5 Reasons to not do a DTS

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1.Don’t do a DTS if you desire to travel.

Though I assure you that travel comes as part of a DTS experience, you will find yourself disappointed if it is your sole reason for going. God sometimes has a way of sending his people to places that they weren’t necessarily looking to go. You may have a heart for Asia, but end up in South America, but God will still blow your socks off with amazing experiences, both big and small. You will meet “many strange birds as you go.” – Dr. Seuss and will find yourself staring with amazement at the places you find yourself.

2. Don’t do a DTS if working hard is for chumps…
Seagrass Duty Darren…because you will be a chump. Work duties are a part of regular life on DTS. Early mornings on sea grass, cleaning guest rooms on a Saturday, or preparing meals for everyone on base are regular duties that can be assigned to you. Lecture phase also provides learning experiences through academics, where you will be reading, sharing the gospel with your peers, or teaching a topical presentation. You have plenty of opportunities to use your muscles and mind, to help on base or in ministry. If you are up for the challenge that is.

3. Don’t do a DTS if you are going to change the world alone.

“I/You am/are going to change the world,” we all know someone who has said this about themselves or somebody else. Though there may be some small bit of truth in there somewhere, we soon begin to realize that God is changing the world and he is asking us to participate in it with him, as his Church. A DTS is a commitment to community. Living with people you have never met before and for five months. Giving up the normality of home and trading it for a group of crazy characters who all just did the same. If sharing a room, eating, sleeping, praying, worshiping, laughing, crying, and proximity pooping with some of the most amazing people you may ever meet doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, I suggest looking elsewhere.

4. Don’t do a DTS if you are done learning.

DTS is a journey of discovery. For many, a journey of discovering the Word, sometimes for the first time. For just as many, it is a discovery of relationships, a time of restoration to past hurts, and discovering purpose for their future. You are likely to leave a DTS having discovered a lot about yourself and the one who created you. DTS is five months of peeling back the layers of ourselves and learning to walk into the possibilities God has in store.  It can be downright scary and not is for the faint of heart.

5. Don’t do a DTS if you’ve already had your “best moments”.

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetThe people you meet, the places you go, the challenges you overcome at DTS are moments you will remember for a lifetime. It is an opportunity to encounter your true self, and walk into greater knowledge of your identity in Christ, while sharing those same experiences with others who are doing the same. You will never forget your school and the times you shared, whether you try to or not.

All this to say, that a DTS is an experience that changes lives! Some of my greatest moments of growth happened while doing my DTS. I was a very angry young man before my DTS, and my DTS was an opportunity for God to do some ‘heart surgery’ that was long overdue.

Chris Cave


God Is Infinite

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This week has been awesome!! On Monday it was supper encouraging to be reminded of how God speaks to us in many different ways. Also, it was interesting when Whitney gave a short summary of God’s plan all throughout the Bible of drawing mankind nearer to him. I felt I received fresh excitement for scripture through Whitney’s enthusiasm. Tuesday we took a little different of an approach. She spoke on the life of Moses throughout the book of Exodus. I really enjoyed our discussion times where we split into groups to read and discuss different parts of Moses’s life. Two main things I learned was 1. God took the Israelites on a long journey to the promised land because He knew they weren’t ready yet (He was developing faith in them) 2. God doesn’t call us to have blind faith. In addition to this He knows how much faith we have and has patience to grow our faith through situations and life. Whitney did an awesome job at explaining faith!

The rest of the week was awesome. We practiced many different approaches to hearing God’s voice. One approach was asking God “what do you think about me” and just writing down whatever came to your head. This was really cool because I oftentimes overcomplicate hearing the voice of God. Also, I was reminded through Whitney’s teaching of the lack of power the enemy has. He does not know our thoughts but he studies our actions. We can have confidence knowing God is infinite but the enemy is finite. This week was awesome!

Jessica Hoffman


Run the Race, Finish Strong.

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What’s included… We have some school highlights from the last few weeks; food for thought and the topic is Spiritual Warfare; an adventuring story of intriguing islands, crazy currents and swinging seats; a look at film documentary ‘it’s a girl’. It’s a stimulating one – I hope – so save time to read it all if you can :).

I’ve just finished up my last few weeks of lecture phase staffing the DTS and the students are heading off to their outreach locations; THE AMAZON, Peru (previously Brazil *check out the PRs) and SAMOA. It’s going to be a glorious time and I just pray for them as they head out and put all they’ve learnt in these 12 weeks into practice. One of my highlights from these last few weeks was baptisms. I had the privilege to baptise 3 of my small group girls; Cass, Sarah and Emily. What an extraordinary occasion, to have walked alongside them in this season, to have worked through so much, to have found His faithfulness and now to witness this magnificent decision! They chose God, chose to proclaim it and publicly dedicate their lives to Him – what incredible women they are. That day symbolised them dying to their past course of life and beginning a new one dedicated to the Lord and I’m so excited to see and hear of the vibrant adventures they’ll share. I’m so proud of them, I can’t even imagine how big and beaming God’s smile is.

Baptisms in the ocean...what a fitting was to end lecture phase, publicly proclaiming and dedicating lives  to Christ.

Baptisms in the ocean…what a fitting was to end lecture phase, publicly proclaiming and dedicating lives  to Christ.

To thank my small group girls and celebrate them we went into town on the golf cart to have Belizean fryjacks (fried dough with eggs/cheese/refriend beans/chicken if you’re not veggie) and ice cream from Parad(ice) Cream. It was a lot of fun and we laughed A LOT. It has been a wonderful season and we’ve been through ups and downs, revelations and realisation as to who God is for them and it’s just been an incredible blessing.

We had a fantastic speaker a few weeks ago, Manual, who was originally from Germany. He now lives in Madison, Wisconsin with his family, teaching and working along side the YWAM base and University there. His week was Social Justice, which I had been looking forward to. I was amazed by his conscientious knowledge of the Bible and it was such a joy listening to him teach on the subject solely from the Word – as it should be. In our evening meeting he spoke on Spiritual Warfare and focussed on where we’re most vulnerable in the ‘4 Battlefields’:

1. our mind and thoughts

2. our heart and emotions

3. our mouth

4. relationships

This are all areas which are targeted so its essential for us to protect ourselves, be ready to defend and fight where necessary. Looking at the armour of God (Gal. 6:10-18) to prepare our mind and hearts and learning to control our tongue (James 3:1-12) as it can be our rising and downfall.

Two of my roommates are finishing their commitments this month (even more goodbyes 🙁 too sad) so we decided to head to a neighbouring island, Caye Caulker, for a day trip. There were six of us that boated out there and wondered through the town till we arrived at what’s called ‘the split’. As legend has it, there was an earthquake that split the island and thus we arrived at a large channel of water between two masses of land. It was suggested to us, previous to our arrival, that we should swim across the channel to the other side where there was a tree we could climb and jump off. This was all good and well so we proceeded to track with the above suggestion. After speaking to a guy on a boat we were made aware of ‘a bit of a current’ – well as you might have guessed, it turned out to be a LOT of a current. I made it across but my compatriots hadn’t faired so well. They eventually made it and spent some time recovering. I proceeded to carry out the task at hand so adventured up the tree which was incredibly smooth and consequently tricky to climb. At the top of the tree there was a small plank of wood with two mere nails affixing it to the branch. I braved it and precariously stood on it before jumping about 12ft into the ocean. SO worth it!

Believe it or not, the swim back was even more enthralling for my buddies. They weren’t the most confident of swimmers so I ended up carrying one across on my back then going back for the other and bringing her back too. They thought they were “going to die!” which wasn’t great for my ego. But it’s safe to say I was feeling the current a conferrable amount by this point and was understandably exhausted. If you thought it couldn’t get any more fun, you’d be mistaken. We had lunch at a restaurant that had exclusively swings for seats, what a resourceful idea and a great way to entice tourists. A very adventurous day full of unforgettable memories.

Here's the beautiful Laney, reading and hammocking with me during her last few days in the charismatic Belizean sun.

Here’s the beautiful Laney, reading and hammocking with me during her last few days in the charismatic Belizean sun.

During one of our classes, the speaker shared the documentary film ‘it’s a girl’ with us. I was really impacted by it so I just wanted to give others the opportunity to hear about what’s going on in the world concerning “gendercide.

In India, China and many other parts of the world today, girls are killed, aborted and abandoned simply because they are girls. The United Nations estimates as many as 200 million girls are missing in the world today because of this so-called “gendercide”.

Girls who survive infancy are often subject to neglect, and many grow up to face extreme violence and even death at the hands of their own husbands or other family members. The war against girls is rooted in centuries-old tradition and sustained by deeply ingrained cultural dynamics which, in combination with government policies, accelerate the elimination of girls. Shot on location in India and China, It’s a Girl reveals the issue. It asks why this is happening, and why so little is being done to save girls and women. The film tells the stories of abandoned and trafficked girls, of women who suffer extreme dowry-related violence, of brave mothers fighting to save their daughters’ lives, and of other mothers who would kill for a son. Global experts and grassroots activists put the stories in context and advocate different paths towards change, while collectively lamenting the lack of any truly effective action against this injustice.


Nanneke Boxall


Personally Encountered

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Through these last couple of weeks here in Paraguay a constant word that keeps coming up for me is “fun.” God is continuing to remind me that doing life with Him is so insanely fun and I have experienced that first hand these last 5 months. He also has been revealing Himself to me through the many little things, as well as the big, crazy moments. He shows up! He is real, and alive, and moves! He cannot be contained in a small box. He is so cool. I have been touched by God and His never-ending love for me during this outreach and through lecture phase. This past week we got to explore some of Paraguay and go see the Iguazu Falls and wow was it breath taking! Seriously one of the coolest things I have ever seen in my life. We also got to take a boat ride down at the bottom of the falls, where we got drenched but was definitely a moment I will put in the books. Also, during this week we got to work with an orphanage, which is right down the street. During this time we played a ton of games and just loved on all those sweet kids. They have been through so many hard times but still somehow can smile. That for me is seeing God first hand. Seeing Him give those kids happiness and joy. Again, God is showing me that having fun and showing love is how we live day to day with Him.

There are 10 days left of outreach and I have been reflecting a lot on what God has done in my life over these past couple of months. I came to DTS wanting to grow in my faith with my Father and wanting to see Him move and do crazy things, and boy has that happened! I have learned about the best Father, a Father who is kind and one who is passionate about me! A God who will always want the best for me and is only good. I have become even more in awe of my Papa. God has shown up in this beautiful country and in these beautiful people. They bring His kingdom to earth by being in community with each other and I have felt extremely blessed every time they invite us over for dinner or for a pool party. (which is always needed for this heat) The people here also say over and over how we have made an impact on their lives, churches, and their own individual faith. While, for me, I have felt most impacted by them and how they love the Lord with everything they have. They show Gods love well. They love each other with Agape love and I have felt Gods presence in almost every home we are in. They have a mindset of how their home is a way for the kingdom of God to touch this earth and that is why they are so hospitable and generous with what they have. It is simple loving and it is beautiful to see. I have been learning more and more that to bring the kingdom of God onto this earth is to simply just love, and these Paraguayans do it well. That to be in relationship is being close to God, because God Himself is in relationship with the Holy Spirit and Jesus. He has called us to be together with family and friends and to love! So simple.

Another thing that God has shown to me during this time is that He is big and that He provides. We were praying for the patients of a local hospital in the city of Asuncion and we saw healing for one of the patients that we prayed for who was dealing with kidney and liver problems. The power of prayer and the power of faith are so strong, they have no limits. We went into this day and every other ministry day believing for nothing less than healing. God will move and work if we put our trust in Him.

Another sign of Gods provision was at the tribe that we went to for 5 days. Absolutely one of my favorite times here in Paraguay. These people were one of the only tribes who believed in God and while every other tribe was in poverty, these guys were booming with their success! God has provided for them with the machinery, land, money, and every other need that they had. While they still have their difficulties, they continue to trust in the one who provides and He has never failed them! So cool to see! I also loved the kids in this tribe. They were around us 24/7 from the time we woke up to the time we went to bed. They would run around, jump and even climb up onto us. They would also just want to hang out with us. Reminds me of God. He just wants to hang out and chill with us. No conditions or expectations. He wants to love on us 24/7 and be with us through our everyday lives. God is real and He is fun! He has great plans in store for everyone of us and I will continue to pray that those kids will forever feel the beautiful love of God.

I have personally encountered the love of God. It has pulled me in and has given me a big sloppy wet kiss on the cheek. We are forever changed because we follow the most perfect loving Father. God is so good, and He overwhelms me with His greatness. Life is easy with Him. He doesn’t make it confusing, hard or difficult. To live everyday with God is to have fun with Him and to love. My heart has been touched by the people here and by the heart of God. The more I seek him, the more I find Him, and the more I find Him, the more I fall in love with Him. He is the best Father ever.


Emily Pankratz


Accepting Freedom

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For a reason I cannot explain, I decided it would be a good idea to go for a run under the sweltering afternoon sun yesterday (Saturday). The first mile was a painless cruise, and I smiled and waved at each passerby. Shortly after that first mile I began to feel the intense heat on my face, but shrugged it off and kept on rolling. Eventually I decided to turn around and felt an instant wave of regret. The wind was to my back and the sun was directly on my face. I felt like I was running through a wildfire, and I’m sure I looked about that way too! I stopped for a second to wipe the sweat from my eyes, and then pushed on as hard as I could until I reached home (funny how I now refer to YWAM DP as home). But I didn’t stop running once I made it back onto the path that leads to my casita; I kept going and going until the very edge of our dock and ran straight into the ocean. There was a half a second of air, and then my body immersed into what felt like a cool satin blanket. I stayed under as long as I could as the crisp water tickled my toes and revived my fingers. The ocean felt so invigorating I almost opened my mouth to take a big gulp, but quickly decided against that plan. I eventually came back up to the surface to breathe, as that’s usually necessary (I’m not a mermaid yet but I’m working on it), but the surface just wasn’t as exciting. I went under again and again as I was only alive when I was consumed by this big blue puddle of joy.

As I was reflecting on this joyous moment yesterday, I came across a word that would describe the experience well… freedom. Simple yet profound, like all my favorite things in this world. On my run I was trapped under the hot sun and by the beads of salty sweat running down into my eyes.  But when I took that leap of faith into the water I was free.

I think that little situation of mine is a nice analogy for our relationship with the Lord.

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” – Galatians 5:1

This past week was ironically called freedom week, and it was taught by the founder of YWAM DP Lynn Toney. Lynn is a passionate woman whose light shines so brightly it blinds those around her in God’s love. During freedom week we talked about being free in Christ, and the amazing life we can live when we are free in Christ. Of course true freedom requires a leap of faith, as I had to take a small jump and experience a second of free fall before I hit the water. But once we do take that leap of faith we are all consumed and covered in his love. I learned that in many different forms this past week. I learned a lot about myself and how the inconsistent and twisted ways that I see myself are affecting the ways that I see God.  I had to approach situations from my past in oder to experience freedom. I had to run a long, hot, sweaty path that I didn’t particularly enjoy in order to experience freedom, but boy was it worth it. Christ accepts us wherever we are, carrying ugly loads and scars, but he doesn’t want us to stay there. I gave him my heart years ago, but as I get closer and closer to him he is asking for more than my heart. He wants my life, my thoughts, my decisions, and most importantly he wants the weights that I am not strong enough to carry. And when I finally surrendered those weights to him He set me free. 

“He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” – Psalm 23: 2-3

If I could give myself a personal “theme” for this season in my life here in Belize I would call it “dare to hope” because the Lord has been beckoning me to hope in the plans and purposes he has for my life (especially because I currently don’t have a clue what’s next for me). Well, in that, the Lord has asked me to accept the blessings that he wants to freely give me. For most of my life I have been carrying the load that I have to earn and work for love, because if I don’t deserve it I won’t receive it. If I made a mistake I lost love, and had to work extra hard in order to deserve any. Well this twisted way of thinking influenced the way that I saw God. I thought that in oder to receive love from the Lord I had to work for him. I had to serve until my eyes bled, and then he would show me his love for me. If I sinned, then I would lose his love and would have to work extra hard and put myself down because that’s what I deserve. Well, in an interesting series of events this week, the Lord revealed to me that weight, and how unnecessary it is for me to carry. One day in class Lynn asked us to write a letter to ourselves from God and to wait and pray until He speaks to us. Immediately I began thinking to myself what God will probably say to me. He’ll tell me the things I need to do better and the things I need to do less of. He’ll tell me where I was wrong and why, and how I need to try harder to do better next time. But when I sat down to hear from Him, I waited a moment in silence and heard “I love you. That’s it.” And that was it. That’s all I heard. I got no other word from the Lord. And then it hit me. I try and earn the love of the Lord. Who am I to say that I can earn the love of the creator of this universe. If I’m going to get it, it’s going to be a gift, and that’s the beauty of it. But that is so hard for me to accept, because I have lived opposite of that for my entire life. **pause for quick dance party outside at the palapa** Anyway, since I have gotten to DP I have been overwhelmed by an increasing and overflowing joy. And at many times I have felt guilty for feeling so much joy. No Lord, shouldn’t I be suffering? Shouldn’t I be struggling? Why are you blessing me? I couldn’t understand why the Lord would want to bless me without any effort of my own. All I did was jump on a plane, and now the Lord keeps giving and giving. He has given me amazing new friends, a wonderful casita full of girls whom I love with my whole being, delicious food at every meal, and THE OCEAN. I do not deserve any of this, but the Lord gave it to me anyway. It blows my mind, and before this week, I was afraid of it. Despite what others have shown me in life, there is nothing I can do to earn or lose the love of the Lord. He has given me his whole heart because he loves me, and that’s it. A basic concept of freedom in Christ is accepting his FREE love; and it is that basic concept that was keeping me from freedom in Him. I was chaining myself to myself because I’m not perfect. I was constantly telling myself that I wasn’t good enough to earn love. I am scared of failing, of falling short, of expecting to feel his love but not being able to. But living in the freedom of Christ requires faith that His love will carry us through this life into the eternal. It requires hope. It comes in a full circle. The Lord revealed to me a weight I was still carrying, asked me to announce in front of my class that I have to forgive myself for trying to earn his love, and He asked me simply to dare to hope that I could sit in my room for the rest of my life and he would still bless me because He just loves me that much. When I obeyed Him and let go I was immersed so surely in his love, just like I was in the water after my run, and today I have felt his love with a new and overwhelming depth.

I encourage you, as Lynn encouraged me, to ask the Lord what unnecessary weights you are carrying, and give them over to Him in order to experience the freedom of Christ. It is a wonderfully beautiful thing.

“Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30