Hello again! We arrived back in Perth yesterday and I’ve never been more thankful for internet accessibility! Please note that this post is a lengthy one, as it contains stories of God’s goodness from the past 5 weeks…
It’s hard to believe that it was five weeks ago that we left Perth and headed up to the Kimberley. Early on in the lecture phase, God began to highlight the word “unity” to our team. I thought we were pretty unified, so I wasn’t sure why He kept bringing it up, but felt like He was trying to point out that it would be an area of focus for us. A week before we were scheduled to leave Perth, three people from our class felt like God was calling them to leave the lecture phase early and go to Russia, a girl on our team was sent home, and we found out that another DTS would be joining us in the Kimberley. Just as quickly as the dynamics shifted, I understood why God was highlighting “unity” to us. So, on September 23rd, 22 adults and one baby hopped in a big orange bus with no air conditioning and headed up north in 100+ degree weather. To be quite honest, I wasn’t excited about being with the other DTS and I kind of had a bratty attitude about it… that is until our team realized on the first night that the two gas stoves we brought with us didn’t work. Seeing our need, and without hesitation, the other team gave us their second stove. The Lord humbled me in that moment and gently spoke to me, “Brittany, now can you see that you need them? You are one team now. I know what I’m doing, just trust my plans and stop being a brat.” I quickly repented for my attitude and chose to get over myself. We spent four more days on the road as we headed for a small town called Kununurra.
We didn’t have a set agenda in the Kimberley, which is the exact opposite from my previous outreach in Malaysia where every minute was structured. That being the case, we didn’t really know what we were going to be doing when we arrived in Kununurra, but we did know that the Holy Spirit would lead us. We thought we would be staying in a small church (probably 10X30 sq ft), but we serve a God who enjoys giving us good gifts and He blessed us with a house to stay in, which included a shower, air conditioning and a washer! God strategically placed us in the heart of the roughest neighborhood in town and we spent most of our time interceding on behalf of the community and evangelizing in different areas around town. One night, a guy in our group felt like we should go for a walk around the neighborhood and talk to the people sitting in their driveway. Six of us decided to go and soon after we left the house, we came upon a family and started talking to them. They were all drinking (alcohol is a huge stronghold over this region) and were interested in hearing more about what we were doing in Kununurra. My friend Molly and I started talking with a woman named Samantha and she was eager to hear more about who Jesus is. As we got deeper into our conversation, we realized we had to go back for dinner so we asked if we could pray for her and told her we would be back the next night to talk with her more. As we walked away, we prayed that God would continue to stir their hearts for Him and that they would continue the conversations amongst themselves. We went back the next night and they were excited to see us! I asked Samantha if she had thought any more about what we had talked about and she said she had and that they all sat around and talked about God after we left. She asked us some more questions about Jesus and we assured her that there was no place she could run to escape the grace and love of Jesus. He would always be there with arms wide open, waiting for her to turn from sin and run back to Him. Samantha accepted Jesus that night and made a decision to follow him. We prayed together and afterwards she said she felt something as we were praying; she felt something run through her whole body and she felt lighter. The Holy Spirit was definitely at work! I asked her if she had a bible and she said she didn’t, but she really wanted one. I had mine with me and handed it over to her. I had an old name tag pasted to the front of my bible and oddly enough, I had peeled it off earlier that day. As I walked home and thought about what I had just done, and what I was going to do without my bible, God confirmed that it wasn’t mine anymore. He reminded me that it’s not my bible with notes and highlights from the past 9 years that I should be attached to, but it’s His word that I need to be attached to. As I freaked out a little bit about how I was going to find the verses that I knew exactly what color I highlighted them with and where they were on the page, the Lord reminded me of the importance of memorizing scripture because there will be times when I don’t have my bible, but will need to know His Word (case in point). The whole night was really awesome and it was the first time I was able to lead someone into a relationship with Jesus. My faith in God increased that night and I got excited for what was in store for the rest of outreach – this was only the first week!
Our next stop was a smaller town, Fitzroy Crossing. The main reason we went to Fitzroy Crossing was for a 20th annual sports tournament called Garnduwa, where different teams from all over the Kimberley region came together to play AFL (Australian Football League) and basketball. Before we set out, our team leaders informed us that we did not have a place to stay once we got there. We prayed as a team, and declared that God would provide for us because He says that He knows our needs and promises that He will provide for us, far more than he provides for the ravens and the lilies of the fields. (Luke 12:22-34) Once we were on the road, our leaders received some contact information and the Lord provided us with a place to stay… with air conditioning and a kitchen and it was a 5-minute walk to the tournament! We spent most of our time at the festival, walking around and talking to people. The leaders of the festival have been against Christian involvement in the years past, but because of God’s goodness, we were given permission to run children’s activities throughout the weekend. The Jesus Storybook Bible was a big hit with the kids and they were eager to hear about who God is. We saw a group of teenage boys give their lives to Christ and my friend Molly was able to pray for the healing of a woman’s foot, and by the power of the Holy Spirit she was healed immediately.
From Fitzroy Crossing, we headed out to a remote community (about 70 kilometers off the road) called Nookunbah for a church conference that was taking place there. One of the contacts we made at the festival in Fitzroy Crossing invited us to be in charge of all of the kids’ activities for the weekend. We taught the kids some songs and played lots of fun games, but most importantly, we taught them about Jesus’ love for them. Many children invited Jesus into their hearts our last night there, and we thought it would be fitting to have a dance party to celebrate since the angels were also rejoicing in heaven over their decision to follow Jesus! (Luke 15:10).
From Nookunbah, we headed over to a community that the Sports DTS spent 5 weeks in last year called Looma. We stayed there for three nights and spent all of our time with the kids. We had organized games each night for about 60 kids and we took them to the river in the afternoons.
From Looma, we headed over to Broome. We got really excited to see a McDonald’s when we pulled into town and quickly realized how long we had been away from a “normal” city. In Broome, we were invited to stay at a church with air conditioning (huge blessing) and two sand volleyball courts (double blessing)! We spent time interceding on behalf of the community, and a couple of people from our team (myself included) got to share with their youth group stories of how the Lord has been working in our lives. We spent our day off in Broome doing laundry at the town center. Our leaders reminded us that just because it was our day off, it didn’t mean that we could relax in our spirit because that’s when the enemy will attack. They encouraged us to stay sharp in our spirits and to look for opportunities to minister to people. While I was sitting outside of the laundry mat, an older man approached me and asked if he could have a couple of dollars for food. I told him I would go with him to the grocery store and he could just pick out whatever he wanted and I would get it for him. As we walked, I began to ask him questions about his life and he told me that he was raised in the rodeo and had a lot of pain in his back from that. He also mentioned that he had cataracts and recently went down to Perth to see a doctor, but the doctor couldn’t do anything to help his eye sight. As we walked out of the store, I turned to him and said, “Listen, Douglas, I believe in God, and I believe that God is a Healer and I believe that He wants to heal you. Would it be okay if I prayed for you, that God would heal your eyes and your back?” He said he believed in God and it would be okay for me to pray for him. I called my friend Molly over and I asked if it would be okay if we put our hands over his eyes. He nodded and we placed our hands on his eyes and prayed that he would be healed in the name of Jesus. We took our hands off of his eyes and he started blinking and looking around. I asked him how he felt and he exclaimed, “I feel good! I can see!” I looked at Molly with an “Are you kidding me? Did that really just happen?” face and said, “Really?! Do things look different than they did before?” He said, “Before, things were really blurry and I could barely make things out, but I feel good! I can see!” My jaw was still on the ground so Molly asked him how his back felt. He reached around and touched it and said, “I feel good!” Praise the Lord! I told him I felt like we needed to thank God for His healing and for reminding Douglas that He knew and cared about him. He immediately bowed his head and thanked God for the freedom that He brought to his eyes and his back. We reminded him that God wanted to be in relationship with him and that He was the only one who had the ability to satisfy the longing he had in his heart. My faith was increased even more as I saw the Holy Spirit work. God confirmed something that He’s been speaking to me throughout the past year: He can’t be contained in a box and He will move however He pleases.
From Broome, we began our five day trek back down to Perth, stopping in a town called Coral Bay for a day at the beach. We went snorkeling and saw lots of beautiful fish, turtles and sting rays. It was a great way to end the first part of our outreach. We got back to Perth on Friday evening and have spent the last two days doing laundry and re-packing for the six weeks we’ll spend in Jinja, Uganda. Our flight leaves tonight and we will arrive in Uganda tomorrow afternoon.
Praise the Lord for:
- The ways that He has been working in the hearts of the people we encounter. Ask Him to continue to work in such a way that only He can get the credit.
- His protection over us for the past five weeks – none of us were ill and in the thousands of kilometers we traveled, we only had one flat tire and we managed to avoid hitting any cows or kangaroos.
Please also pray for:
- Unity among our team. We will be meeting back up with the three team members who went to Russia. It’s not always easy spending 24/7 with a group of people, and it’s only by the power of the Holy Spirit that we will continue to treat each other with loving kindness and joyful hearts, and extend grace by the handful.
- Safety and Health – in our travels to and within Uganda. Please pray against malaria, tape worms and other parasites that are common in Uganda.
Thank you so much for your prayers and encouraging messages and emails over the past five weeks. Thank you also for your patience with the lack of communication on my part as internet connections are rare in the middle of nowhere. We should have internet access in Uganda, which means that I will be able to update more often. Hooray! Oh yeah, and I forgot to put this in my last update, but here is a link to a video that our team created at the end of our lecture phase of DTS. I’ve also attached a couple of pictures from our time in the Kimberley. Enjoy!