Sunday, March 15, 2020

In My Life

Fear is compounded when we forget God’s faithfulness. In preparation for taking my first sabbatical, I wanted to prepare by remembering the years and moments to get here. Here it is… I can’t help but see God’s hand everywhere in this story. My sabbatical falls within the circumstantially imposed national covid-19 sabbatical. About 3-4 weeks ago a person told me that pastors sabbaticals never go as planned… they couldn’t have been more correct, speaking well beyond what they knew and where we are today. The dates below are based on 12 years of journals and nearly 20 years of saved emails, pictures and social media posts.
In My Life
Part One
Portugal  Both Grandmothers 100% Portuguese
7/1/1927 Great Grandma Lorena Agnes August (‘Grandma D’Oliveira’) was born to my Great Great Grandfather Antone Soares D’Oliveira from the Azore Islands. 
United States
1964 - Dad lead to the Lord by Billy Graham 
8/12/1983 Mom was lead to the Lord through my dad
2/22/86 Born Saturday at 7:47pm in Walnut Creek California
1986 First Church = Valley Bible Church
12/22/1988 - Accepted Jesus into my heart at two years, 10 months old. Memorized John 3:16 around the same time. 
United States
1989 Began attending Bay Hills Community Church (Evangelical Free Church at the time)

5/20/1989 Lauren Best (Lauren Piper) born. Dad and I listened to Aretha Franklin's 'Respect' on the way to hospital
9/1991 Attended Valley View Elementary School K-4
1/28/92 Only living Grandpa died
9/1995 4th Grade at Valley View
9/96 Attended El Sobrante Christian for 5th Grade
8/22/97 arrived to Sequim from El Sobrante California 
9/97 First event at DCC was the Smith Farm pool party and BBQ. I was named “Corn Man” by Pastor Wayne
9/97 Last 6th grade class at Middle School on Fir Street. Won school chess championship.
9/98 First 7th grade first class on Hendrickson Road 
2/99 First time snowboarding on Mt. Baker wearing JNCO jeans that froze solid
United States
9/99 8th Grade. Really enjoyed Mr. Frankfurt (who retired that year) and Mr. Crook. Perfect attendance at SMS.
9/00 9th grade
Started meeting weekly on Sundays with Vern Frykholm. First job at Cornerstone. First paycheck was $400, “what am I going to do with all this money?”
6/00 Built a house with Wayne Yamamoto. Bad dehydration 
United States
9/01 10th grade
Swim Team
Worked at Radio Shack for 1year
9/02 11th grade
Swim Team
4/03 Received Drivers License 
6/03 Worked Summer as CIT at Firwood. Best summer of my entire life
9/03 12th grade
9/27/03 Baptized by Wayne Yamamoto and Vern Frykholm 
3/04 Talent Show Co-Host with Keith Schipper and Mike Haley
6/11/04 Graduated SHS
Period of Searching…

7/04 Worked at [Old] Costco for 6 months as Hot Dog guy
1/05 Home Depot Head Cashier for 6 months
6/05 moved to Bellingham to work at Firwood
6/13/05 Mike Haley death. Worked at Camp Firwood - Worst summer of my entire life
8/15/05 3 state Comedy tour with dad for 3 weeks
9/2005 Living on Badger Road working at Creative Stoneworks. Mt. Baker Season Pass. Pizza. Halo 2 on Xbox Live
12/10/05 Whistler trip with Haynes family then homeless 2 nights in freezing car off the Hannegan.  
1/06 Began working construction in Lynden with Judah Mooney. Semi-homeless. Lived on Western Campus and commuted to Lynden to work. Survived on Wendy’s $1 double stacks. 
1/18/06 Sent application in to teach English in China
Hong Kong 
4/21/06 - Arrived
4/21/06 Arrived in Shenzhen with New Step to teach English
Hong Kong
7/21/06 Hong Kong with Peter Demola to renew Chinese visa
8/23/2006 Pulled a car alarm wire out of a car that wouldn't stop at 1am
10/4/06 Land in Beijing 
10/9/2006 Beijing tour and briefly spoke at University of Beijing class
10/2006 Moved to Ballarat Australia
12/15/06 Began Illegally working in Swan Hill in Australia with Thai, Cambodian, Malaysian and Chinese people. Had to hide behind a barn once from immigration.
1/12/2007 Traveled to Malaysia Cambodia and Thailand
1/30/07 Extremely sick in Cambodia from food poisoning 
2/7/7 Flew from Malaysia to Phuket back to Australia 
2/14/2007 Australia and Swan Hill
United States
5/14/2007 Flew Back to US (Hawaii) after being away for 13 months. Met future best man, Danny Gillam on the Northshore of Oahu 
5/19/2007 Picked up by Vern Frykholm at Seatac airport and surprised my family at 1am
5/20/2007 Surprised Lauren Best on her Birthday in Bellingham
6/2007 Camp Counselor at Firwood 
8/31/2007 Devastating Breakup Email received from Cammy while at Judah’s house
Chile and Argentina 
10/1/2007 Flew into Santiago with two friends. 40 days and nights of drinking, smoking, climbing, hiking, partying and trying to forget. 

Finding… Spiritual Awakening 

11/10/2007 arrived in Chimaltenango hungover from Buenos Aires
1/10/2008 Me: “Should missionaries tithe?” “You can’t out give God,” Dick Rutgers said. I decided to test that.
1/13/2008 Received epic food poisoning at 1am after giving $3 daily budget to church. Only $105 total to my name
1/14/2008 Spent 5 days budget on medicine. Began reading Gideon New Testament  
1/16/2008 Truly and fully gave my life to God on a Wednesday evening after two Guatemalan girls brought me $100 quetzales out of nowhere which covered my medicine. I called Judah to tell him the story of me testing God, getting food poisoning and then Guatemalan girls bringing me the American money. Judah told me that God woke him up in a dream at 1am on Sunday night with God telling him that I was going to need $100. My life was transformed forever.
1/21 traveled by Bus to Tegulcigalpa Honduras. Miscommunication with Pastor Maiko left me stranded at a bus stop in a sketchy part of town. A compassionate Honduran and her French boyfriend took me home and Maiko picked me up a few hours later.
1/23 Taught first bible study ever in Honduras 
1/24 Preached first ‘sermon’ on the street to drug addicts and prostitutes 
2/7/2008 Spirit Airlines Flight next to Norbert Simmons. Returned home to Sequim via San Diego with Uncle Phil
United States
2/14/08 began month long application to teach English in Afghanistan and accepted.
3/25/08 Gave up pursuit of Afghanistan when God told me no. Began interning at DCC with JH 
6/08/08 Began at Upperroom. Started College Group Saturday night meetings at Porter Street House
6/08 Met Lauren Lanza at Upperroom 
Belgium, Morocco, Spain, Italy, Vatican, Greece, Cypress, Israel 
8/20/2008 Traveled Africa and Europe for a month 
8/24/2008 Arrive to Spain from Morocco 
9/13/2008  Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, Israel. Slept on the Mt. of Olives 
United States
7/19/2009 Baptized Danny Gillam who had just received Christ in prison and came to live with me after sending him letters in prison. His whole family subsequently comes to Christ 
8/28/2009 Received email from the Smithsonian after selling Lindbergh’s plane license plate on Ebay. 
9/12/2009 Hired to work at Elwha and Glines Dam under Kevin Yancy with the Bureau of Reclamation 
11/8/2009 MC’d Danny’s Wedding to Karilyn in the Family Life Center at IBC
12/12/14 Car load of Chinese International students die around Morse Creek. Elijah Sussman and I visit our friend and lone survivor of the wreck ‘Van’ at Olympic Memorial the next day
12/27/2009 Put on fancy Homeless Dinner with live entertainment in FLC with Elijah Sussman. Brad Teel gave gospel message. 
1/11/10 Landed in Nadi, met future flatmates Rodney and Nicola at Smugglers Cove 
New Zealand 
1/13/10 Landed in NZ to attend school 
1/14/10 Emailed Avondale Baptist (the church across the street)
2/2/2010 Parachute Festival with future brother in law, Josh Best 
2/15/10 Hired as Youth Worker at Avondale Baptist Church 
2/22/10 24 Years old
3/1/10 Begin studies at Laidlaw 
4/23/10 Met NZ Parliament member Ross Robertson
5/10 Moved in with my NZ family, the Quirke’s 
6/19/10 Isaac Smith killed by truck
7/5/2010 Left Avondale to hitch hike to Cape Reinga. Only brought $20 total in case of emergency. Returned with $50 total. A Maori couple wanted to bless me with $30 and refused my attempt to turn them down. 
7/11/10 Preached first ‘sermon’ (mostly testimony) ever at ABC for 55+ minutes yikes
8/15/2010 Preached first real Sermon ‘Facets of Kingdom’ based on text
11/7/10 Preached Third sermon ‘Pure in Heart’ at ABC

First Faith Crisis
12/23/2010 Is Jesus really God? Found and read ‘The Case for Christ’ at Lachlan’s farm
12/28/2010 began working at Zebra NZ and living with Winstanley’s in Cromwell
2/11 Ignored God’s “no” and accepted position of Resident Leader at Laidlaw
2/12/11 Hitch Hiked from Cromwell to Bluff (southern most point in NZ), then all the way up to Auckland. Big take aways: Stayed with Mary Anich’s friends family in Duntroon, picked up by truck driver and taken on a trucker only 2am ferry to Wellington. Picked up by prostitute at 6am on way home from work outside of the ferry. Shared Jesus with her. Picked up by empty luxury tourist bus by a guy named Dez. He gave me a free 7+ hour ride complete with tour. With this hitch-hiking trip I finished hitching the entire length of NZ from Bluff to Cape Reinga. 
2/17/11 Arrived to Auckland
2/19/11 Hitch hiked through Christchurch days before it was leveled by a quake
3/22/2011 Student Counsel, Full time student, Senior Youth Leader (Pastor), Resident Leader of Te Hono for 80+ hour weeks and 24/7 on call
7/22/11 Near Death Experience required blood transfusion and trip home. 
7/29/11 Concert celebrating me still being alive at Laidlaw 

Second and Major Faith Crisis Begins

United States
8/11 Landed in Seattle. Began doubting inspiration of scripture and God’s existence. 
8/29/11 Gall bladder surgery in States
9/22/11 Ran first youth group of year at DCC for Daniel Connor who was away
10/8/2011 Landed in Fiji for ABC mission. Great experience bonding with NZ team building chicken coops. Horrible experience with racist missionaries and possibly most toxic people I’ve ever met in my life
New Zealand
11/13/2011 Land in Cromwell still battling terrible diarrhea from food in Fiji and at the time undiagnosed flesh eating disease from weakened immune system
11/2011 Major Faith Crisis Began. Read 1,000+ pages of Philosopher Bertrand Russel after a woman questioned my faith while hitch-hiking in February 2011 saying, “Haven’t you ever read Bertrand Russel?”
12/17/2011 Reached out to Elder and former Regent Student, Martin Roberts with massive faith crisis questions
12/20/2011 Lauren Best arrived to NZ. She was hurting and I was lost
12/25/11 Milking cows on Christmas Day with Lauren Best in Milton with Gordon’s 
2/9/12 Saw Aloe Blacc, John Butler Trio and Tiki Tane with Lauren Best
2/14/2012 Lauren Best miraculously healed after God told me to pray over her and that he would heal her. He clearly told me in the vineyard to confess my making philosophy a (g)od to her and pray over her that night.

Faith Crisis Ended

2/15/2012 NZ Visa crisis began
3/9/2012 Moved into 510 Don Buck Road- The Massey Presbyterian pastors house (NZ= manse)
3/10/ 2012 A man I had never met before miraculously spoke over me randomly at bachelor party. He told me God had heard my prayers and that my visa was coming Tuesday. 
3/13/12 visa received Tuesday after being told to hold on to promises of God from a person in Africa unaware of my situation. My visa was approved less than an hour later miraculously.  
10/1/12 DCC strongly on my heart at Ponui Island youth camp out of nowhere 
10/4/12 told God “I’d be ok with being a youth pastor” after planning on being a missionary
10/5/12 Jeff Forberg Email out of nowhere asking me to apply for YP position after I had told Wayne I didn’t want it some time before. 
12/7/12 DCC Youth Pastor Application Submitted 
1/23/13 Hired as youth pastor at DCC 
6/16/13 Graduated Laidlaw
United States
7/3/13 Landed in LA from NZ
7/14/13 Started Job as Youth Pastor at home church
8/24/13 Final summer camp trip at FW with JH
2/27/14 Took Lauren Lanza to lunch to tell her how I felt about her - Mike Jones then prayed for us after lunch 
2/28/14 Started dating Lauren Lanza, our first event as a couple was Jonathan Simonsen’s Over The Top Worship Night. 
3/7/14 Spoke at OCS Chapel
3/8/14 Our first kiss on Hurricane Ridge
3/15/2014 Told Lauren Lanza I loved her for the first time
4/26/14 Asked Lauren Lanza to marry me at Upperroom where we had first met
Paraguay and Brazil 
5/11/14 Returned from Paraguay and Brazil with Judah
United States
5/18/14 Lauren first major car accident
5/19/14 Given a 2005 Honda Civic to replace Laurens wrecked car
5/28/14 Met with (then businessman) Tim Richard to learn how to teach
6/26/14 Told 123 kids about Jesus in Stockton 
6/27/14 - 50 kids came forward to accept Jesus, at least 3-4 meant it for the first time. 
7/7/14 - Bruce Waltke at Regent
7/19/14 CJ drowned. Mourned with family while preparing for wedding
7/25/14 Married Lauren Lanza

Physical Health Journey Begins

9/12/14 Accidentally ran Lauren over with van. She had to use a wheelchair to get around for months. Had to carry Lauren upstairs in two story house to our room with my torn quads. Pain on top of pain.  
9/17/14 - Elders say no to teaching in Mozambique 
9/28/14 Moved to O’Brien’s cottage Lauren getting picked up by paratransit. 
1/11/15 Experienced intense pressure behind my eyeballs and vomiting. This was the first major brain tumor moment without knowing it. 
2/12/15 - Began rehabbing my torn quads and Lauren doing chiropractic work
3/6/15 Took Ryan and Kelin to Dockside to celebrate their marriage (Bud and Anita Kreitle did the same for us)
3/24/15 Bought our first house - moved in 4/22
5/15/15 Felt dizzy/bizarre at the Hawe’s house while studying at Regent in Canada. This was the second major brain tumor moment without knowing it. 
United States
6/11/15 wrote a hypothetical (prophetic?) “even if I had cancer you would be a good God” journal entry
7/18/15 Spencer kicked a hole in the wall :) 
7/31/15 Good and brutal final Ucluelet trip following Stockton trip. First Nation Student Robert beat to an inch of his life on reservation the night before we left. JH camp 1st week of August. 3 camps in 4 weeks was devastating. Deeply exhausted. Felt like a failure. 2nd lowest emotional health time of life.
8/14/15 Went to Kona to recover. Stayed with family. Chipped tooth, lost wedding ring. Swam with 50 dolphins. Free sunset flight around island. Saw Lava. 4x4 up Maunea Kea in Auntie Ipo's Ridgeline. 
8/22/15 Bob Duncan flew us home
8/27/15 Performed Josh and Lauren Best Wedding
9/7/2015 Caught first King Salmon out of Neah Bay with my father in law Wade Powers
9/25/2015 First Kings K concert. Was teaching through their songs at YG
10/3/2015 Josh McDowell and Kings K in Bellingham with YG
10/11/15 Preached a healing sermon to myself at DCC. From this day on my heart was on fire after a difficult summer and I could feel Gods active presence.
10/19/15 - Went to doctor, “I don’t feel right.” Was told it could be my blood pressure
10/22/15 Saw Clarke mason for first time in years at YMCA. Spent the whole day together. I said “if I have brain cancer, I want to be like him.” God was preparing me for the next week.
10/25/2015 Cried out to God on Elwha River - didn’t know what was wrong with me. This spot became holy ground for me. A ‘thin place’
10/26/15 - Met future SBC youth pastor Pat Lynn in SARC (YMCA) hot tub 
10/26/15 - “Doc, I did everything you asked me to do last week. I’d like a CT scan now.”
10/30/15 - CT scan in the afternoon. “Do we fly you or drive you?” Rushed to Harborview in the evening after being stabilized by Scott Underwood
11/2/15 First Brain Surgery 
11/3/15 Thought it would be my last day on earth - collapse in ICU. Said goodbye to family 
11/4/15 Made it through the night. ‘Profound’ encounter with God while on a boatload of drugs. Needed a walker for mobility as I began to walk again
11/15/2015 Tim commissioned as Lead Pastor at DCC
12/15/15 ER trip after passing out due to brain shunt tube poking me in the kidney
1/16/2016 Went snowboarding at Mt. Baker HS Winter Camp in prep for 2nd brain surgery
1/25/16 Second Brain Surgery - Brain cancer removed
Used a walker for mobility once more.
1/12/16 Packaged 4000 meals w/ COTN for JH YG
2/22/16 Made it to 30 years old

Part Two

Physical Health Journey Ends
6/21/16 Mission trip to Stockton
7/2/16 Organized Water Olympics Outreach with fellow youth pastor friends at Kingsway
7/10/16 Jasmin Preciado Quincenera 
11/17/2016 Had to discontinue a HS mission trip I loved 
12/18/2016 Organized Sequinter Jam with 14 churches
12/31/2016 “Tired of the Noise?” Invitation to apply to Harbor Ministries through Relevant Magazine 
2/15/2017 Accepted into Harbor Ministries leadership group “Rhythm in 20” 
Dominican Republic, St. Thomas, Puerto Rico, Grand Turk, Another Country? 
3/18/2017 - Carnival Cruise with inlaws
United States
5/17/2017 Began R20 group #10 in Estes Park Colorado. Freak snowstorm 
7/2017 Organized 2nd Water Olympics Outreach at Boys and Girls Club
7/3/2017 Met Lauren’s biological dad and family for first time
9/2017 to 6/2018  Was overall most attended YG year ever. I previously equated that with success 
10/22/2017 JH Fall Retreat
11/10/2017 Submitted part time Seminary plans to elders
11/2017 HS Fall Retreat
11/2017 Chest tightness and heart racing. Trouble sleeping at night and teeth grinding began
12/2/2017 MC’d North Olympic Foster Parents dinner
12/9/2017 Organized games at Christmas House
12/16/2017 Organized Sequinter Jam 2
12/?/2017 An observant pastor gave a good suggestion about future Sequinter Jam location and timing. I internalized it as a shortcoming on my part. Two former youth pastors shared with me their leadership techniques, structures and books. I began to believe if I just had the right info everything would grow. 
3/11/2018 Organized Multi-Church Winter Camp

Emotional Health Crisis Begins
3/12/2018 Low student interest for mission trip to San Jose. Pastor Tim (lovingly) encouraged me to call off the trip. My mom had been telling me to slow down for years. My wife told me to slow down for months and now Tim was. I felt like a failure who couldn’t do it all. I didn’t listen to those closest to me. Decided to move the trip forward anyway.
3/18/2018 Marked beginning of depression and burnout
4/6/2018 Taxing mission trip to San Jose
4/9/2018 Switched to Monday night Youth Group to prepare for Monday seminary in 2019. Half the youth group disappeared. This was also connected to spring sports, but in my low emotional state, I internalized it, reinforcing the deep feelings of being a failure.  
4/21/18 R20 Session 2 Coronado - Difficult, felt like a fake. Felt like a failure who didn’t belong with this group of leaders. 
4/25/18 Didn’t want to be alive anymore. Actively thought about ways to “accidentally die” as I didn’t want my wife or family to live with a potential suicide
5/28 Youth group attendance rebounded
7/14/18 5th Anniversary at Church
8/22/18 Nephew Titus born during summer camp
8/24/18 A pastor in California killed himself
9/12/18 Moved HS YG to chapel with declining attendance
10/24/18 Accepted to Western Seminary
New Zealand, New Caledonia, Australia 
12/14/18 Went to NZ with Lauren
United States
3/17/2019 Verbalized feelings of not wanting to be alive off an on over the previous year to pastor and began road to healing
3/29/19 Spring Break trip to Island Lake to work with exchange students from Japan
4/12/19 Broke Rib on Crystal Mountain - provided space to heal physically/emotionally
4/19 Watched this Francis Chan sermon that began to wake my heart up to where I actually was
5/4/2019 Performed Michael and Heather Rief Wedding
5/5/2019 Preached a sermon on ‘Abiding in God’s Love’ and I deeply meant it having been slowed down by God.
5/17/19 R20 incredible final session at Estes Park. I stopped feeling like a ‘success’ or ‘failure’. Life Changing. Super healing. Trip complete with Kings K concert in Denver with Phil Kemp. Felt like new man. 
6/2019 Decided to put part-time seminary dreams on pause to focus on youth ministry 
7/25/19 5th Anniversary to Lauren 
8/2019 Helped Create Peninsula Youth Collective with fellow pastors and friends to share ministry outreach to Boys and Girls Club Students
9/11/19 Moved HS youth group out of the chapel and to my house. Focus became on faithfulness to Jesus over having more people in the room. Felt good for no particular reason despite circumstances. Marked end of 18 month emotional health journey. 

Emotional Health Crisis Ended

10/3/19 Amazing Seahawks game victory over Rams with dad.
11/6/19 Had to step back from visiting life skills students at SHS after potentially deadly pneumonia  
11/18/19 Had to step back from PYC for continued health reasons. 
11/28/19 Sun City Florida for Thanksgiving with Powers 
Costa Rica 
12/2/2019 Incredible (and free) Inspirato Trip to Playa Hermosa with Danny and Karilyn Gillam 
United States
2/20/20 Had a vivid dream of Boaz Saffold (spina bifida) walking. I don’t often dream. 
2/22/2020 turned 34
3/6/20 Boaz began crawling for the first time
4/13/2020 Mission trip to Guatemala postponed due to global virus outreak. Plans to stay in-country to study Spanish and work with missionaries for my sabbatical canceled. 

1 comment:

Rachel said...

Wow! That was moving to read. So grateful for you.