If you like to-do lists you may think my list from September 2016 as somewhat exciting.
- Finish master’s degree – check.
- Serve the Philippines for 2 years full time – check.
- Apply for missions training – check.
- Pack up my life – check.
- Fly to Canada – check.
- Trust God for future – still checking on a daily basis.
#6 is what keeps me on the edge of my seat. I can never predict what God has in store for me, and though I want to plot out my life I find that God is a much better Navigator.
Last year around this time I was preparing to leave for Kona, Hawaii for Youth With a Mission’s Discipleship Training School (YWAM DTS Kona) but my US visa application was denied; I felt your shock and dismay mirror mine. You cheered when I got the go-signal to transfer to YWAM Vancouver. You kept in step as I sought God’s voice and stepped into uncharted territory. You read my blogs and supported the cost of training one missionary student – me.
You may read our YWAM Vancouver DTS Fall 2016 blog (scroll down to the bottom of the webpage to see links to the weekly posts, written by yours truly).
Here’s my sixth-month (technically seventh but I’m the only one counting) update for you readers, supporters, and friends!
I was finally “sitting at the foot of Jesus” but the cost of discipleship demands that I give up (control of) my life so I can could gain it (Matt 16:25). I had to re-open unhealed wounds, became vulnerable with a team that was more than half my age, and admit my numbed desires and dampened spirit. But I also received healing, fell deeper in love with Jesus, and saw the Father’s passion and pursuit of me in ways that I had never experienced before.
First though, I had to wrestle with God just like Jacob did. On the first week our financial statements were handed out and my heart sank into my stomach when I saw the $4000+ balance. I went for a walk during lunch break, furious with God and the predicament HE had put me in! They’ll never let me go on outreach if I don’t pay the balance on time. What was I thinking? Did I really hear your voice? Am I really supposed to be here? Where are the people who promised financial support?
I wrestled with God on my first week of DTS.
By faith the school allowed me to go on outreach with $3000+ balance due but I learned that when one of my biggest human securities was taken away – money – I became emotionally and spiritually undone because I was not grounded and rooted in God’s love (Ephesians 3:16-19).
On of our team excursions in Isan, Thailand we drove through a winding road that was lined with flame trees (Delonix regia) on both sides. I asked our driver to stop so I could take pictures and he proudly explained that their beloved King Bhumibol Adulyadej had planted them. Throughout his 70 years on the throne the King was known for his love of planting trees to revive Thailand’s denuded forests. Incidentally, the species regia is of Latin origin, an adjective meaning “royal, or a king, regal.” Thailand’s beloved King and Queen planted seedlings, which grew up become royal trees: beautiful, elegant, and serving a noble purpose of keeping the ecosystem intact.
Flame trees (Delonix regia) line this road in Isan, Thailand.
Monkeys scurry down from the treetops to check out their human visitors.
Here’s some photos from Flame Tree Festival every May in Saipan, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (where I used to live and work). Locals and tourists looked forward to the week when the flowers would burst into scarlet and orange splendour.
Flame trees in Saipan
The red-orange flowers contrast with the turquoise waters of Saipan’s barrier reef.
That lovely road in Isan brought to mind Isaiah 61:3 (ESV).
“…to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.”
What did God grant?
My prayer for ice cream. Healing for my right wrist during a class exercise in prayer. Courage to pray for strangers at a mall in Burnaby, BC. Healing of a deaf man while we were on outreach and hearing a woman’s story of Jesus healing her paralyzed arm.
On my first week at DTS I thought God’s love was inversely proportional to my balance due: $4500, $3000, and the remaining $1300. Now my lecture and outreach fees have been fully paid in God’s time.
The divine joke’s on me because on our very first Monday (we have community worship every Monday morning) on the very first week, we sang “One Thing Remains” by Jesus Culture. I was mouthing…
My debt is paid, there’s nothing that can separate
My heart from Your great love
Your love never fails, and never gives up
It never runs out on me
Suddenly, a supernatural tidal wave of what I can only humanly describe as love washed over me and pushed me to my knees! Tears, snot, and mascara ran unimpeded down my face. No one snickered or looked away in embarrassment because everyone in that chapel knew where that overwhelming love was coming from!
My King and my God planted me so that I would take root and blossom like those flame trees. As I grow stronger in Christ’s love I find so many reasons to rejoice instead of mourn, and when people see God’s work in my life I want them to praise and give God the glory because God has granted us love and life.