Sunday, October 13, 2019

In Summary...

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Hey everyone,

As you are all likely aware, I have finally come up to the end of my time with YWAM! It has been a very good, long and challenging year. I will do my best to sum up what I have been up to here.

The King’s Lodge - the YWAM Base I was at for the past year

1 year, 1 week and 1 day ago, I headed overseas to be involved with a YWAM (Youth With A Mission) School, called the School of Biblical Studies (SBS). I initially chose to do this because during my DTS (Discipleship Training School) with YWAM, I strongly felt like I needed to deepen and further my knowledge of the Bible. Did you know that 9% of North American Christians have read the Bible more than once (and 11% have read the whole Bible once)? I didn’t want to be part of the 89% who had never read the whole Bible! As Christians, we profess that the Bible is God’s inspired written work, and we base our morals and often our decisions on what it says. If I didn’t know what was in it, how could I, in good faith, claim to know what God’s heart was? However, plans to come back to YWAM were put off for 2 years as I had been accepted to do my Master’s degree in Audiology, and I felt like I needed to do this first. But at the end of those 2 years, I finally made my way back to England (that’s another story how I chose England, I didn’t want to go back to the same country), to The Kings Lodge, and began the SBS. 

My DTS class from 2016

I would love to say that I fell in love with the school and the YWAM base when I got here, but honestly I didn’t. We started the school with 20 students, about half of which had already had connections at The Kings Lodge (from previously doing a DTS there or being a staff on the base), and for the first 3 weeks or so, it was quite lonely. But quickly enough, we started to take initiative as students to build those relationships and to get to know each other, and the school was off and running. I won’t lie, the first term was intense and I probably couldn’t tell you very well what I learned, because we focused mainly on the New Testament and that is what most ‘modern-day’ churches that I have been to teach out of. But I did learn a lot of new things, most significantly about Paul’s 3 missionary journeys, the churches that he wrote letters to (who they actually were), and just a lot more of the “extra” details we don’t necessarily realize or know when reading these books!

My parents paid for my flight home for Christmas, which I was very grateful for, and I was able to spend about 1 ½ weeks recovering and visiting friends and family. 

And that rest was much needed! I didn’t take another proper rest until July! In January, we launched right back into finishing the New Testament (we had about 4 or 5 books to finish), then we had to do an oral exam on what we learned from the New Testament. That was terrifying and challenging! We needed to know (for each individual book), who wrote it, when it was written, why it was written, who it was written to, as well as memorizing a key verse (that summarized the main idea of the book), knowing the main idea of the book, the historical background of the book (who the church was, what was the political situation, had the author been there before, etc), and a rough outline of what the book talked about. That was probably one of my most challenging examinations I’ve ever had!

Once that was all finished, we launched into the Old Testament. This is when things became more challenging for us, because it was not as familiar. Sure, most of us have heard of Adam and Eve, and the flood story, and probably David and Goliath. But the Old Testament is riddled with other stories I had never heard of, that challenged my understanding of who God is (read the book of Judges if you ever get a chance - there are some seedy characters in there!). I think the most challenging and eye-opening for me was when we studied the prophets. So often we misuse the literature to support what we believe, but we don’t fully understand the original intent! The prophets were a horribly abused and misused people that God chose to speak on His behalf. They went through some pretty awful stuff! But I think I really saw God’s heart for His people most clearly during this time, the Israelites and Jews had done some horrible things, and God was still pursuing them, He still loved them and wanted to redeem them. 

Really, I think the whole Bible seems to be about God wanting to dwell with His people again.

That’s quite profound.

Near the end of this school, we had another oral exam where we had to know pretty much the same stuff as we did for the New Testament, but just for the prophets this time. Also challenging, but this time around, it was eye-opening just how much I had learned the past few months! We then finished off the school with Revelation, the “what’s next” book of the Bible, and that is a tricky book to wrap my mind around!

We finished at the end of June, had our commissioning and most people left. I had a 3 week vacation during this time, and was finally able to decompress a bit (not as much as I would have liked to, but somewhat). Then I started up again! 

My SBS class at commissioning night!

My 2nd school I did was called The Titus Project. The idea behind this is that people felt like the SBS was great, but how do we put this into practice? The school is all about equipping SBS trainees to take what they have learned and learn how to teach and preach in countries that don't necessarily have access to quality biblical teaching. And that’s what we did. The first 3 weeks were about training and equipping us practically to go and teach, and the next 8 weeks were spent in Uganda putting everything into practice. Then we returned to The Kings Lodge for 1 week to celebrate what God had done through us, and to debrief our time abroad. This school was especially challenging for me, as we originally planned to have 2 outreach teams, one to India and one to Uganda, however, one trainee never showed up, and another made the choice to leave the school our second week, so the India outreach was cancelled. Our team had a great, but a very challenging outreach, and I was glad to return to the UK. One major takeaway for me after the Titus outreach was a clarification of my calling, and of the gifts God has given to me to share with others. So I am very thankful to have had this time. 

My Titus Team at commissioning

And now I’m returning home! I put my audiology career on hold whilst away, and will be picking that back up when I return. I have a lot that I need to do now, that most of my classmates did just over a year ago when they finished their last placements! I also have a service dog at home that has been “on vacation” for 1 year, and I need to reassess her ability to continue working, so that will be another thing on my plate. 

Some may ask what was the point of the schools I did, and how will I use this in the future. I learned so much from my time abroad, from how to think critically, to managing personal discipline in completing quality work in a short timeframe, to endurance to continue heavy coursework over a period of 9 months. I have gained a deeper understanding for how people think and act, and I am able to respond in an appropriate way. In Uganda, I learned how to be increasingly flexible to accommodate for last-minute program changes and late participants to my teaching seminars. I also learned just how important it is to manage conflict, and to seek for resolution. My cross-cultural sensitivity has grown so much, and having never been to Africa before, I now have a better understanding of how African people think and act. I’m not sure exactly how I will use what I have learned in the future yet, but I deeply value all the things I have learned, and I know they will be used at some point. 

And that’s where I’m at! If you want to know more about my time away, or what I’m up to, please contact me - I’d love to have a conversation with you! 

Thank you for tracking along with this journey over the past year!

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Update: End of Outreach

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A map of Uganda for your reference as I mention different places

Hi all, 

We are now at the end of outreach! Time has just flown by! I will say that my time here has been incredibly challenging, and I have learned so much.

When I last updated my blog, I had just arrived in Arua at the YWAM base there. Whilst there, our team taught in many different churches, but the first week I was there, one trainee and one staff taught in one church, and another trainee and our other staff taught in another church. I was the ‘in-between man’, and taught at both churches! They couldn’t have been more different from each other; one consisted of a group of pastors and church leaders, the other was your ‘village church’, with a wide mix of attendees. One thing this entire trip has taught me has been how to adapt material to be accessible for different audience’s understanding.

My second week in Arua was split between two locations. I taught the Inductive Method Overview (see earlier posts on details of this) to the DTS (Discipleship Training School) on the base. It was a great morning of learning how to read the Bible inductively, and applying it to Scripture! The second half of our week was spent in Omugo Refugee Camp, an extension of Rhino Refugee Camp. That was a very difficult time for us, as we slept in open air classrooms, and had an audience that was mainly coming for the food. We didn’t want to provide food because we wanted people to attend for the right reasons, but unfortunately, other groups and missions organizations have gone in with food, and that is now the expectation of all groups - you teach, you provide a meal. We had refugees mainly from Sudan/South Sudan, who spoke many different languages. What struck me most was the amount of brokenness each person held onto in their lives. If you took the time to speak to them personally, you could hear their stories, and they are heartbreaking. There are many women with young children who don’t have any family left, they’re fending for themselves and their children. Many people have seen spouses, parents, siblings or children killed in front of them. Many don’t even know if their families are alive. That was hard! There was also an atmosphere of resistance to us sharing the gospel and our teachings, but those who got it really got it. I think language barriers and expectations prevented people from fully participating in everything they could. On our last Sunday in Arua, I preached at the local deaf fellowship, which was a unique experience!

We gave one of the people who attended our teachings a Bible - he didn’t have one of his own, and was so thrilled to be given one!

Open air teaching in one of our churches

One of my classmates teaching on the Bible Overview

Another classmate teaching Bible Overview

On one of our days off, my one classmate and I went on a safari to Murchison Falls National Park! It was a great experience to see ‘wild Africa’, and I was very happy to have had this experience.

African sunrise

Searching for the animals!

Getting those photos in

The wildlife was beautiful!

Our open air classroom sleeping accommodations! 2 men fit into that tiny tent haha

Teaching in the refugee camp

This is a chicken. Tied to a chair. In my room. I jumped out of my skin when I saw something moving when I came into my room! Definitely wasn’t expecting to see a chicken!

The group of people we were involved with in the refugee camp

We then left the Arua base after being there for 2 weeks (including the refugee camp), and spent the day on a bus down to Kampala - I never want to be on a bus for 11 hours again! We then spent the following 2 weeks in the capital city. Many of our teaching locations were in house groups, which brought new and fresh challenges! How do we teach the things we have been teaching in a house group? We rose to the occasion and really learned how to modify our teachings. It meant teaching in ways that were uncomfortable and unfamiliar to us, and we were thoroughly stretched and challenged. But it was good for us to think of novel ways to teach creatively! I also had the opportunity to teach the Bible Overview (the overall story of the Bible) to the DTS at the Kampala base, and was really grateful for the opportunity to do so! As a team, we were far more involved with the day-to-day lives of everyone on the Kampala base, which was a huge difference from our time in Arua, where we hardly had any interaction with others! I was thankful for this time, as we shared and led in their devotion and worship/intercessory times in the mornings, and taught workshops in the afternoons. My best connections with other people in Uganda were made during my time here. I also got to help with worship at the Immanuel Church of the Deaf in Kampala - the biggest deaf fellowship in the country! Our group also participated in a deaf-hearing “conference” on relationships, each of us sharing different aspects of who we were, and how we viewed marriage and relationships. I was able to share a bit of my testimony, how that, and being deaf, affects my outlook on future marriage - so that was interesting! It wasn’t necessarily a “Titus Project” teaching, but it was good to have done. I found these last 2 weeks to be very different than our first 5 weeks of ministry, with all the different teachings and adaptations that we have done, but I do find that it was all beneficial and helpful as we finished!

Teaching the DTS how to study the Bible inductively during morning devotions

Teaching in the deaf-hearing relationships ‘conference’

Some of the bugs are huge here! Including praying mantis’ 

Teaching Bible Overview on the DTS

I got to try camel milk, meat and hump - the meat and hump were good, the milk was not!

The Kampala base staff and trainees

We then said our goodbyes to the base on Monday, and travelled down to Entebbe, where we will be staying for the week. Our flight leaves at 11 pm on Thursday (tomorrow night!), and we are just here to relax and debrief a little bit. It’s interesting how vastly different Entebbe is to the rest of Uganda - much more cosmopolitan and full of tourists. I feel like we’re in a completely different world! But it is nice to have this time to breathe and not be thinking about ministry!

I got to hold some chameleons at a small reptile zoo in Entebbe!

How I currently feel haha

Prayer Requests:
  • For our transitions back into ‘normal’ life - I feel that we have ‘finally’ adjusted to Ugandan life, and I think the transition from Uganda to UK to Canada will be difficult
  • Conversations and decisions - I have many to make when I get home! 
  • Health - Uganda has been hot, and we’ll be transitioning into a very damp country in England, then things will be even colder when I go back to Canada

Monday, September 2, 2019

Update: Halfway

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A map of Uganda for your reference as I mention different places

Hey everyone, Stephen “Muzungu” (white person) here! “Muzungu” is a common word I hear as I walk or ride a boda-boda (more on that later) down the street. The children shriek and point and yell “Muzungu! Muzungu! Hi!” Muzungu is not a degradatory term at all, it’s simply what the Ugandans call white people.

Our team

So, as you may have guessed, I’m well on my way through the Titus Project. In fact, I’m more than halfway through the school! Not quite halfway through outreach though. I’ve just finished my 3rd week in Uganda, and still have 4 weeks to go.  But it feels like I’ve been here for months!

Titus has been phenomenal. The idea of the school is to equip people who have done a SBS (School of Biblical Studies) with YWAM (Youth With A Mission) to be able to teach others how to use the Inductive Bible Study Method. (See earlier blog posts for details on the SBS). The core idea of the Inductive Bible Study Method follows 4 key steps: Prayer, Observation (what does the text say), Interpretation (what did the text mean for the original audience) and Application (how can the timeless truths be applied to our lives today. We also teach the Bible Overview (an overview of the story that the Bible teaches us), as well as other preachings, teachings and Bible Study groups.

Titus Project trainees demonstrating the 4 steps of the Inductive Method

We flew to Uganda on August 12th, and that was a full day! We left the YWAM base in England at 3:30 am, and arrived at the YWAM base in Jinja, Uganda at 2 am the next morning!

The YWAM Base we stayed at in Jinja

In Jinja, we taught in a remote village that was about a 30 minute boda-boda ride from the YWAM base. A boda-boda is a motorbike, and many people ride them here. It’s an easy and relatively quick method of transportation, as they can maneuver around stopped vehicles, potholes, and speed bumps. But I have to say, it took me a week to get used to riding them! They rarely wear helmets, and sometimes the drivers are on mairungi (a narcotic drug leaf that they chew). So you have to be careful about who you choose to be your driver!
Arriving at the church on the boda-bodas

At the church we taught at that week, we truly learned about African time. We arrived a bit late, and there were only about 3 women in the room, and about 20 children ranging from about ages 0 to 6. We were a bit disheartened, but as we prepared, other adults slowly started to trickle in. By the time we had finished our teaching that day, the church was full. They were hungry for God’s Word! I found out on the 2nd day that many of them don’t have their own Bible because they are too expensive, and I was challenged in that I don’t even know how many Bibles I have at home that just sit on the shelf unused. I’m slowly recognizing how gluttonous the West is with all the stuff we own, and there are multiple families sharing just one Bible.

Members of the church that we taught at

At the end of the week, one of my staff and I went on a quick excursion to see the ‘official’ source of the Nile river that starts in Lake Victoria and ends in Egypt! It was a fun boat trip and I saw many new bird species.
At the source of the Nile River!

The two of us then left on the Saturday to travel up to a remote village called Nyapea, near Paidha, up in the mountains! It was another long day of travel, leaving the YWAM base just after 7 am, and arriving at the place we were staying around 11:30 pm. That following week, we taught a group of youths (in Uganda, “youth” would be what Westerners call our teenagers and young adults). They were so hungry to learn! I was able to teach the Inductive Bible Study Method to them, and we went through Genesis 1-4, as well as 1 Kings 3:16-28. Our goal over the course of the week was to help the ZYDA youth to recognize who God is, His Character and Nature, as well as to start to work through some of the different conflicts in the Bible. We had been informed previously that there are many conflicts in Uganda. Uganda has the highest birthrate in the world, and families are large. However, parents can’t afford to send all their children to school, so maybe they only send the oldest few, or a select few. Conflicts arise between siblings because the ones who don’t go to school quarrel with those who do. Also, husbands may take the money they earn and go gamble it away, or drink it away, not bringing it home to the family, and conflicts arise between spouses. Also, husbands often leave their wives and children for another woman, and there can be conflicts between these two women. Many issues here! But as I reflect, these same conflicts show themselves in different ways in the Western world, so I’m not saying Uganda is any worse than other countries! The ZYDA youth were a blessing because there was also an inclusion of some deaf youth from the local deaf school, and they were able to become involved over the course of the week. I was really challenged that week by what I’m comfortable with. We slept in a small 1-room with 4 mattresses on the floor, so things were tight. We bathed over a bucket outside in the sunlight (but had some privacy). If you wanted to use a toilet, you needed to squat over a hole and try to go quickly before the flies came out of the hole and landed on you! Also, at the end of the week, my team leader who was with me caught malaria and was severely sick for a few days, which was unfortunate. But that allowed me to take a rest day and recover from the past 2 weeks, so it was a blessing in disguise!

The ZYDA youth and members from St. Francis Deaf School

Learning to be comfortable with bathing outdoors!

At the end of that week, a team of us from the deaf school loaded into a matato (a 15 seater van – but always holds more people than there are seats – my first week in Jinja, I had the experience of having 23 people crammed into one! That was quite the experience), and headed to Gulu for the National Deaf Camp. The theme of the week was “Being the Light of the World”. It was a great week of teachings, Bible studies, fellowship and games. I taught the main session one day, and led Bible studies almost daily. There were nearly 120 people there over the course of the week! I have quickly picked up Ugandan Sign Language (USL)! It is very similar to American Sign Language, but with a mix of British Sign Language and the country’s own twist (apparently the first missionaries were the British, then later the Americans came bringing their sign language, and the two were incompatible, so the Ugandans adopted a mix of the two). I’ve been able to communicate relatively easily, but it is tiring communicating in a language I’m not fluent in, as well as trying to follow the Ugandan accent.

Teaching at the Deaf Camp

Image may contain: 1 person, sitting, table, grass, outdoor and nature
Leading Bible Study

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, tree, sky, crowd, child, outdoor and nature
The group of us - Group Photos were terrible to try and get!

At the end of the week, we travelled from Gulu to Arua and rejoined the other 3 members of our team. They had stayed an extra week in Jinja while we were in Paidha and taught in another church. They then travelled up to Arua while we were in Gulu, and spent the week teaching in another church. Sunday was a much needed rest day for me, so I spent the day at a hotel reading, swimming and catching up with some writing. Rest days are important, otherwise it is very easy to burnout! Especially as we are in a new culture that is completely foreign to anything I am used to or comfortable with.
YWAM Arua Base

Rest day at the local hotel!

Prayer Requests:
  • Health: my team leader is still recovering from his bout with malaria, the travelling hasn’t helped him to recover well, and one of my classmates has a cold from being drenched in a downpour.
  • Unity: With the team divided, tensions rose more easily amongst the smaller teams, please pray that now that we are together again, we can become a cohesive unit and move forward with the same goals in mind. 
  • Culture Shock: At least 2 of us in the team have been dealing with culture shock in different amounts. Please pray that we can adapt and that it wouldn’t negatively impact our teaching
  • Teaching: Please continue to pray that we teach to the best of our ability, and that we inspire life-changing learning in those who come to learn. Also, pray that we ourselves continue seeking to improve our teachings

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Update: End of SBS

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A foggy evening at The King’s Lodge

Hey everyone,

It's been a few months since I released an update last, but it's been a crazy whirlwind these few months!

I last wrote at the end of 2nd term, and it is now the end of 3rd term and thus end of the School of Biblical Studies (SBS). It has been a wild ride this last term, as we've been studying the Prophets of the Old Testament (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggis, Zechariah, Malachi) as well as Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther and Chronicles (from the Old Testament). We capped it all off with Revelation at the end. 

Some of us went into Birmingham to have an Asian meal - we finished it off with Bubble Tea!

It's funny because a lot of people say 3rd term is the best term - I'm not sold on that! But I will say it's been the most eye-opening term for me. First term was about learning the process of how to read and study the Bible through studying the New Testament. I found that while I learned a lot, it was quite familiar because most of the Christian circles I've been involved with up to this point in life have had a tendency to focus mostly on the New Testament. Our modern-day culture is also derived from a Greek culture, so we have a tendency to understand more easily how the people of the New Testament thought and acted. Then 2nd term we left the relatively short New Testament books behind and dived right into Genesis, which for anyone who's opened the Bible knows, it's not short! While there was a change of culture and time period (Abraham's story began about 4000 years ago!), and it took some time transitioning to a completely different mindset, the stories from Genesis through to Kings were still familiar (and there were many I could say I'd never heard of before!). We like stories, and when we read the Old Testament, we tend to read the stories involved (and skip over law, chronology and other bits we don't like). However, 3rd term took us into the confusing mess that is the Prophets. I've rarely ever opened my Bible to read the Prophets - they use foreign figurative language that we find difficult to understand. They spoke to a specific time period and a specific set of circumstances. And we got the opportunity to dive in and learn all that! 

Near the end of the term, we had an oral exam, where we had to know all the Prophets - the main idea of each book, the major reason it was written, a key verse from the book (that sums the book up), who wrote it (if known), who it was written to, where it was written from/to, personal details of the prophet and the overall structure of the book. On top of that, we had to know a number of key events from the 4 centuries that the prophets cover! A lot of material! While oral exams are really not my thing (especially being deaf!), I really appreciated that studying for the exam helped me to "finally" contextualize each of the books, understand them and see the bigger picture into which each book fit into. 

At the end of it all, we had our commissioning and celebrated being done 9 months of intense studying of the Bible! I definitely don't know everything, and can't claim to be any sort of expert on the Bible, but I will say that I finally understand the broader picture of God's story. The broader understanding of how the entire Bible is about God wanting to be with His people again. The story of how one day, He will be fully in relationship with us again. And I'm immensely grateful to this school for helping me to get there.

My graduating class!

As for right now, I'm nearing the end of a 3-week break. My Mom was able to come to my commissioning, and afterwards we went for a road trip through Scotland for a week! Then I went with some friends from The Kings Lodge (the YWAM base I am currently at) to Wales for a week to go camping! This week I've been recovering, processing, and beginning some homework I need to do for my next school.

My Mom and I overlooking Loch Ness in Scotland

We found the Queen!

Which leads to…

My next school!

On Friday I begin registration for my next school, which is called the Titus Project.  It's a 3 month school which focuses on us taking the skills we've learned in SBS and learning how to teach them to others. We spend 3 weeks at The Kings Lodge being trained on how to teach effectively, then we split into 2 teams for outreach. One team will be in the UK for 1 month and India for 1 month, and the team I'm in will be going to Uganda for the full time! More details to come! I'm excited to step into this next bit of the journey!

Prayer Points:
  • I would be able to get the necessary vaccines in time
  • I would be fully recovered from SBS before I start Titus
  • One of the warnings of doing an SBS is that it becomes difficult to read the Bible devotionally after studying it so intensely for so long. Pray that I and my classmates would be able to read and be able to be spiritually nourished from the Bible

Hiked a hill with some of my classmates!

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Update: End of 2nd Term

Hey everyone, it’s been a while since my last update, so sorry for that!

Spring has sprung!

This term has been a whirlwind of work and growth. In my last update, I mentioned we had begun studying the Old Testament. Now, we’ve studied: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, Samuel, Kings, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs. So many books! I will try to give some highlights:

- The Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy) is the ‘core’ of the Old Testament, upon which many Jews base their beliefs. (PS. I learned that “Jews” are descended from the tribe of Judah, whereas the term “Israelites” are representative of all the 12 tribes of Israel. So, in light of that, in the Old Testament it would be correct to address the people involved as Israelites if they are the descendants of Israel, or Jacob as he was formerly known, and in the New Testament, you would call them Jews because all the other tribes besides Judah’s had essentially been wiped out and scattered amongst the nations).

- Leviticus Week was both challenging and eye-opening. Anyone who has opened Leviticus knows that it’s not an easy read! Essentially Leviticus is a collection of the Levitical laws that the Levites and the Israelites had to keep so that they could have close relationship with God. I think I really gained a better understanding for why the Israelites had so many laws. When humans were originally created by God, they were pure, sinless, blameless. However, when sin was introduced to the world, the worst outcome from that was the separation between humans and God. This was what Leviticus was all about; providing a way that God and humans could begin to come together in relationship again. One way we tried to understand this was to try living by Levitical Law the whole week. It was more challenging for the women than the men, but still a challenge! We wore signs all week saying whether we were clean or unclean that day, and had to follow through with the purification ritual dependant on what caused us to be unclean (ie. if I touched a certain unclean object, I might just need to shower and be ‘unclean’ until evening, however other things required sacrifice, so people who needed to ‘sacrifice’ something had to give up something of significant value for the time).

- Throughout the journey through the Old Testament, it’s actually been quite frustrating and humbling at times just how faithful God was to His chosen people. He gave them so many chances, opportunity after opportunity. He was faithful and He was gracious. His people rejected Him over and over again, but when they did turn back to Him, He had open arms for them, ready to receive His children back home.

- The book of Judges is both easy and hard to read. It’s very difficult to see how quickly things can spin out of control when God isn’t a part of people’s lives!

- I really loved reading Samuel and Kings because they are like the “Acts” of the Old Testament! What I mean by this is that in the New Testament, the book of Acts covers about a 30 year period after Christ’s death and resurrection, and many of the letters of the New Testament can be aligned with events in the book of Acts. So is the book of Kings. Many of the Prophets (which we will be studying this next term) can be found, or can be matched with events found in the book. It’s really cool to see how things come together like this! Our assignment for the week was to make a timeline with all the different people and events that occurred, not only explicitly stated, but also important events that happened during the time. It was quite the extensive timeline, but I enjoyed seeing how people overlapped and how things fit together. We had to map out the Pharaohs of Egypt, the kings of Assyria, Aram (Syria), and Babylon. We also mapped out the kings of Israel and Judah, as well as all the prophets (those who wrote books, but also those mentioned in the narrative that didn’t have books written). We also made note of important wars, collapses of nations, etc. At the end of the week, we celebrated with a king's banquet, where we all had to dress up as a character from the book of Kings, and act as if we were such a person.

Our speaker (and school leader) used a massive map to help illustrate where different people groups were during the reign of the kings - it really helped us to understand how different groups grew or shrank, and how they moved about.

Kings buffet!

- One last book I want to make note of is Song of Songs (or Song of Solomon, depending on the translation) - I really enjoyed the teaching of the book, and finally have a better understanding of how God designed a marital relationship between a man and a woman. The New Testament speaks to the culture of the time, and there are many (wrong) interpretations to the text. Genesis also touches on the relationship between a man and a woman, but it wasn’t wholly clear until we studied Song of Songs!

A frosty morning at The Kings Lodge

Not only has it been a term of studying, I was able to travel a bit too! Myself, 3 others from my program, and 1 guy from the DTS (Discipleship Training School) rented a car and travelled to Wales for our long weekend. It was a blast exploring the Welsh “mountains” and castles, as well as just spending time with each other!

Some of us had a testimony-sharing time to get to know each other better!

The weather warmed up quite a bit so we could do homework outside!

I had the opportunity to help lead worship at a British Sign Language Church I’ve been attending in Birmingham! (

One week, our small group went to the zoo, as they have a cafe where you don’t have to pay to enter the zoo proper, but you can still see snow leopards through the glass! Anyone knowing me growing up knows I had a great fascination for all animals, and that still holds true to a certain extent these days haha

I also got the chance to visit a good friend of mine in Germany, and to meet his fiance! It was a crazy trip; with a 65 km bike ride in Germany and France, driving through the Swiss Alps to Italy for 1 night (then back the next day), as well as meeting up with some friends that just finished their DTS at The Kings Lodge a few weeks ago! Crazy, but I had an amazing time! (Not to mention, but the food was superb as well: German sausages, pretzels and Black Forest Cake in Germany, Swiss chocolates and Swiss Cheese fondue from Switzerland, Crepes in France, and loads of Italian pastas, pizzas, bread, and other baked goods in Italy). It’s a good thing I don’t live in those regions of Europe!

We cycled along the River Rhine one day

At the Milan Cathedral

Driving through the Swiss Alps

In Luzerne, Switzerland with my friend and his fiance

Met up with some YWAM friends and explored Freiburg and the nearby mountains!

Prayer Requests:
- Some of my classmates still need funds for next term, please pray that God provides all they need! He has already provided so much that everyone was able to complete this past term!
- Continual renewed excitement and vigor to study each book, it can feel like the same thing, and I don’t want it to turn into that! Each book holds so many new things!

Thank you for reading, and don’t hesitate to contact me if you have questions!