Saturday, May 24, 2014

Final DTS Blog Post

        I know some of you might be wondering why it’s taken me about two months to post the last update on my blog…well partly because I knew that once it was typed and posted it meant that it’s actually is time to close the last chapter of my life and begin the next one and also because being home is quite more overwhelming than I had imagined. But here we go!

  DTS was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. It was challenging in every area: living in community, lack of sleep, not understanding everything we learned about, unity, staying in touch with family and friends at home and even not letting the bread bin tempt me (which I failed at many times). But in every area that it was challenging the reward was so much greater. 
On lecture phase I wrote much more so I won’t bore you with recapping everything but it was a crazy 3 months! I learned things about God that I had never heard of, or at least wasn’t open to hearing before. The first 3 weeks of lecture phase I was hesitant. I saw these crazy people really on fire for Jesus and definitely not ashamed about it. I was confused, didn’t understand everything they did, but something about it all seemed real, they weren't faking it. It was hard and straight up weird. I was put out of my comfort zone very quickly, I mean goodness every introduction to a new person was like “Hi, I’m ______, what’s your name and testimony?” Vulnerability challenged? Absolutely. But I began to understand that these people didn’t ask to just hear another story, they asked because they actually wanted to know. They wanted to know not just the good stuff about you but the dirty stuff, the stuff we as Christians sometimes like to brush under the rug and not talk about. They wanted to know the areas you struggle so they could stand with you and fight against temptation. They wanted you to know that they were available to pray for you and with at any time. Did I jump on all those opportunities of openness and quick relationships? No, I didn’t, I admit. I’m terrible at opening up, but when I did I didn’t leave those broken pieces I usually hold very tight to anymore. Everyone of them, my peers, my staff, my school leaders, they took a piece and carried it with me to the cross. 
There’s many topics I loved learning about, such as Hearing God’s Voice or The Bible. Then there were a few I was quite hesitant about leading to them, like The Holy Spirit or Relationships. It was nerve racking, their were times I laid in my bed wondering what in the world I was doing in Australia letting God use these people teach me things. But there were many more days I spent rejoicing with my school in the revelations that we had about our Father, the Cross, and even about ourselves. 
Then of course we have those insane two months we like to call “outreach.” It’s funny, every time people asked me where I went I say “Australia, Russia, and Latvia.” they often go “Wow…Russia (with a good 5 second pause)…What was that like?!” Well to be completely honest, it was some of the hardest 3 weeks of my life. 1. It wasn’t cold…it was freezing! Going outside with anything but your eyes showing wasn’t an option. Every day was full of walking in the snow, or sitting on a train, or being stared at for being “to loud” (which might I add I think everyone else was just really quiet…or maybe we americans tend to be a little louder than necessary). But this is to be expected. Russia is a hard place to be, especially as an american. They aren’t are number one fan and most of us tend not to be there’s. Unity was something that we had to, with God, create most places we went. As a team we were attacked every day by laziness, attitudes, selfishness, hunger, and even the lack of sunshine but God revealed Himself to us every time. When we, and I speak for myself as well, decided to deal with our issues and get over ourselves Jesus would show us the beauty of Himself. His love for the Russians, His love for Moscow, for the girls that are trapped in sexual exploitation, for the homeless people who can’t escape the cold weather, for the gypsy kids who desire just for someone to play with them, for the Grandma (Babushka) sitting next to you on the train, and even for my teammates. We are called to be a light wherever we go, and if that’s all we could bring to Russia, than that’s enough. If we smile at someone who has never been smiled at (which is very possible), that’s enough. If we tell someone in our lack of Russian words and very awful accents, that they are loved by God, that’s enough. We were there for a short three weeks but I have no doubt God used us, in maybe little ways in our eyes, but in mighty ways to Him. 
Then we get to one of the coolest places I’ve ever been, Latvia! This country is beautiful, not just because of the amazing architecture and snowy land but for the people as well. Now maybe i’m just biased because I met some awesome people there, but Latvians are kind people. They are serious but sure of themselves. They have problems in their society like any other country but they gentle and might I add hilarious and not afraid to speak their minds. During the 5 weeks we spent there we teamed up with the organization Freedom61 (check out their website This organization has a beautiful heart for girls working in the sex industry. They are constantly seeking the Lord and His passion for them to be free even before their own. They have a cafe open 3 days a week for the girls that we had the privilege of helping with. We cooked, made gifts, and covered the streets of Riga in prayer. Walking in the cold for 3 hours, two times a week, tough? Yes it was, there were times I wanted to run inside and find a heater, but it was so worth it. It taught me that prayer is the most powerful weapon we have and that it destroys attacks of the enemy, it kills evil, and welcome’s God’s power into an area. We got to hang out with kids, who have barely anything, feed them, play with them, help them do their homework as well as get beat very badly in the game Holly Golly (math isn’t my good subject). We were able to put on multiple church services, where I had the opportunity to lead worship for. Throughout our time in Latvia our team was split up into groups of 3 or 4. With these groups we would go to schools with one of the Freedom61 staff and do Human Trafficking prevention presentations. In total we talked to 341 students! It was an amazing feeling knowing that we possibly helped with preventing these kids from being trafficked one day.
My favorite week in Latvia is when we went to a city called Jelgava. We spent a week in a school with over 300 people, YWAMers and Church goers, 31 nations represented, of all ages impacting one city together. The week in general was so much fun! I got to meet people from Holland, Norway, Ireland, and even Uganda. We were put in teams to go on house visits with food bags, put together kids programs, and a clothing drive opened up to the community (which I worked with). During the week we also had services and worship times together. I got so much out of the week personally and made some amazing friendships. 
Leaving Latvia was one of the hardest goodbyes I’ve ever had to say. God spoke to me so much while I was there and the friendships made were hard to say bye to, It’s possible I may never seen these people again. I still think about that country every day, sometimes it makes me sad I’m no there but other times I get so happy thinking about my time spent impacting that place.

Let’s be real, YWAM is a crazy organization, you meet people from all over the world, grow with them, do life with them, cry with them, rejoice with them and then you go home…the people I met have pieces of my heart but I trust they carry it well. Lifelong friendships came out of the past 6 months, and it’s pretty sweet that I have places to crash all over the earth. But most importantly I left with a greater understanding of my God. There’s so much I learned I wouldn’t even know where to begin. I’ve had coffee dates with many of you or quick chats at the grocery store but I’d love to share more. All of y’alls support has helped carry me this past year, since deciding on doing a DTS until now. You took hold of this adventure with me and for that I am so grateful! I would love to thank every one of you personally, some of you I know, some of you I’ve never met, but no matter who you are and the amount of prayers you sent my way, I am so thankful for you’re love, not just for me but for all the people I encountered, you brought Jesus to the nations-celebrate that!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Welcome to Latvia!

Thought I'd update everyone with some free wifi today!
We made it to Latvia and are having an amazing time. I love this country so much, it's absolutely beautiful and has so much history to enjoy (I will try to post pictures soon!). We have had the privilege of working with a team that has a cafe open to prostitutes two nights and one day during the week. Making relationships with the girls is so important here and because we are only here for a month we get to do a lot of behind the scene things, such as baking for the cafe, making Valentine's Day cards for the girls, make rings out of buttons and wire, and most importantly praying for them and the streets of Riga on the nights the cafe is open. It's cold yes and sometimes tiring but I can say with a full heart-It's so so worth it!
Tomorrow we have the privilege of leading a church service in a beautiful church that a few years ago one of the teams from our base felt very led to pray over. It's amazing how my team and I get to see fruit from seeds planted a while back. I will be leading worship along with one of my teammates (one of the songs will be in Latvian, and I barely know latvian so that will be quite the experience haha!) and I also have the opportunity to speak along with some of the other girls. Please lift my team and I up in your prayers as we continue this journey in Latvia. I can't wait to share more experiences with all of you!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Leaving Russia

Leaving Russia today! The past four weeks have been an amazing experience, cold, yes, but so rewarding and full of blessings! We have had the privilege of partnering with YWAM Moscow in feeding the homeless, cleaning a bomb shelter (used to store supplies for their ministries), evangelize on the streets, lead multiple Russian church services (which I had the honor of leading worship for), and covering the city with prayer. God is doing amazing things in this country and I can't wait to see the ministry grow and the Kingdom expand here.
Our next stop...Latvia! We leave for a 15hr train ride in a few hours-can't believe outreach is halfway over!

I have been praying the past few days and talking with God about the next month, asking what He has in store and He asked me to give up Social Media and most communication through technology. He is asking me to simply, spend more time with Him. It has been difficult to regularly have quiet time, read my bible, and spend time in worship because we are so busy, but when I get the chance I check out Instagram or Facebook. Not that these things are bad, because really I do enjoy my time on their, it's just that God is asking me to spend time with Him. So, the next 37 days I will not be on the internet and my communication will be small. I will be updating my blog and checking in with my family regularly but that's about it. I'm so excited to learn more and spend time with my Savior. 

Thank you so much to everyone who has been praying for me and keeping up with me. Please keep praying for our time in Latvia. My team and I are so excited to see what the Lord has in store.

I will be posting very soon about some of the stories from Russia-I can't wait to share!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Outreach has begun!

Outreach has begun! The first week our ministry began and instead of it being in Russia it started where I had been living for 3 months, Australia. My team, minus one of my leaders, left for Wollongong (about 5 hours by train from Newcastle) and stayed at the YWAM base there. We didn't necessarily have much ministry set up for us there so we prayed and asked God what He wanted us to do! 

The street that the Wollongong base is on is known for it's bad reputation of prostitution and being a bad area to live, so we did some prayer walks, it was amazing! We walked up and down these streets fighting over them, over the girls, the pimps, those addicted to alcohol, the store owners, and over a psychic store. As boring as that may sound, to "just pray" it was something that got me even more excited to be apart of the Kingdom of God. We also went to the Beach and talked to people as well prayed over some and we were able to bless the Wollongong base with words of encouragement. 

After those 4 days our second leader joined us and we went to Bondi Beach which is in Sydney, and stayed with one of our quarters outreach teams who was doing ministry there before hey left for Mexico. During our two day stay we took part in street and mall evangelism. 

While doing street evangelism I met a guy named Mario. Mario was from what I could tell homeless and a little bit confused. The leader from the Mexico team had actually told me earlier that day to look out for this guy and if I saw him to talk to him. He began our time wanting no part in the conversation and after one of my team members prayed he immediately began talking to us. He told us his name was "Anywhere" and that he was from Italy and Switzerland. As the conversation went on he opened up and he told us his real name, Mario. I could tell this guy longed for people not to think he is crazy just cause of how he looks, that he needed someone to just listen and want to get to know the real him, he simply needed to know that someone cared about Him. The two other girls and I got to pray for Mario and give him the New Testament, he was so excited and immediately began to read it as we left. 

During mall evangelism my friend Paige and had the opportunity to talk to another guy carrying a guitar, a musician from Ireland. I started by asking him if he knew where a guitar store was and from there we talked for an hour. He told  us about his music dreams and accomplishments so far, and as his face lit up at all we were talking about, he even took his guitar out and showed me his insane talent as well as let me play a little! Paige and I asked to pray for him at the end and he opens up about his struggle with alcohol and we got to tell him the beauty of Jesus what He does for us and what music does for us in broken times. He was so happy to talk and pray with us that he gave us all his info and a CD with his songs recorded on it. It was an amazing time I got to share with one of my teammates, I got to use my gift to talk to someone about Jesus and Paige got to use her story as a testimony to this guy!

After Australia, we were off to Russia! We made it safely and now as I type this I watch the snow fall on the already white covered ground getting ready to fight for this country. I'm excited to see what He is going to teach me in my time here and how He will use me to impact eternity.

I ask you to join me in prayer. To be completely honest, I don't like the cold at all, would much rather be in a hot place sweating, but this is where The Lord has called me to go, so He has something to show me here and I want to be fully attentive and excited to see it. Pray for my team, that we grow closer in unity and that we constantly listen to what The Lord wants us to do during our time here. 

Love you all, I'm thankful every day more and more for your support.

More updates about Russia to come!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Heading Out!

It has been quite the crazy preparation for outreach these past few weeks. We had some visa stuff to sort out, plans change, and lots of fundraising-but I can honestly say, the Lord has taught me so much.

My attitude began as a little annoyed when the plans changed and as they changed a little more…my attitude did as well.
On New Years eve 3 of the 5 outreach teams left to begin their adventures in other parts of the world. My team (Russia/Latvia), the Mexico team and two team members from the Argentina/Brazil outreach have stayed in Newcastle pushing for the rest of our finances. At first it was weird because the house felt so empty and then without confronting it at first I was allowing bitterness to creep in.
"Why was everyone else on outreach except my team?!" I kept asking the Lord. Until last night I was frustrated, I didn't have any desire to stay here and all I wanted to do was leave. God spoke through my leaders a few verses in 1 Thessalonians 5, much to do with honoring and supporting them as well as rejoicing in everything with my team mates…slap in the face, but a good one. After this session I spent time with Jesus and repented, I asked Him for a change in heart...and He gave me one! And today was awesome! I got to see the need of my teams finances drop from $7,000 to $3,500! God is so good. My dad was able to speak some life into me as well- "The Holy Spirit isn't waiting for me or my team in Russia, He is with me now, today. So, what will I do with the Holy Spirit today?" I needed a heart change, and I'm so thankful my Father is so patient with me and continues to work with my despite my attitude and faults.

So what's next? Tomorrow I am leaving for Wollongong, Australia. There, we will be on a YWAM base serving on the beach and doing street evangelism. We will be doing outreach there until January 10th, the day we pick up our visas and fly out to Russia.

My entire team is leaving tomorrow except for one of my leaders who will be here until the rest of the finances come in. Between her an my other leader they are in need of $3,500. If you feel led to support please go to the YWAM Newcastle website and click on donations where you can send money to the Russia/Latvia team!

Thank you to all who have supported myself and my team in prayer and finances. You have been such a big part of bringing us to where we are now and where we are going.

Blessings to all of you!

More week to week revelations from lecture phase to come and updates!

Week 5: Relationships

This week was one that really challenged me. I know when we think of the topic relationships the first thing we think about is romantic relationships, and yes that is a type of relationships but not the only one. Something so simple that changed my view is a quote by a YWAM author, Dean Sherman “Every problem in the world is a problem of relationship.” So think about this, every problem ever, is a problem of relationship. It started out with Adam and Eve desiring something different than a perfect relationship with the Father. Problems now, world hunger? Relationship problem. Poverty? Relationship problem. Dysfunctional family? Relationship problem. Disease? Relationship problem. When we sin we chose to disregard out relationship with the Lord, which results in so many problems. I think it’s fair to say we struggle with having good and perfect relationships. So, how do we start fixing these problems? Start with your heart. Have you ever just so happened to talk about that one person you just can’t “stand” to be around to your friend? Your family? Your spouse? Come one let’s admit it, I’m guilty. It’s called gossiping and it’s one of the easiest traps to fall under, and boy does Satan use it for destruction. How many times, like a disease, do we attack something that is good and call it bad? Gossip is an autoimmune disease, which not only kills our relationships, but it impacts the image of God. Think about it, when we talk about others in bad way as Christians how does that reflect who our Savior is to others? Terribly, right? Guys I struggle with this so much, seriously so much conviction. Not only do I struggle with the urge to talk bad about others, but also I struggle with judgmental thoughts in my mind about others. My judging, just in my head, eats away the reality of goodness in others. We have to start looking at our hearts and see how It has an effect not only on the body of Christ but on the solutions we seem to not the able to find for the world.  SO here you go, I can tell you the solution, lets start changing our hearts and attitudes and start mending relationships in the name of Jesus.
Something else I learned…I have got to get on forgiving. I didn’t realize how much unforgiveness was taking a hold not only on those relationships but my relationship with the Lord. Personally my heart is to see freedom in peoples lives, no matter where they are in their walk. I really started to get challenged toward the end of this week with this topic. How am I suppose to expect God to put freedom in someone’s life and break chains that they have if I can’t forgive them for things they’ve done to hurt me? I can’t. And lots of times He wont. If I want to see and intercede for freedom in those peoples lives, I need to forgive them. Plain and simple, “Crap, I need to get on that” is what I was thinking.  Forgiveness is tough, does it mean you have to trust that person again, no not at all, actually many times we shouldn’t unless we feel God is telling us to. Instead it’s looking at people through Jesus’ eyes, Eyes of grace, mercy, love, and the ultimate forgiveness.
So, my challenge from this week-What would the world look like if I started looking at my heart and began taking the ugliness of judgment out and started to forgive those that have wounded me? I would see transformation.

Week 4: Fear of The Lord

Going into this week I was a little confused on what we would be learning about. I soon found out that it was simply having a relationship with the Lord that is in constant awe of Him and reverence of who He is and to hate sin as God hates sin (Proverbs 8:13). This lecture week we continued to talk a lot about the character of God and many questions were asked to help understand more about who the Lord we serve is and why we serve Him.
Some questions and great revelations:
-You will never fear and obey God fully if you don’t think He’s worthy of your love.
-Will you be loyal to His character?
-If God is perfect why does He need us to worship Him? –He’s generous.
-We can use our free will and chose not to sin.

-Jesus isn’t a superhero. I often times think of Jesus as some super being that can fly, go through walls, read minds, or become invisible whenever He wants-but I am so wrong! That’s not who Jesus is. He was fully God but became fully man for us. He left the throne and came down as man, but He relied so much on His Father that his reality was supernatural, as ours should be too. The moment He would have brought His own God power He couldn’t have gone to the cross because it would have made Him unlike our natural form and would have made it so He couldn’t relate to us. Doesn’t that just bring clarity to how AMAZING Jesus is and reveal how much He really does love us? HE LEFT HEAVEN TO DIE FOR US! To be the sacrifice, to stand in the gap because we couldn’t do it ourselves! My Jesus is worthy of all praise, He’s not a superhero, He is my hero!