Saturday, March 31, 2007

You Set the Tone

There was real hope. It was raining late into the night, and so I was hoping that the trip this morning would not materialize. However, God had different plans for me. There were small blessings in the surprises, however, we started at 8 AM.

However, there is something to be said for starting off on the right foot. I moseyed on down to the bathroom to brush my teeth and wash my face, and when I went to use the towel, guess who was staring back at me? A cockroach! That’ll get the blood flowing early on in the morning, and it certainly does nothing for morale.

As I sat in the van, God was working on me though, questioning my sour attitude (and it was DEFINITELY sour) and asking who I was really doing this for. Thanks for the reminder, God. One step at a time out of the doldrums and back into reality, and eventually I began to have a little fun.

Thus began the adventures for the day, and there were quite a few of those. The first was off-roading in a van. I’m telling you, if I had access to a pimped out jeep, I could have some serious fun in the back roads here in Fiji. We ran into a section of road that literally had a foot of mud. Tire tracks on both sides, and a FOOT OF MUD. Needless to say, the van didn’t fair so well, but there must have been some angels pushing, because there’s no way the five of us standing in the mud could have pushed that van through. So the feet got a tad dirty (sarcasm!), but the rest of the drive was grand, because it was literally like rally racing. Slight left turn, hard right turn, huge pot hole, big hill, hard left turn, pot hole, cement bridge, huge hill climb... just like heaven!

The camp site up in the mountains is pretty intriguing. Nestled between hills, and surrounded by pines, it’s a pretty beautiful spot. If only it had safe water, accessible roads, and electricity, it’d be a perfect spot. C’mon, you kinda laughed at that last sentence! We hacked back the jungle with two lawn mowers, two machetes and a weed wacker. It only took us 4 constant hours of work to get it all done, but now it is nearly ready for camp. I’ll try to get some pictures the next time we go up.

The afternoon involved a trip into Nadi. I needed to exchange my sulu for a slightly larger one, since bigger is always better with a wrap-around, and also to pick up some new sandals. After the usual, “Hi, I’m from Canada, no I’m not a tourist, no I don’t want to look at your shop, no really, I don’t want to look at your shop” and then just walking away, I got to all my destinations.

After that, I hopped onto the internet to catch Jordan online. I’m seriously not enjoying the whole distance thing, but there is another month and we’ll at least be in the same country and able to talk to each other nightly with consistent communications, rather than intermittent ones. Still, I am fortunate to be able to even talk to her while I am here, and for that I am indeed quite thankful.

And tonight? Tonight was spent with me, myself and I. I cherish these moments, because I am feeling a little worn out, and having a night to myself to just worry about... well, myself, is nice. I can do things that I want to do, and not talk to anyone if I so choose. Lets me recuperate for the coming week, and refocus myself.

I don’t know about you, but I need a night or two every once in awhile to simply process all of my experiences and learn from them. I don’t need to be doing anything thought provoking or special, I just need to let my brain rest from people and activity for awhile, and it will do it’s thing. I walk away a little more enlightening and feeling free.

I set the tone for my attitude, and ultimately for the day. Mr. Cockroach didn’t help things at all, but I need to make that choice to enjoy myself and remember who I’m serving. One month to go, and I hope it will be a month that I can serve with all my heart. But that’s up to me to paint that tone, isn’t it?

Friday, March 30, 2007

When the Week Comes to an End

Fridays are always an interesting day. Have you ever noticed how setting a tone will change the entire atmosphere for the day? Every Friday I have the priveledge to go down to the Nadi Airport school and teach scripture there. As will all children, these kids are fun and receptive to the gospel, and presenting it in a fun, dramatic way just makes it all that more exciting. I love those kids, because they are a shining light for me while I’m here in Fiji.

Sure, my voice is hoarse, and my legs are sore by the time I leave the school. But I had fun. It’s not often that I get to say that as of late, and so I treasure those moments. Who knows, perhaps God is using that to plant seeds for much later on in their lives.

Fridays are always the day I know that I will be busy. After Scripture in School, I either get on a bus and head to Suva, or I will be staying in the Nadi area. One way or another, I know that in the evening I have youth that I need to attend. It’s a bit of a mixed bag, because there is so much I want to teach, just not to the kids. While Lami and Lautoka are well taken care of, the leaders here in Nadi haven’t had the resources or examples to them to show see how a youth group could be run. It’s disappointing, but I have to realize that it is also in God’s hands. Maybe time will smooth things out.

And now it is Friday evening. Time to go to bed. It’s raining outside, which means we won’t be going up to camp tomorrow (although that has yet to be confirmed!). I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited about that. I will be running into town tomorrow to exchange my Sulu for a little bigger one that fits me properly, and pick up some sandals. I’m actually looking forward to it.

Being busy is never a curse. It just means that God has places for you to go, and things to do. Being bored is never a curse, because it means you have time to meditate, and time to pray. These things, each of them, are blessings in their own right. Seeing them as such is often the hardest part.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Group Effect

Ah Thursdays. The day when I usually have to be up early in order to go out to camp and see what sort of things are available for me to do out there. Thankfully, this week did not involve my heading out to camp, so I was able to sleep a little and get some other work done this morning.

The afternoon, however, was spent fishing! Very different experience when you are shipping on the open ocean. One of the helicopter pilots out here has a boat, so myself, Sebastien and him (Adrian) went out on the boat for a few hours to see if we could catch any fish. Rather than using rods, we just used lines with the bait on the end. It allows you to feel the nibbles and quickly respond when you finally do get a bite on the line. I had two bites, but wasn’t able to pull either of them in. The second one almost got to the boat, but he must have ripped himself free before he got to the surface. Too bad, because it felt like a big one!

This evening, we had young adults at Melissa and Serevi’s. Melissa originally came over through YWAM and met Serevi while she was here, and they ended up getting married. There is a YWAM team in the country for a few months, so they took the devotions for tonight, and I got the week off.

You know... I have always been sceptical about the benefits of a YWAM mission, and tonight didn’t really do a whole lot to appease that doubt. The problem is that you bring in people with a lot of enthusiasm and passion, which is beneficial and good, but they lack knowledge. Imagine moving to France, and with all the passion and fervour in the world standing up and preaching to them in English. Despite your eloquent words and sentence structure, your compelling arguments, and your heartfelt faith, your words mean nothing to them: they don’t understand.

While that is a drastic example, I view these short term missions much the same way. If you don’t learn the local customs, if you don’t stop to get to know how they communicate and what spiritual level they are at, and what is really going on in their lives, how can you speak to them? When Paul moved into a new city, he would spend months with them preaching and teaching, sometimes staying for years before he moved on. This allowed him to perceive their specific needs and directly address them.

The team tonight had the best of intentions, and that is admirable at any time. However, in quite a few different areas they were actually quite rude while speaking (without intending to be). In Fiji, it is rude to stand in an informal setting when you are talking with anyone while they sit. Places such as church change this rule, since they are formal... but a small gathering is not. Guess how they presented their various testimonies? Standing up!

Quite a few of them seemed to be going on and on about the flood this past weekend. Obviously, in North America, to have your house flooded would be a huge deal. It doesn’t happen that often. But when you live in Fiji and live in a low-lying area, it happens once every couple of months. It is not the end of the world, it is an expected consequence. Had you listened to these devotions, however, it would seem that it was causing a massive spiritual crisis in the lives of the Fijian people. Small... but significant things that aren’t understood.

Finally, when the devotions were finished, and everyone was mingling... guess what happened? The Fijians sat together, and the YWAM team sat together. There were two or three members of the team who went out of their comfort zone and engaged the Fijian people, but the rest sat in their team and chatted amongst themselves. It’s sad to see, because at the end of the trip they will leave believing that they have made a significant impact on all the lives that they encountered, when the truth may be that they will be remembered as a ‘change of pace.’

All of this could be remedied with a little cultural integration education. Small things that make a big difference. Oh... and team leaders that don’t let the group form their own clusters. That group effect is a nasty thing, because it allows us to stay in our comfort zones in the most alien of places. Why come all this way to talk to people from the US of A? Time to get out and meet new people, and change some lives!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

It’s a Matter of the Heart

I spent most of the today with Sebastien. We went out for lunch, went looking for some parts for his windsurfer, and then just spent the afternoon chilling. Because it was my day off, I can’t say that a whole lot exciting really happened. There was a possibility that I would go fishing, but that didn’t pan out for today, perhaps tomorrow.

One thing that did come out of our conversations was the reminder that what is going on in our hearts pours out of our tongues.

Jeremiah 9:8 Their tongue is a deadly arrow; it speaks with deceit. With his mouth each speaks cordially to his neighbour, but in his heart he sets a trap for him.

Have you ever thought about what that really means? “Their [Israel’s... or our] tongue is a deadly arrow” Perhaps if Jeremiah was writing today, he would say that our tongue was like a bullet. Or maybe, for you geeks out there, a rootkit. It is used to destroy, cut down. But it is cunning as well. It likes to disguise itself with lies so that its true intent is not really known. While we put on a cordial exterior, a brooding infection manifests itself inside of us.

Proverbs 15:28 The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil.

Proverbs 16:23 A wise man's heart guides his mouth, and his lips promote instruction.

Matthew 12:34 You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.

The last verse is probably the most damning. Imagine this situation. You have been in your church for your entire life, listening to the teaching of your pastor... absorbing his every word and revelling in his wisdom and prowess in opening up the scriptures to you. Some unkempt, uncouth Ontarian (for all my western Canadian friends) walks into the church, and calls your pastor a hypocrite and a false teacher. How do you think you would react? Imagine what it must have been like to watch this scene with Jesus and the Pharisee’s unfold then!

Not only would he call your pastor a hypocrite, but accuse him of being evil, rotting from the core out. These are no gentle, frothy accusations that Jesus levels. They pierce to the heart of matters.

I would garnish from these teachings that the Bible teaches us that what we let flow out of our mouths is merely a reflection of what goes on in our hearts. This can especially be leveraged over time, as a consistent pattern arises from multiple encounters.
If you’re like me, you want to stop and examine what you have been saying! Perhaps you look and are surprised at the things you’ve said, good or bad. Your attitudes, your reactions, the topic of your conversations. These all make a difference. Are you sarcastic, or loving? Are you cold, or welcoming? Are you judgemental, or hospitable? Are you condescending, or encouraging?

There are many things this brings to light... in my own life and in the lives I am involved in while I’m here in Fiji. It blows the chaff away, and leaves me only with the seeds of the heart. What you find is disturbing. Where you should find pure, unadulterated wheat, you find black, maggot infested, rotting seeds. These are things that should have been culled and removed years ago, and yet they still remain.

It serves as a warning sign to us. Do not wait to cut away what cancer grows in your heart. Remove it by whatever means necessary and rise above it. Because our faith, the Way... it’s a matter of the heart.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

In the Limelight

Psalm 61:1-8

For the director of music. With stringed instruments. Of David.
Hear my cry, O God;
listen to my prayer.
From the ends of the earth I call to you,
I call as my heart grows faint;
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the foe.
I long to dwell in your tent forever
and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.


For you have heard my vows, O God;
you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.
Increase the days of the king's life,
his years for many generations.
May he be enthroned in God's presence forever;
appoint your love and faithfulness to protect him.
Then will I ever sing praise to your name
and fulfill my vows day after day.

There are times in my life when David and I get along just great. You know how it is. Things don’t seem to be going your way in the slightest, so you turn to the Psalms to find out how David wrote about the situation. But maybe, like me, you conveniently neglect how David ends his Psalms. No matter what he is going through, he turns to God in worship. That last part is the one that sucks the most.

Do you know why? It takes the focus away from us.

In our pain, we want to be the centre of attention. We want people to look upon us and have sympathy and words of encouragement to comfort us in our time of sorrow. We want our time in the limelight. But as God (and strangely my sister) so likes to remind us... it’s not about me.

I’m not here for me. I’m not even here for you (although I may be here because of you!). I’m here for Him. He sent me here. He wants me here. This hurts like fire, but isn’t that what makes it so special? Gold cannot be refined without fire. Diamonds cannot be formed without intense pressure.

God, I can’t take it anymore. The fire is too much for ME so take this burden from ME. Help ME lift it from my shoulders because I no longer can carry it. I need You and You alone to carry it... and I need to once again learn what that feels like to not carry it myself and depend wholeheartedly on you. There are times now, and times in the future when people will intentionally or unintentionally harm me, and I need to know You in those desperate times. So be here. Fill me. Take me. Destroy ME because I don’t want to exist anymore.

I want to look at You, be with You.

I will ever sing praises to your name. I will fulfill my vows day after day. Take it all.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Called, Sealed... and it Hurts

I find myself in a precarious precipice. I know where God has called me to be. I know where He wants me at this point in time. I don’t know if I can do it. I don’t want to do it any longer. It hurts; hurts more than I ever knew I could. I feel empty emotionally. I feel hurt spiritually. I feel like David.

Psalm 13:1-6 For the director of music. A psalm of David.

How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and every day have sorrow in my heart?

How long will my enemy triumph over me?
Look on me and answer, O LORD my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death;
my enemy will say, "I have overcome him,"
and my foes will rejoice when I fall. B
ut I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing to the LORD, for he has been good to me.

Why Lord? Why have you put me here? Why must I endure these lashes? Why cannot I yield just once and surrender to the whims of my heart? Why cannot I just walk away and leave the work to someone else at some other time? Why must my heart cry out for relief and my soul ask it for just a little more time? Why do I feel so lonely and distant from those around me? When will you show me your glory in the midst of this mire? I want to be free of these burdens.

But I know, even while I hurt. While I cry out for relief that you are here with me. I know that you love me. I don’t always feel it, but I know it is true. I just wish it didn’t hurt anymore. So let this be my song. Let the nations know that this is my heart, even when I cry out in pain.

This is my desire to honour you
Lord with all my heart, I worship You
All I have within me, I give You praise
All that I adore is in You

Every breathe that I take
Every moment I’m awake
Lord have You’re way in me

Lord I give you my heart I give you my soul, I live for You alone
Every breathe that I take
Every moment I’m awake
Lord, have Your way in me
Lord... have your way in me.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

To Be Remembered

Whether we realize it or not, the one thing that every human being shares in common is that we want to be remembered. You look at the universal fear of death, and the few cultures where it is absent, and the main difference is how they choose to look at death. For the general populous, it is the end, your life is over, and the best you can do is to be remembered by family and loved ones. But for those few, those very few, death is a glorious thing, something to be honoured and respected.

I again preached my message on joy tonight in Lami. Something struck me about one of the quotes I use in there differently than it has before, however. It is a quote referring to how we choose to live our life. Would we rather be a used, beaten piece of metal that has seen plenty of use, or would we be thrown away brand new, wondering why the world doesn’t bend itself to make us happy. These questions, I think, are valid and should be explored by every human.

Ultimately, it raises the question that is a little closer to home. As Christians, are we doing the best we possibly can to fight for what we believe in? Just like the question I posed to the youth on Saturday night, are we a nation of warriors, or a corporate headquarters? Which do we function as, and what would we like to function as? My answer? We need to start training as warriors, and breeding warriors in turn. People who fight mightily for the cause that we follow.

Ephesians 6:12-13 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

To follow that means to be remembered.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Shine Bright

I’m going to be in Suva for the weekend, preaching at the Lami church. We were expecting to have a youth event in Nadi last night, so I waited to head down till this morning. The drive from Nadi to Suva is quite a beautiful one, because it takes you right down the coral coast. This is the location of the longest wave in the world.

The shining part of the day was not the stunning visuals, it was the Senior Youth event. Lami has quite a large youth group in the church, which can be credited to the elder of the church, Tepau. Last night they added the AGC youth group to that as well, and we had over 30 people. There was laughter, singing and lots of good times to be had. There are things that Canadian youth have to teach Fiji youth, but there are parts of me that wonder if Fiji youth couldn’t teach teens back home even more. They are free, to worship, to laugh, and to be themselves. They throw off the constraints of what other people think to be their own person. It’s amazing to see.

Because of Fiji culture, many of the youth here will seek to be polite before they will seek to be correct. They would rather be polite to you than point out what is wrong. Jesus, of course, was not this way at all. A huge stumbling block for people that only want to have other people think well of them, and not offend anyone. So that’s what we talked about last night. I put the question in front of them, would you rather be liked by people or right in God’s eyes? Not an easy question, for them or for me.

The end of it all, of course, is how bright are you shining? What kind of a difference are you making? If you were to leave unannounced, would anyone notice? Would anyone care? Ask yourself those questions... they are very enlightening. Are you shining bright?

Friday, March 23, 2007


Deep within us lies something we never knew was there. Something that hides deep within the crevasses, hoping that it won’t be noticed, hiding from any hint of light to break the dark. Even when we see it, we barely notice it, because the truth is that it is a part of us. That little something influences who we are. It’s our culture.

If you haven’t had the chance to get out of your culture (wherever or whatever that may be) I suggest you give it a spin, it’s an enlightening experience. Everything that you’ve ever taken for granted is suddenly put into question, from the way you say things, to what words you use to associate with particular objects. Not a single thing is sacred.

Nowhere does this become more true than when you’re dealing with church. I was supposed to run the youth tonight, but there was rain earlier in the day. Back home, this means we adjust our plans a little bit and make sure we’re inside. Here, it means the event is cancelled. Truly, there is very little that I understand about the way people are. The way that I might do things is no longer relevant, and the way that I look at the church would take years to sink in and make a difference. I’m only here for three months.

Being in another culture has so much to teach you. And despite what anyone might tell you, you have much to offer them. Don’t ever think that you have the one, true way to get something done. And don’t ever let someone tell you that your opinion is not valid... it simply isn’t true. I have been taught more about faith from children and curious youth than I have by scholars. Never stop asking those questions, never stop striving for more.

We all have our oddities. We all have our imperfections. This is what makes us human. This is what shows our need for Christ. This is both our greatest strength when we are together, and our greatest weakness when we relegate ourselves to solitary confinement. Let other people influence you, and in turn, influence other people. If you’re all seeking God, you’ll find a very cool median in there.

We are so odd....

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Milk! (and other miscellaneous things)

I’ve had a serious craving for good old fashioned, doesn’t taste like it’s been through a fire milk since I got here. When they ship milk to Fiji, it’s put through a process where they super heat it to some ridiculous temperature, put into a carton, and then it’s good for months without refrigeration. It’s mind boggling to me, because milk is only supposed to last for two weeks. If you haven’t drank it by then, there is something wrong with you. There is one side effect, however. It tastes nasty.

Imagine this with me. You’ve come home after a hard day of work. Your muscles (that includes your brain, thank you!) are tired. Your body is weary; and you have a hankering for milk. You know what it feels like. That smooth milk will flow down your throat and replenish everything that is lacking in your life. You pour the glass, waiting with baited breathe for your craving to be fulfilled. You lift the glass to your mouth, and take in a mouthful.

And then you gag.

WHO BURNT THE MILK! It tastes like it’s been put through an old pot! This stuff is NASTY.

Thus my experience with milk in Fiji until now. I found some pasteurized milk here. Catch is, it lasts three days. The bonus round, however, will tell you it’s only a litre of milk. That’s child’s play for me, just ask Marilyn, I usually drink 4 litres of milk in a week. YES! MILK! I am victorious!

Despite my pleas to God, there was no heavy rain last night, so I was dragged out of bed this morning at 4:50 AM. However, our Lord did have mercy on me and gave me a peaceful rest and I was surprisingly awake after I got over a bad case of the yawns. I figure it’s because my body was in rebellion for me even CONSIDERING getting it out of bed that early. Now that I think about it, my brain was complaining too.

I finally got to talk to Jordan for awhile today. We’ve been missing each other for almost a week. And my heart goes out to her. Being in a place where you don’t natively speak the language (although she is much more graceful with Spanish than I ever will be), and where you are only viewed as a temporary is never an easy thing. I’d be lonely too if I had to rough it out for 8 months with no real friends and surrounded by 26 orphans nearly 24 hours a day. I love kids, but I can only take so much before I need to hand them back to their parents and say my goodbyes. Just remember Jordan… 50 days to go! You’re almost there!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Adventures of the Tourist Kind

What a great day. Certainly unique so far in my time here in Fiji. It is the first time I've been on a touristy thing since I got here. I got onto the boat, and I've never seen so many white people congregated in one place before!

And it is amazing how in these times, God will lead you to the right people. I got onto the boat in Denarau island, and sat down to a guy named Scott. He's an entrepreneur from America who's here for a motivational conference. About 10 minutes into the boatride (check the album) we got into a conversation about God. I'm learning from my time here that in order to have those kinds of conversations, you just have to be very blunt and very unashamed of what you believe in.

The day at Beachcomber was spent ... well, relaxing and talking with people. It's a bit of a backpackers resort, and while it is nice, the mean age of people there must about been 24. So I got to know people! I went snorkelling, and saw some really incredible fish. Neon blue starfish, yellow, green and white large fish and some that are the 'changing colour depending what angle you look at me' fish. It was gorgeous. I wish I had a camera that I could take pictures under water with me!

In the afternoon, I went out on a boat trip to see some of the coral farther out and the fish that were in them. Beautiful. The best part of that little jaunt, however was the feeding. They took bread and threw it in the water. Think piranha's but not the type that eat you. Hilarious as 50 some fish converge on a single piece of bread, and then one giant one scatters them all.

God created a wonderful and beautiful earth. I am priviledge to be able to see one part of it I never thought I would. From the coral fish to the beautiful warm ocean, there is so much diversity.

The most beautiful part of it all, however, and I'm biased in this, were the people. Not in the outward way, but in the inward. The Fijians were living up to what I would expect of them, being hilariously funny and overly friendly, both to the tourists and to each other. It's fascinating to watch. And the people, as I got to know them showed me how diverse this world is. People from America, Germany, England, etc. all coming together and being friends.

This wold definitely needed a saviour... and now we need to share it with them! Both in our actions, and in our words. Digging deep into people's lives and showing them how much God loves them!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Those Smiles

Isn’t it funny that in the midst of everything that goes on, God always finds ways to make you smile. Perhaps it is a conversation that came out of something foolish, or people that find you at just the right time, to encourage you. I started my morning out in the most unlikely way.

The Cairns were in the back of the BDC, which is where I normally take a shower. No biggy, except that the washroom was in use! So I needed to wait until it cleared out before I could go in and have my shower. Jackson was in his office, and so I sat down and we ended up having a great conversation. Talking about ministry, the joys and the frustrations, what we were both learning and some of the observations we had both made over the past few weeks. Truly, this is a man that God is doing great things in. I am excited to see what Nadi church will look like in a few years under his guidance. In every single way, he impresses.

Later in the day, I had the opportunity to go into Lautoka with Sebastien and Mimi. We had about an hour to kill before the movie started, so we walked around the town for awhile looking for shops. Just walking in and out of some of them. Well, Sebastien walked into one that I probably never would have gone into myself (just one of those junk shops) and inside I found a wooden flute. Nothing spectacular, but special all on its own! The guy just wanted to get rid of it, so I bought it for real cheap.

These are the times when you can look back and just smile. God has a way in bringing about these moments from the most unlikely circumstances. That is exciting!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Hanging In There

Everything is for a purpose. This is what so many different people keep telling me. Everything has its place, and God is working through the situation. Isn’t it funny how those words are so anecdotal when you are in the midst of that situation? Perfectly relevant when you are outside, but meaningless when you’re the one who’s taking the beating. This is what it must feel like to be in the 14th round as a boxer.

You go back to the ropes at the end of a hard fought battle. Three minutes separate you from it all being over. Your legs feel like concrete, your arms like jelly. You can barely see straight because of the blood running down your brow. Your lips are swollen and your body bruised. Some coach squirts water on your face and into your mouth while a doctor applies a strip to your new cut to stop the bleeding. “Hang in there,” they tell you. “It’s almost over,” they say. “You’re doing well, just watch out for the left jab, and keep your feet moving!” As if you weren’t trying to do all those things already. You’re unsure that you’ll even be able to stand up when the bell rings, but it sounds so easy when you’re not the one facing the barrage of punches.

This is not to say any of that advice is not entirely true. It’s just advice that is meant for hindsight, not present times. That boxer knows that he’s going to get paid. I know this is all for the purpose, but that doesn’t make it any easier to get in there for another round. My spirit still yearns for thirty seconds more. My heart wonders if it will be able to get up from the stool. My brain asks what the purpose really is if it isn’t readily available. My soul... my soul says hang in there.

I’ve been here before. I’ll be here again. Never before in quite this way. Never again. But I’ve been here. So have you. That last kilometre before the finish line. Each step drags over the pavement as the sun beats down on your from above, daring you to surrender to its heat. “Forget about the 30 kilometres you’ve run so far, you’ll never make that last one,” it scoffs. Be still, my soul. Be quiet, you scoffer. And you put your head down, pump your arms a little faster and pick up the pace. Each metre a war, each step a battle. But when you cross the finish line, you lift your hands in triumph, your body relieved it can rest.

1 Corinthians 9:23-27
I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Influences and Experiences

Wow, it was a day of awesome experiences and new learning opportunities. The morning was of course started out with preaching in Lautoka. That, as I’m sure you have gauged is always a pleasant experience and this morning was no different. The environment was free and welcoming. The people friendly, and the service was conducted with an open spirit.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the service for me, however was not necessarily the spirit but the different components of me. There was a part of the service where people were welcomed to freely come to the front and share what God did in their life this past week. There was one lady there who specifically referenced my sermon on Joy from the previous week, which was a very humbling experience to know that your words were not only heard, but applied. A huge responsibility there!

During the afternoon, Jong invited me to a rehabilitation centre in Nadi. They take in young men over 18 who are drunk, addicted to narcotics, etc. Every Sunday afternoon they have a ‘coffee church’ where it is fairly informal, they have a band to play and a sermon. We were the only two non-Fijians in the room, which is always an interesting experience. But again, the spirit was open and willing and the theology was correct. It was neat to see Fijians doing church... their way. Lots of movement, lots of activity. Not unlike some church plants you get back home, either.

Who knows, I may be stopping in there a little more often to see what kind of ministry they do on a day-by-day basis. We’ll keep exploring opportunities as God reveals them to me slowly. And if I truly am willing, then I need to be willing to go where He sends me and take those opportunities He gives me. The next month and a half will hold some very interesting events, no doubt!

Culture Shock

Yup, I think I've hit it full on. That wonderful moment in time when you become disillusioned with a culture and you just want to go back home. Maybe it's the fact that I've been here two months. Maybe it's that I miss a lot of things from home. Maybe it's that I'm not here with a group or anyone who really understands many of the things I'm missing from back home.

The reality of the situation, however tells me that this is something to be expected. I should not be surprised in many different levels. From the culture shock, to the loneliness, because the enemy that we fight is not a stupid or naive one. He is cunning and dangerous, and will attack us in the places that it hurts most.

With this in mind, the message that I must once again push forward. Beyond the hurdles, beyond my own limitations, beyond what I would think reasonably possible into the outer limits. Places I have never been before, uncharted waters. I go because that is where I have been asked to go, destined to go. And so, I will lay aside my own pain in an effort to go where God wants me to go.

I only pray that He will give me the energy to stay the course.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Just One of Those Days

I’m preaching tomorrow morning, so I want to get to bed asap! We had a camp meeting this morning where we worked out all of the details of how the camp at the end of April will work. Makes me long for camp back home, when planning it was almost as much fun as HAVING the camp! There was laughter, crazy ideas, and even crazier games that came to fruition in those hours, and many good friends were formed because of it!

The rest of the day was spent relaxing. It was nice... nothing in particular to focus on, I could just relax and play some games and read. Things I’ve been wanting to do for awhile, but was either attempting to work things out, busy travelling somewhere or worrying or praying about something else. Just let my mind relax and enjoy itself.

Makes me wonder... this past week has been a dynamo of activity, and it makes me wonder what this next one will bring. That is not in my hands, and I’m thankful for that.

Use me God... I’m willing.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Twists of Life

You are my strength when I am weak
You are the treasure that I seek
You are my All in All

Seeking You as a precious jewel
Lord, to give up I’d be a fool
You are my All in All

Taking my sin, my cross, my shame
rising again, I bless Your name
You are my All in All

When I fall down, you pick me up
When I am dry, you fill my cup
You are my All in All

Jesus, Lamb of God
Worthy is your name

Sometimes, the best days start off in the worst ways. I opened my eyes, and I immediately got the impression that I just shouldn’t get out of bed. We’ve all had those days; you pry your eyes open only to have your body beg you not to get out quite yet. In my case, that was followed closely by a chaser of a cold shower. Not the most enticing mix.

Normally on a Friday morning, I go to the Airport School to teach Scripture in school. One of those few days that I really look forward to in a week, because you have smiling faces and eager hearts. What more could you ask for? This morning, however had a twist to it. We normally leave about 5 or 10 after 9 to get there in time to teach the first class. I started getting ready about 5 after, and was packing my stuff up when I remembered I forgot to brush my teeth. Nothing worse than smelly breath for an entire day. So I quickly brushed my teeth. Josefa, the man who also lives in the BDC, must have been having an impatient day, because when I came out of the BDC (at 9:07, I checked) he was rolling out of the BDC at walking pace. So I walked briskly towards the van... no worries. He sped up. Then in the street he yelled out the window, “Run.” Now... if this is a friend, it’s a laugh, because it’s done in good spirit. This wasn’t one of those moments. Jackson was sitting in the back of the van looking at me, and told me to go back to the BDC and shut the door, which I’d forgotten to do. Josefa drove off. It is worth noting though that this evening when I came home, we had a good conversation about it, and he apologized, and now I'd like to think our friendship is stronger because of it.

So I walked! It was about 45 minutes to an hour to the school up and down hills and in some very hot sun. But God and I had a lengthy chat, so can I really complain about that? When I got to the airport school, I was hot, sweaty, smelly and a little more than angry. Jackson and I talked for a bit, and when I explained to Josefa that what happened was unacceptable, and that I was in no condition to be teaching now, he told me to have the day off. So Jackson took my classes, and I moved on.

Interesting story in itself, but the rest of the day was filled with different twists. While I was waiting for a bus, I got talking with a lady there. She was a believer (meaning she believes she’s a sinner and Jesus died on the cross for her sins, I didn’t probe much deeper) and was going to pray. Apparently her church has been praying 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for the past 7 years. That’s an impressive feat no matter who you are!

In the evening I went to the Lautoka church again for their youth program. Have I said how much I love this church? They are free, they are ... well, a church. The kids were fun, and that in turn allowed me to have fun talking with them. We talked about being counter-culture (see yesterday’s post!), which is challenging for them, and challenging for me.

And then the ride home on a mini-bus. All the buses had stopped about an hour or two before, so the only way you can get a ride to Nadi from one of the other towns is via mini bus. A few twists on this trip... I was sitting next to a ... feminine male.

There are quite a few of them in Fiji, just a litmus test of the state of the culture itself. And the last twist is that when it came to my stop, I asked for him to stop in English, and he didn’t hear me. But when I made the sound all the locals makes (“Sssss”) he stopped immediately. I think I’m getting the hang of it! 

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Counter Culture

I had to prepare myself for this one, because it may be one of the biggest shifts I have to take as an individual and it may be one of the biggest ones we have to make as a community. We are called to be counter-culture. This is not the culture that you are thinking. It is not North American, European, African or Fijian. It is counter-church culture.

No matter where you go, we are called to be salt and light. Dare I say it; there is no place like home that needs it the most. We have created a ‘nice’ place. ‘Nice’ people, ‘Nice’ environments, ‘Nice’ worship. But that is not what God called us to. Let’s look a little bit deeper.

Matthew 8:18-23 says this, “When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, "Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go." Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head." Another disciple said to him, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." But Jesus told him, "Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead." Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him.”

That is not the statement of a ‘nice’ man. That is the cut flesh from bone words of our saviour. Let the dead bury their own dead. That was their father he was talking about! What if your pastor told you that today? You’d probably phone the denomination and tell them he MUST be fired. I am learning that this cancer is not limited to just North America... but it is spreading through the world. We have carried our bad habits with us to the far reaches of the earth.

We must be FIERCE warriors, willing to confront sin and wrong in our lives and in the lives around us. We must pick up our spiritual armour and prepare ourselves to march into battle. The enemy is waiting, but are we ready? My thoughts? No... not yet. But our time will come. The Holy Spirit is calling His saints together once more, to strike back at the enemy and push them deep into their territory. It is time we march boldly to the very gates of Hades and stand with the power of God once more to say enough, you will not take any more. You will not have any more souls, because by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, we oppose you and we WILL strike you back.

A worldwide effort that is very counter- Church culture.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Where to From Here

Here's a question for you. When you're completely unsure about what step to take next, what step do you take? The answer, as life and it's many situations have taught me is that you go absolutely nowhere. You stop, you pray. And then you wait.

It's one of the hardest things you will ever have to do. It's like trying to stay still when you can see someone about to be hurt. But if you rush in too quickly, you'll end up not helping, but only making the situation worse. And so you wait till that still, small voice says, "Now."

This is where I find myself. I'm not leaving Fiji for now, and so I look forward to the coming weeks with anticipation. Not of what I'm going to do, but rather what God is going to do. I'm just as unsure and confused as I was yesterday, but I don't matter in this situation. A soldier on the battlefield doesn't need to know why he's been placed within enemy lines, only that he has a very important mission. His job is to wait for orders, and then complete them.

So God, I'm waiting for my orders!

Behind enemy lines, threatened on every side... yet strangely safe. Unsure about where I'm supposed to go next, or why I'm being kept here for longer... but at peace with that decision. Staring into a dark, unknown room... but knowing that I'm here for a purpose.

So... where to from here?


When you walk through a valley, you learn to look for the small things. Little roadsigns that point you in the right direction, that tell you that someone, or Someone is watching over you. It must be a lot like tracking someone, paying attention to the smallest detail in the grass to point you in the right direction, a broken twig, or leaves bent in just such a way.

Or maybe it's a flower. When it's storming all around you, and the sun hasn't come out in days, when you see that flower it is as though the clouds part and sunlight bursts forth from the skies, daring the clouds to try to stop it. Makes you feel like the angels have dove through the dark atmosphere to show you once more that someone sees you in that valley, and hope is coming.

Daniel had to wait three weeks to get his answer from God. Because there was spiritual battles raging all around him. But God was watching over him that entire time.

I have family, friends, and countless numbers of people praying for me while I am here. So I wonder what it would look like if God were to open my eyes up into the spiritual realm. I have a strange sense that there are many warriors gathering for something that is yet to come. Exciting and terrifying at the same time, to know that God is preparing to break down something that has stood for too long.

Once again the mission has reaffirmed my being here in Fiji. I have to be honest and say that i don't always feel that I'm still called to be here. But God has confirmed it once more. My time here is not yet done. And another comfort in the midst of it all. I am not alone, others recognize the same things I am, and for that... I am thankful.

God is good. Last night I was reading through my devotions, and I covered 1 Peter 4. If you have the time, pull out your Bible and read through it. It's funny how God leads us directly to the passage of scripture that we need in our time of need. Be steadfast! Know that I am God, and be proud that you suffer because of me. An encouragement in the midst of everything that is going on.

God is good. He watched over His children and continues to speak to them today!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Keep it Simple

I’m in the process of preparing for the weekend. There is Young Adults Thursday night, youth in Lautoka on Friday and church Sunday morning in Lautoka again. The funny thing is, the preparation work is really not in-depth. Those of you from Three Hills may remember my ‘passionate believer’ series from October, and the content fits perfectly with the needs of the people here (not to mention my own). Joy, Peace, Patience, Love... these are staples of the Christian life. Deep like an ocean, but enough for anyone to wade into.

So much of my preparation is already done, because the exegesis and research I did for those sermons applies directly to the ones that I am writing here. It’s a blessing and a frustration! What I wouldn’t do to be busy for the entire day again. Who’d ever suspect I’d say something like that! I remember the days when the River was still getting up onto its legs, and the administration of it consumed much of my week, and I wish those days were still here. I was given a task, and turned loose on it... something I enjoy more than I can really put into words.

I’m sure Kevin learned that through our 16 months of working together. I don’t respond well if you are too ambiguous in the direction that you give me. I don’t do well if you just turn me loose to do whatever suits my desires. But if you show me an area of need, or give me the power to identify and brainstorm solutions, then I will shine through. It focuses my efforts into a very dedicated channel towards a tangible result. I love that.

The end result of all of this? Keep it simple. I’m aiming to keep my sermons as simple as possible, yet with a hidden depth for those who are seeking more. This makes the information contained therein freely available to all, yet with a component that asks you to reach for it to get all of it. My hope is that God will bless the effort so that it is effective. Keep your tasks simple. This is what we need, can you fix it? Can you make it better? Can you offer some of your experience?

Simple. Plain. Jesus died on the cross for our sins, can you accept that you’re a sinner? Simple.

Monday, March 12, 2007


Perhaps you read that title, and you wonder what is about to come out of thoughts. Perhaps it will be words of malice, or of frustration. Maybe it will only serve to further build my case and indisputably prove to you about how bad off I have it. Boy, have I got you fooled.

All of you, is more than enough for
All of me, for every thirsty and every need
You satisfy me, with Your love
And all I have in You, is more than enough

You are my supply, my breathe of life;
Still more awesome than I know....
You are my reward, worth living for;
Still more awesome than I know!

Cause all of you, is more than enough for
All of me, for every thirst and every need.
You satisfy me, with your love
And all I have in You, is more than enough.

You’re my sacrifice of greatest price;
Still more awesome than I know!
You’re my coming king, You’re everything;
Still more awesome than I know!

All of you, is more than enough for
All of me, for every thirsty and every need.
You satisfy me, with your love,
And all I have in You, is more than enough.

You’re enough... You’re enough, You’re enough for me.

Enough. The honest truth is that I am resigned to only one thing, and that’s God’s will. And part of learning to follow after that will is learning to have peace with whatever decision He comes to... or the time He leaves you to wait for that answer. I will trust that no matter how long He makes me wait, He will continue to use me in very specific, special kinds of ways.

So I resign myself the knowledge that I am exactly where God wants me to be, doing what He wants me to do, because I am seeking that out diligently. I will have those conversations that God brings my way, I will throw myself into whatever task He leaves me without hesitation. I will give it my all, because this energy does not come from me... but from Him.

A good example of one of these conversations happened last night. After the service, I managed to catch a bus down to the Tanoa (an adventure all on its own, let me tell you!) because they have a buffet with roast beef, lamb and pork. And since I know the manager (wink wink) I get a discounted (read: reasonable) price for it all.

Many of the pilots were there as well, having arrived quite a bit earlier than I. So I joined them mid-meal. Now, you have to understand something about this particular group of people. Reformed Christians they are not, nor would I expect them to be. But they most definitely are strong personalities, and good times are to be usually had. Just watch out for the occasional detour into the gutters, as the conversation has a tendency to steer its way there.

If these people are never going to darken the doors of a church... my first question is why. The second is how come we aren’t going to them? What would a church look like that would actually meet these people where they are at? You know the type. Alcohol is readily consumed. Sex is something to be enjoyed freely. And as long as you can forget about your misery, everything is dandy. To me, that screams Jesus. To them, Jesus is a curse word.

Opportunities, and the reminder that God is more than enough.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Hold the Moment

The problem about decisions is that they are never easy. Sometimes they aren’t even up to you. Or maybe the problem is with me. No matter how high that pile of ‘cons’ stacks, almost to the point of being immeasurable... there is at least one piece in the ‘pros.’ The glass is always half full when you look at it that way, because any loss is an unacceptable loss. But at what point do you call it a day, cut your losses and head for home.

These are the things that I ponder right now. There are many moments that make me cringe and wish I never had to experience them. But in the sea of experiences, there are a few fish that float on bye that leave me in awe. Literally. The ones that seem to make it all worthwhile, and make you want to hang around for just a little bit longer to see if any more are coming your way.

This morning I preached in the Lautoka church. Once again, walking through the doors of the church was like a breath of fresh air. Where the Spirit of the Lord is... freedom reigns. If only I was able to spend my time at a church and focus my efforts on one particular place to make a tangible, real difference in the lives of the people.

I preached on Joy. The Joy of the Lord that permeates every single situation, no matter how hard, how dismal or how hopeless it may seem. Why? Because our hope does not depend on us... it depends on God. He never changes. He was the same yesterday as He is today, and He’ll be the same tomorrow. Hence, our Joy should be equally as sure and steady. We can smile in the midst of excruciating pain, because Jesus lives... and we have that rock to hold onto.

Afterwards, the elders and their wives made lunch for me, and we enjoyed each others presence. It makes me wonder how anyone could not like the friendly, open nature of these people. Sure, they have their quirks, but don’t we all? Each culture has its good and bad. Somehow, even though I’ve only been at the church twice now, they make me feel like I’m at home. We laughed, we talked, and we enjoyed each others presence. It’s also the first time while I’ve been here in Fiji I’ve been referred to as Pastor.

That’s a huge deal. A lot of respect is given to someone with that title, and you better not be screwing it up, because it means they are expecting great things out of you too. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. They call you pastor, you better act like one.

If only I could take a camera and freeze that moment, remember what it felt like, remember what a difference it made. Those are the moments you want to hold onto for the rest of your life, because they matter.

But are these few scattered moments enough? Is that really why I came here? No... sadly it is not. It is a glimpse of why, in as much a glass of water represents the ocean. I came to learn what it meant to pastor here in Fiji, to experience the culture and learn about it, and to see if I would fit in here. Sadly, I am not being allowed to pastor, the experiences I have with the culture are limited, and I know I definitely don’t fit in here. But that last one is not with the Fijians.

If only I could hold that moment.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Eye of the Storm

There comes a time in all of our lives when you have to wait. It’s the last possible thing you want to do, but it also is out of necessity. In the midst of the storm of life that rages on around us, as the lightning of situations crash into the ground, ripping apart the path we thought we were going to take we have to learn to wait for the thunder to fade and get our bearings once more. We’re disorientated, lost, blind and deaf. And so you sit with both hands on the ground and wait for your bearings to come back to you. Then, and only then, can you stand up, survey your surroundings, and make an informed decision about how best to carry on to that distant city.

People are watching. They see you from behind and in front of you. Some of them have been there, and some only know that it is coming, but they are all curious. We deal with these situations differently, each of choosing our own solution to the problem. Advice is needed, but the decision is yours and yours alone. You are the one who takes the broken bones and the bruised muscles and carry them with you until they heal. Responsibility is yours.

And so I wait. I wait for this disorientation to clear. I wait for God to reveal to me what path He has left for me to take. I wait for His will to be known to me and those around me clearly once more. Here I wait, not wanting to make a hasty decision... in the eye of the storm.

Whatever decision I choose to make, there will be rain and lightning to walk through yet. It’s not a storm that has passed, but I’m right in the middle of it. There are gems, like the youth, the young adults, the children, and the opportunities I do have to preach. And there is the wind and the rain. So many different options, but it boils down to two simple choices: stay or go.

So I’ll wait; holding onto the Rock, praying that He will reveal Himself to me in the small gentle whisper. My desire is only to follow. Here in the eye of the storm.

Friday, March 09, 2007

The End of my Rope

The last few days have been extremely wearing on me. Emotionally. Spiritually. I’m done. I’m at the end of my rope. I’ve tried every avenue, and they have all come up short. I can’t do it any longer. I’m no longer sufficient.

When it rains or it shines on this pillow of mine
I will lift up my head to the sky
So i have chance to see
Where my hope has come from
Know there's nothing that i can't abide

When Nothing Satisfies you
When nothing satisfies you
When nothing satisfies you
Hold my hand

Send forth Your Light Lord,
and send forth Your Truth
Let them guide me to Your Holy Place
Then will i go to the Altar of God
to my Joy, my Delight and my Strength

When Nothing Satisfies you
When nothing satisfies you
When nothing satisfies you
Hold my hand

Why are you so downcast o my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God
My Savior, my King
My Savior, my King

When Nothing Satisfies you
When nothing satisfies you
When nothing satisfies you
Hold my hand

Or maybe… it’s like this.

I've exhausted every possible solution,
I've tried every last game there is to play.
In this search for the Christ like perfection
I'm convinced I've only left my God ashamed.
I cry I wonder can he hear my despair.
Afraid to lift my hands afraid he doesn't care.

And if he answers and I fall again
can I still be his daughter can I still depend on him.
When I'm down search every mistake, looking for new regrets.
sometimes I forget, I forget that his grace is sufficient for me.
that it's deeper and wider than I can conceive.

His Grace is sufficient for me.
My convictions seem to fade with desperation,
my hope declines with each and every tear.
My sin an anchor and this grace just an illusion.

The gavels heavy and justice is near.
Up comes the light and finds the stains on my hands.
Up comes my pride, I hide, I know he won't understand.
Cause it's deeper than deep and it's wider then wide.
why did I ever doubt now I'm dying inside.

However you relate to the situation that I’m in... I’m truly feeling done. I no longer want to carry on. I want to retreat, I want a rest. I can’t hold my hands up any longer; the load is too heavy for me. I want to go home, to stop fighting for respect, to stop fighting people that should have known better long ago. People who DO know better than their actions show.

I miss the times when I was given the luxury of respect from those around me. When my opinion was taken as an opinion, not as my age. When the words that God spoke through me were not filtered or taken at less of an importance level because I am not 40 with a family. I want a fighting chance to prove that I am worth something. I want to be valued. I want to feel like I COULD be useful.

Jesus was 30 when he started his ministry. He was 12 when he taught in the temple courts. I’m not Jesus. But I wish I had his sense of direction.

And so I pray. Pray that God would guide my steps and those I’ve asked for advice. Do I stay the course or do we fan the sails and head for home? God, give me wisdom.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

When God Sends an Angel

It POURED last night. It was an incredible storm, and it went super late into the morning, with lightning, thunder and a torrent of rain. This has two beneficial effects. The first is that I get to enjoy a divine rain storm throughout the night – something ALWAYS worth sacrificing sleep for. The second is that the weekly trip out to camp is cancelled.

Now, that second part doesn’t seem quite so sweet when you consider that I was going to get dropped off at the Outrigger later in the morning to visit Travis and Mel Stevens, two friends from Canada who are passing through. I know Mel from Karate back in Three Hills, and they had brought some stuff for me. This left me to find my own way down to the South Western part of the Island.

Now, there is nothing quite like an adventure when you are all by yourself. No one else to blame for your mistakes when it is Me, Myself and I. I caught a return taxi into Nadi at 1, and walked the rest of the way to the bus stand. From there, I caught a Viti MiniBus to Suva, where I could get off at the Outrigger. The exciting thing about transportation here is that unless you are willing to pay a pretty penny (sometimes up to 20 times more) for your own solo ride, you get to wait ‘till the bus fills up. So after about 45 minutes of waiting, it can take upwards of 2 hours sometimes, we were on the way!

I arrived at the Outrigger around 3:30 PM and tracked down my two friends. Nice to talk to people who are a breath of fresh air from home: it reminds you of all the good things you miss, and something common to talk about. So we talked, ate and simply talked until about 6 PM, when I went back to the front desk at the Outrigger to catch the Coral Sun bus.

One thing you should always remember when you go to a ‘tourist’ country. If you’re a tourist, everything is going to cost at least double what it should. My ride down to the Outrigger cost me 10 dollars. They were telling me it was going to be 17 to catch the bus back. No biggy, it is air conditioned. One problem though, it wasn’t there. Turns out the lady that told me the time of the bus arrival was completely out to lunch, and I missed the bus.

Here’s where it gets comical. To catch a taxi into Sigatoka (5 minutes drive away) they wanted 10 dollars. I laughed at the lady who told me that, and asked her if tourists actually pay that (they do!). Then I preceded to walk out to the side of the road, and catch a minivan into Sigatoka (70 cents). While on the side of the road, I wasn’t feeling entirely confident in myself, although I knew what I wanted to do, I wasn’t entirely sure on WHERE everything was that I needed to catch.

So God sent an angel.

One of the ladies that was standing beside the road waiting for a bus/van took me directly to the minivan stand and made sure I got onto a van coming back to Nadi. Surprisingly enough, there was a van stopped at the stand with room for one (1) person. When they come through Sigatoka, they stop at a refreshment stand for about 15 minutes and then continue to drive on... and it was getting late (thus why I was a little unsure), and it just so happens that there was a van waiting with one last space for me to get on. You can’t tell me that doesn’t make you smile.

Total cost on my return: $6.70
Total tourist cost: $17

Seeing friends from back home in the middle of your time in a foreign country. An unknown lady that made sure I got onto the right van when I wasn’t quite sure about things because it was late and getting quite dark in a unknown town. Back home, safe and sound, dropped right beside my own road, for nearly a third of the cost. That’s sweet. God’s great!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

You’re as Busy as You Want to Be

One of my friends recently told me these words. They are challenging in their own right, and to some degree hold validity to my current situation. I find myself frustrated because I came all this way, and I feel as though I am only here to cut grass and show up to youth events. Most of my week is free, with little structure to guide my energy. This alone is probably the most frustrating thing of coming all this way. I want to do something; I want to feel of use!

So when I talked to him about this, he shared these words with me. The question then, is how can I get busy? I’ve already committed to focusing the free parts of my days to finishing my school work so that I can graduate. While this is important, it isn’t one of the reasons I came this far. So it is time to take matters into my own hands. Time to stop standing idly by and wait for something to happen, but gamble a bit with my straightforwardness and see what God has in store.

I preach this Sunday in Lautoka, and I will make the proposition to them that I am willing to preach two Sunday Mornings out of the month at their church on top of my current schedule. This would help me focus my efforts, and engage in the culture in a real way. Perhaps it will pay off; perhaps God will close the door. I am willing to accept either avenue, but I would feel cheapened if I didn’t at least try.

Your prayers are felt, and my gratitude is owed. For the many of you who are constantly lifting me up in prayer, I thank you. Please continue to pray that God would guide my footsteps while I am here in Fiji. I want to honour Him with my whole being, in every thought, word and action. I would also ask that you pray for my return back to Canada, as I am unsure about work opportunities at this time.

I want to be busy, so I better put my actions where my mouth is. God, I’m willing. Send me.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

I Would Bleed For You

We go throughout life building, forming and eventually destroying relationships. Some are for good, and some leave horrible damage in their wake. Through my many relationships, I have learned to ask myself one question... would I be willing to bleed for you?

As humans, we have a horrible ability to lie to ourselves, and subsequently to the people around us. We tell ourselves that we love this person, and so we tell that person that we love them, when we never bothered to cement that idea in our own heads. Rather than testing it, proving it, and then sharing it, we skip the R&D sections of the relationship and jump right to production. The irony in it is that we ask ourselves why they fall apart later. Like a building, you need to start with that foundation, not with the penthouse apartment. Sure, the latter may be glamorous, but it won’t stand the test of time. Which is more important? Having that apartment for a few weeks, or waiting a few months for an apartment that will last a life time?

Ministry is kind of like that. Many kids my age (and that is admitting that I am still a kid!), rush into church ministry or missions work without first confronting themselves. Taking that time to do a little bit of navel gazing and working through the demons you’ve invited into your life and the luggage you’ve picked up. It’s not easy; actually, it downright sucks. But it is necessary. This self-exploration cements who you are as a person and allows you then to ask yourself the question, would I bleed for you?

Naturally then, because I like to put on the mask of an expert in so many fields, this leads into the statement that I have been asking myself this question about Fiji. I’ve been here for a month and a half, and I have a decent grasp on the surface issues of ministry in Fiji. But ultimately, none of these questions about methods or programs are important if my heart isn’t in it. The hard truth is that I now know this is not a place that my heart has followed me to.

Let me qualify that statement a little bit, because it drops like a bombshell. I have known, since grade 8 when God called me into ministry that my heart was for my peers. It was for my own generation and the generations that would follow me. My hearts desire is to see them on fire for God, lighting up the country with their passion, their fervour and their relationships. Just thinking about it gets me excited, and I can feel that passion boiling up from within me.

I am also reminded of some of my friends who were clearly called into missions through Bible College. They got that wild-eyed, frothy kind of excitement when you mentioned some remote African village and no running water. They were passionate about these people, and especially about their relationships with God. So the question that comes to my mind is not whether or not I could do ministry, but whether or not I should.

For whom would I be willing to shed my blood? The bitter truth is that it is not here. It is back home, seeing a nation that slides slowly away from God awaken from its winter hibernation and become a mighty force for God once more. That is what raises a battle cry within me, and that is really the only place I see myself in twenty years. It took flying across the world to confirm that, but now I am sure.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Those Conversations

I was up a little later than normal today, but that didn’t stop it from being productive. One of the hard parts I have found while here in Fiji is that I haven’t been given a structured form of ministry. This makes it especially hard to know how to spend my daily hours to effectively perform ministry. Because I am only here for three months, visitation is not really an option unless I go with someone else.
Unfortunately, I don’t think anyone actively performs visitation here. I am certainly not free to move about and preach at will, as that has been disallowed. So what do you do with your time?

There aren’t any real easy answers to that question. If I were back home, I could plan effective ministry programs. I could prepare sermons. I could get to know the people that are around me to build relationships leading to conversations. Very few of these things are an option while I’m here.

So I read. I read the books that I brought with me, I read the Bible, I read whatever articles I can find while I’m on the internet. I have to structure my time around these things, and it really doesn’t feel like effective use of my time… but I’m learning lots!

Around noon I went into town to get onto the internet. My beloved Grandma is visiting my sister, which means we can get online and talk via webcam. Normally this isn’t an option because she lives in small town Saskatchewan, so it was wonderful to see her. Carys, of course, was enjoying the sound of her own voice and looking infinitely cute! Can’t wait to get back and see my family again!

This afternoon, I went with Sebastien to the Nadi Sports Club. They have Tennis and Squash Courts, a Swimming Pool, Lawn Bowling and a few other activities. We went today for the Squash courts. Ended up spending almost 3 hours, playing for about two thirds of that. It’s a great workout, and fun when you can play games consecutively against someone and actually give them a challenge. I’m still learning, which means I have to make up for my poor play by lots of running, but I’m learning quickly.

The intriguing part came after the games of squash though. We went to the ever native Fijian restaurant, McDonalds, and had a good chat. We talked about the ministry that I am doing here, the responsibilities of it, where Sebastien and Mimi will be going after their time here in Fiji, and about theology. One thing that Bible college is good for is offering you an environment that allows you to produce and challenge your own ideas against other people, the Bible tells us, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” This could not be more true! We discussed a variety of topics, from the theology of ministry to assurance of salvation. It was good to have conversations like that once more and see where I am at in my own beliefs.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

The Group Events

Having friends is crucial to the survival of any person. No matter how introverted you are, you need that safety net of people who want to be around you. This lights up especially when you are outside of your normal comfort zone, such as in another country. While I wouldn’t say that I’m particularly close with any one person here in Fiji, it is nice to know that in the end there are people to spend time with.

This evening a group of us got together for dinner and a movie. Most of the expatriates in this country are pilots, and tonight’s group definitely reflected that. Everyone other than Jong, Molly, Meriam and myself are here in the country to fly. They are a good group of people, but you have to keep in mind that none of them are even close to what you might consider ‘religious.’

It’s an enlightening experience to be in an environment where they feel free to be themselves, and it quickly brings forward the problem that most Christians back home have. You cannot truly be a light in the world unless you are in that world. Sure, it’s uncomfortable. Sure, it goes against what you have been told in the past. It means being around people with dirty mouths and lewd conversation. But it also means that you have to decide what you really believe in… because you stand out like a sore thumb.

This, I think, would be beneficial for everyone. You are less myopic in your faith, and you are forced to come to terms with the fact that few people share the same opinion as you. The way you live becomes paramount, because you ARE Jesus to these people.

Saturday, March 03, 2007


We do everything for a reason. Every single word, every action that we takes comes from a motive. There are times when we think this motive out in intricate detail, and times when we treat it like an unnecessary detail in the path to glorious world conquest. Whether it is academic or primal, our motives dictate our actions.

Today was a good reminder of my motives, my reasons. I was in the Natambua church in the morning. Jong picked me up right around 9 AM, and we went for Pancakes at a hotel right across from the airport. The pancakes were actually quite spectacular and filling. The church was much the same. The congregation at this church is an educated, with many of them being school teachers, lawyers, etc. And the service reflected that. Everything had its place, and every place had a reason for being there. The sermon did not mince words to insult intelligence, but delved deep into the methodology of the scripture and the undercurrents, then deftly applied it to Fijian culture. I was envious, because the last part of my homiletics is sorely lacking due to inexperience.

Jong and I picked up a pizza for lunch and went to Sebastien and Mimi’s to eat. Then we all went into town to Bulaccino for Gelato ice cream. Expensive, but refreshing. The main difference is that this ice cream is smooth as butter.

In the evening I preached at Nadi for the second time. It was nice to walk through the doors and be welcomed by the local people and be told that my presence was missed. Ken was down at the Lami church and Mary was absent for the service. Things went according to schedule, and God reminded me why I’m here... to learn and experience.

Preaching is one of those things where you never know what is going to come out until the sermon is over and done with. Sure, you spend hours preparing and crafting the message to speak plainly and clearly... but it is the Holy Spirit who takes those words and breathes life through them. Tonight did that for me, at least. I was comfortable preaching, and it was nice to share naturally from my own life and the experiences without feeling as though I had to prove anything.

And that... the ability to share what God has laid on my heart... is why I must always carry on. That is my reason.

Silence Can Be A Good Thing

Saturday. A good day to sleep in and enjoy the many things that God has given you. Like sleep. Sleep is one of those wonderful gifts that just keeps on giving, every... single... night. So why cut it short? Sleep is such a wonderful thing, it lets your mind reflect on the events of the day and work through them, freeing your creative outlets into visual and emotional responses. It refreshes you, allowing you to function the following day. So why on earth would you cut it short?

I didn't cut my sleep short this morning. Not intentionally, but a complete accident. And once again I missed the 6AM Saturday prayer meeting. I can't say that when I go to sleep on a Friday night, the first thing that crosses my mind is "Oh goodie! I get to awaken at 6 AM tomorrow to pray!" My cynical side asks if it's holier to pray that early, or if prayers at 9 AM still beat rush-hour traffic to God. I haven't worked that one out yet.

So I'm definitely not in the good books, but I think I'm just getting used to that.

I left the BDC (Bethel Discipleship Centre, where I'm staying while in Fiji) around 1:30 to come to the Tanoa International. We're having a get together later this evening with a bunch of the pilots, and Jong has so kindly offered me his internet to use. So I left in absolutely pouring rain. It was fantastic. I have to walk about 1 KM from the roundabout (traffic circle) to the hotel, and when it pours, you have to be very careful to time your walking with the passing of cars and puddles. It's like a real live version of frogger! I'm not as cute as that green frog though.

Or am I? :)

Friday, March 02, 2007

You’re Behind the Wheel

My time here has really been teaching me that no matter where God has put you, He will not force you to follow His will. That lies entirely in your own hands. You have the choice to follow His will and His commands, or to walk in the other direction and turn your back on what He has to say to you. It’s really a frightening amount of power when you think about it. God will honour your free will, regardless of the harm you may cause.

Today was pretty run of the mill. I taught scripture in school this morning, and ran them through the beginning of the story of Joseph. I had the kids act out the various different times, and some of the classes did better than others. You still have to keep the lid on the fun in order to teach something, and there are times when that means playing the ‘bad guy.’ So some of them had to listen to me teach it normally because they weren’t able to be quiet!

The afternoon was spent working on my sermon, enjoying the pouring rain outside and playing squash at the sports club. It’s a great workout, counts for my Phys Ed, and is fun at the same time. That is a three-fold combination that you really just can’t beat.

We’ll see what the weekend holds.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Fording the River

It must have been an odd feeling. You have travelled thousands of miles and months have passed since you waved goodbye to your family, your friends, and your home. Here you are, having been living out of a covered wagon for countless months, constantly travelling west, only to meet a giant, rapid river. Suddenly you are confronted with a tedious decision, do you ford ahead, pushing through the current and hoping that the horse’s footing holds to make it through the river bank, or do you call it quits and hope you can live off the land?

Many pushed ahead regardless, hoping for better land, and ultimately a better life. These were the pioneers that many of us are able to call our family. We are proud of their accomplishments, and we mourn the loss of so many others who didn’t make it through these dangerous bodies of water.

Life is kind of like that. We come across giant rivers that we know we must push through in order to get closer to our final destination. There is a sense of pride as we look back and see all the rivers we’ve waded through thus far, and dread as we look forward and see how many we have yet to go through. But this is irrelevant, you are chest-deep in water, and the current is clawing at you, threatening to drag you down the stream with it.

One small step at a time, you have to keep pushing forward. Trusting that God will anchor your feet to the riverbed, and see you safely through. I can feel those claws ripping at me now. Discouragement, Doubt, Hate, Disbelief, Disillusionment, Apathy. All of them want to take me down the river with them, over the waterfall. But I cannot go. I must force my way through the many obstacles ahead, trusting that God will hold me steady, and carry me through. Truly, these are the footprints of our lives.

We had young adults this evening. Many of them have warmed up significantly to me and the other ‘white’ people in the group, so the laughing abounded early on. It was neat to just sit and be people with others from a completely different culture, enjoying each other. We played Attack! Uno. I spoke on 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15. There was good food. We laughed and shared joy.

The real lessons for me came after, however. I rode in the back of the van with the rest of the Fijians. Just listening for whatever clues I could garnish from their interactions. One of the most profound statements came out at that moment. We were just leaving a paved road for a bumpy, gross, underdeveloped back road, and the comment was made, “Ah... back to civilization.”

Think about that for a moment.

We live our lives in a rat race, always trying to get above and beyond the ‘Jones’.’ But what is really important? These are people who are happy with a roof over their head and food in their stomach. They have smiles on their faces not because of what they possess, but because of who they are around. This is a lesson we could all benefit by heeding.

“Ah... back to civilization.”