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Lice never stopped Jesus from Loving.

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Hello again from Bolivia! We are half way done with outreach, and our whole team cannot believe it. In the last 3 weeks, here are some things y’all have missed:

1. milk. BOLIVIA HAS MILK!!! unlike belize, milk is a thing here. Thank you Jesus!!!
2. The food= amazing, especially in Cochabamba (the food capitol of Bolivia)
3. Bolivians are so extremely hospitable and we have been shocked by how God has blessed our team with that
4. Altitude will basically attack you
5. We moved from La Paz to Cochabamba this last week, and are loving the change and new opportunity, not to mention the amazing food and warmer weather!

In our final week in La Paz, we worked at a Boy’s home for street kids. It’s a ministry in the mountains of Bolivia called Kaya. They take boys off the streets of Bolivia and give them a permanent home, food, and a family of other boys just like them. We built relationships, laughed, and played a lot of soccer with them. The saddest part was that they creamed us “gringos” every single time. They were half our size and age, and won over and over. Mostly we just got to have fun with these boys and reflect Christ’s value and love on them as much as we could.

Our team shoe shining in La Paz

Our team shoe shining in La Paz

We also got an awesome opportunity to partner with a shoe shining ministry in La Paz. In the city, there is tons of discrimination against shoe shiners that earn their money on the streets. The shiners wear ski masks, hats, and hoods, so that no one will see who they truly are. We got to shine shoes alongside them, wearing all of the things that they do. It showed us all how distorted value is in the world. That God’s heart breaks for these people because He says “Child, you are mine. You are valued because i say you are, not because of who they say you are.”. But the truth in that is He says that to every single one of us. Our value is determined by our King, not by the world. It was such an amazing eye opening experience as we were all pushed outside of our comfort zone, in order to see more of God’s heart for the value in all people, no matter where or who you are.

Little girls dancing for money at a market in Cochabamba

Little girls dancing for money at a market in Cochabamba

After a 10 hour long bus ride, we finally arrived in Cochabamba, which means “eternal spring”, for more reasons than one. The culture here is a bit less “busy city” like, than La Paz, and there is a chiller vibe. There is much more green because of the drop in altitude. Mountains still surround the city, but these mountains are green and lush, rather than brown and rocky like in La Paz. The food is amazing (stay tuned for pics on the next blog post). There is a saying  that goes like this: ” The people in La Paz eat to live, but the people in Cochabamba live to eat!”, which is so true.

Us spinning the kids around at the VBS

Us spinning the kids around at the VBS

Since being here, we have helped with maintenance jobs on an orphanage for girls called “Daughters of the King” that is opening very soon. We have also served at a Kid’s Club in a much poorer area than where we are staying. It was like a VBS for kids here. It was equally sad and joyful to spend time with these kids, while seeing the reality of how they live. We served them bread and juice, which for most all of those kids, that is all they will eat for the weekend. Aside from that, we got to play with them and just love on them regardless of the high risk of catching lice from them all. I remember driving there knowing that it would be rare for a kid to not have lice, and that we all should pull up our hair. I began to think “oh no, I don’t want to get lice! I wont get too close.” Then Jesus spoke so boldly to me and reminded me of how he was the one who pursued the hearts of lepers. He was the one who sat with the lame and sick. He was the one who broke down boundaries of value by showing people that they are worth it no matter what. Right after that, my attitude changed and my heart broke for these people instead of holding them at arms length. As we had to go, all the kids were hugging us and running after our car laughing, and the last thing any of us could think about was getting lice. All we could think about was the joy that each one of those kids taught us, even with having so little. I would go back there in a second if I could.

The kids chasing after our car at the VBS Kid's Club in Cochabamba

The kids chasing after our car at the VBS Kid’s Club in Cochabamba

Our whole team has been learning that choosing freedom is a daily choice. That every day we wake up, we fight alongside Jesus to walk in the healing that He gifts us. Please be praying for us to celebrate our own personal small victories and that we can continue to be empowered to fight. Also please pray for health, and constant joy to be willing in every single opportunity God gifts us in these last weeks.

All our love from Bolivia!

Shea Salisbury – DTS September 2014

Family of Christ.

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Blessings from Ethiopia!

Our team has been having a fantastic time loving on the people in this beautiful country as well as being loved on by them. The hearts of the people here are warm and welcoming, making the transition into Outreach a lot smoother for us all. We truly feel like family when it comes to the people we meet, including the people we’re staying with.

Who are we staying with? A wonderful missionary couple from India named Samy and Ruth. These two have served us in an abundance of ways, not the least of these being the way they feed us. Every meal we eat is followed by Samy hounding us all to “eat more”! The amount of curry we’re eating on the daily is a welcome surprise as we are experiencing not only Ethiopian culture but also a little bit of India as well!

The first day we arrived we spent resting up from the long days of travel. By the second day in country we were beginning ministry.  We had the amazing opportunity to spend a couple of days traveling to the villages and working with the people there. Our first village day started out with some street evangelism as we passed out Bibles that had been translated into the language of Amharic. 10887203_10204543743767334_6246383635150052963_oEach member of our team was paired with one of our Ethiopian friends who could translate for us. With the sun beaming down on us, we walked along the dusty roads, shaking hands and exchanging greetings. It was the first time evangelizing for many of us and before long my nervous excitement had turned into a peaceful joy. Joy to be in this country, on this continent, with these people.

That night, the people we had spoken to on the street gathered into the small churchyard to hear us speak. After a time of worship and prayer we performed a drama set to the song “Beautiful Things” by Gungor. Each of us had a piece of paper that had words on it describing who we had been and what we had struggled with before Christ redeemed us. As the song continued our labels of anger, suicide and loneliness turned to definitions of peace, life, and joy. After the short skit our favorite Alaskan, Bridget, shared her testimony. She did an amazing job conveying God’s love and grace for us all, no matter what we have done or what we have been through. After Bridge’s testimony Leanna acted as our team pastor for the night and shared a message based around foundational principals. Who is God? Why did He create us? What does it mean to have a relationship with Him? 10887502_10204543688685957_2280003135032362300_oLeanna used her own story, knowledge, and verses from the Bible to communicate with the people there. Her talent for speaking, even when needing a translator, had our whole team smiling and whispering good gossip to each other as she shared.

The next village ministry day began in much the same way; evangelizing on the streets.  The people in that village spoke a language called Oromifasuu, which presented a few more communication problems that God totally worked through (obviously- He’s the God of the Universe, no language barrier can stop Him!). To our delight, we ran a kid’s ministry in a tiny church with walls made of mud. We sang songs and put on a puppet show as the kids just stared.10838267_10204543719526728_3858916359065723846_o Yup, you heard me right, they straight-up just stared at us. The children were gentle and shy at first but as the adult service started they ventured out of their comfort zones and began sitting on our laps, playing with our arm hair, and throwing us bright smiles when we looked their way. For many of us, the following service for adults was filled with God’s presence. Bridget compared the worship that evening to the Bible verse that talks about making joyful noises for the Lord. And that’s precisely what it was. No matter what skin color, no matter what language, no matter what nation we are from, we all are together in the family of Christ. Though our cultures may be vastly different, we can still come together and worship the God who saved us all through His unchanging and amazing grace.

Please continue to pray for our general health and well-being as a team as well as Jaymie’s on-going recovery process that was mentioned in the previous post.  Thank you for supporting us through thick and thin. 10903797_10204487728486987_550544428725055032_o

In His peace,

Kara-Beth Amuzzini – September 2014 DTS

It’s the small things.

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My first Christmas away from home was something I was honestly not looking forward to. I anticipated feeling homesick and missing all the traditions that my family and I have each year to celebrate the season. 

photo 4After setting off from Belize on Friday December 19th in the aftenoon we endured some long, and some more very long, layovers we made it to our destination of Sydney, Australia on Wednesday December 24th. Waking up the next day was, needless to say, somewhat of a struggle but we did it and made our way to church with my good friend and her family who graciously hosted the team and I over Christmas. We had a great day in the sun swimming in the ocean and hiking down the side of mountain. None of us had ever had a hot Christmas before so it was weirdly new for all of us, that made not being home easier. 

The pastor preached about hope and how we need to see the significance in the small things that we do, to choose God in each moment and not only on Sundays. This was a great message for us to hear before heading off into Outreach, where plenty of time is spent just sitting waiting, not knowing what is going on or when your contact will eventually arrive. Having the ability to include God in those moments is a number one must learn to continue having a good attitude and positive outlook. 

Not too long after celebrating Christmas together the team and I made our way out to Papua New Guinea where we welcomed in the New Year with a true cultural experience of the local village church community. As we finished off presenting our worship I felt like God was asking me to share a word of encouragement and challenge for the New Year, to learn from the mistakes we made last year and to continue to seek Him in the coming year. To know that in both the good and the bad we must still worship with a grateful heart, that God is still good, still faithful, still majestic and most importantly still God!photo 1

After I finished speaking the pastor came to the front and preached almost the exact same message, he used Exodus 15 and the song of Moses and Miriam to show that despite the craziness of life at the end of each day we have the priveledge and honour to present our worship, our very own heart song to God. 

Ha! How good is God? I love how He confirms over and over the words which we hear Him speak just to make sure we heard it, learn from it and apply it to our lives as He so desires our whole hearts, fully, completely surrendered to Him.

photo 3We are currently in Kokopo, East New Britain, PNG. In just a few days time we will be headed out to the district of Pomio where we will be among the white people to stay in the village. We will share our lives with them and pour out light into darkness. The idea is to allow Gods goodness and glory to shine through us and into the people that He will place around us. 

A quote that was instrumental in my payers early on for this outreach was “Let us believe that God is in all our simple deeds and learn to find Him there” by AW Tozer. I believe that is the key to living a life in love with Jesus. To allow our everyday duties and actions to be the places that we seek the constant presence of the Father. 

Thanks for joining with us in prayer as we adventure to the unknown of each village, as we encounter people that need to know Jesus as their Lord and Saviour and not just as a cultural addition. Speaking truth and shining light – one of the coolest questions we were asked today by a small girl was “Are you from the same Messiah?” to which, of course, the response is a resounding “Yes! And He loves you just as much as He loves me.”

Zoe Hewlett – YWAM DP Staff (Outreach Lead)

Love, serve, and encourage.

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African customs

African customs

My latest Outreach journey has lead me to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, along with seven other students. This outreach, while only a week in, has already shown to be one of both challenge and harvest. Upon arriving in Ethiopia we were greeted by a wonderful couple from India, now living and working in Ethiopia. They have been our first contacts here and have provided great knowledge about the culture, area, and spiritual atmosphere. Ethiopia is made up with a religious majority of Ethiopian Orthodox, followed closely by Muslims, which has created a very skewed version of who the True God is. Our heart in being here is never to debate those of different beliefs, or judge the way they live, rather to love them into the Kingdom of God as we carry His Spirit with us.

Sharing at local churches.

Sharing at local churches.

While we have only been here a week we have already been able to dive right into various ministry opportunities ranging from preaching and sharing testimonies in local Christian churches, to working with children and leading Sunday school, to sharing the Jesus Film with the locals in their own native tongue. This week we will continue to share, as well as spend time in the local prisons, and travel to nearby villages helping bring fresh water.

New food with new friends!

New food with new friends!

Children's ministry

Children’s ministry

Africa is a place unlike any other and Ethiopia has proved to have many new challenges that the team has continued to trust themselves, me and most importantly God through. While Outreach is an amazing time to share with others God has continued to remind me that His heart is just as much for my students as those we speak to. Giving them  opportunities to share, see new cultures, try new food, and live a little more simply is much more than a good story for this group of guys and girls. It is an opportunity to have their eyes open to Gods love here, as well as to see the value of  people in new ways.

Outreach is that beautiful time where you watch students shift, as they look outside of themselves, their culture, their comfort zone and truly begin to understand  what loving others is all about. That it’s not about providing new clothes or shoes, it’s not about giving money to those less fortunate; while all that is good it’s about so much more. It’s about living in the present, looking around us where ever we are and asking ourselves what we can do to serve, to love, and to encourage.

While traveling to Ethiopia with seven students my assistant lead, Jaymie Poage fell ill in Washington DC and because of it was rushed to a local hospital. Time seemed to operate at a completely different pace as I called local paramedics, had to request her bags to be taken off the plane, and ran through the options in my head of what to do with my team, Jaymie, and myself. Quickly, after talking to my base director, I asked two students to stay behind with Jaymie, and as they walked off with her, I boarded the plane with the remaining students, all of us confused, heart broken and overwhelmed.

About to show the Jesus film!

Will and Jaymie.

As I sat on the plane and looked out the window I thought of the two girls who had so easily volunteered to stay behind. As great as it may sound to be heading to Africa to help poor children, it couldn’t even compare to the love those girls had shown for Jaymie. They sacrificed their time, their comfort, and their Outreach for a girl they had known only a few weeks, because that is what people in love with Jesus do.

Jaymie is special to me for many reasons but one of the first is that she is my girlfriend and because of that having to leave her behind didn’t make sense in my head one bit, but then again I think love rarely makes much sense. My job, my call, my purpose is to love the students, to keep them safe and to do whats highest and best for them and in that moment God gave me the strength to do just that. And on top of giving me the strength to do that, He blessed me, Jaymie and many others by loving so well through two amazing students that choose to listen and obey. I thank you in advance for your prayers both for this team and Jaymie.

 

Will Richardson – YWAM DP Staff (Outreach Lead)

“Home” is wherever He is.

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Mallasilla

Mallasilla

Hello from Bolivia! In our three days of travel we went from a boat to a tiny plane to a van to a bus to an even bigger plane to another plane to another plane to another plane to a van, and finally to our home in Bolivia. In Three days we were in 5 countries, sleeping on chairs, floors, airplanes, and buses. When we arrived in La Paz, Bolivia, our whole team was shocked with how beautiful the city is. Pretty much every building is made out of brick, with the city surrounded by huge mountains. I couldn’t help being speechless (possibly from the altitude) by God’s genius creation in the city of La Paz. 

Prayer walk throughout Mallasilla

Prayer walk throughout Mallasilla

The first few days were spent resting a bit so that we wouldn’t get altitude sickness, being 12,000 feet above sea level (slight difference from our home in Belize haha). We got to meet our “host family” Lisa, Scotty, and their two kids Natalie and Jubilee. Not only have they blessed our team so much with a place to stay (their church office), but also have shown us a little taste of Bolivia throughout the last few days. We went on a prayer walk throughout their town (Mallasilla) where they planted their church, got to go on a giant gondola that goes above the whole city of La Paz, all the way to the top peak. They also took us to eat typical Bolivian food which were things called Salteñas (kind of like empanadas. They have meat, veggies, potatoes and more, inside.) And lastly, we got to drink Bolivian coffee and eat gingerbread and their house.

The town of Mallasilla

The town of Mallasilla

Even though we aren’t at home with our families, celebrating, God has blessed us so much by showing us that “home” really is wherever He is. That even though we are in a foreign country, in a foreign house, with foreign food, nothing is really foreign at all because we are resting in Him and with Him.

Eating Salteñas.

Eating Salteñas.

Our team is experiencing tons of Joy, laughter, and peace as we are in the city of La Paz (which literally means The Peace ha ha, creds to God on that one). Tonight we get to go to a Christmas Eve church service, and then tomorrow we are celebrating with Lisa, Scotty, and their family!!

Bolivian coffee at Lisa and Scotty's!

Bolivian coffee at Lisa and Scotty’s

Please be praying that our team can be bold because of Christ. That in everything we do, it’s alongside Him, not just for Him, and that we can be confident because of the name of Christ!
Merry Christmas, and Lots of love from Bolivia!
Shea Salisbury – September DTS 2014