Bryce’s Ahousaht April Update

 

Hey everyone! Sorry it’s been so long since my last update – things have been pretty busy over here. It’s pretty crazy to think it’s been over nine months of living on mission in Ahousaht now. I feel like the morning I left for Ahousaht last June was a lifetime ago with how much has happened since then.

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Family got to visit for a weekend, had a blast showing them the beautiful Wild Side trail

Our goal for this second half of the trip was to focus on being more vocally evangelistic and building up a formal group from the connections that we’d built in our first six months in Ahousaht. Since my last post where we were ramping up towards our “Bible Ball” project, Michael and I have made a lot of progress.  We wrote a letter to the band office (the building where all politics and projects in Ahousaht run through) to ask if we could have a key to volunteer at the gym, opening it on weekends when nobody was using it and opening it for our group after our meetings. We got approved for the key, and that’s been a catalyst in the forming of our youth group. Friday and Saturday evenings we open up the gym for a couple hours. Every time we open it, tons of kids and teens in our focused age group come and hang out – it’s the perfect place to create memories and develop friendships in an exciting way. Another nice benefit is that it’s kept me in shape because basketball is intense and those kids have a lot more energy than I do.

With the frequent gym openings, some friendships really started to develop. A couple of guys drew really close and started coming over to our place practically every day. There’s only so much hanging out one can do before getting frustrated by a lack of formal discipleship, so we started praying for opportunities to have our first meeting. I was still working through some of that fear I expressed in my last post, so I was definitely making it a bigger deal than it needed to be. It seemed so daunting, but eventually, we felt called to dive in headfirst and invite our group over to talk about Genesis 1.

It still took a lot of preparation and unnecessary anxiety, but after a few weeks we finally invited everyone over for the first meeting on a Sunday night at five. Five o’clock came and passed, and only one of the guys, Lennox, showed up. We shared the story of Jesus casting out Legion in Mark 5 instead of the intended story, the creation story because it related more closely to a struggle his family was having at the time.

I wasn’t really disappointed despite the lack of attendance. Michael and I were just relieved that we were obedient to God telling us to hold a meeting, whoever showed up was out of our control. We were still determined to try again though. The next night, about six guys who we wanted in our group were over. Everyone was playing card games, having a good time and slowly heading home as they reached their curfews. It ended up being Lennox as the last one there, and totally unprompted, he said that he wanted to come over and do the “Bible thingy” after school tomorrow, and he would make sure he brought everyone with him.

He stayed true to his word and the next day we had four guys over and told the Creation story. Once we started, phones were put down and eye contact was held throughout the story.  I was amazed and so refreshed to see how they responded. Their interest and engagement put me at ease and I realized I was stressing about nothing. God had their hearts ready for this and was making sure everything moved how he wanted.

I had been preparing my heart to go home from the trip trusting that the Holy Spirit was at work with our time here even if we didn’t see them respond to any of our efforts, but I was even more grateful to be able to experience a personal victory of them listening and engaging with the story. Nine months I’d been praying for something I could see to give me encouragement and this was just that for me.  It was such a blessing to be able to share our first story with these guys who we’ve been pouring ourselves into, praying for and truly love and see them respond and engage.

Our expectation was definitely that they’d be more interested in the basketball aspect of the meetings, but they didn’t even care about the prizes or the basketball half of the meetings. We didn’t even go up to the gym that night. They were more excited by the prospect of us bringing our group back to see Seattle sometime, which is not guaranteed, but definitely something we’re praying for and hoping God opens to door to have happened. But we basically have cut off the ball part of Bible Ball, and it’s just a Bible study.  

Unfortunately, they had to leave almost immediately after that meeting for a basketball tournament in a whole different province. After they’d come back from the basketball tournament, I was a little worried we’d lost our momentum towards the meetings. The Holy Spirit had not stopped working in their hearts though. I was out for a walk around the reservation when I saw them all hanging out by the gym, so I went to say hi. Again, totally unprompted, they asked when the next time we were going to learn more about the Bible was because we had just “told them how we were created and then didn’t tell them anymore”. We scheduled our next meeting for that Sunday again and had another wonderful study.

It’s been a joy watching them hear about these stories for the first time. As someone who’s grown up in the church with a lot of my friends, these stories have been pretty deeply ingrained throughout our lives. Most of these guys have heard next to nothing about the Bible. My own amazement and wonder at the incredible things God has done over history has been renewed with their discovery. It can also be pretty hilarious.  I loved going on a walk with one of our guys, Brandon, and he was asking me if Jesus was really real and walked the earth. Our conversation led towards his birth and Mary, and his face when I told him Jesus was born of a virgin was priceless, I wish I could’ve got a picture to show all of you, but it was pure surprise and a little bit of confusion. In our most recent meeting, we went over the fall of man in Genesis 3, where Adam and Eve eat the forbidden fruit. One of our discussion questions was “what decisions could the characters have made differently and what could’ve some different outcomes been?”. I was expecting some discussion about why God placed the tree there in the first place, or why the serpent was allowed in the garden, all those typical answers. Instead, Lennox paused for a moment, and said: “Well, why didn’t God just not create women and just spawn a bunch of Adams to keep each other company and reproduce.” Something about that just caught me so off guard and had me and Michael cracking up laughing.

Either way, it was awesome to have some engagement with the story and make some great memories. I feel like I’m learning just as much as they are digging through the Old Testament and learning the stories. We’ve established somewhat of a schedule, meeting every Sunday and Thursday to go over a story. I’m very excited to see how deep we can get into the big ole book and who God brings to hear these stories.

If you haven’t picked it up yet, we have gone with a Bible storytelling strategy to share our faith with the Ahousaht people. It’s a common missionary strategy in oral cultures such as Ahousaht (cultures where information is dominantly passed through storytelling and other oral methods) to share stories, and pretty close to how people would do “missions” in Bible times. Storytelling is quick, efficient and interesting, and even more than that it creates other missionaries instantly because literally anybody can remember and share a story without any sort of training. It has been very rewarding, and useful in more situations than just our meetings. Any time someone has a need that has been fulfilled by God and recorded in the Bible, it is a great evangelistic opportunity to share a story that relates to their life situation. Storytelling has also increased my knowledge of the Bible, and I’ve read more Old Testament and learned so much from it than I ever have in my life.

I am so thankful that God has given us the opportunity to share these stories and given us a consistent ministry because it really has helped to stay hopeful and find joy in partaking in the privilege of missions, even when I miss home or am drained after hanging out with people all day.

One of the many dogs that likes to follow us around wherever we go - pretty cute though
Jasper, one of the many dogs that likes to follow us around wherever we go – pretty cute though

Between the lessons learned by living life here and an amazing class I’ve been taking about world missions, God has been teaching me so much. I’ve already typed too much on this blog post so I’ll spare you guys all the details, but I am constantly being challenged and blessed in different ways. Sometimes the challenges get the best of me and I get overwhelmed by homesickness or selfishness, but the thing I’ve learned about missions is that it’s not at all like the short term trips we took in high school where every day is incredible and jam-packed. Part of the challenge is staying faithful through the boring days when nobody is around and you just want to go home for a little bit. Part of the challenge is staying faithful through the crazy days when you just want to retreat to your room and get some sleep but there are 6+ teen guys in the building wanting to hang out. No matter what happens, as long as I go back to worshipping God and desiring everyone else to worship Him with me, I can come back to being refreshed and excited by my amazing privilege of being in Ahousaht.

Thank you guys for reading all that, apologies for not being more consistent about the blog, but your guys’ prayer is extremely important and we need it more than ever right now. We’re going to be in Ahousaht for two more weeks, visiting home for the second half of April and then we’ll be back in Ahousaht until July. We’d really love for you all to be praying for Michael and me, and all the guys we’re trying to reach for the rest of our time here.

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Prayer Requests

Pray for the Bible story guys: Xavier, Moses, Brandon, Lennox, Matthias, Chaasta and Jeremy. Pray for the spirit to be moving in them as they hear these Bible stories and that their hearts can be open to however God wants them to be moved.

Pray for Michael and me. Pray that God can continue to refresh us and remind us of the joy of being a part of His purpose and mission daily, and for energy and wisdom to show Jesus to these young men consistently.

Pray for the continued transformation of our lives and the lives of the people around us.

Back to Ahousaht – Bryce

Our rainy greeting in Tofino, the last stop before getting on the water taxi to Ahousaht
Our rainy greeting in Tofino, the last stop before getting on the water taxi to Ahousaht

Hello everybody, Bryce here! It’s been a while since I’ve updated everyone via blog, but I’m excited to share with you guys what’s been happening in my life and in our time back in Ahousaht since we arrived January 9th. Before we get into that, for those of you who don’t know I decided after a lot of prayer that I was being called to extend my initial six-month stay another six months to continue our work with the young men of the island. I’m very blessed and excited for the opportunity to keep working in God’s plan on the enchanting island of Ahousaht.

Faith. Faith when nothing is going right. Faith in the face of all fear. In the three weeks Michael, Charlie and I have been here, faith in God and his redeeming plan and the power of prayer have been resounding themes.

After playing real-life Tetris by cramming all our stuff into Michael’s 2 door Honda and saying our goodbyes, Michael and I took off at 5 am into the dark morning with a lot of gusto and enough adrenaline to ignore our insufficient amount of sleep. After a few smooth hours on the road, we arrived at the border and met our first challenge.

We were quickly sent into the review room by our border guards and assigned a couple of reviewers who were going to look deeper into our case. We twiddled our thumbs and tried our hardest to stay awake as we sat in the empty building for an hour and a half waiting to hear our verdict.  Every border crossing had been a breeze up until this point, so my biggest worry was whether we’d make it on time for our 10:45 ferry. That is until our border guard spoke the dreaded words: We’re going to turn you guys around. You can’t cross the border.

The 10:45 ferry was definitely out of the picture. My heart dropped and a million questions and doubts flooded my mind. After the shock wore off and we picked our jaws up off the floor, we started game planning a way to get into Canada. We made some calls to Pastor Tim, the Ahousaht chief, and whoever else could help while we prayed and read the word in a coffee shop a couple miles off the border looking for some guidance from God. 

At one point, someone suggested we just try a different border crossing to see if we can get a border guard in a better mood. For some reason, that was the idea that stuck out. Only two hours after being denied from the border, we headed out towards a different crossing about fifteen minutes out from the one we first tried. I have honestly never felt more sure about anything in my life than this plan on the drive to the new crossing. I’ve also never had my confidence dissipate faster into an extreme panic than when we pulled up and the border officer looked at us like we were idiots for coming back after getting denied at the border only two hours ago. To make it worse, we had practically no new papers for our case. Still, she sent us in for further review.

We sweated, prayed and argued our case for what felt like an eternity. Lots of impromptu letters from Journey Church were sent to us as the things we needed to come with in the first place started appearing out of thin air. It turns out, God was covering for our extreme stupidity or blind faith because he softened the heart of our case reviewer and he sent us through to Canada against all odds. 

I consider it a bit of a miracle we made it across because we found out later that trying a different crossing after getting denied, or “border hopping”, can get you banned from Canada for however long the border guards feel necessary. The lesson wasn’t lost on me though. After a challenging 6 months, I had some doubts coming back to make it a year in Ahousaht. Was anything going to happen while I’m there? Could God really stir something in the hearts of the youth in Ahousaht? Or was I just wasting my time? Our border incident was an affirmation of God’s perfect timing and unfathomable power. If He wanted to, God could make amazing things happen in Ahousaht, whether we were there to see it or not. Either way, God wanted us here for a reason and that prepared me to trust that he’s working even when it doesn’t feel like it.

After the six-hour detour, we were in Canada at 3 pm with about two hours of daylight left and four hours of traveling to do and a lot of snow and ice on the roads. We ended up stopping in Port Alberni, about two hours away from Ahousaht, where we stayed the night and waited for the ice and snow to burn off the next morning before finishing our journey. 

The next morning, our friend Jaylynn saw we were in Port Alberni with him and told us he needed a ride to Ahousaht, and asked us if we had space. We didn’t, but I said yes. I figured we could create enough space to slip him somewhere in the back of the car. After a solid 20 minutes, a couple totes broken from pressure and a lot of strategic shoving, we had a small crevice to shove him into. As you can see in the video, not the most ideal set up but he did make it alive and we all rode into Ahousaht together.

Since then, we have been integrating Michael into our lives in Ahousaht and reconnecting those relationships we’d built up in our last 6 months here.  It’s been fairly amusing watching him adjust to the same things we did when we first came. Charlie and I got to have a bit of a laugh at our first dinner together. We told him that not only is it rude to say no when you’re offered something (which is true), but it’s rude not to finish everything on your plate (not true, you have to accept but you can take the plate home with you). The people of Ahousaht are very good about making sure you get enough food and then a plate to take home as well, so it was amusing to watch Michael force down as many plates as he could,  just to finally finish and be met with another plate full of dessert foods. We told him we were messing with him before he puked from overstuffing himself, don’t worry. 

It didn't take long for our little sisters on island to start having fun with our hair during a community dinner
It didn’t take long for our little sisters on island to start having fun with our hair during a community dinner

We have had a wonderful start to our 6-month mission. Just in my month being back in Washington, I missed all the great people we’ve met, the community dinners and the beautiful beaches and practically untouched nature. 

 

I feel a lot more confident coming into Ahousaht than I did last June now that I have 6 months of experience under my belt. I’ve already felt more fulfilled with my time because now there’s a group of guys that I know I’m called to pour my time and prayer into. Outside of the mission, I’ve started to learn more about cooking and cleaning. Most of it could be boiled down to “my mom was right the whole time.” However, it’s been a blessing to actually enjoy some aspects of making decent food and having uncluttered space.

As we’ve gotten back into a groove with the guys here, we felt called to start ramping up towards building a formal Bible discussion/youth group that will hopefully involve 6-8 of the guys closest to us. The goal for the second half of our mission was to be more outspokenly evangelistic, and this study gives us a formal and consistent way to do that. We’re calling it Bible Ball.

The goal of Bible Ball is to be a place where we can begin to introduce the young men of Ahousaht to the gospel message and other themes in the Bible, as well as creating a closely knit group of young men who will help each other through life. We intend to meet once every weekend, spend at least 15-20 minutes in the word and discussion. Once discussion time is over, we will head over to the gym for various kinds of basketball competitions. For the people competing that attend the study on time, they’ll have a chance to win each week to get an extra copy of their name entered in a raffle. At the end of our 6 months, we’ll draw from all the names put in and the winner gets to choose a $150 pair of shoes. For now, the only way to get a raffle ticket is to win one of the competitions, but we intend to adjust and add other incentives such as consistency and verse memory, depending on our group. The point is to have some incentive to show up, because it’s hard to get high schoolers excited about anything, never mind talking about a book. 

Bible Ball makes me extremely excited and slightly nervous.  In my time praying about it, I’ve spent a lot of time feeling underqualified or overmatched by the prospect of leading a group of young men, but I’ve been greatly comforted by God. I started reading the story of Nehemiah in my quiet time, and everything about his life has been a reassurance.

Nehemiah went from the king’s cupbearer to leading the people of Jerusalem to rebuild their wall. He wasn’t an expert architect or even a citizen of Jerusalem, yet he met his convictions with prayer and fasting and followed in obedience. God used Nehemiah and a ton of underqualified citizens to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem in record time. It doesn’t matter who I am, God is going to accomplish his purpose in me as long as I stay in obedience. Whether it’s just a small spark in one person’s heart or whatever inconceivable idea God has in store, my own insufficiencies are going to be drowned out by God’s greatness. 

Another important lesson I’ve been learning from Nehemiah is how he instantly turned to prayer (Nehemiah 1:4, Nehemiah 2:4-5).  I started to see how prayer was transforming my life in the first 6 months I was in Ahousaht, but now I’m seeing how it can transform so much more than my own.  My sense of awe that I get to speak to the God who created everything I see, every breath I take has been growing daily.

The Wild Side Trail has been my favorite place to find peace lately
The Wild Side Trail has been my favorite place to find peace lately

Right now, we need as much prayer as you guys can pour into Bible Ball and the rest of our mission as possible. Prayer got us to Ahousaht in the first place,  prayer got us across the border, prayer guided Nehemiah. Simply put, prayer is the most powerful tool possible, and it’s what we need most right now.

Prayer Requests

Please pray these young men’s hearts who we hope to have as a part of our Bible Ball studies:  Xavier, Brandon, Lennox, Chaasta, Dom, Shandon, Vincent, Matthias, William, and whoever else God may bring into our circle. Please pray that their hearts can be prepared for the studies and God can inspire them to show up consistently and that a radical change can happen in their lives.

Pray for God to continue to show himself to Michael, Charlie and me in powerful ways through our time in the word and prayer. 

Pray for patience with our mission no matter what happens, if Bible Ball is a flop or we start to get frustrated with a lack of response, pray that God helps calm our hearts and keeps us moving forward.

Thank you guys so much for reading! Sorry, I wrote for so long, I’m just excited about what’s been happening! Please continue to be praying for us whenever you get the chance. Thank you again for everything, goodbye, or as we’d say in Ahousaht, chuu!

Bryce Fecarotta

90 Days in Ahousaht – Charlie

Hello friends and family, it has probably been awhile since you have heard from me last, so I will try to fill you in on what has been going on over the last 90 days. We have been in Ahousaht for just over three months. Over the past few months, I have had the opportunity to grow so much in my faith. We have had the opportunity to go on daily prayer walks, lead and participate in bible studies, serving God and the community of Ahousaht every opportunity given, and be in God’s word daily. These opportunities have really helped build my relationship with God!

In addition to my growing relationship with God, He has also presented us with many opportunities to grow our relationship with the people around us. I have had the privilege of going fishing with Harvey, learning to a drive a water taxi, helping with search and rescue for Richard and Travis, and volunteering at a campground. These have all been God given ways for us to help and serve the community. God has definitely been keeping Bryce and I busy over these last 90 days. We have gotten to experience so many things that we wouldn’t have had the chance to experience at home.

We are currently working on creating a weekly bible study/discipleship, with a group of teenagers. Right now we have two that are committed to our discipleship meetings, and we have a couple more that are considering joining.

Prayer Requests  

  • Pray for our weekly peer bible study, that we could have more teenagers willing to come.
  • Pray that God will open opportunities for me to volunteer and serve.
  • Pray for Travis (one of the Ahousaht locals), he is been missing for over 40 days. Pray for his safety and the safety of the searchers.
  • Pray that I will continue to grow in my faith

 

Thank you all of supporting me on my journey, please continue to support me with prayer as I continue to live in the community of ahousaht over these next several months. Kleco, kleco chuu

90 Days In Ahousaht

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.  

The last stop before Ahousaht – Tofino

 

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.

 

The view from our porch on the “Lighthouse”

 

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.

 

Driving a boat for my first time

 

 

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.

Charlie got dolled up by the younger girls of the home we were staying at – a painful process

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.

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