Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Final DTS Post

Hello friends and family!
So currently I am sitting on the first of five planes as I head back home to good ol’ Pennsylvania. I’m not looking forward to the next 48 hours of travel but am so stoked for what follows the travel: being home! This is my update to just put a bow on my DTS experience and wrap it up.
First things first, a big-as thank you is in order. So……THANK YOU! Gracias (Spanish)! Donobad (Bengali)! Tree Makasi (Indonesian)! Thank you (English)!!!! Seriously, without the support of you guys back home, I would not have been able to make it. So thank you Lord for these awesome people! Whether it was prayer support, financial support, advice, loving on me, or simply showing interest in what I am doing, it honestly has all meant the world to me so thank you all so much. The time, effort, money, energy, etc. was sooooooo worth it.
I will catch you up on some of the stuff that has happened. For certain reasons, I can’t say much about our time in India besides that it was amazing! Please please please come talk to me and ask me tons of questions about it. I must say that I have never loved kids more than I did in the children’s home in the village. Now I have about 20 more brothers and sisters and a second mom (sorry PA mom). My last week was spent in Tauranga, NZ again for re-entry where they try and prepare to enter “normal” life again. Coming home was something that I kept in my mind and had been praying about a lot so I feel prepared to come home. Our graduation night was awesome, we did the haka (a war dance) and I lost my voice for 3 days. After the ceremony, we had the most epic dance party ever. Saying goodbye to the friends I made on DTS was probably one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. I love them all so much and would do anything for any of them. Literally only clich├ęs express how much I love them.  The next morning I left to go to Bali, Indonesia to visit my sister on the way home. We spent three and a half days together going surfing, playing with monkeys, going to rice fields, riding motorbikes (sooo much fun), and just catching up. It was really amazing to see her and to meet her boyfriend. And that brings me to where I am now, sitting on a plane over an ocean on my way to catch my high school graduation (the second graduation in a week).
It’s quite funny to look back and see all that God has done in my life and in my heart. Obviously DTS doesn’t fix all your problems and all of a sudden life is just perfect, but I must say that DTS has given God an opportunity to do a mighty work in me. Coming into DTS, I had many doubts about who God is and also I carried a lot of guilt and insecurities. During our debrief last week in New Zealand we reflected on what we left in New Zealand and what we are taking home. For me, instead of doubt, faith; instead of guilt, freedom; instead of insecurities, confidence in whose image I am made in. God is good eh? To sum up my time on DTS, I would say that I got to know the God I worship much more intimately. He shows me time and time again where I need to go to live a full and free life and that’s the cross. There’s no getting past it. My execution of that isn’t always perfect but I know that His grace and love never ends or fails.  All of the changes and things that He has done in me is solely to His credit so I want to say that all of the glory goes to Him. I’m just glad I didn’t get in the wayJ. I don’t always know how to word the stuff that He’s doing and has done in my heart so please have grace with me as I return. I can’t wait to reconnect with all of you and would love to get together with you and chat. For the last time on this blog…..

THANK YOU!!!!!!!!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Week 11/12/13: Holy Spirit/Calling and Identity/Outreach Prep!

      Sooo....its been a while since I have done this (sorry, things got really busy). A lot has happened and a lot is about to happen. I am writing this 1 day before I leave for India! I'm in a bit of denial right now. But first things first I will try and recall all that happened 2 weeks ago.

       Our speaker two weeks ago was Kristen Williams and he is the pastor at Hope Centre (the church I attend here) and he spoke on the Holy Spirit. This being two weeks ago and my notes being packed its hard to remember all of his lectures but what I got out of it was pretty sweet. The main thing that stuck out to me about His lectures was that God's presence never leaves us. He is never away or not apart of our life. This presence though is manifested in many different ways. Being here and being surrounded by people that encounter God in many different ways can be so confusing at times. Each day after his lectures we would have ministry times to just pray and seek God's manifest presence. Some people end up on the ground in tears. Some people start laughing uncontrollably. My bunk mate actually saw angels in the room and one of our leaders saw the same thing and their descriptions matched! Isn't that crazy! My personal experience with the Holy Spirit that week was more of a feeling light and, for lack of better words, being drunk in the Spirit. It was a lot of people's favourite week. I enjoyed it a lot and Kristen's teaching was so solid and I left every lecture with a desire in me to go out and do something radical for Christ, but my desire for a crazy God moment like the angels brought about confusion and comparison. Kristen spoke about how you can't control how He moves. You can't pick the way the Holy Spirit speaks and encounters you. What you can rely on is that the way He does speak and encounter is whats best for you. If we were to see the entirety of God I don't think our bodies could handle it so thank you God for not killing us with you awesomeness.

      We had a cool experience on that Thursday to go to a recording studio and record a song that the ship ministry was going to produce. We left right after lectures (and they are usually left open ended so if you need to stay and pray or get prayer then you are welcome to) and we left in a hurry. One of our band members was on her face completely balling her eyes out because God was showing her the beauty of Jesus so she had to get picked up during that, thrown in a car, and then speed away to record which we were late for. I found it funny because her face was red from the carpet and she was so out of what was going on.

      The next week was Mandy Hudson and she spoke on Calling and Identity. This was where I got some answers from the prior week. Her lectures again were full of amazing nuggets of wisdom but what I got most from this week was a meeting I had with her on Thursday night. She was one of those speakers that absolutely gave her all to our school. She had one on one meetings with about 30 people in 5 days! So Thursday night we chatted for a while about my life. I feel that there has always been a calling on my life to be a leader or person of influence. Mandy, through her experience, said that God usually focuses a lot on the foundation of a leader. She said that many times in mainstream Christianity, big leaders in the church fall because of a lack of character. That's where the corruption comes in.  During the first week of lectures I had a really weird experience where I was just overwhelmed with God's presence and my hands and feet were tingling like crazy. Through that, I felt like God was saying that I was going to be His hands and feet and that He would use me. Since then, I never felt His presence the same way and during the Holy Spirit week I really longed to. We then began to talk about biblical characters like David and Moses who received their callings many many years before those callings came to reality. They had to wait. I felt like that was a promise during the first week and now I had to wait too as God works on my character. I love Bible verses that apply to what I'm going through: “those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31). This verse hangs in Hope Centre, last week's speaker's church. Looking big picture that week was really good for me and really encouraged me to continually put forth effort and pursue God. Yes, I can't make Him love me anymore, but it would help me love Him more and get more intimate with Him.

      This week has been entirely devoted to preparing for Outreach. I am so excited to leave. Our group is second to last to leave so yesterday and today has been a bunch of goodbyes which I recently learned that I hate. But I feel prepared to go and I know that where ever I go, He will be with me and that He will not abandon me. With Him, nothing is impossible so I am excited for all the stories I will have. I will not continue my blog on outreach because I will most likely not have internet access but here is a link for our teams blog which should keep you fairly updated. 

      I feel like this blog was kind of all over the place and possibly full of incorrect grammar and spelling but I have spent a lot of time with people who have English as a second language so I have an excuse! Also, its lunchtime so I'm hungry. Thank you all so much for reading this and keeping up with me. I wish I had more time and energy to hear how all of you are doing but please know that I miss you guys and am excited to see you all again. Please keep me in your prayers to just be completely submissive and obedient to God. I know that if I obey, He will provide all I need. Thanks y'all. Peace.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Week 9: Relationships

      I am currently on hold with Air New Zealand so forgive me if I am short. This week was taught by Catherine who is our base director's wife and she is lovely. Personally, I was excited for this week because I think the topic of guy/girl relationships and how they should look and all that is fun to talk about so going into it I was excited. That topic was only discussed for one of the days. The beginning of it was focused relationships in general and the building blocks for healthy ones. It was a really good time for me to reflect on my relationships and for God to show me how He plays into them. Some of the building blocks for relationships are love, honor, trust, transparency, honesty, and patience. My relationship with Air New Zealand right now is not very strong because my patience is running thin. Anyway, this week was really solid teaching. On the last day we had just a huge ministry time for God to just show us and heal us of any scars from past relationships. The timing of this week was interesting because of what was going on at home with my family. Let's just say it was good timing. Most of the week my intimacy with God was pretty bad, but the massive ministry time on Friday was really needed and was the start of a really good weekend. It is really comforting to know that we have a God who is at work in me even when I don't know it.

      I don't know if any of you have heard about was happening with Cyclone Pam but she was a category 5 cyclone that went through Vanuatu and caused severe damage to the island (which is where 3 of our outreach teams are going to). Pam was supposed to be heading our way here in Tauranga and never being in a cyclone before I was expecting something fairly bad considering I wasn't allowed to sleep in my room for fear of a tree falling and harming me. Prior to it coming, we prayed that Pam would go away and not come to us and amazingly, she listened. Pam went off the coast of NZ and barely touched us. Yet another example of God's goodness. It's been 25 minutes and I am still on hold. Thanks for reading everyone. Bless you all.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Week 7/8: Worship and Intercession/Submission and Authority

      Soooo..Sorry everyone for missing a post last week. We were in Auckland and I was very busy. Right now I am also typing this on my Swiss friend's computer and the z and y keys are switched so from now on, ignore any mistakes and switch the z for the y. Its been a couple sentences and I am sick of correcting mzself. Anzwaz here we go.

     Last week in Auckland was so cool! Our speakers name was Taumata (not Tomato!). He was such a cool guz and such a guz who pursued Gods heart. The message he brought was so freeing about living a life of worship and intercession. His main point throughout the entire week was that it is God who does the cool stuff in us and its not our responsibilz to work for anz of it. For me it was so freeing that in mz quiet times with Him, I don't have to stress about putting mzself in these situations to make Him speak or act in mz life. He has me! Seriouslz everz single week I am relearning the same things and its fantastic. Mz future at this point is verz up in the air which when I first think about it is kind of scarz but when I acknowledge who God is, I have a peace that He will handle it. I want mz future to be great and I want to do great things but I give that up for God because I know that He will lead me into something amaying and something that He has made and prepared me to do. He is good.

    The base was in South Auckland and it was called Te Au Matama which means the sending out of light. It was so good for me to get out of mz regular schedule. We had a lot more free time too which was sweet. We also had another Powhiri (traditional Maori welcoming ceremonz), leaned how to count in Maori (with awesome hand motions), we learned a song in Maori, and how to do the Haka! When the Maori do it, it is so much more intimidating but I just close mz ezes and imagine I am still doesn't work but oh well! We also went to One Tree Hill and Mount Eden and thez were so cool!! Check out pictures on instagram cause thez are sweet.

    The weekend was sweet and well deserved and then this week started which was submission and authoritz taught mz Captain Jessie Missa (I think I butchered the spelling) who works for the ship here. It was a solid week. Looking back, this time is going so fast!!! Jessie is an incredible dude who is reallz funnz and actuallz reminds me of mz dad a little bit in his humor. Since coming here I have looked for one of those situations where I just get recked bz the Holz Spirit, for a crayz rediculous situation like God writing mz name across the skz with lightning or something awesome like that. I had one experience the first week when I could feel His manifest presence in me but since then it has been a lot of quiet and gentle guidance. He is teaching me that He is so much more than those experiences and that He wants to be apart of all I do and not something that I part take in for an hour or two and then continue with mz normal life. This week continued with that and also speaking more and more identitz into me. It is solid and fun what I learned last week about Him being in complete control of mz future just makes me reallz content and jozful that I don't have to stress. So zeah, good week spirituallz.

     I got a reallz sweet oportunitz for mz work dutz. A musician here, Peter Byres (I corrected mzself for his name) and the Marine Reach Ministries are wanting to produce his song so I am in charge of working with the recording studio and with Peter to produce this song!! Its so cool and after 3 hours of practice this song is legit!! I am excited for zou all to hear it. It will be available on iTunes when its done (wink wink).

Thanks for reading, sorrz for the spelling mistakes and gramatical errors (mz English gets worse and worse everz week), and go to Instagram to check out mz new facial hair cut :)

Love za


Saturday, February 21, 2015

Week 6: Defending Your Faith

       What? This post is early? I am such an overachiever. Hah just kidding. But this blog post is early because tomorrow our entire school is going to Auckland for a week! The reason is, the previous school that started in October is returning from their outreach and they are staying here so we are getting kicked out and driving 3 hours to Auckland to stay at that base for next week's lectures. I am so excited! Now about this past week....

       Overall this week was very challenging in such a good way. Our speaker's name was Doug Sparks (I think he has written a book or two), but he literally challenged everything we believed. Only about half of it was his prepared presentation and a lot of it was spontaneous conversation, debating, asking questions, discussion on different viewpoints about war, death, marriage, sex, homosexuality, God's justice, mercy, and goodness. At times the conversation got intense and other times it got really annoying, but overall it was good and I learned to own my faith even more. The general theme of this week was that the reason a lot of Christians aren't very influential is because they know what they believe but not necessarily why they believe it. That's what this week was essentially. We were forced to think for ourselves and not just be force fed information. Literally every single day I left the lecture room with a lot of questions and few answers. When it comes down to it, we really aren't responsible to teach each other anything. Doug told several stories of a ministry he has called the Foundry which is really just a place for troubled teens to come and discover God. Doug wouldn't try and teach them anything. He would simply keep asking why? Why they felt that way about a certain life event or why they believed something about God. He also would just love on them so much and continually ask what do you feel the Holy Spirit is leading you to do? I think that is so cool. Often God teaches us through other people but ultimately He is the one who allows the information about Him to really sink in and resonate. I am quite fond of that. I know some of my fellow students really struggled this week and really were quite frustrated with Doug because he always kept the conversation going which provoking questions. Now that we are out of it, I am really glad I went through it because I have a deeper understanding of who He is.

       In some exciting news, I felt that God was nudging me to get baptised again and that took place on Friday. I did get baptised before and at that time it was a real declaration of my faith but since then I had still lived my life by putting other things above Him. I still put the opinion of man over the opinion of God and identified with how I thought I was viewed. This most recent baptism was a statement to say that I am done with that lifestyle and that God will be first and foremost of my life from here on out. So whoo!

       Fun/annoying story: So last night we had a MASSIVE bonfire, but afterward I got into a really cool conversation with some rad people here (Katie and Christy) and it ended up going from like 12 to 4 in the morning. It consisted of our week and what God was showing us and our struggles and past and was really amazing (I have really learned here that talking through and sharing everything is incredibly freeing). My mindset was that the weekend was before us and I could sleep in until lunch the next day. However, at 5:30 in the morning I wake up to a face saying. "Get up, put on warm clothes, and meet me by the door in 10 minutes" Me being dazed, thought it was my bunk mate trying to go for a spontaneous prayer adventure or something but after a couple seconds I realized it was my stream leader. Turns out our entire worship stream was woken up and we were going somewhere at 5:30 in the morning, after I had a whole hour and a half to sleep. Needless to say I was struggling to stay awake. As we were driving, they told us how their plan was for us to go to the beach and eat while watching the sunrise. They prepared everything: pancakes, eggs, toast, fruit, coffee, tea, and bacon. It was incredible but I was pooped. So the food and the adventure of it was fun but it was annoying how tired I was/still am right now. I'm loving this place and these people and I am learning how to be confident in who I am and to be who I am all of the time. Thanks for reading.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Week 5:Character and Nature of God

       Hello friends! So once again this one is late J. On Sunday, I had to bake for the next days meeting, read my book, write this blog, and do laundry…so I played volleyball instead. It’s funny how intentional you have to be to get things done. There are just so many fun people! This week was pretty good. Our speaker’s name was Peter Brownhill and he taught on the nature and character of God. He taught us the difference between His character and nature. His nature is attributes that God is. For example, He is omnipotent, omnipresent, the Trinity, omniscient, infinite, everlasting, etc. His character though, is what he chooses to do. Which while that list is sooooo long he only focused on 8: Love (which is on both lists and is soooo confusing!), holiness, mercy, righteous, justice, wisdom, faithfulness, and truthfulness. I am finding that the more I try and understand who He is, the more I get lost. I am learning (on paper and through experience) that He truly does have me. These little blogs really don’t do justice for what I am learning, but what I know for sure is that the most important things I have learned have been through my quiet time with Him and through worship. This week, I really got to see the beauty of life and how there is no reason to worry at all because “no one can take me out of my Father’s hand”. Life is good eh?
     This week was a week of encouragement so we all picked a name out of a hat and secretly blessed that person with gifts, notes, encouragements, etc. The person blessing me was so sweet and gave me a note everyday with either chocolate or tea (which I have fallen in love with since being here). Weekends have now turned into a time to sit back and relax because during our weekdays we move so fast. Time is flying so fast and it’s hard to believe that we are half way through our lecture phase. I am praying about what the future holds for me (btw I got into the Honor’s College at Messiah College!) so as far as prayer requests go that would be nice J.
       Seriously the love from people for the texts and encouragements and reading this is amazing so thank you all so much for your support! It is appreciated!!!

       Fun story about how amazing John Hartman is: he sent me a “care package” that included half a roll of toilet paper, a quarter of a pack of lifesavers, pictures of our youth group (and an elephant’s butt), some snacks, and a journal with a lot of funny notes.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Week 4: Father Heart of God

       I will start off with an apology for this being two days late. The week days are so busy and the weekends are so free that I always want to do stuff so I pushed this off until now. So we found out where we are going on outreach. We are going to (drum roll)...India! We are going to Kolkata, India and that is pretty much all we know at this point. Our leaders were the ones who prayed about this and decided where we would go. While separated from each other, they each felt God pulling them towards India. One night our one leader was in bed with her husband and she felt God say that her husband would say where they are going. Three minutes later, without knowing that God said India to his wife, he rolled over and said that he feels led to India! So God has a plan for us to go to India :) This past week was pretty good. Our speakers name was Femi and he heard God so clearly. He would start off the class by talking about something and then (almost like he was being interrupted) would stop, smile, and walk slowly to someone in the room and prophecy for their life. It was crazy how spot on he was too! Prior to coming here he knew none of us, so it was crazy that he heard what God was saying so clearly. He also spoke over my leaders life and said that she will have authority over the dark powers in India. He did not know we already decided to go there! Crazy! God's work in my own life has been focused around identity and me living as a son. That regardless of my doings, He is good and loves me the same. Also that he is not an abusive father but that He is for me and working with me and wants the best for me. These are truths that I am trying to view my entire life through. This week started off really good so I am siked to see what happens.

       Fun story of the week: There is a waterfall on base and a group of us decided to walk up the river and we found 2 more waterfalls after about a mile of walking. We also found a dead sheep in the water (go figure), some scary eels, and a nice cliff to jump off of into the water. My friend made a video of the experience so watch my Facebook for the posting! It was one of my favorite days while being here. 

     Thanks for reading guys and thanks to those that have been reaching out to me. It seriously means a lot!