Week 3 | Part 1 – Hope Begins In The Dark

**Warning. Post contains graphic images**

What. A. Week.

I came away from writing my last post thinking how intense Week 2 was as far as emotions go, but as I sit here melting at a desk upstairs, contemplating the rollercoaster few days we’ve had as a class, and how on earth I’m going to put it into words, it’s starting to look pretty tame!

Buckle up. This one’s a good one. (also split into 2 parts to make it easier to read).

Week 3 in our programme was the long-awaited Identity Week, and basically one of the main reasons I wanted to come on DTS in the first place! I really believe that everything we do is affected by who we think God is and what we think about ourselves in relation to that, so I was looking forward to seeing what God had to say through Joanne Blaik, our awesomeeee speaker for the week.

It started out pretty well. We watched a lot of videos talking about being loved and valuable just as we are, including The Greatest Showman’s “This Is Me” – what a cracker!

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We went back to the basis of creation in the Bible to emphasise how we were designed and created in love, and went through various material to illustrate exactly how unique we are as men, women, and individuals.

One thing that particularly stood out for me in lectures was reading a medical description of what Jesus went through on the cross.

I think sometimes it’s so easy for us to talk about the crucifixion flippantly – “I got my hair cut today, then I ate a sandwich, Jesus died on the cross for me blah blah blah.” We colour in nice little pictures of him in Sunday school as kids and show PowerPoints of a lovely, clear-skinned, western looking man wearing a loin cloth in church, but actually taking on the reality of the excruciating agony a real, blameless man went through to reunite mankind with their loving creator and father, added a whole new weight and understanding to the “gospel” for me.

christ_passion_movie_crossAs we kept reading, it hit home that Jesus chose to be mocked, abused and beaten until he was one whip away from death FOR ME.
The son of God did absolutely nothing wrong in his life, and he chose to go through the most brutal of all deaths in history to save ME.
The most compassionate, loving, king-become-servant’s skin was ripped from his back by whips beyond recognition, so that I would not have to suffer the consequences of the separation from God that I created. The son of heaven sweated blood in the garden of Gethsemane, then poured it out from every inch of his body FOR ME.
That cross was MINE, not his.
MY sin drove those nails into his hands and feet that he used to prop himself up on with the little strength he had left, just so he could gasp for breath.

He had the power to get down, but he didn’t.
He could have found another way, but he didn’t.
Not only did he choose not to save himself, but HE FORGAVE the people who put him there.
He forgave US.

Why?
Because of love.
Because God loves ME.
Because God loves YOU.

If that doesn’t say something about our worth then I don’t know what else does.

We were worth the sacrifice.

I think having the full weight of this revelation sitting on my heart at the beginning of the week had a huge impact on me emotionally, both in and out of class. As the days went on, some darkness started creeping in again and I began to find it increasingly hard to go to lectures. After watching a clip from The Butterfly Circus, we had to stand up and declare that we were “magnificent” out loud and I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I don’t think I quite realised how hard the lectures were hitting until then, so when I heard everyone else shouting truth around me, it sent me into a bit of a spiral of “I’ve had self-worth issues for 10+ years, am I going to be broken forever?” kind of thoughts.

Word art with women and BibleTuesday afternoon worship was really tough as lies flooded my mind again – long story short, it ended with me having to leave and cry-scream over the mountains for a while, followed by a long chat and prayer-sesh with two of the leaders (who are absolute angels). This is super emo, but I think the numbness and inabilty to feel God I had that night, was actually worse than feeling really down beforehand. Thankfully the dude in Psalm 42 also gets where I was coming from:

I say to God, my rock: “Why have you forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”
As with a deadly wound in my bones, my adversaries taunt me, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?” Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?

 Psalm 42:9 – 11

Wednesday morning, I hit “rock bottom” and couldn’t face getting out of bed to attend Bible study – the thought of confronting so many people whilst also loathing myself completely for not being able to do something so simple was not amazingly fun. After deciding I was too much of a burden to be here and perhaps this wasn’t the best place for me to deal with my “stuff”, I started entertaining the idea of  leaving Australia.

As gloomy and personal as this stuff is, I feel at this point I should say I’m not just oversharing for the sake of it or to trying to throw a pity party, but actually to highlight the victory that comes next compared to where I was. The last half of Psalm 42:11 says:

“Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.”

And that’s how the week ended – with hope in God and praise! There is glory in my story!

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Rainbow at The Point – Prince Henry Heights

As I started wondering what was left for me back in the UK, and working out whether I could switch my flight to an earlier one, I was reminded of a promise I didn’t even realise I had made in my heart when I first got here: I would complete the entire course no matter how hard it got.
This is the strongest I’ve ever felt like I was called to be somewhere so specifc by God, which means that even though the bugs are horrible, my eczema hates the heat, I have felt really alone, the schedule has been super overwhelming and I have been going stir crazy being in the same place all day every day, I still KNOW that there are good things to come for me here; even if it’s looked completely different to my expectations so far!

God does not lie. He has calls us places for a reason. He knows what he’s doing.

Though this was only one tiny good thought, apparently it was all God needed to turn my situation around! (mustard seed and mountains spring to mind).

During student-led worship on Wednesday afternoon I decided to speak and sing against the lies running through my head, even though honestly I really believed them at that moment.

At some point during this, one of the leaders came over to me, sat down, looked me in the eye and basically spoke straight into my soul! We haven’t really talked much before and yet everything he encouraged me with was completely on point, even though there was no way he could know – so weird and awesome! After feeling like I was alone and that nobody knew what I was going through, here was a man who not only had been through depression himself, but who had come out of the other side and had a really specific word from God about what I needed to do! God hears and answers our prayers guys.

We talked for a while about different things, and in particular about how some people get healed straight away whilst others, for whatever reason, have to continually fight for it – sometimes to set other people free later on.
(This is also the exact word my brother back home gave me in the past too ahh!)

Warrior Woman Silhouette

We concluded that God’s called me to be a fighter.
I realised I may not get instant healing and that there may be a lot more battles ahead.
I realised that God will fight with me, but I need to meet him halfway.

And for the first time, I was okay with that.

The leader kneeled down in front of me with his hands open in order to represent Jesus for me (intercession stylee). He told me that he saw me and that he would take away the things I was dealing with, but first I needed to actively surrender and give it to him.

It was painful, but slowly I gave him each thing I had been holding onto and after some more prayer, I genuinely felt a lot lighter. There was lots of crying, then I was filled with an absolute joy that was genuinely the opposite of how I felt a few hours ago.

I’m not saying I’m all better now and that everything is unicorns and rainbows, but something definitely was lifted from me that day that I can’t even put into words.

Sometimes actively giving God things can be really hard but I think that choice to even say “I can’t do this without you” enables us to gain a lot of ground in itself. Acknowledging and trusting God’s power cuts off the idea that we can do it in our own strength which is always the best position to fight a battle in!

Umber-newI had a revelation a while ago that’s been brought up again now: sitting in the middle of the battlefield crying about why you are in a war when the enemy is charging towards you, is not a good war strategy! The enemy is going to come whether you want to handle it or not, so when dealing with matters of warfare I’m finding it’s better to focus on the “how can I deal with this” rather than the “why is this happening to me” and “I didn’t sign up for this” kind of thought tracks. It also really helps to zoom out of the here and now for a minute and remember that even if we don’t understand it, these 80 years ish of suffering are only temporary – the battle may be raging now but the overall war has already been won and one day the fighting will cease.

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4

I don’t think I believe that God actively puts us in bad situations – he is a father filled with compassion, and it hurts him to see his children hurt – but I know through every time we walk out the hard situation with him, He brings growth and strengthening of character that just doesn’t happen when everything is easy all the time.

Hope begins in the dark.


Honestly, I could leave this as it is and it be an AMAZING victory story all on it’s own, yet this was still only the very beginning of the healing that happened in Identity Week! These last 2 weeks have been pretty crazy so I’m desperately trying to catch up with writing, but Part 2 is coming soon for those who want to know what happened next 🙂

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Week 2 – Not Today Satan

So I’m gonna level with you guys right away in this post and say that I found the majority of this week REALLY FREAKING HARD.

Part of me wants to skip over this week’s blog post altogether instead of dwelling on it – the thought of people reading what a terrible time I’m having when they’ve supported me so much through this process makes me feel a bit icky; buut I also want to be real with you and for you to see the transformation I’m going through right alongside me – the good, the bad and the ugly!

I know this will get better. 

So why such a bad start to the week?27398866_10155397590379001_585979232_o.jpg
Unfortunately my good old friends anxiety and depression decided to pop up and say hello again for a few days, so trying to cope with that amongst 50+ people I don’t really know well has been pretty difficult. Going to lectures and concentrating has been hard, especially with nightmares thrown into the mix – honestly the majority of this week has just been spent wanting to curl up in a ball and sleep!

There is definitely a part of me that is really thankful for people to process with –  it’s a very different experience to dealing with this alone like I have in the past. I’m really starting to love the students and staff here now I’m feeling more myself, but it’s also quite hard during thought storms to believe that I fit in here and that I haven’t already ruined friendships with my intensity! Classic me. There isn’t a whole lot of space on base, so I’m also still working out what to do when I need to go and have a big, fat cry alone and there are people to see and hear you everywhereeeee!

The main thing I struggle with going through these phases is unwelcome thoughts in my head, but thankfully I have been through this before so I know how it works by now! I’ve been really focusing on the verse that says to take every thought captive and essentially shove any lies back out of my mind pronto – I’m wise enough to know by now a bit of God’s character, that these thoughts are not true and they definitely didn’t come from my father! I like to visualise it as having bouncers for your head space; you may not be able to control which thoughts start to queue up outside, but you have the authority to refuse entry and decide which thoughts have a right to come in for the party!

bouncers_1382986c_2918849b                                                     No shirt, no truth, no service.

Even if waves of hopelessness still suck as much as they did before, and trying to act semi-normal when I have a constant stream of horrible pictures and words running through my mind will never be a fun experience, it feels good to know I am not starting again and that I have a war strategy.

 “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” Corinthians 10:4

During one prayer time this week, I feel like God said to me that if I gave him even just a little then he would meet me where I was and do the rest. I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced depression but when you are completely overwhelmed just by sitting next to another human at lunch, the very last thing you want to do is wage war against your own mind and fight! After a good chat with my one-to-one I realised that actually that sometimes in a strange way, our darkness can actually be more familiar and comforting than freedom. If you’ve believed lies for a long time, then choosing not to believe them anymore seems a bit strange and like you’re going against what feels natural!

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It’s a bit like being stuck in a cage for a long time, then the door finally being opened, and you not knowing whether to escape or not because it feels like you’re leaving the home you’ve lived in for so long. Praying to be reminded why freedom is actually a good thing, is definitely the weirdest prayer I’ve prayed so far on DTS but I think it has played a part in coming out of the darkness again the last few days!

It wasn’t an instant thing, but on Wednesday I finally decided to give God that inch he asked of me, and man did he give back a mile! With the previously mentioned lack of personal space issue, I decided to take a big stick down to the garden at the bottom of the cabins and basically act like a lunatic for a while. Screaming, shouting, singing, crying and beating up trees and the ground is apparently what thought war looks like in the flesh, and even though I looked like an absolute basket case to the lost people asking me for directions;

imagesdenouncing lies and declaring truth over the Australian valley below me with the Holy Spirit is honestly one of the most effective and healthy ways I’ve ever dealt with this! Going straight into evening worship afterwards was so flipping amazing too! There is simply nothing else like a victory dance over a conquered spiritual battle and a genuine experience of God’s goodness!

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:1

So even though this week has been really hard, I now genuinely have a strong sense that God is in this with me and he’s letting me in on how he’s constantly growing me and refining me. It’s good that I am choosing to fight, but I know that ultimately it’s the lion of Judah in all his power roaring from behind me, that is keeping the enemy away. Pretty sure that this isn’t the last spiritual battle I’m going to encounter in my life, so I think it’s important to view this as another opportunity to learn how to step out of victim mentality and perfect my sword wielding skills!


Hearing The Voice of God

I think it’s probably not a coincidence I’ve been dealing with rubbish thoughts the week that we learn about hearing God’s voice! One of the main points that Michael (our speaker for the week and YWAM Toowoomba Base Director) taught us is how

images (1)important it is to quiet the noise in order to hear what God is saying – that’s pretty tough to do if other voices are trying to be louder!

He made the point that the noise may also sometimes be caused by us. If we limit God to a box by only listening to him when he speaks in a specific way or in the timing we expect him to, then we could be waiting a while for the word we’re searching for! God doesn’t respond to ultimatums so I think hearing God’s voice is actually a trust exercise in itself. It’s hard but also really important to listen to and seek to be in relationship with God for who he is, rather than what he can do for us.

I was really challenged by asking myself how much of my quiet time is spent talking vs. listening – in normal relationships and conversations, there is a pretty equal amount of talking and listening most of the time, so I’m definitely mulling over whether I give the space for God to do the same in our prayers and one-on-one time with him.

I really love that God speaks in so many different ways – from dreams, pictures, words of knowledge, people, the Bible, creation, visions, angels to using an audible voice and even a “still small” one. God is so creative in the ways he communicates with his people!
I love even more that he knows us well enough to speak to us in ways that we will understand and will resonate with us the most!

One of the exercises we did this week was to pray for a word/picture/encouragement for somebody without knowing who it was, then we would pick out a name at random and tell them what the word was. God gave me this amazing picture of a bright pink lily that spoke of the person’s beauty, sweet fragrance that attracts people, how they stand out from others and a verse in Song of Solomon that says: “As a lily among brambles, so is my love among the young women.”

Honestly I was praying the whole time that the person I was praying for was a girl – might be slightly awks telling a guy that God thinks he’s a beautiful, pink, sweet-smelling flower!!

downloadWhen the name came though, and I opened it, I couldn’t flipping believe what it said:
I PICKED MY OWN NAME!
I cry every time I even think about it; it absolutely blows my mind that not only could God speak in such a specific way, but he knew exactly what I needed to hear and he thinks so much better things about me than any human has! I genuinely was praying with a heart for encouraging someone else, so the fact that God could feel the same way about me that I do other people has given me a lot of insight! One of the things I’m trying to work on here is learning to actually accept the love that both God and people show me, rather than just letting it wash over me like rain off an umbrella, so I’d say that’s a pretty flipping awesome set of ammo to start off with! Really hoping one of the arts and mercy students can paint this for me as a reminder! 🙂

A powerpoint slide that really stuck with me this week in lectures said:

“Thankfulness is the soil in which good character grows.”

I’ve known this to be so true this year – thankfulness is such a good way to combat hopelessness and shift your perspective! This is pretty cheesy, but in the continuation of stepping into a hope mentality, I just want to finish this post by naming some things I’m thankful for about this week.

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  1. I am thankful that it has been raining the last few days in Toowoomba! I’m definitely severely under prepared for Welsh-like weather in the middle of Australian summer, but it has been so nice not to melt in class and for my eczema to have a break from the heat!
  2.  I’m thankful I finished writing a song for the first time in a few months and that I have non-judgemental, encouraging people to bounce ideas off.
  3. I’m thankful that during the times I’ve had a clear head, I have seen through the lies of the enemy – I can say that I will develop friendships here and grow, even if I don’t feel it right now.
  4.  I’m thankful God gave me the courage to follow through with performing at karaoke night tonight, even if I was a shaky little wreck on the inside!
  5. I’m thankful for the amazing jam sessions I’ve had on the weekend and for having the opportunity to play 5 different instruments in one day!
  6. I am thankful for the battle I’ve been through this week because without it I wouldn’t have a reason to write a new war song (stay tuned!)
  7. I’m thankful I haven’t seen a spider or a snake in 2 days!
  8. I’m thankful for cups of tea, milkshakes from Moose and flowery shirts.
  9. I am thankful for the amount of ridiculous dancing opportunities I have had (and apparently taken) this week.
  10. I am thankful to have an opportunity to be able to share my story and inspire other people to keep fighting.

    NOT TODAY SATAN. 

 

Week 1 – Faith Like Potatoes

So despite the new creatures I’ve encountered since my last blog post, such as the toad, giant huntsman spider in the bathroom and persistent python who hangs out next to our room at night, I have managed to survive a whole week in Australia!

The schedule has been pretty full this week and it’s been really weird getting back into studying mode, but as my jet lag begins to fade and my sleep improves, I’m finding that my ability to engage in different things and take o n new experiences is steadily increasing. Also most importantly, my feet have now gone back down to a size that no longer requires my sandals to be on the last hole! Huzzah!

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The book we found on the shelf that inspired it all… #spudfaith

Definitely starting to feel a bit more at home now and spending every day with people means I finally learned everyone’s names and am starting to get to know a few peeps! Serious kudos to my awesome clean up team for chores this week – chopping around 1000 potatoes, boiling and baking them could definitely be considered a bonding experience… (I legit never want to see another spud again!) I’m so thankful for the diversity of my class and all the different personalities and cultures God has brought together here. Slightly concerned I’m going to come back with an American/Canadian accent rather than an Aussie one at this rate, but DMC’s until 2am will always be one of my favourite things! I’ve also never met people so appreciative of the British accent! If nothing else, I strongly feel that English Breakfast Tea is an integral and vital aspect I bring to this community. 

26907910_10155371749374001_6573559821515732108_nBeing in a class of different ages, abilities and skills has been really interesting musically too. Everyone has something different to bring and having the space to just jam and appreciate different musical tastes with people and no pressure has been really cool! I’m pretty sure I’ve played guitar and sung out loud in front of people more this week than the entire 3 months I was in Bristol! There is definitely a sense of freedom here I haven’t experienced before. I’m really looking forward to learning more from the people here as well as teaching some guitar and having some songwriting sessions together. I was so happy that part of our orientation was stage set-up and I’m already feeling the fear of failure/looking stupid on the technical side of things is starting to slip away.

Having chosen to study music and worship, before arriving in Australia I think I was unrealistically expecting to be instantly inspired and create 1000 songs as soon as I got here, because y’know, I’m on a music DTS so that means everything will be fixed with a magic wand right? That hasn’t really been the case but as the week has gone by, I’ve definitely found a growing need to write again, and it feels so good to say after a few solo sessions I’m really close to finishing a song called Summit that I started a long time ago!

Learning how God has created us to be creative is really fuelling my desire to pursue music, and some really specific encouragement from one of the staff this week is helping to confirm I have something of value to bring! It’s so strange to look back at the girl I was last year who cried on her bed every night believing there was no purpose for her life, compared to the person I am becoming now. God is so good.

An important part of our schedule is quiet time with God and 27484466_10155397678859001_400599188_ohonestly I’ve found it pretty hard to engage in it here. The fact it’s scheduled to be from 8-8:30am was never going to be in Morning Holly’s favour and sometimes it’s hard to find a spot where nobody will hear me singing, crying and ranting to God etc. buuuut after having some weird dreams  and dealing with things on the weekend, I had an insanely raw 2 hour time with God in my room which was genuinely beautiful and healing. It’s so easy to go to people first with our problems but I’m learning how to (literally) run past people to my room, straight into the arms of God in hard times and choose him first.

27496376_10155397675484001_281737332_nAnother part of this week was sharing testimonies which was really inspiring! We haven’t got around to everyone yet but hearing staff and student’s stories of how God has impacted their lives has encouraged my faith loads!
My view on what testimony is about has definitely shifted too – I’m realising it’s not about owning up to all the bad things that have happened/you’ve done but it’s actually about seeing how God’s goodness is woven into every situation and highlighting that in order to encourage other people. We don’t to need to disregard the bad things in our lives or play them down – some things we go through genuinely are awful and we may never have an explanation for them, but I’m realising the focus needs to be on seeing where God was in those times and acknowledging the fruit that has come out of it. (classic footprints in the sand analogy!)

God doesn’t lie when he says he is always with us.

“Never will I leave you. Never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5


The Character & Nature of God

The first week of lectures have been focusing on getting to know who God is and his different attributes. I definitely did a little happy dance when I found out this was going to be our first topic! What I’ve learned this week has really tied in with what God spoke to me about before I came here and given me a hunger to explore all the different parts of him I haven’t even considered before.

characteristics of godThe speaker who came to teach this is called Jason Solari and he is just such an awesome guy! Originally from Florida he now works in the film industry in Brisbane and I have been soooo inspired by how he’s working in the darkness and competitive field of the arts. He told us some crazy stories about God’s provision and how people came to know God’s love through his crew’s everyday jobs; it really inspired me to work towards reaching people in darkness just by doing what I love and am passionate about with my songwriting.

Jason taught us that when we know the different aspects of God’s personality and the contexts of them, we can relate to him in all seasons and situations. Sometimes it’s so easy to see God as a big blur up in the sky somewhere rather than knowing the multi-faceted, loving, powerful creator who longs for us to know him fully and deeply. Exploring God as a potter, king, shepherd, friend and father has made God a lot more real to me and reminded me how complex and unfathomable he really is.

c700x420The potter image we explored in the Bible particularly spoke to me – possibly because I flipping love ceramics, but mainly because I realised that God isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty when he moulds and shapes us. Focusing on the fact that God has called us his masterpiece in staff-led Bible study gave me a flipping AWESOME new understanding of how intricately designed we are and that we are precious to God – he keeps us safe because he treasures his art. Sometimes we need to be broken and smacked down on the wheel to be reshaped but he can always, always redeem us from a little mushy blob of clay! Nothing that comes from God’s hands is bad workmanship.

“For we are his masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus for the good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10

I’ve really loved realising that I’m a child of God all over again this week and how good parts of God are reflected in me. We are his kids and we are made in his image, therefore we carry his genes! It’s like when someone says to a child: “You look so much like your dad! You have his eyes!”. Realising who we belong to and the parts of God we reflect, points the world to our father – just by being ourselves! His creativity is reflected in us which is why we have the desire to create, and when we do it speaks to the rest of the world about who our daddy is.

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Another little wisdom nugget I’ve taken away from this topic is that it’s so important to know who God is first in order to know who we are. I definitely came here to work on my identity and it can be a bit frustrating feeling like I’ve been dealing with it the last 10 years, but getting to know who he really is and the love he has for his creation has been so, so good.
God reminded me of an image this week that he gave me in the past of a half empty cup. and then one overflowing with water. I feel like he said if we try to give love from a place of half emptiness then it will be really difficult to get it out and it will never fully soak people, therefore it’s okay to ask God to be filled with his love and Holy Spirit every single day if we need it – the cup needs to be full in order to overflow to those around us.

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Thanks for reading 🙂

Looking forward to learning about Hearing God’s Voice in Week 2!

Give It Time

For those who are interested, I made it alive to Toowoomba.

Two days of travelling, many aeroplane meals, and a desperate quest for women’s deodorant later, I have arrived at YWAM base and started the first week of my Music and Worship Discipleship Training School! (DTS)

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Considering this is the longest journey I’ve done in my travelling life so far, I’m so thankful for how smoothly everything went! There was a moment where I thought it was turning for the worst at Dubai airport – opting to pay £6 to smell like “Dark Temptation” rather than odour de “I haven’t showered in two days” was a bit of a low point, however; this was quickly made up for and greatly superseded by the fact I was upgraded to business class on my second flight!!
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Honestly, I have never been so thankful for a new plane ticket in my whole life! Being able to sleep for 10 hours on a reclining bed-chair made my journey so much more manageable. I feel like the free champagne, toiletries, extra space and fancy meals also helped a lot! (they legitimately put a table cloth on for you at dinner time!)

Then on to the airport hotel at Brisbane. Managed to lock myself out of my room as soon as I got there (the first of many effects of my new friend jet lag) but after a sleep, a cooked breakfast and a mini bus journey the next day, I finally arrived in Toowoomba on Friday!


Camp Toowoomba

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The YWAM base (aka Camp Toowoomba) is my new home for the next few months. It’s situated on top of a big hill in Prince Henry Heights and you can see amazing views from “the loop” here and the base is surrounded by trees and wildlife! The sit isn’t too big so it’s pretty easy to navigate the winding paths between the main block and our cabins. We have a community room for lectures and general meetingy things and jamming, a main dining hall for meals together, as well as practice rooms and a recording studio. It’s honestly one of my favourite things to just wander round and hear people jamming and playing music wherever you go – it makes me smile so much every time! I have found more of my people!

The rooms in our cabins are pretty basic but now I’ve bought some bedding and we have a fan, I have all that I need and I really appreciate my lovely German roommate Luca so much! The bunk-bed in our room is pretty squeaky and I’m on the top bed so I especially appreciate her patience when I hobble down the ladder in the morning!!

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After our orientation weekend, we started the first week of lectures and after just a few days of getting into the schedule, it seems like we are going to have a busy first 3 months!

Honestly I found the first few days being here pretty hard going. My body is still not used to the different time zone, temperature, meal times and general lifestyle so I think it will still be a few days before I really feel myself again. I haven’t had a night where I haven’t woken up in the middle of it yet, but apparently it takes a day to adjust for every hour of time difference there is between where you are and where you came from – 3 days to go! There is hope!

As far as I’m aware there are 28 students on the January DTS, with the majority being American, Canadian and German, then 2 of us Brits sprinkled in with an Aussie, a Swiss and a Singaporean! Even though I’m half asleep most of the time at the moment, I am constantly in awe of how lovely everyone is and how quickly people are gelling even though we hardly know each other! Breakfast is at 7am so morning Holly does struggle a bit with the enthusiasm of most other students and I’m feeling a bit weird being one of the oldest on the course, but I think God is already shaking up my preconceptions of age here! Even though a lot of the leaders are younger than me, they are full of so much wisdom and a lightness I can’t even describe. I’m confident there is a place and a purpose for me here, even if I am granny!

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My new back garden

It’s funny how under all of my tiredness and insecurities, that I’m still really excited for what is to come! I honestly have never felt so called to be somewhere before and every day God is just confirming it over and over. I won’t go into what’s happening in lectures in this post as I want to save that for my weekend update (when I’ve finished the full week), but already God is changing my perspective on him and I’m getting to know him so deeply in a different way with every hour that passes!

I’ve cheesily named this post “give it time” because I feel like this week is a continuation of the learning I’ve done this year to keep going despite my emotions.
“Do it even though you don’t feel like it” became a bit of a mantra for me whilst I was at home and I’m definitely finding ways to apply it again here!

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There have been so many times when I could have had meltdowns or decided not to participate in things because of anxiety etc. The possums jumping on the roof every night and finding a python 2 nights in a row outside my room just before bed are making it really hard to sleep, the heat and bug bites have flared up my eczema so much and my legs and feet have swelled to the point where I can’t fit them into my Tom’s anymore! (yes you are allowed to laugh!) I honestly think a past version of myself would have started planning how to escape by now! However, I’m so thankful that I can say I am still focusing my eyes forwards and clinging on to the hope that good things are on the way: just need to get over the initial culture shock!

Australia is so, so beautiful and even just from going to Queen’s Park on our orientation I’m really excited to have enough energy to explore city of Toowoomba more. We had such a great afternoon barbecuing (I ate kangaroo steak ahh!), singing awesome acapella harmonies and dancing together. Even though I was falling asleep most of the afternoon, just lying under the trees, watching the sunlight dance amongst the leaves high above instilled a quiet hope within me that it’s going to be so good here.

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Queen’s Park, Toowoomba

I’m tired and emotional but I’m also encouraged that this is going to be a significant chunk of my life; that it will be a continuation of what I’ve been doing with God in the UK, as well as a foundation for what he has for me in the future.

Looking forward to reading this in a few months and laughing at how far I’ve come!


Thanks for reading this post if you made it this far! 🙂
This was just a little introductory commentary on my first experiences and impressions of Australia, but from now on I’m hoping to post a weekly update tying in with what I’ve learned in lectures during the week!

If you want to continue following, I’ll be aiming to post on the weekends, so keep an eye here and on my Facebook page!

Thank you so so much to all the people supporting me emotionally, prayerfully and financially back home – I appreciate you helping me live out my dream so much! I’m so excited for all the things I have to tell you in my next post ahh!

Lots of love, Holly xx