Tuesday, November 5, 2013

life // a story of fulfilling hope - 4

This is the big finale.  Or more like, the big commencement to another adventure.  Big - but it's worth the read, because it's the grand story of how God speaks and provides and encourages.  It's the testimony that illustrates God's faithfulness and goodness.

one / two / three.

So where we last left off, I was offered to be a part of the STN family - but not just working here, they invited me to live on campus, as there are multiple benefits of being a part of the STN family (read: character growth), and being immersed in the community I am serving.   Granted, this did mean a rise in expenses... that thing called rent.

Despite the initial bubbling joy of dreaming and casting vision, my humanity was still prevalent.  I have no money.  So the following day, I spent it prayer and seeking.  I needed God to affirm me, needed Him to tell me that this isn't just another "good idea," but that I feel excited because He is excited.

And He is faithful.

The cup of coffee that accompanied the decision-making.

I have a very good friend, who also happens to be a barista missionary.  Like me, she needs to raise support for what she does; the difference is that she actually gets to keep her tips (SCB donates our tips to support surf clubs in Bangladesh).  For the past few months, she had been reserving portions of her tips for an unknown reason - only that God told her to.  And then God told her to sow into my future. Only two days after that invitation to join STN, just one day after spending it in prayer and seeking, I receive that check in the mail.  And it is the EXACT amount I need for one month's rent.


But the goodness does not stop there!
It gets better!
Actually it just keeps on going on a rollercoaster.

Coffee Bar keys.  A journal from Bangladesh.  A welcome note.

About a week after this happened, Katie, who runs STN's after school program (Ulu Pono), approached me and mentioned that she was looking for another housemate.  She and some others who are also a part of STN, chose to live off of STN's property.  This way, the house would be a place for the kids of Ohai Street- known for its prevalent drug use and abuse of different forms- to feel welcomed, loved, mentored, cared for.

My heart wanted to leap into this opportunity!  A chance to be even closer to this community.  As a child, I would not be caught dead on this street.  And now, I'd be living on it.
The catch? Housing would be three times more than being on STN's property.  Three times more?  Abba, I still have school loans to pay!  Give me faith!

I would be foolish not to recognize that the financial blessing from my friend was a gift from God.  So I took it as my commission to search for support.  Unfortunately, I didn't really get the response I was hoping for from people who were close to me.  In many ways, I felt that my decision wouldn't changed based off of people's opinions, but having their approval would be more than enough encouragement to pursue this.

Tuesday, July 23.
It had to have been no more than two weeks after the door opened.  I was in my bedroom, and accidentally knocked down a glass of water over my segmented Bible.  I was so distraught!  This has been my Book for the past 18 years, come November.  The nature of my Bible is that the binding is broken, and it sections off, so I spread it apart to dry... and I was drawn to a section in Genesis about Jacob.

This was the passage about Jacob's Dream, the Stairway to Heaven.  And my reading began here, with God speaking to Jacob:

"I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
- Genesis 28.15

I was destroyed; it felt as though God was speaking directly into my heart.  I remembered five years ago when God spoke through multiple people - God says you're supposed to go back.  And I fought (FOUGHT!) against the thought of coming back to Hawai`i, when my life was starting to take off in the Midwest - an amazing home church, an incredibly diverse art community, a budding library career, my own (affordable) apartment... but I listened and obeyed, and came here.. and struggled with the repercussions of my obedience.  A separate post can relay this tale.  But the story ends with God giving me His heart for my city.  It begins with me being here.

With these thoughts in mind, I continued reading:

Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father’s household, then the Lord will be my God and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.”
- Genesis 28.20-22

If I was at first destroyed, I have now been demolished.  This had to be my response back to Him.
And how convenient - it was probably less than an hour after that occurrence that Katie texted me:

Yet again, I would be crazy if I didn't recognize the way that God works; His timing, His words, His absolutely relentless love.  In my spirit, the verses resounded - that if God would be with my heart, if He would watch me on these streets, if He would provide my daily bread - this will be the House of God.

In that moment, the reality began to quickly invade my rationale.  What the heck am I thinking.  How the heck will this work.  What did I just say yes to.  But I cannot negate the promises that have just been spoken into my life.  God, Your Word is true, and You are faithful.  You are always faithful.  I cannot ignore this.

Over the next 48 hours, my emotions rocketed in every direction.  Happiness. Fear. Joy. Doubt. Peace. No peace.  Peace again.  Frustration again.  I did the crazy thing and looked at my bank account.  Anxiety.  Anxiety.  Seeking Jesus.  Calling His promises back to Him.

Thursday, July 25.
Worry is exhausting.  I had no more energy to fight Him, to seek answers, to wrestle as Jacob wrestled.
I came to this conclusion: I don't have to beg for my destiny.  If God has promised something to me, then I can believe, by faith, that God will fulfill them.  He asks that I live every day by the sound of His voice and by His promptings.  I don't have to scrape eyeballs to get the things that He promised; I can share my story and trust that the hearts of the right people will be touched, and these will be the people who will give.  I don't have to stress out about it.

Bubble wrap catharsis.

That very night, a couple sat me down.. they said that they have listened to me share my story, and were so moved by what I was doing - not just ministry wise, but the way I chose to abandon my life to walk on a narrow path, solely because Jesus was leading me.  And they wanted to invest in my future.  

They paid for six months rent.


I was floored!  I cried!  I had goosebumps!  I had no words!  Only weak "thank you's" were all my lips could muster.  God is so faithful to fulfill His promises.  I cannot deny Him.
Even now, I feel limited with words.  He is good.  

After school, the boys snuck into the Coffee Bar to say hello.

Friday, July 26.
My future housemates told me that they just had a youth group session, "Jesus Saves," in our new, un-furnished apartment.  And these kids prayed.  They laid their hands on the walls.  They worshipped on our bare floors.  They asked Jesus for a couch and wall plates for our exposed electric outlets.  "Take me to our new home!" I exclaimed.

I stood there in our new home, no cabinets, no sink, unfinished bedroom floors - and I loved this home.  "We prayed over this place," one of my housemates said.  "We decided that this home would be called 'Hale Akua' - in Hawaiian, means House of God."

I began to tear up.  I remembered the Scripture in Genesis.

And this shall be the House of God.
- Genesis 28.22

It was meant to be.

Welcome Home.


This story was lengthy, but I want this very post to be a stone of remembrance - one that I always look back to, whenever money is tight, whenever situations get rough, whenever I begin to question why I chose to do this.

I am doing this for love.  I am doing this because I have been loved, because I am loved.  I am doing this because I love Him, sincerely. And like the lion's mane, there is nowhere scarier, but nowhere safer.  I have found a home in His heart, and He has made me His dwelling place.  This is where I belong.

Movies and naps.


currently reading: Thoughts in Solitude by Thomas Merton
currently listening: Solo Piano II by Chilly Gonzales