Mourning to Dancing
Bad to Pure
Broken to Restored
Un-Worthy to Worthy
Insecure to Princess
“I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back,” Thirty-three voices sing the closing verse of the song, the sound filling the conference hall, bouncing off of walls, penetrating boundaries, soaking into hearts. Thirty-three voices from all across the world, thirty-three voices broken from the past, thirty-three voices put back together, strengthened and restored, by the eternal love of our Abba Father. Thirty-three voices that want the world to know the joy they have found in Christ.
The audience watching rose to their feet, thundering applause echoing around the hall. I tried not to cry as I looked at the faces on stage, faces I had grown to love, faces I had watched being changed by God’s gentle touch, faces I would have to say goodbye to, faces that made up the center of this community.
Stage 2 has officially ended. I can’t believe its been six months already. So much has happened, we’ve learned so much, I’ve learned so much. The last two weeks of NETS was hectic. Preparations for the biannual NETS Stage 2 concert was put in full swing. In a nutshell, Stage 2 is required to come together and put on a concert/talent show for the rest of the campus to come and watch. It’s a really big thing, requiring refreshments, a gift for the staff, and something to represent the NETS journey so far. I can’t lie, it was a little stressful, especially since everyone was stretched to the limit with healing retreats, two conferences, and church visits the week before on top of coming together as one and putting on this performance.
It was amazing.
The whole concert focused on “Our Journey Through NETS”, featuring two TV talk show hosts walking through the life of a NETS student. Mommy and Daddy performed a forgiveness skit during one part, Kimry and I were involved in a band, all the kids had a small part in the TV show, and, for the big finale, Kimry and Daddy were in a bucket-drumming performance with several others (thank you Haley for your hard work!). The best part of the concert though, were the signs. Each NETS student had to create a poster with one word on the front to describe what they were when they first came to Ellel and on the flip side of the poster was one word to describe what they are now. The silent testimony of thirty plus individuals was deeply moving as they walked on stage and flipped their posters over for everyone to see. The words of the song they sang, “I have decided to follow Jesus” was beautiful. The smiles on their faces were the ones of sons and daughters of the King of Kings. They truly will Never Ever be The Same.
What’s New With Us:
1. Aunt Mary (my Mom’s sister) has come to visit for two weeks!!!! (She has been here for the last week of Stage 2 and the first week of break). It’s been so amazing to have her with us, show her our life here, tour England with her, and just have her around after six months of not being able to! I think we’ll steal her passport and make her stay longer…
2. The day after the concert, the official “End of Stage 2 and 4 Celebration” was hosted in the conference hall. Every student that was leaving (its common to only stay for Stages 1 and 2) were prayed for and given a certificate of completion. Worship, a short message to the students, and testimonies from those completing Stage 4 finished it off. It was very sweet and releasing and everyone enjoyed the three-course lunch served afterwards (thank you Cedars!).
3. On the last week of NETS, Stage 4 hosted a “Daughters of the King Day” for all the females on Stage 2. This special day consisted of pictures, princess crowns, a spa, lunch, an outing to a local church, tea time, and time with God as his daughter and beloved princess. The day was very, very special for my mom and everyone. It was a beautiful reminder that we are God’s princesses or princes.
4. Life continues to make us laugh, cry, or simply stare and wonder how that possibly could have happened. Sometimes when Abby’s closet door falls off or the radiators mysteriously stop or you set the fire alarm off trying to bake cookies, or the times when all you want is a six-pack nuggets from Chick-fil-A or wish someone actually knew where South Carolina is or you wake up in the middle of the night to two badgers fighting under your window, or those moments when you run down to Cedars screaming “Fish and Chips!” or when unexpected ice cream parties happen at your house or you realize that you haven’t posted a blog post in three weeks, all those moments fill in the gaps of life and at the end of the day, when the house is finally quiet and the moon casts a silver glow over the English countryside, you have a choice to give thanks for every moment of that day, the good ones and the bad, I hope that I choose to be thankful.
Missing all you guys! Keep up the comments below, we always love hearing from you guys! Please pray for us as the beginning of Stage 3 is coming up soon.
Aw! Miss you guys! Joc- this one made me laugh LOL
Me and mom are sitting in the same room on separate laptops reading this…
I love the reminder to give thanks for every moment- the good and the bad. I appreciate hearing the joys and challenges that England brings. Uganda is different, yet similar- many joys and challenges here (and I miss Chick-Fil-A nuggets too)!
Miss you guys and absolutely can’t wait to see you all at the end of Stage 3!
Thanks for the beautiful update, Joc. Your details and photos give us all a much-desired glimpse into the daily life you are experiencing together. The Wheelers love and miss you all so much!
LOVED your blog and so happy y’all are benefiting and enjoying Ellel!! But I miss each of you. Many hugs and muchh love!
Love you all! Thanks for reading! So true, Jocelyn, so true…
My darling Joc, your writing is phenomenal as usual! What a great picture you painted and I am SO incredibly thankful I had the opportunity to not just read about your grand adventures, but to experience them first hand. Love you ALL! So much!
Jocelyn you are an incredible writer!!! I had no idea!!! Your description of England is wonderful, it almost brought me to tears! I wish i could visit you guys!! Miss you all so very very much:)
I’ve been praying for you guys every day. You need to get published, Joc. I can feel every emotion and hear every sound in this post (and all the others! )
Sweet girl! I love reading your blog…I felt like I was right there with you for a few moments. We miss you very much but are thrilled for you and your family as you continue on this wonderful adventure the Lord has given you.
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