Monday, September 28, 2009

Ben: A guy I know but have never met...

This is an email to a guy that I have been getting to know ever since I was in New Zealand. He is a missionary in Vanuatu. Which is an Island in the South Pacific that is west of Fiji. I was talking to him for a while because I wanted to come and help him out, but I was low on money and time. I want to meet him in Vanuatu someday soon. Ben is from England and is working through the missions group YWAM.
He wanted to know what my summer was like in Colorado at Training Ground, and in a short summary this is what I said...


Good to hear from you... Training Ground did finish up on the 1st of August. It was a great experience for me. I was put in a position where I had to find my own work to put myself through the program. Everyone else at TG were given construction jobs from a local company in Colorado Springs, but three of us, including myself, were not. I had to go to a "labor finders" and find jobs on Craig's List. Many times we had to knock on doors and just ask if we could help them with anything. It was different for me. Everything was uncertain and out of my control. Sometimes this was hard to handle, but I feel like I learned a ton from this. I saw what it was like to be at the bottom, to struggle, and I found out that I can survive there. I think the main theme for me over the summer was embracing (instead of avoiding) struggle and hardship. I always avoided struggle and wanted everything to be easy, but I realized that "easy" made me weak. If I am willing to go "down" and feel my struggle/sin then I will be stronger for it. I know that is why we are taken through hard times or why God takes us through something hard. He wants us to cling to Him for our strength, and most of the time we won't do this until something goes wrong. To see my sin and cry because of it was something I was never able to do. I am still having a hard time with this, but this summer I was able to see this for the first time and it was horrible. But, even though it truly was horrible it was, at the same time, one of the most beautiful moments of my life. I saw that faith in myself will take me nowhere and I must have the body of Christ and His sacrifice to be able to see and cling to any shred of hope. He is the only one that can offer change or hope in this life.

Tell me about yourself and how things are going in Vanuatu... I would love to hear. Thanks so much for thinking about me and taking the time to write me.

Hope to meet you someday,


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Outnumbering the Sands of Fiji

I have been doing very non typical Fijian things since I have been here, from an outsiders perspective. No laying on a beech and eating fruit after a long massage in a nice hotel... I thought I would save that sort of thing for my honeymoon or some other vacation. From an insiders perspective the things that I have been experiencing have been very true to the Fijian life style. I have visited villages and eaten on the floor. Tasted the native foods and drinks... played games of Rugby and swam in rivers, chewed on sugar cane, drank out of coconuts, sucked on limes straight off of trees, chopped up peppers from a pepper tree into my rice, eaten bananas straight from a banana tree and worked on a cassava/ taro farm (much like sweet potato), and meet many great locals that will hopefully be long term friends for when I come back to this friendly country. I have realized how blessed we are as Americans and how we have so much and still complain. These people love there lives and family. Even though they have so little in comparison... most of them have what they need and they hold on to the important things in life. They treat their guest with unending respect. They serve me first at every meal and want me to sleep on the softest bed in the house, while they take the hard floor without complaint. Christ is the reason for happiness and they worship him throughout the day. For a certain pastor that I helped build a wall in his bathroom yesterday, he does not have a job and, as of now, he does not get support from the church. He only trust God to come through for him and in his words, "He always does!" He says this while cleaning a toilet seat with a coconut and old charcoal from burnt fire wood as his Fijian "Lysol Cleaning Solution". He is a true inspiration to me. Please pray for Joe if you can. That God would continue to come through for him and that He would find away for Joe to be a pastor and be supported by the people of the congregation. I would love to remember these people and send them my tithes when i start making some money. I feel like these people truly need the money and I now know there faces and I know that they are living for Christ and wanting to spread the word of the Lord. I would hate for money to spoil or hinder their burning passion to tell others about what they have found and why it makes all the difference to anyone who is willing to listen.

I think God has laid it on my heart to seek His will while I am here, so that I might learn from these people. That I might remember what Christian community looks like again, how important being apart of a Church is, and that I might not forget these loving people here in Fiji. I am Glad and thankful for this time. This unexpected and somewhat fearful time that God had so perfectly planned. Many times I was a little stressed and I did not know what God had in store for me, but at the last moment He would show me the way. It has been fun as well. I have truly seen what traveller after traveller neglects as he or she gets off the air plane in Nadi and rushes to a boat to take them to a party island or a romantic get away. I was very much lured by this at first, but I give it all up to God for leading me on this path.

I know that I will be back one day soon to help with the peoples needs here. I have a much better handle on why God put it on my heart to pursue Fiji in such a way. While I was spending time at a church north of Suva on the eastern coast I was again blessed with their kindness and generosity. They did not have much, but they knew that the Lord provides whatever they need for them. The experience was unmatched. I believe I was the first American person in their village ever! Stares from little children's eyes out of the windows of the houses in the village found the rare sight of white skin, as I strolled through there village. They would kindly say "Bula" which is hello and look at me with a smile. Much happened while I was here but the main thing was the list of needs that they wanted me to take back to the land of plenty. This was God's purpose for having me here. To make connections with people here and send what they could not afford or gain access to here in Fiji. My mind is spinning with possibility. I could get a group from church together and bring many of the stuff that they need back to there church or we could mail it from the states. Some of them have churches on the outer islands that need materials and a team to come and help build churches. I think a missions trip to the outer islands of Fiji would be an easy sell back home!! Then others could see what I have seen. They could see the genuine and faithful hearts of the people of Fiji, and be blessed through there faith like I have been. It would be great. For now I will focus on finding the things that the church said that they would need and then maybe some day work on getting back here with a group of willing workers that could further the help here. Overall it has been very different than anything that I could imagine and it is hard to think that I get on the plane tonight, but God has lead the way and when that is happening... you deny yourself and follow Him. I thank Him for this experience the last 4 months: from Spain to Morocco to New Zealand to Fiji and next to Italy and Training Ground in Colorado. I will continue to follow HIs will throughout my life. THat way, I KNOW, adventure will never be lacking!!

I give you this verse: I believe it is Hebrews 10 (if I am wrong I will change it soon) This is the chapter of Faith. It starts with the Faith of Abraham, stepping out into a place where he had no clue where he was going and God blessed him with more offspring then the stars in heaven or the grains of the Fiji sands. I hope that is what you will always do. Faith in Him can only lead to life! Not just life, but abundant, overflowing, beautiful LIFE that will never cease... this is good.



Friday, April 10, 2009

The real Fiji

Things in Fiji are going well and happening in a very unexpected manner. I got here three days ago and had no clue what I would be doing here. I made a reservation at a hostel the night before my plane flight and had done little to no research on what to do here. I found out soon that any tourist attraction here is so expensive. Going off the main land to the islands and staying at the hotels/ resorts can clean you out so fast! Camping, they say, is not an option, but I plan on proving them wrong. I am only in Fiji once so I want to experience the nice beaches and beautiful water for sure. All along I have been wanting to do something different here. I felt like God wanted me to reach out to one of the Churches or Mission groups here, but I did not know which one. The first night I spent the night in a hostel and met a man named Amos and he saw me reading my Bible as I was eating breakfast. He did not say anything, but I noticed him looking. After thinking and worrying a lot. I was so unsure of what I was doing here and why God had laid it on my heart to serve. I was willing, but had no where to go. I decided to pack up and just head out. As I was leaving I wanted to fill up my water bottle. I asked Amos if he could fill it up for me and he did. Then out of nowhere he asked if I was a Christian and I said yes!!! I remembered him looking at my bible and I knew that he was a Christian as well. Before that point I had no clue what I was going to be doing there or even where a church was, so I could knock on their door. I was so happy to hear that Amos was a Christian. I asked where he went to church and knew that was where God wanted me to be. I hoped in a taxi and was heading there before I knew it. I have spent the last two nights sleeping in my hammock or tent in the back room of the church and have been to a good friday service. I am heading to Amos' village today and watching his nephew play rugby tonight. I am still looking for the way God wants to use me here and why he has me at this Church. The people of the congregation are so nice and loving. They said that no one has ever done what I am doing and are still somewhat unsure of what I am doing here. As am I. They do know that I want to serve for Christ and that is reason enough. Pray for God to show me a direction for me to go and a purpose to serve. I guess I am experiencing the REAL Fiji here in Nadi. It is a true adventure for sure, but instead of exploring the nature I feel like I am exploring the culture and the people here. It is all new and unexpected, but it is good.

Hope all is well,


Sunday, March 15, 2009

An Email to my Brother


I am alive and doing great!!! Sorry about not staying in touch. I have
been at the Shand's house for a week now and it is unbelievable!! They
have dial up Internet and it is connected to their phone line so it is
hard to get on and so slow. This is the first time I have checked my
email in over a week so I am sorry. I did catch my first trout!!! A
beautiful Brown Trout out of a lake.

I was invited to a sheep farm while I was on my own fishing on the east side of the southern alps range. I was near lake Sumner (if you want to look it up). It was so
random but as I was packing my pack next to my car (which I bought a
few weeks ago for $1000 its a white Honda accord) to go camping at one
of the most beautiful camping spots I had found yet and as I was
packing I helped an older lady as she drove up to the gate on the road
by opening the gate for her to drive through. Turns out she owned all
the land that I could see from that gate and more. Mountains, valleys,
rivers, and sheep lots of sheep!!

She invited me to come work on her farm for the day. She and her husband ran a 10,000+ sheep farm that they had owned for 33 years. The next morning I drove to the farm and was mustering sheep in no time! I was just looking around and
wondering how the hell I managed to get where I was. It such a great
and unexpected adventure. I figured that I would not speak to a soul
for 5 days straight and just fish the entire time but here I was
living the dream, I was a shepherd in New Zealand. I spent the night
in the shearers quarters and drank some local beer with some new
frends! It was quite an unusual group of guys. Reminded me of the
caddie shack at the golf club. Smoking and Drinking until late into
the night. The next day I shoveled sheep crap out from under the
shearing shed and then the lady that owned it came up to me and said
that their really wasn't much for me to do around the farm (because
they were almost done shearing).

The view of the valley gorge from my tent door!!!

She said why don't you just go fishing on our private lake! I was like ummm yeah! So I went up thereand after about an hour and a half of fishing I caught me a beautiful
20" Brownie!!

I couldn't have been more happy. I took him with me and
left the farm. I tramped 3 hours down this track to a cabin near
Sumner Lake. The cabin was built in 1930 and it was perfect! It was
called Gabriel's Hut (look it up on google under images and you can
see it) 4 bunks, fire place, log cross beams that you almost had to
duck down to avoid hitting your head. I filleted my fish and cooked it
outside next to a roaring fire!!! I could not have asked for a better
place to eat my first New Zealand Trout. I felt like a man for sure.
Unfortunately, my camera ran out of batteries for the hike so I could
not get a pic of the little cabin. It was something that I will never
forget though. I was alone and it was quite a different experience
than camping with your mates, but it was nice at the same time. As I
slept alone in my cabin, at around 2:30 in the morning a loud bang on
the door woke me up. At first I thought it was a possum, but then It
continued to bang over and over again. As I woke, I was freaking out!
There I was in the middle of the back country of NZ alone in a little
shanty hut and their is some thing banging on the side of my hut. What
the hell could it be? As I woke up I became more and more conscious
and I heard 2 men talking. I was like what in the world are two men
doing way out here in the rain at 2:30 in the morning. I think if I
had not been totally asleep it would have been scarier, but I felt
better after they asked if there was anymore room in the hut. So I
said yes and let them in. They had been out late hunting for boar and
I talked for a little while with them and then went back to sleep and
they were gone be the morning. It was like a dream. All in all it was
a great night!!

The next morning the sky was pouring rain and I walked 2 1/2 hours
back to my car. I was totally drenched. I drove back to Christchurch
and spent the night at robs apartment and work up the next morning to
pick up Taka. The Japanese guy that was coming to the Marlborough
Sounds with me. He was great! The drive up HW 1 to Port Ligar was
unreal!!! I can't wait to show pictures to everyone.


I have been here a week and have done many things on the farm. I have mustered sheep,
de-weeded the hillsides with a pick axe thing (which doesn't sound
cool, but if you could see the view that I had while I was working you
would want to do it too!!!), I have gone out on a boat into the sounds
and worked the mussel farms!, I have helped work the woodworking mill
near by, and tomorrow I believe I will get the rare chance in life to
kill a sheep and eat him for dinner and possibly go scuba diving!! I went
Kayaking today to a beach across the bay and it was relaxing to say the
least. On my way back I saw a "Little Blue". This is the name of the
penguins around hear and as I am writing this I hear themunderneath the floor in the kitchen of the shandshouse!! They come up in the late evening and spend the night either under the shearing shed or the house. Little Blues live here about 70%
of the year, so I am glad that I have been able to see them! Tonight we
went possum hunting and I shot the biggest one of the night. We had
seven people in the back of the truck and two in the front. The two in
front had 22rifles and one person in the back had a spotlight. We all
took turns holding the spotlight or shooting the possums. We had to
have killed about ten... some got away injured and some we just
couldn't find. It was great though.The moon was out and it was as
bright as ever! It reflected off the Cook Strait as we ascended to the
tops of the tall hills that wound through the sounds. Everything was
black except the stars, the moon, and the eeriewhitish grey reflection of light of the sea. It was breathtaking!

This is where I sleep... It's an old caravan with a built on porch!!

They work us a lot here. Thursday I worked 13 hours straight, but it
is fun and so diverse that I enjoy it. I have loved finally getting
some home cooked food and I am now eating more than just PB & J's all
the time. We have a good breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea,
and Dinner or as they call it, simply, Tea. Usually with dessert after
lunch and tea. It has been a dream. The stars at night are unlike
anything I have ever seen. The southern stars are beautiful!

Morning Sunrise from my porch!!!

Anyways, I want to get some pictures up soon. I hope all is well back
home. I heard it snowed a bunch last week. Did it get down to
Oxford??? How is the Ole Miss B-ball team this year? How is school
going? Are you ready to get the crap out of there??? Are you and
bouldin still going to Thailand??? Let me know whats up...

Love you and miss you,


P.S. When I was camping by myself for those 5 days I was thinking
about you a lot. I wished you were here so much. We must do this
sometime soon and do it together... I needed you there to take part in
my adventures with me. It was quite strange being by myself, for I
have not really done that much in my life, cause you have always been
there. We have to work that out soon....

Think about it?

Your Brother

The view from near the top of the farm looking out at the Tasman Sea off of Cape Point

Watching Sheep

Sunday, February 15, 2009


The Milford Sound with Mitre Peak

I did it!! I walked the most beautiful walk in the world, and I have to say it did live up to its expectations!!! Confidently, the most beautiful hike I have ever been on, but that doesn't mean I am going to stop trying to find something more beautiful in the world. That will never stop.
As I say this, I think back to my experience deep in the Fiordland National Park and I wonder how, how could anything be more beautiful? A conglomeration of the best things that have ever entered my mind, all in one place. The diversity was and still is fascinating. Diversity is what makes the New Zealand islands so appealing. Driving through this country from top to bottom has been such a stimulating experience. I have been fortunate enough to see and experience things that are sometimes thought to only exist in your imagination or on a movie screen. I am able to physically breath them in, touch them, and experience their beauty for myself. Not living my life through a screen, in a book or in a dream but in true reality!! These experiences have lit a fire under me that makes me long for discovery and pursuing God's creation as much as possible. It also makes me appreciate the small things in life. How many times during a typical day does anyone pull off to the side of the road to take time to sit and enjoy a field of grass or take a picture of a rock or a flower or even enjoy getting passed by cars over and over again because you are enjoying taking in the journey instead of worrying about getting to your destination. On second thought, maybe it's just because our van can't go faster than 70 mph haha.

Even though this country is great and beautiful, I do miss the small things back home. Like a home cooked meal by my Mom or Mum as they call it here, in our new house. I find myself thinking about people that I miss and look forward to sitting down and sharing my stories with. I just talked to my parents, my brother, and a couple of my friends for the first time a couple of days back and I didn't realize how much I missed them and how much I had experienced without them and how much I had to say to just give them a taste of what is going on here. I guess I just got caught up in it all here that I didn't really feel their absence until I heard their voice. It was refreshing and needed!

The Lord has blessed me beyond all belief. His guiding hand continues to surprise me as I go from place to place, he takes care of me. My faith in Christ's plan for my life is growing everyday. I was about to bungee jump a couple of days ago, until they said that I couldn't because of maintenance, but before I jumped my mind was pacing back and forth in anxious fear of what I was about to do. This was the 3rd highest bungee in the world!! I thought to myself, "What am I getting myself into... I don't want to do this. This is going to be terrible!" This bungee, for some reason had been a sour pit in my stomach this entire trip. So, there I was sitting on a rock wall beside my van, thinking and praying about this situation. Then, I felt a calming spirit come over me and I suddenly thought that this was going to be a leap of faith. I felt that when I go bungee jumping it will be the ultimate surrender to one thing, the bungee. Will it hold? Will I bounce back up or keep falling? This spirit spoke to me and made me realize that this is the type of trust that I should have towards Christ. An utter surrender to the Word. Putting my life out there and letting him catch me. It also allowed me release the knot in my stomach and enjoy the adventure that the day was going to bring, knowing full well that He was walking with me every step of my journey. It was a beautiful image. To know that God could use something like bungee jumping to reflect the trust I ought to have in His Son. It's simple really. Just step off the platform. Thats all you have to do. But why is it so hard? I trust the bungee cord. What am I so afraid of? The fall? The fear of not having control of my life? What is it? Is my faith in the bungee not strong enough? Do I need to read my bible more before I jump? Do I need to grow up before I can jump? Maybe my intellect has not reached a certain level yet for me to have that kind of faith? I think I'll sit this one out and wait until I am stronger. I need to see proof that the bungee will hold and will not let me go before I can let my life go off the edge without any control myself.
But this is not the thoughts that Christ invited us into. He wants us to risk. He wants us to see Him and know that he will catch us when we trust fully in his will. Doubt will lead to death. "Sitting this one out" is not the way God desires our lives to be lived. He longs for us to see him through his son and surrender our control to his plan and will. Christ was in perfect harmony with God's will, and that is why he was so effective in this world.

That is what I have learned through my fears of bungee jumping. Now I cannot wait to get on that platform and just jump into thin air and know that the bungee will hold!!! It's going to be wonderful!

That is another great part of this trip, the time that I have to think. It is a blessing! I long to hear God's voice. I know it is there, but I need to let him have some of my time to hear him and that is what happened when I was contemplating the bungee on the rocks that morning. He spoke, and I finally had time to listen...

Jesus said:
"For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind." John 9: 39
"If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." John 8: 31-32
Paul said:
"For Freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery (sin)" Galatians 5:1


Rob, Collins, and Me at the end of the Track

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

From 17 hours in the future and on the left side of the road

I have finally made my way to the South Island!! I have heard so many wonderful things about this place. Everyone that we meet on our way says that you have to get down there. The further you drive south the better it gets!
Tomorrow, we are heading to Able Tasman National Park. This is the smallest park in the nation and we will be doing the coastal track. It could be the busiest most used park in the country for tourists. The water is clear and the rock formations are magnificent. With seals and little Blue Penguins abounding in and around the water, i am going to go ahead and say this could be one of the most beautiful things that I have ever experienced. I can't wait. We will be on this track for about 3 and a half days.
From there we will head south along the west coast and see the beauty of the rugged shoreline, that was formed by the wild Tasman Sea, as we drive towards Frans Joseph and Fox Glaciers near Mt. Cook. We hope to have time to strap on our crampons and do a little glacier hiking. After this we go to Milford for the Great Milford Sound Track. This is, by most peoples opinion, the greatest walk in the world!!!! I cannot wait. 4 days on the beautiful trail, with waterfalls, rivers, mountains, lakes, and fjords! It will be a walk that I will not shortly forget.
From here I will go to Queenstown and do the 3rd highest bungee jump in the world!! I am already freaking out about this one. It is an uncomfortable pit in my stomach every time I think about this one, but I will make myself do it. I know I will be wanting to do it again once I am done, much like when I sky dived a few years ago!!
After this we will head to Stewart Island. The most remote place in NZ and probably the most diverse in Animal life and flora and fauna. With only 400 residents, I am sure we will be able to find some pristine beaches with trees to hang our hammocks on and light a fire with out any trouble from the police! We will be on our own more than ever and I cannot wait!!! Seal's, Penguins, and Elephant seals abound as well here. I'm sure I will be able to tell you much much more about it after having completed the journey. I am just so excited that I had to tell everyone about my plans!

From there we will head back to Christchurch for Collins and Rob to go to school and I will be on my own.

Hope all is well back in the states! I got to go to Able Tasman and find a Penguin!! haha I love New Zealand!!!