Thursday, November 15, 2012

It's Finished... For the Summer.

What a year it has been. From the visa woe’s in the beginning until now, it’s been a beautiful season. Four months ago I shared my heart with the elders at Avondale Baptist that I needed to take some time away from youth ministry as I approach my 5th year of church leadership. This wasn’t easy as ABC has truly been my family whilst at Laidlaw. In my heart though, I knew I needed a season of not leading anything to draw close to God. These last years have been absolutely incredible in my spiritual formation with all its ups and downs. From a near death experience, to nearly walking away from my faith a year ago, God has been with me through all of it. I can honestly say that I love Christ more than I have at any point in my life. In my final semester at Laidlaw I will attempt to shift my average from a B+ to an A- as I seek and pray for God to speak to me about what the future looks like. It’s funny to think that I just passed high school doing as little as possible to where I’m at now. I want to leave the door open to post grad study, possibly at Regent in Vancouver some years down the line.

During youth camp at Ponui Island this year, I felt God speaking to me about possible future ministry. I never saw myself staying in NZ, but wasn’t really excited about heading back to a dying Christianity in the States. Long story short, I only want what God wants and I came to a point where if he was to plant me back home in the States, I would be ok with that. There are currently a few different ministries on different continents that I’m praying about but there might even be something I can’t even fathom right now on the menu. In the back of my mind though, I feel as if the days of travel could be coming to a close? I have this desire to put roots down and I’ve seen that the longer you are somewhere, the more impact on peoples lives you can have. I really desire depth- I wonder aloud what this looks like…

 I worked two jobs this semester and was able to save $2,100 dollars towards school next semester and hopefully the summer work treats me well (please pray for the $1500 scholarship I applied for at Laidlaw to go through!). I’ve been experiencing good health and I’m super excited to be spending time with my mother in just a few short days as she goes on her first overseas trip! Lauren and I look forward to celebrating her 50th birthday in style in Queenstown. This Sunday my church here will be celebrating/saying farewell to me as my mom arrives that morning; as I was writing down what I would say and the people I needed to thank, I had to fight off tears in the library (not a good look). I’m forever grateful for the love poured on me. This last month has been so good and hard all at the same time; the Triune God is with us though through it all. That’s about the extent of my hope to be honest. After journeying with a family that lost a loved one so instantly, I’m again fully aware of how fragile and short life is. Do things that matter, live with passion; put your desires to death and live in Christ.


You must excuse me now while I clean out my desk in the library- my schedule just freed up. Leaving the library at 1:30pm on a Friday? Almost feels like sin.



Above: A cute commercial in NZ. "Maaaate, your dreaminnnn."

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Kiwi Culture

After the events that took place this last week, I decided to put up something lighthearted. These are a few of my favorite Kiwi commercials and videos that will give you a brief snapshot of a few cultural groups. The first clip is my video debut. You should come to Laidlaw.....  : )

Virtual Walkthrough of Laidlaw College Auckland Campus from Laidlaw College on Vimeo.

The video below was reduce the number of drunk driving incidents among Maori. It has a few very memorable lines in it.

The stoic NZ 'southern man', is brilliantly captured in the video below. Good on ya mate.

This ones just amazing. I don't really know what to say. I left my book outside the library... nekk minute....

And this one is just simply a classic below. The boy in this clip is from the highly acclaimed 'Boy' movie.

This one is pretty funny:

"Maaaate, you're dreamin"

I hope you enjoyed.


Saturday, October 6, 2012

A Week Away.

Above: Ponui Xtreme, the building where it all happens.

I just got back from an amazing week on Ponui Island with a Scripture Union Youth Camp. The island is located just an hour and a half south of Auckland and is owned by three farming families. I was tremendously blessed by the students that spent the week there; ministering to them and them ministering to me. Its times like these I realize how much I love youth work focused on Christ. Multiple highlights- but the one that shown out like a beacon to me came in the form of a young Maori boy. He didn't know much about Christ/God at all coming into camp and was placed in my group of 5. He is being raised by his grandmother in South Auckland (considered the most dangerous/poorest part) and was just an all around pleasant kid. After 3 days of good conversations, he fell quite ill, alongside another camper from my youth group. While the evening’s activities continued, this young boy prayed for the first time in his bed, asking God to heal him. A short while later, he was beaming from ear to ear telling me that he had been healed… attributing it all to God. This stirred a flame in my heart to lay hands on the other boy who was sick with stomach junk. 10 or so other youth laid hands on him and his mattress as I prayed; the next morning he went hiking with our group as we cooked pancakes over an open fire on a remote beach on the far side of the island. He felt markedly different. I felt markedly different. Later that night I was approached by other young men for counselling/advice and prayers. I’m so thankful God used me as a mediator of blessing. Leading up to this camp was one of the fullest seasons of my life. I wrote around 11,000 words for Laidlaw projects in a short span of time whilst making coffee running youth ministry and filming. Previously, passion was present but wearing thin. That couldn't be said from where I sit right now. Physically exhausted but spiritually/emotionally high. I’m currently forcing self-care upon myself by staying home tomorrow and do nothing but sleep.

Above: Wynand suggested this pose. Nuff said. 

During the week I was able to share my testimony and do a bit of MC comedy as well as reading aloud the ‘bed time story,’ to the guys and girls at camp. Despite what some may say, you’re never too old for a bed time story- especially when it’s The Cross and the Switchblade; a detailed account of David Wilkerson and Nicky Cruz in New York. What an unbelievable story that amped us up as a body of worshippers. At camp during a quiet time, a poem came to me. I don’t traditionally write poems, but I thought I would be vulnerable by sharing it anyways:

You have heard it said,
But now I say to you;
Behold my child I am making all things new.

Warm blood washes away the stains from the
corroded shackles that once held humanity

You make all things new.

Roots go deep like a tree with wings like a dove;
you send our spirits soaring, ablaze with your love

You make all things new.

Above all Christ, I give you my life-
Prepared like a bride, pierced in the side;
To death with our pride.

You make all things new.

Jesus you’re the reason we live and sing,
the truest Adam, a God among men.

You make all things new.

Death you’ll never get the best of me,
we only put our faith in thee;
In You we still trust.

In the historic life we live, we are given a few moments to work with our Father as sub creators beneath him (How grateful I am for this!). We may never get to see the produce of our labors on this side of eternity; but everything is being artistically weaved together for good in the glorious mosaic of broken pieces across humanities canvas- Christ at the center. I can’t help but be reminded of Genesis 1 and Revelation 21. Life started in the Biblical account of creation with God’s creative breath transforming the chaos (void) into order; this glorious story ends with Him recreating and renewing all things. Not making all new things, but making all things new. What joy it is to think that we have been given these years to work towards the final redemption that we know is coming. Praise the Father, Praise the Son, Praise the Holy Spirit. 


Sunday, September 23, 2012


So much has happened this semester that I really don’t know where to start. There have been a few moments of clarity were I’m truly thankful for this time to keep my head in the books while simultaneously acknowledging that this season will be coming to a close in 9 months when I will God willing have completed a bachelors degree in theology. This will be the first bachelors degree in the family (to my knowledge) and is the product of the time, love and support that family has put in. Exciting. It’s to late to assess whether it was my fault or just a school schedule I can’t really get around but I’m currently on the tail end of a marathon 6 weeks(?) of work. I have worked 7 days over the last 4 weeks nonstop with two more to go before the 4th quarter starts and I can re-establish a healthy work/rest cycle. I have luckily had a caring girl friend with a medical background who lovingly tells me what to eat/drink to keep healthy; I surprisingly haven’t got sick but know I’m knocking on that ‘not so metaphorical’ door that is my limit.

Briefly highlighting moments this semester: as always (Praise God) my visa came at the very last moment as funding was secured in the final day before school started. I felt the Spirit tugging at my heart to move back to Avondale to my church family and students. The first was to the Gordon’s house in Te Atatu then a month and a half later I was able to make it all the way to Avondale which has allowed me to increase time and ministry with my students. I was convicted by Jesus model of mission and ministry which incorporated cycles of teaching and sending and I knew that just communicating spiritual truths to my students without putting them into practice would shortly be forgotten. Theory doesn’t help you when life is hitting the fan. The moves were quite taxing on my body. My sleep patterns were thrown off and for about 6 weeks I didn’t sleep for more than 4 hours a night, waking frequently with even a handful of disturbing dreams (My sleep has since progressed to 6 hours a night, and just in the last week 7.5 or 8 hours this last Saturday! Praise God). For over a month I shook things up at youth Church when instead of teaching Sunday morning I took students into the downtown Avondale area to pray over people/wildlife/animals; feeding the fire fighters next to our church; and praying over a addict recovery room. I’m seeking out Gods guidance on this approach, but I feel his pleasure in this. I found out my Mommy is coming to visit me in November and that is super exciting. I had the opportunity to preach at Massey Presbyterian about my life and the Calling of Levi in Mark chapter 2. Then again on the Great Commission at my Church (ABC), giving birth to a sermon that had been gestating in my soul for the previous months. I’m so thankful how school has made me radically question how I live in light of the Gospel. There was a marked change in my when I had 3 classes on missions in one semester and I was able to immerse myself in the study of the missio dei. Other highlights included running a combined youth event with Massey Presbyterian Church, preaching at a Korean church in Ponsonby, becoming a proper barista at the coffee shop (I still don’t drink the stuff) and then becoming a “movie star” at Laidlaw. Last week I was asked to act in an international promo film for 12 hours as the lead. I was stoked and honoured that the school would consider me for this. Now I’m just one assignment away from the two week holidays. This semester I have been stretched to my mental limit; reading the thickest and most technical theology I have ever seen that makes me feel like I'm not cut out for this stuff. I praise God he allowed me to get through the complexity of the arguments and then critically assess them; the two for the same class have been the most difficult tasks to complete in my time here. I submit an exegesis on Romans 5:12-15 Friday at 5pm, run a youth event, sleep and then wake early to pack and leave for camp on Ponui Island for a week. The end is in sight.

As I gear up for my final semester at school, I felt in my heart that I needed a break from ministry. I have been with my Church (ABC) for over 2.5 years running the intermediate/youth and prior to that I had been in the states running a youth ministry for 2 years before coming to NZ. The time has been fantastic and my family in NZ is incredible, but I knew in my heart I needed a chance to be still and listen to what God was saying to me. 2 months ago I alerted the elders, then a month ago the parents and then 10 days ago the students that I would be stepping down from running the ministry. Each November I leave to the South Island to make big money in the vineyard and this year probably won’t be an exception. I figured the summer when things are slowest at church (unlike the states were it picks up) would be a healthy time for the Church to transition with a new Pastor. What is a strange thought to me is that even though I have been living in New Zealand, I don’t really live here. Come June 2013 when I’m not a student anymore I won’t be able to get another visa- I truly am just an international student. It’s a strange thing to think about when this place does feel like home. In my final semester, I loosely plan on attending 2 different churches a month (while still attending ABC) to see what they are doing as I seek Gods guidance on what a church could look like possibly integrating these approaches for the future. I have seen folks graduate with a degree to just quickly transition into a role as a pastor, and that’s not something I’m opposed to if God wills it, but in saying that, there are many incredible ministries out there. Post New Zealand I plan on returning to the states for a few months before leaving to South America for a year to join up with Diaconia Ministries . I say this, but keenly aware that God had other plans for me when I got accepted to teach English in Afghanistan 5 years ago. We will see what he does. Thank you for journeying with me. God bless.


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Travel Story #7: Monks, Monasteries and Urban Monastics.

Greetings all. After finishing the semester at Laidlaw, I  finally had the chance to get out of Auckland. I set out at about 10am Saturday the 7th for Norsewood, NZ to spend a weekend away in a Cistercian Monastery in a town originally settled by Norwegians. After 3 hours of attempting to get a ride out of the city (I’m currently 0 for 2 hitching out of major cities) I caved in and got a ride with the parents of a friend who where heading to Hamilton, about an hour and a half south of Auckland. Pat and Karen were from the United States originally but have been living in NZ for 16+ years as God called them here as missionaries to teach. Pat is the current principle of EastWest and it was a great opportunity to pick his brain as he showed me around the campus upon my arrival. He and his wife can be seen here: There just so happened to be a 10:30pm bus to Palmerston North from Hamilton, so opted to take the easy way out, called the monks to tell them I wouldn’t be arriving Saturday, then had dinner with this lovely couple. I caught the bus, and arrived in Palmy at 5:30am where it was below freezing. Not willing to shiver to death, I walked to the other end of town where I found shelter in a gas station. I bought a hot chocolate, then talked about life and Christ with the attendant at the station until the sun came up an hour later. I then set out for the Monastery in Norsewood. This time around though, hitching was successful. It took 10 minutes to get picked up by an electrician that I would later find out had asked the gas station attendant if I was an alright dude as he normally didn’t pick up hikers. Grant dropped me off on the monastery road where I walked about 4.5 miles to get to mass on time. 

Above: Entrance to monastery.

Upon arrival I was warmly greeted by the monks, who all knew my name. I felt like a rockstar; as much like a rockstar as you can possibly feel like at a monastery that is. I discovered that the accommodation was very warm and inviting in a stunning setting.

Above: My room at Kapua Monastery

The monks would cook the guests 3 meals a day as they believed in practicing hospitality among other monastic ventures. Prayers started at 4am (I went to one 4am session but opted out the other 3 days to sleep in, attending the 6am prayers) centered around the Psalms. The monks would pray 7 times a day communally and would read aloud the entire book of Psalms on a weekly to 10 day basis. I was struck with a overwhelming sense of peace and calm as I meditated, prayed, journalled and read the Bible as well as Augustines Confessions cover to cover. The caretakers of the monastery were impressed by my knowledge of Catholic, Latin American Liberation theologians Gustavo Gutierrez and Archbishop Romero (This was thanks to my professor Gordon Stewart who introduced me to various liberation theologies and their impact). My views on Catholicism have softened over the years, still noting theological differences though, but keenly aware that they are my brothers and sisters as much as any protestant. There is something hugely beneficial and counter cultural about being still+meditating, in a modern/post-modern enlightened culture that values people in relation to what they produce. I was able to meet with Father Nico who had been a monk at this monastery for 47 years. He is an incredibly warm man of God with shining eyes and big heart. I was able to discuss with him some things that had been troubling me, and he responded in great wisdom. We even shared a few laughs. On Wednesday morning I left the monastery at 7:30 am in high spirits. My next stop was Wellington, a 3 and a half hour journey driving non-stop. I made it there in 5 hours, hitching with 4 different people. The first was a friendly farmer, the second- an electrician, the third a Jehovahs Witness who couldn’t understand why I believed that Jesus was God ….then finally, a man name Tim. While the other rides were brief, Tim and I spent 2 hours together. He was a successful bright guy, in his early 30’s and a new dad. He had grown up around Christianity but didn’t understand what the Bible was about or what God wanted of him and his life. As a new dad to a 3 month old son, he had been contemplating what he and his partner Susie* (name changed) would teach their newborn about the world. When he told me that I was the first hitch-hiker he had ever picked up, I knew God wanted me to speak to him so I cut loose, not holding much back. As we arrived in Wellington he invited me to his home where we had lunch together. Shortly afterwards he dropped me in the heart of the city where I met up with a friend from Laidlaw that calls Wellington home.

Above: A stunning Wellington day. Wellington is a beautiful city, the Music/Art capital of NZ. My camera betrays the fact it was completely sunny; it couldn't handle taking a picture into direct sunlight hence the dark haze.  

At 6pm, I bid James farewell to join up with a friend from Urban Vision , a group of people that voluntarily relocate to the roughest, poorest areas of Wellington to be Jesus hands and feet. Over the last 4 years God has been shaping my view of what church should or could be and this was hugely formational in my journey. I have seen what church and hospitality looks like in Guatemala and Honduras, China etc, then I was able to live that out that ministry in Port Angeles for a season. Now I have seen inclusive hospitality based ministries on the north and south island of NZ and I’m becoming increasingly convinced that this is what it looks like to live out the Gospel in the 21st century. This is of course could completely fill another blog… moving on. The first stop upon meeting up with my friend Gemma and her friend Lizzie (apart of the UV community) was to an apartment full of addicts and mental patients. It was messy, let me tell you. Not in the sense that the apartment was dirty (it was that as well) but that I was witnessing the very broken lives of mentally unstable addicts, cutters and the like. 

Above: James and I on the waterfront before we visited Te Papa Museum.

Lizzie began to cook dinner in this place as I heard life stories. One of the women in this apartment was quite taken with me, and (semi) jokingly offering to wait for marriage before having sex as that’s what good Christians do. I laughed, telling her that that would be for the best as my mother also wouldn’t approve of that premarital activity. Kathy and Caleb from UV showed up shortly thereafter and we were able to share food and a few laughs even though my heart was heavy for the occupants of this apartment. After talking with Caleb, I found out that he was friends with James, the guy I had just met up with. After we left the house Caleb and I hung out, going on a night mission to trap possums for a possible future meal up in the woods. It was there he picked my brain about different biblical issues he was working through. For me, it was hugely encouraging to be able to encourage a brother that was living so full on for Christ in this setting about theological matters. I know that the hours of study were hugely worthwhile and that God has called me to study in this time- but that the essays and reflection I had done on various issues would now directly help shape practice. Liberation Theology was a wide topic that came up in conversation frequently with different people and I feel God had prepared me for this trip by choosing to do projects at Laidlaw this last semester on it. I was able to discuss strengths and shortcomings (like any theology will have, and I do mean ANY) encouraging and challenging.

Above: A quick trip with new friends out of Wellington to go check out the red rocks. There were at least a hundred seals about. Smelled terrible. 

In Newtown, a suburb of Wellington there are 4 UV houses. The ministry is Anglican, so each day prayers would start for all of the people living in this ministry at 6:30am. The ministry is made up of tent-makers. Everyone works a part time job near Newtown to support themselves so they can focus on ministry. One of the people loosely associated with it though owned a fair-trade coffee roasting shop called Peoples Coffee ( and I was fortunate enough to meet the owner, have a cup of the good stuff along with a personalized tour. The people in this covenant community designate money that is put into an account so that the group can buy food and support street people that are invited to come live with the people at UV. I experienced two types of Monasteries in the same week. One was based on retreat and prayer, providing space for (worn out/tired?) ministry workers of any denomination to be refreshed; the other where the so called ‘neo-monastics’ that sought to bring Christ message into the dark areas of Wellington, providing spaces of hope for those who had none. I was challenged to live out the gospel in a more radical way. God has allowed me to realize that I’m a very selfish person in this last week (so I’m sharing that online for everyone to see… get it! Selfish and now I’m Sharing that with everyone- that’s good comedy I reckon!) and I have been making steps to repent of that. Painful and so good at the same time.

Above: Monkey!

On the final day of my visit to Wellington, I met up with Gemma and we took the teenage girls from her house on a “trip to the Zoo.” No one had money so we walked around the outskirts of Wellingtons Zoo, taking pictures of the creatures that were visible from the outside. All in all it was a creative, brilliant time talking with the group of kids she works with. I spent the rest of the evening with Gemma who then dropped me off at a truck station to meet up with a trucker (who nearly forgot me!) who was going all the way back to Auckland. He was friends with people in the community and has since offered to take me to and from Wellington whenever I’m keen to go. Tim and I left at 8:30pm, arriving in Auckland at 6am listening to the blues and talking life while he puffed away like a chimney.

I arrived back to Auckland completely exhausted- I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It was only a 7 day trip, but one to remember. I thank God for the things he allowed me to see and experience. I consider myself blessed. Thanks y'all for journeying with me!


P.S. Please continue to ask God to provide my Laidlaw finances for next semester. It starts in under a week.

 Above: View of the sun rising over the icy fields from where I ate breakfast at Kapua Monastery.
 Above: 7:30 Am, on the main road away from the monastery as I hitched to Wellington.

Above: Sunrise over Norsewood.

120+ More Pics!

Monday, June 18, 2012


It’s that time of the year again when everything channels down into a unified current that just keeps flowing. I just finished a tense, down to the minute, Greek exam that I hope I passed; adrenaline still coursing through my veins. I write now in the great hope of being able to study again next semester at Laidlaw, not quite sure how it will all come together.

It was now almost a year ago that I collapsed in the North Shore Hospital without enough blood to keep me going. That experience of parvovirus + the newly discovered hereditary blood disease nearly got the better of me. I thank God for the life he has allowed me to continue living. Fast forward to a more recent time, when I had come back from surgery in the States and had a few more tropical illnesses in a remote Fijian town; only then to struggle with getting my New Zealand student visa in on time. That was a miracle in itself, a miracle I won’t expand on here, but still something that couldn’t be explained as anything other than an act of God. It hugely strengthened my faith to say the least.

Above: In the ER, 12 hours before collapse. July, 2011.

As of today, I’m 2 exams and 10 days away from finishing my final semester before heading into my ‘senior’ year at Laidlaw. I know that God has called me to study here, in this time, and that has been made more than clear- being affirmed multiple times. In 2 semesters God willing, I will have a Bachelor in Theology, majoring in pastoral care. God has always shown me just a step ahead of where I’m supposed to be, but the future is open. I have the opportunity to move to Paraguay post studies t to assist and learn from a dear friend of mine that works with the poor in Asuncion. My heart races when I think about working with the poor and marginalized; some of the times I felt most fully alive where when I was in Guatemala with only a few dollars to my name. I knew God was so close to me. As much as I love the western countries that have shaped me, I feel like if I don’t get out shortly, I will burst. My spiritual act of worship is to study at this time, I’m called to persevere. 

 I’m nearly halfway there monetarily from a generous donation and the vineyard work I did this summer. $4400 NZD ($3,491 usd) is the remaining balance which is still a massive number. As opposed to other semesters, this could* (things can always change) be the last semester I would need financial assistance. Semester 1 is just finishing and Winter/Spring semester (2) is just around the corner. July 20th is the cut off date I need the financial assistance by so I can still apply for my student visa. After this semester, NZ heads into summer and I’m able to work full time for 3 months on the south island and if I stay healthy can pay off around 75% of the final semester costs. If you’re broke like me, ask God to allow my dad to sell a few houses as he has told me he would contribute to my education from the (potential) sales. If you do feel compelled to donate towards my education, contact my folks Mike+Deanna at (360) 681.5154 or stop by and say hello at 32 Thornton Place, out in Dungeness.

This very well could be my last year in NZ and I’m excited about what the future holds. Thank you for journeying with me and petitioning God on my behalf.



Above: Having just returned to NZ from the US and Fiji, I was interviewed by Laidlaw Principle, Dr. Rod Thompson at Community Gathering. November 2011.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Guard your Head.

On Wednesday the 23rd I hit my head pretty hard while showering. I had just set the shampoo on the floor, then stood up to quickly, bashing my head against the metal soap rack. Previous to this moment in time I was feeling the stress of the end of the semester pushing down on me, but had a decent plan to get through. When I hit my head, I remained standing, closed my eyes and just focused on breathing. I stayed conscious and thought I was doing alright until the shower basin went red with blood. The cut wasn’t that intense but the effects of the initial impact have continued onto this present day. Thursday I went to class but couldn’t concentrate. Studying in the library was useless so I decided to head home. On Friday, I tried to start fresh again but was met with a huge road block of not being able to focus at all, leading me to huge frustration. I was urged to go into the emergency room (because it’s free) just to get checked out. I was treated for mild concussion and given a tetanus shot for the metal rack that impaled my head.

In all of this you have to find some amount of humor though. I mean, really- I have survived some pretty fantastic things all over the world to only then get nearly taken out by a soap holder. Hopefully in two weeks or so this will be even funnier to me.

From the doctors office I went to a church event, made it through just fine, had a good sleep that night and then tried to study again on Saturday. That was to much to ask. I ended up going home disheartened and exhausted. I just slept. On this day though, when I check my bank account, it happened to be $2,200 NZD larger than when I checked it previously as someone had made a huge contribution to my education. In the midst of the frustration from the head trauma and inability to concentrate, I knew God was there, still blessing me and affirming that Laidlaw is where I need to be. I can excitedly say that with my summer savings and that contribution, I’m halfway towards studying next semester… but now back to the present.

I was nearly overwhelmed with study before, but now I can’t do what I need to do on the timetable I was working under. I was able to sleep for huge chunks of time on Saturday and Sunday but I feel I'm in the same spot. Today is Monday and I feel as if I’m completely hungover with a constant dull headache (sensitive to light, sound, stimuli). It’s very hard to read or focus and what I read is not readily retained. I have talked with student services and my teachers and they are willing to work with me. This has been tough and frustrating as I fear longer term issues? I have decided to give up contact sports as they don’t sit in my long term plans and I’m really praying that God would heal me of this haze. I honestly thought it was going to be minor, done with over the weekend. I’m not tripping over my words or unable to communicate but I know something is a bit off. I would really love your prayers right now.



Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Journey of Tiffany Manning

Howdy all, this is a medical update from my friend Tiffany Manning, who was building for the Kingdom in Papua New Guinea with New Tribes Missions. She taught there on base for nearly 2 years when she came down with a strange illness. This is her story.



Tiff says: "If you’re around the Port Angeles area and would like to hear more about what He’s done in PNG this year, I will be sharing at Independent Bible Church on Sunday, June 17th during the Sunday School hour (9:30-ish/9:45-ish am)."

Medical Journey
Whew!  I don’t even know where to begin…words fail to express the greatness of our God throughout the past 5 months.  To sum up, starting January 7th, 2012, I started having horrendous headaches that nothing would relieve.  I was exhausted all the time, sleeping 10-12 hrs. a night, taking naps during the day, all of that just to literally survive.  Towards the end of Jan. my vision started to go blurry/foggy.  My last Tome was back in Feb. as I was about to fly to the mainland of PNG to see a doctor on the main NTM support center.  I stayed there for 5 weeks, numerous medical tests, blood tests that were sent to Australia for more tropical disease processing, x-rays of my head, every pain-relieving medication available, an eye Dr. appointment in Town, and after all of that, no relief and no answers.  Well, we found out a lot of things I didn’t have!  But no answers for what was causing these ailments.  God provided SO much during that time, fabulous families to stay with, wonderful doctors and medical staff, incredible friends, and encouraging notes and prayers from around the world.  Special thanks to the Bowers’, the Tallman’s, the Martens’, & the Stephens’ for their hospitality & help!  For more details about God’s greatness during that time, check out my blog:

Some great friends I had the pleasure of meeting while at HQ for medical

What did no-answers mean?  The doctors did everything they could, but with the limited medical technology in PNG it meant I had to go back home to the States.  March 22ndI said good-bye to PNG.  I praise God that He put me on the same flights going from PNG to Brisbane, Australia as a Dr. and his wife who came to serve in PNG for a few weeks.  The Lord also provided me with a place to rest with some great friends in New Zealand.  I was blessed to reunite with some dear friends from home, David & Lauren Piper, as well as reconnect with some great people I met when I stopped over in NZ 2 years ago on my way to PNG for the first time.  While I was in NZ new symptoms started to appear, including fever, chills, aching spine/neck.  The worst was the last night I was in NZ, I felt horrible.  It was suggested that I go to the hospital, but I knew I had to be on a flight to the States the next day.  Some friends gathered to pray for me, and I’m very thankful to report that the next morning I felt SO much better and was able to get on my flight to the US.  I’m SO thankful for the time in NZ, it was restful, encouraging, and definitely physically needed because I couldn’t have made the long trip across the ocean without the rest in NZ.  A special thanks to the Piper’s, Gordan’s, Quirke’s, and Roland for their hospitality!

One Tree Hill with Lauren & David!
Tuesday, March 27th I was reunited with my family in WA!  Praise God!  I have never been so happy to touch ground in Seattle, thankful that I didn’t have to get on another plane (flying in my condition was NOT pleasant; it literally felt as if my brain was going to explode).   Friday that week I had an appointment with a Dr. at an infectious disease clinic in Seattle.  Praising God that the CT scan of my head came back CLEAR!  No masses in my brain!  YAY!  Amidst all of the various blood tests done that day (they took 17 tubes of blood), only 1 came back positive….MALARIA.  It was quite a shock since I’d been taking a prophylaxis to prevent malaria for the 2 years I was in PNG, not to mention the 2 malaria tests I’d had since Jan. that both showed up negative.  So I started the treatment course and my fevers, chills and body aches subsided after a few days.  Those were literally the most painful days of my life, 104 temperature, nausea, etc., so I was MUCH relieved when I got over the worst of malaria – praise God!  I was still suffering from headaches, fatigue and some vision issues, but I was home, and thankful for being alive and with my family.

Passion Week, the week leading up to Resurrection Sunday, I couldn’t have been more blessed to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus than I was this year!  Wednesday of Passion Week some friends called because they wanted to pray for me, so I went to their house for an evening of prayer.  Throughout that evening the Lord relieved a specific spot on my head that had been hurting throughout this whole venture.  It was if a spear had been removed from my head and I had instant relief.  Needless to say we were all praising the Lord for His healing mercies that evening!  That spot has not hurt since.  I attended a Good Friday service that week.  Some friends prayed for me after the service as my vision had still been bugging me (as if I was looking through fog).  We were reminded of how Jesus healed a blind man with spit and clay.  While they were praying, one of my friends licked her thumbs and touched and my eyelids.  The instant she touched them it was as if an opaque lens lifted from my eyes.  I have not experienced the foggy vision since – praise God Almighty!  The next night (April 7, my sister's birthday : ) I went to the Saturday worship service my church had and again, after the service the Lord laid it on the hearts of some friends to pray for me.  I was still having some of the weird headaches that had been there since the beginning.  My friends prayed Psalm 91 over me, while they were my headache shifted from the back of my head to my forehead.  They prayed Psalm 18 over me next and throughout that scripture the headache left.  Praise the Lord!!  I have not experienced any of these ailments since!  What a spectacular way to celebrate our risen Savior, healed, pain-free!

He has risen!  Easter with my family : )

There has been LOTS of praising God going on around here to say the least.  It wasn’t until about 2 weeks ago that I realized how sick I was, because I was feeling SO much better and more like my usual, spunky, energetic, joyful-self.  In the 3 specific areas mentioned above, I am 100%, thank You Jesus!  I am still not 100% when it comes to my energy.  The Dr.’s have said that since I was sick for so long, it’s going to take a few months before I feel base-line “normal” again.  All of the other tests from Seattle came back negative, so the Dr. was suspecting it was malaria the whole time.  I have no idea if it was malaria since Jan., but the Lord was in control the whole time and He’s brought me home.  The past week I started “doing” more things, like helping plan and bake cakes/cupcakes for my nephew’s 1st birthday (YAY!), my grandparents were visiting, looking into teaching jobs, getting things ready for Mother’s Day, etc. and that all was apparently more than I could handle (or my immune system is super weak) as Sunday I wasn’t able to keep any food down & have been exhausted, but I’m trying to stay hydrated and listening to the Lord for wisdom on how to recover.  There are so many miraculous things the Lord has done, so many blessings He’s poured out upon me.  He IS a God who answers prayers – THANK YOU FOR PRAYING!!  He has answered our prayers and brought about healing!!

Logan's 1st Birthday!

What Now?
Will I go back to PNG?  In short, I have no idea what’s next, except that the Lord has brought me home.  He’s laid it on my heart to be home for a while.  I’m currently trying to get my Washington teacher certification (I’m certified in Idaho) and am looking for teaching jobs around my hometown area.  This was the end of my two-year commitment in PNG, this was definitely not how I intended to leave, but the Lord has better plans than we could even imagine (I don’t know what those are yet, but He’s in control).   What’s happening with the students in PNG?  When I left Hoskins in mid-February the parents stepped-up to take my classes, I’m so thankful! It’s been an emotionally tough road as I’ve been walking with the Lord through processing all of this, but His Word is truth & His fingerprints are all over.  I'm so thankful for my family and for a fabulous group of women who've been walking through this transitional time with me.   I cannot thank you enough for all of your prayers!  I’m sorry for having such a long delay between Tomes, but hope that the awesome work of God has left you encouraged and in awe of what He does!  I cannot thank you enough for your prayers – it’s been His answers to so many prayers that have literally kept me alive – praise Him!

Praising Him,
Tiff : )

“Give thanks to the Lordand proclaim His greatness.  Let the whole world know what He has done. Sing to Him; yes, sing His praises.  Tell everyone about His wonderful deeds. Exult in His holy name; rejoice, you who worship the Lord. Search for the Lordand for His strength; continually seek Him. 5Remember the wonders He has performed, His miracles, and the rulings He has given.” – Psalm 105:1-5

Sunday, May 13, 2012


Happy Mothers Day.

Greetings from Auckland, friends and family. Since I last wrote things have been good. One of the largest obstacles as of recently was how to divide the JH and HS youth that have been together since they were young. Leadership at church decided that the HS aged students should be participating and staying in the main service (This is common practice in NZ). This was met with frustration by the students, but the potential situation was handled well. Today the dust has settled and life + ministry have been ticking along. It’s neat to see the youth group grow as we become more inclusive of the community we represent and less Caucasian. There have been some positive developments surrounding the students from the community that the church is working with, as we seek to provide them with the hope that is found in Jesus.

Just over two weeks ago I had the opportunity to hang out with folks with all types of disabilities at Baptist camp that took place over a 3 day weekend. For me it was reminiscent of Guatemala and the situation provided new joys and challenges. This experience helped to shape my sermon on Mark 5 last Sunday where I addressed very real pains associated to a world that groans for the return of Christ. At the camp I had the chance to ‘buddy’ up with a incredible guy named Mark and assist him with his daily ventures. I use incredible in the sense beyond his intrinsic value as a image bearer, but as a man who genuinely loves Jesus and people. He supports 5 more compassion children than I do by selling chocolate locally on a street near his house. To be clear, I support none and was humbled by his expression of faith. At various points in the day I was able to reflect on a loving creator in light of current suffering, engaging in dialogue with exhausted family members that are taking care of their disabled love ones. Sobering and brilliant at the same time.

Above: Mark asked me to take this photo, in this particular way, with him. He is disabled from the neck down using the microphone looking thing as a joystick to navigate his chair. 

At the end of this semester, I will be in my senior year at Laidlaw with just two semesters left. The time here has been deeply formational to my faith (and painful). Through trials, the roots of my joy have surged deeper still, grounded in Gods revealed love for myself and all his children. This is unparalleled with any other time in my life. Plans that I hold to loosely post Laidlaw are beginning to materialize and I feel a certain measure of unrest that is much different from my deep struggle to persevere through study as an act of worship during my first months at school. My unrest comes from a fire in my heart to apply the things I have learned which has only grown, but the understanding that my time here is not complete and I must wait. I want to tackle issues like false theologies and interpretations of our scriptures that hinder justice and life to the full, but I also need to pass Greek exams. -Insert Piper laugh here-  This is the tension of where I find myself. Life has taught me to enjoy where I’m at currently but if I was honest with myself I might need to re-realize that again. These are good days.

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.

Thank you to all the Mothers who poured themselves into the shaping of their children in sacrificial love. It really does make a difference even if you can’t see it now.


One of my top five favorite musicians shares his testimony.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

All things New.

Good morning blog, it’s been a long time. Since my last entry, the visa jitters and excitement around that event have settled. Prior to my student visa (which was a miracle, check the blog before this one if you don’t know what I’m referring to. It’s unbelievable.) I found it difficult to study for classes that I told I would be unable to attend, there was a lot on my mind. After the visa came, I was on this buzz that compelled me to make God famous for how he had moved in my life. In some regards, this trumped study, again making it hard to sit down and write essays and memorize Greek. March was full on as I weekly hosted friends from around the globe in Auckland. Notable visitors included Sebastian and Connie from Chile that I had met in the vineyard on the South Island as well as Tiffany Manning coming home from Papua New Guinea with malaria after serving with New Tribes Missions. It was truly a beautiful month if not completely exhausting.

The dust has settled and now I’m into the routine of the semester.

I’m currently on the tail end of the two week Easter Break that has allowed me to catch up on all my studies (30+ hours of actual Greek study, NOT including breaks/lunch times etc) and even get out of Auckland for a minute to play in the woods and on some rocks. This year I took a group of youth from my church to a Firwood style Easter Camp of 4,000 Baptist students in Hamilton. I know I was hugely encouraged by listening to top NZ speakers, musicians whose hearts burned for the Lord. Speaker Justin Duckworth is just about one of the most radical Christian leaders I have heard, one of those speakers that makes you think to yourself, “this isn’t your average hoorah go Jesus pep-talk with average theology that kids normally get- can he even say this stuff from the front??” I have heard him be described as “the conscience of NZ,” which sounds spot on after my conscience was convicted. Not only was camp personally challenging, it provided a neat space to just hang out with my kids and talk about Jesus. To top it all off, I didn’t get sick at all : )

Reflecting on the previous 6 months, life has been incredible. God has allowed me to experience things that have truly broken and reshaped who I am at a deeper level. From the near death experience in NZ that brought me back to the US for surgery, to Fiji outreach with my church and the subsequent sicknesses and frustration that came from it. When I was home in the States, some deeper theological questions that had remained dormant surfaced, then culminated in there fullness when I had unparalleled amount of time to think in a Central Otago vineyard. Laying out my soul to God, he met me in a dry and weary place in a series of huge ways. I stopped believing God exists and I just simply know now. What a painful, excruciatingly beautiful time ß(this sentence wording is funny, but it’s not a mistake). From the time I stopped studying due to parvovirus to the time I started back up again last month, has been absolutely monumental. It would not be an understatement to claim that these months have been just as pivotal as truly giving my heart completely to Christ in Guatemala 5+ years ago. I study with heightened passion and awareness of what God is up to and how he moves.

I’ve been seeking to engage more holistically with the world. This semester at Laidlaw, 3 of my 4 classes are essentially on Missions/Global missions and that has deeply challenged my thinking. I did a substantial project God and mission, and how mission is the central focus of his heart. I realized if I was only able to cite one chapter in Matthew for support of why we go out, I was missing a large portion of the entire scriptures. This coupled with an increased awareness of poverty and our roles as Christians to be a blessing to others has fuelled changes in my life. Hopefully these changes don’t lead to legalism, but I’ll cross that hurdle if I get there.

As a theological student, my prayer is that study transforms what I would naturally put out, to something unnatural to who I am, a supernatural response some would say. This requires training and painful moments, just like an athlete prepping to race, running to win the prize. You do the same unnatural motion or practice the same activity for hours in the hope that on game day, it would be a natural response. After my initial sickness in NZ I began to think more and more about every aspect of my body/life that I was involved in. In a way that surprised even myself I began making changes to my diet (and much more!) as I was convicted. For a long time I’ve eaten junk fast foods etc, but the gospel has convicted me of that. Strange! 5 months ago I stopped eating at all major fast food places and in the last 2 months I committed to not eating at them again for good. Good nutrition matters! As with anything in life, you can’t put out what you don’t put in. I’m eating tons of veggies and low fat meats, putting the money that I use to spend elsewhere on crap foods towards healthy, cheaper eating. I feel great. This then triggered a connection with how I spend my money also, God has allowed situations that have really challenged me to think more theologically about how I spend my money and what on in a light of a world where children die daily from things that would cost cents a day to combat. I could keep going but it might just go on and on… and nobody, including myself likes reading that. Let’s just say my outlook on things has radically changed, again. I pray it would keep changing in a sensitive response to what God is doing in my life and the lives of others I’m in community with.

Thank you for all your prayers and support over Facebook and email. I haven’t been good with all types of communication recently to the States, but I will try to work on that. If I typed about all the amazing things that have occurred recently in my life and my families, I would have to type all day! I will stop here.

Please ask God to help me study, for direction on if I should stay in NZ after finishing my undergrad, continuing on here or abroad (RegentJ) to pursue my masters or if I should respond to some justice issues that have been stirring in my heart in two separate locations on two continents. God has called and confirmed my studies at Laidlaw, then reconfirmed so I know this is where I should be…but for how long? Do I keep studying or do I take a break for a season? Also if you pray please ask God to be all over the crafting of my upcoming sermon, May 6th on which I might title: Reality Reorientation. It’s a horribly wonderful thing when the lead pastor allows you to teach on any topic. I began praying on what to teach, dismayed by options, and God has since confirmed me to go with what was on my heart recently.

Ain’t it good to be alive?

God Bless.


Monday, March 12, 2012

Awestruck Doesn't Even Begin to Describe....

This Blog has been edited on 3/15/12 to include my Facebook status updates from March 6th, 7th and 8th as well as changing language that said something to the extent of "10 minutes ago this happened," to "this happened on March 13th" for the readers convenience. 

Visa Update:

School started on March 5th, but on that day I was unable to. Due to a huge oversight of mine the NZ Government had rejected my application as it wasn't complete. What was needed? Just an FBI background check that takes about 3 months to do..... Oh NO! My heart raced in late February as I resubmitted my application Just a mere 3 business days before school started. I was still holding on to hope, but frustrated at myself for not realizing this mistake I had made about new requirements for studying over two years in New Zealand. March 5th came and went, with it my heart was heavy.

March 6th- Facebook update:

Pray for my student visa to be approved. School started, but I can't without it. Sitting, praying, waiting. 

 On Thursday the 7th, I called Immigration to see how my application was doing. To my dismay the government, even though receiving my application had not even looked at it as it was under a stack of other applications. I was told to fax them a request for urgency which I did a few hours later. I really struggled with the thought of having to wait an entire year to study at Laidlaw since my recovery! On the same day, I was told by staff at Laidlaw that given my situation and timetable I was under,  receiving a visa would be impossible. I was told to let it go and think about new possible plans for the year. Receiving this news was like a bullet to the chest. I had to take a walk around school, eventually ending up in the Laidlaw chapel alone to cry out to the Father. I had seen God work so many times before, but maybe he had different plans for me this semester. Later that afternoon I had come to terms with that fact. I accepted my situation, but vowed to not go down without a fight.

March 7th- Facebook update:

I was told by the admin at school today that my visa will be impossible to get by the 16th, which is the final possible day to begin my studies. This came in light of new information about Immigration inquiring about my surgery in the states. I, nor the school knew that requirement before I reapplied. This could take another 3 weeks. After the 16th I will have failed all of my classes by default, not meeting the 80% attendance requirement. Living on a prayer, asking for a total miracle, I know it's possible because I have seen them before. I've worked through some emotions of waiting another 6 months to study and I'm (now) content with the outcome. God is good. He is sufficient. His loving plans are superior. His name be praised.

March 8 Facebook status update:

After faxing Immigration NZ yesterday requesting urgency, it seems my application has now moved up the ladder. Current status given via email by government is: Processing. They even charged my bank account, which doesn't imply much, but last time when they rejected my app on Feb 8th, my account wasn't charged. These things are positive, but could just as easily be nothing. Thank you for all your prayers and love... I'm still pressing onward doing my Greek homework for the class I can't go to... yet.

 On Friday the 9th, I called again, but still, no case worker had been assigned to me. This was a confirmation to me of what the Staff had said about the impossibility of my situation. My hopes were temporarily raised when my visa status was "processing," but those were let down after Immigration said that no one had been assigned to my case yet. The weekend came and went, but I will discuss that in greater detail later. Monday the 12th came, 3 days away from failing all courses and being unable to study this semester in NZ. And then...........

My Facebook Status on Tuesday March 13th:

On Saturday I was at a friends bachelor (stag) party. I met a guy there that had never met me before that began to speak prophetically into my life in a way that rocked me. Our loving Father has heard my prayers. This man also prayed over me that my VISA would arrive on Tuesday (today). I put on a clean shirt and a tie this morning in preparation. I called the Immigration Office after lunch to see how my visa was doing, long story short, they said: "not good." Before I typed a letter to my case worker, I received an email from a friend in the States out of nowhere (she doesn't have me on facebook or know about my visa situation), "hold fast to the promises of GOD!" After reading her email, I typed the letter to my case worker with hope, sent it, then received a call 3 minutes later from Rose at Immigration to hear my story. NZ Immigration Made an exception to their rules! I'm once again a student at Laidlaw!!! God alone be praised. Tell everyone you know this story, let's make Him famous!!!!!!!!!!! Now I don't look so dumb wearing this tie. In Christ alone. Amen.


On Saturday, I was introduced to a complete stranger who I engaged in general friendly conversation. During the whole time, I felt like he was looking into me/through me?? It was strange, but not strange enough for me to be uncomfortable. A few minutes into the conversation though, almost without warning he began to list off some of my character traits. I stared at him like, "I'm listening, where are you going with this, you don't know me??" He started listing off more and more of my character traits, personality traits, strengths and some weaknesses. Then he started listing off specific prayers of mine that I pray for in the early hours of the morning. My mouth dropped as I hadn't shared those things with anyone and I held my hands open to God. I knew this was the real deal. This has never happened before from a stranger and prophetic words that I consider valid and trust worthy have only taken place 2 times before that in my life. They are all consistent. After that I was prayed over and the man prayed for Tuesday specifically for my visa to arrive so I held onto that date. That wasn't part of the prophetic words but during prayer over me, so I held onto it, if not somewhat loosely. Confident, but not wanting to be let down.

Here is the edited email that was sent to me on March 13th before I typed another letter to Immigration, I won't name the person that sent it to me, but her dad is a doctor in Port Angeles (figure it out).

"I was reading an article and a line stuck out to me that said, "Weak in body, but strong in faith, he laid hold on the promises of God". God laid you on my heart and I wanted to pray for you. I know that you've had some health issues (which I think were a positive thing since we caught up on life!) but I feel like the description of the man above goes past that, so during this time of school and life I want to pray that you are holding fast to the promises of God........edit............ Stay strong :)  "

Nothing in the email talked about a visa at all, but I felt in my heart that this was a confirmation. 15 minutes after this email my phone rang. At first, my case worker told me that since my application was incomplete it would be placed in a different stack of applications to be considered later. She suggested that I contact another Immigration officer that implied to me that her hands were tied. But, after some more questioning she hinted that it might be granted. Another 5 minutes of answering questions, she told me that she indeed could approve it and bring it back into her stack of applications. I was told that because I applied for the 6 month visa instead of the year visa (which I couldn't afford to do at the time), it would be accepted. When I apply for my student visa next semester I will need to include the FBI background check if I wish to attend. Praise God!!! What more can I say?

Thank you to those that have prayed over me and for me. Please ask God to keep illuminating my steps. As a part of what God revealed to me on Saturday at the party, I might be staying in New Zealand for much longer than anticipated. I wasn't told in what capacity I will be serving the Kingdom, but I'm (I think) up for whatever God has in mind. More was shared in those prophetic words, but I won't reveal that on here. Thank you all for your love and prayers. I stand in amazement of the God of the Universe that is the God of our lives. We are loved, and we are pursued... it's for our joy and His glory to understand these words by embracing the reality of the risen Christ, sooner than later. To God be all the glory. Amen.

In Christ,


Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Please be praying. My NZ Student Visa was returned to me as it was incomplete. The incomplete information was something I didn't know I need to include... fingerprints and background check from the FBI. This wouldn't be a huge issue 3 months ago, but school starts in 2 weeks and I'm not sure how this is going to work out. I really goofed this one up. Please pray that stuff just flooooows. I felt most secure on this application than all my other ones (combined even!) and now it appears that it could be the most challenging. Saints, please cover this one in prayer.



PRAY FOR TIFF MANNING ALSO... even before you pray for me. Her health is all over the place at the moment, I seriously think she is trying to compete with me for illnesses now. She is being shipped to the other side of Papua New Guinea to meet the Doctor that might be able to treat her... please pray. She is with New Tribes Missions doing the Lords work.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Above All, Christ.

Just a quick update, haven't had regular access to the internet so this will be brief. The summer overall has been amazing and truly formational for me spiritually. There have been some very hard “dark nights of the soul,” as preacher Matt Chandler calls them as I have worked through some deep theological issues only to come through it with a deeper love of Christ. (EDIT: To unpack this a bit more, I made knowledge of God my god and that god failed me... through prayer and mental anguish God made me aware of this in His mercy.) This year has been huge for me in so many ways. Thank you all for journeying with me and for prayer. Lauren took me to 'The Summer Vineyard Tour' in Queenstown for a early 26th Birthday present and it was a beautiful experience. I have remained healthy since getting over the 6+ weeks of Fiji diseases (goodness!) and have even been able to work the last 8 days in a row and will continue to press on. This coming Friday night, Lauren and I's Jewish friends have invited us to a Chabad Meeting (Synagogue) to my overwhelming delight and I plan to spend at least a few minutes brushing up on my Hebrew and covenant promises in the Torah and beyond. The next day the 4 of us along with our Queenstown friend Dan, will drive out to Milford then take a 3 hour boat cruise into the sound. You need to Google that. Seriously. Milford Sound is one of the top rated tourist destinations in NZ and if I wasn't so exhausted right now I wouldn't be able to sleep at night due to building anticipation. I think the boss is giving everyone a 3 day weekend to cope with doing 10+ in a row during the crunch part of the season and that should be a good time for much needed r+r. On Feb 23rd, Lauren and I will fly back to Auckland then proceed to have a proper 5 day vacation at Laidlaws Piha beach house after putting in the long and hard hours in the field. Please be in prayer as I begin to pray and plan over the direction I feel God is leading the youth and wider church at Avondale Baptist. Exciting times indeed.



You gotta smile if you want to get picked up... Thanks Lauren for the pic.

Mmm, tree

Waitangi Day Reggae Festival in Queenstown

Lauren in Queenstown

Above: The artist Aloe Blacc who performed for my "Birthday Party," with Lauren. Love this soul, funk, brother.