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.
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.
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.
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!