Feb 8, 2014

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Excited, nervous, frantic, happy

There’s a story in scripture that used to confused me. If you’re not a christian you may still have heard it – it’s the time Peter steps out of the fishing boat he’s in and walks across the rough waters towards Jesus, only to sink and be pulled out of the water. I used to think Peter was foolish twice over – one for asking a ‘ghost’ to give him this miraculous ability and secondly for losing faith even while he was walking on water!

Peter is the only man in scripture who has walked on water. He was the only one brave enough to step out of the boat and even in that short distance, he proved that he was still human, but Jesus kept him safe and they got back into the boat.

photogenX DTS 2010 group photo

In 2010 I followed God’s calling to go overseas and do a Discipleship Training School with photogenX, a ministry of Youth With a Mission. The course was in two parts. The first 3 months was in Hawaii, learning about God, myself, the world, justice issues like sex trafficking and how to use my camera better. The remaining 3 months was an overseas outreach, mine was to Philippines. We worked with local organisations helping them where we could. We made exposed: revealing worth, a book about prostitution in the Philippines and gifted 1000 copies, some to be given to politicians in the country.

A page from the book

This year I have been praying about what to do and what needs to change. I’ve felt God calling me back to missions work with photogenX, specifically this DTS. In January I volunteered and I’ve now been accepted as a staff member for the 2014 course! It’s the same course I did, but my role has changed. I should tell you a bit about photogenX; they are a not-for-profit that uses photography and video to raise awareness of issues of injustice in the world. They work to shed light on these issues and make them a thing of the past. photogenX work to be a voice for the voiceless and to advocate for those who do not have a voice themselves.

On March 1st I will step out of the boat and start a 7 month volunteer commitment, first flying to Kona, Hawaii. I don’t know everything I have volunteered for, but I know the first month is staff training and after that I’ll be helping where I can. I know that I will have the chance to serve the students, serve communities and develop my leadership skills. I expect there will be about 50 students on the DTS. My work has graciously given me time off so I can do this and have a job when I get back.

This moment is bittersweet – I’m very excited for what is ahead, but I know I’ll be sacrificing time with family and friends in New Zealand. I’m nervous and frantically trying to plan things. So I want to stay in touch as well as possible and this time I’m trying something new – a newsletter. I will of be updating twitter and Facebook too, but the newsletter will have more detail. I’ll be putting photos on my Flickr page and I’ve installed WhatsApp so I can still txt smartphones in NZ.

Before I leave I’ll be having a farewell BBQ at the flat and drinks in Wellington, both to be organised but likely on the last weekend this month. After that, I’m stepping out of my boat, doing what I feel God has called me to do with the skills he has given me and I’m trusting he will look after me. As always, your prayers are greatly appreciated.

Jan 10, 2014

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2013 redux

It has become a personal tradition to review my year and share thoughts, good and bad, about the past twelve months. Reading over my 2012 redux and Changes in 2013 blog posts I can see a number of things repeating, but enough change that I’m happy with what I achieved in 2013.

I attended Compass Conference and met a community that embraces the difficult questions and recognises the validity of laments. I went to Parachute again. I’ve had all four wisdom teeth out. I volunteered at Webstock 2013 which gave me the chance to meet the awesome volunteers and speakers. I started running, got injured, did physio, started up again. I can now run 8km – my first goal was to run for 5 minutes without stopping.

I opened up to my friends about some of my biggest struggles in 2012. Pushing through the fear I’d be rejected and embarrassed landed me in a much better place for 2013. We’ve grown closer as individuals and as a group this year, I’ve been blessed to be part of it.

I dropped to 4 days a week at work and took Friday as a personal day. I set two hours aside for prayer, worship, bible study and time with God. This has been the best thing I’ve done all year, because I stuck to it and because I’ve needed it. Fridays have not been perfect, I’m less productive than I’d like and I wish I’d finished Sentinel by now, but Cancel That Card is going strong, despite being blocked for a while. I also went to my first midnight movie screening: Hunger Games: Catching Fire. It was worth it. I did Movember for the first and last time and saw my first roller-derby game. I got to go in a submarine for the first time.

I’ve been better with doing yoga and my body is happier for it. I’ve been to Sydney again, started up Community Tech Support through church, but the interest has been close to zero. I’ve been so very tired through the year and I don’t know what to do about it. I moved out of home, transitioning into flatting life quite easily. I made time to be with a mate having surgery. I’ve also been learning guitar. I’ve been less stressed this year, despite the workload I’ve had at the office. I’ve been tempted and frustrated, I’ve offered help and it’s not been taken and been offered help I didn’t want to take. I’ve spent more time on Buzzfeed than I’ll admit and more time praying for selfish things than a ‘good’ Christian should, but that’s okay because I’ll never be the perfect Christian, nobody will.

People I’ve allowed to get close to me this year have said they’ve seen me grow and that’s the biggest encouragement I’ve had this year. In 2012 I was drowning in everything I needed to do, getting overwhelmed by my TODO lists and the expectations I put on myself – more so than the expectations of others. In 2013 I started swimming, against the tide, but swimming. Fridays gave me a chance to deal with those nagging things that need doing. Of course, swimming is tiring, but I have to hope there’s a reason I put in all this effort.

I’m not sure what 2014 has in store, but I feel like this will be a year with bigger changes than the last. I’ll try to put more focus on relationships and less on projects. I’ll keep running, my long term target is a half marathon. I’ll find better ways to cope with stress and I’ll try my hardest to give someone else the chance to be my biggest critic and give myself a break.

So here’s to 2014, let’s see what you’ve got. :)