Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Ten Years Ago

One early morning ten years ago my parents drove me to the airport to travel to Colombia. I had graduated from college the month before and was eager to jump into missions. Several friends recommended Youth With A Mission (YWAM), whose Discipleship Training School (DTS) offers classes and an outreach trip as a short-term training experience. I had studied abroad in Latin America very briefly in college, but I hadn't had the opportunity to serve in missions and knew I had a lot to learn before making long-term plans and commitments.

DTS Class

Using Skits for Evangelism

During the fall, I looked into different YWAM bases throughout Latin America -- except in Colombia. It was too dangerous, I thought, based on the little I knew and had read in the news. As I prayed about different options, I felt very strongly that God wanted me to look into the Colombia bases. I responded like this, "But, Lord, I can't go to Colombia, right? Plus, there are so many other options!" I looked up the information, just to say I had done it, but when I read about the Cartagena base, I immediately felt like that was where I should go. So many things were just what I was looking for (mostly Latino students, classes in Spanish, variety of ministries, etc.), but... what would my parents say?

Participating at the Base
Children's Ministry

"OK, Lord," I said, "I'll see when the next DTS is and if that would work with my plans." My plans were to get to Latin America as soon as possible. I received a prompt response telling me the next school was in January and to fill out the attached application. January?! Everything indicated that God was leading me to Cartagena.


I remember them asking, "What about Mexico, or Peru, or...?" But I replied, "It will only be for six months, and then I'll be back." I didn't know at the time, but one of my dad's co-workers asked him, "What kind of father are you, to let your daughter go to Colombia?" As we drove to the airport that snowy morning I started feeling nervous. What was I getting myself into?

Outreach Trip

It turned out that I didn't stay six months; I stayed the whole year, and it was life-changing! God worked in my heart, leading me to repentance, freedom, healing, and increased commitment to Him. He also gave me friends and leaders I could learn from, grow with, and continue to stay in touch with today (they are all over the world!). I can reflect on many testimonies of God's power and love in our lives during those months, during uncomfortable and difficult times, and also moments that seemed too good to be true.

Outreach in Panama

God also used that year to bring my parents and me much closer. They prayed a lot for me, helped me expedite documents for last-minute visas, and welcomed me back home with open arms and willing to listen to all of my stories (!). Since then, they have encouraged me to follow God's calling in my life, even when that means living far away in places that are known for being dangerous. What a gift!

My Dad Welcoming Me Home

During that year in Cartagena, I felt called to work among indigenous people of Latin America. At the same time, I remember how much I loved living on the coast, particularly the Afro-Colombian aspects there. I had no idea God would lead me to a people with both of these roots! Just like I never thought I would go to Colombia for a year, I also had no idea how much I would be surprised afterward.

Children's Ministry

I thank the Lord for those who invested in my life in 2004 in Colombia, for how He has taken many of us to new places to serve Him since then, for my parents' unconditional support, and because His plans are so much better than ours.

Outreach Team

Monday, January 6, 2014

Winter Newsletter

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