It feels so strange to be back in Kona. Almost like coming home, but not quite. When I left for outreach I swore I’d never in a million years come to this island ever again. Now I have to- part of it is home to me.
Sitting at the Banyan Tree Cafe, sipping coffee and people watching. Counting the hydroflasks and Birkenstocks- the ywamer uniform (yes, I am proudly one of them. It seems we all showed up unaware of the cliches we were subconsciously fulfilling). Gasping at the sight of the sea, more gorgeous now than ever before. Soaking in every breeze. Listening to the constant prayer rising up from all around.
With the dawn of a fresh quarter, herds of new students are all around. I so desperately want to pick their brains, see what’s going on behind the scenes…
Flash forward. Graduation was so much more emotional than any of us expected. Goodbyes to the ones who have become family; the thunder signaling a new season. Again I think of this new crew of YWAMers flooding the campus, a feeling kin to that of thinking of my coming nephew one day being held to my mother’s chest. There’s so much he’s yet to know, so many tears he’s yet to cry there. He may think he knows how much he adores that place of safety, but he doesn’t yet…
I watch their faces. So full of expectation for the coming six months. They may think they know what they’ve gotten into, how they’ll be changed. They don’t, not really. Not yet.
Throughout all the tears and farewells, joy ran thick. We did it. And now we’re on to something even better, even more challenging. For one, it’s fighting against sex trafficking. For another, it’s studying to become a film-maker (and what an amazing one she will be). For me, it’s returning to the city my parents came to as missionaries to continue the work they started, to carry on their vision along with them.
Flash forward again. Sitting on the airport floor, adjusting to what is now a 23 hour jet lag. Listening to Blink-182 in my favorite hoodie I’ve waited three months to return to. Waiting to board my red-eye. One flight down, two to go. Let’s do this.
I’m still processing DTS. All I learned, felt, thought, experienced, witnessed. But I know that I grew, and that I’m grateful. That this new season will be one of extreme joy and thanksgiving. That when I get off that third flight, the man I love and haven’t seen in six long months will be there waiting for me. That I can’t wait to see what the Lord has next in store for all of us.
Until next time
As we travel on
Life she is a wanderer
Confused in her slumber
Dreams of hope
Terrors of evening scopes
Tell me, where will we go
When all is finally lost?
Let the rain fall
Pour over these bones
Take me home
To where I belong
Safe in his arms.
As dusk settles in
Joy she is a ghost
Changing shapes as of Heaven
She sings to our souls
We are golden, immortal
Journeying through all
This earth we’re meant to know enjoy.
So let the rain fall
Soak life into these bones
Where You lead, I’ll follow
Though I feel I drown
I will grow.
Let the rain fall
Pour over these bones
Take me home
While I feel I drown
I will grow.
The weeks escape me. I hear it’s the seventh, so let’s go with that, shall we?
As this week was for the most part more of the same, this post will contain an obscene amount of photos, and not many words, I’m expecting, but we’ll see what happens.
Thursday morning we set out believing a prayer walk was in store, and instead found ourselves at a fort. I guess our hosts thought we needed a break, or exercise, judging by the size of the place.
Half of me wishes I had brought my camera with me (these are all iPhone pictures), but the other half is grateful I was free to climb and explore and see, beyond the viewfinder. Everything was magnificent, from balancing on the divider of an auto as we race down, then up the mountain to the trees sparkling like diamonds in the afternoon sunlight. Heights allowing hawks to fly below our eyes wide with wonder. The mountains calling my name, whispering His wondrous love. Tales of an age gone by. Temples still burning with incense to a god who will never hear them. Through it all, beauty like I’ve never imagined, and fragrant freedom.
The joy of adventures with souls I hold dear. Voices joined in illegal worship to the God who Sees. Citizens stop and stare, listen a while, never interrupting. Soaking in the glory of His creation… And this is but a taste of earth, and earth but a shadow of heaven…
Finally, pictures from the slums. Throughout our past times there, I’ve abstained from bringing my camera. I didn’t want to give any room for the people there to think I care about them only for their stories, for their media values. However, on this our supposed last day (we’ll now be there tomorrow for church, as well), from the moment they spotted my camera the poses and “sister, my picture’s” began.
I’ve fallen in love with each of these children, but is that any surprise? We leave tomorrow, and again I’m left wishing there were no language barrier between us. As these children are some of the leading Christian influences here, I worry not over what the world will do to them, but marvel over what they’ll do to the world.
Until next time
As I write this post, I’m sipping instant Korean coffee out of a Chinese bowl, writing in a Walmart notebook from Kona with a German pen, sitting on the floor of a hotel in Kolkata.
Besides the first week of outreach, this week was the most full of my entire DTS.
“Helping” (dancing with and trying to be as cool as) the boys practicing the choreography they performed at two churches to raise awareness for Life Connection, the ministry we’ve been working with.
Getting horribly sick just before getting on what would become a thirty five hour train ride from Nagaland to Kolkata, and then better just in time.
Kat’s ankle breaking to the point that movement was impossible while we crossed the tracks, just as a train was coming. With the whistle growing louder, closer, all the guys rushed to carry her across the three sets of rails. As she sat on the bench, waiting for the train and recovering from the shock of escaping tragedy by inches, Rosie prayed for her ankle. Overnight it went from break to sprain.
Waking up on the train to the outer rumbles of a 6.7 megaton earthquake around 4 AM.
After this, the ride consisted of sleep, hanging out the door to breathe in the scenery, and making friends with a five year old Bengali boy peeking out from behind momma’s skirts just long enough to laugh at the yellow haired girl. Watching Bollywood videos and listening to worship on an old Nokia with Sunil (I’ll post his story later in the week, hopefully. Suffice it to say never have I seen such joy in one from his circumstances). An hour into this, I asked if he was sad. Quick nod, then the headphone is slipped back in before a word can escape my mouth. What could I have said anyways? We both knew why he was sad, and that I could say nothing to fix it or relate. How can I relate? This week was his holiday, his one week with three guaranteed meals a day, a bed at night, and a roof over his head. Although LC will be there from 8 AM to 4 PM everyday, providing food, education, a shower, community, and love, come 4 o’clock and he must return to the train station. There’s only so much one family can do for so many street boys…
So what could I say? What could I do, besides lay a hand on his shoulder and simply be there?
Hours later, we arrive. With the delay of the quake, the journey took four hours longer than expected. The morning after we arrive, Steffi, Kat, Caleb, and I all wake up horribly sick. Because of dehydration, Steffi and Caleb both blacked out. Neither Steffi nor I could keep any food or liquid down, and we all had fevers. This continued for well over twenty four hours. While Kat and Caleb began to show signs of improvement, as the days continued Steffi and I grew gradually worse.
Last night, after concluding with my leaders and parents that if the doctor’s antibiotics didn’t help, or at least stay down, Steffi would be flown to her family in Germany, and I to mine in Denmark. After having this same determined bug twice, we desperately needed IVs and for our bodies to accept some sort of sustenance.
And so we prayed. We prayed to the God who had already in these past two weeks resurrected a girl from an early death, healed a broken bone, healed impure skin, and fixed a projector so it will play only the Jesus Film. We worshipped Him, praising Him for all He’s done and will do. Rosie was the first to begin praying for me, before the time of intercession had been discussed. In case you havent noticed, God has gifted her with healing prayers, and a compassionate heart of gold. As she prayed tirelessly for me for a good ten to fifteen minutes, I felt as though something heavy, warm and comforting had been placed over me. It was so heavy I couldn’t move beneath it, but I felt no pain. I could barely open my eyes at this point, and even lifting my arm was impossible. But finally, after crying in the bathroom because of the unbearable, unending agony, because everything here is so unfamiliar, because four months without my beloved is excruciating, I had peace. I felt the presence of my Father, and I was comforted. Even just typing this, the tears of that overwhelming sense of His divine love return to my eyes.
From 7-11PM we continued. When I woke up this morning, save a runny nose from the pollution, I was 100% better.
Today Jon (our leader) got us a kettle, and Chris brought instant coffee. He was right: Koreans make the best instant coffee. I was able to eat my first full meal (noodles with vegetables). I’m able to walk around the room without becoming lightheaded.
As a safety precaution, I couldn’t go do ministry with the rest of th team today, but tomorrow I’ll be released from quarantine.
And as I write this, the afore mentioned beloved is getting settled into his new Miami home and job at Calvary Miami Beach. When I return, he will be there waiting for me, and the long distance will be over. I still can’t quite fathom what it will be like to not say goodbye anymore. After six straight months without his embrace, or his smile whenever I look beside me, my love will be waiting for me when I return. Six months of waking up, waking him up, at midnight just to hear each other’s voices because we don’t know when next we’ll have a chance. Six months of craving my hand in his. Six months of emails and texts the size of books, of crying on the phone because I can’t cry on his shoulder. Of reading the Bible together, praying the connection doesn’t cut out. And this was just this stretch. Long distance is not for the faint of heart, but it will soon be over.
Seventy three days until I’m in his arms again.
Sixty eight days to complete the Lords will in India and Nepal. Then the adventure of ministry in the city Jesus has permanently called me to begins.
And through it all, the Lord is faithful.
Until next time, ohana.
“X marks the spot”Come in, come home
A quiet whisper
Behind the storm.
A polluted sky
Always half open
To souls passing by
Always shut tight
To strangers in the night.
Still guard standing.
From up above
Supper’s aroma wafts down
Overtaking for the evening
The putrid waste below.
Caress your tongue
As the gate
Like an embrace
Pulls you in to see
Her wells of empathy.
It’s the end of week two. With the new year, tomorrow begins week three of outreach. Currently, I am bedridden with the seemingly mandatory stomach bug (food poisoning?) we’ve all been suffering from.
Outside the window above my head, fireworks pop like gunshots. Just out the door, the kids and team sing in Bengalu a song which sounds of thanks for the past year, hope for the new. My ever amazing outreach leader, Steffi, has me wrapped in her extra blankets in an attempt to fight off the fever, making her side of the bed even more hard.
Three minutes till midnight. We rush upstairs to the roof to witness the fireworks, and set off a few of our own. Fireworks which in Miami would never be legal to buy, yet here are passed around like candy. Greetings from motorcyclists on the road below. Hugs and handshakes all around. Normally back home, New Years would be spent with friends that are closer than family, playing manhunt and burning Christmas trees. This year we watched the sky go ablaze, with lanterns outnumbering the stars above us.
So, fever raging, bones aching and all, there’s no place I would rather be.
Until next time.