After around forty hours of traveling, team Ecuador made it safely to Quito, Ecuador, the breathtaking (literally. it’s 10,000 feet above sea level) capital city and home to about 2.5 million. And the now temporary home to sixteen people fired up to show the love of Jesus.
The first week we’ve been taking it easy. Exploring stores and malls around us, heading south and seeing the historical parts of the city- the basilica, presidential palace, and stunning Catholic churches. On Wednesday we headed up the volcano Pichincha, about 13,100 feet up. Each of us got an hour to go out by ourselves to pray and spend some solid time with God to get our hearts right before ministry began. And then with one side of the mountain facing the gorgeous city and the other side facing the magnificent mountains that rose above the clouds, we worshipped together, praying over the city and our next seven weeks in Ecuador.
New Years Eve we spent on an open air bus, called a Chiva, seeing the city with some local missionaries. After, as a team, we sat on the roof of our house and watched the INSANE display of fireworks (Almost every house lights some off that night, anywhere from 11:30-1:00. We were literally surrounded by them). This was my fourth New Years in Quito, as I lived there as a missionary kid for three years. And as I was sitting there with once strangers turned family, in my favorite city on my favorite holiday, I was struck with a crazy amount of thankfulness. I thanked God for all the extraordinary blessings from this past year. He seriously rocked my world. And I cried. And then I laughed. And we all went and celebrated the New Year.
The next morning we had a team worship time. We sang and prayed and gave this next year to God. As I knelt on the ground and sang, God put the passage from Luke 7 in my mind. The story of the sinful woman who cried at Jesus’ feet, then cleaned them with her hair, and poured perfume on them. Then he forgave her, blessed her, and told her to go in peace.
“This is what you need to do.” He said to me.
Okay so I hate feet. Like they’re really, really gross to me. And I like my hair. So the idea of washing dirty feet with my hair was not all that appealing to me. Even though Jesus wasn’t asking me to physically wash his feet with my hair, it was the implication. To surrender. To get down and serve and give up what I find gross and what I find great, and give it all to Him. Give up my “rights”, my wants, my desires and to relinquish completely to him. And then after I do that, that’s when He can fully step in, pick me up, and walk with me in peace, Peace about me not knowing what my life is going to look like two months from now. Peace about my fear of man. All I needed to do was surrender.
So I did. Today. And tomorrow. And the next day and the next. It’s a daily choice- one that God calls us all to make.
Maddy AckermannRead More
“Akemashiteomedetogozaimasu!” Please don’t ask me how to pronounce
that, all I know is that it means “Happy New Year!” in Japanese (and
hopefully that gives you a taste of what it’s been like trying to
learn the language here).Our team has officially been in Tokyo – more specifically a cute
suburb of the mega-city called “Higashikurume” – for six days now, and
loving it! We are so thankful to be here, and even more thankful to
not have to be on an airplane again for seven weeks.
The trip here was, unsurprisingly, full of adventure and shenanigans.
Before we barely made it off of Ambergris Caye in Belize, one of our
team members managed to drop his passport in a bathroom urinal.
Thankfully it survived with minimal damage. Once we made it out of
Belize, it was nothing but shenanigans and layovers for the next 48
hours. From Belize we flew to Miami, where we spent the night in the
airport and pulled an all-nighter to try to adjust to the 14 hour time
change we would soon be experiencing. Think twelve hours worth of
handball, movies, coloring, and multiple trips made to those
ever-so-entertaining airport moving sidewalks. From Miami we flew to
Dallas – after having to sit in onboard our flight for two hours
before taking off due to an air-conditioner malfunction, turning our
three-hour trip into a six-hour one. Dallas airport was also an
adventure. We had missed our connecting flight from Dallas to Tokyo
due to the delay, but arrived only to find out that all flights had
been delayed and our gate had been moved, so the eleven of us got the
exhilarating experience of sprinting through an airport to try to make
the next flight…only to find out it had been delayed when we reached
the gate. Things we learned through this experience: Tyson is
extremely speedy and Ugg boots do not provide good traction when
sprinting up escalators (just ask my shins).
Thankfully after Dallas and Miami, travel was relatively smooth
sailing. We made it to Tokyo after a 13-hour flight only to realize upon landing how much we DON’T understand Japanese. So, lugging our 40-pound backpacks, we began the adventure of navigating the Japanese train system. I would not recommend trying that jet-lagged, but our team leader Jaci was a champ and we made it through almost like we knew what we were doing, and finally arrived at our base around 1 amSunday night.
Now that we have been here for almost a week, I can safely say on
behalf of our entire team that we are in love with Japan. Not only has
the climate (COLD) been an amazing change from the humidity and
mosquitos of Belize, but the people here are truly wonderful. Never
have I experienced a more organized, hospitable, or accommodating
culture. We have been most impressed by how clean everything is; you
have to shower before you bathe so that you don’t get the bathtub
dirty, and don’t even get me started about the trash-disposing
process. Things here are also extremely silent. When walking around
even during mid-day you have to speak almost in a whisper. However it
is not an eery silence, but very peaceful. Higashikurume is also a
very beautiful place, an exotic mix of the modern and ancient world.
For example, there is a Shinto shrine about thirty steps from where we
are currently staying that looks like something out of The Last
During our time in Tokyo, our team has been split guys/girls and we
are staying in two separate houses. There is no central heating in the
homes which makes for some very frigid mornings, but nothing some
layers and blankets can’t handle. We’ve also all become the owners of
some lovely new winter hats since being here (I personally did not
pack a beanie originally when heading to Belize). However it has been
so nice to be somewhere a bit homey after living in little cabin-esque
housing the past three months and to not worry about whether there may
or may not be a scorpion in your shower.
Our orientation week here is now finished and we are about to begin
full-swing ministry! The housing we are currently in belongs to YWAM
Tokyo and they have given us many ministry connections. While we
aren’t quite sure what our exact ministry schedule will be like, we
are planning to spend time with university students and the homeless,
having coffee-shop ministry, leading worship sessions and prayer
walks, and basically anything else the Lord leads us to do. We will be
posting either a written or video blog each week to keep you all
updated on all our adventures and the Kingdom work happening here.
Thank you to everyone who has helped us get here – we have already
been so blessed by this country and cannot wait to pour Jesus out on
All our love,
The other day I wrote a letter to a sister of mine to encourage her to have an endless love that so many seek for. I may sound like a broken record by saying this: real love is not easy, it is a constant decision to die-to-yourself in order to lift up those around you. This selfless lifestyle is something I struggle with daily. I am still trying to overcome my belief that everyone should take care of themselves. Thankfully I was wrong! Hallelujah, there is a greater love which was displayed on the cross and is worthy of living out. Here is a little excerpt from my letter:
May you have strength and perseverance in all the days that lie ahead of you. You bless so many around you by being the light of God that you are. Be encouraged and fearless as you rest in the peace of God’s unending love for you.
John 15:13-“There is no greater love than this, that a man should lay down his life for a friend.”
I must remind myself often that love is a choice. Choice follows absolute truth only provided from an eternal perspective~ an omniscient, everlasting, and omnipresent perspective. Choices we make are based upon the truth that we believe. I pray this is easy to grasp. You become what you hold to be true. We have a choice in how we see ourselves, see the world, and see God. We have a choice in what we do, what we will do, how we love, and what we hate. All of these must be based on the absolute truth that God gives us. This significantly applies to love. Love is used 348 times in the bible (NASV), and defines both God’s nature and character. God is love. Our Father states that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. The second greatest is to love your neighbor as thyself.
With this being absolute truth, there is never a moment that we can rest from loving. The choice to love must not be based on feelings. The capability of having feelings is a gift from God. However, when one relies on feelings, these emotions can often be swayed from God’s will, as they typically arise from a human perspective. The following consequences can be painful. Instead, when emotions follow choices based on truth, feelings add life and meaning. So as we love, selflessly and wholeheartedly, we must realize that we love because God first loved us~ we love because we have been shown grace and forgiveness through the ultimate act of love.
I believe unconditional love takes more than a life time of practice. We are called forth to love and be loved. So, brothers and sisters, lets choose to surprise God with the love we have for him and others!
Amy Hale – DTS Student, October, 2015Read More
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the power of God. It says in the bible to not be afraid, that we have a Spirit of power (2 Timothy 1:7), it says that God is all powerful, and the Holy Spirit lives inside us (1 Corinthians 3:16). Thinking about these things made me ask myself: “Am I truly living a life that shows I believe these things? Do my actions prove to people that I believe in a God that is all powerful and that He has given us that same Spirit of power? What is holding me back?”
Lately, I’ve been studying the book of Acts and in almost every chapter there is a story that blows my mind, a story about the power of God that is so crazy I have to do a double take. People were getting raised from the dead (Acts 9:40), people were coming to know God by the thousands (Acts 2:41), handkerchiefs and aprons that Paul was touching were being used to HEAL PEOPLE (Acts 19:12). THAT’S CRAZY!
It seems like every time believers get together in this book, God does something extraordinary through them and the thing that amazes me is that they are just ordinary people. Time and again it says in Acts that the Pharisees or other rulers were astonished that the disciples were speaking with such authority and acting with such power because they were “common, uneducated men” (Acts 4:13). How are these people capable of such amazing things?
I think the answer lies in the fact that they are completely sold out for Jesus. Everything they do is an act of obedience, an act of love. They knew who their Father was and they knew that seeking Jesus was more important than any comforts of the world. They sold EVERYTHING they had and shared everything with the other believers (Acts 2:45). They went wherever the Holy Spirit told them to go and did whatever the Holy Spirit told them to do (Acts 8:29-30).
Something important to remember is that there was no recipe for God’s power. Selling everything they had didn’t buy them the ability for God to show His power through them. They didn’t earn it in any way or complete a series of steps to get to the power of God. They just listened and obeyed. They just loved people with everything they had. They were all in, wherever they found themselves. They knew that when Jesus said they could do even greater works than He did (John 14:12), He meant it. They understood that they were nothing and God was everything.
Living a life like the disciples in Acts, living a life that truly embraces the power of God means recognizing that we are nothing and that God is everything. It is simply being obedient to whatever God asks us to do. If he says “Go pray for this person,” do it. If He says “lie on your face during worship,” do it. It is simple loving everyone we come in contact with to the best of our ability and letting God do the rest.
If we let our fears or insecurities get in the way we make our fears bigger than God. If we think we can do powerful things on our own strength or somehow earn God’s power (and I am guilty of having done all these things) we make ourselves bigger than God. But if we just love people the best we can, if we are just obedient to whatever it is that He asks, even if we don’t see results, we put the ball in God’s court and leave the rest up to Him.
The power of God is not gone. It didn’t just happen in the book of Acts and now we are on our own. The enemy would love to have us believe that darkness is winning, that we can’t change the world. You can. You have the power of God in you. What is it that God is asking you to do? What is holding you back? Is it worth missing out on what God wants to do through you?Read More