beck's noise

Monday, April 5, 2010

I would venture a guess that most people back home might begin to suspect I have forgotten about them out in the big world, as the last update I sent was far over a month ago, but it is not true. There have been many an occasion where I have started an update, made it roughly 2 paragraphs in, then stopped to ‘take a break’, and never returned. For that, I sincerely apologize. I really never meant to leave it this long, I just never really knew how to put into words what I’ve been experiencing. I don’t have an incredible series of stories to report to you all, but I can certainly tell you, now that I am in a more neutral state of mind, that these past couple of months have not been stagnant. As cliché as it may sound, it’s been a wild ride on a rollercoaster... many highs, many, many lows, and God has made sure that I don’t get off the ride anytime soon.

This update may seem quite serious, and that’s because it is. I promised updates, so here it comes, in all its brutal honesty. I plan on getting personal, so if you don’t want to know, don’t read on. This is Rebecca baring her soul, being vulnerable. I wouldn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable, but I am willing to share if you want to know. If you’re up for it, so am I. But if you start, don’t stop ‘til you’ve read the whole thing.

I haven’t had a way of keeping track of passing time besides my mental calculations. That’s not very a very helpful way of doing it, because time likes to play mind games with us all here. One moment it feels like it’s been taking forever for one day to end, and the next moment a week has passed before I had time to blink. I feel like these people I spend my days with have been in my life for many years, but when I consider the 2.5 months we’ve known of each other’s existence, it hasn’t been any time at all. I cannot believe that in less than a month, I will be done with my lecture phase, and on to Outreach. When I look back on my time here, I can’t shake the feeling of nausea. I wasn’t kidding when I used the example of a rollercoaster... Most of my time here has been a battle for me. If you were to ask my parents, it became a very usual thing for me to call at 3 AM my time just to cry to them. It wasn’t homesickness, it was the fact that I was in Northern Ireland, supposedly doing what God had asked me to do, and all I felt was a terrible sense of inadequacy, insecurity, confusion, and eventually apathy. I had been stripped of my foundations. I felt vulnerable, weak, like I didn’t have any basis of support anymore. I would go to sleep on Friday nights emotionally exhausted and wake up on Monday mornings praying that this week would be different, that my revelation would come, and I would understand why I was here. I watched as my friends got their world’s rocked. I watched lives being changed, evil spirits being cast out of people, I watched people being healed. And I stood there, waiting for my turn. I didn’t stay hopeful for very long. I became my worst enemy. My thoughts would gang up on me, telling me all the things that I thought about myself. I was disgusted with myself after a while, and I knew it was my own fault that I felt so unchanged. I wasn’t trying hard enough, I wasn’t giving enough, I wasn’t being enough. Why had God brought me across the world to become the most confused, angry and insecure I’ve ever been?

One time a bunch of us were talking about God’s love, and how we’ve grown up being told that biblical truth that ‘God loves us’... But does he like us? The ‘head-to-heart’ connection, we called it. I knew God loved me, I grew up being taught that. It was in my head. But had I made the heart connection? No, I hadn’t. I realized that I didn’t even like myself, how could God ever like me? I grew up believing the things I had been told I was when I was younger. My worth was only as much as what my peers said I was. And when you grow up being told something, you are conditioned to believe it. It’s like growing up with your parent’s religion; you are told it’s the truth, and that’s all you know as truth. It isn’t until someone comes along and tells you it’s false that you even question it. But that’s not to say you are suddenly brought into the light. The process of discovering another way of thinking is painful. It’s confusing, full of denial, and the most vulnerable you will ever be. Because if that’s not true, what is? Is anything you know true? You suddenly question everything you ever believed.

I remember one Monday evening, we had just finished some worship and were having a time of prayer, and I didn’t know what to pray, so I just said, ‘hey, God’ in my head. As clear as day, my mind was filled with “I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you”. I was still getting used to this whole ‘when you pray, God can, wants to, and WILL answer back’ thing, but I wasn’t used to hearing His voice so clearly. I answered Him with, ‘I’ve known that my whole life. Those are just words.’ Immediately as that thought went through my head, it disappeared and was filled with a thought that was not my own: “They’re not just words, and I’ll prove that to you. Just you wait and see.” That night, I felt content. I was filled with warmth (which is something I hadn’t really felt since getting here... It’s freezing here, man), peace, and comfort. He had been clear with me, so I waited. I waited for my revelation. And I waited a long time. But it came. And I’ll tell you how.

This past week, our speaker was named Emmanuel Ente. He came to speak on the topic of freedom, and we had been told that he was an incredible speaker. He was supposed to come a few weeks ago, but our DTS has been having a lot of scheduling issues. We’ve missed out on 3 different speakers, and at the last minute, Emmanuel was able to come and take this week. He showed up a day late, and had prepared lessons, but apparently he wouldn’t be teaching us many of them. He came and we ended spending the majority of our week doing ministry. Throughout the week, each one of us was prayed for by all of us. One by one, almost as if there was some form of specific order that we were supposed to go, we were prayed over. We were given words, and God’s presence was thick in that room the whole week. I went up on Thursday. My prayer turned into a 30 minute session, praying against spiritual warfare. Over and over, the topic of Love, beauty, freedom and justice were brought up. I left that chair feeling 3000 pounds lighter. I wish I could tell you all the amazing things God spoke to me that day. They paint the most beautiful picture of everything I have ever wanted to be. And I have never had the capacity to fully comprehend any of it, until that day. Guess what, God not only LOVES me, but he LIKES me. He has given me the ability to love others with limitless amounts, and I can lead others to Him through that love. He thinks I’m beautiful. I am not on my own. I am an intricate piece of art. I am free. Oh, happy day.

Friday was Giving Day. We were told at the beginning of the week about it, and were told to pray into it, to see if God wanted us to give anything specific to anyone specific. I began to pray for a servant’s heart. I wanted to give freely, happily, sacrificially, without expecting anything in return. That meant I had to surrender my selfish heart. So I did, and I meant it. I wanted to feel that feeling of giving something up. I wanted to feel the sacrifice. But when Friday came and I hadn’t gotten anything specific, I just gave what I had been thinking about giving, but I didn’t feel like I was giving much of myself at all. I watched as people gave up their iPods, iPhones, money, even one guy’s Macbook, and they did it with such grace, but they felt it. I can sincerely tell you that I wanted that. I figured that if God wanted me to, He’d let me know. And oh boy, did He ever. It was during coffee break, and I was making tea. My friend, Nathan came up beside me and wished me a happy giving day. Suddenly I was overwhelmed with the need to bless him. Not only did I need to, but I wanted to. I thought, “I should give him my camera.” I shook my head at that thought. I mean, he’s an incredibly talented photographer, and we have the exact same camera. He has the same camera as me, why would he need another one? After talking it over with myself and a friend quickly, I actually WANTED him to have it. So a little uneasily, I walked up to him and asked him if he happened to give away his camera today. He said ‘yeah, actually, I did.’ Of course, I burst into tears, and I handed him mine. Within the span of 15 minutes, my prized possession no longer belonged to me. It hurt, but it was the best kind of hurt. It was an incredibly difficult rewarding experience. Later, Nathan told me that the night before, when he had been told to give away his camera, he had said ‘okay God, but if you want me to continue with my photography, you have to supply me with a new camera.’ Guess God wants him to keep it up... he only went without a camera for 45 minutes! So for those of you who were hoping to see pictures of South Africa on Facebook, sorry guys! You’ll just have to wait until I get home.

This week something changed. It’s like something was lifted from me, and I’m able to breathe, see things clearly, and able to just bask in sunlight that very obviously isn’t coming from the actual skies! I feel lighter, happier than I have in a very long time. I am so full of joy and peace! It’s the most wonderful feeling. Anyways, I hope this update was a satisfactory explanation as to why I haven’t updated in so long. I love you all.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Actual Information

I feel like I’ve let you guys down! I’ve been here for two weeks now, and I haven’t really told you anything about what I’ve been doing. So prepare yourself, folks, ‘cause this is going to be a long one!

First off, I’ll tell you where I’m living. The Belfast DTS is based on the Shankhill Road in west Belfast. At the very top of the hill, right on the corner, is the Community House, where I live. However, our DTS consists of 21 people (staff not included) so naturally we don’t all fit in the one town house. About 2 kilometres down the road is the New Life flat, a small apartment where 6 other students plus staff stay. Across the road from the flat is St. Michaels Parish Church, which is where we all attend lectures. Those of us who live in the community house are quite jealous of the people living in the flat (aptly dubbed the ‘flatheads’) because of the placement of the house; right across the street from the lecture hall, a 5 minute walk from City Center, and a two minute walk from the Office, the only WiFi available to us. While they lay asleep in bed still, we have to start our 30 minute walk to class in the freezing cold.

For those of you who do not know the history of the religious issues here in Northern Ireland, I’ll give you a little run-down on why we’re located where we are, and what we’re doing here. There has been loads of issues between the Catholics and Protestants on the island for a long time. The republic of Ireland in something like 80% Catholic, but Northern Ireland is almost 50/50. The city of Belfast is split in two; the Shankhill represents the Protestant side of town, while the Falls Road represents the Catholic side. These two roads run parallel with the wall that keeps the two separated from one another. We students have to be careful what we say as to not attach us to any one side, as a common “polite” conversation will ALWAYS lead to the question, “So what church do you attend?” In fact, if someone in town were to ask where we’re staying, we’re not allowed to mention the Shankhill, as that would give the assumption that we’re protestants.

I’ll give you an example of what our normal days look like here in Belfast. Lectures start at 9 AM, so we should be ready and walking down the street by 8:30. One of my housemates and I are trying to make a habit of getting up at 7 AM to pray for each other and the day. Our success has been pretty mediocre. We’re working on that! Lectures usually go until 2, but sometimes run as late as 4 PM. Afterwards, we either have work duties (household chores and whatnot) or free time. 3 days a week we have small groups. Our small groups are 3 groups of 7. One focuses on Cafe ministry (YWAM runs a little cafe on the Shankhill called Feed Cafe. Very cute.), one on children’s ministry, and one on youth ministry. We were only put into our small groups on Friday. I have been put into the small group that focuses on youth, obviously. I have already befriended two young girls who live just two townhouses down from us. One of my housemates, Rajaa and I, were walking with them and a few of their friends last week. We were talking about a bunch of things, getting to know them. I asked them what they do in their spare time after school. They just shrugged, “We walk.” That’s what they do. They come home, do their homework, get dressed into normal clothes, then they just walk the streets because there’s nothing to do. Rajaa and I decided then that if these kids were going to walk, why not walk with them? One of the first times we walked with them, we had gone to a little grocery to grab a snack. One of the boys had finished his drink and he tossed his bottle to the ground, and kicked it across the street. We asked him why he didn’t just hold on to it until we came to a rubbish bin, to which he responded simply, “because it’s Belfast.” That has stuck with me ever since. It makes me sad. These kids don’t even realize that someday, this city will be theirs. On Friday evenings, we have a community dinner at the St. Michaels where people can invite family, friends, and new acquaintances to join. Weekends for the most part are our own. Sundays we are expected to attend a church of our choosing. I went to a church called New Life City Church (the New Life flat is owned by the church), and those of us who went last week, were asked by the Pastor to go in front of the church next week and say what we’re up to in Belfast... A little intimidating. We get 10 whole minutes! Yikes.

This weekend we got the opportunity to go to Closkelt, the base I originally applied to, but has recently been closing itself down (which is why I am presently in Belfast, not Closkelt). I got out of the van and faced the most beautiful view I’ve ever seen. Think stereotypical Ireland: rolling hills, sheep grazing, and the most stunning sunset. All the stress from the past week seemed to melt away. It was beautiful. Needless to say, I have close to a thousand pictures of the same view (including my first 9 of Diamonds shot, Benjamin!). Closkelt is about 40 minutes outside of the city. We went from Sunday night until Tuesday afternoon. We still attended lectures, as the speaker this week is Mike Oman, who used to be on staff at YWAM Closkelt and conveniently lives a few houses down the road. So Monday and Tuesday he spoke there, and for the rest of the week he’ll be out in Belfast to finish. He is speaking on the Father heart of God. He is such a powerful speaker. We were told beforehand by Jonny Clark, the head of YWAM Ireland and the man running our DTS, that his expectations for this week were pretty high, as this week is usually a pivotal point for many people in their DTS. So far, I see what he means. I’m anticipating what the rest of this week holds for us...

On Friday, we were told that the Outreach phase was now going to be 2 different teams. One would be going to South Africa, and the other, to Israel and Palestine. We were told to pray about our decision, and we would have to make a choice on Tuesday. However, our choice wasn’t necessarily going to be absolute, as the staff is praying about it also, and if they feel we’ve made the wrong decision, they’ll approach us. Still, I’m terrified. I feel like it’s such a huge decision. And I don’t want to choose for selfish reasons. Hopefully we’ll find out our Outreach teams by the end of this week. I’ll be sure to let you know ASAP. Until then, I still don’t know how much the outreach phase is going to cost me. The cost will differ on the place, plus they haven’t solidified the plans as to where we’ll stay, etc. The uncertainty continues to be a stress for me. Another injustice I feel since being here is that I’ve been here for 14 days, and I have yet to eat fish and chips. This is a huge issue to me. Pray for the abundance of fish in my near future. Tartar sauce too, if you don’t mind.

Well, over 1,300 words later, I hope I have satisfied anyone’s questions about what I’ve been up to these past couple weeks. I have come up with the ingenious idea that I could write my updates at the house, then post it to my blog when I go to the office, instead of taking so much time trying to write it there. I know, right? It took me two weeks to figure out that logic. Good thing I graduated.

For those of you who want to write me a letter and/or send me some goodies (hint hint), my mailing address is as follows:

32 Townsend Street

Belfast, Northern Ireland.

BT13 2ES

Cheers, Loves. J

Monday, January 25, 2010


I was beginning to worry about what to write in this entry. I've been here for 6 days now. I only had my first lecture today. The past week has been spent mainly getting 'settled' into the house, getting to know the people in the house that will soon be considered family, and going through manuals and orientating ourselves on what YWAM is. This last week has been tough. Tougher than I would have expected. At first, it was fine. I was sufficiently distracted. But slowly it is hitting me: I'm half way around the world, and it will be that way for a long time. And it has been the reason why I don't sleep at night, or why my appetite has suddenly disappeared. But last night, as I was talking to friends back home, one of them said something during goodbyes that really caught my attention.

'Enjoy being on the mountain.'

Here I am, given an experience that most people will never have. I am in a foreign country, with a house full of awesome, amazing God-loving people who coincidentally have the same taste in music as me, seeing beautiful things, doing awesome stuff, and all I can do is look behind me or look far off into the future. I spend all my time thinking about the journey up to this point, or thinking about what I'm going to do when I get down the other side. But what about right now? Right now, I'm at the very top of the mountain. The view is (apparently) breathtaking, but I'm not looking at the view, am I? I want to enjoy this part. I want to sit back, breathe it all in, drink up everything Ireland has to offer me; I want to marvel at the beauty and potential that Youth With A Mission is offering me. I want to enjoy being on the mountain. So this leads me to my first prayer request! That I would enjoy the view, and not spend my time looking down, when I could be looking up.


[ PS - Eventually, I will get around to actually telling you all what I'm doing with my time and what I'm learning and such, I promise! Once lectures start picking up and local outreach gets up and running, I'm sure it'll be far more interesting than the 7 hours of mind-numbing child protection videos and the foundational values of YWAM... although the latter is great, ha! ]

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Airplane Diary

Immediately after getting off the flight, I did the worst possible thing I could do: I read the letter from Stef. We hadn't even taken off... No, we hadn't even taxied away from the gate and already I was short of breath, holding in the sobs as best I could. The poor couple behind me must've thought I was on my way to London for my mother's funeral. The lady across from me, a harsh woman who obviously leads a rather lonely life and likes to yell rude statements at the poor girl behind her, kept looking at me as if I had infected her with some tragic disease. At least I had been fortunate enough to have an empty seat beside me. It felt like my chest wanted to collapse in on itself. And I wanted nothing more then to drop everything and run. Run back to my mom, to my friends, to my bed, where everything is comfy and safe and normal; unchanging.

After trying to distract myself with music (bad idea), I managed to find sweet relief in a movie. 146 minutes of lovely nothing. After considering watching another (I had scowered all the options enRoute had to offer me: 3 movies and 2 TV episodes interested me enough), I figured I was tired enough to fall asleep. The second that distraction of finding the most comfortable position was gone, that familiar ache returned. This leads us to this moment. I sit typing this rather depressing note upon my iPod in hopes that it will keep the ache away long enough for me to gather myself. I wonder if this makes it to my blog... Mason has been telling me to update it... It's not my typical entry, that's for certain, but then again, this isn't how I spend my typical day. I apologize if you're reading this and are disappointed that it's not funny. But the title of my blog was never 'Some Girl Trying to be Funny'. If you didn't know, it's actually called 'Adventures of a Girl', and sometimes adventures aren't very happy, at least not at first. In fact, this blog was started specifically for this particular adventure. This entry was a long time coming.

And so, as I try to survive the toughest part of my journey - a sleepless 9.5 hour flight to London, then on to Ireland, I can't help but think about how blessed I am; I am flying overseas for the adventure of a lifetime, to see the world, and then I get to come home to the most amazing people I will ever know. I love you guys.

3 hours down, 6.5 more to go. Now if only my heart could stop aching, I might actually get some sleep, however restless it may be.