Hello everyone! It has been 90 days since Charlie and I took off on a dark summer morning in Federal Way and began our eight-hour drive to Ahousaht. When I crammed myself into the passenger seat of Charlie’s little Honda Accord, I don’t think I could’ve imagined how different things would be three months later. Since it’s been a while since we spoke, I’ll do my best to catch you up on some of the experiences and lessons I’ve learned since we arrived.
Our water taxi ride into Ahousaht was a little rough, to put it lightly. In order to get onto the island of Ahousaht, you have to take a 30-45 minute boat ride from Vancouver Island onto Flores Island. Of course, the one boat ride with my family getting their first impression of Ahousaht was the ride where the waves were tossing the boat around like a bathtub toy. My parents were a nice shade of green by the time we got out of the open waters.
Thankfully, the waters have been a lot calmer since then, literally and figuratively. Once we said our goodbyes to our families and started to settle in, it really hit me that I was finally here. After God had been working in my heart for years and gently moving me towards this, I was finally living in the place and with the people my heart had broken for over the two-week trips and even longer absences. No more watching lives move along through Facebook and inconsistent messages. We were here, and it was time to start to see why God brought us here.
Relationship building is a slow process, so the first lesson God started teaching me was patience. People weren’t lining up for discipleship from the second we showed up, and that shouldn’t have been as surprising as it was. The guys we wanted to start with at first were out doing their own things and not on the island, so we had to readjust and start looking for new faces or for whatever God wanted us to do. Through a little frustration and a lot of prayer, relationships have started and begun developing. As of right now, there are five guys that I am in different stages of discipleship with, and only one I would’ve guessed I’d be remotely involved with five months ago.
As glad as I am to have those relationships, I understand that I only have a limited amount of time here. Finding my place in God’s plan has been one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned. I can’t be with these guys forever, but I can make a difference that lasts forever. Maybe it’s just changing how they see Christians, or maybe it’s helping them make a decision to follow Christ. No matter what, God is working here and has been working here much longer than anyone from our church has been going here. We have each played a different part in the movement, and He’ll continue to do great things after my time is up.
Obviously, living here has been drastically different than the two-week visits we did with the team. Cooking was the first difference – once we got sick of ramen noodles, we had to start to learn how to make actual food. Challenging, a work in progress, but eventually it will be rewarding. It was also harder to find people at first because normally they’d be automatically attracted by the big group and feel comfortable there. However, people started to recognize us as a more permanent fixture after a month or so of seeing us around. This makes it easier for newer relationships to develop faster. We’ve been connecting with new people through a variety of different ways. The best way for me has been through sports, specifically basketball. On top of that, we’ve met a lot of our connections through volunteer work, helping out on the boats and just hanging around the teens that we already knew and meeting their friends.
Living in Ahousaht also allows me some opportunities to be in nature like I’ve never had before. Washington is a beautiful state, and I’ve always found peace and felt closer to God in nature, so I am so thankful that God called me somewhere equally beautiful and even more surrounded by nature. Waking up and having a beach and lush forests right outside my window always puts me in a good mood. I love being able to read or just sit out on the rocks in the silence. It’s something I don’t think will ever get old to me.
Even though it’s only been a few months here, I feel I’ve already grown a lot. Let my hair be an example:
Spending time throughout my day with God, whether it be prayer walks, devotionals or discipleship, I’ve grown in my faith as well. Being able to try and see new things has also allowed me to grow outside of my comfort zone.
I’ve been fishing, learning the language, volunteering on search and rescue, house and dog sitting, driving a boat, deckhanding and pretty much anything else people have needed help with. Everyone has been extremely generous, allowing us to stay in their homes, have dinner with them, and always being open to taking us places and opening their doors to us whenever.
Just like our church, there’s a church in Vancouver and a church in Toronto that sends groups down to run their programs every summer. They all stay in the lighthouse, so the three weeks that those two groups came we moved into a home that was generous enough to let us live there for the entire three weeks. It was a blessing that they invited us over since we didn’t know them that well at the time, and we were blessed to be able to help them with some of their struggles while living with them.
For all of you who are back in the States or wherever you are reading this, thank you so much for your support. Just by reading all of this, I can tell you care about our mission and what we’re up to in Ahousaht. Everyone’s prayers have been an encouragement to me, and I really can tell they’re making a difference. There’s a lot of momentum up here, and we won’t be able to keep it going without everyone’s prayers. Again, thank you all so much, it means the world that you guys are supporting this because it’s an experience that I have been so blessed by already.
Bryce’s Prayer List
Pray for Russell, who is the first person we’ve started to do a formal Bible study and discipleship with by having weekly meetings. Pray that he can have his fire for Jesus reignited and can be a leader in a revolution of faith in the youth here.
Pray for Brandon, Marcus and Xavier, who are all young men who I have been spending time with lately. They all have great hearts already; please pray that they can find Jesus and see that he is the hope in life.
Pray for Travis, a man who was on a nearby island for spiritual and mental healing and went missing. They’ve seen him multiple times but he’s in a poor mental state and is running away from the searchers who are trying to bring him in. Pray for the safety of the searchers out trying to bring him back in and for Travis that he can come to and come home.
Pray for me that I let the Holy Spirit guide my words and heart as I talk and spend time with these young men.