Well I have been in the USA for almost three months, the days are rolling by fast and I am enjoying every minute of it so far. Things have been really busy recently, from coaching to ministry I am regularly travelling to and from schools, church and the Fenn household to try and get some sleep. Staying with the Fenn's has been a real blessing to me, they have truly opened there home for me to use as my own, and for that I am grateful. On top of that I am practically living with one of the best Chefs in the state of Louisiana. For someone who loves food as much as me, all I can say is that I hit the jackpot on living arrangements for my time here.
Football has been fantastic, West Monroe High School have an incredible set up with facilities that rival some college programs, as well a coaching staff who's number one priority is for the boys to grow into good young men and achieve their potential both on and off the field. The Rebels are looking good this year, my Freshman team are undefeated with a key final game against local rivals Ouachita coming up (Try saying that one as fast as you can). The Varsity (Main team) are also undefeated and looking very strong with the likelihood of a strong play off push for a state championship. It's crazy that we are almost halfway through the season, but I am excited to see what going to happen with this talented team this year. Please pray for relationships to grow and that God can continue to use me as a mentor for these kids, there is a lot of pressure within the local community for them to achieve success on the football field. On top of that they have the normal stresses of being a kid and growing up.
One of the best things about working in First West is the fact that their are loads of opportunities for you to develop your gifts and talents. Despite being a confident and outgoing person, I have always hated speaking in front of lots of people, however I felt it was an important step to overcome. First West has a annual Transform conference focusing on Missions. Led by Mark Fenn, the conference brings a host of speakers, missionaries and people from across the globe to speak to the church about life on mission and seeing to it that no one misses the grace of God. On the last Sunday of Transform I was asked to speak in front of the congregation about my story and the effect that the mission had on me and my family. I really felt that despite my fears, it was important for the congregation of First West to hear my story and the impact that the mission has and is having on our church and the people of Bridgend in general. If your interested in listening to the full video of me being interviewed have a look at the link below:
On a Wednesday we have our student weekly event called Mid-Week. I had the opportunity to preach during the sermon series of pre-game. I was quite nervous but people said it went really well and I am excited to get more opportunities to develop this skill and use it to help further the kingdom of God. I spoke from Ephesians 6, and the importance of preparing ourselves to ensure that we can get through the day to day trials that we face.
It really is awesome to see how God is using me being here to further the kingdom, as I have now been here a while I have really started to develop some good relationships with kids and give them regular advice about how to live as a Christian, despite the temptations we face everyday. The team within the student ministry are awesome. They have really helped me settle in. People often say student ministry is a easy job, you take part in activities, go on camps, play sports and other things are those that people see student ministers do, however what is not seen are the difficult conversations with students in a closed environment, countless hours of preparation and logistics work or just being available for students. Ministry is a full time 365 days a year job as the main thing is that your available for those that you are ministering. It can get tired and stressful but the rewards of seeing people's lives changed for the good of the kingdom is worth it. I think this year is going to be a big year for the Wales Mission and Days of Hope, I am excited to be able to help organise from this side of the pond to help reach as many people as possible so we can keep reaching the rest of our nation.
As I finish up this post, please pray for me and that God keeps using me to help those within the West Monroe community, please pray for strength and energy as sometimes between both roles and the early and late mornings and evenings energy levels can be low on some days. Also please pray for those within the West Monroe community and the Staff here at First West. Thank you all for your prayers and support!
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
Hello, Welcome to my Blog!
This blog is about my GAP year in West Monroe Louisiana, and the experiences, stories and moments of my time in the USA. I am working with First West Students and West Monroe Rebels American football. I hope you enjoy reading about what I have been doing.
So the day has come, after a year of planning, saving, interviews, prayer and having the faith to step out, I finally left and moved away from home, 4270.2 Miles away to the USA to serve within the Community of West Monroe, Louisiana. I have always wanted to move to America, since I was a little boy Mum used to say I would talk about it all the time, Even friends used to say I was born in the wrong country. I loved the culture, the food, the people, the size and everything about it. People seemed to take a interest in whatever you were doing, often asking how you are and what you were doing as they were interested in you. Growing up we were fortunate enough to visit Florida a number of times, and something about it just made me feel at home.
It's crazy looking back to a year ago, when I was told during a Sunday Night Live service at the Vine that God wanted me to go to West Monroe to serve and coach at First West, at first I didn't know if it was God or not, so I prayed and said God, If you want me to go, I need you to make a way as I could not see how it could happen. Point 1: Don't try and put a cap on God, he is incredible and if you take that step of faith, you will be amazed as to what he can do, I mean, I was a college student, Broke and looking for a Job, whilst trying to complete my final year of my degree, It just did not seem possible.
So as the Year went by, I found a job and was working 16hrs a week, whilst studying 30-40 hours a week to finish my Dissertation and final year of study. How was I going to find time to organise a Gap year in America? it just didn't seem possible, however when something is a God dream he makes it happen. After a lengthy process, the coaching position and role in the church were finalised, all that was needed was a Visa. Visas to Volunteer in the USA for a week are hard to get, let alone 11 Months, however God was faithful and provided me with the Visa, Flight and a sufficient amount of spending money from various sources to make this possible. It still blows me away how he provided everything for me to go on this incredible adventure to serve him.
So after 18 hours worth of traveling, I had made it to the USA, It was an eventful journey with two hours worth of delays, being searched at every scanner due to metal in my knee from my surgery, as well as having to prove that we do play American football in the UK to the US customs. Thankfully I had my LSU hat on so everything worked out okay but it was not what was needed after a long day of traveling. I was greeted at the Airport by Mark and Caleb Fenn, Chris and Kelly Morevek and Adam who I knew very well due to the mission trip to Wales. I felt at home and as if I was with family from the get go, the people everywhere here are so welcoming, I think at least 50 people have offered their homes to me if I need anything, I am so thankful and blessed that I am in a place where I truly feel at home.
Mark decided to get me straight into the culture here in Louisiana, not even an hour into my stay we went to Catfish Charlies, Marks favorite restaurant. I had Shrimp, Catfish and Frogs Legs straight of the bat, and it tasted so good, I can't say deep fried catfish is good for you, but it tasted incredible. One thing I have noticed is they love to eat here, and the food does not disappoint. From Ann's cooking to eating out, the food is amazing!
After a quick sleep I was up and ready to get going from the offset, the whole team at First West have been awesome, I have felt at home and a part of a team of people ready to change people's lives and to live out their Christ-Centered purpose. Over the first few weeks I have done a range of things, from Boys bible studies, hanging out in the student area with students, Worship and Teaching a small class of 9th Grade boys every Sunday. Seeing the relationships I have developed with students is really encouraging, and knowing your a mentor and most importantly a friend to them is truly satisfying to see that you can be a positive role model within the lives of these students. It is truly awesome to see the impact that God is having through this student ministry and how he uses everyone to their potential for the good of the gospel.
I haven't missed home as much as I thought I would. Thankfully due to the welcome I have received and the ability to be able to talk through Skype and Facetime. I had a great opportunity to share about the Wales Mission, explaining to the congregation the importance of it to the Welsh people and the community of Bridgend.
I am really excited to see what God does this year through this church and its people. Please pray for relationships to be developed, people to be encouraged to fulfill their Christ centered purpose and for more people to come to know Jesus. Thank you already for those who have supported me and prayed for me, its greatly appreciated and I look forward to hearing from everyone soon. for more up to date infomation, follow me on Twitter and Instagram.
Thanks for reading!