Lots of new work, bridge-building, and open-handed living. Here’s to 30!

So, in all the excitement of having a *cough* big birthday, I totally remembered that I haven’t told you about some of the new stuff that I’m doing at work right now.

And I probably should.

Because we’re throwing the big launch party on May 9th, and I definitely want your support, prayers, love, or (if you’re in Sapporo) you’re direct involvement in our awesomely-fun-and-valuable-new community.

If you’re friends with me on Facebook, you might have been invited into a group called ‘CONNEC’ in the last week.

CONNEC is the name of our newest project (or actually, a series of projects that we’re opening next month).

To backtrack a little, right now I work for a super great company. I teach at our English school and I look after the marketing for our Japanese school. We also have a few other things going on, like an Asian languages school and some more study abroad programs…

We have this awesomely cool venue in the middle of Sapporo which we base all these projects out of. Think modern cafe, meets social lounge, meets theatre movie room, meets ping-pong room, meets… Just a place that it’s great to learn and relax and feel like home in.

CONNEC is our latest adventure.

And it’s exciting, because we’re aiming to make it a stand alone NPO in its own right by the summer.

We’re calling CONNEC a Centre for Community Development, and the first thing that everyone asks is, ‘What in the world is that?’

So let me explain…

We have four main aims, and under these four aims sit a whole range of fun, creative and meaningful projects and ideas.

First is LEARN.
This is our passion to build a genuine learning community where we can understand other languages, cultures and ideas and build the foundations for meaningful friendships and working relationships.

Practically, this means that in addition to just teaching languages, we will be launching a range of language and cultural exchange events that will take place on a weekly basis.

Watch this space…

Next is INNOVATE.
Which involves our passion for business-done-well and our desire to build an international community that can make the most of the skills and abilities we have in our city and focus on supporting new business development ideas.

Practically, this means that we’re going to be running seminar and workshop days that can help equip people, network projects together and allow for us to be bilingual in our idea sharing.

Which is just awesome!

Then follows DREAM.
Which is all about our heart to build real friendships and have real conversations. We want to provide a space that can feel like a home-away-from-home for both our international and Japanese students. A genuine home away from home.

Practically, we’ll be beginning a monthly cafe-bar venue featuring live music, entertainment and discussion… And it’s going to be a wonderful thing!

And finally we finish with my personal favourite, CREATE.
Which is all about our passion to form a community network that gives back in creative ways to the city of Sapporo.

This summer we’re planning our first SUMMERFEST, which is set to be the most fun you could possibly have to start your August with… But following that we have plans for mentoring young people, and visiting old people’s homes, and running sports events, and just genuinely trying to make Sapporo a better and better place.

I guess what I’m finding is that my heart for this city, and individuals, and restoring people, finds it’s resonance completely in the place that I really believe God made a way for me to work in and be grafted into. I love this team, and I love this heart, and I love the passion and the energy that exists here.

And I guess that in formulating some of the ideas and plans for this new project, I’ve actually felt the real challenge of Holy Spirit.

The question that He keeps asking me right now actually, is to do with open handed living.

Let me explain.

I think that when we’re rooted and grounded completely in Jesus, with our identities affirmed by Him, with our hearts fully trusting Him, with our minds focused on who He is, with our hearts secure in His love… Then I think that we can live with our hands wide open.

I think that when the insecurities of our past creep in, and when we start to worry about our popularity or our success or our beauty or how liked we are, then our hearts and minds and lives begin to slip from where they should be and our hands begin to grasp tightly onto the things we have. We grip things with a death hold that’s suffocating.

Corrie-Ten-Boom described her whole discipleship with the picture of God gently prising her clenched fingers open one at a time. Pride. Unforgiveness. Hatred. Gently having her fingers prised open until she could let go. Until she could live open-handed. Open-handed. Until she could forgive. And she could receive.

I relate to that picture. That God has gently and lovingly, yet still firmly and clearly, spent a long time opening my hands one finger at a time so that I could forgive, and repent, and be forgiven, and finally rejoice in the beauty that He brings out of everything, including the things that I don’t get understand.

And recently, it’s the question Holy Spirit keeps asking me. Are you living open handed Peta?

Are you so grounded in me that you can genuinely open your hands before others?

And so this has become my prayer.

That again, and again, Holy Spirit would keep opening my hands. That I could trust God with my life to the extend that I can truly live in an open way before others.

That I would be able to love them fully, because I know that I am fully loved.

My pastor has said to me in a few conversations this year that he feels like I am a bridge-builder. Someone who can build a bridge between people who don’t know who God is, and the God who loves them so deeply that He did everything to be close to them.

And I guess (as I’m playing some live music tonight) that’s where I’ll leave this blog.

Being in this place, in this team, in this city… It’s building bridges. Bridges of love.

And I am finding that building bridges in one of my favourite things in the entire world. 🙂

It’s turning into a wonderfully exciting 2015!

Here’s to Sapporo!

Here’s to 30!

(This was our first Connec photo shoot!)

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