You’ve asked, so we’ve answered…
We thought we’d answer some frequently asked questions all in one spot. Read ‘em all or skip to the one you’re interested in. Thanks for caring about our family and about our work as we pioneer YWAM Sydney Newtown. At the risk of falling prey to broken-record-syndrome, we couldn’t do this alone. (We love ya.)
Here are the questions we’re hitting below:
- Have you found a house yet—what’s the latest?
- Do you have a team with you?
- What will you do once you are living in the city?
- What exactly are you doing with yourselves? What do your days look like?
- What’s happening with the kids’ schooling?
- Have you found a church to attend in the city?
- How’s your #GrowCampaign going?
- What’s one thing we can pray for?
Have you found a house yet?
Yes and no. We’ve found one that we’re interested in, which ticks a lot of boxes, but we’ve no guarantee it will pan out. It’s currently being processed through the church council who oversees the property. Overall things seem favorable (it was initiated by them, not us), but we’ll have to wait until mid-October to find out more. We’ve not seen the inside of the property yet but based on the description, the awesome location, and the amazingly huge yard (kids!) we’re pretty sold. We were able to escape the cold this winter by staying with mum and dad Booker as well as house-sitting for family friends who were traveling overseas. Two weeks ago we moved back into the caravan, which has already been parked at three different locations, some of which are very scenic…
Do you have a team with you?
Well, yes. Our team is the four of us, though I confess, Levi and Judah have a pretty limited job description. 🙂 Actually, at the moment there are five of us; our friend Lindsey is living with us for a while. (Yes, she’s even living with us in the caravan—bahahaha! She’s truly “framily.” And we are truly crazy.) We’ve felt it important that we establish our family in Newtown before building a ministry team and that God’s word to us was to “find a home and then call people to a family-based community.” We’re trying to be faithful to that word.
Believe me, there are so many gifted and heartfelt people around us and we would love to recruit them all! We are certainly sharing vision (especially with those we already know are interested) and have fielded questions from those who have enquired, but at this point we are asking people to pray and wait. We’re trusting God that things will converge more after we get a place to live that’s actually in the city and not just in our dreams.
What will you do once you are living in the city?
We would like to run a Discipleship Training School (the Urban Village DTS) in 2016 with an emphasis on urban missions, but have hesitated to put it on the books or advertise details until we’ve solidified our own family accommodation situation. (If we’re able to rent the property we’re hoping to secure, we’d be able to launch a school fairly quickly.) Several of our ministry initiatives will be pioneered out of the DTS. First up—we believe—will be: a bible distribution program for our local neighborhood, events to mobilize city youth for local mission within inner Sydney, and exploring how we might partner with a neighborhood mission to care for the poor and help provide dignity through a laundry service (similar to, or an extension of, Laundry Love, which was pioneered by our friends Greg and Michelle Russinger and has multiplied all over the USA).
Of course we have lots of ideas, but we want to start small and strong. Our family and ministry motto for the last year has been: “From little things, big things grow,” and we believe this is the foundation for the beginnings of YWAM Sydney Newtown. We are intentionally trying to be “small and slow” so that our roots will grow down deep and we can be well-established in the purposes of God.
If you haven’t started any of this yet, what exactly are you doing with yourselves?
Great question… we sometimes wonder the same thing—ha! It’s hard to articulate all we’ve been doing because most of it isn’t easily quantifiable. In addition to our itinerate teaching ministry, we’ve been doing lots of prayer and intercession, researching the demographics and history of the area (we both kinda geek out on this stuff), meeting with pastors and influencers, connecting with regional YWAMers, building the YWAM Sydney Newtown website (while teaching ourselves how to do it—thank you google), learning about what’s required of our legal structure, exploring the streets and getting to know the area… and on it goes.
This is our “learning phase” (of course we know there’s no end to that!) and we’re doing our best to sniff out our favorite local spots in our soon-to-be neighborhood, as well as identify the strengths and needs of the community. We’re also doing some loose homeschooling of the kids (preschool) and we’re still fundraising behind the scenes for the cost of living hike in Sydney that we’re slowly getting used to. Oh, and commuting. We spend a lot of time commuting. (Ugh!) And house-hunting. That’s taken up many a Saturday these last few months!
So what’s exactly is happening with the kids’ schooling?
I’ve been amazed at the number of people asking me this question. Wow, y’all have genuinely surprised me by how curious you are. It wasn’t an option to have our kids in any type of formal schooling this year since we’ve not yet found a place to live, so Ryan and I have been sharing homeschooling responsibilities. So far, the boys are really enjoying it and Judah wants to keep up with everything Levi’s learning, (which is both strange and fun).
We’ll continue next year with Levi formally registered for homeschool kindergarten with the NSW government and Judah informally continuing his homeschool preschool. Since we still don’t have a place to live, this option makes the most sense for us. We want them to start school with a love of learning and believe we’re well suited to know how to provide a fun and creative learning environment for them that incorporates city life, urban and overseas missions, and lots of creative learning and play. We’ll take our educational choices one year, one kid at a time. We do hope to be settled soon so they can enroll in swimming for the summer. They’re both also begging to sign up for soccer and Levi is really keen to take some dance classes. We’ll see how we go—one sport at a time. 🙂
Have you found a church to attend in the city?
This question makes me giggle a little because it’s like asking a church-planting pastor if they’ve found a church to attend yet. 🙂 So, yes, we are visiting all sorts of churches but at this point it’s not so that we can “find a home church.” Our purpose is to understand the Church of Sydney (big “C”) on a broad level, meet pastors/influencers, and learn about what different congregations are good at and focused on in terms of their community engagement and outreach. So far we’ve visited many wonderful churches in the inner city and we’re encouraged by the pastors and congregants we meet. They truly have a heart for Jesus and for the city. Our particular neighborhood—Newtown—is “Australia’s least religious post code” according to the latest census, so we’re in a great spot with huge opportunity to help build Kingdom community.
How is your #GrowCampaign going?
Excellent! We’re so pleased to say that we’re up from 53% to 87% of our monthly budget. At times the fundraising has felt slow, but overall we’re very pleased with how it’s gone since we started in November of last year. We’re humbled and blessed by the responses of those who’ve committed to give, pray, and encourage us. At our current level of monthly financial support, we’re finally able to afford rent in the city (which is in itself a miracle!) but we’ll keep fundraising until we get to 100% so that we can fill out our budget responsibly with things like insurances, educational resources, emergency savings, and an outreach/travel fund. (Want to become a monthly partner? We’re still looking for those who would give $20, $50, $100, or more a month.)
How can we pray for you?
I know we’ve been saying this for months now, but we really need a house. We feel that God’s led us to hold off on many things until we can secure a family home. At times this has felt so frustrating because we want to “get on” with things, and yet we feel confident that his wisdom spans much farther than our little eyes can see. But truthfully, it’s increasingly hard.
We’ve now been living out of suitcases for twenty months and we are wildly craving to settle down into some semblance of normalcy. (Not that anyone would ever call our life all that “normal.” Ha!) We long for some rhythm and consistency and to settle into a place where we can make friends and create community with. We’re half-wondering if our furniture, clothes, and toys in storage will be destroyed by mold (we never thought we’d be without a home for this long!) and we’re ready to have a place we can offer the kind of hospitality we long to provide.
All that to say: A HOUSE. Please continue to pray that we get the right place to move into SOON.
Other things you might be interested in:
- Join our secret prayer group on facebook (you’ll have to message me and ask to join—it’s not visible via the search function). This is primarily for those things we don’t want to widely broadcast on social media or our blog. We also post answered prayers in there, too. It’s a pretty awesome little group—our favorite, actually.
- Check out our brand new YWAM Sydney Newtown website or find us on your favorite social channel: YWAM Sydney Newtown facebook, twitter, instagram, or pinterest. Not all of those channels are super active just yet. But, hey, they exist. 🙂
- Sign up to receive blog posts in your inbox from YWAM Sydney Newtown’s new blog: For the Love. Expect to read posts related to faith, global and local missions, urban life and ministry, justice issues, championing young people, and more. From time to time we’ll also post news related to the work of YWAM Sydney Newtown and will also feature the work of other YWAM locations from around the world. Subscribe here.
- Support the Bookers with a one-time gift or monthly support. All donations are US tax-deductible. (Aussie bank details can be found here.) If you’d like to do something specific (such as sponsor the kids for swimming lessons, soccer, or dance lessons), then please let us know. We’d be so grateful for that, too!