Here at YWAM, things are anything but ordinary. While words like “routine” and “personal space” are not in our vocabulary, phrases such as “the power’s out, no showering today”, and (in the case that we DO have power) “the shower needs to be fixed…again” are readily heard around the base. As a perfectionist, it can be easy to perceive these situations to be total disasters to my beautifully organized and planned out day. What’s funny is that when I look back, some of my favourite moments have been the most imperfect, spontaneous situations, the ones where God is writing the story instead of me. He’s much less predictable. I’ve come to realize that God can script a life more adventurous than my dreams when I simply let him. When I let go. Here’s one of those moments…
Faith, life, adventure. A clever tag line right? A great way to get the attention of the curious onlooker. I largely ignored such idealistic catchphrases when applying for my DTS here in Belize. Naturally (as it always happens) God loves making me cringe at the arrogance of my own “understanding.” When I arrived at the YWAM DP base, I was greeted by faith, life, and adventure… along with community, love, family, and growth. However, for today I will stick to the 3 that I had scoffed at months ago during my application.
DTS is almost finished; only 4 days until I am back home in Canada.
First off, thank you to everyone who supported our outreach team and myself over the past few months with prayer. There were multiple situations during DTS when major complications were reached and then avoided by the grace of God alone. These past 5 months have not simply been and isolated experience for me, but are a piece of my life which I hope to build off of. DTS has been life changing, as I have found freedom, confidence, truth, knowledge, and a passion to grow in relationship with God.
Truth has been one of the central themes in my life during DTS. Freedom comes from knowing and believing truth. I have overcome lies I believed about myself, the world, and God; lies like I don’t have a voice, I cannot speak in front of people, and that God does not speak to me. There is also great importance in memorizing truth in the bible, for by what other way can you believe than the promises of God? By having a strong knowledge of truth in the bible, memorizing, studying, and meditating on it, the lies and evil in the world cannot take hold and hinder you. By living in truth and constantly being filled with it, I have watched it transform the lives of people in DTS and the surrounding community outside of YWAM. Next to our base is a dive shop, and YWAM has been friends with two of the men working there for a few years. As time went by both gave their lives to Christ, and during our school one of the men was baptized.
Outreach was full of new concepts and changed my perspective on God and how He moves. Going to Zambia, sleeping bags and headphones were lost only to be returned by strangers, flights were almost missed, and half our team had not received their visas to get into Zambia. Our outreach leader and I were included in the half without visas, but we went forward praying to be let into the country.At the immigration desk in the Zambian airport, people with the same problem were denied entry and put on return flights. We were let through. Again we had visa issues when having to renew them after one month. Due to fluctuating policies, our team should have been ordered to leave. Instead we were given a conditional extension. There have been man
y other times where our team could have run into significant problems with ATM’s, attempted theft, and vehicle issues. In many situations not only was the problem averted, but also used for the benefit of our team. From this I have learned to live with open hands, giving every situation to God whether positive or negative, and allowing Him to work through everything.
God transcends cultural barriers and works in amazing ways which are unique to each culture. It was amazing to see how different, yet beautiful church is in Zambia. Worship is often without instruments, and even young children know a multitude of songs, which astounded me. Our team was welcomed with open arms, and the people were just as eager to learn from us as we were from them. During an outdoor ministry event, our team was given the opportunity to speak and perform a story from the bible. After the event finished we were swarmed by children, who often wanted hugs or prayer.
It was incredible to be able to love and pray for so many kids despite the language barrier at times. Being in Zambia also opened my eyes to the true material wealth of North America. The families in Zambia were stewards with the money they had, however much it may be. Most people in Zambia eat the same food three meals a day, while our team had a rotation of dinners. By our standard, our food was simple. By their standard it was extravagant. I can now comprehend
the richness I have been born into. Yes, relationship with God is far more valuable than money, but the belief that people with less money are closer to God is not always true. Prosperity gospel was often preached in Zambia, and rather being gripped by apathy like North American culture, they struggled with animism (worshiping creation over the creator). Every culture has its own problems, and the only lasting and transforming solution is relationship with the Creator.
I will forever hold this time spent with YWAM as precious. It has been amazing to live and learn with my DTS family whom I love dearly. My plans for the future are still uncertain. So far I have been accepted to work at Camp Caroline as a ropes leader. I have faith in God’s plan for my life, and I will continue to pray and trust in it. There are far more stories I could tell, both funny and serious. This however, is the end.
I came to my DTS with questions concerning my identity. Why do I live? Why did God create humans? What is his desire for me? During my first week the lessons were, “Foundation in God”. Out of selfishness I thought, I have a good and deep foundation in God. God showed me the opposite. His character is wider, deeper and higher than I imagined. This was at the beginning of my journey with God. At the end of my first week God told me; “For relationship I created you. For relationship I created the world. Out of His overflowing love for us, He creates us. Without you and me His love would be incomplete.” This was overwhelming for me and at certain points, challenging to fully understand. I began realizing that I can not compromise in my walk with God. Am I all in? I have had to give up my old thoughts and concepts of God, by not putting him into a box, any longer.
Did I struggle? Is doing a DTS sunshine, and make for a happy, easy life?
In my first weeks I was definitely struggling to continue, but I made a decision in Germany to do a DTS. I learned to ask God daily for strength, to change my mind and to accept that I am in Belize for a purpose. Today I can look back and see that I am in the best place, and He desired me to be here.
During the fourth week of lectures our speaker preached about the “Father Heart of God”. I had an undersized opinion of love, acceptance and self worth. Therefore, I was super excited about the week and God’s plans for me.
Bricks were holding me back from God. Lies, unbelief, brokenness and selfishness were bricks that separated me from God’s passion and intimacy. Hurts and wounds cracked me from the inside. I was walking alone and was not willing to give up my control. God desired to be with me and to renew me. Each day God spoke through the speaker: “I have passion for you. You are worthy.” I asked for forgiveness and he received me with welcoming arms because His character is that of mercy and grace. His love is enough for me – even if I fail. Through Him I am secure, I am worthy and I get value that no one can take from me.
Our DTS team consists of 12 lovely students. People from different nations, backgrounds and habits. For many years I had lived together with friends and international roommates. But this community is different, this community cares, sees and lives with an extreme love for each other. God has showed me how to deal with conflicts and to seek after people. Seeing the students through His eyes, and with His value. It doesn’t matter how small the issue is, whether a different opinion or attitude exists, everything is noticeable in our community. God pushed me to make decisions – to step out of my comfort zone and to be vulnerable. Making a choice to live for God, for others and to keep out selfishness. I am learning that this is only possible through prayer and spending time with people. It takes time, effort and patience, but I am thankful to be part of this amazing team.
Reportback has been great so far. Although I am ready to go back to my family, I realize that this week is very important. I have had time to relax and have quiet times with God. I have also had time to plan out what I am going to do next in life. The staff have planned out sessions for us that have been very helpful to make us aware of what it will be like when we get home and how to deal with that.
This has also been a time to meet new people and reunite with our school. It was so fun the first few days, sleeping on the dock, having pool parties, and getting ready for graduation with a nail painting party. It´s been great to be able to the April school and share some wisdom that we received during our DTS, also to hear the amazing things God is doing in their lives.
- Tonya Martin