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God’s Aquarium

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1521519_10153681895625134_1173903483_nSo for the first time in my life I got to breathe underwater! It was an incredible experience, and I hadn’t even left the pool yet!
I have gone snorkeling and swam in the ocean before, but none of that comes close to the experience when you finally have the chance to go scuba diving. It was the first time any of us had really attempted anything remotely resembling scuba diving; I was excited, but at the same time, yes, I had my fears. Thankfully, after the first underwater session in the local pool, all my worries melted away–I was ready for the real thing!
1493174_394238170722162_545526976_nArmed with our pool-based scuba instruction, we prepared our gear and set out on the boat for this new adventure. Crashing over tremendous waves, we arrived at the dive site. After our final checks, we made our way into “the deep” below….well, only if you consider 60 feet to be “deep”. As I descended, after every couple of feet, I paused to “pop” my ears in order to equalize the pressure. This short break allowed me to absorb everything around me. Complete serenity. For the first time in my life, it dawned on me, I was immersed in God’s Aquarium. Admiring schools of glistening fish stream by us, while graceful sting rays explore the reef and hungry turtles enjoy a delicious seaweed snack, expectations had become reality.
All too soon, reality kicks in, reminding me that my air supply is unfortunately almost consumed; too soon it was time to call it a day. I would continue the adventure next on my next dive.
ADolphinAnother day, another dive! Life is good! It is one thing to see aqua life on television, but it is completely something else, to see it in real life. You witness God’s astounding underwater creation firsthand, with a host of surprises along the way. Even if you didn’t see anything remarkable while diving, the fact that you are 60 feet below the surface without having to choke or gasp for air is crazy in itself!
Little did the group know, we were in for a pleasant surprise. The bottom line is, any time you have an opportunity to go diving, you are always in for a surprise. Every dive has something different to offer, even if it’s just an appreciation of the serenity, the silent world. This time I was simply breathing, while underwater, enjoying a peaceful environment. Moreover, all you hear underwater is the sound of air rushing in and out of the regulator and occasionally clicking noise. Clicking? Did you say clicking? Yes! A dolphin appeared with his friend. The two of them swam cheerfully around us on this particular dive. Although very rare, it just doesn’t seem possible, does it? Diving never ceases to amaze me. So if you are looking for the best kind of thrilling, yet relaxing adventure, I invite you to come to dive deep into God’s Aquarium!
DiveStudentsKeep Calm and Dive on!

Kristian Matis-January 2014 Leadership DTS

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Paradise

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1535026_789298231083777_388899402_nGod put us together here for a reason, even the staff says that we are different. Have you ever walked into a room that was just powerful.? The atmosphere, thick with the Holy Spirit…maybe it’s the humidity. But that’s besides the point. You can just feel God; I can see Him in the eyes of every person around me.

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The moon seems to take on a new identity every night. Sometimes it’s so bright all of the other stars fade into the background of the night sky. Other nights though, the moon is such a deep yellow that the stars twinkle like they are only miles away. Something that God and I have been battling with lately is sleep. I can’t sleep. That’s not really different from home but now I can’t sleep through the night when I do finally fall asleep. It’s not too fun. I was talking with my small group leader and she really challenged me to spend that time with God. I was up anyways, so why not? So every night this past week I wake up about three times and every time I pray for someone new and the a couple minutes later I fall asleep. This is going to be a season to lean on God and use Him for strength. God really knows what He is doing, He knows just how to get me in a place where I can’t go any further without Him.

1601381_10153738290765311_776430910_n We are starting to feel like a family. We have so much fun together and play big campus wide games and do improv and just do life. It really is starting to feel like home. Some days it’s almost surreal how well we work together, it’s like we’ve been doing this for years but we’ve only been together for 18 days.

We’ve gone into town a couple of times now, and finally we went in on Friday night. It breaks my heart. Right as we got off the boat, floods of people were coming in and out of the bars right on shore. We could smell the alcohol coming off of them; you can almost see the darkness that has overtaken the city. We went to go get some frozen custard from this place called DandE’s, which had absolutely lime and strawberry sorbet, then we walked around to kill time until the next coastal boat left. We made it up and down all three streets of our little town and every street had its own heart break. The further away from the coast we went, the worse it got. We ate tacos at a little restaurant and prayed for the strip club next door. We saw three little girls trying to work up the courage to knock on the door of the club and we couldn’t contain ourselves anymore.

We live in a paradise tainted by sin and shame.

We all know we have some work to do while we are here, prayers appreciated.

Taylor Fagan-January 2014 Leadership DTS

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Truth.

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photoSinking my toes into the sand and allowing the waves to chase away the grains of foundation beneath my feet, I have come to a place that is beyond what I ever thought possible. Surrounded by the sweet breeze lifted on the wings of time, I am complete in the embrace of my Fathers arms. It’s taken many months to plan this adventure, I came with no expectations, and I have been blown away by what God is revealing to me in the Lectures.
I come from a Christian home, but at the age of fourteen I stepped away from God because I felt I couldn’t live up to His expectations, little did I realize that He was not the one placing the judgement on me, but I was doing it to myself by the perception that I was not good enough for the church.
The first week of lectures Noah, our speaker for the week, was sharing on “Pursuing Truth” he asked us, What is Truth? I had never thought of that before. I came up with the idea that Truth is pure existence, it is what is right and true, something that can not be corrupted no matter how hard people try, whether or not they choose to accept it.
Noah explained that truth is an accurate description of reality from an infinant perspective, ie: the way things really are. Jesus is the Truth, and He offers us Freedom!
1451405_400184640127515_1066468339_nThe character of God has been brought into light through Genesis, how God really cared about the world He was creating, He spoke everything into existence, and saw that is was good, that WE were really good. He prepared a place of complete beauty for Adam and Eve, in the garden, gave them everything they needed and more. God took time to engage in relationship with them, walking through the garden together and embracing them. Then sin separates them from the Garden and from God, but even though they denied the protection that God gave them, in their shame He still made clothing for them. Later on, God sent His only Son to bring us back into direct relationship with Him.
1527893_10201297601938874_304438641_nThe perfect relationship and expression of love, is God – He never fails to provide for His Children, He cares for us, and He wants to embrace us in our brokenness and give us freedom from the sin in our lives.
Pursuing Truth for me is knowing that God created me so he could be in relationship with me, I am beautiful because He made me the way that I am. Jesus is Truth, He is the light of my life, and the reason I am here. Without Jesus, I would still be lost in the brokenness this world brings, with no hope, no purpose, no future. But that is not the case, because even though I was filthy with sin, Jesus came to free me from it because I was chosen long before I was brought into this world, to be in relationship with the True King. How blessed am I? The Creator wants ME to be HIS Princess! This is my Paradise, my walk with Jesus and I look forward to engaging in a deeper relationship with Him. He LOVES us!

Melanie Stewart-January 2014 Leadership DTS

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Patience, Vulnerability, and Growth

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892277_10151944557697982_2063936203_oBuenas, from Guatemala! To start out, I would love to talk about how much God has used this outreach to teach us how to grow a lot more in our patience and our vulnerability as a team. While we were coming to Guatemala we expected to be entering into a “hot” culture climate where everything is “go with the flow” and never on time. God has really tested us in adjusting to how things work around here and how nothing is ever on time and how we need a lot of patience. Patience is so far the biggest theme of this outreach. Also, while learning patience God has taught us how to be patient with each other as a team as we adjust to a new culture. As we learn to adjust to the loose scheduling we still have had some wonderful ministry opportunities here in Puerto Barrios, Guatemala!

1526273_10151944510577982_789696119_nFor ministry, we have had the opportunity to do a lot of different things. We have also been able to grow a lot of relationships with people because we re-visit a lot of the places where we do ministry. Some of the ministries we’ve had the chance to be a part of are, going to the city dump, the orphanage, nursing home, churches and street ministry. We also have had the opportunity to do a lot of community building, such as, helping repaint a special needs school for the start of the new year. Also, we visit the local park and grow relationships with the locals.

615029_10151944487022982_1382451818_oThe city dump has to be one of my favorite ministry projects we have done. Every Thursday we go and do ministry at the city dump and bring sandwiches for the kids and families that live in the dump. For some of the families it is their only meal for the whole week. Our group sings songs to the children (in Spanish) and we just play and love on the kids. Our goal is to build relationship with people at the dump and pray for them. This coming week we have the opportunity to spend a whole day at the dump and really see how it is to live there. We are being “adopted” by families there and we will help them with their everyday life.

God has stretched us and has taught us so much on this outreach here in Guatemala. It has been really beautiful to see God move in this community, but also just in our group. We have grown closer to each other and closer to God as a group. Recently, Luke Chamberlain made the choice to be baptized. He got baptized in the beautiful mountains of Guatemala in the waterfalls. It was such a beautiful experience. Something unexpected that has happened to us is that we have been living with and teaming up with 50 other missionaries from the World Race and YWAM Mazatlan Mexico. It has been such a blessing and we have made so many new friendships!

-Michaela Lindley-September 2013 Guatemala outreach

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900 Banana Trees

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An update from our September 2013 outreach team to Peru!

1505340_10201323905514627_1141787133_n Hola! Last week held a lot for us as a team! Last Friday another YWAM DTS team came from the base in Cusco, Peru. It was great to have some new faces living with us in the jungle. It is so encouraging to meet the Cusco team, knowing that people all over the world in different walks of life are all chasing after a relationship with God. Three of the students were American, two of then were Peruvian and the two staff members with them were Peruvian. It was so much fun to work alongside them and experience more of their language and culture. They were very patient with our Spanglish. 🙂
Unfortunately, four members of our team, were sick this week with a harsh stomach bug, which put them out of commission for a few days. The “inner mother” in many of us… but really just the girls came out this week in caring for each of the little sick ones. Having some of the team sick in bed challenged our unity, but I believe we are stronger because of it and now almost everyone is back to full health. Hooray!
1510470_10202986379681707_328022575_n we continued weeding trees in the orchard this week we came across quite a few nasty bees. However Francis definitely endured the worst of it, sustaining a bee sting to the eyebrow causing severe swelling. But he was a champ about it and kept working!
During our time in the fields we finished weeding all of the citrus trees and got into the banana trees. Mmmhhh, bananas! Thinking we had weeded over 500 trees in our three weeks at Bud’s, we felt so blessed for this opportunity to help. However when talking with Bud he told us we had actually weeded close to 900 TREES! God enabled us to be little weeding machines.
IMG_0258 we said goodbye to the Cusco team on Thursday we got ready for our own departure on Friday. We are now in the city of Puerto Maldonado staying at a church. This week we have been preparing for this transition and particularly preparing a “Heart Message.” Each of us has been working on a message about something that we have been taught or has been on our heart to share this upcoming week. This week in PM we will be sharing at many different cell groups, which are similar to small groups. Please pray that we will be bold and engaged in our sharing. Please pray especially for Heidi, one of our team members, that she will have lots of energy, as she will be doing a lot of translating for us.
-Evangeline Kesteven 2013 September DTS Peru Outreach

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