Monday, June 23, 2008

Malibu #1

Dear loved ones,
I don't know if anyone checks this blog anymore, but if not, then it takes the pressure off. I am in the middle of my second week here at Malibu, and it is my first day off. I have spent the day resting and spending some time with other interns. We will be watching a movie shortly, and that movie will be Once. Good film if you have not seen it yet. It took me less than two seconds to feel at home here. The second face I saw as I stepped off the boat was that of my dear friend Kelly McElroy. She has been working here on the program team for the month. Then next person I saw was good friend and singer/song writer Jonah Warner. It was nice to get the warm greeting. About thirty seconds after I left the boat ramp Harold (The Malibu property manager) grabbed me and threw me into the luggage line. It took us about an hour to get all of the luggage and freight transferred by hand on and off the boat. This is what everyone on the property lovingly refers to as “boat day.” So within the first hour I was completely exhausted and dirty. The rest of my first day here consisted of getting to know the new people, and catching up with old friends. I really do love it here. In many ways it is close representation of the Kingdom of God here and now. The community is amazing, and the love is supernatural. This is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to. I think it just appeals to the type of landscape here.
I wish that all of you could see what camp is like. There is nothing like it in the world. Not only is this one of the most beautiful places in the world (One of the top ten must see yachting destinations in the world according to Yachters Magazine), but what we do here is awesome. I wish everyone could come and visit for a week. If you have never seen Young Life camping, then you can't even begin to understand what we do here. This is not a church camp, but kids do encounter Christ here in a real way.
I have been working hard here. It is really nice to get dirty and get something done. I love working with my hands, and it is great to serve God in this way. The first session is about to end, and that means that around 100 staff people will leave and we will get a new group of staff people who need to be trained for the next session. It is sad to see people go, but it is exciting to see new faces and build new relationships. It is nice to be here right now. I didn't realize how much I needed to get away from Oregon and all the emotions it holds for me. Right now I don't even want to go back. I get to take a week out of camp in a few weeks, and I don't really want to go back to Oregon. I think God has brought me here for many reasons, and one of those reason is to heal. It is good for me to be here. I do miss all of my friends though. I just need this right now, and my heart knows it.

This is the view to the east from Malibu.

This is a picture of the west side of Malibu from the Jervis Inlet.

This is a long exposure of the Malibu camp incinerators at night.

Thailand aftermath continued:

I don't really know where to start. I have had almost three weeks to reflect on our trip. I don't think that I can handle long term missions like that unless I am with people I really love greatly. I really liked all of the people on the trip, but I didn't chose them, and it is hard to be on a trip like that with twenty other people. I know that God selected all of the people for the trip, but God also knew that it was only going to be three weeks. I don't know if I am built for long term overseas missions. I would love to do it, but that might just be Christian culture talking. I have always struggled with what I call the “noble mission.” I feel like in Christian culture we have this idea that some missions are more “noble” than others even though this is not true at all. There is this assumption that someone who is in full time missions over seas is better than someone who is in full time missions in their retail store. I heard somewhere that the country that the most Christian missionaries are sent to is the U.S. This means the the rest of the world sees the great need that we have right in our own country. So why is it that we can't even see our own need? Why is it that all we hear about is the people who are leaving the U.S. to go on missions, when we should also be hearing about the people who are staying here on mission? I am not trying to challenge the validity people who feel called to go overseas. I guess that struggle I have is wanting the approval of others. I know that I should be able to mission where ever God calls me to be, but I am just so concerned with what other people think. I want people to be impressed with what my mission is. I know that as long as I am listening to God's call, then Jesus will be impressed with my mission, so I should be happy with that. That is the struggle with my future. So Thailand helped me realize that couldn't overseas missions full time, unless it is was with a wife or something. I guess I will not completely rule it out. God will let me know in due time.

Here is a picture from the school we went to in Thailand.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Thailand Aftermath part #1

Dear family and friends,

I first want to say thank you for supporting me on my trip to Thailand. I appreciated your prayers and financial support. I am now back in Portland trying to get over jet lag before the next chapter in my life.
I got back from Thailand on June 3rd, and I am staying with some friends until June 7th when I leave for the summer to work at a Young Life camp called Malibu Club in Canada. It is a little crazy to have a quick turn around like this, but I know that God will give me the energy to get things done.

It was a huge blessing to be able to go to Thailand. There is so much that I could say about my trip, but I will try and make it simple. We traveled to Chiang Mai on May 11th, and my initial impression of Thailand was very positive. The only other country I had been to in Asia was India, and so I think I was expecting something like that, but Thailand blew my expectations out of the water. We stayed at the YMCA, and that was a very good thing for us. It wasn't too comfortable, but it was nice to have a place that we could rest at ease. In the end we spent about $8 a night per person for the whole three weeks. It was important to us to be good stewards of the money that God allowed us to raise.

For the first two weeks we worked with a organization called The Garden of Hope (GoH). This organization is a few years old, and was birthed out of the International Justice Mission (IJM). One of the founders of GoH was working in Thailand with IJM to free sex slaves, and she noticed that there was no ministry that was reaching out to the voluntary prostitutes. So that is how GoH was started. The first week was spent a few days getting to know Thailand and learning some basic language. GoH did a great job getting us accustomed to Thailand and their ministry. We were able to help teach English at a language school, and it was a good way to interact with Thai people.

Right before we arrived in Thailand GoH opened a new facility that is right in the middle of the red light district. They call it the Drop in Center (DIC), and it is just a place where the street kids can come to play and do homework, and the women can come, learn English, and receive other care. The vision for the DIC is to provide a refuge for kids and women in the middle of a very deprived place. GoH's mission is relational, and they spend a lot of time just loving people. It is incredible what love will do for people who don't get it at all. The females on our team worked with the women during our stay, and us males worked with the kids. It was wonderful just see the way that the kids responded to our love even in the short time that we were there. Some of the kids were transformed by the love we showed them. By the time we left, we could tell that they kids were more trusting, well behaved, and all around more joyful than when we first came.

The day to day activities that we took part in seem inconsequential, but I will give some examples. One afternoon I went out and collected garbage in the red light district. It was wonderful to see the reaction of the Thai people as we picked up their neighborhood. I think that it was a awesome testimony of the Kingdom of God. The Thai people knew that it wasn't us who made the trash, but we were the ones taking responsibility for it. The rest of the time I would spend at the DIC playing with the kids. It was a really good time for me. I am normally a service oriented person, so it was good for me to be stretched in relational ministry.

The last week of our trip was a little different. We worked with a organization called Remember Nhu. Their objective is to keep children out of the sex industry. We worked at their orphanage on a building project, and we did a building project at an other orphanage named Asia's Hope. It was good to work with our hands and also get a chance love the kids that were there. Near the end of our trip we were able spend a day in the villages which are where most of these kids are from.

Collectively our team raised about $9,000 more than we needed, and since we lived conservatively while we were there we saved more than $4,000. So we were able to buy things for these ministries that were much needed. We were able to buy kids resources for GoH, and some building materials for Remember Nhu. We were also able to contribute a substantial amount of money to Remember Nhu for the new orphanage they are starting up in Burma. I want to say thank you again for helping us go to Thailand, and it was a great trip. God really moved, and it was wonderful to see what God is doing over in Thailand through these groups.
Blessings to all of you

More reflections and pictures to come...