Josina Marchel Village

Yesterday was probably one of the most special and moving days of my life.

On Thursday, after my classes, I felt God whispering to go up, go up on the hill above base as far as I could.

I thought it was for the view, so I set off with just my music and a water bottle to go higher up.

When I got as far as I could I came to the gated entrance of the Iris school. I thought this is as far as I go, but the guard opened the gate and motioned for me to go on.

I went in and felt so at home, I walked into one of the classroom buildings and became so overwhelmed with Gods presence and the burning intensity of my own dream to build schools and what education means for this country. I couldn’t stay long as a few students started filtering into the room for class. I wiped my tears and tried to sneak out, as I didn’t want to be a disruption. –Sometimes seeing a white person around is quite the disruption.   I walked across the red dirt campus and stood by a tree to observe. Eventually three teenage boys walked over to say hi, and had lots of questions for me in broken English. (The kids who are in school get very excited to practice their English and are very curious about life in America.)

Surprised by their curiosity and polite conversation I stayed with them talking and trying to relate in our mixed languages. They told me they would receive their grades for the semester the next day and asked if I would come back for this. I was delighted by their eager faces and honored by their request. After getting permission from my house leaders, I joined the class the next day to receive their grades.   It was so special and I was very proud as the three of them received the best grades in the class. They have high goals and dreams of becoming a businessman, a doctor, and a biology teacher. After class, they asked if they could show me their village. I gathered four other girls from my house and met the boys at the gate for our adventure.

And what an adventure we had. I had asked Leonardo, the oldest to take us to meet his family. He warned me that his house was a far distance, but I assured him we were strong girls and were up for the walk. After all he does this walk twice a day it couldn’t be that bad.As we strolled through the village our eyes and hearts were gaping wide at the life and commotion held hidden in this culture we had ventured into.IMG_2019-0 We thought our student life in mud houses without running water — bucket showers and pit latrines was a sacrifice. While seeing the poverty and lifestyles of the village people, my humble accommodations seem like a palace. My daily meal of rice and beans is fit for kings.

We walked and talked about life and cultural differences with the boys. Leon taught us how they used different plants for nutrients and washing their skin. IMG_2004-0    IMG_1918-0Even in their poverty, there was a distinct difference between homes and the standard of living between neighborhoods.   We walked through tiny alleyways, crossed muddy streams filled with trash, traveled dusty red roads and the ‘long walk’ we started out on I realized was probably more than six miles one way to Leon’s house.       When we finally arrived to the house we were amazed by what we saw. As the only man in his family, he had built their humble home from bamboo and some scrap sheet metal. The bamboo was tied together by stripped rubber tires. Three people live in this room with a fire on the ground to cook their food. They have one battery powered lantern for Leon to study by and read their Bible at night.      They laid out straw mats for us to sit on outside and we played with the kids and rested and loved on them.  Their faith in God is beyond comparison. They are happy. They trust Him with everything. They have the greatest faith In Him to provide for their family day to day, for water, for food, for clothing, for protection.   What can separate us from the Love of God?

Even Leon’s friends, the other two boys who walked with us, were visiting his home for the first time and were amazed and grateful for their own humble homes close to school. They teased their friend about how he should get a motorcycle so he doesn’t have to walk so far every day.

We prayed for Leon and his family, asking for more of Gods presence and protection, His loving hand on them is so evident.

We left them with some food we had brought along, and continued to the homes of the two other boys.       What can separate us from the love of God?

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?
Your Heavenly Father knows ALL that you need. What can separate us from the love of God?

Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?

I am convinced that neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in ALL creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.  

Constant Sun.

Lover of my soul.
Peeler of my layers.
Detangler of my depth, my unknown wells.
Stroke my head, brush aside any rusty strands.
Nourish my innermost being on Sunset.
In my dark tower.

Guide me in response to your love.
To your quiet pursuit.
Tend to the messes that are crumbly and dry.
Whisk the substance of my heart into more good, more overflow rising from within.
Surely you have your best written down.
Can I copy it word for word?

Tell me the secrets of the darkness,
Tell me why the temperature rises and drops leaving me without words on Sahara.

Even there your pursuit hems me in.
You gather my distant hope like crusts —
My mirage is your 3D.

You carry my weight, leaving me hanging.
So constantly.

How do I make sense of weightlessness?

Your nearness is my good.
Do what you will.

And I will sing. I will voice my weightless cry for depth in the desert.
You know my dance in the sand on Sundays.
Constant Sun.

Following a River. // Värmland, Sweden

You’re going to Sunnemo? Why?!IMG_9524

The Swedish police stopped us on the highway as we zoomed across the country in our Lilla Billen for a spontaneous road trip. He questioned why two young ladies would be heading that direction of all places, as the small town of Sunnemo in Värmland County is not typically known as a drawing destination to our generation.IMG_9533IMG_9522

Josefine explained that her family has a house there and we were going to enjoy it for the weekend. The officer let us move on with a confused and amused expression on his face.

Little did he know what adventurers he had happened upon!

Beauty seekers.Sweden Map_small

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bild-4Photo Credit: Josefine Frendin

Our first evening at the lake house we explored every nook and cranny. So much of Josefine’s childhood and family heritage has been safely kept in this place. Treasures! Kaysha Dawn loves a treasure hunt!

Upon finding the canoe, paddles, and life jackets [of course each was locked in a different out-building] we made our way to the river.IMG_9542

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Our mission? To find the beavers!

Small fact from Wikipedia: The beaver works as a keystone species in an ecosystem by creating wetlands that are used by many other species. Next to humans, no other animal appears to do more to shape its landscape. IMG_9624 IMG_9620

It was still slightly early in the evening for a beaver sighting, being somewhat nocturnal creatures-therefore, we had some time to paddle around, have a picnic dinner on the canoe, and silently follow the river through its windy passageways.10342416_10152065392960706_373325811736091103_n

Photo Credit: Josefine Frendin

As we floated on the stillness, munching our pizza picnic, our ears perked up when we caught the motion of a rustling in the reeds–

Beaver? No. _MG_3302

Photo Credit: Josefine Frendin

Out scurried a small bird running on the water full speed ahead!

Maybe I am very easily amused but this was HILARIOUS to us. So we decided to follow the little bird to see if we could get it to run again! We were giddy as children– Again, again! Dance birdie!_MG_3304

Photo Credit: Josefine FrendinIMG_9638

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Well that little bird did love to run! He led us out into the open water where the light was gleaming through the breaking clouds in the smoldering skies over us.

Gasp.

I didn’t ask for this. All I wanted to see was a brown, water rodent.

And here– in the middle of Värmland County, we saw Heaven.IMG_9636

In His goodness He brings us to life.

All that we seek after in this world is so small and brown compared to the vastness and the fullness of his HEART for us.

See maybe I’m too quiet for you– you’ve probably never noticed me–  But if you’re too big to follow rivers–

How you ever gonna find the sea?IMG_9653

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His fullness, His love is so deep that when we experience that love, we are never the same again!

If all you want are answers to your questions–  And you can’t seem to find love for free–

If you’re looking for the right direction–

Then darling look for me.bild-3

It’s a quiet love. His love. He moves in ways not seen. For His thoughts are higher than my thoughts, His ways higher than my ways.

See I can make the load much lighter; I just need you to confide in me–

But if you’re too proud to follow rivers, how you ever gonna find the sea?IMG_9660

“For as the sky soars high above earth, so the way I work surpasses the way you work, and the way I think is beyond the way you think.

Even as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish—

So will My words go out in love toward you.”

“Yes you’ll go out in joy! — You’ll be led into a whole and complete life. The mountains and hills will lead the parade- bursting with song. All the trees of the forest will join the procession, exuberant with applause.”

–Isaiah 55: 8-12IMG_9643

 

Song Lyrics (c) Emeli Sande; River

 

You won’t lead me where You don’t go. // Tromsø, Norway

In the process. In the waiting. Your presence is a promise. For I am a pilgrim on a journey.

Today my feet found Tromsø, Norway.

The beauty all around is breathtaking.IMG_8295IMG_8313

Our first day in the thriving fishing city of Tromsø, was one of the most gorgeous I have ever experienced. We woke early with the exciting plans of having breakfast with Andreas and Elise Scagøy. Fredrik, Josefine and I followed their leading a little while away from town and ended on the shores of the sea near the mountains for a picnic breakfast.IMG_8345

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Photo credit: http://josefinephotography.com2669_n

Photo Credit: Josefine Frendin

Andreas quickly cooked up some whale steak for us on his camp stove while Elise spoke of her experience in making her first documentary exploring northern Norway about living fully awake to the beauty of nature. Seeing the film earlier this year, I was completely captivated by her story Out in Nature: The Spring of My Youth — You don’t have to understand the Norwegian language while watching, to grasp the depth of her sweet spirit and her gifting in teaching others to seek beauty.

Follow this incredible couple and their adventures pursuing outdoor living here:

Elise and Andreas Skagøy

IMG_8396Photo Credit: Josefine Frendin IMG_8398 IMG_8363

IMG_8368We spread the whale meat on bread smeared with cream cheese, along with fresh strawberries, which were followed by seagull eggs.

The thought of eating a seagull’s eggs has never, ever crossed my mind I can assure you. But that morning, nothing seemed more perfect.  The mountains rose over us, guarding majestically. The sea glistened and lapped the shore as the Scagoy’s pointer Tuva sniffed and explored every moss covered rock and cove within reach.10320466_10152041197475706_7497248214838531300_n

Photo Credit: Josefine FrendinIMG_8442

May we never lose our wonder. Wide-eyed and mystified.  May we awaken each day with the eyes of a child staring at the beauty of our world.

God’s nearness is our good. So good is the work of His hand presented through creation all around us. Are we are awake to see it?

Sense it fully. Breathe it in. He cares to fascinate us — fascinate us with His love. IMG_8403

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After saying a happy goodbye to the Scagoy’s we piled back into our van and took off for Sommerøya — The islands named for summer and the turquoise waters that capture them. IMG_8465IMG_8466IMG_8471IMG_6738

Have you ever felt as though you were walking in a dream? — Walking through someone else’s painting? — Walking through a work of art?IMG_8483

We traversed through a picture that afternoon. A sleepy town with not even  the movement of another human soul in sight, Sommerøya is a gem of a dream.

As we climbed higher up and still further above the village, I turned, exclaiming my soul was about to fall out of my chest in death by experiencing beauty.IMG_8532 IMG_8543
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You will lift my head above the mighty waves. You are able to keep me from stumbling. In my weakness you are the strength that comes from within.

Good shepherd of my soul. Take my hand and lead me on.IMG_1403

Photo Credit: Josefine FrendinIMG_6745

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The next morning came all too soon with adventures of it’s own. Fredrik promised to take us up the mountain by way of the cable car for an overall view of Tromsø while the skies were still holding the snow and rain at bay.IMG_8546

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We skipped up the mountain jerking and quickly taking speed. Before we knew it we were at the top, peering down over the railing of the lookout point. There, Fredrick challenged us on a hike to continue to even greater heights.photo.PNG
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Photo Credit: Josefine Frendin

Surrounded by white light and snow, I began to feel extremely small and at the same time I have never felt more known. Running blindly toward the whitest edge of the ridge not knowing what’s on the other side can only be described as truly alive.IMG_8528
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You make my footsteps and my path secure. Walking on water is just the beginning. You cause my face to arise, stand at attention. For you are calling me to greater things.

The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds’ feet and will make me to walk [not to stand still in terror, but to walk] and make [spiritual] progress upon my high places!

-Habakuk 3:19

The Vision

What’s the vision? What’s the big idea?

The vision is JESUS—obsessively, dangerously, undeniable Jesus.

The vision is an army of young people. You see bones? I see an army.

And they are FREE from materialism.

They laugh at 9-5 little prisons.

They could eat caviar on Monday and crusts on Tuesday.

They wouldn’t even notice.

They know the meaning of the Matrix, the way the West was won.

They are mobile like the wind, they belong to the nations. They need no passport. People write their addresses in pencil and wonder at their strange existence.

They are free yet they are slaves of the hurting and dirty and dying.

What is the vision?

The vision is holiness that hurts the eyes. It makes children laugh and adults angry. It gave up the game of minimum integrity long ago to reach for the stars. It scorns the good and strains for the best. It is dangerously pure.

Light flickers from every secret motive, every private conversation.

It loves people away from their suicide leaps, their Satan games.

This is an army that will lay down its life for the cause.

A million times a day its soldiers

choose to lose

that they might one day win

the great ‘Well done’ of faithful sons and daughters.

Such heroes are as radical on Monday morning as Sunday night.

They don’t need fame from names. Instead they grin quietly upwards and hear the crowds chanting again and again: ‘COME ON!’

And this is the sound of the underground

The whisper of history in the making

Foundations shaking

Revolutionaries dreaming once again

Mystery is scheming in whispers

Conspiracy is breathing…

This is the sound of the underground

And the army is discipl(in)ed.

Young people who beat their bodies into submission.

Every soldier would take a bullet for his comrade at arms.

The tattoo on their backs boasts ‘For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.’

Sacrifce fuels the fire of victory in their upward eyes.

Winners.

Martyrs.

Who can stop them?

Can hormones hold them back?

Can failure succeed?

Can fear scare them or death kill them?

And the generation prays

like a dying man

with groans beyond talking,

with warrior cries, sulphuric tears and

with great barrow loads of laughter!

Waiting. Watching: 24-7-365.

Whatever it takes they will give:

Breaking the rules.

Shaking mediocrity from its cosy little hide.

Laying down their rights and their precious little wrongs,

laughing at labels, fasting essentials.

The advertisers cannot mold them.

Hollywood cannot hold them.

Peer-pressure is powerless to shake their resolve at late night parties

before the cockerel cries.

They are incredibly cool, dangerously attractive inside.

On the outside, They hardly care.

They wear clothes like costumes to communicate and celebrate but never to hide.

Would they surrender their image or their popularity?

They would lay down their very lives–swap seats with the man on death row–guilty as hell.

A throne for an electric chair.

With blood and sweat and many tears, with sleepless nights and fruitless days, they pray as if it all depends on God and live as if it all depends on them.

Their DNA chooses Jesus. (He breathes out, they breathe in.)

Their subconscious sings. They had a blood transfusion with Jesus.

Their words make demons scream in shopping centers.

Don’t you hear them coming?

Herald the weirdos!

Summon the losers and the freaks.

Here come the frightened and forgotten with fire in their eyes.

They walk tall and trees applaud, skyscrapers bow, mountains are dwarfed by these children of another dimension.

Their prayers summon the hounds of heaven and invoke the ancient dream of Eden.

And this vision will be. It will come to pass; it will come easily; it will come soon.

How do I know? Because this is the longing of creation itself, the groaning of the Spirit, the very dream of God.

My tomorrow is his today.

My distant hope is his 3-D.

And my feeble, whispered, faithless prayer invokes a thunderous, resounding, bone-shaking great “Amen!” from countless angels, from heroes of the faith, from Christ himself. And He is the original dreamer, the ultimate winner.

Guaranteed.

* Peter Greig, Red Moon Rising