Since I last blogged, so many changes have taken place. The end of January was a turning point for me. I moved in with a new family, moved to a new church and I stopped working as a volunteer counsellor with the Police force and started volunteering at 2 different work places.
I worked with an organisation called;The Housing Assistance & Relief Trust (HART). This organisation provides homes for the destitute and attends to their welfare needs. I was working away from the city, which I found to be refreshing. Working there really humbled and challenged me. God showed me that there are people around me that are in great need and there is something I can do to help. In Isaiah 58:10-12 it says ‘feed the hungry and help those in trouble”. He showed me that there are things I can do like giving someone food or even sitting with a prostitute and asking them how they are doing. I am apart of the body of Christ, I am the hands and feet of Jesus.
The second place I was volunteering at was Fiji Media Watch. Working there taught me to be more discerning and alert with regards to what I see and listen to. My eyes were really opened to see how corrupt the media can be and to not be passive but to take a stand especially regarding what young children are being exposed to.
A Time To Pluck What Is Planted!
On the 19th March 2014 I left Fiji. I experienced a whole ray of emotions and feeling. Apart of me feels like I am grieving. To think I was in another country for a year and became accustomed to a new routine, lifestyle, people, food, culture. I became apart of families and gained new friends and then I got on a plane and that all disappeared. It all vanished as soon as I left Fiji! No more late night fellowship sessions and no more walks by the sea wall. All I have now are pictures and memories in my head. I miss the smell of freshly baked buns, I miss looking up at the multitude of stars at night and I miss waking up in the morning eager to see what handiwork God has created with the sky. Sometimes the sky looked pink, other times it looks purple or blue. The clouds different shapes and sizes, oh how the skies truly do proclaim the work of His hands. God is real!!! God sent me to Fiji and He revealed apart of Himself to me. I have seen the creative side of God. I have seen His tender side. I have seen His comforting side. I have seen His generous side. I have seen His merciful side. I have seen His loving side. And I have seen His chastising side. He truly is an awesome wonder.
I was a foreigner and alien in Fiji. People would always stare at me because they could see that I was a foreigner and yet Fiji has my heart. I never knew it was possible for me to feel this way about a country. There is just something about Fiji that makes me all tingly inside lol. In my heart I feel as though I shall one day return there. To think, when I was 14 years old Fiji was on my heart and that my heavenly Father sent me there is just unbelievable, yet true. He isolated me. He broke me. He stripped me. He healed me. He renewed me. He rebuilt me. Jeremiah 31:3-4 sums up what God has done in me-“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. I will build you up again, and you, Virgin Israel, will be rebuilt”. He had to take me away from my comfort zone in order to get my undivided attention.
For I Was Born A Sinner, Yes From The Moment My Mother Conceived Me!
Coming to Fiji has changed my whole life. I cannot fully describe in words what it has done within me but what I can say that it is has changed my reason for living, drastically! Before I came to Fiji my mindset was very different to the way it is now. My perspective, my priorities, the way I utilize my time and money has all changed. The old me was such a selfish and prideful person. Focus was on me. It had not occurred to me that God had blessed me so that I can be a blessing to others. I was not a very good steward over what He had entrusted me with. An example of this is the way I would spend my money. I was very careless and lacked wisdom in this area. I would buy a new pair of shoes/bag even though the ones I already had were in good condition just to keep up with the latest treads. I was not content with what I had.
Also, if I did not have enough money to purchase something I would feel insecure-I allowed the world to define my worth. Now some of you may be thinking-‘ok Josie, so is it wrong to buy a new pair of jeans or shoes?” No I do not think it is at all, what I am saying is that we should exercise wisdom and examine our motives. My motives for buying something were wrong. We should not allow the world to make us greedy and materialistic. We must focus on the bigger picture-everything we see is temporary and will one day pass away (2 Corinthians 4:18). Let us not become obsessed and fixated on storing up treasures here on earth that we forget about storing up treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:19-21).
As much as I thought I was a loving and selfless person who loved God-I was not. God has shown me who I really am. I am human. I am imperfect. I am a sinner. I am unrighteous. I am nothing without HIM. By no means have I ‘arrived’, He is still perfecting me. I am still in the process. I still need to work on the prideful side of me; I know that I could be more humble. I could love more. I need God’s help in making me more patient and gracious towards others. Those of you who know me know that I can be rather direct at times and that my tongue needs to be tamed more. I think the difference between who I was then and who I am now is that I am becoming more receptive to change and accept that I need help. There is no good within me and I want to be a new creation. I want to have the mind of Christ. I want to be more like Christ because the Josie without Christ is ugly.
I have learnt about what it means to lay my life down and die to self. This in essence is what it means to be a disciple and follower of Christ. Jesus said in Matthew 16:24 “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me”. You do not have to travel to the other side of the world to lay down your life; everyone’s journey is different. It does however come down to us making a choice-will we follow God or not. The definition of follow is to go after. It involves us waking up every morning and intentionally making the decision to seek after God. I realized that until I fully committed myself to pursuing God I remained double minded. And because I was double minded I was not moving forward. I was stagnant.
Before I came to Fiji, my plans were as followed-get a full time job, a mortgage, get married, have children. The end. Looking back I realize that I was conforming to the patterns of the world. Now I am not saying that it is wrong to get a mortgage or get married no no no. It is my desire to get married and have children, loads of children in fact lol. What I am saying is that I was not dreaming BIG. I was settling and going with the flow because it is what everyone else around me was doing. I was not asking God to lead me or give me visions and dreams or even expecting greater things like I am now. I realize that my way of thinking was based on the ‘norm’ in society. I was going with the flow without even realizing it. I was not thinking outside of the box. I was not asking God to take me from glory to glory because I was content with the norm. I was content in my comfort zone.
But when I decided to break out of the norm, take the step of faith and leave my job, my family, my friends and my comfort zone I realized that there is so much more to life. Greater things await me and I want to go and grab it. I want to go on adventures, create an impact and help change the world. I want to see God’s kingdom grow. I want to experience life in its fullness. I want to live the abundant life that Jesus was talking about in John 10:10. I want every day of my life to be different and purposeful. Yes that is what I want. I want to live a life with purpose. I want to exercise my faith daily, I want to see mountains move and miracles take place. I want to see change. I do not want to go through the motions and live a mediocre and mundane life. I WANT TO LIVE.
The Old Things Have Passed Away, Behold, New Things Have Come!
I have been back in London now for nearly two weeks and I am still adjusting. It has been hard, real hard yet I feel such peace because I am confident that the God who helped me in Fiji will help me here. I feel like a solider that has gone to battle and has returned home. Some of you may be wondering why it is so hard for me to come back considering the fact that I have lived here for 21 years. I mean, yes even though I am back in my hometown, I feel like a stranger and foreigner here too. Apart of me feels a bit overwhelmed by the change in environment. I am experiencing culture shock.
I have gone away for a year and have returned to a place where my friends and family have got on with life-apart of me feels like the place I had in their lives has gone. It feels like I am stepping into their lives for the very first time and starting new relationships even though we communicated whilst I was in Fiji. I am still adjusting to the change in sleeping pattern, the food and the fast pace in London. It feels like I am stepping into England for the very first time because I am a different person. Being away in another country for such a long time, changes you as a person. I feel as though I have lost something. No wait, I have lost everything. I have lost everything I thought of as normal and Christ has given me something greater! Matthew 16:25 says “whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it"
So what’s next for Miss Josie Jo? Sleep. Hehe after travelling for 2 days I am still experiencing jet lag. On a serious note, I am still trying to find my feet again. I am taking things one day at a time and am catching up with friends and family.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post.