So here is an update:
From my last blog post, so much has gone on. It's hard to begin. But, "Let's start at the beginning, a very good place to start!" When I returned to Okinawa in October, Pastor Tom talked to me about next semester. He gave me a few ideas of what I could do and I told him some visions the Lord had given me. My ideas are still heavy on my heart, but I believe they are for a future time. One of these visions is to "do ministry" (whatever that may entail, I do not know) in the great, very cold, prefecture of Hokkaido, a northern island of Japan (one of the four main islands). I am not at this moment quite sure why the Lord has placed Hokkaido on my heart, but He has and I can't do anything about it ;-) Another of my visions for the future is some form of ministry in New Zealand. I have no specific ideas about that, but (from what I've heard and from my long life of experience [hehe]) God rarely gives us the specifics until we need them. I do have a dream, a form of ministry; but if you want to know that you will have to get in touch with me. For now, I will continue with this blog post.
The options Pastor Tom gave to me were these:
1. I could go to Calvary Chapel Murrieta for the winter to work there and pay off my tuition for the next semester. I didn't much like that idea ;)
2. I could go to South Korea to lead worship. I REALLY didn't like that idea. I had never led worship, nor did I want to--ever!--and I hate spicy food.
3. I could go home and take a semester off. That didn't sound too bad. After all, I had been away from home far longer than I had expected and I was starting to miss it.
4. I could contact someone in Tokyo, Hokkaido, New Zealand, or wherever to attempt to find a place to minister for the winter.
Well, I prayed and fasted. Prayed some more, fasted more. Read the Word (a lot!) Prayed and fasted some more. Sought counsel from my parents and from others wiser than myself (they weren't to hard to find.) I won't get into the details, but the option that I chose was the least likely: I chose option #2. I'm not sure why God closed the doors for 1 & 4 and left 2 & 3 open. Why didn't He close 3? I was close to choosing 3, but my heart told me that was not the way to go. When I had my mind set on going home, I felt uneasy all the time, stressed, anxious, and several times I burst into tears in solitude. I knew something was wrong. I told my parents that I thought going home was not the Lord's will for right now and that I would go to Korea with their permission. My mom was quite reluctant at first. For several reasons: one, I had gotten her hopes up by telling her I was pretty sure I was gonna go home; two, it's Korea! Not exactly the safest place in the world atm. And there were others as well (finances included.) But, I reassured her that the Lord's will would be done one way or the other and (this might not have been the best choice of words, but...) if He wanted me to die, it would happen at home or in South Korea! My dad suggested we pray about it some more, both my mom and I agreed. Two days later, both of my parents were willing (although, I could sense a bit of reluctance, but that was comforting. I'd rather them be hesitant to let me go than to shove me out the door!) and said that wherever the Lord led me, they would be behind me.
Well, two weeks later I was on a plane to South Korea, shaking and scared out of my mind! I arrived in South Korea on December 9, 2009. Today is January 8, 2010. I have been here less than a month and my (aw, man... here come the tears...) life will never be the same. This place, the people in it, has touched my heart in a way I can't describe. I hate to think of what my winter would have been like had I not come here. It's been 30 days and I feel like I've been here my whole life (besides the language difference.) I never in my wildest dreams (and I have had some wild ones, ask my family) did I dream I would be in South Korea for my 18th birthday, Christmas, and New Year. I never expected to lead worship (EVER!) and hadn't expected to lead a Bible study either. But, God has a way of going beyond our expectations. In fact, He says that His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. It's so true. Now that I can see the screen again (my eyes are finally clearing up...) I will tell you what has been happening here, and maybe I'll give you a sneak peak into the future.
While I've been here, I have lead worship on Sunday mornings (six songs), afternoons (a few songs for children's church), and evenings (seven songs); Thursday evenings (four songs before the Bible study), and Saturday mornings (five songs before the Bible study.) So, a total of 21-25 songs a week. I prepare the setlist and powerpoint myself. I am trying to get the Korean's who have good English vocabularies and decent voices (I can't judge too much, because they let ME sing) or an instrumental skill to join me. However, the select few are quite reluctant to do so. Please pray that they step out in obedience to worship the Lord =)
Also, I took over a weekly Bible study that takes place on Saturday mornings. It is a men-only study and I think the number of opportunities explode when you get just men, so I will try to take advantage of the gender separation. Last Saturday was my first. I am going through the book of Ecclesiastes. Now, this is quite the odd choice, I know. First of all, I have never heard a teaching on Ecclesiastes. If I was going to choose a book that I didn't study in-depth at Bible college, I should have at least chosen one that I had heard taught on at least once, right? Well, I tried. Four different times. I tried to prepare a message for 1 Peter, Titus, Philemon, and 2 Timothy--none of them worked. When I got to Ecclesiastes in my Bible-reading plan, I felt a sort of tug on my heart. I literally smiled and said "Oh, God... You're so funny!" I knew as soon as I started reading it that He would have me "teach" on it. So, I covered chapter one last week. Well, I mostly covered verses 1 & 2 and kinda just read the rest, touching on a few select verses. This week, I plan to go through chapters 2-4. But, we will see how the Spirit leads on Saturday morning.
That's another thing quite strange. Saturday morning I lead worship first (for men and women). After worship, the women leave to the Pastor's wife's house to have their "Girl Power" Time (I don't know why I just called it that...) and the men remain at the church. I then "teach" (I put the quotation marks because I am unable to teach, but I move my mouth and somehow these words that make sense and agree with the rest of scripture come out; quite strange, for I know I surely do not have the wisdom or discernment or understanding to teach Scripture [least of all Ecclesiastes!]) the men. So, I lead worship and five minutes later I'm teaching a Bible study... it's somewhat odd.
Well, anyway, that's the summary of my scheduled ministries. Here are some things I do on the side:
I have been given the awesome opportunity to disciple young men (older than me, but still young) in the Word in several ways. I have (literally) had a mountaintop experience with two young men, traversed the city with the same and others, had coffee-shop Bible studies, studies at lunches and dinners, countless conversations on all things Scriptural; I've even been able to disciple while shopping for clothes! Go figure! (That was actually pretty fun, haha.)
I have dozens of new brothers and sisters and some moms (maybe some uncles, too). There are three individuals in particular whom I have come to love dearly, and it will hurt to leave. One, Lance (or Tong Mun), has become a younger brother. He's quite the guy. His English isn't incredible, but it's good enough to get points across. His older sister, Hye Young, has become my younger sister. Her English is excellent and I am trying to get her to sing for worship. She's pretty hesitant, though. (As I asked before, please be praying that she (and the others) will step out of their comfort zone into the realm of the unknown for Jesus' sake :)) And their mother has become my Oma (Korean mom). I love hanging out with them and I have been so blessed by their hospitality and welcoming spirits.
I have become close to two guys as well. Evan (Kungyu, 27) and his younger cousin WoonHee (20). I am closer to Evan, but close to both. I've always gotten close to those a bit older than me (Derek Cooper, Matt Offield, Matt Helmintoller, Julio Marin, Trevor Raichura, etc.)--weird.
Well, all of this to say, I am going to miss this place--far more than I expected. I will make my prayer, as Paul, that "
Now, I will give you a very short sneak peak into the future:
I am going to Tokyo on January 25 to spend the week prior to the next CCBC semester with friends in Tokyo. I will leave Tokyo to Okinawa on February 1 to start my second semester of Bible College. When I finish this semester in May, I will go to Florida for the Summer. I will do my best to get a job (or find some way to earn money) so that I can pay for my tuition to go to CCBC Murrieta, California for my third semester (Fall 2010) and after that spend my Birthday and Christmas in Florida and make some money for a final semester of Bible college somewhere around this world. That is, if the Lord tarries. Then, I plan to leave Florida in Fall 2011 or Spring 2012 to begin ministry in Japan. Perhaps I shall begin by teaching English in a more rural area (I do desire that) of Hokkaido or some other place in mainland Japan. I would love to someday fulfill my dream, but again I will not tell you that here. If you truly want to know my dream, contact me.
That's all, folks!
I pray that you are blessed as you read this post.
With Christ's unconditional love,