Location: Melbourne, Australia
It is soooooooooooooooo GOOD to be home :)
I thank God for these 6 months of amazing time with Him as i journeyed around the world. I can say i am feeling refreshed and excited about what He is doing in this world and inspired that each one of us, if we let Him, can make a difference through Him.
Thank you to each one of you who have prayed and/or thought of me, read me pages of journalling, seen my pics...it makes it much easier for explaining what i did!
May 2007 be an awesome year for all of us :)
Location: California, USA
You may have many opinions about the USA. I know it is a country that raises a lot of controvesy around the world, some for good, some maybe not so good. But what I discovered in 6 short weeks was this
this is a nation with a lot on its shoulders. If it is the powerhouse of the world, thats a heavy burden to carry, it is hard to act responsibly in all situations. We need to pray for this nation to make wise decisions in the coming weeks, months, years as world events call for it.
The overwhelming theme of my time there was people, spending time with them, learning what their thoughts about life are. What a world of different people there are. These I will not forget:
* The homeless in Atlanta, Georgia. We bought food for one man which openned our eyes to the fact that there were at least another 50 just like him! Hearing his story of hopelessness as he just tries to survive moved me.
* A homeless/poor man who walked with us down a street in Atlanta singing some oldies with a real great passion, what a voice he had.
*The loner in New York whos been married for 35 years yet says he prefers his own company.
*The man I met on a train to Long Island who works three jobs and never sees his kids for whom he was working so hard
*The nearly 2,500 people who were lost in 9/11. Spent a day at Ground Zero which will keep me ever mindful of the value of life.
*The woman whos life was changed when she joined to Salvos to help on 9/11 and felt she could do something out of little.
*A woman in her 40s beaming with love for Jesus after He saved her from a life of drugs, suicidal thoughts and depression a few years ago. And even though she has a disabled son, she has such a joy in her heart that its contagious.
*My shuttlebus driver to the Los Angeles airport, Andy, who made my last few hours in USA very memorable as we encouraged one another in our walks with Jesus Christ. What a blessing that was as we drove along the beautiful California coastline.
And so I left America, reminded again that God is sovereign and above all our circumstances. I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good in this land, that there are people here who are shining the light of the Gospel in such a real, transparent way.
On a less serious note a few things I will remember after my time in the USA are:
- Whatever you do, DONT say the word toilet!! Much more proper to call it what is is
- Teens are very polite in the southern states, at least they seem to be as they replied yes maam, no maam to all my questions!
- Great place for coffee lovers
theres a Starbucks every few metres (yards) and sometimes two opposite each other.
- Americans LOVE board games: almost every home i visited wanted to play a board game! Much better than the TV :)
- Yes it is a fast-food nation, I have discovered so many new ones I had never heard of like Papa Johns, Arbys and Moes.
- When they say that its going to be in the 20s today, thats not a nice summers day, its below freezing!!
America - land of Milk and Honey. I have been here around 5 weeks and it has been awesome. This has been a time of refreshing as i could actually put my pack down for longer than a few days in Jackson and sleep in sometimes. Seeing really special friends from the ship has been a spiritually refreshing experience as we've talked about our lives with God together.
I have grown to love this land for what it is. I know there are many problems here, like everywhere in the world, but there is something about the people i have met and the places i have seen that makes me realise that this nation has an important destiny. There are many faith-filled people who love Jesus Christ here. It has been encouraging to see and be reminded that God's people are everywhere.
In a week's time i will leave here and i pray that i will not forget to pray for this land of America.
Have you ever had one of those near misses when it comes to flying? Well after 22 flights, I had one! And of all places it was in Germany!! God has a sense of humour. The day started out like it was going to be adventurous. My Doulos friends Andrea and Arun offered to drive me over 200 kms to the airport in Frankfurt where Id catch my flight to New York at 10am on a Monday. Sounds simple huh? Try leaving home an hour after you planned to and then getting stuck in that morning traffic that you would have missed had you left on time.
When we arrived I rushed inside to find a HUGE line even before the real line!! It was 8.20am. I had time I thought.. So I waited patiently for 40 mins to reach the nice lady at the counter who told me sorry I cant book you in!!. She said I needed to pay a flight change fee first and sent me away. I had changed the day of my flight but my agent said there was no fee, however it is useless to fight with a computer that doesnt agree! So still with all my bags I rushed to the payment counter to find they were all full. Another 10 mins went by
.when I finally reached another nice lady, she said sorry maam, your flight to New York has been cancelled!. OK now I knew that this was getting serious.
She made some explantion that because I didnt board my flight to Germany on the day I originally booked, all other flights were cancelled. I prayed silently and waited whilst she tapped away on her computer after I insisted she re-check this. You know those times when all you can do is pray?! With sweat pouring down my back, time ticking faster than usual and no idea on a plan B, I prayed to God help!. Without saying anything the nice lady produced me a boarding pass and said hurry up, go to Quick Drop
I ran! Only to find there was no Quick Drop at all but the first place where Id lined up for 40 mins!! Arghh
.looking lost and desperate for about 10 mins, a helpful man got me to check my bag in at Business Class danke shoen. But the lady there said to me, youre very late (thanks for the obvious!), dont know if your bag will make it. OK, but I will I though to myself as I rushed to Gate C8.
Totally forgot that I had to go through security and immigration. It was 9.30am. I rushed as much as possible but the security man said is this your bag? and sure enough it was. He pulled out my water bottle and I knew what was coming so I asked can I have one last sip, I need it!!. He smiled. Then I had to find some friendly people in the Immigration line. I said to a couple, I have a flight at 10, can I go before you?, they said we have a flight at 10.15 not helpful! I went behind them but Id chosen the slowest line. The 10.15 man said, this line is slow, the guy is writing a novel on everyone he was right!! I swapped lanes.
It gets better. Gate C8 was of course the furthest away, through all these knooks and crannies. Why does that always happen when you are in a hurry?? I seriously thought by now I would be running onto the plane. It was not to be. Me and some other stragglers got stuck just before entering the plane behind a security door that wouldnt open. About 15 of us, including a Jewish rabbi, waited for about 15 mins whilst several official looking people tried to open this crazy door for us. Needless to say, the plane was delayed for about 30 mins due to this little mishap. I couldnt help but wonder whether the Lord used this incident to make sure my bag made it too!
Location: Frankfurt, Germany
Now for a BIG CHANGE in location for the Cat!
Germany was on my flight path because i bought a 'round the world' ticket. Originally i was to spend 3 hours at Frankfurt airport before my flight to America. But I thought where's the fun in that??
I looked up who i knew who lived near Frankfurt and came up with 2 names! Tabea Kasielke (Creative Ministries on Doulos 2002) and Andrea Sawert, my cabin mate in 2004 on Doulos. It was really really great to see them with a bonus of seeing Arun, Andrea's fiancee whom i also met on the ship and also a day trip to Holland.
Pics will be up soon!
Location: Singapore, Singapore
What a contrast is was to be in Singapore!! I was in shock when i went to the bathroom and the toilet flushed for me and then the hand drying machine worked without me touching it! I was experiencing culture shock!
Some great blessings in Singapore were:
- my hosts, Kenneth and Patsy who entrusted me with keys to their apartment for whenever i needed to come home and crash into bed! Thanks guys, you are great.
- visiting the new (not so new now, but first for me), MTI Headquarters. It was awesome to see the 'heartbeat' of the organisation after being to all the fields over the past 4 months. Dave and Dawn you are amazing!
- meeting Hannah Bardens' man! It was quite an adventure to turn up at a HUGE church with 7 floors looking for a guy who I'd never met. I joined in with a camp preparation prayer meeting whilst waiting for this mysterious Gabriel....haa haa. I openned my eyes after the first prayer and there he was. It was really great to put a face and person to a name that I'd heard about for the whole 2 weeks in Cambodia - she's in love what can i say!!
Check out the lights on Orchard Road - what a sight it was. But remember the REASON FOR THE SEASON IS JESUS!
Location: Banda Aceh, Indonesia
When you meet someone who tells you he lost his mother, brother and sisters, it really shakes you up. And when you see people's houses in shambles with vines growing through the cracks and crevices left, it is devastating.
Banda Aceh was an incredible place to be. It was like living in a time-warp. Two years ago one of the most powerful tsunamis the world has known swept through this area (closest to the epicentre of the earthquake). But today, one can still see the effects of it very much.
The people are amazing. They are going about their daily lives as usual, but there was an underlying sadness in the atmosphere. The loss is too great not to feel that.
My time there was short, only four full days. But i went because i wanted to visit the team there and be an encouragement. They are only one family and a young guy at the moment. So it was really great to be there with them and also be encouraged at the hope they have for this place.
And that is the only thing left here...HOPE.
Location: Phnom Pehn, Cambodia
Cambodia in a word - destitute. There are so many needs in this land. The Pol Pot era left this nation destitute of family, culture, dignity, resources and peace. It is a place where every person you meet has lost someone they know in the most horrifc circumstances.
There is an MTI team there and this is where i spent most of my time. They are doing an excellent work with helping children and parents find healing from wounds and ways to improve their circumstances. Couselling, tranning on child abuse, self defense lessons are just a part of what MTI do in Cambodia.
I also visited some other ministries as there are so many of them. Visited the 'Bridge of Hope' who are ministering to street kids, His Child International who give education to poor children and immediate help to street kids, Ingrid is an amazing German missionary with a heart for street kids too. She provides shelter and schooling for them. Then there are a multitude of others who are being a light for Christ in this land. This was most encouraging to see.
Personally i was touched to come back to this land to see where i may contribute to the massive needs....but it has to come from God, and for that i will wait and pray.
Well they say that you can travel across Asia cheaply and so as a budget traveller i decided to test this theory without using an aeroplane to get to Cambodia from Thailand!
These were the steps i took to complete this adventurous trip:
1) From Bangkok i took a 5 hour BUS ride to a place with a long name i cannot remember but it is near the border.
2) When i got off the bus i found that i was the ONLY white person standing in the middle of a road with all these bags. So when a nice gentleman offered to help me get a visa into Cambodia of course i had to say 'Yes please!!'. He said it was his job do not worry..haa haa.
3) Then i thought i would help out a little boy with some pocket-money, so he took me across the border on his TUK-TUK and helped carry my bags too :)
4) With my visa in hand i crossed over the border and the nice man took me on his MOTORBIKE to a taxi stand. It is amazing what one can fit on a motorbike = Back pack, lab top and carry bags.
5) Then into my fourth mode of transport, a TAXI. they said there were no buses in the afternoon, so i had no choice but to take a lift with the fastest taxi ever! this guy was really taking every risk to get us there in the shortest time possible!!
6) Final step was to meet my friend Tiina (works in Phomn Pehn) at the Central Market. I was back on a MOTORBIKE to get to some accommodation for the night!
I was so thankful to God for getting there safely and glad i took an alternative to flying. Ironically though the costs calculated to almost being the same as a budget flight!
Hey there fellow travellers of life!
Its been a whirlwind and yet at the same time a heavenly slow down and rest period for me in the last month. The course with Children With Hope was totally mind-blowing and shook me up even more to help these kids who deserve much much better than what they are getting in life
I just loved learning about what makes a child a child. It seems my own childhood is a distant memory (well I am 31!!) and so it was good to be reminded. I know some of you think I have not grown up yet
yeah, well, maybe youre right
Friends!! This is the biggest blessing to me in last month. Katie (USA) and Thai (Burma) were on the course and we clicked so well and had a lot of fun times together. Cathy (Philippines) has been such a blessing to me as she works for MTI Thailand and is totally going bush. She taught me what courage is (Banana Boat expert). Janice (Canada) has allowed me to use her house as a refuge over last 3 months in Asia, it has literally been like a cool spring to my parched soul every time I ended up there in between countries!! Thank you Janice, you are awesome.
Asha, what a woman! Half Turkish American, who plays the flute as natuarally as breathing. Thank you for being a breath of fresh air during MTI Retreat :)
GOD IS SO GOOD!! He is my Redeemer, Comforter, Deliverer, Restorer, Counsellor, Creator, Instructor, Warrior, Shelter, Shepherd, Refresher, Rewarder, Protector, Provider, Portion, Forever, Friend, Lover, Saviour, Teacher, Healer, Refiner, He is MY WONDERFUL GOD!!
Location: Bangkok, Thailand
Hello all who are wondering 'where is Cat right now?'. Well, i am still here in Bangkok. The only reason i am STILL in one place is because i have been doing a 6-week course in Children At Risk through an organisation called 'Children With Hope'.
Along with 6 others, we have learnt the plight of hurting children worldwide who only wanted to live life like the rest of us, but got caught up in the cycles of poverty and human greed. This is what hurts the most, that most of the time, it's because humans inflict pain on each other that we have this situation.
On a brighter note, it has been wonderful to have the Doulos here at the same time. Last night i was thrilled to be in the audience for the awesome I-NITES (international night put on in each port) that i used to love being a part of. It was kinda weird to watch a dance that i used to perfom being done by people i really don't know, but they know the same dance!
Hope you are all doing well and can finally be a rest that you know where Cat is!!!
Location: Bangkok, Thailand
You could say today is an historic one...I guess it depends on the outcome. For me it was a day to catch up on emails...sounds a bit selfish. Well, we had a day off from class so made the most of it.
Am really enjoying the course and all that comes with living in a childrens home with international people. I am tempted to say it's like the Doulos, but that might get me in trouble :)
Anyway, if you were worried about the situation, it's all OK, we are fine and it seems that there will be a peaceful outcome. At least we can pray for that. Pray for this country!!!
Location: Bangkok, Thailand
Hi guys and gals...i am finally able to download some pics (a tiny proportion of the zillions I have) for you to get a feel for where I have been (5 countries already!!) and who i have been meeting.
I wanted to put in pics of people you may know so that you can see what they look like (i tend to forget what my friends look like sometimes, don't know about you!)....
Anyway, many of you are visual people so this will help. For people who like stories instead, i am working on getting a newsy letter out every 3-4 places I go (mostly so i do remember what i did).
As you can imagine, i am having to process things pretty fast as i am travelling at such a fast pace. But i can truly say that God is my protector and strength in this time.
Thanks for all of you who have been heeping me in your prayers and thoughts. and if you haven't well, you can start now :)