Friday, 20 September 2013

How Was Africa?

"How was Africa?"

Now that's a vast question. And rather hard to answer. So here's my best go at it:

I had a very unexpected last Summer of my ministry with BlueSky. Approaching this past Summer, I only felt anxiety and apprehension as the camp season came ever nearer. I remember feeling burnt-out and not prepared to perform what was required of me. (The Lord does know how to break us down.) 
       I remember sharing my spiritual status with all the collegiate camp staff at the beginning of the Summer and asking for prayer to live in the Word and hearing many others seeking a similar request of the rest. Finally, someone pointed out that we were a room full of broken people brought together by the Lord to do work in the name of Christ. It was the beginning of refreshment to know how broken his servants are and how unified and confident we can be in the name of Jesus. 
       I started to feel more ready, more able to fling my heart back into the work I was in Kenya to do. Staff training commenced, we all got to know each other better, and camp came together in a huge way. As is the way with every summer at BlueSky I've been a part of, the sessions only increased with each week pushing the limits of how many campers we could host and how much the camp staff could handle. The first two sessions being the smallest, with 90+ and 110+ respectively, were a mixture of the easiest and the hardest as we worked out all the programming difficulties, but were able to find some semblance of rest due to the low number of campers. I also found them to be a culmination of my ministry as those two sessions were largely attended by the two schools I had been the most intentional about. 
       The Lord was present! He was made known. Kids with hard heads and harder hearts started the week defiantly joking and pressing the limits to see how their counselors would react, & ended the week making a public profession that Jesus had awakened them. Kids I had been meeting for lunch periods throughout the school year (excellent visits mixed with some that got me depressed thinking they would never know the love of Christ), came to camp expecting nothing but fun with friends, but instead had their freakin' worlds flipped upside down when they saw the unadulterated love of Jesus. It was an amazing time to see the name of Jesus being proclaimed to the students I'd been around so many times but unable to speak blatant truth to, due to not wanting to be kicked off campus for proselytizing. I can't begin to express how freeing it was to walk around campus after the Wednesday night Cross Talk while all the kids were star gazing and to sit down with them so I could speak about Jesus. They would ask questions. I would do my best to express the inexpressible. It was freedom in Christ.
       The first two sessions, although arguably the culmination of my two year long ministry, were only the beginning. We had much more Summer to go and many adventures along the way, including, but not limited to, trips to rural Kenya, a crazy sickness that spread throughout all of camp staff save 5 people, trips to slums, trips to street kid ministries, getting t-boned by a matatu (an 11 passenger van), going to court (with a short time in hand cuffs), exploring some of the beautiful wilderness of Kenya, and going back to camp for three sessions in a row, with a record breaking amount of campers each week.
       The last three sessions were crammed with campers. The numbers reaching 150+, 160+, and 170+ respectively. It was borderline insanity by the final session. All in all, I believe we had over 720 kids (hundreds of whom had never been to camp before, or heard the truth of Jesus) come through camp. The Kingdom of God was made known in Camp BlueSky. What a way to finish my time in the ministry! 
       BlueSky is an incredible ministry. Kids from all walks of life and religions of the world, coming to one place to hear the Truth, the Word of God, in a way that may never be offered to them again. The Lord's Word does not go out and come back empty handed. I never would have been able to experience the ongoing work of the Lord in that community were it not for the work God has established through BlueSky. I have been blessed beyond understanding by this time of my life and am sad to see it come to an end. My time with BlueSky has shaped my understanding of God's love. 

Thank you, to all who supported financially and prayerfully, for contributing in a much needed way to the BlueSky Youth and Camp ministries. BlueSky provided a possibility for me to join in the work going on in Nairobi. The family of God provided the opportunity to pursue the calling God has laid on my heart. I never would have been able to go and stay as long as I did without the aid and support of the overwhelmingly loving family of God. Thank you, all, for participating in my life and ministry over these past two years and three months. If you ever see me in person, please ask me, "How was Africa?" I would love to tell you more.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Revelations, Resolution, & Reconciliation

Is it just me or are men and women very different?

       I recently had a fight with my boss. I'm not saying this is the whole of it, but a lot of the spat had to do with our differing opinions on the word help. 

(WARNING: The words you are about to read may become convoluted and verbose, and, in some cases, probably wrong. If you were to stop reading right now, I wouldn't blame you. These thoughts are coming from a homeschooled, youngest son, who only had four older brothers, one father, and one mother to tell him what girls/women are like.)

       It wasn't until we were in the midst of our reconciliation that my revelation struck. I don't know if this is the case with all men, or maybe just the men that I've witnessed acting like this (Sorry, brothers and Dad. This means you.), but, it seems to me, men hear, use, receive, infer the word help to mean "do." I realize this is a blanket statement and should be taken with a grain of salt, but, like actual blankets, blanket statements are cozy to the user, and, figuratively, I'm cold.
       If you had told me last week the very thing I just wrote, I would have disagreed with you and spouted off many situations where I used/heard the word help in many different ways than merely do, but I would be lying. With my revelation, dawned my misuse of the word, throughout my life. In requests to others, when asking "would you help me," I was really just saying "would you do this for me."In prayer, when asking God for help in struggles with my sin, I was really just saying "would you simply stop me from sinning." When responding to people who asked for help, I would offer them solutions to their situation, or even stop them from screwing it up and just do it myself. Help meant do, meant take over, meant fix the problem.
       My boss told me that she thought it meant support.

I won't get into the gory details of our little tiff; they're not worth mentioning. But I will tell you that she had asked for my help earlier in the day. I had told her that I would help. Then, later, when she actually needed my help, I offered a different solution that was reasonable and justified, but didn't involve me. This left her feeling as if I hadn't helped her at all.

       In my mind, I had done my part of helping. In her mind, I had abandoned her. 

       Shortly after that ordeal, she took a trip to the US for Christmas break. We hadn't had any time to talk over what had happened, or resolve whatever it was that we got irked over. I was a little distraught over the fact that we couldn't resolve this situation and knew that there would be a time that all the "ish" would hit the fan. If you're wondering why I'm writing all this, it's because that time happened earlier today.
       We talked for close to two hours, hashing and rehashing what had happened, never coming to any resolution. We both noticed where we both had failed to honor God. We both noticed where we were justified in our hearts behind our actions. We both saw that the other was right. We didn't know what to do next. Something felt wrong, like we couldn't resolve the past or even what to do in the future.
       You see, the way I approach problems or arguments or fights (whatever you want to call them) includes two possible solutions: 1) one party is in the wrong, eventually comes to that conclusion and apologizes, or 2) both parties are in the wrong, eventually come to that conclusion and apologize. We had come to the crossroad of both being right, coming to that conclusion and not knowing how to deal with it if it happens again. No resolution.
       That's when being a Christian comes in really handy. We didn't know what to do. We couldn't "help" the situation, but we knew that God could help. (The second time I used help in that sentence, I was using it like women do (maybe, I'm still not really sure how they use it).) Another revelation dawned and with it came hope and peace. If and when we came to another crux, Christ would support us. Although we could not and cannot "do" anything on our own to resolve the messes we find ourselves in, we knew that we could do what Christ required through his support to reconcile our hearts in his name. I love believing in Christ. He's my only hope.

I don't know if any of you understood that, or even read it (I thought my warning above was pretty convincing...). I just thought I'd share with you what happened to me today.


Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Sleepless in Nairobi Doesn't Have the Same Ring...


       Sometimes I forget where I am when I first wake up in the morning. I do a quick look around the room until I see something familiar, and then I realize that I'm in my own bed. This only increases when I don't get a solid 7-8 hours of sleep, something I haven't had for the past two weeks. That brief startling moment when nothing makes sense, intermingled with that eery feeling that there is most likely drool on my face, has been plaguing my awakenings for the past two weeks.
       Christmas came and brought with it the "holidays" (British speak for vacation). Since then, I have spent many of my waking hours, and a rather large chunk of what should have been my sleeping hours, hanging out with kids into the wee hours of the morning. We've played Risk, we've watched movies, we went swimming, we've played basketball, we've played Monopoly, we went rock climbing, we've played Mario Party, we went bowling, we've played Super Smash Brothers, we've played Mini-Golf, we've played Football (British speak for Soccer), we even played a little Texas Hold 'Em (Texas speak for Poker). We've run out of things to do. Thankfully School started back up this morning.
I'm hoping that with School came a Regular Sleeping Schedule.
       Besides the lack of sleep, this past "holiday" has been most excellent. For the first time in as long as I've known, I understood the True meaning of Christmas. Cheesy, I know, but it's true. I never could get past the songs, materialism, and commercialization, which frustrate me to no end, until I moved to a Third World Country (where kids are actually happy to get socks as a gift). Seeing all the brokenness made me long for a Savior. Thank God he come and is on his way back.
Seeing Christmas in a new light really rejuvenated my heart for my ministry here. And it's a good thing it did, because I've spent everyday since then with kids and I'm pretty sure the only way I've gotten through them is due to the Lord. (Sometimes we wouldn't start playing Risk until 10:30pm, which means, for all you non-Risk players, that the game wouldn't end until at least 2:30am with the possibility of lasting until 4:00am.)
       New Year's day brought with it more of the same with a few additions. I started writing and illustrating an adventure story. More kids joined the madness of "hangout with Bryce time." I even had one kid, who shall be renamed Gerald, open up and tell me about his mother and his fears that she died a non-Christian. He sat with me and cried his anger away as he continued to talk about his brother and sister, who are both in the midst of troubles of their own.  I didn't have a clue what to tell him, but I'm pretty sure God sent his Spirit to guide my words. I started talking and Jesus took over. It was pretty sweet. I love being here.
       The Lord has already begun a great work this year. I pray that he keeps me strong while I finish up my ministry. I'm wrapping up my time here in August, and I already am dreading leaving. Please pray that I'll be given the strength to live completely for God's will these next few months. It's dawning on me that my time is limited with these kids, and I want to give them the best representation of Christ's love that I can.
       Another prayer request would be that I could get the financial support that I need to stay through August. I'm getting 50% of my monthly support covered, for which I am incredibly blessed, but I still need roughly $800 a month to cover the cost of living here. Please pray for more support, and, if you feel like you can give, follow this link BlueSky Global to give either a one time donation or monthly support.
       Thank you for what you've already done through prayer and support to help me in my ministry here. It's such a blessing to know I have people back home encouraging me. I'm really looking forward to seeing as many of you as I can, when I get back for a visit in February!