Outreach Week Two: Beginnings in Siem Reap

What a week it has been!
But time flies when you’re having fun.

From travelling 9 hours on a bus to navigating the wonderful world of tuk tuks (a Cambodian taxi, basically a motorbike with a two-wheeled trailer) to putting my nursing skills to work with our first three clinics, it’s been a tiring but incredible week.

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(One of my first, and most elderly, patients. The average age in Cambodia is somewhere around 29, so seeing elderly people is a rarity and such a blessing!)

I’ve quickly discovered that the more I pour out on Cambodian people, the more blessed I feel in return. Like taking a couple minutes to chat, laugh with, and pray for some elderly ladies at our first clinic, or teaching my translator new English words as he teaches me new Khmer words, or meeting some sweet girls who work at a local coffee shop, or giggling with little kids who are getting lice shampooed out of their hair, I have had so many moments this week where I felt so incredibly blessed.

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(These little cuties had the BIGGEST smiles when I shampooed their hair. So adorable! Just made my heart swell.)

It’s good to be here, but not without it’s challenges. The heat plus a really busy schedule has left most of us exhausted, so with a couple days off this coming week we’re looking forward to getting some good rest!

I’m really thankful for the team I’m with, and for the opportunities we’ve had so far and the beautiful people we have met. Just two weeks into our outreach and it’s already been unforgettable, so I can’t wait to see what the rest is like. ;)

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(One of the pharmacies we shopped at while in Phnom Penh. Seriously, most pharmacies here are like this, and it’s the perfect picture of the health care situation in Cambodia. Packed to the brim with medications of every imaginable type, that anyone can walk in an purchase without a prescription (even things like diazepam, digoxin, amlodipine… sort of sketchy) and based on a “pharmacist’s” recommendation (I’m pretty sure the guy who slept on a hammock in the middle of his “pharmacy”  wasn’t a pharmacist…) the patient will take pretty much any medication to try to feel better. Oh my. But such an experience to shop at!)

Our team’s weekly update can be found here (Outreach Update Week 2).
I would love to hear from you!
Otherwise, ’til next week, keep cool! And if it’s too cool where you are… I wholeheartedly would LOVE to send you some Cambodian heat. ;)
Love, Jenn

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Outreach Week One: Travel and Arrival in Phnom Penh

For the very first time, hello from Cambodia!
Wow, what an change it has been to be here… but such a good transition!
Our team is planning to send weekly updates, so I thought I’d attach our first one here for you all to see.
We’re doing really well; we had a very busy and full but informative and good few first days in Phnom Penh, and as we travel to Siem Reap tomorrow for three weeks in the next chapter of our Cambodian adventures, we’re looking forward to see what God does in us and through us next!

I’m doing fairly well; adjusting well to jet lag and a little overheated thanks to the +38 and then some weather, but a little sweat is good for you now and then. ;)
Blessings to you all! Miss you.
Feel free to pop me an email at jenniferzingre@hotmail.com… I can’t promise I’ll read it right away or reply to it right away due to sketchy internet, but I’m always so encouraged to hear from you!

Our update (Outreach Update Week 1)  for you all to see! (Click that link)

Week Twelve: Ready for Liftoff

Houston, we have cleared the “lecture phase” preparation and are now headed for the launch pad.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to what YWAMers love to call “transition week.”

Transition week is a magical time where leadership ever so slowly and gently encourages YWAMers to look back on their lecture phase experience, take a long time to process and consider what they have learned, perhaps take a few days off to relax and recuperate and regain from energy after a grueling lecture phase, and then begin to pack a few things in preparation for outreach, which is completely scheduled and perfectly prepared for.

Just kidding.

Transition week goes something a little more like this:

Evaluations, commissioning (Did I mention Loren and Darlene Cunningham personally prayed for and sent out all the outreach groups on base? So cool!), gifts, packing, meetings, phone calls, cleaning, photocopying, shopping, planning, more packing, e-mails, Skype calls, more meetings, hunting down lost items, writing notes, work duty, and maybe even a little sleep in there.

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Dani and I with “Mr. YWAM” himself, Loren Cunningham, earlier this week. He and his wife, Darlene, were founders of the organization more than 50 years ago, and both still plays an active role. Such inspiring and wonderful people!

It’s been busy.

Honestly, I usually like busy.

But since Saturday, this has been a four-day week of a never-ending “to-do” list, and it’s only finally reaching completion.

Our weekend set the tone for the next few days, with our last two days of work duty in the kitchen!

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Serving up muffins to a hungry crowd early Saturday morning.

Us Medical DTS’ers worked with Heartbridge Performing Arts DTS members, and they were such awesome teammates and crew members! We learned so much from them and were so blessed to get to know them!

Heartbridge had an even busier week than we did, with a full theatrical performance on Monday evening before they head out for outreach to New Zealand and Korea on Thursday! Their performance was fantastic!! So much talent and heart in this group.
If you happen to be in one of those nations in the next few months, check them out! :)

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Our work duty crew, minus one who happened to be feeling ill. LOVE these fine people!

I also got the chance to celebrate the end of lecture phase with my beautiful roommates!
All 8 of us have lived in a space about 35 feet by 15 feet for the past three months. And when you’re that cozy in quarters, you start to really get to know each other.
Knowing each other’s likes and dislikes, each other’s silly habits and sleeping patterns and snack preferences.
You also get to know what annoys them, and what about them annoys you, and sometimes it ends in disaster.

But I was incredibly blessed to live with 7 women who have been full of grace, slow to anger, and abounding in love.

They have been my sounding board when I need to vent, my prayer warriors when I need help, my professional huggers when I just want to cry, and my co-conspirators in laughter.

I love them so much, and am so thrilled that I get to be on outreach with three of them!

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Roommate finale dinner at Huggo’s On The Rocks, a little restaurant with an ocean view. 

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My girl Jenny and I celebrating with a Pina Colada (yes, Mom, it’s non-alcoholic), sand between our toes, and ocean breeze in our hair.

Today I also said goodbye to a wonderful woman who has become not only a mentor but also a dear friend.
Ruth-Ann was my “one on one,” a staff member who became my sort-of mentor during lecture phase, encouraging me and challenging me when I needed it. We laughed, we cried, we discussed deep things, and we baked a lot of cookies.
I’ll miss her conversations, her wisdom, and her heart a lot, but I’m so glad she’s praying for us as we head out!

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Ruth Ann and I just outside our classroom, next to the preschool on campus.

And now that goodbyes have been said and my Osprey pack lays waiting for me, all packed and tightened up and ready to travel, it’s time.

My team leaves tomorrow, and there’s still so much left to do.

But then I remember… WE LEAVE TOMORROW!!

And then I start to get excited.

Cambodia, here we come!

Tomorrow after some final packing, cleaning, and turning in our keys, we’ll hop in the YWAM vans and head for the airport to catch a red-eye flight and a couple connections to Phnom Penh.
We’re expecting to arrive local time Friday morning, and from there we’ll meet YWAM contacts in the area, and get oriented to the culture and the nation. After a few days of museums and tours and picking up a few things, we’ll head to the northeastern city of Ratanakiri, where we’ll meet up with some locals and begin our work.

During our time in Ratanakiri, surrounding villages, and then back to the city of Phnom Penh and surrounding area, we expect to be doing a lot of health education, children’s ministry, health clinics, community outreach, and encouraging local churches and communities of believers.

It looks like it’ll be a busy schedule, but I think our team is up for the challenge.

There’s 12 students and 1 leader, broken down into:
10 women and 3 men.
2 married couples.
1 pharmacist, 1 doctor, 5 nurses, 1 occupational therapist, 1 teacher in counseling, 1 pre-med student, 1 navy medic, 1 oilfield worker, and 1 artist.

We have a diverse and energetic team, and as we get to know each other, we’re becoming closer and closer.
I love these people, and I can’t wait to see us all in action together, and how God works in us and through us in Cambodia!

We hope to be sending home weekly updates to keep you all posted on the happenings, but in the meantime and as we travel, we would love to have your support in encouragement and in prayer.

Some things we would love to have you join in praying for include:

1. Safe travels. With 13 adults, passports from 6 different nations, 14 different bags, 3 connections, 17 time zones, and over 18 hours of travelling, we will be one tired bunch. Please pray for our travels to be safe and for us to get adequate rest, and that we make all of our connections on time!

2. Prepared hearts. Please pray that we would have energy and enthusiasm for the trip, for compassion and love for the people of Cambodia, for peace and joy as we are faced with many obstacles and potential discomforts. Pray that we open our hearts to where and who God is leading us to, and that we would have willing hearts for what is to come.

3. Team unity. We want to be a team who loves God and loves each other first and foremost. It’ll be a tough couple of months, so pray with us that we would face challenges with positive, forgiving, humble attitudes, that our team might become stronger and stronger as time goes on.

4. Logistics and Communication. Cambodia is quite notorious for having communication problems, and knowing how difficult it’s been to plan our outreach, when we’re there it might be tough to schedule and communicate as well. Please pray for schedules to fall into place, for the right contacts to be made, and communication to be clear and effective. Communication is a great prayer point within our team as well, as we have 4 different languages floating around at any given time, with or without translation. Unfortunately, none of those are Khmer, but slowly and surely we’re learning that too. We love multiculturalism :)

5. Cambodia. Please continue to pray for this nation and the beautiful people who live there. Pray with us that their hearts would be softened by the Lord, their broken hearts would be comforted, their wounds would heal, their mourning turned to gladness.
Isaiah 61 is a passage we’ve felt pressed on our hearts for Cambodia, especially the first 3 verses:

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
Because the Lord has anointed me
To bring good news to the afflicted;
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to captives
And freedom to prisoners;
To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
 To grant those who mourn in Zion,
Giving them a garland instead of ashes,
The oil of gladness instead of mourning,
The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting.
So they will be called oaks of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.

We want to bring joy and love, and be the hands and feet of Jesus in Cambodia.

We definitely cannot do it alone, and I’m so thankful God is with us, going before us and after us, hemming us in on all sides.
For if we are on the Lord’s side, we cannot fail.

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Also, Internet will be sketchy in Cambodia. If I don’t post, it’s not that I don’t love you… It’s just that I’m probably hugging a Cambodian child or checking an older lady’s blood pressure. I’d love to read your note a little later, though! Promise I’ll check my email (jenniferzingre@hotmail.com) now and again to see if you’ve written me. ;)

Love you all! Thank you for supporting me on this crazy amazing adventure. Your support and encouragement (yes, YOURS!) means so much to me.
Signing off with Aloha from Hawaii for the last time,
Jenn

See you on the other side. ;)

Week Eleven: Just Breathe

Yeesh, things are starting to get busy around here.

Week eleven, the last week of our lecture phase and beginning of some more serious outreach preparation, was fast and furious.

And as we hopped from lecture to meetings to shopping for outreach supplies to work duty to sleeping to beginning to pack and clean… I was left with a few questions:

1. How in the world did we manage to accumulate SO MUCH STUFF in just three short months?
2. Where in the world are we going to put it all?
3. When are we going to have time for all the stuff we want to do, anyway?

And the answer to all those questions is…
“Who knows.”

Because really, I don’t.

But anyway.
Amidst all the craziness and busyness of the week, some really, really wonderful moments happened.

Exhibit A:

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That’s right, folks! My friend Dominic came to visit! Well, not quite. He was sort of in “gummy skeleton toy” form and had been sent in a box for a couple weeks… But what a blessing it was to receive the most lovely care package from my friend Michelle! Perfect for a movie night, complete with popcorn, candy, iced tea, and the presence of an awkward friend. SUCH a lovely idea, and I cannot wait to use it!

Exhibit B:

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I’ll miss Kona’s gorgeous sunsets. They’re so fast and yet so beautiful! Definitely worth the quick fifteen minutes to watch. 

Exhibit C:

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This cute little guy joined me during one of my homework sprees! Even with all the busyness, I still had some time to take a photo or two before he dashed away. :)

And there was a lot of homework! And especially a lot of personal journaling, as this week marked the last lecture week of our DTS’ lecture phase.
It’s crazy how time has flown! Seems like just a few short days ago that I sat in our first class, wondering what all this would be like.
And now… it’s over, as fast as it began.

But, lucky for us outreach’ers, the fun isn’t all over yet! Two more months of outreach are coming up fast.
(More on that in my “week twelve” post, so stay tuned! :) )

Our speakers this week were Don and Donna Tredway, from the good ol’ state of Oklahoma, sharing with us their personal stories and about their ministry, “Resurrection Ministries,” working in healing and deliverance, as well as about their professional lives, as they’re a physician and a nurse respectively.

Along with many other things, one of the themes I learned about this week was the faithful love of God.

It’s interesting how God met me in ways I exactly needed this week.

When I had a lot of doubts and fears coming up about the future, specifically outreach and then what’s to happen after that, God ever so patiently led me back to several things.

First, He reminded me that He is GOOD.
He is good, and do you know what phrase often follows that description of God in the bible?
“And his faithful love endures forever.”
(Check out Psalm 136 for some good examples)

Hmm. What does that mean, anyway?
Well, God showed me this week that “faithful love” means keeping promises.
It means that I can trust God to keep his promises, to be faithful, not because of anything I’ve done, not because of who He sometimes is, but who He ALWAYS is.
He is love. He is faithfulness.
And those things manifested together, as they often are, are such a good thing.

God also showed me that not only is His love faithful, but His love is personal.

A HUGE theme in this DTS for me has been intimacy with God; growing in relationship with Him and discovering what that looks like, in big things and in little things.

And this week He poured out His love on me in big ways and in little ways, reinforcing to me that He loves ME.
He doesn’t just love “the world” as I sometimes generalize (although He DOES love the world, hence John 3:16), but that He also loves “Jenn,” personally, deeply, and extravagantly.

Such soul food for a hungry heart.

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I’d like to remind you, fearless reader, of this photo for a couple of reasons.

One is that, if you live in Canada and it’s STILL snowing, remember that there is hope on the horizon for the snow to fade and summertime to be here again!
And the other… is that this week I was reminded of hiking.

I love to hike the mountains, and last summer on our multiple trips out to Tumbler Ridge I fell in love with the alpine all over again.
And the thing about mountains is that you have to climb up them, and down them, and sometimes the way is tough.

As you hike, it’s important to find yourself a good path – a good place to put your feet so that you don’t fall, or kick rocks onto the people climbing below you, or manage to soak your hikers and your socks all the way through with glacier water, so that your steps sound more like “squish, squish” for the rest of the day.
True story.
But, I digress.

Paths are important. You need good eyes to see the path, but you also need a good guide to help you figure out which way to go.

God is such a good guide, and He gives us good eyes to see the path, if only we ask.
And as we follow the path, He continues to lay it out before us, one faithful step at a time.
And I need to remind myself to just breathe.
I won’t get to see the whole path right now, so I just need to trust the Guide more than I trust my own, very human and very untrustworthy, eyes.

Because even if the path is sometimes confusing, or seems impossible, or is just downright scary… I can trust the Guide, who sees right to the end of the path, and knows what is best and what is good.

God’s way is perfect.
    All the Lord’s promises prove true.
    He is a shield for all who look to him for protection.
For who is God except the Lord?
    Who but our God is a solid rock?
God arms me with strength,
    and he makes my way perfect.
He makes me as surefooted as a deer,
    enabling me to stand on mountain heights.
He trains my hands for battle;
    he strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow.
You have given me your shield of victory.
    Your right hand supports me;
    your help has made me great.
You have made a wide path for my feet

    to keep them from slipping.
(Psalm 18:30-36)

I can’t wait to see how He shows Himself faithful as I follow Him.
Especially in these next few weeks, on outreach on a whole new continent, and then beyond as He continues to show me where to put my feet on the path, both literally and proverbially.

Thank you, Lord. You are good, and your faithful love endures forever.
<3

Week Ten: Winding Up… Or Winding Down?

Days since coming to Kona: 76
Days before outreach begins: 7
Days before I return to Canada: 83

Right about now, I feel like I’m in a strange sort of limbo.

Not quite done lecture phase, not quite fully prepared for outreach.
Not quite fully comprehending what all I learned over the last ten weeks, still learning this week, and yet not quite sure how it’s all going to come together as we apply it all in Cambodia.
Not quite halfway done this DTS, but feeling like I’d really love to head home right about now, at least for a visit.

But hey. Outreach happens in one week, people. As we count down to the outreach phase and keep going strong in the lecture phase, a lot of us are feeling a bit torn, terrified, and excited!

Needless to say, it’s a bit of a strange place to be.
But still so good.

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Monday morning sunrise over Hualalai Mountain, east of campus.

Last week (Week 10) was FULL. As in, full of everything it could possibly be full of and then overflowing with fullness.

Our speaker for the whole week was Dean Sherman, who has been speaking on the topics of Spiritual Warfare and Relationships for the past 40-some years. We all learned a lot from Dean. I think I can speak for most of us students when I say that many of us walked into the lecture on Monday morning expecting Dean to rant and rave about spiritual warfare all week… and were quite (pleasantly) surprised when he said the most important aspects of spiritual warfare are not “going out and yelling at demons” but one simple concept: relationships.
If God’s entire agenda is to have good relationships, the enemy’s entire agenda is to break relationships.

When it’s broken down that simply, it becomes easy to see that the enemy will attack us in areas of relationship: how we see and relate to God, how we treat and relate to each other, and how we perceive and feel about ourselves.

It was a great week of discovering how we can be victorious through Jesus’ work on the cross, how we can initiate and maintain good relationships with God and with others, and how we can do what we were created to do.

Dean also discussed the blessing that comes on unity, on humility, and relationships. One quote that has stuck with me is that “unity is simply corporate humility,” that we can choose to be humble and serve others in order to have unity in our personal relationships and especially in our outreach teams as we head out soon.

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Tuesday evening sunset from one of my favourite spots on campus, a little table behind the campus cafe! A great watch to hear the surf and watch the sunset while homework gets done. ;)

Some other things that kept us busy and active this week included:

We also spent an evening watching “The Killing Fields,” a movie made in 1984 depicting the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia from 1975-1979 that resulted in the genocide of millions of Cambodian people, some of whose families are still living in Cambodia today.
While violent and hard to watch, the video also gave us a lot of insight into what the Cambodian people went through, and what they are now going through as a nation struggling to regain identity and independence.
We’ll be seeing some of these people a week from now, and it really hit home for us the struggles and hardship that they went through as families and as a nation.
(Note: If you’d like to pray for Cambodia with us while we’re there, this is a great prayer point to consider. The people there are struggling to find their identity as they lost so many loved family members and educated people, pained by the atrocities that happened in their nation, and still hurting from what their nation went through and from a relative lack of interest from the rest of the world. More prayer points to follow in my next blog posts, but this could get you started. ;) )

We also spent some time planning more in-depth for our outreach and getting to know the others on our team a little better, and man, we are starting to get excited! We’ll be facing a lot of challenges while there, but the hope of meeting some beautiful Cambodian people and letting our and their lives be changed by the Lord as a result is really exciting stuff. :) Plus, we’ll get to share our skills and gifts with people in big cities and tiny villages both, and I’m excited to see what all will happen with two whole months in Cambodia!

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(My beautiful outreach team! L to R (use your imagination, haha): Charm, W, Min Jeong, Alex, Bless, Max, Casey, Priscille, Me, Eleanor (team leader), Jenny, Dani, Eanja)

I also was B-L-E-S-S-E-D on Thursday when I discovered not none, not one, but TWO packages waiting for me at the post office! The first was some medical equipment (clearly I’m a nerd when finding blood pressure cuffs and pulse oximeters in the mailbox excites me), and the second was a package full of LOVE from home! Some of the girls got together and showered me with gifts and love letters and a journal and some photos and even a hand-crocheted snowflake. My heart was so glowy after receiving that!

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A happy, happy me and the aforementioned love package. Seriously one of the best parts of my week.

I also got to meet up with a friend of mine from BC who is here on vacation for a bit, and what little time we had was filled with good talks, some good eats, and of course a dance party and some ocean. :)

After a heavy week of theory and busy-ness preparing for outreach, the weekend definitely felt like more of a tourist-y one than usual!

Saturday began with an early morning acai-banana-strawberry-granola bowl at a local eatery, snorkeling in the ocean over some gorgeous corals and some friendly fish, eating nachos on the roadside while watching some surfers hit the waves, and then off to the pier to catch a boat to head out on a whale-watching tour!

Dani, Jenny, and I had postponed this trip twice already because of rain and poor weather, so we were dying to get out on the water and see some whales! And whales we did see. Along with some friendly dolphins, a naturalist with a long ponytail giving commentary on the whole tour, and a whole lot of sunshine and open ocean. It was glorious to be out on the water! Definitely felt like we were in Hawaii… after only three months of being here. ;)

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(A couple “little” whales who were pretty much the least shy of the whales we saw that day!)

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Loving the sunshine out on the open water :)

After our whale-watching adventure, we ran back to our room, showered off all the ocean salt and sweat, and prettied ourselves up for a little thing called Love Feast! Love feasts here are basically celebrations with a whole lot of delicious food, good-looking people, tons of laughter, and enough love to make your heart overflow.

Our love feast was fantastic, with hilarious skits, beautiful music, enough photos to make us a little nostalgic, testimonies and speeches, and so much blessing!

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Most of our Medical DTS ladies! Please remember  this photo when you see pictures of us girls on outreach… we really can look good if we try. ;)  Love them so much!

After all that excitement, Sunday was definitely a day of rest… of sleeping in until a solid 7:15 am, going for a walk, enjoying some introvert time, going to church in a renovated movie theater, finding some good music, skyping some fantastic parents, and then off to bed to begin another good week.

So there you have it! Week 10 in not so much of a nutshell. ;)

Just so y’all know, while on outreach I’ll be pretty much off of the internet (goodbye, Facebook…) but will be sending out weekly updates, which hopefully will be by blog post method. Soo…. if you want to keep up on the happenings in Cambodia, click “Follow” on the bottom left there to follow my blog! That way, every time I publish a post, you’ll receive it straight to your email inbox :)

Hope to hear from you soon!

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Kona sunsets… SO beautiful. I think I’ll miss this.

Week Nine: Uncomfortable

How do you say that word, anyways? “Un-COM-fort’b’l”? “Un-com-FOR-tab’l”? “Un-com-for-TABLE”? Anyway. However you pronounce it, that’s a good way to describe life sometimes.

That what you’re doing and what you’re being called to is just straight up uncomfortable. When you’re being called to do a crazy thing or go to crazy places, when your life seems to be barreling down a path you’ve never seen before and you don’t even have a map.
When you look back and every time you’ve attempted to go down that particular path, you’ve miserably failed.
When you’re afraid. When you have this urge to just go hide under your blanket (or as my Dad would say, stick your head in the sand) and forget about being uncomfortable and just be comfortable.

Cause we all like to be comfortable. We don’t like being uncomfortable. That’s why we have this thing called a “comfort zone.”
We like to stay inside it, and deviating from it freaks us out.
But do you want to know something? (And if you don’t, tough cookies, cause I’m going to tell you anyway…)

Sometimes the things that freak us out, or we’re afraid of, or just make us uncomfortable, are those thing that make us grow the most.
Maybe that’s why it’s terrifying… Because we know big things are about to happen. We’re about to grow a whole lot, and sometimes growing hurts.

I have a feeling that’s how the disciples felt as Jesus sent them out. They were afraid. Some doubted. Some failed. But the incredible thing was, Jesus met them in their discomfort.
He didn’t tell them they would be comfortable, but he told them they’d have freedom.
Abundant life.
A whole lot of love.
He told them not to be afraid, but to have courage.
He told them to love God with everything yet had, to love their neighbours as themselves, to live out their faith in all aspects of their lives.

But one thing I noticed… Is that Jesus didn’t tell them to not be uncomfortable, because God doesn’t call us to whatever and wherever and whoever to make us comfortable. He called us there to give Him glory, to show others His love, to change societies and shape heart and encourage nations. To comfort, to proclaim freedom, to open eyes, to heal, to love…. And sometimes, no, often, we will be uncomfortable.
And I realized that that’s okay.
It’s all in the process of growing, of working out my salvation with fear and trembling; following God’s call because even though it may be uncomfortable for a time, but it’ll be the most freedom I’ve ever known. There will be fruit. There will be freedom.
And it will be good.

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(My friend Dani showing off her jumping skills as the sun set at Hapuna Beach)

As Jim Yost, a man who lives in Indonesia working with street kids and other local people, was our speaker this week, I feel that I got permission to be uncomfortable, to be afraid, to cry out to the Lord when I’m freaked out.
But I also got permission to dream big, to lay claim of the promises God gives and to trust in His faithfulness and His gifts and strength and blessing and life abundant.
Because when we are called out of our comfort zone, the Lord meets us there.
Where He guides, He provides. In that I can trust everything.

I thought about this a lot on my trip to Kona (which involved three flights, some good layovers, and enjoying the last of Tim Hortons while I still could)… that if I could’ve pinpointed an emotion I was feeling other than acute homesickness, excitement, and fear, one of the main ones would’ve been uncomfortable. 
For me, it’s not comfortable to quit my job, move my life and my stuff to another province, park my car for 5 months, and hop on a plane to where I know nobody and don’t really know what to expect.
For me, it’s not always comfortable to live in the same room as 7 other girls, waiting for shower times and never feeling like I’m truly alone.
For me, it’s not always comfortable to be exposed left, right, and center to hundreds of other cultures and ideas and opinions.
For me, it’s not comfortable to be living in perpetual heat and humidity, being vulnerable to others, probing into deep corners of my heart, missing my loved ones like crazy, and planning Skype calls around time differences.

But you know what? Just because it’s not comfortable doesn’t mean it’s not good.

I’ll be completely honest and say that as excited as I am to head to Cambodia in two weeks, I also know I’ll be uncomfortable. Some things, like living out of a backpack and seeing true poverty with my own eyes and 40 degree heat and leaning on my team day in and day out… Those things will make me uncomfortable.
But I have to trust that being pushed out of my comfort zone will also make me grow in incredible ways, and that God will meet us and bless us in incredible ways in spite of, or because of, our discomfort.

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(Palm trees near the ocean across from Kailua’s famous farmer’s market… where the most delicious papayas and pinapples come from!)

So here’s a question:

What makes you uncomfortable?
I don’t mean uncomfortable as in “goes-against-your-theology” or “makes-you-want-to-throw-up” but uncomfortable as in pushing you out of your comfort zone for the better?
Don’t be afraid to jump into it, whether with one tiny toe testing the water or with a huge leap and a cannon ball.
Either way, don’t be afraid to enter the waters of discomfort.
Dare to surrender something.
Dare to let God into that area of your life you’ve never let Him enter before.
Dare to ask questions, to dream, to seek new lands or new people or new situations.
Dare to be uncomfortable.
And dare to be surprised at how you see God grow you and meet you there in incredible ways.

That, my friends, is a taste of what Week 9 was for me.

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It was a week of sitting in plastic lawn chairs on a concrete floor with hundreds of other DTS students, wearing my glasses because the lecturer was so far away.
It was a week of care packages that made my heart all glowy and warm, and outreach preparation, and encouraging messages and e-mails, and making phone calls about insurance and uniforms, and head colds, and wrestling with big questions, and JOY, and rainy Saturday afternoons, and work duty in the kitchen, and journaling like crazy, and tea dates, and C. S. Lewis, discovering more of Josh Garrells’ great music, and realizing that little gestures make a big difference in people’s lives, and so much more.

It was a good week.
An exhausting week, but a good week.
And because I’m a tad bit late with this blog post, it’s already a week since all that happened. Haha. Bear with me, folks.

Thanks for thinking of my classmates and I, and for supporting us with your prayers and encouragement! It means so much to us, to hear from loved ones and see their hearts for us. :)

As the Texans would say, “y’all are the best.”

Have a wonderful Friday. <3 Jenn

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Week Eight: Where Has The Time Gone?

Let’s do some math.
And not the kind of math that engineering majors like to do, with imaginary numbers and more letters than actual numerical digits… but simple, elementary math.

There are  12 weeks in a DTS.
11 of those weeks are lecture weeks; the last is an outreach preparation week.

We just finished week 8 of 11.
According to what I learned in the 6th grade with Mr. G, regarding fractions, is that 8/11 is roughly 73%.

So that means… we’re about 73% (and then some, considering I’m blogging a little late this week) done our lecture phase of DTS.

Good grief.

Where in the world has the time gone, anyway?

It feels like just yesterday that I hopped on a plane, leaving the frigid land of Canada behind, and landed 14 hours later in humid Hawaii, without much of an idea of what I was getting into.

That was two months ago.

I still find it hard to believe that’s true. Especially considering that in just three short weeks, we’ll be packing our bags to head for Cambodia on outreach.

Time sure flies when you’re having fun, I suppose!

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This past week we had a fairly full week of classes in medical missions, delivered by family physician and medical educator Dr. John Crouch. Dr. Crouch is one of the founders of “In His Image, Inc.,” a  program in the United States that combines residency in family medicine for medical students with medical missions and integrates faith and medicine.

It was an awesome week learning from Dr. Crouch about how his journey has unfolded, and learning some excellent keys to figuring out where God is calling us, and how we can use our gifts and desires to best serve Him.

Among the lectures in global health and medical missions, Dr. Crouch also gave us some insight and tips into discovering and following God’s call for our lives.
One part of a lecture that really challenged me was when Dr. Crouch talked about “laying down our rod” for God.

See, in Exodus 3 and 4 Moses has this little chat with God via a burning bush, and during the chat God showed Moses that one of the instruments that would be vital for the fulfillment of God’s promises and deliverance of the Israelite people… was already in his hand.

Moses held his shepherd’s rod in his hand, and by turning it over to God to “miraculize” (as my friend Sneha would say), God used that rod (and Moses) to deliver a nation out of Egypt and tyranny.

Dr. Crouch, after discussing Moses’ story, turned the question on us.

What is in your hand?
What are your gifts? What is your call?
Will you dare to hand it over to God to be used for His glory?

See, we all have a “rod” that God has entrusted us with.
The question is, will we use it for ourselves and just be blessed ourselves?
Or will we use it and bless so many others as well by turning it over to God to let Him guide and lead us?

It was a big question, and is still running after me ten days after hearing it the first time.

 Aside from our awesome speaker, we also had quite the adventurous week!

Bright and early Saturday morning we all loaded up onto a tour bus and began an adventure around the Big Island of Hawai’i!

Did you know that the Big Island has 10 different climate sub-zones? And, we toured through 9 of those on Saturday! We live on such a diverse island, and it was so cool to get out and see it.
I was a tiny bit disappointed that I didn’t see snow on this trip, but I guess I’ll have to save that for another day. ;)

After some windy roads and tight turns (most of which made me a tiny bit bus-sick, if that’s a diagnosis), our first stop was at the Punalu’u Bake Shop, Hawaii’s (and the USA’s) southern-most bakery!

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The temptation to have copious amounts of pastries and sweet breads was intense… but I managed to enjoy only two of the delightful delicacies (alliteration, anyone?) that they offered.
The blueberry cream cheese turnover was absolutely unreal, and if you’ve never heard of a malasada, it’s basically a cream-filled donut, and their vanilla one was delicious. I considered forfeiting my spot on the tour bus just to stay at the bakery for good. ;)

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(My girl Casey and I at the bake shop!)

We also made a stop at the Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, which was definitely not long enough for my liking! I can’t wait to go back to the national park and adventure around more.

The Big Island is here because of five volcanoes, three of which are active, and one of those (Kilauea) whose crater (Halema’ua’u) we got to see for ourselves!

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For more info on the Park and it’s lovely volcanoes, check out http://www.nps.gov/havo/faqs.htm as it explains it all so much better than I could :)

We also got to tour around some of the lava tubes, tunnels where lava had flown through from volcano to coast.

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(one of the lava tubes we encountered)

Our adventures around the island also included a stop at Akaka Falls, a gorgeous waterfall close to the little town of Homomu. This area is also well-known for ziplining and hiking, and I definitely understood why after seeing it for myself!

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Saturday ended with a BBQ on the beach at the gorgeous Hapuna Beach, one of Hawaii’s most famous, for good reason.

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After that full day, though, we were all pretty exhausted.
Pretty sure the Lord understood that and made it rain (pour!) the next day, an excellent reason to stay inside alllllll day, with a cup of tea and a book and some homework.

What a good week.

I did a lot of Skype-ing, Khmer-learning, shuttle-taking, tea-drinking, note-taking, global-health-learning, book-reading, outreach-planning, phone-call-making, and so much more.

And with only a few more weeks here in Hawaii, we’ll be making the most of every moment.

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(Jenny, Dani, Bless, and I at the crater in Volcanoes National Park!)

But, even with all the adventuring, I’m still caught between a strange home-here vortex.

I miss Canada and the beautiful people there like crazy. I heard a plane overhead today and had a serious wish that I would be leaving for Canada rather than Cambodia in just three short weeks.

But then, I’ve also discovered so much about the people in Cambodia, that I can’t wait to go and see them, meeting them and discovering who they are and how we can bless them and show them the Lord’s heart for them. As more details of our upcoming trip get ironed out, our excitement is building and our Khmer (the local language) is starting to improve.

Right now, Canada feels a really long ways away, and once we’re in Cambodia that feeling will only increase.

Please pray for our team as we prepare, that all would go smoothly and that we would have energy, focus, and health as some of our team members are feeling pretty tuckered out and tired.

Looking forward to hearing from you guys soon, and keeping you updated on the happenings!
Be blessed. <3
Jenn

Week Seven: Hezekiah’s Heart

This past week was a week of ups and downs, of adventuring downtown and to the beach, of getting sunburned and watching the sunset, of hardboiling over 650 eggs at 6 am during Saturday and Sunday work duty in the kitchen, of backpacks and shaved ice, of laughing until I cried and crying until I had no tears left.

It was a Kingdom week, and the Lord met me in some incredible ways this week.

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It was also a language week.

One day I had the chance to lead worship in 4 different languages: Korean, French, German, and English.
Later that same day, I also sang among a crowd of over 1,000 people a beautiful song in Fijian, Hawaiian, and Samoan.

And, the beautiful thing was, that especially when I was leading worship, those who spoke Korean, French, or German as their first language didn’t mind if I messed up a little, or if I didn’t quite have the right intonation or pronunciation. They were just thrilled to be able to sing and worship in their own language! What a fun day that was as we laughed and loved each other by learning new things.

And then, I also learned some Khmer, the beautiful language of Cambodia! I can’t wait to say “jom reb sua” to the people there in just 30 days!

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(This little guy visited me during a lecture this week; I think he enjoyed learning with us!)

I also got to travel around the Kona coast a little, adventuring out to some ancient home and temple sites of the Hawaiian kings back in the day, and enjoying some of the local sights and getting my backpack broken in a little. ;)

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(My friend Dani and I after our first stop on “adventure day,” a local drug store to stock up on chocolate, macadamia nuts, and sparkling water!)

I ate really, really well this week, especially at a wonderful place called Sam Choy’s! The founding chef even has a cooking show, and after eating there, I can see why. And it was even on a YWAM budget! Not bad. ;)

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(Dani, Kat, and I at Sam Choy’s, overlooking the South Kona coast.)

Now, I also learned a lot of other things this week, like how to pick an avocado at it’s ripest, how to climb onto my upper bunk without a ladder, how to rig up a light source using my headlamp and a water bottle, and how to take notes faster than the speed of light when our speaker talked really, really fast.

But the most profound things I learned this week were a whole lot more near and dear to my heart.

Have you ever heard of a guy named Hezekiah?

Well, actually not just a guy… a king.
A really awesome king.

This past week, I thought about him a lot.
A friend of mine encouraged me to look him up, so look him up I did. I found his story in the pages of 2 Kings 18-20.

And what a story it is. 3 chapters. 29 years of reigning. He lived a life of service, and died when he was 54 years old.

In a time when the Israel had been exiled for their sin, when the people were running from God, worshipping idolss, selling themselves, and sacrificing their children, here was Hezekiah, king of Judah.

“He did right in the eyes of the Lord.”
“Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him. He held fast to the Lord and did not stop following him; he kept the commands the Lord had given Moses. And the Lord was with him; he was successful in whatever he undertook.”

Hezekiah was a good man. A good king.
He followed the Lord, and never stopped trusting Him.

Even when Sennacherib, king of Assyria (who incidentally had a huge army, lots of power, were pretty nasty and evil people, and had just exiled Israel and deported Samaria), showed up on Hezekiah’s doorstep.
The Assyrians had a huge reputation for being barbaric warriors. They took over cities, killed the townspeople, took captives, pillaged, speared their victims on stakes, and so much more. They were so proud of their conquests, and were such strong warriors that they managed to build a massive empire.
The field commander from Assyria came to our buddy Hezekiah and threatened him, ridiculing Hezekiah and the Lord, offering bargains and false promises, mocking the work of the Lord, and Hezekiah’s trust in Him.
He even tried to dissuade the people of Judah from trusting God or trusting King Hezekiah.

It shook the officials who received the message, and they went to Hezekiah, weeping messes with torn clothes and no confidence.

And Hezekiah? He tears his clothes to show his grief, sends people to talk to and hear from the prophet Isaiah (see his story in Isaiah 36-39), and without hesitation falls at the feet of God in the temple.

Hezekiah’s response to hardship, fear, and doubt was to be driven to his knees before the Lord.
He remained confident in God’s sovereignty, God’s power, God’s plan, and God’s faithfulness.

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By now, Isaiah had sent back a small report: “Do not be afraid.”

Sennacherib, however, sends Hezekiah more taunting words in a nasty letter.

And Hezekiah? He takes the letter straight to the temple, lays it out before the Lord, declares God’s sovereignty and begs for deliverance for the people of Judah. Not for his own glory or reputation, but “so that all the kingdoms of earth may know that You alone, Lord, are God.” (2 Kings 19:19)

Spoiler alert:
Just like Hezekiah knew He would, God responded.
He heard Hezekiah’s prayer, and promised (not for the first time) that He will defend. He will save.
He will respond, act, and deliver.

That night, the angel of the Lord slayed 185,000 Assyrians.
And with that display of Hezekiah’s God’s power, Sennacherib took the hint, and withdrew his armies from Hezekiah’s land.

Fast forward a few years.
King Hezekiah is on his death bed. He turns to the Lord, heart broken, feeling forgotten, and begs to be remembered. He wept, was heartbroken, and honestly poured out his hurt before the Lord.

Spoiler alert:
Just like Hezekiah knew He would, God responded.
“I will heal you.”

God gave Hezekiah another 15 years on this earth, again pouring out His promises of deliverance and defense, before calling His servant home.

Hezekiah walked with the Lord all his life, showing honesty and heartbreak and love and truth.
When faced with fear, hardship, threat, and while all others around him were doubting, Hezekiah’s first action was to drop to his knees and spread out his troubles before the Lord.
He had no doubts, but only a confident hope in the Lord’s deliverance, defense, and trustworthiness.
That is some serious trust.

This is such an incredible example of relationship, and it’s one I want to emulate.
When, and how often, do I do that? When faced with fear, run straight to the Father?
Drop everything, run from those who threaten, and just rest in the strength of the Lord?

I discovered something this week:

This type of relationship is what God wants with us.
And it’s something I can do.
So why do I so often hesitate?

God’s love is constant, unchanging, unfailing.
He is my Deliverer, my Defender, my Saviour, my King, my Beloved.

And His arms are open.

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This week, I re-discovered the extravagant, gentle, glorious love of the Lord for me. 
Even though I may fail, may doubt, may fear, He never fails.

So may I be like Hezekiah when faced with life’s challenges: running straight to the Father, trusting in His defense, deliverance, and faithfulness, no matter what comes.

Peace and blessings, my friends.
Sending you some Hawaiian aloha. <3

Week Six: Anchor For My Soul

I had a tiny taste of what week six here in Kona would be like when early Monday morning I woke up to a glorious sunrise, the morning light sifting through pink clouds and silhouetting the mountain right outside my front door.

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I already love sunrises and mountains and mornings, but when you put all three together, it makes for a pretty incredible start to my day, and my week.

I laughed a lot this week. I am loved by some really, really amazing people, whether that’s in my room, in my classroom, on campus, or oceans away, accessible only through heart-fuelling Skype calls or a lovely care package from home.

Week six also brought with it some challenges.

I cried a bit this week. Between missing home, having some things happen that hit really old wounds, and working through some heart issues, I certainly needed those beautiful early morning moments in nature with the Lord to center my heart and restore my soul.

This week, I discovered a whole lot about my identity in Christ, about His heart for me, about His plans for me, and about His heart for His people, all around the world.

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God is a promiser. He love His children, and He loves to promise good things for those who love him.

And you know what else?

He never forgets His promises, His people, or His plans.

God showed me a whole lot of promises this week, promises for my good, and not for evil; promises of plans to give me  hope and a future.

God showed me how much He loves me, how He lavishes His love on us (1 John 3:1).
He is abundantly generous (Deuteronomy 28:11).
He wants to heap on blessing upon blessing, and gift upon gift (John 1:16).
As we devote ourselves to Him, He throws open the storehouses of heaven (Malachi 3:10).

Wow.

And as I was processing all this, I kept being reminded of anchors.

I even found one on the beach! Well, I think it looks like an anchor, anyway. Humour me. ;)

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But these anchors kept reminding me of Hebrews 6:19…
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. 

Anchors hold ships in a steady place. When there’s a storm, crashing waves, massive winds, or any kind of threat, an anchor is a ship’s protection from moving anywhere it isn’t supposed to go.

This week, I was reminded that I have an anchor, and I can trust that anchor.
Why? Because it has never, ever failed. 

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.
(Hebrews 10:23)

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(Some of the girls in my Medical DTS, accompanied by Won, one of the little guys whose family is with us! This was at our BBQ night at the beach; definitely one of the highlights of the week!)

Later in the week, exhausted and emotionally done after the full week, my roomie Dani (on the far right in the photo above) and I headed out for a Saturday adventure around Kona! Basically it was 6 hours of walking, rides on an open-air trolley, shopping, discovering the deliciousness of Sam Choy’s, getting lost in a resort, checking out ruins from the first Kings of Hawaii, exploring churches and beaches and stores… and ended with lying flat on our backs on the tile floor, looking up at the fan, and smiling. We may have been super sweaty with flip-flop tans and in my case a sunburn! What a day.

But perhaps the highlight of my day was this:

As our trolley drove past Wal-Mart (our planned final stop on our adventure day), we were stopped at a stop light when I looked to my left and saw a man standing on the meridian between the streets.

Dishevelled, with mismatched, dirt-covered clothes and a scruffy beard, the man stood with cap on his head askew, holding a cardboard sign.
The sign read:
Homeless.
Veteran.
Need Help.

But when I looked at him, his face weathered, shoulders stooped, eyes looking straight ahead, I realized that
no matter what his sign said, his whole being screamed,
“Hopeless.”

And as I looked at him, the light turned green, and the trolley pulled into the Wal-Mart parking lot.
I went into Wal-Mart, heart heavy, thinking of this man with his eyes full of hurt and empty of hope.

And what bothered me was that I hadn’t done anything to change that.

We finished our shopping, and as we walked out to the street, I saw the man bend over, pick up the fraying backpack at his feet, and start to walk down the empty street.
And then I did something I’d never done before.
I dug into my wallet, pulled out a Subway card (thanks to being inspired by my friend Dominic’s Subway card theory),
and I ran after him.
The next few minutes went a little like this:

“Excuse me, sir!”

He looked up. Looked around. Made eye contact with me as I ran towards him.

“Good day, ma’am.”

I reached him, and put my hand on his shoulder.
Handing him the card, I explained that there was around $15 on it, and that I was pretty sure there was a Subway just up the road.
His head came up, and he looked at me.

“Oh, wow. Thank you, ma’am.”

And then he did something I didn’t expect.

He reached out his hand and gave me a hug; one of the tightest hugs I’ve ever received.

As I stood there, his skinny arms wrapped around my neck and weathered face buried in my shoulder, I felt his body shake.
My eyes filling with tears, I hugged him right back.

Somehow, I realized that this man was starved.
Maybe physically starving, but also starved for hugs and gentle touch, and friendship.
Starved for hope. Starved for love.

He let go. And with eyes brimming with tears, looked right at me.

“God bless you.”
he said to me.

And I said it right back.
And I really meant it.

With that, we parted ways.

Somehow, as I walked away, I knew this:
With that simple act, a few minutes of my time and a few dollars from my abundance,

I threw someone else The Anchor.
By serving someone else, by extending myself and loving someone else out of God’s love for me,
I shared the hope that is the anchor for my soul.

And the funny thing is, by giving away a part of my hope, I didn’t lose any.
Instead…
My hope only grew more.

That’s life in the Kingdom, people. Falling more and more in love with the King ourselves, and then passing it on to others.

I just want to add…
I don’t say this to build myself up; I want to say this because of the impact it had in my heart.
It might not have made a huge difference in that man’s day, or in his life,
but it made a huge difference in mine.

What a good way to end a fantastic week. Here’s to many more discoveries about the love of the Lord and the hope that’s an anchor for my soul, and then passing that on.

~~~

Hope you had a wonderful week. I love you faithful readers, and I love to hear from you! Send me a line!
Take hold of the anchor this week. I think you’ll be amazed at what you discover.

:o) Jenn

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My first Hawaiian lei! Given to my by a precious friend who made it herself out of Hawaiian leaves and plumeria flowers! Such a beautiful (and fragrant!) gift! Thanks, Angie :)

Week Six: Love.

I discovered something about love this week.

What with Valentine’s Day, a whole bunch of heart-shaped chocolates, some dear friends getting engaged and others blissfully planning their weddings, and a class-wide game of anonymously giving each other sweet gifts and messages throughout the week, there was a lot of love going around.

But something kept running through my head, something that hinted that maybe love is also about something greater.

Some of you might think that I’m crazy, or stop reading after the next sentence, but I ask you, please don’t! Read it to the end. You’ll see why.

Here’s a question for you…

When did Jesus die for you?

When did God trade His Son’s life for yours?
Was it when you had done a certain number of good things? Was it when you had led someone to Christ? Was it when you had believed everything He said and devoted yourself fully to Him? Was it when you had gone to church on Sunday, or done a certain amount of “Christian” things?

Nope.

The answer is found in Romans 5:8… while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Think about that.

While we were still the lowest of the low, covered in our guilt, shame, fear, sin, addiction, pain…
While we doubted that anyone on earth would love us, let alone some God.

That’s when God looked at us and said,
“I love them so much, I’m going to send my Son to die for them to set them free. They need a Rescuer. That’s the only way they’ll be freed, and I’m going to make it happen because I love them.

That’s true love, friends. Not expecting anything or condemning or loving people only at their best or when they perform well, not flowers and chocolates and candy on one day a year, not just what we see here on this earth.

Seeing you at your absolute lowest and still loving you enough to die for you?

That’s love. And that’s who God is. 

His love is personal and infinite and beautiful. Are you living like it is?