After around forty hours of traveling, team Ecuador made it safely to Quito, Ecuador, the breathtaking (literally. it’s 10,000 feet above sea level) capital city and home to about 2.5 million. And the now temporary home to sixteen people fired up to show the love of Jesus.
The first week we’ve been taking it easy. Exploring stores and malls around us, heading south and seeing the historical parts of the city- the basilica, presidential palace, and stunning Catholic churches. On Wednesday we headed up the volcano Pichincha, about 13,100 feet up. Each of us got an hour to go out by ourselves to pray and spend some solid time with God to get our hearts right before ministry began. And then with one side of the mountain facing the gorgeous city and the other side facing the magnificent mountains that rose above the clouds, we worshipped together, praying over the city and our next seven weeks in Ecuador.
New Years Eve we spent on an open air bus, called a Chiva, seeing the city with some local missionaries. After, as a team, we sat on the roof of our house and watched the INSANE display of fireworks (Almost every house lights some off that night, anywhere from 11:30-1:00. We were literally surrounded by them). This was my fourth New Years in Quito, as I lived there as a missionary kid for three years. And as I was sitting there with once strangers turned family, in my favorite city on my favorite holiday, I was struck with a crazy amount of thankfulness. I thanked God for all the extraordinary blessings from this past year. He seriously rocked my world. And I cried. And then I laughed. And we all went and celebrated the New Year.
The next morning we had a team worship time. We sang and prayed and gave this next year to God. As I knelt on the ground and sang, God put the passage from Luke 7 in my mind. The story of the sinful woman who cried at Jesus’ feet, then cleaned them with her hair, and poured perfume on them. Then he forgave her, blessed her, and told her to go in peace.
“This is what you need to do.” He said to me.
Okay so I hate feet. Like they’re really, really gross to me. And I like my hair. So the idea of washing dirty feet with my hair was not all that appealing to me. Even though Jesus wasn’t asking me to physically wash his feet with my hair, it was the implication. To surrender. To get down and serve and give up what I find gross and what I find great, and give it all to Him. Give up my “rights”, my wants, my desires and to relinquish completely to him. And then after I do that, that’s when He can fully step in, pick me up, and walk with me in peace, Peace about me not knowing what my life is going to look like two months from now. Peace about my fear of man. All I needed to do was surrender.
So I did. Today. And tomorrow. And the next day and the next. It’s a daily choice- one that God calls us all to make.
Maddy AckermannRead More
“Akemashiteomedetogozaimasu!” Please don’t ask me how to pronounce
that, all I know is that it means “Happy New Year!” in Japanese (and
hopefully that gives you a taste of what it’s been like trying to
learn the language here).Our team has officially been in Tokyo – more specifically a cute
suburb of the mega-city called “Higashikurume” – for six days now, and
loving it! We are so thankful to be here, and even more thankful to
not have to be on an airplane again for seven weeks.
The trip here was, unsurprisingly, full of adventure and shenanigans.
Before we barely made it off of Ambergris Caye in Belize, one of our
team members managed to drop his passport in a bathroom urinal.
Thankfully it survived with minimal damage. Once we made it out of
Belize, it was nothing but shenanigans and layovers for the next 48
hours. From Belize we flew to Miami, where we spent the night in the
airport and pulled an all-nighter to try to adjust to the 14 hour time
change we would soon be experiencing. Think twelve hours worth of
handball, movies, coloring, and multiple trips made to those
ever-so-entertaining airport moving sidewalks. From Miami we flew to
Dallas – after having to sit in onboard our flight for two hours
before taking off due to an air-conditioner malfunction, turning our
three-hour trip into a six-hour one. Dallas airport was also an
adventure. We had missed our connecting flight from Dallas to Tokyo
due to the delay, but arrived only to find out that all flights had
been delayed and our gate had been moved, so the eleven of us got the
exhilarating experience of sprinting through an airport to try to make
the next flight…only to find out it had been delayed when we reached
the gate. Things we learned through this experience: Tyson is
extremely speedy and Ugg boots do not provide good traction when
sprinting up escalators (just ask my shins).
Thankfully after Dallas and Miami, travel was relatively smooth
sailing. We made it to Tokyo after a 13-hour flight only to realize upon landing how much we DON’T understand Japanese. So, lugging our 40-pound backpacks, we began the adventure of navigating the Japanese train system. I would not recommend trying that jet-lagged, but our team leader Jaci was a champ and we made it through almost like we knew what we were doing, and finally arrived at our base around 1 amSunday night.
Now that we have been here for almost a week, I can safely say on
behalf of our entire team that we are in love with Japan. Not only has
the climate (COLD) been an amazing change from the humidity and
mosquitos of Belize, but the people here are truly wonderful. Never
have I experienced a more organized, hospitable, or accommodating
culture. We have been most impressed by how clean everything is; you
have to shower before you bathe so that you don’t get the bathtub
dirty, and don’t even get me started about the trash-disposing
process. Things here are also extremely silent. When walking around
even during mid-day you have to speak almost in a whisper. However it
is not an eery silence, but very peaceful. Higashikurume is also a
very beautiful place, an exotic mix of the modern and ancient world.
For example, there is a Shinto shrine about thirty steps from where we
are currently staying that looks like something out of The Last
During our time in Tokyo, our team has been split guys/girls and we
are staying in two separate houses. There is no central heating in the
homes which makes for some very frigid mornings, but nothing some
layers and blankets can’t handle. We’ve also all become the owners of
some lovely new winter hats since being here (I personally did not
pack a beanie originally when heading to Belize). However it has been
so nice to be somewhere a bit homey after living in little cabin-esque
housing the past three months and to not worry about whether there may
or may not be a scorpion in your shower.
Our orientation week here is now finished and we are about to begin
full-swing ministry! The housing we are currently in belongs to YWAM
Tokyo and they have given us many ministry connections. While we
aren’t quite sure what our exact ministry schedule will be like, we
are planning to spend time with university students and the homeless,
having coffee-shop ministry, leading worship sessions and prayer
walks, and basically anything else the Lord leads us to do. We will be
posting either a written or video blog each week to keep you all
updated on all our adventures and the Kingdom work happening here.
Thank you to everyone who has helped us get here – we have already
been so blessed by this country and cannot wait to pour Jesus out on
All our love,
Renew, restore, report back. Say goodbye to the normal routine of 6:45 breakfast and four hour lectures and hello to an extra hour of sleep, lots of volleyball, and 22 new faces. This week the July school came back from outreach-a team from Uruguay and a team from Mongolia. Two schools were merged for the week, and there was much laughter, forgetting names, and rain.
On Monday my DTS had a big team building session. We split off into respective outreach teams (Ecuador, Japan and Costs Rica) and had to take our “sick, dying leader” to the hospital. They laid on a pool lounge chair and we had to carry them (blindfolded) out to the dock, onto a kayak and swim them to shore (without getting a single drop of water on them) then communicate with a “local” who didn’t speak English and ask them to help us lead them to the hospital. The whole thing took an hour full of sweat, laughter and some yelling. This was a hypothetical scenario for something that could actually happen on outreach, and it was to get us all working together as a team, instead of a bunch of individuals.
Tuesday we split up girl students with guy staff and guy students with girl staff and got to ask them questions. Wednesday we had an hour of quiet time with Jesus and then shared with everyone. In the afternoon was a volleyball tournament that lasted about 4 hours. There was loud music, lots of sand, a slackline and, in the end, a winning team. It was a grand old time. Thursday we had a bit of debrief, where we were all given questions to answer and then came back and shared some. It got me thinking about how we’re over halfway through lecture phase, and soon we’ll be heading out on outreach.
Thursday evening the July school graduated! It got me thinking about how in a couple months that will be me-and that’s nuts. And Friday is ADVENTURE DAY! Heading off to the mainland for a day of sick activities, like zip lining, cave tubing and seeing the Mayan ruins. Also a 5:00 wake up.
This week was full of lots of free time to spend with Jesus. He has continually been teaching me to rest in his presence. To take time out of my day and just listen to him. It’s been a bit hard for me since I like answers and I like knowing them when I want, but lately he’s just been telling me to rest and he will reveal things later on. Psalm 46:10 says, “He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.'” It also gave lots of time to reflect on what I’ve been learning. I’ve learnt a ton and I’m already at a totally different place than before my DTS, but I still have a long way to go and can’t wait for what God has in store for me!Read More
Something I’ve been learning a lot in this season is to be fearless. To have the courage to take risks, to go places that I never thought of going. It is in these moments when my character is truly tested, when I find and accept who I really am and what I am capable of.. But God doesn’t call us to be comfortable. He has called us to trust him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations that bring us shame or don’t feel comfortable at all, knowing that he will always have our back.
Last Friday my team and I got ready for a prayer walk. Travis, Grace and I started walking and came to a park. While we were praying, God kept telling me to go in and pray over the building that was I front of us, what looked like a school. We were afraid of going in because we didn’t know if we were allowed or not, so we just stood there and prayed… prayed for protection, joy, relationships and against FEAR! People came in and out, but no one spoke English. And so we walked away.
But as we were walking away Travis reminded us that before we left the house we had agreed to be bold, to step out and get out of our comfort zones. We needed to stop being afraid and obey what God was calling us to do. So Travis asked me, “Are you sure that God said to go into that building?” and I said, “YES”. So we turned back and walked straight into the building.
After some wondering, we met a teacher who spoke english. We told her about ourselves, that we were on a prayer walk, and that God told us to walk into the school but we didn’t know why. She took us to her supervisor’s office, who she said spoke perfect English, and then returned to class. Though her supervisor was a little surprised by our visit, she gave us permission to walk the halls and pray over the teachers and students. It may have been crazy, but it showed us that if God is telling you to do something, even if it is crazy or weird, you should step up and do it.
If God is asking you to step out into something that is uncomfortable for you, I can assure you that when you take the step of faith, you will find Him walking right beside you, showing you which way to go. Be positive and think about the amazing things that happen when you choose to be fearless. All you need to do is listen and follow God’s voice. It may be difficult at first — believe me, I know that — but it will be worth it in the end.
“Courage comes from the heart, and our hearts will always be the object of a great fierce battle. Without your heart you cannot have God. Without your heart you cannot have love. Without your heart you cannot have faith. Without your heart you cannot find the work that you were meant to do. In other words, without your heart you cannot have a life. To find God, you must look with all your heart. To remain present to God, you must remain present to your heart. To hear his voice you must hear with your heart. To love him you must love with all of your heart. You cannot be the person God meant you to be, and you cannot live the life he meant you to live unless you live from the heart. “ – John EldredgeRead More