Today it really felt like I was starting school for real. We got our schedule of assignments and I have a lot to do. I already started reading some. I am trying to fight my natural tendency towards procrastination. We have several things due each week so I really can't wait until the end to do it all.
It's still a bit odd being back. A guy here bought my friend, Ashley's car when she left the island. I keep seeing it and it makes me miss her a lot. At every group function, I cling to the people I know. I am sure this will pass as I get to know more people but for now, it feels like the right thing to do.
Tonight we had Love Feast. This is a YWAM Maui tradition. When DTS students first arrive, they get a grand welcoming ceremony complete with traditional Hawaiian leis. At the ceremony, they are told that the next day they have to go on a minimalist camping trip of indeterminable length. And they are not allowed to bring toothbrushes, deodorant, change of clothes, etc. I watched their faces this time when they found out how little they could bring. Priceless! So, the students go on what we call "Exodus" and spend three days and two nights roughing it and bonding in ways they couldn't have done if they were still all clean and smelling nice.
Just when they can't bear their own stench any longer, we bus them up to a church where all the staff and us SBFM students are waiting clean and in Aloha attire aka nice clothes. We cheer them into a clean room set up for a banquet. The contrast is extreme. I remember how amazing and surreal it felt when I was in DTS, to come into this clean room with all these clean people when I was just filthy. It was pretty humbling.
Everyone has a big meal and enjoys being out of the wilderness. Then, there is a time where the DTS staff washes their students' feet. It is very powerful. When I first became a Christian, I thought foot washing was weird and gross. Why would anyone want to wash someone else's feet? I later understood the significance of Jesus washing the disciples' dirty, smelly sandal-wearing feet. He was showing that despite being God, He was there to serve His disciples. After my own Exodus, I remember how humbling it was to have someone clean my feet when they were at their dirtiest. It was very powerful.
This time our SBFM staff washed our feet. It was a great gesture but not quite as powerful since I had taken a shower about an hour before. My feet were washed by D, who is from Chna and serving with SBFM so that she will be able to replicate it on her base in Chna. She knew of my heart to go there so it was definitely meaningful to have her wash my feet and thank me for loving her country.
Being at love feast again after being away for a few years, brought back tons of memories. When I came back on staff, for every school, we each picked a DTS student whose feet we would wash after Exodus. Whenever possible, I chose the Asian girl students. With so many blond haired white girls in the schools, I figured the Asian girls would be easier to spot. I felt these foot washing times were also meaningful though not as much as when I was a leader in a DTS. I washed two girls' feet that time. One, E, was quite the fireball who'd begged to be allowed to go home several times during Exodus. As I washed her feet, she just broke down and sobbed. It was a very powerful moment. Unfortunately this memory is bittersweet because she ended up being sent home for discipline problems and a broken leg.
The other person whose feet I washed, K, also bawled like a baby during the process. She was quite the handful but completed her DTS and outreach with plenty of highs and lows. She was a girl who'd come from so much shame and chaos and I really grew to love her. She was also blessed with so many gifts. She constantly battled between right and wrong in her life. For most of DTS, the right and good side won. We were all so scared for her to go back home and our fears proved founded when she got pregnant the week she returned.
As I watched the foot washing this time, I was reminded of my two former students and was literally very close to tears. Then I saw another one of my students, Rachel, for whom DTS and SBFM were life altering experiences. She has grown into a really solid woman of God and a strong leader. In fact, she is currently a leader in this DTS. I saw her washing her students' feet and was almost moved to tears for another reason- pride.
The funny thing about YWAM is that for some people the experience here changes them positively for life, in ways they couldn't possibly imagine. God can use this time to mold them into the people He wants them to be, if they are willing. But for others, the experience feels significant at the time but doesn't stick in the end. It is truly heartbreaking for me to think of students like E and K but then I remember students like Rachel and I remember why we do this. And it is all worth it.
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