Thursday, October 21, 2010

Vanuatu Short Term Mission Trip

Quite a few people have asked me why I’m going to Vanuatu, so I thought I’d just write a blog about it.

Over the last year, I admit that I haven't really been doing "the Christian thing" as they say. I went off the tracks and did my own thing until everything in my life went wrong and I realised that I couldn't do everything on my own and that I was a fool for trying. So now I'm back in Rockhampton, living at my mother's house and trying to get my life back to God.

I started going back to my old church, the Rockhampton Baptist Tabernacle, and in the first week I went they were advertising that they desperately needed people to go on their mission trip to Vanuatu to build a house for Pastor Carlos and his family. The first week I thought I would be awesome to do but didn't take much notice of it, like it didn’t apply to me, but in the second week I started to get a feeling like it was something I was meant to do, cause hey, I had just moved back to Rockhampton, I don't have a job yet so I can get as much time off as I want, and I have a current passport (cause this was only three weeks before the trip).

I went home that night and was talking to my boyfriend on the phone about the trip and we prayed about it and we decided that I should go check it out and get more information about it. So that Tuesday I went and saw Eddie, who is the organiser of the trip, and I was pretty much accepted straight away.

I've never taken a step of faith this huge, as I said, I don't have a job at the moment so I had to rely on God's provision the whole way and also I've never had the guts to say yes when God has asked me to do something before. I can’t say I have built a house before, but I am willing to give it a go.

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!" – Isaiah 6:8


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Passion vs. Apathy

What are you passionate about?

We were asked that at my young adults group recently by a visiting missionary. He got us to go around the circle and name some of our passionate about. I instantly had a few passions come to mind, but as we went around, surprisingly most people in our group couldn’t list one. At the time I didn’t really think much about it, but since then it has played on my mind a lot. This isn’t meant as a personal attack to those people in any way, but it just bought up an issue that I haven’t particularly noticed before then. Apathy…

According to Wikipedia (and we all know that it’s always correct!) apathy is defined as “a state of indifference, or the suppression of emotions such as concern, excitement, motivation and passion.” More and more people these days are becoming more apathetic towards most social and environmental issues. The more we hear about it, the less we want to know. A general “meh, whatever” stance is taking over.

Passion has a few meanings which include, ‘A powerful emotion, such as love, joy, hatred, or anger’, ‘the object of such love or desire’ or ‘an abandoned display of emotion’; however the definition that I’m talking about is ‘the object of such enthusiasm’. Ok, I’ll be honest here. The other reason that I got onto the apathy topic, stems back to one of my passions (fighting against depression and suicide) and how apathetic people in general are towards the whole issue. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that everyone should be super passionate about depression and suicide prevention just because I am, but I am saying it is a huge issue facing our society today and it’s not something that we should become apathetic towards. As the old saying goes, apathy breeds contempt.

"A lot of people don't realize that depression is an illness. I don't wish it on anyone, but if they would know how it feels, I swear they would think twice before they just shrug it." - Jonathan Davis

I know I stated these facts in my last blog, but I think it’s something that needs to constantly be brought to our attention. Remember that 65000 people in Australia alone try to commit suicide per year and a fifth of the population will suffer from depression at some point in their life. I personally can’t believe people could be unaffected by those sorts of statistics. That we are so blinded to it that we can’t even help each other through a crisis that a lot of us are going to face. We can’t stick out head in the sand and hope that the issue will just rectify itself, that’s not how emotional and psychological issues work. It’s a real problem and our indifference towards it is only making it worse. You cannot combat loneliness and rejection with apathy, it only enhances the isolation.

What are your passions?

I learnt today that passion comes from the Latin word ‘pati’ which means ‘suffer’. That surprised me a little at first, but then I started looking around at different definitions of the word and one website I read defined passions as ‘your own personal cross to bare’. The more I think about it the more it makes sense, its rarely ever easy to stand up for your passions or get people to understand why you are so passionate about those issues in the first place.

By far the most dangerous foe we have to fight is apathy - indifference from whatever cause, not from a lack of knowledge, but from carelessness, from absorption in other pursuits, from a contempt bred of self satisfaction.” - William Osler

What can we do to overcome social apathy? I don’t have the answer. I wish I did! I just have a lot more questions, but all I want to do is get people thinking about it and become aware of how they act to different issues.

So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. Revelations 3:16


Saturday, October 9, 2010


Roughly 65,000 people each year will try to commit suicide in Australia alone, of those, about 2,200 of those succeed.

Think about that for a while.

It horrifies and saddens me that so many people in our country feel so alone, so locked into their situation that they believe there is no other way out. Seriously, 65000 reported suicide attempts, not to mention there would be almost twice that figure that would go unreported. Depression and other mental illnesses are the most common causes for youth suicide. It is estimated that one in five Australians aged 18 years and over will experience some kind of mental illness, yet two thirds of those people will never seek help.

When did we become so isolated that over 65000 people felt that they have no one to turn to?

In my life I have both seen what it’s like to live with someone with depression and also suffered from it myself. When I was in year nine, my mother would spend every second that she wasn’t working or caring for my bother and I, laying in bed, tears rolling down her face, staring at the same spot on the blank wall. I never understood it. Weeks later I came home and my mother wasn’t there, but my auntie was. She informed me that my mother was suffering from depression and was so close to the edge that she was admitted into hospital. To be completely honest, I still didn’t understand. I am ashamed to say that I still had the childish opinion of “why can’t you just cheer up”. Mum got out of the hospital 3 weeks later, but nothing had really changed, other than now she was on a lot of medication. She went for a few months of seeming fine, until again she ended up back in hospital. Over the next two years she was admitted into hospital more than five times.

The thing I’m trying to show is that I of all people know how hard it is to deal with some one in your life having depression, how it feels to be completely powerless to help them. It is not an easy thing to deal with and there is no quick fix.

“It (depression) feels like being in a dark hole, and not being able to get out. You can see the light far away, with no way of getting to it. I am not
worth anything nor worthy of anyone”

According to the World Health Organisation, 121 million people worldwide suffer from depression, yet it is still not something we talk about, something we don’t as yet know how to talk about. Seriously, how would you react when faced with having friends or family open up to you about depression and suicidal thoughts? Would you know what to say? In a study done by Pfizer Australia, when asked what actions they would take if they knew a friend or family member was suffering with depression, one in three said they would encourage them to put on a brave face and push on. Is that really what we should be telling our friends?

The thing is; depression is not something you can “just get over”. It is a real medical problem. Dr Grace Groom says "Asking a depressed person to cheer up or focus on the positive things in life is not helpful. It minimises and undermines that person's illness by suggesting it is easily overcome and not a serious condition that requires professional treatment."

Depression and suicide prevention is one of my main passions. There are a couple of organisations that I strongly support because of that passion. The first one being ‘To Write Love On Her Arms’.

To Write Love on Her Arms is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery. I encourage you to read the TWLOHA vision which I have posted in an earlier blog.

Do you have the courage to come along side someone who’s hurting? Are you able to ask someone how they are, and actually mean it?

"Strategies for helping people with depression are to listen and be supportive, include them in social events and to suggest they seek professional advice with family doctors the first point-of-contact." - Dr Grace Groom.

You can help be the difference. You can help break the isolation.

You can help save a life.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Hiding Behind a Fake Smile...

Shes hiding behind a fake smile,

But its something shes used to.

Shes done it now for a while,

Smiling for real is something thats not easy for her to do.

She always acts like her life is pure bliss,

But the truth is, Everything is going wrong,

She only acts happy to help herself stay strong.

Everyday she holds in the tears she wants to cry,

She acts like a normal teenage girl.

When theres really so much pain hidden inside,

When she really feels like shes living one big lie,

The truth is some days she just wants to give up and no longer try.

But today is not the day to let everyone know the truth,

Its like a caged animal and its not ready to be let loose.

So for now she'll do her best to walk around in happy style,

And she'll keep on hiding behind that fake smile.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Alive by Alex Pavia

Tell me, what's next?
I feel that I'm blinded by the past
This world is so
Unreal, and happiness don't last

Will you be my eyes
And lead me out of the darkness
Will you take me away
To another glory?

Tell me, what's next?
Tell me what's real
Tell me when it's over
Tell me what's truth,
This pain I feel
Everyday I get older
Tell me, is this life that I've been living
Just another waste of your energy
Is this life we've been living just a lie?
Am I alive?

When I look
In the mirror
Am I staring at myself,
Or am I seeing just a model
Of what you want me to be?
Are these hands my hands?
And is this body my body?
And is there anybody else that sees?

It's over now and you're gone
And I have just been waiting here for far too long

Can you feel my heart beat baby?
Can you feel my lungs are breathing?
Can you feel my breath on the back of your neck,
Baby I'm alive
Do you feel my hand when I touch yours?
I know you know I'm here but I'm not sure
That you feel me, baby do you feel me?

Copyright 2008 Alexander Pavia


Isn’t it amazing how small, insignificant things, like a smell, a song or even a few words on an old blog can bring back memories, emotions and insecurities that you’ve forgot you had? I came upon an old blog I wrote a few years ago earlier today, and it just that. Brought up a whole lot of feelings that I thought I had left back in 2008. I don’t know if this happens to everyone but I find, when I do look back at the past, that I still have the same insecurities, that although they may present themselves in different ways, deep down they’re still the same.

Do we ever really change?

They say “people can change” but at the same time, the figurative ‘they’ also claim things like “once a cheater, always a cheater” and “a zebra can’t change its’ stripes”. So which one is it? Is it only small things that we can change about ourselves? Like hairstyles and what food that we choose as our favourite at the time. Or are we able to change our characteristics and our personalities? Once we have certain personality traits are we stuck with them?

Do we ever really change?

They say you learn most of your personality traits from your mother and father before the age of five, but does that mean you are destined to turn out like your parents? Personally, one of my biggest fears is that I’ll end up like my parents. Now don’t take that the wrong way, they are decent, hardworking people, but at the same time I don’t want to end up with a life like theirs. I have bigger dreams then to live a life full of struggles and hardship.

Growing up I often heard “you are an awful lot like you father” or “you’re exactly like you’re mother”. Does that mean the cycle has started? Does that mean I’ve inherited the same genetic flaws? How is it possible to live a life different to your parents, when their lives are the only path through life that you’ve witnessed? Are you able to change you’re future?

Do we ever really change?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

To Write Love On Her Arms

You were created to love and be loved. You were meant to live life in relationship with other people, to know and be known. You need to know that your story is important and that you're part of a bigger story. You need to know that your life matters.

We live in a difficult world, a broken world. My friend Byron is very smart - he says that life is hard for most people most of the time. We believe that everyone can relate to pain, that all of us live with questions, and all of us get stuck in moments. You need to know that you're not alone in the places you feel stuck.

We all wake to the human condition. We wake to mystery and beauty but also to tragedy and loss. Millions of people live with problems of pain. Millions of homes are filled with questions – moments and seasons and cycles that come as thieves and aim to stay. We know that pain is very real. It is our privilege to suggest that hope is real, and that help is real.

You need to know that rescue is possible, that freedom is possible, that God is still in the business of redemption. We're seeing it happen. We're seeing lives change as people get the help they need. People sitting across from a counselor for the first time. People stepping into treatment. In desperate moments, people calling a suicide hot line. We know that the first step to recovery is the hardest to take. We want to say here that it's worth it, that your life is worth fighting for, that it's possible to change.

Beyond treatment, we believe that community is essential, that people need other people, that we were never meant to do life alone.

The vision is that community and hope and help would replace secrets and silence.

The vision is people putting down guns and blades and bottles.

The vision is that we can reduce the suicide rate in America and around the world.

The vision is that we would learn what it means to love our friends, and that we would love ourselves enough to get the help we need.

The vision is better endings. The vision is the restoration of broken families and broken relationships. The vision is people finding life, finding freedom, finding love. The vision is graduation, a Super Bowl, a wedding, a child, a sunrise. The vision is people becoming incredible parents, people breaking cycles, making change.

The vision is the possibility that your best days are ahead.

The vision is the possibility that we're more loved than we'll ever know.

The vision is hope, and hope is real.

You are not alone, and this is not the end of your story.