Thursday, 26 January 2012


I've been thinking a lot lately about home; I miss my family, I miss my friends, I miss days in the coffee shop with snow sparkling in the window, chatting with some of those dearest to me. I miss game nights, and I miss lacing up my skates.

I miss my Newy family, too. I miss staying up until the final minute before curfew, deep in conversation with my brothers and sisters. I miss late-night snack-and-craft time with Holly (and sometimes, Cookie) and, more than anything, I miss the people who really invested in me during my lecture phase.

I guess for me, it has always been the people - the relationships - that make a place "home".

But now, I find myself moving around on outreach, meeting all kinds of incredible people, on the go all the time. I can't shake the feeling that everything is so temporary. Even when I find I've formed a solid relationship with someone, I know that I may never see them again.

I know that I will always have a sense of home with my parents, and with my brother and sister. Mum, Dad, Alex and Katty, you know me better than anyone else. We might argue lots but I love that we forgive more. I hope you know that I'd do anything for any of you in a heartbeat.

I know that I will always find home with my senior camp family. I know that I have a home in Newy, and I know that I have a home in all kinds of places because of the beautiful relationships that I have with people in those places; The Chans, The Wockners, The Miskiewicz's, Trinity, Saint Mike's, Jackie, Mel, and so many more. But what about here, in the villages of rural Cambodia? Here, where it's hard to communicate even my name with the people I so desperately want to get to know?

How do you build home where even relationships are temporary? How do you build home where relationships only run so deep because of circumstance and language? Do I let timing and language determine that I simply don't persue "home"?

Here's the thing:
" They say 'home is where the heart is', so if you give your heart to God... home can be anywhere." - Micheal Cooke.

If I give my heart to God, then I find home wherever He is - in service, in joy, in peace,in hope... In love. I find home in the kingdom of God.

When I love, and when I give, and when act out of grace, then I bring heaven to earth. I build the kingdom of God. I build my home.

Because my heart is God's, my home is in relationships. They are a reflection of God's character, and in the space between two people who care about each other, the kingdom of God is found.

Because my heart is God's, I am able to build my home wherever I go. I make space for the kingdom of God in every circumstance - a smile with a stranger, a cup of tea with an old friend, a cuddle with my dad. I establish heaven, I make space for God, and in that space I find rest and peace... And home.

My house is mine to build, not out of bricks but out of love.

So I'm charging into hell, and I'm bringing heaven with me. I'm building my home where there are the remnants of hell. For me, home is where brokenness was, but restoration is found. Home is where the was selfishness, but now there is humility. Home is where integrity and love reside. Home is where the kingdom of God bridges the gaps formed by race, ethnicity and language.

Home, they say, is where the heart is.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

The Kingdom of God and the Letter "B"

We've been in Cambodia for just over two weeks now, and ten of those fourteen days have been spent in the bustling city of Phnom Penh. The city is busy like you can't imagine, and more chaotic than anything I've ever experienced. The lines on the roads are more like suggestions than they are rules, as are the traffic lights. Here, business governs the work day. The shops seem to close when the sun goes down, when the people go home, when the mozzies and the dogs come to find dinner.

The people, however, live just on the brink of the business that is created by the need to earn money and the eagerness to meet demands. Depsite the daily challenge of earning enough to feed themselves and their families, the people in the city are so vibrant. they are so....genuine. Everything they do is saturated in this keen attitude, this servant- heartedness.

When a Cambodian smiles, they smile with their entire body. When they're upset, you know it because it's written all over their face. And when they trust, they do so with reckless abandon.

In the evenings of our week in Phnom Penh, we taught english at a Christian School called Lighthouse. The building was actually a church, where one of the few english services in Phnom Penh is held. The teachers in this school are, to our understanding, volunteers. They come every night and work with their students, teaching them english and building relationships.

The teacher that I got to work with is named Saray. She is this young, beautiful Cambodian woman who is studying biochemistry at the local university. She also works a lot to be able to scrape together her monthly rent of 100 USD, and she still makes time to teach. Her dream is to teach biochemistry - a dream that isn't so far-fetched if you ask me.My favorite thing about Saray is her relationship with her students. It's so much fun to watch. Saray teaches with a grace that reflects God's own, and a heart for her students that reflects His as well. She is so humble and yet commands respect, she wants her students to learn and to grow not so they'll pass but so they'll excel; in school, in life and in all things they put their mind to. She's a strong woman of God, a beautiful sister of mine, and a great role model to her students.

If there is one thing we can learn from the Cambodian people, it's trust. On monday morning, we walked into this school in downtown Phnom Penh, with nothing but our knowledge of the english language, our nerves and our eagerness to serve. We were met with the voices of dozens and dozens of children chanting "TEACHER, TEACHER!" all of them keen to learn our names and hold our hands as we walked to class. For one week, we became their teachers. We all taught different age groups, and with them faced different challenges and had different victories.

I got to teach kindergarden. It never occurred to me how terrifying thirty little tiny faces can be when they're all peering at you from just over the edge of their classroom tables, expecting you to communicate with them. I knew very well that nothing I said would be understood, and when the actual teacher left the room, I was left floundering around, trying to think up ways to communicate with my toddler-aged students. Early on, I figured out that they liked it when I made funny gestures and sounds - so that's what I went with. The next thing I knew, I had a swarm of tiny asian children following me around the classroom, giggling while we learned and acted out the word "plane." I also had the privilege of teaching my class how to write the letter "B". This particular class was made up of students who had only just begun school, so when they all ran up to me, showing me the fruit of our combined efforts, I was quite pleased. Then, a little boy came up to me, looking really upset, and uttered something in his mother tongue. It quickly became clear that he was still having trouble shaping his B's. So we sat down together, and I carefully showed him. We practiced , his hand in mine, a dozen times. Then, he tentatively drew something that looked rather convincingly like a "B", and looked up at me and grinned. I smiled at him, and we high-fived.

I struggled a lot during the week, feeling sometimes like I was getting nowhere for all the effort I was putting in. Teaching english is a slow process, demanding of both the teacher and the students. But this one little boy's success was enough for me. He might not remember me in a week's time, but I'll never forget how much joy there was in that one smille.

This week, I learned a little more about what love in the kingdom of God is like. I learned that love doesn't require a common language, nor does it require much communication at all. Love teaches with both grace and humility. Love makes a fool of itself if it makes a child laugh. Love does not demand to see the fruit of it's labour, but rejoices in the small things - like the letter "B".

Sunday, 15 January 2012

All In a Day

"I've got sunshine on a cloudy day" were the words that beautiful Rebecca Loree and I woke up to at 6 o'clock this morning, our last in Australia before setting off for Cambodia.

I rolled over, my body still sore from the work we did in Toowoomba, but appreciative of the mattress beneath me. I groaned, turned off my alarm, and then it hit me. "Holy crap, we leave for Cambodia today" I said, and Becca laughed.

I checked my email from my bed, (ah, the rare luxury of wifi ) and couldn't believe what I read.

I am still working on completing my fundraising for my outreach phase, and it's s due to the grace of my parents that I got to begin with my team. So, even on the day I was leaving for Cambodia, I was praying for breathrough.

And that is what I got. I woke up to the email of a good friend, with the great news of a generous donation from Saint Micheal's church towards my outreach.

I stood up and cheered and hopped on the spot and shared my news with Becca.

How crazy is that? The day I'm leaving, God provides. He's so good, and so loving, and He's got me becauae that's all in a day of being his daughter; and that goes for all of His children. He is faithful, even when we don't understand the timing. Even when we mumble, and we set up back-up plans in case the God of the Universe doesn't show up, He comes through, and He does so in His own way.. And it's always the best way, the way the stretches you and teaches you the most.

So I left for Cambodia on thursday having learned (another) lesson in God's provision and His timing, and with a greatful heart.

Thank you, brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles of Saint Mike's. Your partnership in my dreams for the people of Cambodia, means the world to me. It gives me such confidence knowing that I have such a beautiful extended family behind me.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Joyana, Jérémie and Berith

Joyana: A beautiful young woman with a zest for life and a passion for people. She has spent the last three months assuming her identity in Christ, and she now wears that identity with style. She is so at ease with people, and when she speaks, you can't help but listen. Such a priviledge to know.

Jérémie: A young man, and a new friend. An inspiration, a seeking heart. Jérémie left his life in Sherbrooke four months ago, and I got to meet him on the beach in beautiful Byron Bay, playing volleyball. We ended up hanging out a bunch during the week and having some really memorable
conversations about life and God and the past and the future. He's a man who I looking for something and finding the most beautiful thing of all. He's encountered a God who hears him, who inspires thought and pondering - a God that simply has to exist. I love Jérémie's brain, because it works through everything. He makes me think about things in new ways, and reminds me to go back to truth whenever I'm uncertain.

Berith: A sweet young lady from Denmark with one of the most gentle spirits I have ever met. Berith has a heart of gold, and a love for the Lord that is so inspiring and so genuine. She's easy to talk to, and makes you feel like you are going to be okay no matter what. she's a great listener, and has wisdom far beyond her twenty years that she shares with the great discernment that God has annointed her with. Hugging Berith is like hugging the holy spirit. It's more than just a hug, it's like sharing. Spiritual touch rather than physical touch. I got to spend the last morning of my time in Byron with this young beaity, and it was a morning that I won't soon forget.A new friend, a new sister.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Byron Bay

We’ve been here for nine days already, but they have all sort of
blended together to take the shape of Impact Summer 2011-2012.

We rolled up in Byron Bay last Wednesday, after saying our good-byes
back at Lewis House and being on the road for a good ten hours. We
were greeted by booming atmosphere of a town saturated in a vibrant
beach- nightlife culture. The sidewalks were packed with young people
who had no place to be and every reason to accept what the world was
offering them. It seemed like the whole town had been dipped in this
sense of mistaken identity.

We began to absorb how big the task ahead of us really was.
Partnering with teams from bases from all over Australia, we gave away
hundreds of sausages and burgers and, on other occasions, pancakes and
chai. We performed dances that spoke of identity, we acted out skits
that remind us that we are sought after, that we are always loved. We
engaged with the inquisitive, creative minds of the locals and with
the meaning-seeking hearts of backpackers. We entertained skeptics
with absolute truth and answered questions about our own personal
beliefs. We saw incredible healings, from age-old injuries to
fractured wrists, from headaches to lactose intolerance.

We have spent the first nine days of our outreach meeting people
where they are at, and loving them in a way that speaks identity into
their lives, that calls them to more.

In the chaos of the end of a year and the beginning of another, we
met the town of Byron Bay with the love of the Father on our hearts.
We have seen God move in incredible ways, and as we prepare to move on
to our next destination, we go with even bigger expectations, with
more life-long friendships, with more love for each other, and with
faith as big as a town covered in the love of God by the actions of
only a few.