catIn early November 2013, the Philippines was hit by one of the strongest tropical typhoons in history. At least 6300 people were killed as a result of the storm and around 4 million displaced. I remember watching this happen from my living room in the USA thinking “What can I possibly do to help?” A few weeks later I got my answer, I felt the Lord say “Go.’ So 6 weeks later I found myself along with 10 others on a plane headed to Tacloban, Philippines, the hardest hit area of the Typhoon.

 

We arrived in Cebu, Philippines at 5:15pm and headed to the station to purchase our boat tickets to Tacloban. We ran into a man who told us that because of the recent storms, the boats were experiencing lots of delays and cancelations. To make sure we got there we bought the earliest tickets we could, which meant we had to leave for the boat at 5am the next morning.

 

After a few hours sleep, we got up and left for the boat, which was named “The Super Cat.” One thing to realize is that at this point we were all total strangers to each other, minus a few of us who knew each other from previous trips. 30 minutes later we got to the boat along with what seamed like a million other people, mostly local Philippinos. trying to catch the same ride to Tacloban.

 

The boat ride was about 3 hours long. People had been warning us that the chances of seasickness on the boat were high, but in our excitement and pride we blew it off and believed for the best. You can see where this is going I’m sure.

 

The first hour of the ride kept us all in good spirits. We were all sitting in the first 3 rows and singing along to bad Karaoke music videos. It was a great time of bonding and getting to know each other. We were those Americans that everyone warns you about, loud and obnoxious. Then, about an hour into the ride, things got interesting.

We got into open waters and the boat began to roll back and forth and side to side. After 15 minutes or so of this, the cabin crew started handing out puke bags to everyone, this was not a good sign. I sat there beside my friend Adam laughing at the thought of people puking, because I was definitely not going to puke.

 

A few minutes after the bags were handed out the Pukefest started. One by one, you could hear people throwing up on the boat. They were all making different sounds, but my favorite was “The Gurgler”. This dude sounded like he was dying a violent death as he gurgled his vomit into the bag. It was around this point where the ride became a lot more quiet. Everyone on the boat was focussing on keeping the contents of their stomach inside, but it was a lost cause. My friend Wayne started throwing up behind me, and then Chris who was sitting beside Wayne started. Two other girls on the trip were laid out on the upper deck, one laying on the soaking wet floor of the boat and the other in the bathroom, hugging the toilet will all the love she had to give.

 

By this point, my friend Adam and I are crying out of intense laughter, that is until Adam quickly grabbed his puke bag and started filling it. Unfortunately Adams bag also had a hole in it, thankfully he had his water bottle with him. Needless to say, I never drank from his water bottle again. I was still going strong until I looked at Chris sitting behind me. He was complaining that his bag had a hole in it, so I turned around to see vomit dripping out of the bag and all over Chris’s pants and another girls luggage. It was at this point that I lost it. I think I could have filled two bags, I was so sick. The boat was so loud by this point, people puking all over the place. It was like a horror film, but we were all living it. [If you’re not laughing by this time, you should be.] We were still in tears, it was the funniest things I have ever been through, and the absolute worst at the same time.

 

Eventually the boat calmed down and we made it to Tacloban. By this point, after only knowing each other for 18 hours, we were all best friends. It was the best bonding time you could ask for and as a result we came together and had one of the most epic outreaches ever. Our lives were changed, we saw destruction and brokenness like we have never seen, but we also saw hope and life. This trip has eternally marked us all and if we could do it all over again we would, we would just take a bus next time and not the boat.

 

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aaron

On Saturday January 2, 2015 Hawaii Aloha (a boat with YWAM Ships) capsized off the Kona coast. 5 crew were on the vessel, four of them made it to shore, but my friend and co-worker Aaron did not survive. Who is Aaron? Below is a quote from his sisters blog that shares beautifully who he is.

“Aaron’s impact on us is huge. That fearlessness, living everyday to the fullest, loving those around you, and I mean ANYONE around you. Not just the people you already care about… He shows us that it’s never too late to change. He may have only lived 24 years, but he lived, ferociously, through more struggle, triumph, transformation, rejection, love, loss and adventure than most people ever will. His story and how he spent these last few years will have an everlasting affect on anyone that knew him, especially my family. We knew he was special, and he was finally so happy. If there was ever a time to go out, it’s at the top of your game, when you’re at peace with everything, and completely accepting of the fact that you have no control. You just need to let go. Four people survived and Aaron may not have, that’s exactly how he would’ve wanted it. If he did go, he went out smiling and euphoric knowing that he was not alone.”

I was thinking about my life the other day. Usually when I see a 24 year old I think “thank God I don’t have to go back there.” With Aaron it was different though. I would see his life and think “man, I would love a do over, his life inspires me to charge hard.” This my friends is what we all should aspire to, being that person that moves others and challenges others to live more fully.

Aaron was someone who loved God and loved others (the two greatest commandments). He loved others with all he had. This is why he worked with YWAM Ships, because he wanted to serve the isolated communities in the Pacific Islands. He was someone who did justice, who cared enough to go, and ultimately gave his life for what he believed. I pray that his life moves my life to be lived more fully and intentionally.

Thank you Aaron, you are missed my friend.

To read more on Aaron and receive updates please go here and sign up to receive updates.

 

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advent

Today is the 1st day of Advent. I remember as a kid going to church during the advent season, my favorite part was the lighting of the candle. It meant Christmas was coming. It meant each Sunday was in preparation for Jesus birth. There was high anticipation, excitement and life. The advent season for me as a kid meant lots of family get togethers, winter break, by birthday, Christmas and more. I am not sure if I truly understood the meaning of it, but the culture and practice of it made a huge mark on my life.

This season press into what advent is all about, looking to Jesus and His coming into the world. Take time each night to light a candle and pray this benediction. This benediction is from Celtic Daily Prayer, and is one that I have repeatedly prayed during the advent season.

God of the watching ones,
give us Your benediction.

God of the waiting ones,
give us Your good word for our souls.

God of the watching ones,
the waiting ones,
the slow and suffering ones,
give us Your benediction,
Your good word for our souls,
that we might rest.

God of the watching ones,
the waiting ones,
the slow and suffering ones,

and of the angels in heaven,

and of the child in the womb,

give us Your benediction,
Your good word for our souls,
that we might rest and rise
in the kindness of Your company.

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Black

Today protesters in Ferguson, St. Louis, Chicago and other cities protested Black Friday and the shopping craze that it has become. Some protested against people shopping like mad immediately following the trial of Darren Wilson, while others protested against the commercialism that this day brings, and only a day after Thanksgiving.

Man, I wish I could have been there. I wish I could have laid down on the shopping mall floor or stood outside with a sign peacefully sharing against commercialism. We have a voice, and we need to use it. We cannot just sit idly by as injustice goes on around us. We have to speak up, regardless of what others around us are doing.

I wish I could have been there during the civil rights marches. I wish I could have stood on that bus next to Rosa Parks as she refused to move to the back. I wish I could have marched with Dr. King as he peacefully demonstrated agains racism. We have the freedom and the right to stand for what we believe is true and just, what are we doing with that freedom?

I am not dogging shopping, nor am I against shopping the day after thanksgiving for a sale, but at what cost? Lets not live out lives based on sales, bargains and culture, lets live our lives based on the word of truth, Gods word. Lets live our lives out of a conviction to make the world a better place and set the example for the generation coming up after us.

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justice

This morning during our staff prayer time we were praying for peace, specifically surrounding the situation in the USA of racial tension. 2 days ago a grand jury did not indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for any crimes related to the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in August. Leading up to this decision and now even more after the decision there has been protests marked by violence, anger, and fear.

Today, we prayed for peace.

Peace for Michael Browns family.

Peace for the citizens of Ferguson, MO.

Peace surrounding the racial tension that is in so much turmoil.

Our prayer is that truth would come into the light, as would lies. Our prayer is that change would happen, apart from violence. Our prayer is that the Church would lead the way to this peace, directing people to Jesus, who is the bringer of peace.

Continue to pray for the people of Ferguson, specifically the police and the families of Michael Brown and Darren Wilson.

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