This is not a vacation!

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Since our arrival in Hawaii, I have been praying over what I should write here.  I am never quite sure how open I should be given the nature of the internet and I always want to be honoring to the Lord and my family.  After much prayer I feel called to “keep it real” with you all.  I have felt the pressure to put on the “ministry mask” that everything is great all of the time.  The truth is: everything isn’t great all of the time, my God is though.  So now I will give you the raw, open view of what things have been like since leaving “the mainland” and coming here to Kona.  Jeremy and I left with our three little girls (Emilia 2, Victoria 1, and Lillian 4 months) on Thursday April 4th at 5:15 am, this meant we were up all night packing to leave my parent’s house at 2 am for the airport.  We traveled about 18 hours total that day, arriving in Kona, Hawaii 2 pm here, 8pm EST.  Our ladies traveled very well!  They slept, played and ate a little on the flights, we had two connecting flights and made them both but barely (thanks US Airways).  Upon arrival on the University of the Nations campus, we “checked in” with our DTS leaders, finance office, ID cards and then got our room keys.  I think we moved into our room and that was it for the night, but honestly it is a blur.  The first person we saw when we got on campus was our nanny, Bo and needless to say, I held her and cried.  The following morning we had our campus tour and orientation with all the little ones in toe.  We were super blessed to have a few folks (mainly Tara Riley) help with the girls so we could pay attention during the tour.  At almost every stop during the campus tour, there were words from the Lord about bringing a family here to Kona and how we were teaching our children obedience.  This was a great reassurance to us because bringing our kids here was a huge risk.  As we progressed through the weekend we noticed Emilia having increased difficulty coping with the changes.  She was throwing tantrums and refusing to eat.  Emilia tends to be more emotional than our other two girls but, this was just over the top.  As I tried to comfort my two year old darling I struggled with the words others had spoken over her before we left, that this journey would “destroy” Emilia.  I wept and prayed until finally God spoke to me during Monday morning worship “Sarah, what makes you think that this very path won’t be what one day saves your daughter?”  At that moment, I began to loosen my white knuckle grip on my little girl’s life and trusted Him once again.  Following worship we began our regular class schedule and we prayed over Emilia’s transition, there has been a marked difference in her since that morning. Praise the Lord!

A view of our day-to-day life here at University of the Nations Kona:  Monday – Friday are pretty much the same.  We wake up at 5:30 am, get the girls up at 6 am and grab breakfast from the line and bring it up to our room.  After eating we dress the girls, sunblock them, and strap them into the stroller.  We either have worship or go straight to class where our nanny, Bo takes over with Emilia and Victoria.  We have had Lillian with us in class for now as the older two transition into this new life.  While in the classroom we are in lecture from 8 am to noon with a fifteen minute break around 10:30 am.  During lecture we take notes and ask questions – it is just like college but in a tent.  We break for lunch between 12 pm and 1 pm when we gather the girls and feed them before whisking back over to class.  We continue lecture from 1 pm – 3 pm at which point I take over with our girls and Jeremy goes to work duty until 5 pm.  One of us, goes to grab our dinner at 5 pm and then we eat together in our room.  From dinner on is time to take “baths”, relax and play inside and practice teaching a few lessons on discipline (a nice way of saying time outs and other stuff).   We try to work on our homework after the kid’s bedtime or before they wake up in the morning.  Homework?  Yes indeed!!  We have a journal to turn in every Monday showing what we have learned in lecture the week prior.  We have 2 book reports each and will be reading through the Bible as well as memorizing a decent amount of scripture during the next 11 weeks.  This is intense and we wouldn’t expect less considering what we are being trained to do.  The weekends are free of obligation however, we will be doing homework of course.

Other than taking care of our children, ourselves and fulfilling our class obligations we are facing the financial needs of a family of five.  Fortunately, God is our provider and because of that truth we have never been left in need.  However, I feel lead to share very openly where we are financially.  First are the practical, everyday needs.  My folks are generously sending us diapers every month but, we still need money for wipes, formula, apple sauce, etc.  We have to pay for our laundry here ($2 per load to wash and dry) so as a way of saving money I am hand washing our laundry and hanging it to dry in our room.  Our tuition is still not paid in- full.  We owe $7400 by May 1st (our anniversary) or we will have to leave the school.  We purchased one way tickets to get here in order to save money so we need tickets back home.  Also, $5000 is needed as an initial payment on our outreach by May 1st in order to complete the program.  This DTS has to be completed for us to become YWAM missionaries.  As of right now, we have $43.55 in our bank account and a $25 Visa gift card from my awesome Aunt and Uncle back home.  Why am I telling you all of this?  Not to guilt you or make you worry about us but, because I know God will provide miraculously!  The Lord spoke to me right before leaving for this DTS that I needed to read about Elijah.  He was a prophet in Israel when many were worshiping the god Baal.  In 1 Kings Chapter 18, Elijah was called to demonstrate God’s power before Israel and it went like this:

 So Obadiah went to meet Ahab and told him, and Ahab went to meet Elijah.  When he saw Elijah, he said to him, “Is that you, you troubler of Israel?”  “I have not made trouble for Israel,” Elijah replied. “But you and your father’s family have. You have abandoned the Lord’s commands and have followed the Baals.  Now summon the people from all over Israel to meet me on Mount Carmel.  And bring the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.”   So Ahab sent word throughout all Israel and assembled the prophets on Mount Carmel.  Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”  But the people said nothing.  Then Elijah said to them, “I am the only one of the Lord’s prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets.  Get two bulls for us. Let Baal’s prophets choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord. The god who answers by fire—he is God.”  Then all the people said, “What you say is good.”Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one of the bulls and prepare it first, since there are so many of you. Call on the name of your god, but do not light the fire.”  So they took the bull given them and prepared it.  Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. “Baal, answer us!” they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made.At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.”  So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed.  Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention.

Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come here to me.” They came to him, and he repaired the altar of the Lord, which had been torn down.  Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord had come, saying, “Your name shall be Israel.”  With the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord, and he dug a trench around it large enough to hold two seahs of seed.  He arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. Then he said to them, “Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood.”

“Do it again,” he said, and they did it again.

“Do it a third time,” he ordered, and they did it the third time.  The water ran down around the altar and even filled the trench.  At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command.  Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”  Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.

When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!”

 To answer the question, why am I sharing some of the “negatives” of our situation?  I am pouring water all over and all around my altar so you can see with your own eyes when the fire of the Almighty God comes down, you will believe and not doubt again that He is God!

Father God, I pray that this post would light a fire for some folks to know how real you are.  That you are not a distant God but, an intimate companion in our lives.  I ask that the words here would touch hearts and change lives.  Lord, you have designed our family for the purpose of taking your love to the nations.  Not everyone is called to do this Lord, but, we are ALL called to something.  You have a very special purpose for all of us.  I ask Lord, that you would reveal to those reading this, what their calling is, and give them the courage to step out in that life.  Praise you Lord!  Thank you for changing our family and igniting a fire in our hearts!

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