So thought this would be a good format for sharing just a little bit of what's been going on around here the last 3ish week... can you believe I've already been here for a month! So, "The Thorns" are somethings that have been a bit hard. "The Buds" are somethings that I'm excited for, relationships that are forming, upcoming possibilities. "The Blooms" are things that have blossomed into wonderful things already :D
There is no doubt in my mind that this is where I'm supposed to be. Everyday I connect a dot and realize just how much God did to prepare me for things I would do/encounter here. All that being said, it has still been hard in some ways. The end of week 3, when a lot of people had settled down and homesickness started to creep up for a lot of us, I was feeling it pretty bad. I've found a lot of comfort in the last week through connections with home (I loved getting to FaceTime Epic last Sunday! and get chats in with the beautiful ladies Natalie and Chelsea!) and have had a lot encouragement here but I'm still, I guess you could call it, grieving the loss of a few things. I don't want to imply at all that my hands aren't wide open and I didn't willingly give up the things I needed to, to be here, but I finally allowed myself to realize just how much being here (and maybe returning) could mean for my future.
One things I miss most is the ministries I had the privilege of being so involved in before I left. I miss my students and I miss my leader friends! I had to face the reality a few weeks back, that my future with these ministries may look a lot different than what I had been hoping. For example, I was hoping that dates would line up so I could come back here for a Ministry Development School (phase 2 they call it, it's the prerequisite if you'd like to work anywhere on staff with YWAM) or the School of Worship, and still be around next summer for some of the things I missed this summer. I knew it was a possibility that I would miss another summer around GV but it didn't mean it didn't hurt I little to have it seem more like a possibility. There's SO MUCH good stuff back home but I'm learning that the high level of involvement I had was probably more for the season of healing before I would come here than for a lifetime. Home will always be home though! And my heart is already so excited for the times when I can be back hanging out with ya'll!
Outreach preparation is coming along! My whole team and I are excited and expectant for the wonderful things that are set up for our times in each country.
Guatemala: We will be working and staying with a ministry called The Street Revolution. Their main goal is to ministry to at risk youth and people out on the streets of Guatemala City. There will be the opportunity to do street drama's and music plus some of the ladies of the group may also be able to go and minister to people in the sex industry downtown, led by our assistant outreach leader Bekah. From Guatemala City we'll be traveling to Antigua (look up pictures, it's beautiful!) where we will be helping out in a coffee shop ministry.
Here's a link:
Hungary: We will be with the YWAM base in Budapest (one gorgeous city!) doing a whole bunch of different things including street ministry, coffee house, some work around the bases, some feeding of the homeless and intercession for the city. Myself may be able to take part in some concerts and music nights held at some venues around the city. I'm super excited for this leg of the trip because it feels like it'll be a natural fit for my ministry style and giftings. Both the Hungary and France bases really focus on relationships above all else. We will be probably be doing drama and evangelism stuff but in Europe it can be less well received compared to places in Latin America or Africa. Here is an piece of an info email sent to our Outreach Leader Matt.
France: So excited for this! This is the base our leader Matt will be moving to (I think next year) and he has gotten us all very excited about the base, it's style and it's leader (whom is a friend of Matt's.) We'll be staying at the YWAM base in a French Chateau in St. Hippolyte Du Fort south of Lyon, close to the Mediterranean. Matt has told us the base here is VERY focused on community life led by the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Here life will slow down and become even more free flowing as we focus on the building of relationships and hospitality. At this base I may also find myself playing some music and doing coffee shop ministry.
Here's the link:
South Africa: Here we will be working with Iris Globals "Footprints" base outside of Johannesburg. It is a home ran my a woman Yolanda, her family and staff. Yolanda opened up her home to adopted children. It isn't an orphanage but a home full children that are part of a family. This is the part of the trip with LOTS OF KIDS! We will be partnering with the Footprints team to take care of the kids, play, and maybe do some work for them around their compound.
Here's the link:
Nepal: This leg of the trip is going to involve some travels up into the mountains helping different ministries and doing evangelism in some not often reached places along the way. More details to come. Me and my team are really excited for this leg of the trip because it is probably the most culturally different and spiritually saturated place we will visit in our journey. There is heavy Hindu and Buddhist influence in these areas and not a lot of knowledge of the hope found in the gospel of Jesus. I heard last night in a clip from a documentary that Christianity differs from other religions in that it isn't about us doing, about us seeking God. Christianity shares about a God that seeks us as His children from the very beginning. Lastly, I just have to say that I AM SO EXCITED FOR THE MOUNTAINS!!! I can't wait to be romanced by God's creation.
Hong Kong: This is the leg of the trip that as the least amount of details and will probably involve lots of mornings where we get up and simply ask okay God what do you want to do today then following the promptings of the Holy Spirit. It is here that both Heidi and I will get to celebrate our birthdays so we're looking forward to maybe a co-celebration hopefully including LOTS of tasty foods!
Some other buds including the further building of a lot of friendships here along the compound. This season has been a great time to learn about the area and collect some more info about the ministry opportunity's available not only through YWAM but other local ministries and churches. I've been able to connect with the student ministries pastor of the church across the street and even hit up that churches Young Adult group. I've really been trying to get off campus at different points and meet new people, knowing that it would really help me out if I were to move back here for another school in the future. I've really been able to feel like I can do me here and operate how I would naturally even though I'm often on base and don't have a care. Ultimately I just want to continue to explore if this could be a good long term fit for me.
I really feel like I've come more fully into my identity the last month or so. I left Grass Valley feeling like I was in a good place, like I said above He had led me through lots of healing and I was excited for the growing that would take place as I set out to give up good for great. I'm been really affirmed here in my passions and gifts, especially when it comes to my heart for students and my desire to continue following my calling toward a School of Worship in the future. I'm also learning to further operate in the present, knowing that God has me here for the NOW just as much as for character development for the future. It's nice to just BE. I was talking to my small group leader Clara on commitment night (during the middle of our second week) about how I from the first day was all in. That what she was seeing was what see was getting. That I really had nothing left to give (with open hands I walked away from relationships, jobs and ministry) and no where else to go at this point, YWAM was it and I was committed. The first week here we talked about how we would discover a "new normal" here and be "ruined for the ordinary." I'm feeling it to be sure and after this standard of living and moving with Jesus I only want to continue to grow and grow in it.
Lastly, we were able to spend this last week up at our Eagle ROCK campus in the mountains outside of Denver. What a week it was! It was so good for my soul to be up in the mountains and on top of peaks. Got to experience a sunrise hike that blew my mind! Because it's an more intimate setting and more isolated, it was the perfect setting for us as a community as we worked through our lecture week on the Father (and Mother) Heart of God. Lots of growth and healing took place as a lot of us were able to extend forgiveness to those that had hurt us in the past, embrace our identity as sons and daughters, be refreshed with uncontrollable laughter from the Holy Spirit, and embrace that it's okay to be weak because God wants to use the weak to glorify His kingdom.
After such a full week though I'm sitting here just trying to stay cool and get hydrated.... Maybe a pushed it a little hard haha. But in all honestly I didn't think our serve Saturday was going to be as strenuous as it was (landscaping, racking, weeding, hauling rock...) So it's time for rest. Some people went hiking (figured it wouldn't be the wisest choice for my physical state), some to the river and some are playing frisbee (it's 100 degrees outside tho) and some are doing homework (feeling grateful that I've made it a priority to get my work done before the weekend.) Tonight I'm heading into Denver for our usual Sunday Jazz in the Park outing. Really looking forward to it!
All and all, even tho I'm a little worn out, I'm super well. If you have time though here are a few things that you could pray for.
1) Continued unity within the Discipleship Training School
2) A continued outpour of financial blessings for some of the other students here, including myself. I'm almost there and honestly the stream of support from God has been so steady I'm not worried. It is crunch time though (less than a month before I leave) so I pray God prompts those who wanted to give but have yet to, to give as they feel called.
Some of the other students here have until Monday evening to get there first payment for outreach in, and without an approved reason for an extension (I've approved one with Matt), they will have to leave our YWAM family and return for another DTS sometime in the future. Some of us are a little worried and would hate to see anyone else have to return home (we've already lost a few of are original group due to varies reasons.)
3) Continued wisdom and intentionality for me as I seek to keep engaging in relationships here (sometimes I can be a bit introverted/independent) and start getting promptings from God as to what my next year or two could look like!
Thank you so much friends, family and church family! Please know that you are in my thoughts and heart always!