says Laura :) Yes this is officially Laura writing you all the way from the common room on our base in the chilly land of Australia! It is surprisingly chilly here with the weather moving from winter into spring. It has also been rather rainy the past few days which has been, at times, rather refreshing but also tends to add to the overall chill in the air. It's now Tuesday evening of week 4. This week, we are learning about the Fatherheart of God. These past few weeks have been an incredible journey, each day holding more than I can really even recall. I have been stretched in ways I never expected and have been discovering things contained within myself that I never knew were there.
Last weeks teaching was done by a woman from South Africa named Fiona. She was a lovely firecracker of a woman! Right at the beginning of the week, she made it clear that she would love to meet with each of us individually to talk about anything we may like. And by the end of the week, I believe every single person did sit down with her, if not more than once, simply to talk about life or issues that had come up throughout the week of teaching. She gave of her time and heart abundantly pouring out all she had to give, only to go on to another week of teaching somewhere else. The topic was repentance and forgiveness. I remember at the beginning of the week, reflecting on the teaching and feeling like what she was talking about would go all over the place topically. But by the end of each day, I would come away learning some incredible concept that applied and challenged in a way never expected. Just a few of the topics she touched were how we put people in boxes, seeing the value in individuals, asking questions of others, sex, desire, and much more.
This past weekend was a mixture of ups and downs as I'm finding most weeks to be. Sometimes, it's been really difficult going from such extreme ups to such extreme downs. It becomes rather exhausting really fast. Something I've found to also be challenging to me is the lack of ability to get off base whenever you like via car or something faster than my own two legs! I really miss being able to hop in my car and go somewhere whether to actually get somewhere or just go for a ride for fun. Since the base isn't huge, I sometimes start to feel a little stuck. Besides that, I have already had a horrible case of the flu that took me out a few days, I randomly will get hives on my chin and face which can be kind of uncomfortable, and sleep on the top bunk (mainly because that's the bed they put my name on to sleep on) which has surprisingly been working out well, considering my fear of heights. My favorite time of day is often cuppa time which is a mid-morning tea and cakes that most everyone on base takes. It's a brilliant idea that Americans somehow are missing out on! Otherwise, I really enjoy having some time to just hangout with people or curl up with a cup of tea and a book.
I am ultimately here to grow in my faith and learn how to bring the gospel to all people and all nations. I have grown tremendously in both areas. A few mornings a week, we join in intercession for different people groups and nations, praying for God's heart for them. It's amazing some of the images, passages, and thoughts that God gives and we are able to pray through. Just this morning, we spent time praying and seeking God's heart for Indonesia, the Philippines, and Samoa where the earthquakes and Tsunami hit. I kept getting the idea of "new foundations" in my mind towards Samoa (I took it to mean re-building on new foundations, of love and faith alongside actually re-building what was destroyed), and also of many people very self focused and busy being pulled out of that into an attitude of great love and self-sacrifice for each other.
I promise to write again soon and tell much more about everything I've been experiencing! I have made a few great friends, one of which was married about a month ago and her and her husband (Renae and Aaron) are leaving in just a few days to go out to New Zealand for a two month ship tour calling out missionaries. I am so sad that they are leaving as we have been becoming such great friends (Stephen included) but I know they are going to be used in some incredible ways and God is challenging me to lean more on him and less on any relationships I've been developing here.
Sending my love to you all,