Well. Sometimes (frequently?) life doesn’t go as planned. I thought the next three months of my life were set, I thought they were planned and all I had to worry about was what to do after YWAM. Nope. God had other plans.
A week ago today, we had a campus prayer time to pray for the volcano erupting across the island. Although the news would have you believe it’s much worse than it actually is and that the entire Big Island is sinking beneath a flood of lava (we’re not), things on Puna side of the island are actually really bad. At the moment over 600 homes have been destroyed and over 3000 people are currently homeless. So we met to pray about the volcano and ask God what His direction was about how to respond. (Do we have a green light to rebuke it and just tell it to stop? Should we be offering to take in families? Should we send help?) Somewhere along the line, Loren Cunningham (YWAM’s founder) mentioned in passing that some people may have to consider giving up their outreaches to stay and help. Most people didn’t really notice and kind of walked by that. I didn’t.
On Wednesday in class, our leaders stood up to make “an important announcement.” I already knew what they were going to say. I knew they would ask for people to pray about possibly staying on the island instead of going on their outreaches. I DID NOT want to be one of those people. I DID NOT. I LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE my Paraguay team. They are family. I just look at all of them with those cartoon heart eyes. They are the dream team. But…this whole thing has been about hearing God’s voice and doing His will for my life, right? So on the way to lunch I asked, “God, what do you want me to do?” And He said, very clearly, “I want you to stay on the island.” And I went, “Are you sure?” And He went, “Yes.” And I went, “Do I have to?” And He said, “Of course not. I’ll never make you do anything. But this is what I want for you.”
How can you say no to that? I tried with all my heart to reason my way out of that one because, guys, I REALLY wanted to go to Brazil and Paraguay with my team. I still do. With all my heart. But I couldn’t wiggle out of it. He was so clear. I want you to stay on the island. So I told one of the school leaders I was pretty sure God had told me to stay.
Unfortunately, I made a couple mistakes. 1. I told the school leader who doubles as my team leader and he was biased toward me staying on the team. 2. I was not clear about how clear God’s instruction had been. So on Friday, after the school leaders had prayed about it, I was told that they believed I should stay on my team and go to Paraguay. It was EXACTLY what I wanted to hear…but I could not get peaceful about it. All afternoon I struggled with it. My team leaders were so excited to still have me. I was so excited to still have them and the rest of my team. All the hopes and dreams I had built up about this upcoming trip would be happening still! But God kept whispering, “I want you to stay on the island.” So I found myself in the very unique position of fighting for something I didn’t want: I asked the school leaders to reconsider. I found out this morning that I have officially been moved to the Puna outreach team. I’ll be staying on the Big Island to help with the volcano relief effort.
This week has been a struggle. But also such an amazing learning and growing process. I feel like even just the process of deciding to join the Puna team has been one of the most growth-filled times of my entire DTS thus far. It was a VERY practical test of all that I felt I have learned to this point. If you’ve been following me, you know that I got a lot of freedom from bitterness and unforgiveness toward God because I felt he’d disappointed me in the past. It was SO tempting to hate Him for taking away my team and the outreach I had been so looking forward to. My brain immediately tried to revert to the self-pitying and angry-at-God spiral. But I was not to be so easily tricked! NOT TODAY SATAN! NOT ANYMORE! I just got free from all that junk, I couldn’t just fall back into it. I KNEW that if I could say yes to this call from God joyfully, if I could trust His plans and be willing to give up my own, He would bless me in amazing ways. I know that this obedience is saying to Him, “I trust you. I’ll follow you.” And I know that in the future, He’ll be able to partner with me to do some crazy-awesome things because of this decision. (Do you guys remember my night in the prayer room? We can begin now. It’s happening.) I’ve made the decision to fix my heart on Him, made the decision to trust His will and walk in joy. And it’s a decision. It takes work pretty well every moment right now. Fortunately, He gave me some encouragement. The very morning after I heard God told me to stay, I was reading through the Psalms and found this verse, which has been so good for me:
Psalm 57:7 (KJV)
7 My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise.
My heart is fixed on Him. I WILL sing. I WILL give praise. I have decided.
He’s also showing me just how much He’s been answering my prayers. Having to give up my team has made me realize just how much love and compassion I have for them. Coming into this DTS, I felt like I was really struggling to open my heart to anyone. In fact, just a couple days before all this happened, I remember praying, “God, help me love people more! I feel so lukewarm toward others.” Well. Now I know that the love is definitely in there. It’s just maybe not always as emotional as others’. (Not always. But sometimes. Certainly today.) The other day I was kind of ranting at Him for allowing me to get so close to my team that it was really painful to give it up. WHY GOD? Why didn’t you warn me!? … I could feel His indignance; “Are you actually scolding me for answering your prayers?” Hmm. Well. Since you put it that way… From the day I found out about my team I’ve been praying for them. I’ve been praying for unity. I’ve been praying for God to turn my heart toward each of them, to show me all the good and lovely things about them and help me love them like He does. And He did. It’s no big secret why I love them so much. It’s not a mystical quality that only they possess. I love them because I trained myself to love them and I asked God to help me love them and He did. It’s the same way I know I will come to love my new team.
Now I get to have two teams, two families. It’s actually really cool, because when Emily joined our team a little while back, we prayed for her and I felt like God told me that she hadn’t somehow failed, that her old team hadn’t been taken away from her, but that He wanted her for BOTH teams. That it was all part of His design. Now those same words have been brought back to my mind for me. Yesterday, on a hike, I was asking Him why He’d changed His mind. Why did He let me get so excited about my outreach only to change His mind and completely derail everything? And He told me, “Allison, Puna has always been the plan. I didn’t bring you to Hawaii to send you to Paraguay. I brought you here to send you to Puna. And I loved you enough to bless you with this AMAZING team in the meanwhile, while you were waiting for this opportunity to appear.” So now I’m just SO THANKFUL that God, in His magnificent grace, gave me such beautiful people to run with during my lecture phase, gave me this amazing family while I was waiting for my actual path to pop up. And I know that it’s not past tense. The Paraguay team is still my crew. We’ll grow apart a bit during outreach, sure. But ours is a supernatural unity that was built by God, and it won’t just go away. Now I get to build unity with another team too.
Long story long … everything has changed. My whole outreach has been ENTIRELY derailed. I have literally NO IDEA what we’ll be doing in Puna. No one does. We know most of our team; that’s where we stand at the moment. That’s all. So it’s really REALLY going to be a walk of trust. What an adventure! Sheesh … Not the adventure I had in mind! But when God defines your adventure, you just never know what you’re going to get, do you?
Well folks, stay tuned! Looks like it’s going to be an exciting ride!