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God + Life = Reality

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a0a2352Last Thursday evening we arrived back onto the shores of YWAM Belize in a water taxi full of shouts of excitement and tears of joy. We were home! Back to a fuller family, humidity, and mosquitoes. These past few days have consisted of debriefing, team bonding, combating fears with truths, and preparations for the transitions we’re going to be facing going back home. For a while I thought, “Well, this is just us going back to reality.”

I now realize how wrong I was. God + Life = Reality. God is just as present in California as He is right here, in YWAM. But throughout this time there has been healing in my life that has enabled me to see that.

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I used to think believing in God meant you read your bible, you go to church, you quote Christian Living Books, you go to bible studies, etc. Before my DTS I honestly thought I had it all together because I knew how to do those things…yet those actions now feel like they were hollow and missing the most important thing that gives those actions Life. I needed a reality check, I needed to be stripped of my pride, I needed to stop choosing to wear a crown of shame. I needed real relationship with Jesus. Throughout the Outreach Phase of DTS I asked God if He would teach me how to have humility. I’m laughing right now because it’s rare that we realize how powerful a prayer can be when it comes to saying something so nonchalantly. Turns out he answered that prayer with a whopping YES. It was difficult. Being in close quarters definitely puts a strain on relationships especially when your in a country that already pushes you out of your comfort zone. But He was faithful, He always is. Difficult times always make way for an attitude of gratitude for the times that don’t seem so. With the 3 months of Lecture Phase, we were learning the truths of REAL relationship with Jesus. Then came the Outreach Phase, where the truths were put into action through Love. It was hard and amazing all at the same time. Honestly, my words can’t do justice to the things I witnessed God do.

2016-04-17 08.21.34 2-1It’s coming to that time where I’m going to have to have an answer to, “How was Outreach/DTS?!” I think I’m okay with allowing every response to be as lengthy or as short as God prompts. Never the less, God’s kingdom was extended in Zambia through many of the mercy ministries we did in Lusaka and in the bush. Whether it was door-to-door evangelism, building a school roof, teaching in a public school, building relationships in orphanages, holding a public ministry event in town, or even starting a dance party in the middle of a grocery store parking lot. God was the Love that put Life into every one of those actions.

wp-1463866704071The first week of our DTS we were told to write a note to ourselves about what we were looking forward to for this season, and then after we’d get back from outreach we’d open them. Well…when I revisited my letter, I couldn’t help but start to weep silently to myself.

One of the first things I noticed was how much God had fulfilled in my life in these past 5 months. The second thing was that I was totally speaking ‘Christianese’. Especially with that quote: “Never hesitate to trust an unknown future to a known God.”

I know that before I came here I didn’t want to sacrifice anything that would make me uncomfortable. But after applying and getting accepted, I knew that if I wanted the real deal I needed to let go and let God take hold of my life. One of those things I needed to give up was my home. I had been living on my own and had been working at a job I really enjoyed before coming here. So when I applied and got accepted, by the second week of DTS, I was already asking people if they had a room I could rent out. Well as time went on, I felt convicted that I was talking more about trying to live somewhere rather than praying and asking God if he would give me a place to live. I knew this was something that no matter how hard I planned, if it wasn’t His will for me, it wouldn’t happen. Plus every other time I’ve tried to make things happen, I end up with a huge tangled-spaghetti-kinda mess.

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So 5 days before we leave for Outreach, I’m messaging back and forth with a ministry called The Doves Foundation based in Bogota, Colombia trying to see if I could be apart of their ministry. During Lecture Phase, God revealed to me how big my heart is for missions and evangelism. I remember writing my dream on the Dream Board, ‘Speak to EVERY nation’, and from there on out I was going to do whatever I could to make that happen. So when Lina wrote back to me that they were going to do ministry in the neighboring countries I was in shock because right after she told me that she not only said she’d allow me to be apart of the missions trip, she offered me a place to live!!! I’M GOING TO LIVE IN COLOMBIA PEOPLE! GOD GAVE ME A HOME IN COLOMBIA!!!! I wish I could express the joy I felt when I ran out of the library screaming for joy running around like a crazy woman after I saw her message. But God gave me a home!

 

  • Taylor Mann

Taylor Mann, California USA, 02/23/1995, 20 yrs

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Forever changed

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March 26, that’s the day that we got to Cuba, now nearly 2 months later I sit on a night bus heading from Cancun, Mexico to Belize City.

It’s quiet and dark on the bus, we have the whole thing almost exclusively to ourselves and I find my mind wandering, pouring over the last 2 months. In many ways the time seems to have flown by, gone in the blink of an eye. I can remember clearly stepping out of the airport in Havana, it seemed much hotter then IMG_3805Belize, maybe only because of all the concrete and asphalt. I remember following Hatniel (our contact) to a bus, our team was amazed by Cuba, we couldn’t help but comment on all the vehicles, cars older then our parents (sorry guys). This was only the beginning of our journey. We would see much of Cuba and meet many incredible people who we will not soon forget. Now it all seems like some sort of a dream as I sit here in the dark recollecting. While I can do my best to describe the emotions and the experiences, surely my words will fail to do justice to the true experience, none the less I will try.

13244899_10154093427437787_8974960081550566456_nI have never done an outreach before, but I will take a stab in the dark and say that this may have been a struggle to lead and the way in which Josh and Donny led the team was outstanding. For those of you who have never been to Cuba you may not understand, but Cuban culture is unlike anything I have experienced. I have been to other warm, Caribbean cultures where time is of little value, but Cuba takes it to the next level. Time is a means of only a very very rough estimate; for example you may be told a car will pick you up at 9:00am, but at 1:00pm you get a call saying the car had problems, but don’t worry another one is on the way, the car finally shows up at 4:00pm. While this may not have been an everyday occurrence, it is a good idea of transportation and timelines in Cuba. Now this casts a negative light on the culture and I most certainly mean to do no such thing. The lack of concern for time may be frustrating for someone from a western culture but I assure you there was much about the culture that our team loved.

Food. The food of Cuba was beyond expectation, we could be assured our daily intake of rice and beans but we would also be treated to many delicacies and fantastic desserts. It actually seemed that every new location we went to would have its own dessert speciality, a unique treat to get from street vendors. One place might be churros, the next night have guayba filled pastries, one thing you could count on was delicious Cuban coffee for one peso or the equivalent of 4 US cents. Far beyond the great food was the warmth of the people, no matter where we went we warmly welcomed. We would do house visits to pray for and encourage members of the church, they would often feed us and give us coffee or offer to slaughter a pig… They have a huge heart and reflect the love of Christ so well in this. In fact on one occasion I asked a vendor if she sold coffee, I was told no, but was then given a glass of coffee for free that presumably has been for her personally.

IMG_6626We got to travel all the way for Havana down to Santiago and then full circle back. Along the way we met so many cool people. For example there was our over qualified translator, Pablo, he could rap, play guitar, bongos, sing, do amazing wood carvings and even masonry work. Or there was Joani, he was 41, had been in wheel chair for 20 years. People told him he would be a burden to society, never amount to anything, now he is a carpenter that loves Jesus and he overflows with joy. Cuba was full of warm amazing people, people who loved so so well, like God calls us to. The passion they have for the church, for growing the body of Christ, for knowing the people was so encouraging. They truly are a beautiful people. We went to minister to them, to teach them, yet I know that we walked away with more than we left.

Cuba and all it’s hectic scheduling and random transportation had struggles and it had victories. We took 12 people, most having only been acquainted for 3 months and we went to Cuba. In some ways this trip was extremely difficult. We left with 12 people, and only returned with 8. It’s a hard thing to lose team members regardless the circumstances. I can however say with certainty that even though we may not understand it, God had his hand in it weaving it together for his glory. I won’t lie and say it was easy, it wasn’t, but we pushed through it as a team, leaned into God and grew closer because of it.

FullSizeRenderOutreach forces you out of your comfort zone no matter who you are, it forces you to ride in cramped cars designed for far less then your number, it forces you to sleep on a cold or hot floor. You get closer with your team members than you thought possible and perhaps then you would have liked. The inevitability of outreach is that you see people at their worst and thankfully also at their best. Like it or not you come out as a family, mess with one of us and you mess with all of us. We leave Cuba a unit, bringing light and freedom wherever we go, that is our mandate and right as heirs of the King.

Do I have regrets from this outreach? Maybe yes. There are situations I could have handled better, there are times I could have stepped up more. Would I change it if I could? Absolutely not. Our team killed it. We were refined by our struggles, we come out better and stronger on the other side. A team of warriors. Again I snap back to the present and I know there is no one on this bus that I would trade away, this team was hand picked and hand assembled for this outreach and it’s awesome. I am excited for what the future holds, I am excited for what’s next for all of us, but surely I will miss team Cuba. Spending 5 months with someone, being with them almost every waking minute, and sometimes every sleeping minute, creates an incredibly strong and unique bond.

I am beyond blessed to have been part of this team and forever changed because of it.

 

Val Dalberg

 

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He must increase, I must decrease

  |   DTS, Lecture Phase   |   No comment

13055505_10154250640331004_4410022916416518281_nGod’s plan that he had so long ago went into effect on April 4th 2016.  That plan included me getting on a plane and flying down to Central America to San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize. When I arrived here on the island I met some of the staff from the campus, in which they greeted me with open arms and instantly it felt like we were family. Even with the feeling of family inside, something just felt a little bit off inside of my heart and my mind. Then that is when I realized I had a lot of baggage and issues that I came here to DP with.  During my first week we started asking questions about where is your foundation built on, were you a wise man and build on the rock or were you chasing worldly things and building in the sand. I had heard this many times throughout my life, never really realizing which soil I had built my foundation on. So I was starting to really feel a change inside my heart that was yearning for God, yet I wasn’t completely sold in on the whole idea and I was really asking God why am I here. During week 4 of lecture phase we had a guest speaker really talk about our hurts and wounds in how building bricks around our heart doesn’t really allow us to let God in and do the work in our hearts. Throughout the week God had this message for me that it is not your fault for what happened when you were a child, that I will be here and never leave you just grab my hand and let’s go through this journey together instead of you trying to do this all by yourself. In 1 Peter 2:9 But you 13217124_1192500564095006_541458660345004777_oare a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into marvelous light. That was a bible verse that I had heard many times but never truly got what it was saying. We went through what was holding us back from allowing God to work in our lives, that made me realize I had a lot of Fear that was holding me back from trusting and allowing God work inside of me. At the conclusion of the week with Gods help, the support of staff members and classmates help I was able to bring down the wall around my heart. Ever since that week I have strived to grow thirsty and want more of God at a deeper more passionate level. God has taught me over the last week that I really need to live out John 3:30 in the fact that he must increase, but I must decrease.

 

Marshall Johnson

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Complaining gets you nowhere

  |   DTS, Outreach   |   No comment

13133342_10209865383457141_2460739313009464696_nDuring outreach prep week, the first thing we are taught is to not have any expectations, because outreach will be nothing like our expectations. But despite the warning, I can still look back on the past 6 weeks of outreach and say that it was nothing like I anticipated! Even so, my outreach here in Cuba is more than anything I could have possibly imagined. It was because this outreach was nothing like I expected that I grew and stretched my faith so much. I discovered things about myself that I was never even aware of prior, and I now have a greater understating of the person I want to be.

Firstly, God definitely taught me a lot about trusting Him to make the good out of bad situations. We were thrown a curve ball about halfway through outreach, and it has affected our team ever since. It was a dramatic couple of days, but it was because of that situation that I learned to trust God, even in the midst of chaos. It would’ve been easy to be angry and upset with God and our team. Instead, I chose to lean on God, so I could allow Him to bring the good out of it. But, I didn’t pray to God and ask him to weaken my problem. I asked Him to give me the strength to fight against it. So this way, God was able to bring out the good in this bad situation. He was able to teach me the importance of humility, and He was able to give me the strength to help me open up to my team members, and therefore bring us all closer together. To top it off, the Lord even spoke to me and told me to preach a sermon on this topic the very same day!

13119046_1795371314024768_8905198744032966384_nAnother thing that God has been showing me during this outreach is how to tame my tongue. In the past, I have struggled with using my tongue for gossip, lies, and harsh words. Which are things that I will never be able to take back. But during one of our team bible studies, we studied the book of James, and read chapter 3 which specifically talks about taming the tongue. Verse 9 really hit home for me, which says, “with the tongue we praise our Lord and and father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in Gods likeliness”. I now realize that I no longer want to use my tongue to put Gods children down, but instead raise them up.  Encouragement leaves such a greater positive impact on somebody than put downs or teasing. Loving the way that Jesus loves is that way that I now strive to love every single person that crosses my path!

But easily the greatest thing that God has been teaching me about while here in Cuba is my own personal growth. Every single aspect of outreach has challenged me in so many ways. Being with the same people 13118907_10209865384777174_155274234851139150_n24/7, going places I don’t necessarily want to go or doing things that are out of my comfort zone, are just a few examples. But by looking back and self-reflecting, I can literally see and feel differences in my character, judgement, and the way I view life. I will take nothing for granted- simply even just running water is a blessing in itself. Hours spent filtering water, bucket showers and unreliable toilets have become the norm here. Hand sanitizer and baby wipes I’ve learned are necessities. Also, I’ve discovered that I want to rid complaining completely from my life. It gets you nowhere and does absolutely nothing expect reveal negativity. Instead, when I am tempted to complain, I will try and find 3 positive things about the negative situation. Next, I now know that no matter what I will 13061941_1795372430691323_3178561107873311100_nalways put others before myself. Even if it’s as simple as showering last, or taking the worst spot to put my mattress. My goal is to try my best to make other people feel comfortable, more appreciated, and loved. This ties into another thing that I’ve learned, which is the importance of encouragement and affirmation. As well, as much as I tried to avoid it, I’ve realized how necessary short accounts are. Confrontation can be scary and uncomfortable, but it changes relationships for the better. There’s nothing wrong with telling people how you felt in a situation or something that was done that you don’t respond well to. Finally, I will give everything I have to stay positive. It’s easy to get upset or be negative when things don’t go your way, but life becomes so much better when you choose positivity. Without being on outreach, I don’t know if I would have realized these things. I can’t imagine going back home and being the person I used to be. I’m so excited to see my family and friends again, and show them how much I’ve grown and changed for the better.

13001169_10209728817363074_7428733497928207321_nI thought I came to Cuba to change the lives of others and to show the Cubans who Jesus really is. Not only did I do that, but my own life was changed. I expected that after 3 months of lecture phase I would arrive to Cuba teaching, preaching, and evangelizing like I had it all together. But really it was pretty much the opposite. I am still just a student, just trying to figure out how to live my newly found life with God. Outreach is more just like your first test, and first opportunity to really apply everything that we have been taught. It’s no longer just taking notes in the sandroom and listening to speakers- it’s real life. But that doesn’t mean that I’m never going to make a mistake again. Or never going to mess up again. It just means that I now have the knowledge to make actions. To make a difference in my own life, and to make a difference in every persons life that I come across. I now know that I want Jesus to be a light in me, and I want to share his unconditional love everywhere I go. There’s never going to be any less of Jesus no matter if I’m on base, in Cuba, or back at home. I want to know Him and make Him known.

 

  • Saba Kashuba

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We aren´t called to stay in our comfortzones

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Why YWAMDP?

Why not?

Now on a more serious note I had three YWAM bases picked out: Belize, Montana and California. I was pushing hard for the US bases. Being a true Washingtonian through and through, I figured if I went to Montana or even California I would be close to home. I would be staying in my comfort zone and I would be able to talk to family a lot easier.

13000090_10209123235429191_6395116980940801665_nBelize came up this last summer due to some of their staff and students taking a west coast road trip and landed at my church, I figured that since I knew of another base it should be on my list. I will be honest with you Belize wasn’t appealing to me at all. It’s hot, muggy, sunny (yes, I would rather be cold and cuddled in some blankets reading a good book instead of being sticky and hot) and to be completely upfront it  was 100% out of my comfort zone.

I have a really good friend back home who is also a mentor to me and she just looked me dead in the eye after hearing all my excuses and reasoning’s and said, “Jillian we aren’t called to stay in our comfort zones.” That was a huge blow because she was right. We aren’t called to stay in our 12993540_10205133286486876_6590509382173900947_ncomfort zone. We are called to something so much bigger than ourselves and how will we ever discover it if we aren’t willing to step out of our comfort zone.

I’ve been in Belize for about a month now. It’s hot and muggy and yes it’s sunny and it’s hard. God called me to be out of my comfort zone and I’m his masterpiece in progress completely out of my comfort zone, working on areas of the heart I never dreamed would be unearthed.

13076621_10205159542503260_1889513339064293421_nBelize is the best choice I have ever made. God is pushing me here to be the best that I can and I am extremely grateful for the friends and family back home that support and cheer me on and the friends and staff here that stand by my side and say, “lets fight this battle together and when you can’t we’ll fight for you.” I have found such an incredible peace and comfort here that I never thought possible. Belize is beautiful, sun and all. I’m constantly reminded either by the waves of the ocean, or the clarity of the stars at night, that God is a lot bigger than us and he’s standing right next to us preparing for battle saying let’s do this, because our God will never let us down.

 

  • Jillian Horton

Jillian Horton, Washington USA, 01/12/1990, 26 yrs