, and we had fun exploring the old lead mine. Sadly, the information centre isn’t open, and hasn’t been open for a long time, as far as I could tell. There were cobwebs growing on the door handles.

When we got back to the Nant Mill car park, we decided to go for coffee in Coedpoeth because we had some extra time. Again, due to lack of space in the car, three of us walked up to the village. Along the way, we took a detour through an odd-looking door…we found fields and a partridge! We also saw rainbows, and we ate some delicious apples that we found fallen off of someone’s tree.

It’s just so good to enjoy the small surprises that lie along the way!

 

Sometimes, life is just good

And it’s usually people who make it that way. It’s hard to imagine life without people, and I’m not sure I want to either! I really need time on my own to rest and recharge, but the reason that I want to rest and recharge is so that I can be a fully functioning human being around others again.

This is something that I’ve been learning about and getting better at over the past, I don’t know, 10 years? I still don’t love people to the best of my ability all the time. And sometimes, “to the best of my ability” isn’t very much. Which is why I was glad that this week was about evangelism. Often we think about evangelism as this scary thing that involves preaching on the street, trying to tell people things they don’t want to hear, and generally being annoying. But this week we learned how to make evangelism genuinely about good news. We learned that evangelism is about loving people and listening to them, asking questions and sharing our stories. We learned that it can be fun to tell people that they matter to God and how Jesus lived and died to make all the broken parts of life and the world whole.

So even though it’s still a little bit scary to start conversations with people (because you don’t know how they’re going to react!) it’s become more of a joyous adventure than a dreaded chore. Hopefully that will continue to grow, because I truly believe that telling people about the hope that God offers is one of the best ways that I can love them.

So, about the photographs. Thursday nights, my colleague’s family comes over to dinner. It’s a loud, crazy, boisterous, and fun evening each week, and I love it! Their youngest daughter, who is four, has been using my camera to take photographs more and more often, and this week, I taught her how to use my remote. Some of the photos are hers, some are mine.  Hope you enjoy them!

Two for the taking

Here are a couple of videos that I’ve come across in the past week. They’re very different, but they both invite us to look outside ourselves and consider-to consider the intertwined lives of humanity and the things that we share in common. Hope you enjoy them! More tomorrow about this week…it’s been amazing!

A House Full of Women

This post has been on the back burner in my mind for about two weeks now. I wanted to write this after the first week of DTS, but I had other priorities. Tonight, I finally feel like I have the space and time to blog (rather than rest)…plus, I have pictures!

Before the DTS started, I was a trifle nervous. Six women? Six?! Women?! What was it going to be like with six new ywamers joining our team and doing dts? Were they going to be catty? Was I going to be able to cope with the amount of people joining the team? How was co-leading going to work? There was so much potential for things to go poorly.

But they haven’t. Instead, things have been wonderful. The women who came are a diverse and lovely bunch. They’re first and foremost relators, staying up until eleven at night just sitting in the same room, talking and laughing. And that’s the other thing-the house is now full of laughter over stories told and silly things that happened (and silly things we’ve done). Not a day goes by without a new story being created as friendships are built and places are discovered. And best of all, people don’t leave the table immediately after a meal. The conversations continue until those on dinner clean-up move us on.

So far, we’ve had our orientation week, a lecture week about the Abrahamic Covenant and Mission, and now we’re in the midst of a week focused on outreach. I’ve gotten to teach a couple of times, which has been fun. In the orientation week I taught a session about hearing God’s voice and intercession and on Monday, I taught about decision fatigue.

Yesterday, we all went up to Dinas Bran, a nearby ruined castle. It’s a stiff walk up the hill to the castle, but so worth it for the views! When I was looking up information about the castle, I found a cool poem about it (or possible Caernarfon Castle) by Wordsworth.

THROUGH shattered galleries, ‘mid roofless halls,

Wandering with timid footsteps oft betrayed,

The Stranger sighs, nor scruples to upbraid

Old Time, though he, gentlest among the Thralls

Of Destiny, upon these wounds hath laid

His lenient touches, soft as light that falls,

From the wan Moon, upon the towers and walls,

Light deepening the profoundest sleep of shade.

Relic of Kings! Wreck of forgotten wars,

To winds abandoned and the prying stars,

Time ‘loves’ Thee! at his call the Seasons twine

Luxuriant wreaths around thy forehead hoar;

And, though past pomp no changes can restore,

A soothing recompence, his gift, is thine!

Also, Dinas Bran means something like “City of Crows” depending on who you ask. So there are lots of ravens flying around when you get to the top, and some cool crow/raven sculptures along the way up. (One of the photos is my friend and co-leader Sarah on the left and me on the right.) Also, my battery died and the spare I had brought along was dead too! Sad day.

Wonders and Miracles

Staff Photo (Bob-shopped)

A (very) photoshopped photo of our staff team this year!

The beds are made, the welcome cards written, the floors swept and the bathrooms cleaned. Tomorrow, it all starts. For the first time, even though I’ve staffed three schools before. Because each time it’s different-there’s different people who come with their own stories, their own hurts and hopes; the things we do are different-we sing different songs, work at different ministries and hear different lectures; and God wants to do something new with us in the community where we live each time.

And of course, I’m different each time too-I’ve had new experiences, met different people, read different books and had conversations that I’ve never had before. This time last year, I was worried that I was going to get bored because I was doing the same thing (in the same place!) that I had done the last year. I can say with certainty that I’m not worried about that at all this year! I have a role and responsibility that I’ve never had before (co-leading the school with my friend Sarah) we have a nearly-full house that is going to be bursting with life in a couple days. By Sunday night, six amazing young women will be here, ready and willing for whatever God has in store for them, and looking at us all with wide eyes, expecting us know what we’re doing!

But that’s the funny thing. I was explaining with Sarah to the two other staff what our hopes and dreams for outreach and the discipleship process were. As I heard my self talking, I thought, “Wow, it sounds like I actually know what I’m talking about.” And then I realized that I kinda actually do know what I’m talking about. When did that happen? I still remember the first time I really mentored someone, and how afraid I was to say (with a tiny, scared, quiet voice) “Excuse me, but I think, just maybe, possibly, what you’re thinking could be wrong. I could be wrong of course, but would you be willing to…maybe…consider it?”

Stranger things have happened. A donkey talked to Balaam and told him he was being an ass, and the disciples believed the testimony of three hysterical women one Sunday so long ago. I’m excited to see what wonders and miracles God brings about in the lives of those who will be coming to this strange place in a couple days!

School’s about to start

Only a week and a bit until our DTS starts! At this point, it’s so strange to think of how full the house is going to be. We’ve got at least five coming and probably a sixth as well. Including our staff, that’s 12 in the house! Last year, there were seven people living here, so the increase in numbers feels exciting but a bit overwhelming. I find myself already thinking about finding time and places to Skype or to have time alone. With a full house, there’s never a lack of people to talk to if I want conversation, but there’s the disadvantage of walking into a room, hoping to have it to yourself and finding there’s already people in there! But for all the challenges of community life, I wouldn’t change it at all.

This past week, we had our staff training week. This was for everyone working in YWAM Wrexham not just those staffing the DTS (seems so strange to say that!) We started the mornings with worship, and watched and discussed some sermons on Ephesians. The first couple afternoons, we painted the house, both indoors where some trim needed new coats of paint, and on the outside of the house too. Bob also fixed the gates which were hanging low on their hinges. It’s so nice to be able to open them without fighting!😀 On Wednesday afternoon, we all pitched in to work in the kitchen, even the kids! (The little girls, 5 and 4, did an amazing job rolling out the dough for samosas.) We made samosas and onion bhajis from scratch and made chicken curry as well. Everything was delicious!

Also during this week, Zaak, Mark and Sue’s son, did his work experience with us. I’m not sure if all 15-16 year olds have to do some sort of work experience, but it seems to be a common thing here in the UK. Zaak was with us for the whole week, doing pretty much everything we did. It was fun to have him around to add another voice to our group!

Thursday, we went for a hike at Pistyll Rhaeadr, which is about 30 miles away from Wrexham. I wasn’t too impressed from a distance, having seen more magnificent waterfalls back home, but up close, it was gorgeous…ferns, moss, gently flowing cascades, deep pools, archways and huge stones to scramble over. We also saw lots of sheep! At one point, two sheep came running down the path towards us and didn’t see us until the last minute when they hurriedly changed where they were going!

And I’m off again

I arrived back in Wales last Friday, finally got over jet lag and then headed out for three days to Jacob and Shelby’s wedding. Shelby had been my room mate and co-worker for nearly two years, so it was incredible to be there for this moment that she’s waited for for so long! Both Jacob and Shelby looked amazingly happy, and it was an honour to share in their day._DSC1461.NEF

A little over 24 hours after arriving home from the wedding, I’m headed off with Sarah to another YWAM Base, the King’s Lodge, in Nuneaton, England. We’ll be here for a week and have training about fundraising, leadership and mentoring as well as networking with other people who are running discipleship training schools. I’m looking forward to reconnecting with old friends and making some new ones. Plus, I’m sure I’ll learn a lot!

However, all this travelling is starting to tear at my seams. On my flight home from America, I was thinking to myself: “I’m so glad that I don’t have to take another flight for at least six months.” There’s been so much travel what with going to Africa and America this year, I’m looking forward to just being in one place for awhile. But even though I complain, travel still excites me with the possibility of new places and people!

Sudden inspiration

Wrexham large Wales

 

I came across this brilliant (in my opinion) advert for Next Wave’s upcoming DTS and suddenly had the image of whales swimming across my mind.  A quick search on Creative Commons and I found the right images to use. After some editing of the t-rex and the ham, everything was almost set to go.  I just needed to get the right fonts and voila! a new advertising campaign for YWAM Wales!Fullscreen capture 01092013 190727.bmp