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You’re destined for paradise

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When I was first asked to write the blog post for this week, my mind instantly went blank. Normally I am never at a loss for words, but summing up this past week seemed like an insurmountable task. The question “What has report back been like?” has no easy, obvious, or short answer. My initial idea was to simply write about something like how to cram seven weeks worth of tanning into seven days, but as I was thinking and praying about this post, the Lord elbowed his way through my conflagration of emotions to place something much deeper on my heart.

 

Lately I’ve been reading through the gospel of Mark, and this morning I found myself in chapter 6. Among other things that happen in this passage, several events are recorded. We are able to see Jesus back in Nazareth among his tiny home village (which rejects him), followed by the commissioning of the twelve apostles sent out two by two, and also the feeding of the five thousand with the infamous supply of only five loaves and two fish. And through this jumble of seemingly unrelated stories, God was showing me just how much these three scenarios strongly relate to exactly where our two schools are at during report back week.
The first thing Jesus was showing me was that going home is going to be hard, but it doesn’t mean it’s hopeless. One thing we’ve really been focusing on this past week is making sure everything we’ve learned these past five months is really making a lasting home in our hearts, and that the truths we have come to hold so closely will remain unshakable when we go home. And as Jesus re-entered his hometown of Nazareth, we see people scorning him simply for being different. The people are asking, “Who the heck is this carpenter’s son? What the heck happened to him?” The very place Jesus called home and the people he considered family were suddenly not too keen about having him around – and this is a very likely possibility for a lot of us who are heading home. But I love Jesus’ response to their questions and criticism – instead of launching a self defense or reshaping himself to fit their idea of what he should be like, he does his best to bless that community. He heals people where he is able, he walks with gentleness and compassion, and while he is still dumbstruck at their unbelief, he does his best to teach those who would listen. I love this little scripture nugget more than usual today, because for me and 35 other people it shows that regardless of what environment we’re heading home to, it is still possible to walk like Christ. The receptivity of our families, our friends, our communities is a moot point; we have been changed. And it’s not a phase. During our lecture phase, one of our speakers said, “The generation that the world cannot change is the generation that will change the world.” It gives me great hope seeing that, because we have Christ in us, and Christ himself came against opposition from even his closest relatives, we have power in us that cultivates lasting change. And it also means that, in the face of opposition, our response can still be to love and not to conform.
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Right after the fairly awkward incident in Nazareth, Jesus sends out his twelve apostles, which brings me to my second observation. Jesus sent them out two by two.  He didn’t send them out all together. He didn’t give them safety in numbers. And he didn’t send them all out to the same place. And here’s the kicker – he didn’t even send them with supplies. I’ve been chuckling to myself all morning (ok crying, I’ve been crying all morning, but my spirit has been chuckling) because again, I find our school in the exact same place. Tomorrow morning we will all be sent out. We will be separated. We will be going to different places. And we certainly don’t have a full supply of life experience, emotional maturity, or even gap-less theology to aid us along the way. But like the apostles, we’re being sent out anyways. I’m sure the apostles didn’t feel ready. Like us, they were probably experiencing a wide spectrum of emotions – sadness at leaving each other, apprehension about the future, and there was probably a healthy dose of fear in there as well. But Jesus thought they were ready. Why? Because they had just spent a huge chunk of time with him. A wise person once said, “You are a combination of the five people you spend the most time with,” and I think Jesus might have had this in mind that day as he was separating the twelve into smaller teams. Sure maybe they were still a little unrefined, and yes they still had a lot to learn. But Jesus didn’t send them out because of confidence in their ability – he sent them out because of confidence in their character. They had become a combination of the people they spent the most time with – which included not only the healthy community of each other, but they had been spending time with Christ himself. Jesus was able to send them out to continue his mission because they had ceased to look like their pasts and had begun to look like him. Our school has just completed five months at YWAM DP. We’ve experienced God in some capacity or another on a daily basis, and have seen the same faces day in and day out. We’ve laughed together, cried together, slept, ate, lived, and learned together with God in our midst. And somewhere along the way of all of us starting to say “fricks” and accumulating a plethora of inside jokes, we’ve become like each other. But more importantly we’ve all become more like Christ. So while our send-off is going to be hard and certainly emotional, I have a sense that God is whispering to us, “Go. You’re my kids. You look like me. You’re not perfect but you’re ready.”
The last part of this passage I want to talk about is the feeding of the five thousand. Most of you know this story so I won’t go into much detail, but basically Jesus transformed a meager lunch of five loaves and two fish into a feast that stuffed a hungry crowd of five thousand people. And the application I got from this is short and sweet: Jesus is in the business of doing a lot with a few. Our school just spent the past seven weeks divided up into smaller teams for outreach. We’ve re-joined on base  and have combined with the current school for the past week. At the moment there seems like there are a lot of us (well over eighty), but we’re still pretty tiny in comparison to a crowd of five thousand. This past week we’ve had so many things to share with the current January DTS students – mealtimes, outreach stories, God moments, deep talks, laughter. And as I was reading the story of how Jesus multiplied that little lunch and thinking about the past week, I realized that is his legacy he’s working here at YWAM DP – multiplying our bread and fish. He takes the staff and cultivates a community, a lecture and changes lives, a conversation and creates a friendship. He took all the crap our October DTS drug in with us and turned it into a force to reach nations. And now I’ve spent the past week watching Him working the same miracle of multiplication in a whole new group of lives.
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So what has report back week been like? It’s been like being dropped in the middle of the gospel of Mark – some are being sent out, some are still being fed. But mostly it’s been like watching the heart of God. As we prepare to go home, I’ve seen his heart for the lost. As we spend time with the new school, I’ve seen his heart for his children. As we re-connect and invest in new friends, I’ve seen his heart for community. Yesterday I spent most of the afternoon in a hammock trying to fuse forever in my mind the image of crystal blue Caribbean water framed by white sandy shores and towering palm trees. This base is called “Destination Paradise,” but before the property was a resort called Journey’s End, a contrast in names that I find beautifully ironic. So this past week as some have been prepping to go back to their Nazareth, or are spending more time eating fish and still spending time with Jesus, at the end of the day God’s heart is for all of us to be sent out. And in a moment of divine humor, God whispered to my heart in that hammock, “This isn’t your journey’s end. You’re destined for paradise.” And until that final target, those of us at YWAM DP will be busy making our “Mark” for His Kingdom at every stop along the way.
Emily Coll

Emily Coll, Pennsylvania USA, 09/09/1993, 22 yrs

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Change of attitude – Change of heart

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DP3Satisfaction through God has been an area of growth for me over the past six weeks. The first evening I arrived here, my brain was numb. It was dark, hot, and a brief walk through town confirmed that this place was not anything like my home land. When our water taxi left town and headed for my future residence, I was mentally calculating how far from home I was getting. There was no going back.

For the next few weeks I battled various cravings from home and looked for similarities to cling to. I made a two page list in my journal of food I wanted to eat at home. It was constantly hot and humid outside, which clung to me like a second skin.  Showers were cold, and the fountain sounds kept me awake at night. Paradise.

My internal attitude was not great at the beginning; I was comparing and criticizing many facets of the base. Then, after speaking with one of our leaders, my attitude began to change. They told me when some familiarities are taken away, God will replace them with new things that are unique to the area. We can finddpscenery_635840780886082673_Afterlight_Edit contentment through Him. Armed with this knowledge, the process of attitude adjustment was gradual. I began to look for things unique to our base and the town of San Pedro. The stars are magnificent here, and the sunrises spectacular. Beans and rice is a meal I quite enjoy. The pineapple and bananas are delicious. Cold showers are still cold showers – but hey, at least we have them. By opening my eyes to the wonderful things God has provided in this place, my cravings for things at home have waned. There are still challenges  presented – don’t get me wrong, but I know contentment is possible.

Now with this knowledge I hope to go to my outreach in Zambia with an open mind. Again the culture, climate, and cuisine will be foreign. But instead of comparing or criticizing it for not fitting into my box of familiarities, Zambia can be a whole new experience.

 

  • Sydney Gabbey

Sydney Gabbey, Alberta Canada, 11/01/1997, 18 yrs

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I´m still growing

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“I’m just a seed

Not yet a tree

But I’m still growing”

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In 2014, we decided to check out this volunteer program in Kona, Hawaii called YWAM; little did we know how much being a mission builder would change our lives! Jumping forward two years, we are again serving with YWAM, but this time at Destination Paradise, Belize.

Why serve again? We wanted to partner with the staff and be a helping hand for daily tasks so that they can invest more of their time in dreaming and planning for God’s Kingdom. Being here we get to be a part of the students’ lives and seeing their transformation as they become the men and women God intended them to be.

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We are honored to serve in this community and witness God’s work and power firsthand. With the base here in Belize being considerably smaller than in Kona, we are a tight family together with the staff and students. The beautiful thing about this family is that it doesn’t matter who you are, there is freedom to grow here for everyone. Everybody challenges each other to grow and not stay as they came and we want to challenge YOU to step out of your comfort zone, change your “normal” and become a part of something bigger than yourself!

 

Julie and Marina

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An Ode to Ecuador 

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QUITO.
Thank you, God, for Quito.
For displaying Your glory through the mountains
For providing such a welcome home. For a fantastic New Years Eve
For introducing us to Jose Luis, our Man of Peace
And Quito’s oregano tea. The hills that leave us breathless walking up
The new believers. Your growing church. For our godchildren
For unifying the team.

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ATECAMES.
Thank you, God, for Atecames.
For the beautiful ocean. The delicious seafood.
For the school that brought us so much joy and radiated Jesus
And leading us in Your direction. For the need to fight for our team.
MANTA.
Thank you, God, for Manta.
For the huge crashing waves and the natural flavored ice cream.
For inspiring children who want to share your love
For teaching us a million different ways to share the Gospel.
For always being there, even when we can’t see it
For challenging us to always want more of You
For teaching us patience.

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PAJAN.
Thank you, God, for Pajan.
For the beautiful first look into the jungle.
For a welcoming community. Strangers turned family.
Sharing your love through skits, testimonies, songs.
For long hikes through the jungle to spread your love.
For a group of youths involved in Your church and so in love with You
For deep relationships even with a language barrier.
PUYO.
Thank you, God, for Puyo.
For it’s wonder. For the zoo and zip lining over cliffs and the jungle.
For excellent mora juice
For welcoming house parents who want to bless us
For a church community thriving, showing us it’s possible
For jungle ministry and baptisms
For spontaneous multi-language worship sessions.

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QUITO.
Thank you, God, for Quito.
For more (literally) breathtaking views. For a safe haven home.
For dump ministry and soup kitchens
For giving us boldness to speak
For long workdays and midnight homeless ministry
For the mountains and alpaca blankets.
For a bittersweet goodbye to our Ecuadorian family, Andrea and Jose.
ECUADOR
Thank you, God, for Ecuador.
For it’s beauty- both land and people
For making it the perfect place to stretch us, to mold us, to grow us
For letting us show love
For it’s welcoming spirit, always asking us to return
For a phenomenal time.

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MY TEAM.
Thank you, God, for my team.
For the fantastic leaders who stretched us.
For Jose and Andrea, our joined team members. Not only translators, but family.
For our unity and love for each other
For a family I’ll never forget and never want to leave.
Thank you, God, for your faithfulness and undying love.
Maddy Ackermann
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God has chosen you

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John 15,16: „You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.“

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Choosing to do a DTS with YWAM definitely wasn’t one of the easiest decision I have taken in my life. Other friends I know already knew they would do a DTS a year in advance, but I was held back by something. On one side I was comfortable in my workplace, with my friends, with my money and I did not want to give it up for a DTS. On the other hand, I wanted a deeper relationship with God. I like to travel and wanted to experience Gods glory in a new way. I asked God about what to do next.

He answered me promptly. I remember I asked him at the end of July, and I got a clear reply by the beginning of August. After I told my family and my friends about my plans to do a DTS, God suddenly revealed Himself to me as a provider. He supplied all the finances I needed for my DTS. So I asked myself: what you are doing Denis? What is holding you back from doing a this school?

It is not that easy. Back home I worked for my fathers company. I had the position as a sales manager and was responsible for sales and businesses in new markets. Right after I had received the support from God for a DTS my dad offered me a new position in the company. The company was looking for a new product manager. During my 4 years of university and working experience I learned a lot about technical requirements, marketing, and retail of products. I assumed that this oppurtinity was perfect for me, and I should take it. If I would have accepted the new position I would not have been able to quit my job for a longer period of time, that would mean: NO DTS!

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There was my obstacle again. I started praying over the situation and asked God for wisdom and guidance. I did not get a clearer reply than I received before when he provided everything for the DTS. Sadly my reasonable way of thinking was still holding me back. I asked myself questions like: Why should I spend all the money on a DTS? Why should I reject this great opportunity to get a job as a product manager? What about my future career? What will others think about me if I spend 5 months of my life to build a deeper relationship with God? What is more important, a good income, a safe job and a good car, or living 5 months with people you do not know somewhere in another country and probably sleeping in the dirt? I had reasonable answers for those questions in my mind, but they were all arguments against the DTS.

Nevertheless, I had a deep desire and passion to learn more about Jesus and serving him, even more than before, but I waited to make my decision. At the end of November, I finally decided to do a DTS in 2016. I looked up different bases around the world. YWAM Belize came to my mind, because a friend in the USA told me about it. After I searched the website of YWAM in Belize, I was surprised by the name of their website: YWAMDP.ORG. My initials are DP for Denis Pätz. God is funny. I decided immediately that this was the place where I wanted to go.

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As a result, I wrote my application and received my acceptance from them. It was already the beginning of December 2015. After the last preparations and an awesome Christmas time with my family, I started traveling to Belize in the beginning of January, and after a long travel, and overnight stay at an airport, I arrived in San Pedro.

I remember that awesome feeling of excitement and thankfulness when I arrived at the YWAM campus and saw the other DTS students for the first time. Somehow God created an atmosphere in the first week where we felt like a family. Each of us were so open and desired to build a community that was outstanding. All of us came to YWAM DP with open hearts, ready to receive Gods gifts and fruits. A family that is chasing Jesus with all their heart and soul is a huge gift for every single person here. God completely rocked our lifes in the first few weeks.

For me it was so worth it, to leave my comfort zone. I am sure my journey with God is just starting. He is an awesome and great God, whose acts are unpredictable, but glorious.

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If you read this blog and you are thinking about doing a DTS, let me encourage you that Jesus will guard you and provide for what you need, because He will never let his disciples down. Even if the DTS, or any other bible school, is unreasonable and unattractive in the worldy view, do it for yourself and not your friends, collegues, or classmates. It will change your life and you will grow like a tree next to a river.

God already chose you. Now choose Him.

 

Dennis Paetz

Denis Pätz, Saxony Germany,  04/07/1992, 23 yrs