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Monday, July 8, 2013

Australia Day 7: See you in September...

Today was our last day here at Mt Tamborine in Queensland. It's been a great time - I am exhausted and ready to fall asleep at any moment, but it was definitely worth it!

>> We have a definite summer project coming from Student Life Australia to PNG in February to help our students discover how to build close relationships with their disciples and how to develop their disciples into multiplying disciples.

>> We developed many friendships and connections with staff (missionaries) and students in Australia that we can continue to develop.

>> I connected with both Jasmine and Lily (our PNG staff) better than I ever had before and discovered things about them that I never knew. We laughed many times together.

>> We (Lily, Jasmine, and I) analysed our ministry in PNG and discovered several things that we should have been doing or can do better, and have thought of planned steps to take to improve ourselves.

We're excited for our future and hope to take several steps in the 2nd half of this year that will help us to start next year (2014) off strong - preparing our students to be ready for the Australian project coming right before UPNG starts in February.

Thanks so much for praying for our time this week - it was very exciting.

I'm at the airport ready to board my flight home (NZ), and Jasmine & Lily will leave for PNG tomorrow morning.

I'm including a few photos of Jasmine, Lily, and Jasmine & Danika (who is planning to join us full time in PNG in 2015).

Our next post on this blog will be in September when Kaylynn & I head back to PNG. Thanks so much for praying!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Australia Day 6: Learning to build spiritual movements

We finished our 2 final breakfast "meetings" today - we did well, but I think that students are tired of input and we didn't have any significant conversations. I helped Jasmine set up our table in one dining hall and then went to the other dining hall to eat with Lily (I ate breakfast with Jasmine yesterday).   Lily and I had a great time talking honestly about the ministry and potential new staff. She's a lot like me in stubborn personality (perseverance) and I always enjoy talking with her.

In the morning session, we talked about how love for God is the most important thing in our lives (according to God), and how love for the world & love for God are incompatible. There are things in us & around us that fight for our heart.  And there are costs & rewards in both directions: either eternal costs with temporary rewards (looking to relationships or possessions for happiness) or temporary costs with eternal rewards (giving up things to gain Christ). Excellent stuff - so refreshing!

Jasmine, Lily, and I all are taking Movement Building together in this second round of training, and it's excellent! We even used up some of our limited free time to evaluate our UPNG ministry in light of what we're learning (only for 30 minutes - I'm not too much of a slave driver :-) ). We discovered that we are not being as purposeful as we could be as we help develop each student to be able to train others to train others to be used by God. This is helping us so much to be more focused as we disciple students at UPNG. Here's a photo of our group (Jasmine's in the foreground with maroon sweater & Lily on left with gray hood - it was COLD).

At dinner, I met with Mike (on left) & John (on right). Mike is our PNG - Australia liaison, and John agreed to lead a project of students to PNG in February next year to work with our students to help them understand how to disciple like Jesus did. I am so excited - a real partnership - a true answer to prayer - and this has evolved in the past 4 days! I am very excited (I think I said that already).

As I write this I have music pulsing through my body as hundreds of young people are dancing in the large hall. No, I wasn't brave enough to join them, but Jasmine & Lily did a few times (they are on either side of the zebra). It's fun :-)

This has been an amazing week - thanks for praying! :-) We leave tomorrow afternoon and I see my beloved at midnight :-)

Australia Day 5 (2 to go): Day of outreach

This morning we did our 2nd of 3 breakfasts, and it was a bit hard. We're very tired and it was hard for the ladies to get up early again and set up their tables - and I think the other students are dragging a bit too, because fewer people came over to either of our tables to talk.

Jasmine spoke up front this morning and did very well - I was so proud of her.  She was sharing from her heart and looked out at all the students (& not her notes) for the last minute. God touched my heart as I heard heard her speak to me this morning.  It's so exciting to see God use her in this way. (Here's a photo - it's a bit blurry, but that's as close as I could get without distracting everyone - I'd like to show the video, but it's hard to upload it).

The main speaker this morning was excellent - my 2nd highlight of the conference :-)  He shared from 2 Cor 9 about our freedom to give up our rights to be used by God to everyone I meet every day.

This afternoon we had our outreach adventure - I went with a student named Sarah. She was new at witnessing which actually helped to urge me on to take more initiative at the first!  We all bused (5 busses) to the Gold Coast (1 hour) and went house to house for about 2 1/2 hours with surveys.  They only gave us 2 Knowing God Personally booklets (KGPs) for the 2 of us (in PNG we start with 20 for each person), but we weren't even able to use one today - it was too hard to transition into the Gospel :-( . We went to 27 houses, 10 were not home, 10 people were not willing to answer any questions, and we had good conversations with the other 6 people. We skipped one house because they were backing out of their driveway and smacked their mirror on the garage door frame - as they evaluated their insurance claim, we concluded that it wasn't a good time to talk to them (but as we passed them up to go to the next house, my gaze connected with the lady's gaze and I can't get the image of her face out of my mind - maybe we should have talked to her). We enjoyed our time, but I wish I could have talked to more people.

When Jasmine and Lily returned (we all had gone out with different partners), I asked them how it went: Jasmine said it went okay, but Lily said "it went terrible". Lily knocked on the first (or second) door and as she was introducing themselves, the lady slammed the door on them! Lily said, "I said to myself, 'I want to go back to PNG'" - she wouldn't knock on any more doors :-( .

The final results for all 400 of us were something like about 15 people heard the full Gospel, and 1 prayed and received Christ into her life (a Kiwi lady). This is very different than the 112 who prayed and received Christ in Hisiu on 20 June from 35 of us (in 5 hours)! This helped the girls to see how incredible is their opportunity in PNG!

On the drive back up the mountain, we went through a small town (North Tamborine), and I counted 17 houses & shops with Christmas lights shining & blinking! One shop had a sign that said "Merry Christmas". It was nice to see them in the dark (it's the peak of winter here & it gets dark at 5 pm), instead of normally in the summer daylight at Christmas time.

Sorry, only 1 photo today :-\ Thanks so much for praying!!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Australia Day 4: Breakfast with champions

Early this morning, 25 minutes before the 1st person in camp ate breakfast, we set up one table in the main dining hall (for Jasmine) and one table in the 2nd smaller dining hall (for Lily).  We set them up with a slide show running, lots of information, pictures, and PNG coffee in a plunger (French press). The girls were there from 7:20 to almost 9, and several students came up and ate with them or came up after they ate to talk. We have 2 sign-up sheets: a summer project sheet from Student Life Australia, and a sign-up sheet from us to receive PNG email updates & prayer requests. Both sheets are filling up quite well, especially the latter - I'm excited! We'll be doing these breakfasts for the next 2 days as well. I'm including a couple photos of our displays & beautiful hostesses :-).

Until I got my hands on these 2 coffee plungers, I was drinking several cups of tea every day to warm myself up.  [Don't tell anyone because I have a small reputation of being a non-tea drinker :-)]   Jasmine likes Earl Grey, and it's not bad - but I liked the herbal ones & chamomile better.   Believe it or not the tea that I'm holding in this photo is orange (not raspberry).  But now that I can make my own coffee, and especially with PNG coffee, I'm "sad" to say that the tea is now getting neglected a little - though I had orange tea again tonight for dinner :-)

Yesterday & today we have optional seminars of all different topics. Yesterday I attended "Personal finance & budgeting" and I think I might have learned something. It was a very good class, but not aimed at my demographic - I think I was the only one there (of about 40) that had any hint of any gray in their hair... and I do have a bit of a hint :-\ Today's seminar that I attended was "Adventures in sharing your faith". I chose this because it so hard for me to transition into the Gospel when I'm talking with someone in New Zealand. This was excellent - the highlight of my time here! We learned how to ask certain questions to talk about spiritual things. I'm so excited - I just pray that I'll try them out :-)

Tomorrow morning in the main session (after another set of breakfast conversations), Jasmine will share how Student Life has helped her in her life. She has written up what she wants to say, and I have given some suggestions. I know she'll do fine, but please pray for her anyway for confidence & joy as she speaks to this huge crowd (about 9:20 am PNG time) - thanks!

I'm going to bed earlier tonight as I've been getting 6 - 6½ hours of sleep each night for the past couple days - and I'm feeling a bit tired - understated as Kiwis do :-) Thanks for praying - God is always good!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Australia Day 3: International night!

I'm starting this blog (for Friday) sitting outside in the dark as the sun is beginning to pop up - and the noises all around me are wild.  Actually they're probably music because they're coming from birds - but not any birds that I've ever heard before.  There are about a half dozen squawking wildly in one tree for 15 seconds (they actually sound like monkeys), then a flock in another tree a bit further away will respond.  One came close to me but it wasn't light enough to see what he looks like.  The trees are eucalyptus, so maybe the birds are "kookaburra sitting in the old gum tree laughing merrily as can be" - I am in Australia after all. It's fun though - there are heaps of other birds as well - it's like a dawn party :-)  Oh my, a big one just flapped past me (like small turkey size) - this is actually quite exciting!  I'm including a photo of what I'm looking at (after the sun has come up a bit, but it doesn't show the cold). [Note: I found out later that they were Kookaburra, this afternoon one sat down right next to me - see photo]

The reason I'm outside is that there are 8 of us on our 2 bedroom accommodation, and I get up early to make sure I get use of the 1 shower. One guy is sleeping in the lounge (living room) because of snoring, and I don't want to disturb him.   I now know why they said to being ear plugs - it's not for the noisy students outside before midnight :-)

Last night was the first of 8 hour-long session of ministry trainings for the students - all in small groups of 8-10.  Lily & Jasmine went to different rooms, but both rooms had 2 groups (one in each corner).  Jasmine ended up choosing the wrong group (& learned good things anyway), but Lily chose the right group. When we asked her how she knew which group to go to, she replied, "I just stood there looking lost and someone came up to me, looked at the code on my name tag and showed me which group" - that's a good skill to have: knowing how to look lost :-)

Tonight Jasmine & Lily gave their presentation to 400+ people - they girls did great, I'm so proud of them - Lily shared a story & our need in Tok Pisin (pidgin), and Jasmine interpreted into English. We were praying that God will call many staff & students to come help us in PNG (& that they all will hear & obey His call) - we had 15-17 people come by and at least 7 of them say that they're coming in Feb (we decided to move the project to Feb instead of Easter time - thanks for praying!). It was a late, hence why I'm posting this the next morning :-) Thanks for praying!

Australia Day 2: Greetings to the students!

The camp here is gorgeous - lots of trees! And usually when in the "wilderness", there's little or no cell phone coverage - but we do have it here sporadically & in spots (it took me a long time to get yesterday's post posted).

I had a good breakfast impromptu meeting with Jonathan who was going to lead the project to PNG last Easter before it was cancelled.  We talked about how the biggest need that we have in PNG is not evangelism (we find at least 50% of the people who are explained the Gospel, put their faith in Jesus for salvation) - our biggest need is manpower & experience to help us disciple the new believers - to help us & our students to go deep & become good disciplers.

We also talked about the possibility of moving their project to PNG next year from Easter time to 5-19 February 2014. This would give them more time in PNG and give our ministry a bigger boost in our discipleship at the beginning of the University year. Please pray for wisdom as we need to decide this within the next 24 hours.

This afternoon before all the students arrived, Norm Edney walked the 3 of us to the edge of the mountain - what a nice view we had!  (see photo)

Tonight Jasmine & Lily were introduced to the large group of students. I told them that I would take their picture, but they insisted that I stand with them when they introduced PNG - hence the reason why the photo is a bit askew :-)

The girls are doing their first presentation tomorrow evening and when I left them tonight they were working hard on it. :-)

God is ALWAYS good!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Australia Day 1: 300 more are coming tomorrow!

I flew to Brisbane this morning (Wednesday) and caught the bus this afternoon to Mt. Tamborine where the Student Life Australia mid-year conference will start tomorrow. I caught up with Norm Edney, who we worked together in the Solomon Islands in the 90's, and talked about our families and island friends for the full 1 ½ hour winding bus ride up the mountain (see photo of the 2 of us on the bus).  We're also sharing a room (with a few other guys) - it's sooooo good to see him again!

Jasmine & Lily, two of our PNG staff also flew in to Brisbane this afternoon, and a friend (Danika) picked them up and brought them to Mt Tamborine after dinner. Danika came to PNG for our Easter conference last year (2012) and has since felt called by God to return to PNG - she joined the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ, Australia and she is planning to come in 2015. (See photo of these 3 ladies).

Student Life Australia has invited us here to talk to as many students & staff (called Missionaries here) and encourage them to come help our ministry in PNG for 1 week to 2 years at a time.  Student Life Australia has also brought in others from Japan, the Middle East, & West Asia for the same reasons. I think it's very admirable for them to do this - they sincerely want their students & missionaries to venture overseas!

Tonight I sat in the meeting for all the missionaries who work with university students, and I took this picture (below) just to show you how many there are here in Australia - this thrills me - some day we'll have this many in PNG!

Lily & Jasmine & I will meet tomorrow to talk about their role in the conference - what they will say and to make a strategy. :-)   Please pray that we will know what God wants us to say and who He wants us to talk to.  Thanks!

About 300 students from all across Australia will come tomorrow and the conference will begin! And we will see God working!