Sunday, September 07, 2008


I may be vain but……..
Living in Tonga surrounded by beautiful people, has made me wonder what is their secret?! They are so very beautiful, with such smooth skin. Their skin glows brighter and healthier than a Maybelline commercial!
So I did a bit of research and I am happy to report to you the ancient secret for their beauty. Can you guess?
Customarily I found Tongan women trekking to the bush looking for tui tui trees. They gather the small brown tui tui nuts, crack the shells, and chew the nuts mixed with fragrant leaves. Then they spit the mixture out and rub it on their skin!
It sounds gross, but I had to try it since I claim to “wear the culture”. So I started chewing and spitting and rubbing…. Rubbing it on naturally exfoliates our skin because of the small nut pieces, but what really surprised me was that a mysterious ingredient in the nut causes dirt to rise up! That is why they call it Tongan soap. Then after we rinse off, the oils from the nuts leave our skin feeling soft and smooth. It really is amazing stuff.
Perhaps I am a vain missionary, but I tell you everyday I have been doing this and have reaped the benefits of beautiful skin and a valuable life lesson: this is just like the Holy Spirit.
When we ask the Holy Spirit for a fresh anointing and covering everyday He sluffs off the old dead skin, and draws out the dirt and sin from our life. Then as the sin washes away our lives are so much brighter and beautiful.
Faka’ofo’ofa is the Tongan word for it: beautiful. Life is beautiful when we allow the Holy Spirit to do His work in our lives cleansing and renewing us. And don’t we all want to be beautiful from the inside out?

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Our wedding!

Well....not mine it was Jessie and Pila's, but I was a bridesmaid =)

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


This week I found myself the fortunate stow away on the big yellow truck taking the DTS feild trip to the beach! Usually people aren't aloud to go along, but I was desperate =) Fortunately I had this tupenu to cover my head and conceal my identity. I blend in right?

Monday, August 04, 2008

Weaving with my roomie!

This is my lovely roomate Suliana. She has MAD palm weaving skills, which she has been teaching me so that we can decorate our gate for the coronation of the new King of Tonga!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Jen's July 2008 News - lessons from the Quaker Box

Every morning I laugh while reading the back of my oatmeal box with the sordid recipe for Oatmeal Quesadillas. Strange people, whoever thought of that. Breakfast for dinner is cool if it’s pancakes. But there should be a limit, right? =) This originally caught my eye after noticing the text in a foreign language. Naturally I assumed it was Tongan because we are in Tonga.
So I’m thinking
“Right on! I’m going to learn Tongan from my oatmeal box!” But as I read along – almost the whole recipe – I thought “cucharaditas de granos” and “Sazonar” might not be Tongan because Tongan words always end it vowels. Reading further down the box I caught the phrase “En Mexico importado” and my cunning linguistic intuition told me “This must be Spanish!” hence the recipe for Oatmeal Quesadilla’s.
I drank another cup of strong, special missionary brew, instant coffee and two things became very clear: #1.) I should get a Tongan dictionary. #2.) Quaker Oats needs to rethink their marketing strategy.
Why in the world are they sending products all the way out to a tiny little Island kingdom where people highly value food, then they market the food in Spanish?!
I had another cup of great instant coffee and began to ponder my own life – as if I were the oatmeal box coming to this foreign land. Will the people read me in the right way or am I carrying too many labels from my native language and country, or the last language and country I’ve been to?
The Spirit really convicted me to shed my labels. Be fresh and ready to learn from the people and start wearing the culture. Obviously missionaries need to learn the local language, dress, food, and customs…but I think it goes deeper. Since I know The Living God has called me to be here, I want to be the best I can for Him. Will I love the people enough to wear their culture from my heart? 1 Corinthians 9:22

I am so thankful for that revelation from the Oatmeal box because......
After that morning I had an excruciating week. Potentially the worst week of my life. Physically, spiritually, and emotionally I was so sick….Something happened to me and it was 7 deadly poison arrows shot in my heart (not exaggerated enough.)
But eventually, God restored my soul, enabling me to focus on my work. I got back to learning the language and culture.
One night I was sitting outside with the girl DTS students. We were shelling peanuts on the porch, laughing and talking in broken English/Tongan. Then one of the girls said the sweetest, uplifting thing, “Jenni, we know you love us ‘cause you not just wear our long dress, eat our Tongan food, and try to talk in Tongan – but you wear it in your heart.” Man she made me cry. I really love these people. I really love God who probably had her say that =)
And I want to encourage you, my friend to read the back of your oatmeal box and meditate on the life changing lessons God is teaching you. Please seek Him daily, love people, and never give up.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

My new home for the next 2 years! (Lord willing)

Why Tonga?

Dear friends, I have some interesting and exciting news to share with you! But I wanted to share it straight from my heart. So as I was praying about writing this letter to you, I felt that I should copy a page of my journal here and let you read it. (Normally I never let people read my journal, but this is a glimpse of my heart.)

April 26, 2008. (my first week visiting the YWAM University of the Nations Campus in Tonga)Lord I am getting close to the people here already, especially the girls...and everyone has been telling me to stay. It’s so tempting because I do absolutely love it here. Everything about this place. But I want to have a sign Lord, 4 signs please? There are too many beautiful places in the Pacific with nice people who have asked me to stay and set up my office for communications. But I can’t stay just because of the people, I need to know it’s from You. There are many great places to live….but I want to be in the best place; in Your will. So I wait for the Lord. My soul waits =)
Driving around the country today with friends (Tonga is roughly the size of Camano Island, so it’s easy to drive around) I was amazed at the beauty of this place. And the beauty of the people. Their culture and traditions are soooo beautiful! For about year now I have been dreaming of coming to Tonga…and I have to say I feel like I’m in a dream. The culture is beautiful.
I know that’s such a shallow reason to stay here. But why not? Really? I never wanted to be an ascetic missionary who feels the need to sacrifice every happiness and comfort thinking I will somehow please God by being miserable! So unless I hear otherwise from You Daddy, I think I will continue to follow my heart and my eyes and my taste and all my senses and exercise my freedom of choice =)
Plus another great thing about this place is they have free offices open and ready for occupation, wireless internet, and cheap rent. It is in an excellent location, in the middle of the Pacific. With great leaders whom I trust.
Daddy, this lifestyle I have been living the past year has been a fun adventure with You. But I am getting tired of moving and transplanting myself over and over and over again. I thank You for giving me the strength and diligence to continue moving and planting seeds, building relationships….but Daddy, now I would just love to settle down in one place for awhile and put down deeper roots. Have sanctuary.
It has been a wild ride and I need a place to just stop and think…to work on all these missions projects I have accumulated. Take a deep breath, focus, and grow deep. I am becoming buoyant, resilient, and a bit surfacey – like a coconut floating on the waves being tossed and drifting…..I’m ready to settle on a beautiful island with some other coconutty’s and put down roots. =)

My Father heard the cry of my heart and by the end of the week I had all 4 of the confirmations I asked for: A Bible verse, a dream, and a formal invitation from the leaders, and also the fact that they let me run around barefooted! So I gleefully accepted, and began filling out my visa application to stay here for the next couple of years.
I am sharing a room with the greatest girl named Suliana. She is so cool. We laugh all day long and all night. Since we live around a lot of families the kids usually spend the night at our place too. Now that I’m part of the Tongan family life I feel free to be myself and have a good time, and we are just crazy.
I tell you one thing, it was great to unpack my suitcase after so many months on the road! The office is a good atmosphere to dive into all my communications projects too. By the way, I plan to post links on my blog to the different websites I am creating for YWAM bases in the Pacific. If you want to check them out please visit my web blog and click on the links. (Just to show that I am actually working here too, and not just dancing and playing all the time =)
Thank you so much for your love and prayers my friend! God bless you warmly and wonderfully as you call on Him - Jeremiah 33:3
♥ Jennifer

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Our city is on fire but we are still having a good time...

My friends say I need to keep writing provocative newsletter headings to coerce people into reading them. Apparently the “Sleeping with Warriors” title on my last newsletter attracted a lot of attention. No, Daddy, I have not fallen into sin =) I just wanted to see if people actually read these letters each month!
Truthfully, I am in Argentina this week and our city is on fire. Someone said I should title this newsletter “Smoking pot in Argentina” because this city is a smoking pot. Hehe. In spite of the smoke we are carrying on with our mission conference Communications Research Information and Technology (CRIT). Thanks to my amazing boss Bryan, who sponsored my trip here. I was invited to represent the Pacific Islands and meet 30 other worldwide YWAM Communications staff. Did you know YWAM is the largest mission organization in the world? I had no idea it was growing this rapidly worldwide….possibly because I am floating in the Pacific like a coconut on the sea =)
I am thrilled that the waves brought me here briefly, to share about God’s work in the Pacific region.I taught a small workshop on writing for YWAM which was fun. Then I met with a few YWAM Editors to give them some stories and photos from the Pacific. Praise God, various magazines want to publish these stories I have been gathering the past couple of months in the islands. So you didn’t send my communications team out in vain! God is doing miraculous and mighty things in New Zealand, Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu, the Cooks and the Solomon Islands…..and I am so thrilled to send these stories worldwide!
At the conference I also learned how to use multimedia computer programs such as Photoshop, so that I can make myself look beautiful. If I look suspiciously gorgeous…..well, don’t look too close. The islands have been good to me =)
Jen’s April 2008 Newsletter!I was blessed to be involved in a weeklong project of organizing a team of missionaries from Central and South America into the official “LatinComm. Team”. I am secretly jealous there are 6 of them to serve their region, and only 1 of me for my region. But I am still praying. Please pray with me that God will send a couple more people to join me in a permanent PacificComm. Team. It was wonderful traveling with Tim and Anna the last 2 months, but they had to return home for work and school….so please pray that God will send more people to help me. See, I have so many dreams for developing communications in the Pacific but I only have 24 hours a day to write the stories, take pictures, shoot video, build websites for the ministries, and maintain them, raise support for all this and….it is fun but please pray for more skilled people to help.
Hey! I love getting your e-mails – please feel free to write anytime!
“Dios con bendiga!” (God bless you)
♥ Jen
p.s. The new addiction?? Matte. mmmmmMatte the marvelous Argentinean green tea pounded into the wooden cup in my hand. The locals share a communal cup of it all day long. Matte is about relationships, caffeine and antioxidants so I happily embraced this tradition. They sent me home with 6 kilos of the stuff and a cold. Yay for communal sharing!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Bula from Fiji!

I just said goodbye to Tim and Anna as they returned to their motherlands....I love you guys and miss you already. But I'm so thankful we shared this missionary journey together! Thank you.

This past week in Fiji has been fabulous!
I visited 3 seperate YWAM ministries in the past 6 days, and everyone has a fantastic story to tell. So I was extremely busy reporting and gathering photos....
Another highlight was reuniting with my old Fijian friends Salote and Uriah!
Reh Reh Vinaka!
They were YWAM staff in Samoa during my DTS, and have since returned to Fiji.
I completely surprised them - we were laughing and crying there in the village...good times. They say Y.W.A.M. stands for You Will Always Move =)
This gives me hope that I will continue seeing the same friends over and over again - so I'll never say "goodbye" anymore just "see you later!"

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Jen's March Newsletter

Jen's March 2008 Newsletter
Last night I was sleeping in a Marae which is an ancient sacred meeting house of the Maori people of New Zealand. This place is so holy, I felt like I was sleeping in the temple. The only thing stealing some of the holiness from the room was the men snoring a chorus throughout the night. =)
All of the families sleep together here when they spend the weekend on the Marae. They don't live here every day, but some have been coming their whole lives. Some can trace their ancestry back 19 generations from this Marae.
As I stare up at the 19 generations of ancestors carved into the beautiful ebony wood beams of this house I wonder what stories the carvings tell. They don't look like people. They look like fierce mythological warriors staring at me with their bright shells for eyes. I am afraid, and don't dare to get up to go to the bathroom.
These are fierce people. Have you ever seen the Maori people do a haka? A war dance? If you have not, go to and look it up.
(I put a picture of one here at the top) There is nothing that impresses the warrior heart of God on me like a Maori haka.
The interesting thing about Maori culture is that it demonstrates both the Father heart and the nurturing motherly heart of God as our comforter. An older lady just told me that outside the Marae there is war and all manner of violence. But at the end of the day all people, warriors and children alike, are required to take off their shoes at the door before entering here. She says "It is the womb of our culture. The safe place."

Doesn't that picture remind you of Jesus looking compassionately over his people saying "Oh Jerusalem Jerusalem… how often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks. But you were not willing" Matt. 23:37.

Friends lets be warriors for God. Strong and courageous and fight the good fight. But when He calls us in for the night lets learn how to rest in Him too. Let's stop striving and fighting; and rest in His love for us and His power to do things for our lives.

The Maori word for life and also thank you….is "Kiora"
Kiora my friends,


Pictures from our weekend on the Marae

Thursday, March 27, 2008

I helped build this....

This is the stage for the amazing Team Xtreme show that the YWAM body builder men are performing tonight. But I just want everyone to know that I busted out my carpentry skills and helped the guys build this stage yesterday =)
And God created the breathtaking mountain behind it. You could never dream of a better picture for a stage set.

This next picture is of the YWAM Polynesian International guys dancing for the Cook Island World Missions Conference we are videotaping right now.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Cook Islands!

Anna and I

Easter Sunday in the Cook Islands!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Solomon Islands

This week we are in the Solomon Islands staying with the YWAM Directors Eddie and Joy and their amazing family…
Eddie and Joy live in the town, but the YWAM missions school is way out in the jungle. It's in the most beautiful village I have ever seen.
It would be such a dream to live in a village with these beautiful people. To build a grass thatched hut up in a tree and live off the land. Work in the garden together and carry our babies on our back...Do tribal dances and eat together at night...Yes, I am 87% sure I will come back here to live someday =)

Tim and Anna are doing great, they are exhausted because traveling to new countries and time zones every week takes a toll. We are making a website for Eddie and Joy.... But we have some time to rest during the day.

Anna and Tim banter all day about who is better Germany or America...and I am trying to learn the Pidgen language =) Today was hilarious, Anna went outside to use the outhouse and came running back into the house yelling "There is a "CRAP" in the toilet!!" She meant to say there is a "crab" in the toilet (which is also strange because we're in the jungle). But sometimes Tim and I misinterpret Anna's German/English.
We were laughing so hard, I thought I would die.
But Anna didn't think it was funny so we went to check it out - and lo and behold there was a giant craB in the toilet!

There are also colossal spiders here, like in Vanuatu. Please pray for my fear of spiders it flares up at all the wrong times. I was teaching at a youth group here the other night and this spider the size of my foot crawled under my chair!

Another highlight of this week was my first chance to drive on the wrong side of the road, stick shift!! It is the rainy season in the Solomons, so there are alot of mud holes in the road....As Eddie was driving us out of the village we got stuck several times and they let me navigate us out while the boys pushed. =)
It was great fun! After all this talk of alligtors and malarial mosquitoes in the mud I was grateful to be on the inside of the truck =)
p.s. Thank you everyone so much for praying for me this week, when you heard the rumors that I had malaria....I was deathly ill for 2 nights but it wasn't malaria. Praise God! Thanks so much for your prayers =)

Pictures of the Solomons

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Welcome to Island Breeze, Brisbane!

This week we are helping the YWAM Island Breeze base in Brisbane. The people are incredible, Waqa and Jade are the Directors over 20+ staff and several ministries.

Tim, Anna and I are helping them by videotaping a Melanesian Leaders Conference this week, as well as designing new advertisements for their ministry.....There are incredible Island Breeze dancers here and they welcomed us by performing this traditional Aboriginal dance, among other island dances.
I am 87% sure I will return and base my own communications ministry here this summer. So I'll leave one of my suitcases here as collateral. =) But I'm still praying about it - you know how funny life is. "Man makes his plans but God determines his steps." Please pray for me, I don't know exactly where He wants me to settle after this trip is over. But at least Tim won't have to keep lugging along my extra suitcase =)

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Tim killed a kangaroo

So ever since we arrived in Australia Tim has been wanting to see a Kangaroo.
This desire intensified after watching a short video in Wollongong about Kangaroos fighting. (Don't tell Tim I said this but you can check it out on his blog it is hilarious
Kangaroos really do box! But they lose the fight against trucks apparently, because Tim and his friends hit one "accidentally" while driving home from our missions picnic.
To see these guys you would think they had won the lottery - man I'll never understand boys. =)
Of all things to do after a missions picnic.

Friday, February 22, 2008


Worshiping with the Island Breeze Sydney Missionaries.

A day in the city visiting the famous Sydney opera house!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

We are in the pool because....

Anna is an amazing photographer.
I tell everyone that even though she denies it.
One of her photography fantasies was to take pictures of beautiful girls in beautiful dresses in a swimming pool....since there happens to be a pool at the YWAM Sydney base myself and 2 of the students here dressed up and fell in the pool...and we had alot of fun.

Because Anna is an amazing photographer =)

God blessem you from Vanuatu!

Vanuatu is a lovely little island full of beautiful, gentle, cheerful people who live in villages.
This week we are staying in a village near Port Vila, at the YWAM missions school. There are about 20 people who live here, including Staff and students.

Tim, Anna, and I are making a short promotional DVD for them. We’re also helping with their website and writing all the DTS student’s stories… I have been teaching the YWAM Staff a communications workshop for 3 days, and they have been teaching me how to play the bongo drums!
There is a prophetess here named Mommy Miriam who
has inspired me daily with her stories of God working in the villages.
She and I have been meeting everyday to pray and intercede for the missionaries and local church…it is such an honor to spend time with this mighty woman of God.

Another highlight came on Sunday when I took a day off to go surfing with the locals! I was hilariously clumsy on a short board. I landed on heaps of coral everytime, so I'm pretty thrashed, but we had a great time!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Rooky videographer

Anna caught me working again....I am videotaping Geoff in Vanuatu, the YWAM Director there.
Attempting to create a promotional DVD for them which will be released in August 2008 (?) possibly =)

And then there is me....

This is the photo that goes with my story below =)

Friday, February 15, 2008

Our team!

Tim and Anna will be my fellow travelers for the next 3 months! I am so excited to have them on my communications team – taking the Pacific by storm!
God is funny in the way He brings people together. The three of us couldn’t be more different: Anna is the tranquil, efficient, German beauty on our team; Tim is the retroverted, brilliant, pessimist; and I’m the energetic optimist, who is always working on 3 projects at once and feels the need to declare with great joy everything I see in the islands!
We drive each other crazy but we still love each other and function well as a team – praise Jesus! Sadly we do not have a nice team photo that we all agree on yet. So I am publishing the ones that capture our personalities! (Here is the one of Tim and Anna - mine is the one up above)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

January 2008 Newsletter

It's a brand new year and already 2 exciting things have happened!!

One is that everything has fallen into place for me to become the YWAM Pacific Communications Coordinator! In two weeks I will lead a small communications team touring nine countries in the region. We will meet the missionaries, develop their communications, and end in Samoa where my team will leave me to pioneer a little communications outpost. The second ridiculously exciting thing is that I am finally learning to play the drums! Ever since 4rd grade Derek Fekkes has inspired me -I have always wanted to play the drums. Being a rather cheap missionary I could never justify spending money on lessons, so I just kept pounding away on stuff with chopsticks and pencils.
Then one day last month an old friend of mine said “Jen, I want to support you in missions on one condition: don’t spend it on missions or airfare, I want you to get a life! Go do something fun and get into the real world. Ever since you were little you’ve been talking about how Jesus is coming back! You work too much and you need to go have some fun like normal people your age.”
Point taken. Henceforth I shall take more breaks from pounding on my keyboard and praying for the lost, and start pounding on some drums and mastering syncopated rhythms. Let me tell you, drumming is a blast! You can take comfort in knowing that if all the lost do get saved, and I’m out of a job, at least I can join a rock band.
Truthfully, I want you to know that I love being a missionary though. I love partnering with you, to go into the world, preach the gospel, and make disciples….I am not doing it out of some heavy sense of obligation or even the warm fuzzy feelings. I truly love sharing the good news with people. I love publishing the stories I hear about God working in the world. The Pacific people have been calling to my heart for a while now, and I am thrilled to get back out there and encourage hundreds of missionaries in that region.
They are a bit behind in media and communication, yet God is working powerfully among them - so I can't wait to help them herald the good news!
My theme verse for this new mission is "But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the that no one may stand before Him." 1 Corinthians 1:27 + 29
Also verse 29b from the JAV (Jennifer's Abridged Version) "He gives big titles and responsibility to little girls with nothing but ridiculous ideas and big faith, knowing that God will show up working wonders."
Friends, I am young and green, and my feet are way to small for the shoes I'm putting on. But I trust that God can work in spite of me, and help my feet to grow into them.
Thank you for walking this road with me.
p.s. my new website is