Saturday, July 6, 2013

Recap of my time in Palau ~

"I will go where there are no easy roads, leave the comforts that I know...I will go Lord where your glory is unknown, I will go Lord because my life is not my own...I will go..."

It's hard to know how to encapsulate into written words the experiences I've had the past two I write and think and reflect memory upon memory comes into my mind.

For those of you that don't know, I am just coming back to the states from doing mission work in Palau and then a couple weeks and some speaking in Hawaii (Oahu, Molokai and Maui)

Six weeks doing mission work in Palau, my main focus: the academy students and conducting a community health seminar for one of the local churches. I spoke every day for three weeks at the academy. Two weeks were a purity conference. The other week I gave my testimony, some other spiritual talks and did some interactive health lectures.

Palau is 14 hours ahead of Eastern Time so it was quite the time adjustment!  It is also the most beautiful place I've ever been. Hawaii doesn't even come close to comparing to the beauty there. The Rock Islands are breathtaking!!

The first week I was there, there was a dental/medical team from the USA that was running a clinic and I spent a lot of time helping them with dental work and extractions, oh what a blessing that was!

My second week there the English teacher was sick so I taught her high school English classes all week as well as spoke for chapel. Was that ever an experience!! Teaching was a great way to get to know the students, we had a lot of fun and it was very eye opening to see into their hearts and the culture.

My last week there I spoke for a community Health Seminar in Airai. Praise the Lord it was the most successful event that the church has ever had! Each night there were more and more people and we were having to take the church van to get people each evening. Friday evening before I spoke we had a meal and people that had been attending the seminar came up one after the other sharing how their hearts had been touched and lives changed, oh what joy, fulfillment and satisfaction that brought. Oh there really is nothing else like doing the Lords work and allowing oneself to be His hands, feet, eyes and mouthpiece to serve.

I had someone ask me the other day if I would do it over again  knowing the extreme trials and hard times that I would experience at the school and the situation there that I walked in to...and my answer was a resounding "YES!!" I learned so much when I was there that I wish I could go back and start all over knowing what I know now.

There was an obvious battle while I was there, it was so clear. There were a couple weeks where I didn't write any updates because I just didn't know what to write with what was going on at the school.

Not everyone gets to experience what it's like living under the threat of a nuclear bomb attack! A little over a week after I arrived, Korea aimed their missles at Guam. Being only 600 miles from us, we would have been greatly affected. In the mainland of USA we might hear these things and think "oh, those poor people over there..." Yet when it's you that is over there, it becomes very real. It lends for some good heart searching and evaluating what really matters in life. We were praying about what to do, stay or see about going back, after a lot of prayer I decided to stay, and praise the Lord, nothing happened. In Guam they were under lockdown and the whole island was in chaos seeking to prepare for what might be coming at them. All the stores were empty.

Some random memories that all have stories behind them...

The "home" for six weeks. Sometimes a place that had happy thoughts and at times it felt like a prison that I was trapped in ( at one time literally as I was locked IN the dorm and couldn't get out!!) I lived in my own little room in the girls dorm. It was missionary life ;) My little "bunk bed", with half a piece of plywood on the top bunk, a dresser without hangers and no drawers yet with one shelf and a little desk with drawers filled with another's belongings, a large window and a Chinese AC unit that had a mind of its own, became my humble abode, and it really became my little place.
I was very comfortable there (other than when the AC would decide to turn on and get my room to whatever 24' Celsius is in the middle of the night! :)

Community bathrooms and showers, dorm worships, hearing the guys play the trumpet, guitar and saxophone at 11:30pm right outside my window :) (i befriended those guys and then very nicely asked them that if they were going to play that late that they play sweet peaceful music...i never had any
issues with them after that :) Rats running all over, volleyball with the girls, evening talks with the guys sitting outside their dorm while I tried to get Internet to talk to those back home.

Lost power all the time (it was the most felt during chapels when we had no AC and no fans and it felt like it was 115 with 120% humidity! ), lovely cold showers,  pouring down rain for hours at a time that led to quite the flooding of the area around the dorm (one day I waited three hours for it to lighten up enough to leave the dorm, we got around 6 inches of rain in 10 minutes), getting locked out of the dorm 4 times in one day, being chased by a rat, exploring the rainforest, finding waterfalls, exploring the amazing beaches, climbing trees, playing with hermit crabs, flying fish, octopus, sea turtles, brittle starfish, thousands of shells, avoiding getting hit by falling coconuts, swimming into a sea snake only to find out that its one of the most poisonous in the world! Playing with sea cucumbers, swimming with thousands upon thousands of harmless jellyfish (a little taste of how they were when God created the world) finding the most amazing shells, swimming with and diving 25 feet to touch clams that are about as big as i am. And the crocodiles...
The huge fruit bats that flew the skies by day and little ones that flew by night, the many many coconuts (that I learned to love!) the unique fruit, different language, barefoot churches, village "homes", almost getting attacked by a monkey, going on outreach and going through the rainforest and following foot paths to get from "house" to "house", the fragrant flowers, the glorious sunsets, the nature, the HOT HOT sun, the dreadful sunburns, the boat rides to the rock islands when all the trials and hardships just seemed to blow away in the wind as I realized that I was on an island that resembles Eden as much as any place on earth can.

Overcoming my fear of the ocean and being able to dive into waters that I knew sharks could be in!! (That was HUGE!!) well, swimming with the sharks themselves was even bigger, but that wasn't accomplished until my last day there and I stayed pretty close to the boat. The white and black tipped sharks can get pretty big and come quite close to you!! How paralyzingly fear can be!! I knew that I had to overcome my fear and be able to get in the ocean to see the amazing world beneath. People travel from all over the world to go there as its one of the top places in all the world to dive and snorkel so I knew I couldn't allow fear to prevent me from seeing it. I even got to see clownfish!! :)

Participating is staff worships and meetings, talking to the teachers and students, smoothies with Kayla, all
my many adventures with the Troup girls :)

Ministry to the outer remote villages, the health meetings, seeing the poverty and also the extreme wealth of the people, seeing a group of young people that feel that they need nothing, absolutely nothing and seeking to give them a felt need...seeking to touch hearts that are harder than ice...learning to work in a different culture that is nothing like the one that makes up who I am. Having some breakthrough...any little bit with the students was such a blessing. My spiritual talks with the dorm students, being able to see some fruit from your labors. The times of heart searching and pleading with the Lord to do something through me there...knowing that I myself could accomplish nothing. Trying to teach the cooks about healthy eating, they were so sweet! Playing with Aome and Angel, my two adorable little 5 year-old friends that became my little shadows.

The dental clinic and seeing a little girl whose front teeth we fixed every Sabbath as she would run up to me, give me a big hug and smile at me showing me her beautiful smile that we gave her.

Feeling the warmth, love and acceptance of the local church members, growing a sweet friendship with my wonderful translator, the head deaconess of the church, we had so much fun together.

Learning how to open a coconut, lunches with the young adults at the capital, speaking and seeing the people's hearts touched, learning how to cope with the heat, learning how to drive with the steering wheel on the other side of the car :), plastic pesto, cooking vegan for some of the staff (I so missed cooking with ingredients that I was used to!), talking to the guys about eating bats and turtles and other disgusting things,

The ghost sightings while I was there...the last Friday I was there, I went to get water (rainwater), it was night and behind one of the buildings. I was a bit nervous and thus only filled up my bottle enough to get me through Sabbath and then went and sat down on the bench outside of the dorm. One of the dorm boys came out and asked why I didn't fill it up all the way and asked if it was because I was scared. I hesitantly responded that yes it was because I didn't want to be back there any longer than I had to. He asked if I was scared of the ghosts, I said "no, I'm not scared of the ghosts, I'm scared of the people." See, they had several ghost sightings while I was there, to the point where when I heard noises in the middle of the night I wasn't sure if it was real or demonic. That got us into a really good discussion on spiritualism, demons, the state of the dead, etc. The boy, and another one that came out and noticing my half filled water bottle asked me the same question, aren't SDA and are both new to Christianity so we had a wonderful discussion. They both said that I didn't have to be afraid with them around bc if I screamed they'd come and protect me, yet I assured them that it might be too late at that point. In Palau they kill with machetes. It's not safe at all to be anyone alone as a girl, especially one that is little, blonde haired and blue eyed. I didn't even go around campus when it was early morning nor after dark alone.

The scary scary experiences with some men that i had while I was there (just told my mom them yesterday), learning their culture and trying to learn how to sing in their language, thanks to Pastor Torres telling me how to pronounce the words, going to minister to people, old pillars of the faith with Pastor Torres and then spending hours singing hymns with members of the church. The ants!!!! The huge cockroaches!!! The roosters that don't know that people like to sleep, the wild dogs. The rainbows and the amazingly beautiful sunsets and brilliant stars...

...just a few memories...

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