Week One: Aloha!

Well, here I am. After 1 patdown, 2 security checks, 10 questions at Customs, 3 flights, a total of 70 pounds of luggage, and a long bus drive, I’ve arrived.

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This is my home in Kona, Hawaii for the next 3 months. The entire school (University of the Nations) has over 450 students, over 550 staff, around 250 children running around, and over 200 support staff from 50 different nations from around the world. It’s YWAM’s biggest base, serving about 1400 people at every meal. Trust me that the lunch line is pretty long at times. It gives us a chance to chat with other students, meet new friends, and find common ground in this great adventure.

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My particular school (the Medical DTS) has 23 students, 14 staff, and 12 weeks of lectures ahead of us, then another 8-10 weeks of outreach in some developing nation. I live in a room about the size of my parent’s living room with 7 other girls in my school. We’re pretty cozy to say the least. We’ll be in Kona for the next 90 days, hearing various lectures from doctors and nurses and professors and YWAM founders and volunteers from all over the world.

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It’ll be a busy time, of required readings and required journalling and assignments and work duties, but I’m looking forward to it… and also enjoying where I am right now. It’s nice to have a schedule coming up, but also nice to have time to relax this weekend. One thing I’ve already discovered about Hawaiians is that they don’t rush. Schedules are great, but according to Hawaiians… you don’t really need much of a schedule. Hawaii is a place to relax, and that’s just what they do.

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This week has already included several welcome ceremonies, complete with Hawaiian dancers, presenting our gifts from our nations (I donated maple syrup all the way from Kingston), a “roll call of the nations” (it felt like I was in the Olympics… flag bearers, drumming, incredible dancing, and a whole lot of cheering for every single country), so much delicious fruit, a long walk adventuring through the farmer’s market and downtown Kona, and church by the ocean side.

During one of the welcoming celebrations, we heard from YWAM founder and our base leader, Loren Cunningham. This man has actually been in every single country on earth, and has a wealth of experience and stories to tell. He’s also a man of great faith, and hearing from him was such a great honour. During his talk, he told us the story of how YWAM came to be, and also gave us some tips on how to guide our lives and our careers. He modeled his talk around Psalm 119:105 (Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path), and this was part of what he said:

Think about what it took for you to get here. God has led you here for a purpose.
Amazing things will happen through you if you obey Him, believe Him, act on what He says.
And as He speaks to you, ponder it in your heart. Let it be confirmed by the Word of the Lord.
Don’t mix up the big picture with the next step. Whichever God gives you first, receive it. Take it. Be patient. He will reveal Himself and His plan as time goes along.

Great words from a man we all respect. He’s right. For me, getting here took a whole 2.5 years of God telling me to come. Quitting my job. Leaving a comfortable home and community. Travelling over 3000 miles…. The list goes on. And the stories of many of my classmates sound the same. God has called us here for a purpose, and we’re looking forward to what He will teach us as we chase after Him.

And, I appreciated what Loren said about the big picture and the next step. Sometimes I can be a little type A (shocking, I know, haha), and get all stressed out if I don’t see the big picture. But sometimes, God doesn’t tell us the big picture. He tells us the next step, and waits to see if we are faithful with obeying Him in that. Other times, He gives us the big picture but not the next step, and it’s our job to wait and see where He wants us to go, or step out in faith and start somewhere towards that big picture goal.

So, for now, I’ll be taking a deep breath, and waiting to see more of the big picture, while working along on this step of the whole goal. He will be faithful as I trust in Him. That I know from experience. Even in a place so far from home. ;)

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This week’s Hawaiian word?

Aloha!

Literally translated, it means “facing breath,”
alo meaning “presence”, “front”, “face”, or “share”; and ha, meaning “breath,” “breath of life,” or “essence of life.

It’s also used as a word meaning “love,” “affection,” “peace,” “compassion,” or “mercy.”

I was amazed to discover all of those meanings! A whole lot more than the “hello” or goodbye” that the rest of us North Americans have made it out to be! We can still use it for those thought. ;)

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5 thoughts on “Week One: Aloha!

  1. Now you have Tracy talking about us doing a DTS. They do have one for us “older” folks down in Tyler, TX called “Crossroads”. There’s also a base about 40km from my home town in Germany, and with my mom’s illness it might be a great way to be close to her. Who knows what the Lord has planned for us in the next year. Maybe even Hawaii (I am a certified dental technician, although my skills might be a we bit rusty). Thanks for taking the time to write your blog, giving us a vivid window into what you’re experiencing. Blessings to you Jenn!

    • There’s a Crossroads DTS here in Kona too, Brian. ;) I’d apologize for putting the idea in her head but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t me. Heehee. Thanks for your encouragement! Looking forward to hearing more from you too!

  2. Awesome! I just found out about you last week when a fellow ER nurse had “liked” your blog. I’m thrilled to know you are a sister in Christ as well. Your YWAM adventure sounds marvelous! I had always thought that YWAM was just for college kids. Enjoy your time in Hawaii. I look forward to hearing more. We’ll be praying for you!

    • Thanks, Joy! Neat how my little story has gotten all over the globe thanks to one post. ;)
      YWAM has a big percentage of “younger” (18-20 year old) students, but a lot of folks in my particular school and in some other schools are all sorts of ages and nationalities! One of the students in my group is 61 years old, and some of the others are in their 40s and 50s. So it’s never too late. ;)
      Thanks for your prayers! I appreciate it.

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