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, sports....play =) 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.