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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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Saw this at the Justice Conference earlier this year. Gets me angry, yet hopeful. Excited to go to Cambodia in 2 weeks and then in August to see some of these horrors come to an end.


 

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Who we are and what we care about is made clear from those who know us the most. When people talk about you what do they say? How do they describe you? What words do they use, what questions do they ask and where does the conversation go when people are talking to you? Sometimes when we don’t know who we are or what we care about it is best to listen to those closest to us.

Yesterday I was in a leadership meeting with the YWAM location I am a part of. There were approx. 40 of us sitting around a table sharing ideas about future, vision and mission statements. There were at least a half a dozen times during the day where the statement was shared “we should call our ministry Steps Of…, or Steps of …” It happened so much that I started to get annoyed and bothered at the mockery. Incase you didn’t know, I recently co-founded a ministry called Steps of Justice. I care deeply about justice issues and have for many, many years now.

The other thing that came up a number of times during the meeting was the statement “hey Phil, when we come up with ideas as to what people like about YWAM San Diego/Baja lets see how many people say Justice. Lets see how much influence that you have over people.” Now these statements were not said in spite, they were just said cause I am an easy target, and I’m ok with that.

To be honest, I left the meeting kind of pissed at all the comments. The more I thought about it the more I got frustrated. Then it hit me, the reason they are talking about Steps and Justice is because I talk about Steps and Justice. It is what I bleed, it is what I live and it is what I bring to those in my life. All of a sudden I felt different. I felt proud that I am known for something. Even if there is mockery involved (in a fun way), the point is that I have done a good job sharing what matters to me.

What do you bleed for? What are you mocked and talked about regarding? Listen closely to those around you, what they say about you tells the truth. It is either an encouraging truth or a difficult truth to accept, but it is a truth none the less. I am glad that I live a life that get’s talked about, how about you?

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Hey Lars here. My good friend Phil asked me to post something on his weekly Justice Friday page. I’m honored to be asked and hope that I my post is worth reading. First a little background. I have been doing youth ministry for the last 15 years. Most of that time I have worked in large evangelical conservative denominational churches. Probably worth mentioning that they have also been very white and very wealthy. I only say this so as you read you see the perspective that I am coming from. It’s important for you to know too that I have a huge heart for missions but that I tend to come at missions more from the perspective of how will missions change the students that I take on trips.

Phil and I met years ago on a trip that I took students on to Seattle. It was one of the first trips that YWAM Seattle hosted and we had a good time interacting because it seemed we had similar hearts. Over the years I have had great opportunities to be on several trips with Phil and he has become one of my closest friends.So here’s some thoughts from me.

I just got back from a trip to Bolivia on Monday night. It was a trip with a couple of purposes. 1. To build relationships with one of our Highland Park Presbyterian Missionaries. 2. To do a work project with my youth staff. 3. To bond as a youth staff and work through some of our junk. It was a great trip and all of those things happened. Bolivia is one of the poorest countries in Latin America and also has one of the more volatile (or at least constantly changing) political landscapes. It seems that every couple of years there is a new president and a new party in charge. Well in the midst of new changes to the Bolivian government they are in the process of rewriting their constitution. This is where the issue of “Justice” comes into this post.

I don’t know the exact details but apparently during this process the World Bank has gotten involved and in order for Bolivia to remain in good standing and get the necessary financial backing it needs they have had to make some concessions as they rewrite their constitution. The problem with a rewrite though is that inevitably the people in power during the writing are those who are going to get their particular way while those outside of power will have to just deal with the changes. The World Bank issue in particular is opening up the door for same sex marriages as well as lowering the protection that children currently have against abuse. <p>Granted the issue happening in Bolivia is not close to the tragedy which just happened in China or Myamar but it is still heavy on my heart. I guess Justice to me is just that, I don’t like it when unfair things happen to people. This whole constitutional rewrite is just unfair to people and justice is not happening.

So what can I do about it. I mentioned the churches I have been involved in only for the reason that when the people/kids at my church tend to “get it” they are sometimes able to actually be involved in helping change happen. Often their parents are involved in something that leads to being helpful in this situation. Funny enough we were involved with a school and a church plant in Bolivia made up of many of the same types of kids and parents. At one point I had lunch next to a student who’s uncle used to be the President. Anyways like most of my writing this post ends without much resolution. Typically I am not the type of person who likes neat endings with 3 points of application that will enact change. In most of these justice issues the answer is not 3 steps but prayer. I’m praying for Bolivia and those who are rewriting the constitution. I’m praying against sin and honestly hoping that change will happen. But, I’m also aware that we may just be called to respond as believers when the new constitution goes into affect and may just have to deal with it. That’s it. For more posts from me you can always check out my blog.

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