Author: Blogs

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Personally Encountered

  |   DTS, Outreach   |   No comment

Through these last couple of weeks here in Paraguay a constant word that keeps coming up for me is “fun.” God is continuing to remind me that doing life with Him is so insanely fun and I have experienced that first hand these last 5 months. He also has been revealing Himself to me through the many little things, as well as the big, crazy moments. He shows up! He is real, and alive, and moves! He cannot be contained in a small box. He is so cool. I have been touched by God and His never-ending love for me during this outreach and through lecture phase. This past week we got to explore some of Paraguay and go see the Iguazu Falls and wow was it breath taking! Seriously one of the coolest things I have ever seen in my life. We also got to take a boat ride down at the bottom of the falls, where we got drenched but was definitely a moment I will put in the books. Also, during this week we got to work with an orphanage, which is right down the street. During this time we played a ton of games and just loved on all those sweet kids. They have been through so many hard times but still somehow can smile. That for me is seeing God first hand. Seeing Him give those kids happiness and joy. Again, God is showing me that having fun and showing love is how we live day to day with Him.

There are 10 days left of outreach and I have been reflecting a lot on what God has done in my life over these past couple of months. I came to DTS wanting to grow in my faith with my Father and wanting to see Him move and do crazy things, and boy has that happened! I have learned about the best Father, a Father who is kind and one who is passionate about me! A God who will always want the best for me and is only good. I have become even more in awe of my Papa. God has shown up in this beautiful country and in these beautiful people. They bring His kingdom to earth by being in community with each other and I have felt extremely blessed every time they invite us over for dinner or for a pool party. (which is always needed for this heat) The people here also say over and over how we have made an impact on their lives, churches, and their own individual faith. While, for me, I have felt most impacted by them and how they love the Lord with everything they have. They show Gods love well. They love each other with Agape love and I have felt Gods presence in almost every home we are in. They have a mindset of how their home is a way for the kingdom of God to touch this earth and that is why they are so hospitable and generous with what they have. It is simple loving and it is beautiful to see. I have been learning more and more that to bring the kingdom of God onto this earth is to simply just love, and these Paraguayans do it well. That to be in relationship is being close to God, because God Himself is in relationship with the Holy Spirit and Jesus. He has called us to be together with family and friends and to love! So simple.

Another thing that God has shown to me during this time is that He is big and that He provides. We were praying for the patients of a local hospital in the city of Asuncion and we saw healing for one of the patients that we prayed for who was dealing with kidney and liver problems. The power of prayer and the power of faith are so strong, they have no limits. We went into this day and every other ministry day believing for nothing less than healing. God will move and work if we put our trust in Him.

Another sign of Gods provision was at the tribe that we went to for 5 days. Absolutely one of my favorite times here in Paraguay. These people were one of the only tribes who believed in God and while every other tribe was in poverty, these guys were booming with their success! God has provided for them with the machinery, land, money, and every other need that they had. While they still have their difficulties, they continue to trust in the one who provides and He has never failed them! So cool to see! I also loved the kids in this tribe. They were around us 24/7 from the time we woke up to the time we went to bed. They would run around, jump and even climb up onto us. They would also just want to hang out with us. Reminds me of God. He just wants to hang out and chill with us. No conditions or expectations. He wants to love on us 24/7 and be with us through our everyday lives. God is real and He is fun! He has great plans in store for everyone of us and I will continue to pray that those kids will forever feel the beautiful love of God.

I have personally encountered the love of God. It has pulled me in and has given me a big sloppy wet kiss on the cheek. We are forever changed because we follow the most perfect loving Father. God is so good, and He overwhelms me with His greatness. Life is easy with Him. He doesn’t make it confusing, hard or difficult. To live everyday with God is to have fun with Him and to love. My heart has been touched by the people here and by the heart of God. The more I seek him, the more I find Him, and the more I find Him, the more I fall in love with Him. He is the best Father ever.

 

Emily Pankratz

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Accepting Freedom

  |   DTS, Lecture Phase   |   No comment

For a reason I cannot explain, I decided it would be a good idea to go for a run under the sweltering afternoon sun yesterday (Saturday). The first mile was a painless cruise, and I smiled and waved at each passerby. Shortly after that first mile I began to feel the intense heat on my face, but shrugged it off and kept on rolling. Eventually I decided to turn around and felt an instant wave of regret. The wind was to my back and the sun was directly on my face. I felt like I was running through a wildfire, and I’m sure I looked about that way too! I stopped for a second to wipe the sweat from my eyes, and then pushed on as hard as I could until I reached home (funny how I now refer to YWAM DP as home). But I didn’t stop running once I made it back onto the path that leads to my casita; I kept going and going until the very edge of our dock and ran straight into the ocean. There was a half a second of air, and then my body immersed into what felt like a cool satin blanket. I stayed under as long as I could as the crisp water tickled my toes and revived my fingers. The ocean felt so invigorating I almost opened my mouth to take a big gulp, but quickly decided against that plan. I eventually came back up to the surface to breathe, as that’s usually necessary (I’m not a mermaid yet but I’m working on it), but the surface just wasn’t as exciting. I went under again and again as I was only alive when I was consumed by this big blue puddle of joy.

As I was reflecting on this joyous moment yesterday, I came across a word that would describe the experience well… freedom. Simple yet profound, like all my favorite things in this world. On my run I was trapped under the hot sun and by the beads of salty sweat running down into my eyes.  But when I took that leap of faith into the water I was free.

I think that little situation of mine is a nice analogy for our relationship with the Lord.

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” – Galatians 5:1

This past week was ironically called freedom week, and it was taught by the founder of YWAM DP Lynn Toney. Lynn is a passionate woman whose light shines so brightly it blinds those around her in God’s love. During freedom week we talked about being free in Christ, and the amazing life we can live when we are free in Christ. Of course true freedom requires a leap of faith, as I had to take a small jump and experience a second of free fall before I hit the water. But once we do take that leap of faith we are all consumed and covered in his love. I learned that in many different forms this past week. I learned a lot about myself and how the inconsistent and twisted ways that I see myself are affecting the ways that I see God.  I had to approach situations from my past in oder to experience freedom. I had to run a long, hot, sweaty path that I didn’t particularly enjoy in order to experience freedom, but boy was it worth it. Christ accepts us wherever we are, carrying ugly loads and scars, but he doesn’t want us to stay there. I gave him my heart years ago, but as I get closer and closer to him he is asking for more than my heart. He wants my life, my thoughts, my decisions, and most importantly he wants the weights that I am not strong enough to carry. And when I finally surrendered those weights to him He set me free. 

“He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” – Psalm 23: 2-3

If I could give myself a personal “theme” for this season in my life here in Belize I would call it “dare to hope” because the Lord has been beckoning me to hope in the plans and purposes he has for my life (especially because I currently don’t have a clue what’s next for me). Well, in that, the Lord has asked me to accept the blessings that he wants to freely give me. For most of my life I have been carrying the load that I have to earn and work for love, because if I don’t deserve it I won’t receive it. If I made a mistake I lost love, and had to work extra hard in order to deserve any. Well this twisted way of thinking influenced the way that I saw God. I thought that in oder to receive love from the Lord I had to work for him. I had to serve until my eyes bled, and then he would show me his love for me. If I sinned, then I would lose his love and would have to work extra hard and put myself down because that’s what I deserve. Well, in an interesting series of events this week, the Lord revealed to me that weight, and how unnecessary it is for me to carry. One day in class Lynn asked us to write a letter to ourselves from God and to wait and pray until He speaks to us. Immediately I began thinking to myself what God will probably say to me. He’ll tell me the things I need to do better and the things I need to do less of. He’ll tell me where I was wrong and why, and how I need to try harder to do better next time. But when I sat down to hear from Him, I waited a moment in silence and heard “I love you. That’s it.” And that was it. That’s all I heard. I got no other word from the Lord. And then it hit me. I try and earn the love of the Lord. Who am I to say that I can earn the love of the creator of this universe. If I’m going to get it, it’s going to be a gift, and that’s the beauty of it. But that is so hard for me to accept, because I have lived opposite of that for my entire life. **pause for quick dance party outside at the palapa** Anyway, since I have gotten to DP I have been overwhelmed by an increasing and overflowing joy. And at many times I have felt guilty for feeling so much joy. No Lord, shouldn’t I be suffering? Shouldn’t I be struggling? Why are you blessing me? I couldn’t understand why the Lord would want to bless me without any effort of my own. All I did was jump on a plane, and now the Lord keeps giving and giving. He has given me amazing new friends, a wonderful casita full of girls whom I love with my whole being, delicious food at every meal, and THE OCEAN. I do not deserve any of this, but the Lord gave it to me anyway. It blows my mind, and before this week, I was afraid of it. Despite what others have shown me in life, there is nothing I can do to earn or lose the love of the Lord. He has given me his whole heart because he loves me, and that’s it. A basic concept of freedom in Christ is accepting his FREE love; and it is that basic concept that was keeping me from freedom in Him. I was chaining myself to myself because I’m not perfect. I was constantly telling myself that I wasn’t good enough to earn love. I am scared of failing, of falling short, of expecting to feel his love but not being able to. But living in the freedom of Christ requires faith that His love will carry us through this life into the eternal. It requires hope. It comes in a full circle. The Lord revealed to me a weight I was still carrying, asked me to announce in front of my class that I have to forgive myself for trying to earn his love, and He asked me simply to dare to hope that I could sit in my room for the rest of my life and he would still bless me because He just loves me that much. When I obeyed Him and let go I was immersed so surely in his love, just like I was in the water after my run, and today I have felt his love with a new and overwhelming depth.

I encourage you, as Lynn encouraged me, to ask the Lord what unnecessary weights you are carrying, and give them over to Him in order to experience the freedom of Christ. It is a wonderfully beautiful thing.

“Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30

Madison

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Men Make Plans and God Laughs

  |   DTS, Outreach   |   No comment

“Men make plans and God laughs.” Day by day on this outreach God has been making this quote more clear to me. The first time I read it I had mixed feelings about it. Like why would God give us dreams and not allow us to plan for them, and be prepared for what the future brings. And on the other hand there was this thought in my mind that God knows everything that was and is to come. Why wouldn’t he laugh when we try to prepare for the storm when we don’t even know what kind of storm it is?

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Life is Like a Box of Chocolates

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“Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna to get.”  This quote from Forrest Gump holds especially true on outreach. As a team we never know what is around the next corner, whether it be good, bad, or otherwise. The one thing that has been made clear to me is that through it all, God isn’t surprised.  He has a plan. Because of this, we have to become like Forrest Gump and in every situation be willing to say “okay” to whatever God asks. This week has been full of unexpected twists, but when we follow God’s calling they always turn out to be far greater than we could imagine. Throughout this past week we spent time at several different establishments including a hospital , a nursing home, and, for the first time this week, a special education school. We arrived at the nursing home on a Tuesday only to find its outer gates locked.

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Peru Outreach

Walking into the Storm

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This last week has been all about relationship for me. God has been showing me the importance of loving Him and others well. This week my team and I have pressed into God’s love, and used that to do some crazy things in Ayacucho. The day that impacted me the most was when I set out with three other members of my team and headed into the town square. When we arrived we all prayed that God would show us what we were supposed to do, and one of the girls, Hannah, prayed that the light in our eyes would bring people to us. Seconds after we finished praying an elderly gentleman approached us and stuck up a conversation. We talked about life, family, love, and God for about 45 minutes, and after we finished the man said that he had come over to us because Hannah’s eyes looked exactly like his mothers.

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