It’s crazy how time is running so fast and we have only one more week left here in Panama. The last week has shown me more and more how cool and encouraging it can be to put a smile on a kids face or to make somebody feel supported by just helping on their farm, cutting grass with machetis or whatever it might be.
We have continued to do swimming lessons with the kids of the village and it’s awesome to see how they have progressed. Another ministry was to play soccer with them in the deepest mud, this time without rain, and we lost against them because we are just not used to this terrain. As somebody who played soccer for a really long time, it was one of the hardest games I’ve ever played before.
On Thursday we had a special lesson of cooking pancakes. Anna explained all the ingredients to the participants and then we went through the recipe all together, step-by-step, like in cooking school. We had a lot of fun and at the end they could eat some of the fresh yummy pancakes with some syrup. You could see that it was kind of exotic to the locals here, but I think most of them really liked it and they could even take some of them home if they wanted to.
The kids here are awesome and keep us running sometimes like crazy, even when we only take a short break, they come and ask us if we want to join their adventures. They make us feel part of their family. Bella, the 7 year old daughter of Bobby and Charlene Wood, loves the game Uno. When you hear the question over and over: “Do you want to play UNO,… please? mostly when she makes this face of “come on, just one more time”, I give in and play another round with her.
We are kept busy and we really enjoyed this last weekend of having some rest and spending some time keeping connected with family and friends. It is also good to leave the property sometimes and go to the beach and just lay in the sun for a while and enjoy the sunshine with its lovely warm temperature on your skin. Just to get ready for new adventures and discovering more of the beauty of God for this part of the world.
Micah – April 2014 DTS Student – Panama Outreach
Jaimeshi from Taplejung, Nepal! As our seminar in Taplejung drew to the end, the students became increasingly affected as the evidence of the Holy Spirit’s movement became more visible. Vange taught on the destructiveness of sin, explaining that when we make sinful choices, it is like climbing down the hole of our own personal outhouses to live in the filth, grieving God’s heart. The next day Trevor brought the good news that while we were living for ourselves, God’s heart was filled with overwhelming loveand compassion, sending his son to live in our filth, die, and bring us back to new life. For many of them this was the first time they witnessed the consequence of sin to our Savior and they were broken hearted over what He went through. We proceeded with a funeral service where we burned pieces of papers on which we wrote sins that we wanted to die to, never to return, in light of the great sacrifice of our Lord Jesus. The day finished with a time of great rejoicing as we celebrated the victory that Jesus’ death and resurrection brought to us. Our next couple of days the topics shifted into how we can take transformation and transfer to our families, churches, businesses, schools, government, and all of society. During these couple of days, the participants made posters and practiced their new storying skills that they learned during the seminar. This was all in preparation for a two day outreach where they went all over the surrounding villages preaching and teaching what they had learned during the seminar. The participants graduated further equipped to live their own Christian lives and to transform the nation of Nepal. The gospel message is exploding all over Nepal as thousands bend their knee before Jesus. These participants are better equipped to disciple this nation to freedom. Noah Applegate – Current YWAM DP Staff
A couple of weeks ago our time in Istanbul came to an end as we packed up, said goodbye to our new friends, and then headed off to the airport at 4am to catch a short flight to Tbilisi, Georgia.
When we arrived in Georgia we expected to be in the midst of urbanity once again, but to our surprise, while we were still technically inside of the 1.1 million-person city of Tbilisi, we found ourselves living on the side of a mountain surrounded by fields, cows, and silence. This was quite the change from fast-paced, noisy Istanbul! While we loved Istanbul and would not trade our time there for anything, the peace and the quiet were very welcome and gave us much needed rest even in the midst of ministry!
Some of our time spent in Tbilisi was spent running around preparing logistics for the next phase in our journey but we still had ample opportunity to work with the local YWAM base and partner with them in some ministry opportunities. After getting an orientation to ministering to Georgian people from the local leaders we had the chance to run a 2 day kids camp, travel with local partners to see some of their other work in the country, visit and participate in a service at the international church, and get to know and serve our local partners. Our time in Georgia was short, just under 1 week, but a great chance to get out of the city, make some new friends, and enjoy all that God had planned for us there! As we prepared to leave Georgia we headed out to the airport on our way to our next, and final (for this outreach) destination, a place that will not be named.
We have been here, in this unnamed place, for just a few days but have already had the opportunity to meet up with friends, some old (for a couple of us) and many new. Chances to serve, bless, and partner with the local workers here abound. Already we have begun working with childcare for some local workers, teaching English to people from the community, building relationships with girls who have come out of the foster system, and generally connecting with the local community of workers. We are very much looking forward to continuing to build these relationships and experiencing what God does through this process!
On Behalf of the Central Asia Team
One of the greatest things about YWAM is its a great place to meet God yes, but also to make friends for life. As a member of the YWAM DP alumni you join a family of people that continue to adventure through life with a DTS experience to connect them together. We love to hear from all our alumni, through visits to the base, Facebook posts, emails or blog posts. Brittany Johnson is an extremely talented writer and below we have featured an exert from her is our personal blog. To read the whole story visit her blog; http://lovebravely.blogspot.com
When I was in Belize for my 3 month Discipleship Training School through Youth With A Mission (YWAM) I struggled with choosing to see God in complete control of my life. I clung tight to the good things I had worked for and I was terrified that if I fully submitted myself to God’s plan for my life and asked Him if the things that I loved were a part of his will, that he would immediately take them away from me. Every part of me told me that I had “earned” them on my own and somehow had the unalienable right to keep making my own decisions– mostly concerning my boyfriend at the time (who later became my husband).
Through my experience at school, God broke me down to see the beautiful mess I really was and helped me surgically remove the sins that ensnared my freedom in Christ. I had heard of others breaking off their relationships back home, and I couldn’t even let my mind open to even ask God if my relationship and intentions with Stephen were according to His good and perfect will for my life. As a result I gave portions to God that were undemanding of risk or change to satisfy the pull of trust I felt from Him, but in the pit of my heart I began fortifying the little space where I held everything I truly valued.
On the last day I visited “our dock”. My own hurricane stripped disgrace of a dock not far from the base that jutted out into the ocean just around a slight bend in the beach where it enabled me to feel alone with God. Almost every day at 5:10 am I would meet with God to pray aloud, listen, and watch the sun rise (which you haven’t seen a true sunrise until you’ve seen it crest above the Caribbean). On that last visit I finally chose to let God completely destroy the walls around my desires, and instead of feeling fear, I felt an overwhelming sense of freedom and peace. I cried knowing that God was in complete control to give me what I need and take what I didn’t. Even though God was already in control, it was still up to me to decide to see it that way. I am so glad that God IS in control, for He can make decisions based on the ENTIRE picture when we can only make decisions based on the minuscule amount we can see. It was an amazing revelation.
I looked at my watch and saw that it was time to start heading back, but just when I was about to get up, something strange happened. I suddenly felt like God was asking me to jump into the water. It was clear. It was definite. It was extremely weird. It was my test. And you know what I did? I walked away. I WALKED AWAY!
I thought about not having enough time to change before class started.
I thought about what people might think.
I thought about how silly it was, and how it MUST have just come from me.
But I tell you what, the entire walk back to the base, I have never felt such immediate regret. I thought about what I had just experienced and how maybe that was the Holy Spirit asking me to cement my spiritual revelation to a physical act. Possibly symbolize a new baptism to living in God’s control. And I had just walked away. Like many other crazy things God had asked me to do that I didn’t act upon, I minimized, rationalized, and justified my unwillingness and pressed it into the hidden corners of my heart. But every now and again, God would remind me of our dock and guilt would overwhelm me.
About six months ago God took my now husband and I on an adventure back to Central America, and we made a point of visiting the YWAM base in Belize. I knew among other reasons for visiting the base, I was being given another chance to respond to my call from almost 2 years before. We stayed one night at the base, and that morning, before the sun rose, I snuck out of our cabana to tend to my unfinished business. Walking down the beach in the darkness of night I was overwhelmed with memories and expectant for God to show up. As I reached our dock I could see that the last 2 years had not treated it so well. With hardly enough planks to even call it a dock, I practically leapt from one rotten board to the next before situating myself at the end to wait for the sun to rise. Feeling foolish, I subconsciously told God that as soon as the sun peeked over the horizon that I would plunge in. I prayed while I waited and felt God remind me of a verse I had memorized in Romans 12.
“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”
As another version puts it:
“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice–the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Feeling adequately inspired and ready to go “all-in” I expectantly waited for the sun to show up, but I began to worry. Online I had read that the sun was supposed to have come up over 5 minutes ago. It was really cloudy and judging on how light the sky was getting, I had a sinking feeling that the sun had already rose and was hiding behind the clouds. I felt stupid for “throwing out my fleece” and testing God for a revelation of His love for me that morning. I realized I had the choice to follow through with what he said, on my own, without Him coming through first, and with a bursting heart I leapt off the dock, fully clothed, into the water.
And then God came through.
As I clambered out of the ocean and back onto my plank, the most explosive fiery ray of light burst from the East. In tears I watched as the most beautiful sunrise I had ever experienced unfolded over our little dock. I was completely satisfied in that first shimmer of orange, but God wasn’t done yet. Because that is how God is. He lavishes His love upon us and just when we are filled He tells us He isn’t quite finished yet, and continues to outpour his love until it completely smothers any trace of shame and disbelief. And there was MY sunrise. The Fiery orange led into bursting red and magenta with glory rays slicing through the clouds (yeah, the scientific name for sundays is LITERALLY “glory”). And if that wasn’t enough, ten minutes in, the entire Western sky behind me seemed to echo His glory in hot pink-fringed cotton candy clouds. I was miserably in awe. I was soaking wet with a huge grin on my face. God came through, at just the right time, and not a second before or after.
I believe the Holy Spirit confronts us with little choices like these, which to the world can sometimes seem radical… silly… or just straight up crazy. But when did Jesus ever ask us to live comfortably? When did he ever show us how to blend in and strictly follow decrees and religion? Christ is the ultimate example of what the world calls CRAZY. His entire ministry constantly threw a curveball to what society thought was right living. Why would he expect anything less that that from us?!
Therefore, I choose to be:
Unconformed to the world’s standard of living, unsatisfied with my faith and always pursuing more, and uncomfortable in such a way that the only way I can make it through is to fully depend on God. Because anything less than that is not my all. And Christ CLEARLY asks for EVERY part of me.
Brittany Johnson – 2011 DTS Alumni