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He must increase, I must decrease

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13055505_10154250640331004_4410022916416518281_nGod’s plan that he had so long ago went into effect on April 4th 2016.  That plan included me getting on a plane and flying down to Central America to San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize. When I arrived here on the island I met some of the staff from the campus, in which they greeted me with open arms and instantly it felt like we were family. Even with the feeling of family inside, something just felt a little bit off inside of my heart and my mind. Then that is when I realized I had a lot of baggage and issues that I came here to DP with.  During my first week we started asking questions about where is your foundation built on, were you a wise man and build on the rock or were you chasing worldly things and building in the sand. I had heard this many times throughout my life, never really realizing which soil I had built my foundation on. So I was starting to really feel a change inside my heart that was yearning for God, yet I wasn’t completely sold in on the whole idea and I was really asking God why am I here. During week 4 of lecture phase we had a guest speaker really talk about our hurts and wounds in how building bricks around our heart doesn’t really allow us to let God in and do the work in our hearts. Throughout the week God had this message for me that it is not your fault for what happened when you were a child, that I will be here and never leave you just grab my hand and let’s go through this journey together instead of you trying to do this all by yourself. In 1 Peter 2:9 But you 13217124_1192500564095006_541458660345004777_oare a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into marvelous light. That was a bible verse that I had heard many times but never truly got what it was saying. We went through what was holding us back from allowing God to work in our lives, that made me realize I had a lot of Fear that was holding me back from trusting and allowing God work inside of me. At the conclusion of the week with Gods help, the support of staff members and classmates help I was able to bring down the wall around my heart. Ever since that week I have strived to grow thirsty and want more of God at a deeper more passionate level. God has taught me over the last week that I really need to live out John 3:30 in the fact that he must increase, but I must decrease.

 

Marshall Johnson

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Complaining gets you nowhere

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13133342_10209865383457141_2460739313009464696_nDuring outreach prep week, the first thing we are taught is to not have any expectations, because outreach will be nothing like our expectations. But despite the warning, I can still look back on the past 6 weeks of outreach and say that it was nothing like I anticipated! Even so, my outreach here in Cuba is more than anything I could have possibly imagined. It was because this outreach was nothing like I expected that I grew and stretched my faith so much. I discovered things about myself that I was never even aware of prior, and I now have a greater understating of the person I want to be.

Firstly, God definitely taught me a lot about trusting Him to make the good out of bad situations. We were thrown a curve ball about halfway through outreach, and it has affected our team ever since. It was a dramatic couple of days, but it was because of that situation that I learned to trust God, even in the midst of chaos. It would’ve been easy to be angry and upset with God and our team. Instead, I chose to lean on God, so I could allow Him to bring the good out of it. But, I didn’t pray to God and ask him to weaken my problem. I asked Him to give me the strength to fight against it. So this way, God was able to bring out the good in this bad situation. He was able to teach me the importance of humility, and He was able to give me the strength to help me open up to my team members, and therefore bring us all closer together. To top it off, the Lord even spoke to me and told me to preach a sermon on this topic the very same day!

13119046_1795371314024768_8905198744032966384_nAnother thing that God has been showing me during this outreach is how to tame my tongue. In the past, I have struggled with using my tongue for gossip, lies, and harsh words. Which are things that I will never be able to take back. But during one of our team bible studies, we studied the book of James, and read chapter 3 which specifically talks about taming the tongue. Verse 9 really hit home for me, which says, “with the tongue we praise our Lord and and father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in Gods likeliness”. I now realize that I no longer want to use my tongue to put Gods children down, but instead raise them up.  Encouragement leaves such a greater positive impact on somebody than put downs or teasing. Loving the way that Jesus loves is that way that I now strive to love every single person that crosses my path!

But easily the greatest thing that God has been teaching me about while here in Cuba is my own personal growth. Every single aspect of outreach has challenged me in so many ways. Being with the same people 13118907_10209865384777174_155274234851139150_n24/7, going places I don’t necessarily want to go or doing things that are out of my comfort zone, are just a few examples. But by looking back and self-reflecting, I can literally see and feel differences in my character, judgement, and the way I view life. I will take nothing for granted- simply even just running water is a blessing in itself. Hours spent filtering water, bucket showers and unreliable toilets have become the norm here. Hand sanitizer and baby wipes I’ve learned are necessities. Also, I’ve discovered that I want to rid complaining completely from my life. It gets you nowhere and does absolutely nothing expect reveal negativity. Instead, when I am tempted to complain, I will try and find 3 positive things about the negative situation. Next, I now know that no matter what I will 13061941_1795372430691323_3178561107873311100_nalways put others before myself. Even if it’s as simple as showering last, or taking the worst spot to put my mattress. My goal is to try my best to make other people feel comfortable, more appreciated, and loved. This ties into another thing that I’ve learned, which is the importance of encouragement and affirmation. As well, as much as I tried to avoid it, I’ve realized how necessary short accounts are. Confrontation can be scary and uncomfortable, but it changes relationships for the better. There’s nothing wrong with telling people how you felt in a situation or something that was done that you don’t respond well to. Finally, I will give everything I have to stay positive. It’s easy to get upset or be negative when things don’t go your way, but life becomes so much better when you choose positivity. Without being on outreach, I don’t know if I would have realized these things. I can’t imagine going back home and being the person I used to be. I’m so excited to see my family and friends again, and show them how much I’ve grown and changed for the better.

13001169_10209728817363074_7428733497928207321_nI thought I came to Cuba to change the lives of others and to show the Cubans who Jesus really is. Not only did I do that, but my own life was changed. I expected that after 3 months of lecture phase I would arrive to Cuba teaching, preaching, and evangelizing like I had it all together. But really it was pretty much the opposite. I am still just a student, just trying to figure out how to live my newly found life with God. Outreach is more just like your first test, and first opportunity to really apply everything that we have been taught. It’s no longer just taking notes in the sandroom and listening to speakers- it’s real life. But that doesn’t mean that I’m never going to make a mistake again. Or never going to mess up again. It just means that I now have the knowledge to make actions. To make a difference in my own life, and to make a difference in every persons life that I come across. I now know that I want Jesus to be a light in me, and I want to share his unconditional love everywhere I go. There’s never going to be any less of Jesus no matter if I’m on base, in Cuba, or back at home. I want to know Him and make Him known.

 

  • Saba Kashuba

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We aren´t called to stay in our comfortzones

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Why YWAMDP?

Why not?

Now on a more serious note I had three YWAM bases picked out: Belize, Montana and California. I was pushing hard for the US bases. Being a true Washingtonian through and through, I figured if I went to Montana or even California I would be close to home. I would be staying in my comfort zone and I would be able to talk to family a lot easier.

13000090_10209123235429191_6395116980940801665_nBelize came up this last summer due to some of their staff and students taking a west coast road trip and landed at my church, I figured that since I knew of another base it should be on my list. I will be honest with you Belize wasn’t appealing to me at all. It’s hot, muggy, sunny (yes, I would rather be cold and cuddled in some blankets reading a good book instead of being sticky and hot) and to be completely upfront it  was 100% out of my comfort zone.

I have a really good friend back home who is also a mentor to me and she just looked me dead in the eye after hearing all my excuses and reasoning’s and said, “Jillian we aren’t called to stay in our comfort zones.” That was a huge blow because she was right. We aren’t called to stay in our 12993540_10205133286486876_6590509382173900947_ncomfort zone. We are called to something so much bigger than ourselves and how will we ever discover it if we aren’t willing to step out of our comfort zone.

I’ve been in Belize for about a month now. It’s hot and muggy and yes it’s sunny and it’s hard. God called me to be out of my comfort zone and I’m his masterpiece in progress completely out of my comfort zone, working on areas of the heart I never dreamed would be unearthed.

13076621_10205159542503260_1889513339064293421_nBelize is the best choice I have ever made. God is pushing me here to be the best that I can and I am extremely grateful for the friends and family back home that support and cheer me on and the friends and staff here that stand by my side and say, “lets fight this battle together and when you can’t we’ll fight for you.” I have found such an incredible peace and comfort here that I never thought possible. Belize is beautiful, sun and all. I’m constantly reminded either by the waves of the ocean, or the clarity of the stars at night, that God is a lot bigger than us and he’s standing right next to us preparing for battle saying let’s do this, because our God will never let us down.

 

  • Jillian Horton

Jillian Horton, Washington USA, 01/12/1990, 26 yrs

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Pure Joy

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I can’t believe we’re coming down to our last week of outreach. God has been showing me things left and right. Each week just seems to be getting better and better. We traveled through three cities this week. Tartu to Jõgeva to Keila. Here’s a few highlights of mine from the past week.

Pic1Monday night we had the opportunity to go out and get a taste of an Estonian music festival in Tartu. Estonia was occupied by the Soviets, but between 1987 and 1991 there was a singing revolution. Hundreds of thousands of Estonians gathered to sing forbidden patriotic songs, risking their lives to proclaim their desire for independence. Estonia literally sang their way into freedom. So music in Estonia is a BIG deal! It’s amazing to me being in another country, watching the people laugh and sing together. It put nothing but a smile on my face. These are God’s people coming together as one, all dancing, laughing and singing. I couldn’t help but to take a step back and take a look around me. Pure joy. I love how God has given me an eye for the people of Estonia. Oh how He loves this country!

Uten navnFriday night we were able to have a girls only night with the youth of the small town, Jõgeva. We got to share a message and testimonies, it was awesome to get the chance to simply hangout with girls my age and share a passion we all have in common, loving Jesus. It’s crazy because God keeps showing me these visions I’ve had before and when I was in it, it felt like deja vu. Although I know that it was fully from God. As all of us girls were sitting around the table, sharing life together and passing around dinner. It was in that moment I knew I am exactly where I am supposed to be.

Pic3As times getting closer to the end and our bodies and souls are becoming tired, I asked God what is one thing I can do to keep improving and growing throughout the end of outreach. “Engaged,” He whispered. So as I wind down this next week, I have nothing but the intention of being engaged. Engaged with people around me, my team, our contacts or people who pass. Fully engaged with conversations and feelings. Being completely and entirely aware. Entirely aware of my surroundings, all of what’s around me. Actively searching and learning in new ways the Holy Spirit may be moving and showing me something. Being open and expectant that God is STILL moving and being fully aware of His presence in each moment of each day that we have left here in Estonia. I want nothing more than to be engaged, I don’t want to miss a thing. After all, we have a God who’s engaged to His fullest in every single moment.

Here’s to the last week!

-Sarah Nasholm

Sarah Nasholm, Oregon USA, 10/31/1996, 19 yrs

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His love is fierce, His love is powerful, His love is never ending!

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Monday morning we received exciting news of our departure on Friday morning to Livingstone. My heart was overjoyed knowing that we’d have the privilege to see Victoria Falls (which happens to be one of the “7 Wonders of the World”), and as if it couldn’t get any better, we were going to see the Lunar Rainbow which happens once a year! As we worked through the next few days finishing up the final touches of slashing the 13096104_10207975822707194_5926977913062081668_nweeds and clearing the Orphanage yard, fixing the drive shaft on the truck so that we could have transportation, fixing and organising the library, removing the rust and painting the trellises for the new school, we managed to have enough time to pack for the 4 hour ride to Livingstone for the night. We awoke Friday morning to hot coffee and oatmeal and piled 7 people into the newly fixed truck, and the rest of the 11 hooligans (including sweet Jacob and Jeremiah) in the Land Rover. We ask God to cover us with safety and for the truck to stay intact, but two hours in..smoke appeared from the truck we were in and we had to pull over. We were in the middle of no where! So the other group headed down to Livingstone while we waited for Jako to drive back again and pick us up. Truth be told, we had the best time! We had the shade, the sound of, well, nothing but the birds chirping and the trees blowing in the breeze. We had a wonderful picnic along with a nap and some fun games. It was a blessing in disguise! So when Jako arrived, we had nothing but too much fun to complain about.

13133164_10206119765382336_4333200733337606577_nWe arrived at the place we were staying and the other group was already setting up our tents in this massive yard. We were blessed to stay at Jako and Amber’s friends house who also happened to be missionaries, amazingly they held a missionary school in their home. This place was beautiful, God is so generous with his blessings! We headed for the Victoria falls and experienced a night I can’t even put into words. I think the best way I can put it is that when you see creation this vast, this glorious. It’s like treasure the first time you see it. You want to keep that feeling you get the moment you see it, somewhere safe where you can experience it again and again. Something I realised was that though this beautiful masterpiece was new to me, huge to me, GLORIOUS TO ME. God made it so I could see it. Just like He made the stars. Yet how often do we take these blessings for granted! Seeing the power in the falls and how it seemed to be never ending, I thought about God’s endless love for us and how it’s constantly pouring down on us. His love never runs dry. He simply wants us to soak in His unending love!

As we said goodbye to an experience we’ll never forget, I’ll never forget the moment I stood near the bottom of the falls where we were being rained on by the powerful spray from the falls. His love is fierce, His love is powerful, His love is never ending.

12998314_10206035001183284_7275910661298264046_oThe next morning we were surprised to hear that the truck would need some extra TLC this weekend in order for it to be reliable to use to get back home. So we were blessed, in such a crazy way AGAIN, with a beautiful weekend with fellowship, worship, walks with God, and even a birthday celebration! Talk about one of the best weekends ever! God continues to amaze each and every one of us. He has wrecked me for the ordinary and I continue to thank Him for allowing us to be a part of his family in this crazy thing called life. Amen.

 

Nanneke Boxall

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