Sunday, September 29, 2013

New Life, New Family, New Start

Last weekend we took 65 students to the west side of the island for our Fall Getaway 2013, our annual retreat to give students the opportunity to "getaway" from school and enjoy community, fellowship and God. We had a ton of new students, including Lini, a girl who stopped by our table the first week of school to ask for directions to a class- I didn't know where her class was, but I invited her to Cru instead and she ended up coming to my small group even though she wasn't a Christian. Saturday night of Fall Getaway, we had a really awesome time of worship where the Lord strongly put on my heart to pray for her, so strongly that my heart physically hurt. I prayed that the Lord would reach out and grab her heart and reveal Himself to her in a tangible way. One of the girls I'm discipling, Ashley, also felt a strong urge to pray for Lini, and sat next to her and prayed for her- during that time, Lini started crying. Later I also came to sit by Lini and prayed for her, and then we both stood up to worship. During worship, I noticed Lini was really into it and had her hands clutched in front of her. 

After the session, she came up to me and said that during worship, she was holding up her hands and felt Someone's hands on hers- "They were warm," she said. "And I felt that there was a Presence in front of me holding me and I just felt so loved in that moment." "Dude," I said to her. "That was GOD." I then asked her if anyone had ever told her how to have a relationship with God. "No," she replied. " you want to know?" I asked. "Yes, please!" she exclaimed. 

An hour later, Lini prayed to receive Christ into her heart and said that she felt like she was in a dream. I asked her if she had any questions, and the first thing she said was "When can I get baptized?" "Uhhh..." I stuttered. "What about tomorrow???" she asked. "Uhhh...sure?" I responded. After she'd gone to bed, I called one of my pastors from my home church (about 3 am my time) "Hey so uhh this girl just accepted Christ and wants to be baptized so apparently I'm baptizing her tomorrow WHAT DO I DO??!?!"  Thankfully, Jay is used to me freaking out because he's known me since I was little, and he walked me through how to baptize someone. He also affirmed that I was capable and equipped to baptize someone, which I appreciated because not gonna lie I was kind of doubting myself after growing up in a Presbyterian church where only pastors do that sort of thing. 

The next day after we'd packed up the camp, we all piled into cars and drove down to the beach, where in the bright blue ocean of Waialae, I performed my first baptism. As Lini was sharing her story with everyone who came to watch, she said, "I am so ready to get baptized. This is a new start, this is my new family, this is my new life." 

The next day I took her to Logos, a Christian bookstore, and bought her first Bible and a devotional for her to begin her new walk with Christ. Since then, she's been texting me every day to hang out and read the Bible. 

Praise God for Lini for her new passion for God! May it never fade away! 

Monday, September 16, 2013


So if you've been keeping up with my blog for awhile, or just my life, you might remember my friend Kaori. We met "randomly" at Waseda back in 2011 when we were both checking out the dance group Tokyo Hanabi, one of the yosakoi circles. Neither of us actually ended up joining the group (I joined Odori Samurai and Kaori went on to do ballet) but we remained friends and met up frequently over the next two years when I was in and out of Tokyo.

Last year she studied abroad at Columbia University (because she's crazy smart) and spent Thanksgiving with me and my family, where she came to church for the first time and we spent 3 hours talking about the Bible, God and Christianity. While she was not ready to become a Christian, she understood what I was saying.

Last week I received a Facebook message from Kaori- "Kimiyo! I am coming to Hawaii!" "WHEN???!?!" I replied. "In two days!!!"

SO crazy. She arrived Monday, and I invited her to our Cru weekly meeting on Tuesday. She came and after I gave the message on God's community, she said to me "That was wonderful! I am so proud of you!" Later in the evening during worship, our director Jamie challenged us to turn to the people around us and pray for one another for a couple minutes. Kaori turned to me and said "Kimiyo, I want to pray for you, but I do not know how." I then explained to her that prayer is really just talking to God, it doesn't have to be formal and you can do it anywhere and He hears you. I prayed for her to show her, and then she prayed for me. I want to share with you her prayer:

"Hello God, this is my very first time praying, and I want to pray for my very best friend Kimiyo."

I almost melted. It was such a wonderful, wonderful moment that words just can't fully express.

Please continue to pray for Kaori, that the Lord would reveal Himself in a real and powerful way in her life so that she has no choice but to believe.

Japan reunion! Such a wonderful surpise! 

Sunset from Spitting Cave, my favorite place on Oahu and where we took Kaori after a day at the beach on Saturday 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

First Month in Hawaii

Wow. I've been in Hawaii for exactly one month now.

That's crazy.

I've had several "Wow I live in Hawaii" moments lately. Driving through the Pali tunnel and coming out to a breathtaking view of the cliffs and ocean and mountains. Hanging out with students at the beach all day for an outreach event. Going to a small hotel in Waikiki on Monday with my hanai family and enjoying a bunch of old local guys jamming on ukeleles and guitars and other people dancing hula, just for the fun of it. Watching the sunset over the ocean.

I'm truly blessed.

I'm still adjusting though. I'm not local yet, even though I did have some Australian tourists tell me I was beautiful and asked to take a picture with me because they "wanted to take a picture with a Hawaiian girl." Didn't have the heart to tell them I'm from Texas. But it made me feel good. I still don't speak like a local though- need to work on that.

I also need to practice my surfing. Uncle Steve has been humbling me a lot lately- I like to think of myself as a quick learner, but Uncle Steve apparently thinks I still need a lot of work. A student invited me to go surfing with them at a couple different locations, but when I asked Uncle, his exact words were, "Mmmmm I think you need to go to Waikiki." For anyone who's been surfing in Hawaii, that's not exactly a slap in the face, but it's close. Waikiki is for the beginners, the groms, the tourists. While there are locals that surf Queens or Canoes in Waikiki, the goal is to graduate from there to other breaks. So I said "Oh ok, so you think I should go there a few more times and then do you think I can try these places?" His exact words: "Mmmm I think you should go to Waikiki for awhile."


But I have to remember that this is good. I have this ridiculous expectation that I should be good at everything, immediately, or at least expert-status after a few times. But that is so unrealistic. No one becomes good at anything after a few times. It takes major perseverance, dedication, time, energy, effort. It takes falling off the board and getting back on. It takes getting tossed around by waves of adversity (see what I did there?) but continuing to paddle out again and again til you're able to consistently stand up and ride the waves. And sometimes that takes years. Uncle isn't telling me not to go to these more difficult surf spots to make me feel bad, he knows that I'll get cut up on the reefs and I'll get pummeled by waves and it won't be fun- it will just make me discouraged. And he wants me to love surfing. But he knows I will only learn to love it by taking baby steps. I don't like baby steps- I'm impatient. But how often do we do that with other things in life, and with God even? We think we're ready for the challenges, the difficult tasks, we think way more of our abilities than we're actually capable of, and we get frustrated and impatient when we're not given responsibilities "worthy of our talents." But God knows what we can handle and what we can't. He's not going to give us more than we can handle. And in reality, that's a comforting though. God looks at our faithfulness, not at our abilities.

And that applies to everything- to life, to our career, to ministry, to the Christian walk. If we're faithful in the small things, God will reward (and challenge) us with bigger things.

And on that's time to surf.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Warrior Welcome, or Welcome, Warrior?

The first week of school is officially pau, or done. 
And I'm already exhausted.

It was an incredible week, but also super busy. I would leave the house at 8 am and get home at midnight. Even when I'd get home before that I'd still end up staying up til 2 am working on flyers, slides for our weekly meetings, etc. But it was totally worth it. 

While this past week was by far the most intense week of ministry I've ever done in my life, it was also probably the most rewarding. Every day for four hours, we set up a tent and table on campus and passed out free Cru water bottles and asked students to take a one minute spiritual survey to gage their interest in Cru, God and spiritual topics. 800 students filled out a survey and received a water bottle, and we met even more just through our first week outreach events.115 students attended our first weekly "CRUcial" meeting, the most we've ever had! Many students came simply because they saw our table and wanted to check us out. We even met a freshman who grew up in Japan and has no spiritual background at all, but said she really enjoyed the meeting and even came to our other events later in the week!

Our events included a coffee & cookies hangout in one of the dorm lounges, going to the UH vs. USC football game (in which we sat in the student section and I had to use all my willpower not to cheer for USC too loudly), and a huge game of Capture the Flag on campus. These events were a major test for me, as we were so uncertain as to how many people would show up and how exactly the events would go. The football game especially, which was given to me to spearhead last minute, forced me to surrender my control to God since I honestly had no idea how to plan for it- not only had I never even been to the stadium, we were unsure of how many students would come, how many cars we'd have to drive, where to park, where to sit, what to do after...basically, the whole event was up in the air, and I just had to be ok with it. But it was great! Because God's bigger than my inability to plan. Every event was really a testament to His sovereignty. God brought new students to every event, students from every spiritual background and from all over the world, including international students from Japan, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Turkey, Norway, even Iran! 

Last year, Hawaii Cru's director Shawn had a vision, that "Out of UH the Islands will be reached." This year, our goal is to make that vision a reality. He saw the four freshmen dorm towers as lighthouses shining their light to the rest of the Islands and beyond. This year, we are praying for a huge freshman class to shine their light to their classmates and the university. I truly believe that out of UH, not only the Islands, but the WORLD, will be reached, as these students from other countries were but a fraction of the many nationalities represented at UH. 

Now comes the process of following up with the hundreds of students who wrote down their contact info, and hopefully meeting with them and getting them plugged into Cru. This next week we also start up our small groups- once again, we really have no idea how many students will show up, or even the location for some of them, but we know that God will make it happen. It's HIS will after all. 

Here are some pics from this past week! 

115 students came to our first CRUcial meeting of the year- an all time record!
Worship band at our first weekly meeting

Students filling out spiritual surveys at our table in the freshmen courtyard 

Ran into Ruben, my old friend from UH Hilo while on campus! Definitely one of those "What are you doing here???" "Wait- what are YOU doing here???" moments - so great. 

Andy being lazy and not wanting to walk...we didn't make it very far. Silly interns.