Seriously, Lest We Forget

I love Anzac Day. I really do. The sound of kids enjoying a day off as they play in their yard, the parade, the memorial service, the bikkies…mmm… the bikes.

But more than enjoying it, I think its really important.

I get sad each year at the parade. When we first moved to Townsville more than 7 years ago, we would be busily escorting hundreds of elderly diggers out of their vintage military vehicles. It was a delight and they always thanked us for being American… after all, America played a huge part in the battle of the coral sea. Australia may have looked a lot different had we not showed up, actually.

Its been sad to see fewer and fewer diggers proudly exiting their vehicles and waving to the crowd. They’re literally dying off and this year, one of the estimates I heard was 10… 10 Townsville diggers left. How many will be there next year?

I find it so sad… and yet part of life… and the reason why I think its important we don’t forget.

We must remember the battles that have been fought before we got here… the lessons that were learned, the reasons foundations were laid, the traditions that should be upheld, the relationships that were forged…

Not just when it comes to war, but in general. Any achievement we may experience is largely due to those who have been before us  either by teaching us, or preparing the way for us. Sure, it may not have been perfect, but it was a stepping stone, and we have the privilege of walking the path, extending it, building higher, carrying on the baton.

As I consider where other have been, and what steps forward I will take, I hope that I, too, can leave a legacy… another layer… something that not only my children can build on, but those I work with now and who will do what I do later… so that they can go much farther and higher than I ever well.

Lest we forget.

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Because We Love Our Life

I was buying our groceries on Sunday afternoon (alone… which is another glorious story entirely, even though I only had 30-45 minutes round trip… can all the mama’s say amen!?) and the checkout girl asked me if I had any plans for the evening.

“Yes, I do, actually!” I said, “I’m going on a BBQ on a ship!”

I was surprised at her reaction, “Really!? That is SO cool! You just don’t hear about people doing THAT every day!”

And you know what!? She’s right!

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what we do. (Might be in part due to the stretches of time I’m awake in the quiet of the night with a certain baby girl).

The good news is, I’ve re-decided that I really do love it.

Jared is spending early mornings down at the ship and has had some late nights and Saturdays as well. We didn’t have “a weekend” this week and that’s not uncommon for us.

But what we did get to do was take our kids to the National Youth Week event put on but our Youth Teams on Saturday night. This means that Max got to watch skateboarding teenagers doing cool tricks on a half pipe, dance to some awesome tunes, and eat pizza. Hello!?? Does he not have an awesome life!?

As for us, we got to watch some of the fruit of labour in action as we saw hundreds of young people swarming our centre finding a positive place to have fun… and maybe learn a lesson or two about life or maybe even their purpose! It was particularly amazing to see Kate Martin perform… this girl was a youth street crew herself years ago and now she’s starting to get pretty popular in the Australian music scene. Ummm… awesome?!

And for Sunday, we had a BBQ on a ship getting to know 20 new students who have just arrived for the YWAM Medical Ship DTS. What a delight to meet a heap of new passionate young people who are not only eager to learn how to serve the people of PNG, but also to hold our babies and be-friend our family. We are blessed.

Last week I was teaching on our Staff Internship and sharing with them about some of our values and culture here in YWAM – how its not just an 8-5 “job”. Its a lifestyle.

And the reality is, despite the fact that I get tired, sometimes feel like I’m not doing a great job, feel torn between family and community, or “work” and “kids”, miss home, etc… I really am grateful God gave us this lifestyle.

Because its not every day you get to go to a BBQ on a ship…

They Held Hands

Easter weekend was a delight.

You can thank our friend Jennifer for BOTH of those swimmers!

There was some swimming in the pool … first time for a certain girl in the family, some cookie baking, an Easter Egg hunt at a friends house, Easter Egg dying and nachos eating with good friends, and lots of adventures and drop-bys by some of our favourites.

We enjoyed seeing Easter in the eyes of a two year old. The endless singing of “Hallelujah” which never seemed to get old, despite the constant drumming with loud objects as he “worshipped.” (His words, not ours!) And just yesterday he told us that he was pretending to ride on a donkey like Jesus. I guess those resurrection eggs and story reading actually sunk in somewhere in there.

After Jared and Max’s hike (El and my drive) up Castle Hill for the combined churches sunrise service, we prepared a gigantic brunch feast. I don’t want to be silly by calling our own feast gigantic, but seriously – I panic about two things – the thought of not enough food for our guests, and people not having a family to celebrate holidays with. Despite our last minute additions, I did overcompensate.

As we all sat around the living room, something caught my eye – two of my guests, two men, one of which I had just met, holding hands.

And my heart melted.

One of our guests was a man from PNG, visiting our centre on his way back from some training he’d been doing. He’s pioneering a work in PNG and doing an amazing job. We loved hearing his stories… and that he’s planting banana trees for all the teams of young people we bring through. (I played the role of a good mom and asked him to plant some sweet potatoes, another of their staple diet, so that they don’t just live on sugar their entire time!)

But back to the hand-holding…

In PNG culture, the men often hold hands. In fact, in many places it would be totally inappropriate for Jared and I to touch in public, but the men?! They’re all walking down the street holding hands, or sitting next to each other chatting with a hand on their mate’s inner thigh.

And I loved that it was happening in my living room. What a beautiful picture of culture, what wonderful friends, all brought together by the common understanding and love of this man Jesus… these two men, black and white, holding hands in my living room as we shared and delighted and celebrated the gift of life that comes from Jesus.

Friends, He’s good. Really, really good.

 

 

She Gave Me A Destiny

I was 19 when I first went to Papua New Guinea. My university sent outreach teams every summer and though this was a “medical trekking trip,” I told the coordinators that I thought they’d do well having a PR major to help with things like organising medications. Either they didn’t care, or my pitch worked, because I found myself on my way to Mt Hagen with 3 nursing majors and 5 pre-med majors.

my team - i'm in the back, third from the left.

The trip was amazing… life changing… and I even returned to Australia to do training for more outreaches, hoping to go back to Papua New Guinea one day.

It took six years of working with YWAM in Australia before that became a reality. During the early stages of planning to bring the ship to PNG, we met with many key stakeholders. One group was the leaders of YWAM Mount Hagen, a man and woman named Osea and Doris.

We had a proper cultural exchange with them as we shared the vision and invited their blessing and input. I was most excited to see Doris that night as I had heard about her on my first trip to PNG back in 2000. She was the nurse at the YWAM centre but had been away on vacation when my team and I came through.

As soon as was appropriate on the night, I pulled her aside and introduced myself, “Hi Doris, we’ve never met but my name is Rebekah and I was in Mt Hagen years ago while you were away.”

Her eyes grew wide with surprise and she grabbed my arm. “Are you Rebekah from Oral Roberts University?!” she asked with shock in her voice.

“Yes…” I responded tentatively as she started to cry.

“Rebekah, we have been praying for 10 years for you to come back to our country.”

I was shocked. She recounted the many prayers that had prayed, the fact that sometimes they would make a bed for me, praying God would send them back. She went on to share stories of people who I had worked with there and the faith they had in the hearts that there was more for me to do in PNG.

Little did she know that Jared and I had been considering whether we should be continuing with YWAM to help bring a ship to PNG and were hoping to finalise our answer that weekend.

After that, how could we say no?

In fact, that conversation with Doris and the hours of chats that followed that night and in the days to come were some of the most impacting. I told her that I couldn’t come so long ago… I was preparing to bring many more with me and make a far greater impact.

Doris passed away last week. She had a nasty cancer that ate away at her body. In fact, there is no cancer treatment available in PNG so she had been in Australia trying to get well. She fought so hard for years… and it was heartbreaking to know that she had lost and left behind her gorgeous husband and young son.

I don’t know how many peoples lives she affected… how many others she prayed for (possibly, like me, without even know them)… but I know she made an amazing impact on many lives and on her nation.

I know she made a difference in my life. When life gets hard here, I remember back to the people who prayed for ten years.. for ME and I remember that its about a whole lot more than how I’m feeling at the moment. She reminded me of my destiny and even in her passing, her memory encourages me to keep going on.

Inspired.

It hasn’t been the best week I’ve ever experienced. Max has a cold. He’s not coping so well. We’re talking repeated meltdowns all week.

So by Friday night I certainly wasn’t in the mood to go out… but I’d made a commitment and I felt obligated.

It was the YWAM Youth Teams annual dessert night. It was important that I was there and deep down I didn’t want to miss it, but as El throw up on me just as I was about to leave, I wasn’t feeling very glamorous. A baby wipe bath and squirt of perfume later, I found myself walking into our YWAM centre alone and amazed.

I walk into this building most days but today it had been transformed into a skate park with video display of the crew… I kept walking and saw an art gallery with thoughtful items produced by teenagers… and then I was entertained by members of the sports team telling me all about their fishing escapades.

our good mate fiona leads the hip hop crew as they show off some of the skills they've been working on.

But that was just the beginning. As the night went on, I was genuinely inspired by heaps of 12-17 year olds. I know what we do with Youth Street. Heck, they’re in my backyard every Saturday. I write grant applications for them. I even helped give a few tips on the event they threw last night.

But sometimes, I forget. I forget what it means to those kids. I forget that it totally changes their lives. I forget that its a lifeline, a defining relationship, sometimes one that shapes them for the future in a way that they look back and say, “I am who I am because of _<insert the name of one of our amazing staff>__.”

And last night I remembered. I remembered and I was proud and privileged and grateful. Proud of the team who makes it happen every week. Privileged that I get to play a part. And grateful that I got to hear about these amazing young lives that have been radically impacted.

As I listened to a mother stand next to her teenage son and share about the change she’s seen him, my eyes welled up with tears as I remembered that my sleeping toddler may have some challenging days, but even weeks like this are only preparing him for his future… for the impact he’s going to make in life.

Motherhood…ministry…it can be tough… but today, amidst the challenges, I feel re-inspired.

Our Girl Has Arrived

Its taken me a long time to write her story. With Max, I needed to get it out straight away… to not forget one single detail.

With her, its taken me almost a month to process and absorb and reflect. There are some parts of her story that will always be just hers and mine… but there are some parts that just need to be shared and celebrated too.

So here we are – sharing and celebrating.

The first contraction came a little before 7am… I didn’t even recognise it as a contraction – I just laid down on the couch to rest, telling Jared I was having sharp pains in my back. After a little while, I realised they were coming and going – regularly – and realised they must be contractions.

I was SO grateful to be in labour! At 12 days overdue, I was scheduled for an induction the following night and was really hoping  and praying to go into labour naturally.

The contractions were manageable so we all (Jared, Max and my mom who was visiting) headed down to our weekly YWAM worship service. It was a beautiful place to have early labour and a few hours later, when we can home, I hopped into the swimming pool while my mom entertained Max and Jared went to work. After a couple hours there, I was ready for a shower and a rest… and while I did lay down for a few minutes, it wasn’t long before I was ready to get to the birth centre.

We met our midwife there – the same one who delivered Max – at around 2:30 and I enjoyed the feeling of warm water in the shower and bath. Jared was amazing again – helping me through the contractions – and everyone in the room graciously let me listen to the same worship song… the. entire. time.

What can I say!? It was helping!!!

After a little while, I was starting to get pretty uncomfortable and it seems in hindsight that our girl had moved from posterior to anterior position. Long story short – they couldn’t find her heartbeat and I wasn’t able to stay still long enough to help much.

After around 5-10 minutes without a heartbeat, they decided to break my water and get an internal reading. Wouldn’t you know it – baby girl had pooped just like her big brother.

WIth no heart beat and meconium, they decided to transfer me again.

I was gutted… but a bit desperate. Ten minutes is a long time to wait to hear your little ones heartbeat.

Being raced through the hospital to transfer to birth suite during the middle of the day is a lot more intimidating than in the middle of the night. Between contractions, I watched a mother press her five children against the glass corridor as we sped by and a construction worker fumble to get his tools out of the elevator even though he had arrived on the “wrong floor.”

We made it and when they yelled, “No heartbeat” the room flooded with people…. who all left just a few short minutes later.

“So, does that beep mean that’s the heart beat?” Jared finally asked.

Indeed, she was all healthy and snug, albeit inaccessible to an external Doplar…

I wasn’t feeling so healthy myself. In fact, I was quite panicked. “Can you please just pull her out with a vaccuum like last time?”

“No… last time caused so much damage. You don’t want that,” our midwife calmly said.

“Okay… what about forceps? I really want to get her out now.”

“No… you don’t need forceps either,” she informed me.

“Okay. Then I want an epidural. Just give me an epidural. I’m panicked and I’m not coping here.”

“No… you don’t need an epidural. Give me 30 minutes and then you can push.”

And for 30 minutes, my mom and Jared each held one of my hands, one of my legs, Vanessa counted breaths for me to breath during the contractions, and the Lord spoke encouragement and wisdom and truth to me at the height of each pain. He sustained me in moments when I literally did not think I could cope.

And sure enough, after that 30 minutes was over, I was ready to push and in 9 short minutes at 5:30pm, she slipped/squirted/shot out of me.

Best. Feeling. Ever.

I couldn’t hold my girl straight away. I remember them holding her purple body over me, pulling entangled cords from around her neck and body, before they rushed her to a resuscitation table. They were determined to clear all the meconium she had swallowed before she took that first breath and breathed it into her lungs. It was only a few minutes and we knew everything was most likely okay, but boy did it feel good to hear her take those first big breaths and let out a cry.

She was on my chest in no time and I savoured the feeling of her warm, slippery body cuddled on the outside…

such a good daddy!

Elianna – my answer to prayer. The little girl I didn’t think we’d have… the result of a pregnancy I didn’t know if I could survive… a constant reminder of a God who answers.

We are in love.