I don't even know where to start because the last few weeks have been amazing! I can't believe I have been gone almost a month! I wish every month went this fast! I look forward to wake up every morning wondering how God is going to challenge me and what I will learn. One of the most valuable things I am learning here is how much God truly loves me! We hear all the time that Jesus loves us, but I never realized how much that is. The picture below is from a place we call the "lookout", which is about a 10 minute bike ride and walk up a hill that feels like a mountain. It looks out over Oxford, which as you can see has mostly fields. There is a strip of some stores but this is mainly what it looks like. I got to see the All Blacks, New Zealand Rugby, team win the Rugby World Cup on Sunday night!
I have had some really good lectures so far. The first one was on the Destiny and Calling that God has for our lives. I learned how God has probably called us at some point in our lives, but we just weren't listening. Also, that as we are called, only few are actually chosen. This past week we had a lecture on the Nature and Character of God. He focused on prayer and how it helps to have a planned devotional time. For me specifically I get too distracted to just open my Bible and figure out how God wants to apply it to my life.
Last weekend I had the honor of being apart of the YWAM "family gathering". Every year there is a group of New Zealand YWAM board members and people that have been involved in YWAM for awhile and they gather at one YWAM base and talk about the different ministry opportunities and how God is working in their lives. This year YWAM Oxford hosted it. We all helped make everyone feel welcome and I got a really good taste of the Maori culture. When you welcome or say goodbye to them you touch noses. It was quite interesting considering I hadn't met any of them before. They are very passionate and wonderful people. We were able to sing a song to them in Maori when we welcomed them.
I have also had some really good outreach opportunities. The full weekend I was here, we split up into group and we to the mall in Christchurch for a "people treasure hunt" to listen for God's voice. Basically, before we left we prayed and asked God if there were any characteristics, colors, places that He put in our heads and we would write out. I had a thought about a scarf and so did another girl in my group. Another person had someone wearing red and a picture of a green plant and also the word life. So we actually found a store in the mall that was called Pharmacy Life or something like that with a logo of a green plant. So we went in and actually found at the back of the store a rack of scarfs. Then the manager wearing red asked us if we needed any help. We were in shock by this time and took a couple minutes to process what we should say. We decided that we would go up to her and say that on our treasure hunt we are to buy someone a cup of coffee, she said that she was leaving soon and didn't have time after to talk. So we asked if there was anything we could pray for her. She responded that we should keep Christchurch in our prayers, for the families that have lost loved ones in the earthquakes. Below is a picture of one of the churches that had severe damage from the earthquakes.
The second outreach opportunity I had was in Christchurch last week Friday at a Food Distribution Center with some of the "family". We took grocery items out of boxes and put them on shelves and then went around with a big cardboard box and would put all the different items in one box for people. Even though it was simple, it was really cool just to be able to help them out. The third outreach opportunity I had was this past Friday, I went with about 8 other people to the retirement (nursing) home down the road from our base. We brought a guitar and someone played the piano and we sang hymns to them. I didn't get a chance to talk with many of the residents there because they were hard of hearing, had a hard time talking, or they were sleeping. But I know they enjoyed having us because they all had smiles on their faces when we left.
I could keep writing story after story but that will have to wait until I get home. We did get our outreach options this past week: Morocco, India, Thailand, New Zealand, or Laos. I would be happy wherever the staff leaders feel God wants me to go. Please continue to pray with me that they will make the right decision and the financial funds will continue to come in for those of us who don't have our outreach funds yet. I have realized how prayer is such a powerful act and I do it now without even thinking about it. I have so much more to learn and I am very thankful for all your financial and spiritual support.
God Bless & Thank You!