Sunday, December 30, 2007

Oh what fun it is to......

Merry Christmas dear friends!!!!
(hmmm I better be careful who I say that to.) Right now I have two Jehovah's Witness missionaries working zealously to convert me.
Every week they come over for coffee and scones, and we study our Bibles. Several translations are strewn across the table as we go through the doctrines step by step.
It's interesting.
I am learning a lot from their approach. I am also very thankful that my church allows me to celebrate Christmas and blood transfusions.
But I feel guilty. Am I leading them on by being so interested in their faith? Meanwhile I'm praying they will come to know the Truth, and relieved knowing I don't have to get angry or superior in flexing my theology… I just have to be their friend and love them, and search for truth withthem. God is faithful, and will show us the way. Please pray for their salvation, they will make wonderful YWAM'ers someday =)
I'm living at home in Washington again this month; doing my missions writing here and trying to raise missions support. My Director strongly suggested I come home, and stay home, until I can raise enough support to pay my rent.
Praise Jesus for the opportunity to share about missions at several homes and churches in Stanwood. Making a big deal out of God is what I love to do, so it has been fun. (Did anyone see Pastor Steve do the Samoan warrior dance for the Camano Chapel presentation??) E lelei le Steve! It was classic, you can probably find it on "" =)
Thank you so much Terry Greer, Luke and Tori Dawson, and Chris Mietes for joining my mission team this month!!
Thank you all friends who have been partnering with me in missions these past four years. I am so blessed to have you on my team. Praise God, we have touched many lives through your partnership. Please remember, I would love to come and visit you while I'm home. I could bring some international dessert and we can talk about missions and your family.
In the meantime, thank you so much for praying for me as I continue to write the stories of the wonderful things God is doing in the world. Please keep praying for my new Jehovah's Witness friends too.
Merry Christmas!!!!
Love, Jennifer
YWAM International Communications NetworkP.O. Box 26479Colorado Springs, CO. 80936(719)-380-0505

Here is a photo of me baking Christmas cookies with AWANA girls - so much fun - I love getting involved in AWANA when I'm home.
If you're looking for a good ministry to be involved in locally, AWANA clubs are an excellent way to reach kids for Christ - and they're always looking for new leaders! Here is also a photo of my cute sisters, Emily and Mary, it's been so fun to be with you again for Christmas =)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Friday, November 16, 2007

Jen? Are you back??

If you happen to see me around Stanwood this week, you may be puzzled.
And justifiably so, since I just sent out a newsletter saying I was loving life and missions in Colorado!
There are 3 possible conclusions one might jump to:
1.) I have a twin
2.) I’ve been hiding out at home all these years, making up stories about the countries and missions I've been in.
3.) My mission director strongly suggested I come home, and stay home, until I can raise enough support to pay my rent.
If you chose option 3 you are cunning and qualified for a free evening with me!
I will gladly come to your home, bringing a tasty international dessert, and share my vision for missions with you!

I hate being pushy and making people uncomfortable - so I may wait for you to tell me you're interested. But I am praying God will stir in the hearts of people a desire to be involved in missions. I absolutely LOVE to share the stories of the wonderful things God is doing in the world and how you can be part of it.
So next time you see me around Stanwood feel free to grab me and be the answer to my prayer! =)
p.s. my new e-mail adress is
and phone number is 360-652-7430

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

So I moved to Colorado and........

I promised my Editor that I would come and spend at least 6 months living here in Colorado Springs working on writing projects for my fellow missionaries at the Youth With A Mission International Communications Network office.
I actually have my own little office – but since my Editor left on a business trip the next day he said I could use his until I finish preparing mine. sweet! I just got here and I’m already taking over my bosses office.
The people I work with here are nice except they told me
I have to wear shoes and stop singing in the hallway. So I am doing my best to become poised and professional.
Much to my chagrin they said I could not paint my new office to look like a Samoan beach fale (open hut with a thatched roof)...
but they let all those little shortcomings pass like water under the proverbial bridge because of the baked goods I have been bringing in. Ha.
I feel like Amelia Bedelia.
Actually I’m glad because I love to cook but also intend to keep my cute girlish figure forever, sooo bringing those brownies in for everyone else to enjoy makes everyone
(as an aside for all the sweet, well-intentioned ladies at church who try to hook me up with different nephews ect. I need to marry a man who likes to eat.)
Another thing that surprised and delighted me this weekend is that it snowed already! It was the strangest thing – Saturday it was 75 degrees and I got sunburned, but I woke up Sunday morning and found this!

60 minute meals a day with Jennifer Gray

Or something like that....

Oh the joy of baking! Pumpkin bread seemed like a good place to start because it is fall and I wanted to give some to the people who have been praying for me and helping to supply my “daily bread” in missions.
Would you believe my humble little pumpkin yielded 16 loaves of bread?
Amazing – if you have not yet received a loaf of said bread, please don’t hesitate to give me a call and I’ll be happy to bring one to you. =)

p.s. Many thanks to all the wonderful friends and family's who let me come over and share missions stories, pictures and food - I always love coming home to you all!

Monday, October 22, 2007

September - In culture shock - and loving it!

Home again!
After 8 months of living in the jungles of Samoa it’s quite the culture shock coming home to strange modern commodities like….carpet?
Another shock came this weekend when I was struck by the first winter storm on the tippy top of Mt. Pilchuck where my Dad, Jessica, Nate and I were hiking. Thankfully we were rescued by Arthur the lone Mountaineer at the lookout tower.
Admittedly, I was a bit out of my element moving from tropical beaches to wild mountain ice storms – but I’m counting my blessings because this frigid flashback led to my first warm shower in 8 months.
(Which was also really weird.) You know cold showers have been proven scientifically to be better for your hair, skin, and circulation, so I think the Samoans are more advanced than we are in that respect. =)
But things that are bad for us always feel better anyway. So I remain thankful.
Our standard American kitchen has been fun to come back too. After cooking over an open fire for so long I was elated to rediscover the oven.
My family eats a lot less than the Samoan boys I’m used to cooking for, so we could potentially have the same leftovers 3 days in a row.
But they forgave me after I mixed up a bowl of ava (some kind of drink made out of dried leaves, don’t ask how I got it through customs) and danced Island dances for them.

My family is so cool and accommodating to me – I’d like to take this opportunity to pay omage to their graciousness. Lord knows I’m always springing some wild idea on them and they just brace themselves and say “shoot the moon Jen!”
Thanks Mom and Dad and Emmy and Mary for your abundant love for me, for never acting too surprised at my ideas anymore, and especially for not allowing me to elope with that beautiful island guy.
(sigh)You’re right, now I see that it really wasn’t good timing.
More ava?

How life is destined to be from now on

Playfulness n. The state or quality of being playful
play·ful /ˈpleɪfəl/ Spelled Pronunciation[pley-fuhl] –adjective
1. full of play or fun; sportive; frolicsome.
2. pleasantly humorous or jesting: a playful remark.

Yes, this is a pearl I picked up in Samoa and will treasure till kingdom come - the Samoan people are playful in their talking, working, studies, worship, cooking, eating, =) I think the village chief even has a glint of playfulness in his eye while chasing little boys with a stick when they're out past curfew.
So as I return home I'm taking this with me, and thank you for ruining me forever for the boring and serious. =)
Mua ta'alo so'o! (we play too much!)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

July 2007 -Summer in Samoa

Gako le Oso, I pusa kalafa!" is the funny Samoan slang meaning "I'm running around in circles with my sideburns on fire!" =)
That's how I've felt occasionally over the past summer of outreach in Samoa. But it's been especially exciting lately with Samoa hosting the South Pacific Games.
It's like the olympics with thousands of people from Fiji, Cook Islands, Toga, Tahiti.....competing in various games.
Everyday my missions team goes out to evangelize, pray, or do Island dancing with our testimonies on open air stages. I never dreamed of being the only palagi (white girl) doing a hula in front of thousands - but when we're available, God is able, and all things are possible right? =)Truthfully, I have absolutely fallen in love with the Pacific people, especially the Samoans.
I want to die here. (Not anytime soon Daddy, don't worry I don't have Typhoid or Eliphantitus) But I really love the people, culture, language...everything.
I am committed to spending a few months at the YWAM International Communications Network in Colorado Springs this year. But my long term dream is to continue working as a YWAM Missionary Journalist in the South Pacific.
There is a huge need for someone to fill this position as new YWAM bases are cropping up like coconut trees all over the South Pacific. Islanders are wonderful storytellers but they rarely get their stories on paper.
My hope is to do this plus help them develop their communications, websites, brochures.....wherever the island breeze leads. =)Thankyou so very much for your prayers, encouragement, and support that makes this ministry possible. I have prayed for you continuously during my outreach and traning here and am so thankful when you share your prayer requests....
I can't wait to see you soon and share all the crazy wonderful things God is doing in the Pacific.
Hey, when I get home this month we could do a workshop on hula dancing, coconut husking, and missions!! Let me know if you're interested. =)
Viia le Alii! - Praise the Lord!
May His blessing be upon you forever!
Much love, Jen
p.s. please read Psalm 139 today and know how precious and honored you are in His sight.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Paddle your own canoe!

(June/July Newsletter)
This week I was sitting in the YWAM Samoa office and happened upon a copy of the latest International YWAM’er magazine. I was thrilled to see my articles and pictures in there. Hopefully the missionaries in India and Thailand…will be excited to see God receiving glory for the great things He’s doing in their ministry. That makes me eager to graduate from this DTS in six weeks and get back to my ‘real job’! Right now we’re entering our outreach phase, where we put all of our head knowledge of God and ministry into practice by serving outside of our camp. Lord willing we’ll go to Australia, but we’re still fundraising and praying for God’s direction.
Speaking of direction I learned a great new Samoan proverb this week: “Paddle your own canoe”. Ha. Basically it means mind your own business.
Living in community we can get in each other’s business sometimes which isn’t healthy, but I told my brothers and sister here I hate conflict and especially confronting people with problems, so this week I had to do something extremely difficult. I was called to a meeting with my leaders and a few of my fellow students about some trouble they had been getting into and they needed me to “testify” about what I saw/knew.
It was a tough spot for me and I hated it but I had to tell the truth. After the meeting I started crying, I was so worried that my brothers would hate me for snitching on them and I am not a backstabber.
But as I sat crumpled up and crying in my fale that night they came to me one by one and apologized again. They said they didn’t want me to feel bad or go to bed hating them! So we humbled ourselves in love and honesty towards eachother – it hurts my heart I love them so much. We talked about the situation again, and about our feelings and concerns.
One of the guys explained to me a Samoan proverb “Paddle your own canoe” =) and I said “Eoi, (yes) but I need you to watch me and help me stay on track because we’re all trying to paddle our canoes in the light toward Jesus. If you see me paddling backwards or drifting away please call out to me, and if I can’t hear you get one of our canoe chief leaders to go and help me too. Because the cross-current is strong and there’s whirlpools and rocks in my path sometimes….plus there’s a strange magnetism between my canoe and Pana’s and if we’re out of line we’re gonna capsize.
I’ll just be honest with ya. =)
So if you ever see us doing wrong grab my paddle and beat me over the head please!”
Anyways, the night ended well, we all decided to keep each other accountable in humility. God was glorified, we all love each other,
and we’re trying to grow and learn - isn't that what being a disciple is all about? Viia le Atua!

Friday, October 05, 2007

La'u uo lelei

This is Atapana Tualagi my best Samoan friend- he and I have been dating since August 2006 where we were both doing YWAM missions in Singapore. I am so thankful for the way his family has accepted and loved me as their own, and he has taken very good care of me just like he promised my Daddy that he would. Even though it's been hard being friends during the DTS because we are hardly aloud to speak to eachother ( staff and students are not aloud to have relationships). But we still pray for eachother and he still does a good job of looking out for me. Malo lava ma fa'afetai tele lava Pana!
La'u uo o le tama lele!

The Lecture Phase of DTS

Here's a picture of me.......studying.

A typical YWAM Discipleship Training Session is divided into 3 months of lecture phase and 2 months of missions outreach. I didn't expect to learn very much from my DTS lecture phase because it's all basic Christian discipleship messages that I've heard a hundred times growing up in a Christian home, church, Bible school, then the missions feild.....My prideful little self seemed well grounded in the fundamentals of Christian life.
Boy was I wrong.
The 3 months of lectures challenged my heart and mind as we dove into The Word together. We studied the nature and character of God, forgiveness, and evangelism....I think I cried every other day in class as God tilled up the soil of my soul and planted new seeds of discipleship into my life.
Praise God for His endless patience in teaching Bible-prideful people like me =)
Here I am next to our fale (Samoan house) with a few of my fellow students: Ameto Vinepa, and Alissa.
We really love eachother.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

My new Grandma =)

This is me and my new Samoan Grandma =) Isn't she beautiful? She is so precious and I adore her =)


My Discipleship Training School in Samoa has been alot of fun but also alot of work =) Besides our usual studies, ministry, and programs we do alot of fundraising for our school fees. Usually this involves waking up at 4 a.m. a couple of mornings a week to roll rhoti curry, or husk coconuts and make vasallo (a coconut soup /pudding to sell to our neighboring villages).

My Samoan friends/Family!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Friends in Samoa!

This is one of my fellow students Ameto who is absolutely hilarious.
I told him I would make him famous by putting his photo online =)

Hacking through the Jungle part 2!

Talofa Lava Friends and Family!Yesterday I found myself hauling coconuts and hacking through the jungle with a machete – working like this from 9-5 for 2.50 tala per hour (almost equivalent to $1 U.S.)
There are several ironies in this scenario, one of them being I had just explained the word “femininity” to a local guy and my desire to be effeminate. The second being I have earned a college degree to make 50 times that much working in America. But no matter, it was a team fundraiser and I’m fia fia (happy) to be working with my missions team. As we toiled we prayed, fervently, that this job and many prayers will fly us to Hong Kong next month for our outreach. (This is a picture of my team of DTS students and staff)

These past 3 months in Samoa have not exactly been a holiday at the sea – paradise loses some of its appeal when you have no toilet paper, or running water, or money for food. But in this situation I have two options: get sick and depressed and complain all the time like some people are, or suck it up buttercup and learn the lessons God wants to teach us! This buttercup’s choosing the latter option.
I believe God has so many good things He wants to teach us in the valleys. He gave me this verse today from Hebrews 12:28-29 “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our ‘God is a consuming fire’”.
What is more challenging than our physical circumstances is that there is a lot of spiritual attack happening in our camp right now.
Please pray for that.Mysteriously I’m the only one out of 10 girl students and staff who isn’t sick or depressed. I feel blessed that God has placed a shield around me.They say it’s because I’m in love with this boy here but it’s not entirely true.
I really believe God in His mercy is giving me strength, and there are so many of you praying for me back at home. I remain humbled by His grace and thankful for your prayers.May God bless you much as He is blessing me right now (only with an extra measure of T.P.) – and I encourage you to stand in awe of Him for He is a consuming fire, and worthy of our continual praise.Fa’a manuia le Atua! ♥ Kiengy (my Samoan name)

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I love Samoa! - part 2

Talofa Lava dear friends and family!
I am still living in Samoa helping the missionaries with office communications and at the same time doing my Discipleship Training School.
Life in our little YWAM village is gorgeous and simple. The land is green and warm, and the people are so beautiful.
I can feel God’s presence in this place.
Sometimes at 6:00 in the morning when I’m having my quite hour with God. I sit outside watching the sun and steam rise over the palm trees. The fragrance of His presence also rises. The birds are chirping in the jungle and children in red and blue school uniforms are laughing and singing as they walk to their bus. Men and women walk past carrying baskets of taro and bananas on their shoulders.
I call out to them “Malo!” (hi) and they laugh “Malo foe!” ”O a mai oe?” (how are you?) I ask. “Manuia fa’a fetai. - Yeah, fa!” “Fa!” I reply, manuia le aso!” (have a happy day).
The YWAM Missions base is nestled in 5 acres of land, surrounded by jungle and plantations. We live in 7 fales which are basically open huts with no walls and brown thatched roofs. There is a cute little village next door, but we can’t see the people through the thick patch of banana trees between us.
I love to hear their church bells at 6p.m. calling people to stop their work and go home for family devotions. Sometimes I catch children laughing climbing the coconut trees, while their cows munch the jungle fluff outside our gate.
Last week I caught a couple of our Big Samoan guys gazing longingly at the cows and laughing. "O laya layna?” I asked.
“Oh, we were just laughing because palagi’s (white people) look at the cow and think of many different ways to prepare the meat. But Samoans just think, kill, cook, eat until we’re full. Haha
We eat a lot here in Samoa.
There is an abundance of rice, bananas, coconuts, taro, greens, papaya’s, and some meat and fish….I feel like I should be getting fatter but I don’t think I am. Strangely.
Maybe it’s because after our morning classes we work hard farming our plantation, then play volleyball and rugby, then our evening praise and worship time gets pretty fun and energetic at night.
Oh I love Samoa.
Thank you so much for continuing to pray for me on my missionary journey. God is teaching me so much about His beauty, strength, and laughter here.
Friends, the most beautiful and fulfilling thing in the world is being in love with Jesus.
In Jeremiah 9:23-24 “This is what the Lord says: ‘Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom, or the strong man boast of His strength, or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who exercises kindness, justice, and righteousness on the earth, for in these I delight,’ declares the Lord.”I am so thankful that we can all know the Lord.
I pray I can understand Him better while I am here, and you can understand Him better wherever you are.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

What if?

What if the Hokey Pokey is what it's all about?

Monday, January 22, 2007

High Strung

(Insert obligatory apology for taking ages to write)
It was wonderful to be home for Christmas with my family!
And New Years, and Martin Luther King Day, and.…well I’m still here =)
Didn’t plan on staying in Stanwood for this long, but God always laughs when I tell Him my plans.
I have continued working on various communication projects for YWAM Missionaries: writing their stories, creating and editing websites, designing brochures, and newsletters... Everyday is a fun challenge as I’m learning more about communications and encouraging fellow missionaries.
Praise God for the great things He’s doing in the world!
When I’m not working on these projects I’ve been feeding experimental Thai food dinners to my missions supporters.
But one of the joys of this season has been working at Warm Beach Camp putting up and taking down The Lights of Christmas.
I am so thankful that the camp always welcomes me back to work there, whenever I’m in town. I’ve decided working The Lights of Christmas adds an interesting element to my resume:
Skills?? Well, I can coil Christmas lights with the best of them – in the pouring rain, snow, hail, and hurricane force winds we’ve had this season.
I can create a fake lake with swans on it.
And bodyguard for Bruce the Spruce (the talking Christmas tree)
Every day is a new adventure!
Thanks so much for your love and prayers my friend! Please don’t hesitate to call me if we haven’t gotten together yet. I would love to have you over for dinner so I can experiment on you with some Thai food recipes! =)