INTRODUCTION

Talofa! (Hello) This blog is for friends & family to follow me as I partake on my 3rd overseas missionary journey. I’ll be in Samoa and American Samoa for 5 weeks this summer, sharing my experiences as well as prayer requests & praises on this site! I am so grateful for a new opportunity to help people spiritually & physically!

There is no greater joy than working for the Lord & knowing that nothing happens outside of His control. The peace that comes from knowing you’re right where God wants you is indescribable!! I plan to travel and share the gospel and love of Jesus Christ as long as the Lord permits!

If you have supported me through prayer or funding, I can’t thank you enough!! If you haven’t supported me yet but are still interested in what I’m doing, I hope you enjoy my blog. Fa'afetai (thanks) for taking the time to read this! God bless!

Our Team at Church Here in Samoa

Our Team at Church Here in Samoa

Fa'atui (The Visionary who started the school here in 1992))

Fa'atui (The Visionary who started the school here in 1992))

Zephaniah (Fa'atui's grandson)

Zephaniah (Fa'atui's grandson)

S.P.I.C.C

S.P.I.C.C

Our New Family

Our New Family
Can't wait to meet them!!

The Girl's Room

The Girl's Room

Some of My Girls

Some of My Girls

A Product of the Tsunami last Fall

A Product of the Tsunami last Fall

This Church was nearly wiped out from the Tsunami

This Church was nearly wiped out from the Tsunami

After I received news that my Grandma was dying I went outside and this rainbow was in the sky.

After I received news that my Grandma was dying I went outside and this rainbow was in the sky.
GOD ALWAYS KEEPS HIS PROMISES

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Final Post from this Little Island

I can't believe its over! Yesterday we had our final assembly at S.P.I.C.C. with all the students, teachers, and parents. What a precious experience! Such beautiful costumes, dancing and songs! The presentations, performances and gift-giving from the children were sweeter than I even expected! I will miss these children so badly!

Today a friend of the family gave us more of a tour of the island. We went as far as we could east until the road ended. There, we had a great view of tiny, 100+ population island of Aunu'u which is a 20 minute boat ride away from our very own Tutuila island. We also hiked up to Blunt's point, an old, U.S. military sight where they have 2 canons that were used back in WWII. Such a neat historical place! It was also especially fun to go there since everyone back home will be celebrating our Independence Day tomorrow. I'm sad I'll have to miss it again!
Lastly we drove up to see some of the villages on top of the island where it stays cooler year-round from the wind. The view up there was beautiful! We could see the ocean on both sides.

Tomorrow we will attend church with the family, have a final traditional Samoan meal and then clean up the school, hopefully leaving it looking better than when we arrived. We leave Monday on the island hopper plane back to Apia, Western Samoa. There we'll have a layover for roughly 12+ hours and then a 10-hour flight, arriving back in the states mid-day Tuesday (Lord-willing).

I'm looking forward to seeing my family after this difficult month away, but I will miss the fellowship we've shared with the people here! It's incredible to have family (brothers & sisters in Christ) all over the world though! Such a sweet taste of heaven!

I'm just so grateful for all the experiences we've had here! Wonderful people, sights to see, children to love, lessons to learn and to continue learning... God truly blessed us over and over and over again! It's overwhelming when I think about all the ways He provided and blessed our time here more than we ever ever deserved or could even imagine! I'd heard that sometimes when people go on mission trips they return home feeling more blessed from those they met than feeling that they blessed those people. I definitely feel that way tonight! The Samoan and Tongan people we've spent time with here never stopped serving and giving! Its a cultural thing, but still, what a great example of selflessness! It definitely tugs on my heart, spurring me on to want to serve God through serving people more and more and more! Praise the Lord for that!

Well everyone, THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH for following me through the ups and downs of my journey this summer!!! I wish I could express how grateful I am for your prayers and support from the states! God knows I needed you all! I look forward to seeing you all and being able to thank you in person! God bless you!!



PLEASE PRAY FOR:

1.) A wonderful final day with the family here. Pray that we leave them feeling blessed and encouraged to continue their work for the LORD in this religious, yet Godless & dark island.

2.) Safe travels as we leave from here Monday to return to the school Tuesday night and then home to our families Wednesday after our debrief.

3.) Our hearts & minds as God continues working on us and teaching us through everything we've learned and experienced here this summer.

4.) The children we had contact with during our stay. Pray that God would water the seeds that were planted in their hearts during these four weeks.

5.) The people we don't even realize we have impacted through this trip. Pray that they can see Christ in us and desire to know Him because of it.


THANK YOU EVER SO MUCH!!! TO GOD BE THE GLORY!!!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

With Only 5 Days Remaining...

WOW!!! Where has the time gone? It feels like just last week we were meeting Fa'atui & Beta for the very first time, exploring S.P.I.C.C. for the first time, wading (tripping over the coral reef) out to Fatu rock for the very first time, but now we're nearing the end. As I rode in the back of one of the pick-up trucks on our way home from an awesome night of food, fun celebrating Samoan culture and Christian fellowship last week, I couldn't help but feel a sense of meloncholy come over me. The moon was big and bright, casting a silvery glowing outline on every cloud in the sky and every wave reflecting them! It was an absolutely beautiful evening! I will miss those calm moments.

What will I miss most though? The children, of course! Each one of them with their silly, sweet, curious, rambunctious and precious personalities! I can't count how many of them have asked me each day if we will be coming back next year. It's hard because that question of course tugs on my heart but I don't really know how to reply except for something like, "Maybe...if God wants me to". For some that's enough and they smile, giggling and skip away. For others they simply look down, pondering if that's me saying "no". It's a tough question! I have no idea what God has in store for me next year! This trip has been quite the experience though, that's for sure!

We have 3 days remaining in our summer school program. 3 more days to pour in as much of Christ's love and Biblical truth as possible! I'm really sad that is coming to an end. This island is so lost! I know it's not up to us to save everyone but it's hard when we know we have the truth but they have to be ready to hear it! My heart is so burdened for the gospel to be heard here! Well....for Christ's gospel to be heard throughout the nations of the earth but especially here right now obviously because we've been at work here.

We only have 2 more days of our regular time with the children (Bible lesson, songs, games etc...) then Friday is a special day because it's the end of the program. It's supposed to be a surprise but the children have been putting together songs and other performances for us on Friday. I'm trilled to see what they have prepared!

As our time winds down we're trying to decide what to do with our remaining time and money. Final projects, finals ways to bless Fa'atui's family and the staff here at S.P.I.C.C. We're going to donate some specific needs to the school and the main church we've worked with here (one that is Biblically sound and growing). If only there was a way to show them just how much we've appreciated everything they have done for us!!! They've blessed us in ways they don't even know! Conversations, prayers, countless meals and hours of driving us back and forth... I wish there was more we could do for them!

At least we can leave here knowing we accomplished exactly what God wanted us to. God is faithful even when we are faithless and no matter what happens, God doesn't call the equipped, He equips the called. I pray we were a blessing to everyone here and most of all that the name of JESUS CHRIST is remembered and glorified!


PLEASE PRAY FOR:

1) Our last 3 days of school. Pray that they will somehow see Christ through us especially in these last days and that HE is all they remember of us!

2) Our team as we are tired and distracted by thoughts of soon returning home. Pray that we can concentrate, love each other and serve each other now more than ever for GOD'S GLORY!

3) The children as we leave them. Pray that their hearts have truly been stirred and that they will continue searching for truth and seeking Christ on their own.

4) Fa'atui's family. Being one of the few strong Christian families on the island, they need so much encouragement and strength from God to keep fighting the good fight.

5) My heart and the hearts of my team members as we wrestle with all the things God has been teaching us through this trip. So much to sift through... Everything we've: seen, heard, felt, tasted, touched, smelled, learned, struggled with, continue struggling with as we return home. Pray that we wouldn't let this be an experience that is forgotten, but that we let God change us and make us more like Jesus through it all!!

THANKS SO MUCH EVERYONE!! I CAN'T EVEN BEGIN TO TELL YOU HOW DEEPLY I APPRECIATE YOUR LOVE & PRAYERS!! TO GOD ALONE BE THE GLORY!!

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Fight to the Finish

Well...as this week reaches its end, many struggles and prayer requests have grown! These past few days have been difficult for me. I'm not sure if its simply the expected difficulties that usually come with the 3rd week or if it's something else but what I do know is that I've had to gear up even stronger every day and fight the schemes of the devil 10 times harder than I had been in order to keep up the fight for God and the gospel.

We lead the youth group of a different church last Sunday night. I helped lead worship along with a few other teammates. Then a few other teammates gave their personal testimonies of how God brought them to Himself and how He has been working in their lives. They were great testimonies and things seemed to be going about the same as they would at any other Christian church I could think of until the Pastor gave his closing remarks. The first thing he said when he reached the front was that the whole idea of a personal relationship with God is a good thing but they don't teach that there. They focus on congregational fellowship and morality.

Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh... What??? (That was the reactions in our heads). I guess none of us realized until that moment that simply the term "Christian Church" doesn't necessarily mean the same thing as it would mean to us. I know there are plenty of churches in the states whose congregations claim Christianity but don't truly know Christ as their Savior, however I'd never known one to say they are Christian but don't need Christ. How does that even work? "Christian" means "little Christ" or "Christ follower". That would be like a Buddhist who doesn't follow Buddha. It's an oxymoron.

My heart broke at that moment as I looked around at the dozens of kids their who attend that church multiple days a week every week and have no idea who Christ is or why they even go to church!! They don't even know that they need to be saved! I'm pretty sure we all felt pretty overwhelmed at that moment. The youth group is 6th-12th grade and a few of the kids attend S.P.I.C.C here but even going to the Christian school where they memorize chapters of the Bible and recite them all the time, they have no idea what they are saying! It's the worst deception. This island is completely free for the devil to do as he wishes (within God's control)! It's terrible!!

That experience changed they way we all viewed the island and how we did things at school. We realized that the children get anger, discipline and the Bible drilled into their heads but they never see CHRIST. So for the last 2 weeks we dedicated ourselves to trying our absolute best to live as examples of Christ, loving, patient and kind, explaining everything Biblical we possibly could! I taught my class 5th & 6th graders several verses put to song and explained the meanings behind them. They enjoyed that a lot and request to sing them every day. One song they are going to perform in the school assembly next week.

I can't help but feel heavy-hearted that we only have tomorrow and then one more week with these kids! I am teaching the Bible lesson tomorrow. I'm continuing to teach about the life of Christ, (that has kind of been our ongoing theme) why He came, what He did and why that matters. I pray that God would completely speak through me! I've been having an extra hard time teaching this week and I really don't know why! It's been frustrating!

Tutoring Garrett continues to go well. I talked to his mother more about his problems. It turns out he has a neurological disorder which makes it tough to write and that has made him dislike school in general. He hasn't showed too much improvement but I know that what he needs is far more than I can do in a few weeks. I pray that someone else here on the island will be able to continue to work with him after I leave. His older sister has down syndrome so his mother has had to spend more time working with her and sadly I think that might have effected Garret as well. I wish I could do more for them but I must trust in the fact that God has him in His hands.

I need to wrap things up so I guess it's time for prayer requests. Where to begin...?

PLEASE PRAY FOR:

1.) My team as we've been together for a long time. Its not as fun or easy as it used to be and personality conflicts have began to come up.

2.) The gospel to spread somehow (whether it be through the youth group we attend every Friday, the new youth group we spoke to last Sunday, the school we've been teaching at or various people we've met along the way!

3.) Myself as I feel overwhelmed, weaker and more unequipped than ever before! I know doubt is from satan and has no place in God's plan so I need to work through that no matter how hard it is!

4.) Our last week of school. PLEASE pray that the children would see Christ through us somehow! And that the Biblical truths we've planted in them would begin to take root.

5.) My family as they continue to morn the loss of my Grandma (even though we are happy she is with Jesus and forever free from the curse of sin! Praise the Lord!)

6.) Our current (Fa'atui's constant) fight for God's truth here! Pray that God would soften hearts for His kingdom. The devil's work is so obvious here and the deception is almost unbearable! The Bible is everywhere but it doesn't mean anything to anyone! They mix in worship of their ancestors (demons) and so many other things. They idolize the dead and it's awful!

7.) Energy, endurance, patience and peace... It's hard to accept that we're only human and we can only do so much in our last week & a half.


THANKS SO MUCH!!! TO GOD ALONE BE THE GLORY!!!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Halfway Through... with Much Work Left to Do!

Well....it's been quite another week here on Tutuila! My kids are a handful but I was so blessed to return to my class on Tuesday and see how excited they were to have me back! They are hard to handle sometimes as many of them are somewhat neglected and attention starved but it's such a beautiful thing to watch them when a concept finally clicks in their heads and they feel accomplished and want to learn! That makes a week of fighting with them worthwhile!

This week I began tutoring a boy named Garrett in math. He is supposed to be going into 5th grade but can hardly say his times tables. We've already made a lot of progress in only a few days! He doesn't have that much trouble learning if someone helps him focus, its just that he has a really hard time paying attention and finding motivation. I've really enjoyed helping him out. He gets embarrassed because he has to stay after to get help but he is really sweet and talks to me when no one else is around.

This week went very well. Teaching hasn't gotten any easier but I enjoy the children. Getting to know them has been really neat! Some hang around as long as they can after school just to talk and receive hugs. It's hard because I can tell many of them are just aching for love and attention. That worried me for their futures! But all I can do is teach them from God's Word, spend time investing in their lives and pray they hold on to what they learn and that God has mercy on their souls.

I taught from Luke on Thursday and I think it went pretty well. I've never enjoyed speaking in public or teaching, but as the time here grows shorter I actually long to teach more simply because I want to give them as much of God's Word as I can. There is something about reading and explaining the Bible to so many little faces. Just knowing that what they learn during that time is more important than what they learn the rest of the day is motivation enough! I ache for them to be able to grasp the truth! There is SO MUCH church here. But just that. CHURCH. Not Bible. Not the gospel. Half the island probably doesn't even know why they go to church. Many of the regular kids who attend S.P.I.C.C. here even don't know what to do with the Biblical things they memorize while at school here. They go home and don't receive any truth or see any examples of of Christianity lived out. During question times here, they always answer with "Jesus" or some other basic Sunday school answer but they can't tell us who Jesus is, what sin is, or where they will go when they die. We hope to help them learn as much as they can in our second half of the Summer school program. In some ways 2 weeks seems like a LONG time but when measured in how much the children can learn about God in that time, 2 weeks is not enough. Thankfully God is in control and I know He is working here in the way He planned to and that is the best for everyone. Whether or not it feels like we are accomplishing as much as we'd like to, God's plans aren't usually for us to understand.

Today we went for a 7-mile hike up and down Mt. Alava with Moni (one of Fa'atui's daughters). She is leaving tomorrow to go work in the states for a month but has been an amazing help to as here, as our personal guide through everything! We will miss her very much! The hike was INCREDIBLE!! Part of the time we walked along a ridge where we could see over both sides of the island at the same time! It was breathtaking! The hike made me realize how out-of-shape I am unfortunately. It was tough at times as a lot of it was steep, on slippery rocks and in tons of mud! Surprisingly no one fell, although there were many close calls! Haha! When we got back to the truck everyone had mud up to their knees! We had a great time getting exercise, enjoying God's amazing creation and recouping from the week.

I better wrap things up now. Thanks so much everyone who has been praying for me and our work here!! GOD IS SO GOOD!! Through difficult times, He is only THAT much more beautiful and I appreciate Him more every day! My team has been incredible in helping through the death of my Grandma while being here. I couldn't ask for more compassionate, wonderful teammates! A special thank you goes out to each of them!

PLEASE PRAY FOR:

1.) Our last two weeks of school, that we wouldn't get burned out but continue coming up with fresh ideas for school, songs, games, and most importantly good Bible lessons that reach the children where they are.

2.) Moni as she travels to the states for a while and we no longer have her help.

3.) My family as they continue to miss my Grandma who passed away June 14th

4.) Tyler (our team leader) and his family. His Uncle passed away from a heart attack the same day as my Grandma.

5.) The team as we start to grow homesick and tired in the second half of our trip. We will need your prayers THAT much more as our energy begins to wear out. We need to keep grounded in the Word and focused on the goal (THE GLORY OF GOD & THE FURTHERING OF HIS ETERNAL KINGDOM).


THANKS SO MUCH EVERYONE!!! TO GOD ALONE BE THE GLORY!!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

When I Don't Understand... I Must Continue to Walk by Faith

I received the news this morning that my Grandma went to be with the Lord at 8:30am. My parents were able to get a hold of me last night. It was a difficult 24-hours for me out here obviously. It feels like a nightmare! I keep thinking I will wake up and all of this was a dream! Samoa and my Grandma and everything. I close my eyes and open them again to see that I am wrong. This is reality. There is nothing I can do to change it. I am reminded that God's plans are better than I will ever know and I don't need to understand. It just hurts so much!!! But.....that's exactly what sin (which brought death) does. It hurts. And yet I must work through it.

I had the option of going home to be with my family. But after much prayer and talking to both my Dad and the leader (Tyler) of my team here I agreed with them that there are no accidents with God. I may want to be with my family, but God is my ultimate comfort and strength. He planned for me to be here right now at this time to do His work. And there is so much work to be done! There are so many lost souls here! So many children who need love and adults who need help. So much manual labor waiting to be done, lessons waiting to be learned and prayers waiting to be prayed. It doesn't matter if it's enjoyable or not. It doesn't matter if it feels like I'm banging my head against a wall somedays or if I never see fruit from it, I am simply called to trust and obey. HAPPINESS IS NOT THE GOAL. GOD'S GLORY IS.

I didn't teach today. My team was wonderful and took over my classes so that I could have the day to reflect and pray. I found great peace in the Psalms. A friend of mine told me to read Psalms 88:1-2 which reads, "O Lord, the God of my salvation, I have cried out by day and in the night before You. Let my prayer come before You; Incline your ear to my cry." Also one chapter over I read, "The heavens will praise Your wonders, O Lord; Your faithfulness also in the assembly of the holy ones. For who in the skies is comparable to the Lord? Who among the sons of the mighty is like the Lord, A God greatly feared in the council of the holy ones, And awesome above all those who are around Him? O Lord God of hosts, who is like You, O mighty Lord? Your faithfulness also surrounds You. You rule the swelling of the sea; When its waves rise, you still them."

I especially appreciated that last verse because I spent several hours last night just walking along the beach, praying and watching the waves continuously wash up onto the shore. No matter how much my heart aches, God is in control. He is there. He has a plan. He truly is greatly to be praised!! And I am fully commited to trusting Him. This has been one of the toughest times of my life but I know I serve the God of the universe who hears me when I cry. He wont leave me alone. He works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). I am reminded that it's okay to not understand. And it's okay to cry. I simply must continue to WALK BY FAITH!!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Week 1 of School

Today wrapped up our first week of school. Praise the Lord!! We are all in need of much rest and restructuring. We did receive many more students as the week went on. I'm not sure how many there are but I think somewhere near 130. I now have 21 students in my 5th-6th class and boy are they a handful! I hear the younger grades are much worse though. Its so sad!! So many children in need to love and attention. They are restless and neglected and many have never been taught to sit down, pay attention and learn. We must be on them constantly to make sure they do anything. It can become exhausting.

The Bible lessons each day have gone pretty well. I was able to give a gospel presentation to the 4th-8th graders today and was surprised to actually capture most of their attention for the majority of the time. GOD IS SO GOOD! As some of you know...I am NOT a teacher. I don't enjoy the process at all but I simply came here to serve. Well, its been even more difficult than I expected and I am struggling a lot. The lessons and such aren't the difficult part but actually trying to get the children to understand...even a little bit is SO hard!! They all want to test me to see how far I will go til I break! I just want to help them yet I feel like they fight me. It's a constant battle but for their good! Well...I guess according to God its for my good as well while I try to learn patience. Let's just say I DONT want to have children any time soon!

Being here on this island has been such unique experience! I've been thinking through many areas of my life! It's crazy how much God talks to you when you are constantly in prayer. I have never felt so utterly weak and humble! I am nothing. I have nothing. I keep questioning why I am here. But my trusty leader Tyler has helped me a lot. He just keeps reminding me that anything good that has happened or will happen is entirely God. I shouldn't feel like I am the one doing any of it because it's NOT me at all. It's GOD in me and working through me. I guess one of the reasons I've been struggling is that the culture although similar to the U.S. is difficult to understand. It contradicts itself a lot and thats hard to follow. I just keep praying that eventually I'll begin to understand or at least understand enough to feel like I can get somewhere in it.

All in all... the lessons I'm learning here are unlike anything I have ever learned before and for that I am grateful. God is testing me in new ways and it hurts a lot but I know that is good for me. I have many areas I need to change in and grow.

PLEASE PRAY FOR:

1.) The team as we start to grow tired and will be tempted to take out our frustrations on each other
2.) Myself as it's killing me to be away from my family & Grandma while she is so ill. I just have to keep trusting that I am where God wants me, no matter how much it hurts.
3.) The children as we try to help them learn. Some of them do very well, others are years behind and we can only do so much in 3 more weeks.
4.) Health for all of us as we start to grow tired but have no time to rest
5.) More opportunities for encouraging & Godly conversations. My team members & I have had conversations with various people (at school, youth group and other activities) who are hurting and searching for answers. Pray that God would use us as tools in their lives to help point them towards HIMSELF
6.) Strength for all of us as the fun & romance of this island begins to wear off and our tasks become more difficult. Pray that we can continue to walk closely with God on our own and keep up Godly about all that we are facing

Monday, June 7, 2010

First Day of School

Today was our first day of school. Nearly 100 students showed up (we were expecting about 80) and there could be up to 30 more new students joining us tomorrow. I'm helping teach 5th & 6th grade (or level 5 & level 6, as they call it here). I'm teaching a lot more than I thought I would (as always). I taught the Reading lesson today as well as the Language lesson. It's hard! I'm really NOT a teacher! I'm also going to be teaching the Bible lesson for 4th-8th grade once or twice a week. I know I grew up learning about the Bible but somehow I feel so unequipped. PLEASE PRAY FOR THE TEACHING. I just want God to be glorified through my udder weakness. It's really tough to have 40-50 kids staring at you and know that their little brains are in your hands!! I know God is in control and I'm sure some of you are thinking I should be better at this by now after South Africa twice, but I'm NOT. It's still very testing and trying! I'm preparing a lesson on the life of Christ for Wednesday. Please pray that goes well. I'm worried! Thanks everyone! TO GOD ALONE BE THE GLORY!!