Friday, December 16, 2011

Sweet Finale


YWAM San Jose, Costa Rica!!!


Before attending the DTS (Discipleship Training School) program at YWAM in San Jose, Costa Rica for five months, my life was very comfortable. I had my own place with my own space and could do what I wanted, when I wanted. Life was good. Unfortunately, I had become stagnant in my faith. I wasn’t growing, just coasting. On top of that I seemed to struggle with the same things when it came to my faith; loving God radically, trusting God implicitly and believing God completely. Even though God kept challenging me in every one of these areas on a recurring basis, there was always something holding me back from breaking through each area and claiming victory.

But in obeying God and following Him to Costa Rica a second time, it was more critical that I go and face a great unknown than to stay where I was and risk having what flame still burned in me, go out. I needed to follow God to YWAM and nothing and no one was going to stop me. I knew there was a great purpose in me going and remaining there for the entirety of the schooling based on the urgency of God’s call on my life during my first trip to Costa Rica in March 2011. A calling that included God’s desire to train, teach and prepare me, but for what I didn’t know.

Obeying what God was telling me to do and where to go was far more important than considering the great unknowns that might lie ahead in going. It wasn’t long, after arriving at the YWAM base, before I came to know that God’s desire for me was to also challenge and stretch me as well as work on my character.

The challenging and stretching came immediately in trying to adapt to a community living lifestyle while learning to be a student again. But that was offset by the lecture content that was part of the Lecture Phase (first 12 weeks), which was something I could really sink my teeth into. Aside from obeying God in going to YWAM, it was my great desire to cultivate a more personal and intimate relationship with God than I had. Good thing because aside from YWAM training and preparing people to enter the mission field, one of its key components was to help you develop a deep and intimate relationship with God. So I knew I was in the right place and on the right track. As unbelievable as this new world was to me, I knew that I was smack dab in the middle of God’s will for me which was where I wanted to be. Be careful what you wish for??? LOL

As for working on my character, that came in a variety of different forms. Whether it was community living, work duties or being in a team setting 24/7, my character was continuously being worked on....kind of like the way a hammer hits an anvil when working and shaping a piece of metal into a useable tool, I being the piece of metal. The ‘workings’ were painful and, at times, difficult to learn but in exchange for the pain, I gained a greater insight into the awesome grace and mercy of God especially when my frustration levels would reach their peak. One great lesson taught to me during those times was how important it was to rely and depend on God for everything, big and small, in my life there. So much so that every time I was tested and got flustered, I ran to God, giving the situation completely over to His care and God would always bring about the answer in creative and blessed ways!

Meanwhile, as each week passed in the Lecture Phase and each topic became better than the last, prayers past and present were being answered in incredible and supernatural ways. Some of those answers were; falling in love with the Word of God, receiving my breakthrough in loving God radically (during Father Heart of God week), peace while performing my work duties, surrendering my rights, extending grace to others and so many more!!


My birthday spent with my DTS family during Lecture Phase!
Back Row (From left to right): Jake, Cherise, Montana, Joseph, Marianela (leader), Cristina.
Middle Row (From left to right): Brandon, Me, Kristen, Becky, Brayan.
Front Row (From left to right): Jimmy, Elle, Diana (teacher), Buka.

Soon the Lecture Phase came to an end and it was time to prepare for NIKO. This was a one week survival camp that took us to a remote location in the province of Cartago. The name NIKO means to overcome and no word could have been more applicable to my time there than that. It was the most physically, mentally and spiritually intense week that I had ever experienced in my entire life. I did physical feats that I never thought I could do but that forced me to not only depend even more heavily upon the strength of God for my strength but to also push myself even further when I hit a wall of exhaustion or discouragement.


There was more than just brutal times at NIKO...there was the beauty and majesty of our surroundings! Praise God!!

Due to the nature and honoured tradition of NIKO and its purpose, I am unable to disclose specific details but just to give you a taste of what this almost forty year old body did included; scaling up mountainsides and waterfalls vertically, belaying down a mud wall and walking across a web of loosely intertwined tree roots while gazing down a 200 or more foot drop if I were to misstep. Oh, and I was able to do 40 consecutive push ups, regular not modified, surpassing even some of my male counterparts! Sorry, guys. LOL But despite this gruelling, frustrating, challenging and intense week, it was the perfect segue for what lay ahead....Outreach.


GIRL POWER at NIKO!!!!

Outreach Phase was an 8 week period taking what we learned in the classroom and applying it to a real life missionary and ministry setting. It was week two or three of the Lecture Phase that our team began praying for God’s will to be revealed regarding where we were to go, the theme of outreach and if we would be staying together as one team or if we would be split up. A couple days after arriving at the YWAM base, God began speaking to me not only about my team members and the incredible purpose that each person had but also where we would be doing outreach, in the country of Costa Rica.

So when it came to praying for God to show me His heart for our team in outreach, He wasted no time in revealing to me the many things He saw in our team. That we would be ministering throughout the country of Costa Rica and that our team would ignite the country with the flame of the Holy Spirit. In fact, while praying, God showed me a vision of our team’s affect on the country of Costa Rica with a map of Costa Rica and our team moving like a flame would as it consumes a piece of paper. Except this flame was the Holy Spirit that made the entire country glow with a light that could be seen around the world! Woah!

I shared my vision and words from God to the leadership and they affirmed me in saying that they had received the very same things from God. Double woah!! On top of that, God had spoken to the leaders that the theme of our outreach would be ‘justice’ which had been a recurring theme within members of the team and God’s greater purpose in bringing us all together. In weeks following, leadership revealed that our outreach would not only take us throughout Costa Rica but that we would be spending time in each of the 7 provinces of Costa Rica; Cartago, Heredia, Limon, Guanacaste, Puntarenas, Alajuela and San Jose. We would also be participating in a number of ministries like; organizing church programs, preaching, youth events, children’s ministry, Bible distribution, construction and many more.

Meanwhile, God was still challenging me in the two areas I was praying and seeking breakthroughs in; trusting God implicitly and believing God completely. And it was during week three of outreach that my breakthrough in trusting God implicitly was obtained. Unfortunately, it came in the form of a serious foot injury (tendon rupture) that had me staying back from a week and a half of ministry. However, the unfortunate turned to fortunate while I was lying on a table in a room at the hospital to await the x-ray of my foot. I know what you’re thinking, how could lying on an x-ray table be considered fortunate? Well, it started with a question, a question from God. As I was lying on the table, alone in the room and waiting for the tech to come in to take the x-rays, God spoke, “Do you trust me, Melissa?” I hesitated before answering, “Yes, Lord.” God wasn’t convinced so He asked me a second time. “Do you trust me, Melissa?” This time, without hesitation, I answered confidently, “Yes, Lord, I trust You!” It became even clearer to me that this injury was DEFINITELY a God thing!

It was hours later that I learned of my serious injury and further instructions to wear the walking boot (picture and story in the ‘Das Boot’ post) all the time for three weeks except to ice it three times a day and shower. Then I had to go back to the hospital after the three weeks and if all looked well, I would begin 12 weeks of rehab. Ugh. The injury happened on a Wednesday and the diagnosis came the day after (Thursday). But in spite of hearing all of that, I couldn’t ignore the overwhelming peace that was within me. Sunday came and it was time for my team to head off to Puerto Viejo, Limon, Costa Rica for a week while I was to stay back and begin to fulfill God’s purpose shown to me weeks prior during the lecture phase. A purpose that included; answering divine appointments on base set up by God and being a prayer warrior and intercessor for the base, my team and myself.

It was literally hours after my team left that God spoke loud and clear by asking me, “Melissa, do you believe that I can heal you?” I could hardly contain my excitement when I replied, “OF COURSE I believe you can heal me, Lord!” From that moment on, the blessings didn’t stop. On top of being a part of several divine appointments, I was moved to a room in hospitality so that the bathroom and shower would be on the same level. That meant not having to climb stairs! Yes!! Then as the week began, God called me into solitude while telling me how, when and for whom to pray along with sending Scripture and words of encouragement to my team.

Thursday morning (three days before my team was due to come back from Puerto Viejo) I was getting ready to go to the prayer room on base when God spoke, “Take off your boot and walk on your foot.” After a brief hesitation I took off my walking boot, planted my bare foot on the floor and began to walk. There was no pain. I stood there in disbelief while an excitement began to rise in me.

Saturday morning came (the day before my team was due to return from Puerto Viejo) and as I was getting ready for my day, walking boot on, God spoke saying, “Take off the boot and jump up and down.” I answered with, “Seriously?” God didn’t respond to that. LOL Obviously He was serious in what He was commanding me to do. So I took the boot off, placed my feet on the floor and started jumping up and down. There was no pain. My eyes quickly filled with tears that started streaming down my face as I said, “Thank you, God”, over and over again. Moments later the tears turned to laughter as I celebrated the fulfillment of God’s healing question to me days prior. Of course I knew He would heal me I just didn’t know when but when it happened, I knew my breakthrough had come in trusting God implicitly and that I would trust Him in all things from that moment on, no matter what.

Once my team returned Sunday morning, I shared God’s miracle healing with my roommates which was met with dropped jaws and questions of if I would be joining the team to finish outreach. Not only did I say a resounding, “YES!” but I would be going without my walking boot, as God had commanded. So, knowing all of that, I started my packing for the remainder of outreach with my team, which would be 6 weeks. Monday morning we packed our things on top of the YWAM van and stuffed 16 of us into the van and we were off!! Some of the places we visited and did ministry in were; Jaco, Cobano, Los Chiles, Moneteverde, Ciudad Quesada, Las Palmeras, Sarchi and more!


I found a bunch of orchid plants growing alongside a wall!!! Incredible! (taken at the Methodist Camp we stayed at in Ciudad Quesada, Alajuela, Costa Rica).


MORE beautiful flowers in Ciudad Quesada!!!

As I began my remaining outreach journey with my DTS family, in the back of my mind I knew that there was still one area that I was seeking a breakthrough in which was believing God completely. Believing Him for everything He had told, shown and promised me for my life. The struggle to take God at His word with those things seemed too fantastic for me because they were all my dreams, hopes and desires that, I guess, I just didn’t think would be fulfilled because of how much I wanted them. But I should have known God better than that, especially after ALL I had been experiencing with Him in the DTS alone!! But it was during a time of rest and refreshment in Cobano, Puntarenas, Costa Rica, that I received this final breakthrough. After a long week of ministry in Jaco, Puntarenas, our leaders brought us to this remote camp in Cobano to enjoy three days of restoration and fun to get ready for our next outreach demands.


Camp building in Cobano, Puntarenas, Costa Rica.

We arrived on a Monday and it was the next morning (Tuesday) that I went for a walk on the property to spend some quiet time with God after my own morning devotion. My walk brought me to a place in a forest by a flowing river and as I stood there gazing at all the beauty around me and resting in God’s presence, He suddenly spoke, “Do you trust me? Do you love me? Do you believe me?” I could answer, “Yes” confidently to all of them except the third one. I was still challenged in believing God for all the things that God had shown and told me since the beginning of DTS. Even my morning devotion challenged me by telling me that my unanswered prayers were only delays. I had been struggling with believing God for so many things but with this message in my morning devotional and my time with God in the forest, with Him challenging me, I was gaining confidence each time He would ask me the three questions.

I stood there for a few more moments until I heard the movement and sound of an ape in the trees to my left. As I began to listen to this creature, it seemed to be speaking to me, saying, “Walk.” I was a bit taken back and listened again to see if what I had heard was true and the ape ‘spoke’ again saying, “Walk.” So I started to walk back to the main house at the camp. When I got back, I noticed everyone was up in the open area of the building. I had forgotten about the special activity of waiting for God while being blindfolded that we would be doing. After apologizing to my leaders, I quickly found a place on the floor and blindfolded myself, then waited for God. It wasn’t long before God started asking me the same three questions He had been asking me in the forest.

A few moments later, one of my team leaders came next to me and began reading Ephesians 3:20-21. After she read it she said that God was telling her to tell me that I needed to trust and believe Him completely for everything, even when I don’t see anything or understand. That I should trust Him completely in and for all things because they are so much more incredible and unbelievable than I can possibly imagine. With all that, I started to cry and just kept repeating, over and over again, that I believed God. I told God I believed Him, confidently, when He asked me while I was blindfolded. My breakthrough had come. The one breakthrough I had been wanting for so long and especially during outreach. I now felt so strong and so confident. Then another of my leaders came and read James 5:16. Then another of my leaders came and read Isaiah 32:15-17 and then she told me that God wanted to reveal and show His plan for me. That He would show me in visions and images His path and plan for my life, which brought to mind all the things that He had already been doing during the lecture phase at the base with all the visions and dreams that He had given me plus everything He had been showing me during outreach and that it would all continue even after my time in DTS.

So many wonderful, extraordinary and difficult things happened in, through and for me during my time in Costa Rica. It’s difficult to pick just a couple things that stood out to me because it was the entire experience of DTS and my DTS family that served as the greatest source of challenge, stretching, discipline, humility and blessing (good and difficult) that has changed me in dramatic ways and that will remain with me for the rest of my life. Ways that can only be described in the things that God revealed to me while I was in Costa Rica like being; a woman of powerful prayer, a fearless and bold witness of God and His goodness to others, a spiritual mother, and a woman who loves, trusts and believes God completely in all situations....just to name a few.


More of God's majesty and beauty at one of our places of ministry, Ciudad Quesada, Alajuela, Costa Rica.

I have been changed in ways that are, at times, difficult to describe but I know, unequivocally, that I needed to go there and go through a transforming five months in order to be firmly set on the road that God always wanted me to be on for Him. I know that it will be a difficult road but it will also be one overflowing with surprises, blessings and miracles of every conceivable kind! And I’d rather live a life of difficulty and discomfort than miss out on God’s very best for me! I just can’t take that chance in not knowing what could have been if only I had done what God wanted me to do. There is extraordinary blessing in all that God calls us to do and be for Him. Far too extraordinary to miss out on!! :D


I received a BEAUTIFUL bouquet of flowers from the Dodero family on my graduation night!!


Graduation night of the July 2011 DTS!!! What a good lookin' group if I do say so!!! :D
Back Row (From left to right): Brayan, Jake, Morgan (leader), Joseph, Brandon, Kristen, Buka.
Front Row (From left to right): Me, Lauryn (leader), Elle, Becky, Cristina, Cheris, Montana, Marianela (leader), Jose (leader and husband to Marianela), Jimmy.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Stay Tuned....

Hello everyone! I know it's been a while since I last posted to my blog. I can't begin to ask for enough forgiveness from you, my loyal readers.

I do promise, however, that I will be updating my blog in the weeks to come as there is a lot to report of God's movement and goodness while I was attending school and participating in the mission fields of Costa Rica during my time there over the past five months!

So, stay tuned!!!!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Jaco, Puntarenas, Costa Rica

Hola, all!! I am currently with my team in rainy and overcast Jaco, Puntarenas, Costa Rica. We arrived on Monday and will be staying here, doing ministry in Jaco and area, until Sunday when we will be taking a ferry over to Cobano, Puntarenas, Costa Rica and remaining for three days. After that, our destination is unknown but that's okay as the first thing they tell you in outreach is, "Be flexible, the schedule IS going to change!" So, with the grace and help of God, I'm being as flexible as possible! I'm just thankful that it's not the flexibility required of NIKO. LOL

Since our arrival Sunday, we've been battling almost non stop rain that, apparently, has been the result of a hurricane off the coast of Mexico. I've been told that we're receiving the tail end of the hurricane's affect and should be seeing some sunny skies soon. To this day, Thursday, we still haven't had a full day of sunshine without clouds. We've had a couple sparse moments of sun but then the clouds come and, inevitably, the rain. So, you just get a good umbrella and luckily for me, a lot of quick dry clothes, and carry on in our times of ministry!

Yesterday was a day that really affected me in a deep way for we went to do river ministry where about 500 people live along a river that leads to the ocean. These people are mostly made up of Nicaraguans who had no other place to go when they came to Costa Rica, most likely illegally. So their only refuge was to live along the river. A river that, yearly, floods many times a year with a destructive force that either completely destroys the house someone lives in or just floods the home repeatedly. The owner then does the best he can do in order to keep their home clean and repaired.

Most homes are no more than a cement block as a crooked foundation and the rest of the house is made out of scraps of metal that are found in the area. Perhaps the one thing that affected me the most was seeing a beautiful little girl who could not have been more than 2 years old, with big innocent eyes, standing next to her equally beautiful mother in a tin shack along this dirty river. The little girl's name was Cris and her smile seemed to light up the city. Her hair was done in pigtails and she was dressed in a cute outfit. Her appearance wasn't at all indicative of living in destitution, yet I found myself standing right in front of her smiling at her and having her smile at me in return.

The words, "It's just not fair, Lord" kept coming to my mind while I tried to keep my eyes dry. It was while walking back to the hostel we're staying in that my eyes began to fill with tears and I started to question God again. But then I realized who I was talking to. I was talking and pleading with my God, a God who is big enough to not only see what I just saw but to redeem that situation and to fix it. My part to play in all of that was to spend time with them and be the love of Jesus in flesh to them, while giving them hope in the form of a booklet that contained the Gospel of John in Spanish.

The life of a missionary would not be much different from what I participated in yesterday with my team. The only difference is that if you are called to be a missionary and you know God is calling you to do that for the rest of your life, you will see things like that and so much worse, perhaps day after day without any reprieve in an air conditioned hostel room with a team of other people to console you or to rescue you from that heart wrenching situation. What I saw yesterday is only a mere taste of what God sees and grieves over every single day throughout this world.

No, I'm not God nor would I want to be God because I don't think my heart could take it, day after day, year after year. Seeing His children being oppressed, abused, neglected, shamed....no, I couldn't be God. I don't have the stomach for it or the heart for it. But what I do have is an image of that little girl, Cris, burned into my memory banks, standing beside her beautiful mother and living alongside a river that does not discriminate against who it rushes over and wipes away. I just have to keep focusing on God and looking to Him in trust because, one day, His son will return to redeem all of this and to take Cris and others into His arms, pull them close and whisper to them sweetly, "You are mine."

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Outreach Bound



As my week comes to a close and I begin to prepare for the remainder of outreach with my team, I can’t help but reflect, fondly, on this week and proclaim the goodness and faithfulness and awesome nature of God! As I recall my injury and diagnosis of over a week ago, God speaking to me while waiting for x-rays to be taken of my foot and the announcement to the team that I would not be joining them in Puerto Viejo, I never thought I would be blessed as much as I was this past week.

It was only hours after my team had left Sunday for Puerto Viejo, in the province of Limon, that God’s purposes for me began with a question from God. He asked me, “Do you believe that I can heal you, Melissa?” Without hesitation I replied, “YES, Lord, I know you can heal me and I believe you will heal me!” Amen! His other purpose came almost immediately as my team pulled away from the base when I dove into intercessory prayer for my team then and for the rest of the week! God was faithful in guiding me in what or who to pray for and I wrote all of my promptings in my outreach notebook, careful to pass on the same to my team.

Now as I come to the end of the week, I must sing God’s glory and praise Him with all of my heart for this week has been one of wisdom, revelation, confirmation and power in prayer that blew my mind! God blessed me in so many ways and through other people that it still causes me to become teary eyed at thinking back on these days. One of the greatest blessings was when it was arranged for me to stay in the hospitality house so that I would not have to navigate any stairs while outfitted with my ‘boot’. Bathroom and bedroom were on the same level in my room and being isolated from the main building was something I know God orchestrated as He had been calling me into isolation with Him for the week which I was completely prepared and excited for.

I have had quiet time and solitude with the Lord this week that, I would have to say, have been the best times so far in my walk with God! As He would pull me closer to Him, I would dive deeper into Him crying out for more! He would fill me with people from my team to pray for and give me words or Scripture to give them which would come back to me, via email, confirmed by the leaders that it was exactly what was needed! Each day served as a new adventure in faith with God and an opportunity to serve Him as the woman of prayer He is calling me to be for Him. If that’s the only thing that God wanted me to do for Him that would be my ministry for God, I would be the happiest woman on earth!!! So far it looks like that is God’s purpose for me at this point but you never know what God will have in store during outreach! :D

About outreach, yes I will be joining my team for the remainder of the DTS program, not returning to the YWAM San Jose base until graduation day, November 18 (might be a couple days sooner). My team will be returning from Limon City sometime tomorrow via public transit with one night to get ready to head out again Monday morning. From the base, we will be leaving in the YWAM van and travelling in that for the next month. Travelling in the van as opposed to travelling as past DTS teams have travelled (public transit or plane) has been a huge blessing within itself. I’ve heard stories of previous DTS teams who have travelled hundreds of hours in public transit buses and it was nothing short of a nightmare for them. I feel truly blessed and fortunate to be travelling this well.

Meanwhile, I am packing my backpack and getting ready for our Monday departure while staying in the close presence of God for these two days until then. As for my foot, I will take the boot with me and be a good steward of what has been given to me but I know, and God has told me, that He will be my rehab on the road for I have already received supernatural healing from God! In fact, as of today, God told me to jump up and down on both feet while in flip flops and so I did....and NO pain!!!!! Praise God! I have told numerous people that God is healing me and that I will NOT need rehabilitation! WOO HOO!

How incredible is God? More incredible than I can even begin to describe or explain to you but this week has strengthened me in ways that I am humbled by. I feel as though this week has been my honeymoon with God with His whispers of how to pray and who to pray for and His calling to me to come closer to Him every minute of every day. These days are ones that I will not forget and do loud boasting of how great God is!! Wisdom, strength, revelation, confirmation, power, and intimacy are just some of the words I would use to describe this week to all of you. I raise my voice to praise God as David did in 1 Chronicles 16: 8-13 and return to my sweet secret place with God until my team returns!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Das Boot


My walking boot that I have to wear for 3 weeks only taking it off three times a day to ice and shower. I have to wear the sock part of the boot to bed every night as well.

Above is my appliance that I’ve been outfitted with for the next three weeks until I see the doctor at the hospital again. Until then, my outreach for the week will be YWAM San Jose. After much prayer and seeking God’s purpose for me after this injury and then praying for confirmation as to His purpose for me, God confirmed to myself and also to my leadership that I am to stay back from outreach this week. One of the leaders is staying back with me to assist with anything I need or errands that would have be run. God answered, big time, as to His plan for me this week and His further confirmation of that through leadership sealed it. God is so amazing, I ask and He answers. I seek confirmation and it comes in a flood! I guess that’s why I’ve had such incredible and overflowing peace since all of this happened. I’m excited to see what God will do this week!!! :D

So what will I be doing this week while my team is ministering to Puerto Viejo in the province of Limon? Well, because I know that this injury and the subsequent confirmation is ALL a God thing, I will be interceding along with my leader, Marianela, for the team as well as seeking God’s revelation and wisdom in what He wants to show me this week. I believe it will be something significant that God reveals to me. So far my week of standing still and just BEING with God has included several hours camped out in the prayer room and reading the Bible while praying, when prompted, for my team mates and others in my life.

I’ve also been invited to sit in on classes this week with the September DTS which consists of 18 girls and one guy, all but one under the age of 20 years old. I’ve met several of them and they are great folks always asking how I’m doing and if they can help me or get me anything. God just keeps blessing me over and over again. Marianela mentioned to me that God had been speaking to her about me. That during my life I had worked hard and had always done things on my own and was very independent, which is completely true, and so God was speaking to her to bless me in serving me and in doing things for me. Now those of you who know me really well, and my Mom can attest to this, it’s not always easy for me to accept help or assistance because I don’t want to be a burden to others but God is certainly showing me that He wants me to accept assistance and to accept blessings of service from others. Once again, I am humbled by God and will obey what He tells me to do and right now that is to accept His blessings to me through others. Wow!!!

So, that is where things stand for now. I’ll keep you all updated as to what happens this week and what God reveals to me. There are so many things it could be! I can’t help but be very excited! So until then, I’m including some pics from last week (the official start of our outreach) with a brief description under each pic. God is good, all the time, all the time, God is good!!!


Volcano Irazu where we did a prayer walk alongside the volcano cavern and prayed against the spirits that are believed to make their home at the top of this high volcano (Monday).


La Basilica (Catholic Basilica) located in the province of Cartago where we did a prayer march around the church praying against the strongholds of religion and legalism within the Roman Catholic church (Monday).


The Heredia base. It is almost completely self sustained with a beautiful and large garden, fire pit, livestock and a real country feel to it with an emphasis on family!! I didn't want to leave!! (Tuesday and Wednesday) :D


The place where the injury happened, a National Park just minutes away from the Heredia base in the province of Heredia (Wednesday morning).

Thursday, September 29, 2011

First Outreach Injury

Well, our third day into outreach and one of the team members has sustained a serious injury....but wouldn’t you know it, that team member is yours truly!! I survived a week of NIKO for crying out loud and now this???? It was stupid in how it happened, too.

It was during our time in the beautiful province of Heredia where we spent two days at the Heredia base where I fell in love with the country feel and lifestyle there. They have all kinds of livestock, their own garden, a huge fire pit and a country like home where students and staff co-mingle each day. Everything is done with an eco friendly purpose and when you are done eating, you wash your own dishes! They fed us very well and treated us like royalty while we were there. It was very difficult to leave. :D

Anyway, back to how the injury happened. We had a ministry activity planned in a national park doing a prayer walk while praying for the people of Heredia. We had a time of preparation before going out, which was located on a miniature basketball court set on concrete. Just as we set out, I was the first to step off of the concrete surface and on to what I believed to be flat surfaced grass, which turned out to be grass with a sharp dip in it. By the time I realized the slope of the grass, I had already felt my foot turn and as I fell to the ground, I heard an audible pop in my foot.

Thankfully, it was not my ankle but I didn’t really know what the ‘pop’ sound meant. In any case, my left foot was completely immobilized while I tried to assess what type of injury it was but the pain became too much too fast and I just had to get my bearings from falling before getting to my feet. Once I came to stand, I couldn’t stand on my left foot at all. It was far too painful. So, while the rest of the team set out on the prayer walk, I stayed behind with two of the leaders and managed to find some ice to put on my foot. Just by the feel of the injury, I just had a sense that it was not good.

Well, today I just had a prompting by God to get my foot checked out after hobbling around all morning. I set out with two leaders and a fellow team mate who was kind enough to translate for me and we came to a Christian hospital called Jerusalem. It only took moments before I was being ushered into the x-ray room and positioned by the tech to have ‘pictures’ of my foot done. After she finished, the doctor was called in and he took a look. I spoke briefly with him and he determined that it appeared to be a tendon issue but wouldn’t elaborate. He also said that he didn’t think there was a break or fracture but that he wanted a second opinion and we began to wait for a specialist to come and take a look at the x-rays.

A long wait and a bit of miscommunication later, we took the x-rays and headed to another hospital, Hospital a la Catolica that was further downtown. There I was ushered in quickly and only had to wait a short while before being taken into another wing where the doctor would first look at my x-rays from the other hospital (yes, I was allowed to walk out from one hospital with my x-rays and take them to another hospital). By this time I had also paid several hundred dollars to see a doctor and to have x-rays taken, nothing else, not even a diagnosis.

So we’re at a second hospital and God blesses me with an English speaking doctor. Thank you, God!! He knew exactly what was needed! :D So, the doctor had a look at my x-rays and noticed that because of the extreme swelling and bruising of my foot that I had sustained a serious ligament rupture. Treatment? Three weeks in a cast or a walking boot that would completely immobilize the foot (I chose the walking boot). Along with plenty of rest, icing my foot three times a day and keeping the walking boot on all the time with the exception of icing and showering. At least my foot was kept stable and I could walk, unlike earlier today when I was hobbling with crutches. Extremely difficult to do in a place that is not handicap or wheelchair friendly. After the three weeks are up, I have to return to the hospital to see the doctor to have my situation reassessed and if all looks good, I’ll have to start on a regimen of rehab. Can you believe it???? A stupid little injury turning into all of this???

But, to everything under heaven, there is a purpose and God did not let this happen to me without a specific purpose. He made it very clear to me why the injury happened to me on Wednesday morning. See, before outreach had even begun, I was feeling quite sure and confident of my spiritual strength within our group and while I was fully surrendered to God’s will on our outreach, I still had some distinct pride about what I thought I could do during outreach and the people I could reach through my spiritual strength.

But when my injury happened and I was taken away from the action of my team members and had quieted myself to resting in the van with my foot elevated while applying ice, God spoke. I had been questioning God as to why this was happening now. Why after a week of NIKO nothing happened but on the third day of outreach I was now out of commission. My first round of questioning was met with God saying, “Be still and know that I am God.” “But God”, I said, “I’m prepared to do whatever it is you want me to do on outreach. I feel strong to do great things for you, why now?” “Be still and know that I am God”, is all He said in return.

At that moment I was humbled and I quieted my heart and was just still. As soon as I did that, God spoke further to my heart, telling me that sometimes He takes those of great service, completely out of service only to have them stand on the sidelines while watching others go out to serve. Wow. I felt as though I had been put firmly in my place by God. My confidence and strength regarding outreach had been revealed to me as pride and in these few moments of rest and pain, God was now dealing with me and my pride by taking me away from service.

I didn’t realize how prideful I had become and I was met with shame and embarrassment at what God was now telling me. So I spent the remainder of the day at the Heredia base while icing my foot, just being still before the Lord and interceding for my team and reading the Bible as God prompted me to do. I have to say that it was the best time I ever had with God out of all my quiet times with Him. God keeps speaking to me about so many things and now with this injury, He keeps speaking. Telling me things about the team, telling me things about His ways for me regarding outreach and just drawing me ever closer to Him which I am completely okay with. :D

So you may be asking, what now? Will I be going on outreach? Well, I don’t even know the answer to that question yet. So much happened in the last couple days, that I really want to honour God in all of my decisions, making sure that they are His decisions, not mine. So I will continue to seek Him each day and wanting to know His next steps for me. If that means me hobbling through the next couple weeks of outreach, then so be it. If it means me sitting even further on the sidelines while my team mates encounter God in outreach, then I will do that. I just want to get rid of this stinking pride that I have, even though I didn’t think it was pride. I serve an awesome God and He always has the perfect way of getting my attention and teaching me what it is He wants me to learn and know because He loves me that much!

So please pray with me for both myself and my team. Pray that God would strengthen all of us, remove any pride that exists within our team and that God provides me with the full restoration of my left foot in whatever way that looks like. Whether out with my team mates in outreach or here, at the base in San Jose.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

NIKO!!!!


MY MOUNTAIN!!!!!


Some members of my team awaiting to pack up and head back to the YWAM base (Friday morning).


Picture of the home located on the large property of NIKO, near Cartago, Costa Rica. This house is actually part of the property of the parents of one of the base directors, Giacomo Coghi.


I’m back and I SURVIVED NIKO!!!! Five days of intensity, brutality and being stretched beyond imagination while being kept bound by rules that any strict person would disagree with BUT I have been changed by NIKO in ways that could not have happened without going out in the middle of nowhere and being completely dependent upon God for everything. From shelter to strength to our next meal, there were things that I did that I never thought I could do, never mind live through but I did do it, I did it all and only by the grace and strength of God did I do it all!

I’m including some pictures of the location of the camp but I am not able to disclose a lot of information on particulars due to the honoured tradition of NIKO and its ultimate goal, to bring you into a deeper relationship with God while adhering to complete and total surrender of all things. Now when I say surrender, I’m meaning it in terms of coming forward and, essentially, giving up ALL your rights. If you don’t, you will be miserable and you will break without ever learning a thing that this experience is intended to teach you. I did break, not emotionally, but spiritually and it happened the second day we were there as I was still holding on to certain rights I didn’t realize I needed to give up. NIKO broke through all of that and brought me to my spiritual knees and into a greater faith and strength that I never knew could be obtained.

One thing I can tell you, and I’ve included a picture of, is that I scaled a mountain. A LITERAL MOUNTAIN! MY MOUNTAIN I’m going to call it because my teammates and I hiked this mountain from one end of it to the other, following markers that would lead us through. It took us six hours of hiking to get through it and it was brutal to say the least. The hiking up was vertical, I kid you not, and it had us climbing waterfalls, an ant hill and tree roots on the vertical!!! I even had the experience of belaying down the face of a mud wall that was more slimy than solidly formed. WOO HOO!!!! I can’t believe that this old body climbed up and down that gigantic mountain and all the while I prayed....every second we were out there, I prayed. I prayed for God’s help to get me through it all and for His strength when I felt like I just could not press on anymore. Our team leaders kept encouraging me when I was struggling getting up the next vertical face of a path that seemed to go on, vertically, FOREVER!!

One of the rules of the week was that we could not be without another person next to us further than an arm’s length away. For me, a person who truly embraces her personal space and solitude, this was a stretch but that was the point. To take me, even MORE, outside of my comfort zone and challenge me in every way. There were also elements of little sleep, little food and a lot of physically demanding activities that had me working in a team to solidify the importance of working as one body, like the body of Christ. That one part of the body could not work, effectively, without the other parts. As difficult as it was to always remain acutely aware that we had to always be together and no further than an arm’s length away, at the end of the week, I became wonderfully aware that my team had become closely entwined and strengthened through each NIKO rule.

Some ‘highlights’ I can share without giving away too much detail are: being surrounded by mountains on every side while having the view of a volcano and the bustling city of Cartago in the distance; sleeping on the ground underneath a makeshift tent made out of a tarp and a team built latrine not far from our tent; carrying heavy backpacks while hiking; activities with the themes of teamwork and service; and NO SHOWERING during the week! As brutal as some moments were, I couldn’t help but be captivated by the beauty that surrounded me in this place even while climbing my mountain. :D

At the end of the week, I found myself feeling sad about leaving for I had come to the clear realization that I had been taught so much by God in His lessons, that don’t always come in neatly wrapped packages with a pretty bow on top. Sometimes a person has to experience discomfort, brutality and intensity on many levels in order to fully realize that God’s will isn’t always easy to follow and, sometimes, we will be taken far outside of our own comfort zones by God in order to reach the lost or serve the destitute. And those who are thirsty for a drink from the fountain of life may not be your neighbour next door to you. No, they may be in a foreign land, living in a remote village that is located at the peak of a mountain reaching thousands of feet in elevation and they have NEVER heard the name of Jesus Christ and because Jesus lives in you, you are compelled to travel to that person, no matter what the cost may be to your personal health or safety. You may have to leave for the location in the middle of the night and it may have to be done in absolute secrecy because the place you are travelling to is heavily persecuted for any open proclamation of the Gospel. In fact, you may very well lose your life if anyone in that area were to find out you are a Christian.

I learned all these things, and so much more, during my week at NIKO but I survived and I became stronger because I was pushed to my limits; physically, mentally and spiritually. And what I didn’t realize is that I was being observed, by the NIKO leaders. I didn’t come to know this until our last night in camp when I was pulled aside and brought before all the NIKO leaders. They began encouraging me for the transformation they had seen in me during the week and that I had been an inspiration to them. I didn’t know what to say except ‘thank you’ and shed some tears at hearing this from people who had been inspiring me the entire week.

But before this happened, we had spent time within our teams to speak words of affirmation to each other and to pray for each other and I was not only blessed by the many words from my mates but also humbled by the things they said to me. Following are just some of the things I was affirmed in; willingness, strength, mother, strong woman, protector, fighting spiritual warrior in spiritual world as a powerful intercessor, woman of virtue and character, Proverbs 31: 10-31, spiritual mom, biblical warrior and mother, compared to Deborah in the book of Judges, peaceful presence, never complaining, always seeking God, steadfast woman of God, always praying, strong example, God sees me as a special woman just as the king from the book of Esther saw her as being the most beautiful woman of all. All I can still say is, “Wow.” How do you reply to any of that?? I didn’t, I just received it all and was completely humbled by it all.

So God was faithful as always this week, keeping me safe from harm in every conceivable way and He paved the way for me to grow closer to Him while becoming more like Him in this unique week that I will probably never forget. I couldn’t stop looking at that mountain I had climbed and conquered and recalling the verse from the Bible that tells us that we are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus. I had overcome so much in a week and I can still feel the difference in me. A strength, confidence and growth that I would never get in a classroom but that will now help me to prepare for the outreach phase that is to come. Imagine, an almost 40 year old woman doing physical things that I never thought of ever doing but when put in a situation where I had to do it, overcame unbelievable obstacles and obtained great victory! I still can’t believe I did what I did last week!!!! I also decided, on our last day as I looked out at the majestic valley strewn with layers of hills and mountains that I was dedicating the NIKO week to my son.

Speaking of outreach, we’ll be spending our first week in and around the city of San Jose as the base will be celebrating its seventh anniversary on Friday, so they wanted us to be close to the base to participate in that. After this coming week, I don’t know of our schedule so here is what I do know that I can pass on to you all; Monday – Prayer ministry at Irazu Volcano and Roman Catholic Basilica; Tuesday and Wednesday – Ministry in the province of Heredia; Thursday – Local ministry (San Jose); Friday – Debrief of week’s activities and base anniversary celebration; Saturday – Youth ministry in San Jose; Sunday – Briefing for trip to Puerto Viejo for a week to do ministry (Puerto Viejo is a high tourist area with a need for the love of Jesus). As I mentioned earlier, I don’t know what comes after Puerto Viejo but I am hoping that our leadership will give us a weekly schedule so that we can plan and pack accordingly. That is my hope, anyway. Just like NIKO, outreach is a time when we will be stretched, challenged and thrown into the unknown while having to be totally flexible in expecting the unexpected at all times. :D

I just want to take this time to thank all of you who regularly check my blog to read my updates. Even though I may not get that many comments on what I post, I do know that many of you read the posts and I wish to tell you that it means so very much to me that you take the time to see my life at YWAM and share this incredible journey with me. I hope that you have enjoyed the ride so far! There is much more to come and it is my hope that I will be able to take you with me on outreach....as often as I am able to post if for no other reason than to show you pictures. :D


Splendor....


Majesty....


Beauty....

Thursday, September 15, 2011

I Claim It All!!!!!

Everything You have told me,
Everything You have shown me,
Everything You have promised me,
For You are my everything who has everything wonderful in store for me.

You have a plan for me,
It is gonna be wild,
It is gonna be great,
And it is gonna be FULL of You!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Visa Renewal in Nicaragua


Yes, the sunsets each night were this spectacular!! Woo hoo!!

A picture of the town of San Juan del Sur where our team stayed for Visa renewal.

Well, last week ended on a great note as the topic was prayer and worship and the fundamentals behind why and how we praise and worship God in our everyday lives. This was coupled with an initiative of building a prayer room that would be used 24 hours a day for five days, beginning last Sunday at midnight and ending at dinner time on Thursday.

It was our opportunity to not only come closer to God within our individual relationships with Him but to also seek Him for new things for our lives. My time in the prayer room brought about great blessing and revelation while giving me a greater understanding of God and His way for me and my life. It was also a time of further confirmation and affirmation of all the things that God has been doing in me and through me during my time here at YWAM. We ended the week by taking holy communion in acknowledgment of what Christ did for each of us on the cross. It was a heart breaking time but then out of that came incredible victory in knowing that with that horrible death came eternal life for us through His resurrection!! Amen!!

Friday then brought us to the beginning of our journey to Nicaragua for our visa renewal process. The trip to the border took us about 4 hours. The van dropped us off well before the border crossing and we were required to gather our personal things and, literally, walk across the border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua. It was an interesting experience in sweltering temperatures as we walked as a close unit into the new frontier of Nicaragua where we were then met with vendors offering to exchange our US dollars for the Nicaraguan currency, Cordoba. After that, we were bombarded by taxi drivers telling us that they could offer us the best fare to get us to our final destination in country.

We settled on a cheap $5 USD fare for each person, packed four persons into each of the three taxis and made our way, quickly, to our accommodation. The radio of the taxi played American music and filled us with the freedom of hip music while being swept away by the breathtaking views of the two volcanoes we passed that looked like they had been dropped from heaven into the middle of a lake. Incredible!! The entire part of this country we travelled in was breathtaking with lush fields of green that went as far as the eye could see, even viewing mountains that were covered in trees and bush every shade of green imaginable!!

A short 45 minute drive later (because the driver was speeding equivalent to the Deerfoot speed once you reach the city limits = 120 kph) brought us to our final destination of a hostel called Pacha Mama in the sleep town of San Juan del Sur. We said goodbye to our driver and hello to one of the workers of the hostel who was English speaking. If any of you have been to a hostel, it is your basic international stop with people staying over for a time, from all over the world. We met some interesting people while there and had the blessing of being very close to the beach. Woo hoo!!

Needless to say the entire weekend was nothing but relaxing, much needed and joyful for me for the pizza and ice cream were cheap and the sunsets beyond spectacular! Unfortunately, I was unable to secure any pictures as we were initially told not to bring our cameras if we wanted to lose them. I was one of those people who didn`t bring their camera as I knew I still had several weeks of outreach to make memories of, so sorry about that folks. However, I`ve done my best to give you some pics of the area we were in so you can have some idea.

I could tell it would be a blessed trip with not only the splendid beach and food but also the amazing sunsets each night along with the famous Jesus statue that resides on a mountain close to the beach, reaching His hand out and over the town. While the hostel was rather noisy late into the night (thank God for earplugs.... :D) the weekend was much needed for many of us and much appreciated and enjoyed. A lot of my time was spent rocking back and forth, on the front patio, in a wood fashioned rocking chair. Sweetness! So many praises were issued up to God every moment that I was there!! There was nothing like rocking and sipping some GREAT Nicaraguan coffee!! Oh yeah!! Overall it was wonderful and hanging out with my fellow homies was an even greater blessing!

Sunday had us leaving the hostel at 10:30 am, taking a `shuttle` back to the border. Now when I say shuttle, I mean a pickup truck with bars to accommodate the seating of 8 people in the back, while 4 people can sit comfortably in the cab (yes, I was one of those sitting comfortably in the cab, hee hee). It didn`t phase my fellow classmates as I could hear singing and yelling in the back as to their delight in the unique trip to the border.

Once we reached the outskirts of the border we were dropped off by the driver, gathered our things and made our way by foot to and across the border, paying both to leave Nicaragua and to enter Costa Rica. By noon, we were retrieved by two YWAM staff, within the YWAM van, on the Costa Rica side of the border and proceeded to make our way back to San Jose.

Only after more than an hour, we found ourselves stopped in a line up of traffic waiting to get through. We found out some time later that a bridge had collapsed and that we had to turn around and find an alternate route back to the base. Turns out that alternate route would take us around a volcano (Arenol) and instead of a 4-5 hour van ride (thank GOD that we travelled there and back in the YWAM van and NOT public transit), we were now looking at an 11 hour van ride due to the winding roads and very poor infrastructure that is common place in the entire country of Costa Rica.

I happened to be sitting in the very back of the van for the entire trip and was feeling the ill effects of it with each extreme bump. So, little sleep, too much fast food (which was seen as a better alternative in terms of cost) and being tossed by each subsequent bump had me completely out of sorts. So much so, that by the time we got back to base, which was after midnight on Sunday, now Monday, I was ready to die a quick death. LOL

I quickly showered and got to bed which was now closer to 1 am. I awoke the next morning earlier than I wanted and felt a clear indication of illness setting in due to lack of proper sleep and poor diet. But praise God because I received a lot of prayer from a lot of people on base and one of my roommates, also my daughter, and one of the guys from my class, also known as my son, told me to go straight to bed Monday night and to forget about work duty and just rest (I have been on dinner clean up duty since arriving at YWAM, a part of their program as a student in the school). So after resting, I awoke to a loud knock on our door and decided to get up and prepare for my Bible study group that was happening that night.

So that about covers my adventures over the past week and, now, a look to the adventures to come! We are slowly preparing for NIKO camp that is happening next week while taking in the final course topic of `Destiny by Design` presented by our New Zealander speaker, Daveed Wright, who now lives in Alajuela, Costa Rica with his Costa Rican wife and two children.

So, just as a warning, I will not have email access next week from September 19-23, 2011 as we will be trudging through the jungles of Cartago. I expect that we will make our way out to the camp area sometime Monday morning and then we are expected to return prior to dinner Friday night. We will be transported in two YWAM vans along with the leadership team guiding us during that time. The camp is, approximately, one hours drive from base. Please pray for safety in travel and for the strength of the LORD on our team as this will be a huge testing and trying time for all of us! Also, please pray for protection against sickness and injury as this place is in the middle of the jungle and will call us to do a lot of hiking and other physically demanding activities during our time there. I know that God will go with us and it is my hope that this experience and this time will bring us closer to God and closer as a team in preparation for our time of outreach that will begin shortly after our return from NIKO!


Volcano Arenal in its active days. It's located in the province of Alajuela.

Also, if you are interested, you can check out a bit of the reviews on the hostel we stayed at while in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. Here is the URL: http://www.travbuddy.com/Pacha-Mama-v436430

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Evangelism 101/ Evangelismo 101


Who knew that I could be so intensely ignited for evangelism!!! This week’s topic was Evangelism and the practical applications of it. Not only were the teachings valuable for me in learning how to effectively evangelise to others without actually preaching to them, but we had the opportunity to go out of the classroom and put what we learned into practice! Let me just say that the Holy Spirit was moving swiftly and mightily through me during that time! Woah!!!

Our first practical application came in the form of Bible distribution to a poor area of San Jose on Tuesday morning. Before setting out, we prepared our hearts, minds and spirits for any opportunities that we would have to speak to people about God. Then we were divided into several small groups, given 5 New Testament Bibles and, once we arrived at our destination, were told to go door to door to speak to people about the Bible and its message. My group, four of us, didn’t have to go far before coming across a couple women who were doing some chores outside. We asked if we could talk to them about the Bible, and after they agreed, they welcomed us into their home.

We set foot into a small house built on the side of a hill, showing bare concrete walls and obviously worn furniture. It was almost immediate that the Holy Spirit started to speak to me, telling me to talk to the women about being mothers, based on my own life as a mother. Then God began filling me with words to speak to the women as to how God saw them. That He saw them as pearls, unblemished and beautiful. Strong women who with great responsibility of raising their families, were valuable to God and loved by God. Turns out these same women, married with children, were Christians and one of the husbands soon appeared and began engaging us in conversation. He told us of the blessings and miracles of God in their lives and in the lives of their extended families who all lived in close proximity of each other. It was incredible to hear the stories and how, even through their obvious poverty, they still saw the goodness and glory of God in their lives.

The husband, whose name I have forgotten, soon told us that he was learning English and trying to learn Chinese and even had a Chinese Bible! Wow!!! Spanish is difficult enough to learn never mind learning Chinese! I was in awe of that and admired him greatly for wanting to learn all of that! Woah!!

God had also given me a piece of Scripture to bless each person we came in contact with that morning. It came from Numbers 6:24-26 and so before leaving their home, we laid hands on them, prayed for them and their families and I prayed the piece of Scripture over them in Spanish. :D I figured I needed as much practice as possible before outreach! Hee hee

After leaving their home, we came across a man with his son whose wife appeared shortly after we started speaking to the man. He already had a Bible but welcomed our prayers over him and his family. I again prayed the Scriptural blessing over him and his family and we left to visit other houses before having to head back to base. Our final house opened to a young woman who brought her son to the door to greet us. His name was Brando. We only had a couple moments to speak to her but we prayed for her, I read my blessing over her and gave her one of our Bibles.

I couldn’t believe how on fire and excited I was to talk to people about having a relationship with God! More so, I couldn’t believe how fast our time went! I could have stayed out there all day! How incredible it felt to have the Holy Spirit move in me that way! Amazing!! Unbelievable! Mind blowing!! It’s funny but people in my DTS class think I’m anointed by the Holy Spirit to speak to people and to evangelise to them. Isn’t that crazy? But in a way I think I might be because of the fire I get burning inside of me to share the truth and beauty of God to others! I just want to rescue the lost and give them hope!!

Well, hold on because that’s not the end of things for this week!!! We had another opportunity on Thursday morning to go out again and hand out Bibles. This time our destination was only a short walk from the YWAM base and brought us to a more affluent neighbourhood. Many of the people we talked to knew about YWAM because they attended a church that several of the YWAM staff attended. In spite of that, we had many incredible conversations and, again, I was filled with the fire of the Holy Spirit, only more intensely this time than on Tuesday!!! So much so that God was guiding me through the Spirit as to the people He had arranged ahead of time for us to meet with and talk to.

Our first divine appointment was with an elderly woman who was sitting outside in front of her house. Now, just to give you all an idea of what life is like here in Costa Rica, every house you will see is, essentially, a fortress. Surrounded by high concrete walls with bars on every window and either razor wire, barbed wire or metal spears at the top of these walls to keep away thieves. So when we came across this woman, she was well within her fortress. So, as our small group leader, Jose, spoke to this woman, God started speaking to me to pray for her but not just any prayer, a prayer of healing. She had come to us limping and she appeared to be in pain, great pain. God was telling me to lay my hand on her and pray for healing so I quickly asked her if we could pray for her and I just started speaking the words that God was telling me to speak with power, boldness and conviction, in the name of Jesus, and with it came the internal fire of the Holy Spirit!!! WHOO WEE!!! Powerful!!!! Totally and completely powerful and when I opened my eyes, I looked at the woman as she wiped away tears and looked directly into my eyes while thanking me at the same time. Words can’t describe how much love I felt for that woman, the same love that God was flooding me with from His heart for this same woman. How precious she was to God! I saw her as God saw her. Wow.

Our next divine appointment was with a woman who was working in a home doing, what I guessed to be, house cleaning or maybe even helping to run a business out of the home with a couple other women. Shyly she approached us and we began talking to her about the Bible and that, as students, we were learning about the Bible and going out to talk to people about this great book and its mighty author. We asked her if she had a Bible and she didn’t seem interested to take it at first, hesitated, then accepted the gift from us. All of a sudden, I felt God speak to me again and He said, “This woman has no hope. Tell her that there is hope in me.” This woman that we were talking to was broken and no longer had hope.

Even though I didn’t know why she had no hope, I obeyed God and began talking to her about my experiences with the Bible and how every time I read it, it blessed me and it gave me hope and joy. Her lips began to quiver as tears began to roll down her face. As God continued to speak to me, I spoke the same words to the woman, telling her the heart of God for her. Telling her that God wanted her to have hope, that He loved her and that He saw her as beautiful. Her tears kept flowing as I kept speaking the words that God was giving me for her. After finishing God’s words I asked if I could pray for her and as she accepted, I closed my eyes and prayed for her as we all laid hands on her. Shortly after we left her presence, God opened my heart to show me the woman’s heart and I broke down, crying and all I could say was that God had shown me her heart and that she was so very broken.

Before reaching this woman’s house, we had passed by an older man who was manning a wheelbarrow filled with large branches of a bamboo tree he had just cut down. At first I didn’t think much of the man when we passed him on the road but then after we finished with the woman, God kept telling me to go to that man, to talk to him, that he had an extraordinary story. So even as we walked away from the man, God wouldn’t let go of what He wanted me to do and I told my team that we needed to go and talk to that man. By that time, half a block now separated us and the man and we had to walk swiftly to catch up to him as he disappeared around a corner. As my steps hurried, God said to my heart, “Don’t worry, he’s waiting for you.” And as we rounded the corner, there he was, stopped with his wheelbarrow.

The story of the man was nothing short of incredible and he began to tell us of the wonderful story of how God rescued him from a life of alcoholism that spanned decades. How through this experience, he was ministering to others while attending AA meetings each week as well as ministering to people in the neighbourhood he had been in all his life. God told me to speak words of blessing on him and I told him that his story would bless others and that he was a blessing to so many people. Again, our time ended in prayer and I spoke the words given to me from Numbers and we parted ways as we shook hands with him, gave him one of the Bibles and wished him well, just like we had been friends with him for years! Incredible!

Another divine appointment brought us to a small business owner, who while open to accepting one of our Bibles, refused prayer. As we walked away from her shop, God spoke to me, telling me to stop, turn around and begin praying for her. That I was to pray for a seed to be firmly and deeply planted into the soil, that the words of the Bible we gave her would come alive as she read them. O, amen!

Our next divine appointment brought us to the home of an older gentleman who lived with his wife and children. He said that he had a Bible and that he read it every day but that it was difficult to read the Bible and spend time with God each day. It was evident that the worries of the world and daily life had taken a toll on him and that he saw more bad than good around him. Immediately, God spoke to my heart telling me to refute what the man was saying and to do it gently and in love. So I began talking to him about how important it was to have a personal relationship with God and to spend time with him every day. That my life had been greatly blessed by the words in the Bible and that because of that book, I had hope and joy and with that hope and joy came the strength to get through any of life’s difficulties that came along.

He then went on to make note of my youth in comparison to his elder age and that it would be easier to have hope at my age. But I again refuted him by telling him that it wasn’t the age that was the issue, it was knowing that because of his relationship with God, that he had the hope of eternal life after this temporary life on earth was over. God was just filling me with words of encouragement for this man, who had come to a point in his life where he saw too much injustice in his own nation to be encouraged or to have hope as he should. Our time ended with him in prayer as I prayed hope and encouragement into his life and the life of his family as well as praying for the hope of the entire nation of Costa Rica, for I knew God’s heart for the nation and it was something I shared openly with the man.

Our final divine appointment brought us to the home of a Christian woman whose name was Carmen. Her son was at home with her and at seeing us, welcomed us openly into her home. She invited us to come with her as she told us stories of the many ways in which God had been and still is blessing her life and the lives of her immediate family. How God had provided a new home for her sister and her and another home directly beside hers, for her nephew and his small children. She just kept telling us the same blessed story over and over again and when it came time for us to leave, she gratefully accepted our prayers for her.

Another incredible evangelism opportunity and another day when I could have stayed out all day!! So amazing our God is when we surrender all and leave Him to use us as He sees fit, not as we think we should be used. When you come before Him with the right mind and the right attitude, being totally willing to do His will alone, mind blowing things start to happen. It happened to me these two days and keeps happening to me each day as I get through each struggle and each test that God brings me to and through. I have to admit that this past week’s struggles were some of the greatest I’ve experienced since coming to YWAM. So great that I was ready to go online and change my ticket to fly back to Canada THIS WEEKEND!!! But after seeking God’s counsel as to what to do, His answer, albeit difficult to swallow, was the answer I submitted to and I continued to seek Him in His word as He guided me to several places in Jeremiah 15 and 16 that helped me to understand what was happening and what God was doing in me through, yet, more struggles.

How can I possibly refute all that He tells me when I know that here, at YWAM San Jose, is God’s perfect will for me even though it’s often a hurricane??? Yes, that mighty hurricane that wrenches me to and fro but sends my roots even deeper into God. I surrender all. I submit to the storm and see it through knowing that this is not the last of the storms that lie ahead for me during my time here but knowing full well because of my steadfastness in holding on to God, He’ll bring me through each one successfully and build an even stronger faith within me.

As a side note, do you remember in one of my previous posts I mentioned that I believed I was coming into a knowledge of God’s plan for my life out of YWAM and that it involved me being a powerful woman of prayer?? Well, I’ve received confirmation of that power, time and again as the very prayers I’ve been raising up to God, are being answered for those of whom I have been praying for those same people have been telling of the answers!! If all that isn’t confirmation of God’s purpose for me, I really don’t know what is! :D Gloria DIOS!!!!!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Breaking Point

Reaching our breaking point. A state when, due to our circumstances, we feel as though we’re being pushed to our very limits. A place beyond anything we’re willing or able to bear. Any further and we’ll reach our breaking point. It’s a painful and difficult place that not many wish to visit. But there’s a different kind of breaking point I’ve experienced in my spiritual life. One that has a strangely sweet effect when it happens. For it is a process that, albeit involves brokenness and sorrow, brings a perfume like no other.

There is a worship song that speaks of God’s love for us. It says something like, ‘He is jealous for me. Loves like a hurricane and I am a tree, bending beneath the wave of His love and mercy.’ I have come to see myself, as God has shown me in visions, as an oak tree. And each trial and testing He sends me through is like a hurricane. The intense winds come in waves that make me wince in pain as my roots go deeper to support the twisting and wrenching of my trunk. My branches flail and the leaves look like captives fighting madly to get free yet still bound by their captive.

It’s never the same hurricane, some come and go while others linger. And it’s never the same kind of pain that the hurricane inflicts. Sometimes it’s a desire within my heart that needs to be felt instead of silenced. Other times it’s a behaviour that needs to be removed just as a branch no longer bearing fruit needs to be pruned from its tree. Still other times it’s a hurricane that prepares me for greater service through brokenness.

Whatever purpose that hurricane serves, the unbearable pain isn’t far behind. The sweetness I referred to earlier comes as a result of surrendering to that hurricane as my mind, heart and spirit get pummelled. There was a hurricane on Friday. A small one, albeit, but one that still left a path of destruction impressed on my entire being. One that brought me to tears while in worship and prayer with many of my classmates.

As I poured out my heart to God in prayer and praise, I suddenly felt the hand of God touch my heart and my voice began to break while tears flowed freely. He opened me to feel the yearning that had been building up for over a week. The longing and desire of my heart that I had been praying to God to quiet and guard but that He was now releasing like a dam. But just as quickly as it was released, so was the need to fight against the tears and the brokenness so I unclenched my hands that I had been holding together in prayer and opened them before God.

I stilled myself and turned my mind to wholly and complete surrender while kneeling to the pain of the hurricane. Then silence covered me as I found myself before God. With a smile, He ushered me into the secret place where I heard God say, “Be still and know that I am God.” No sweeter words had been spoken to me than in that moment and there I remained for the rest of the day and into the evening. My sweet breaking point eclipsed by my love’s secret place where I cried unashamedly. My sweet breaking point.

Psalm 119:103-104 - "How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path."

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Highlights


Well, another spectacular week of teachings comes to a close with the topic of ‘How to Study the Bible’. We learned of three ways to study the Bible: inductive, deductive and inspirational. We also learned four ways to study the Bible within the inductive method: observation, interpretation, application and proclamation.

Our first day of class took us to downtown San Jose where our teacher, Douglas Johnston (originally from the US but now living in San Jose, Costa Rica), had us break into small groups and study various passages from different books of the Bible, answering several questions in accompaniment to the readings. This exercise brought about a whole new level of learning and meaning to the Bible for me as well as a greater passion for reading the Word of God!! I didn’t think that I could fall more in love with God’s word, but I did after last week!! My love for the word just keeps growing and I have an increased burning to know more about God and dive deeper into the meaning behind what I am reading! It was an excellent week and having our speaker, who was so incredibly passionate about his teachings, brought about a fire within our team!

It’s hard to believe that we are in week 8 of our lecture phase and moving closer to our time of outreach! Two of the Extreme DTS teams returned three days ago from their outreach phases and it was wonderful to see their faces and hear their hearts. Especially from one person in particular, Luis. I had been praying hard for him while he was away, that God would work in him in ways that would be evident, just by looking at him. When I had the opportunity to talk to him, before a word was spoken, I knew that many of my prayers had been answered for him. Further confirmation of those answers came when we began talking. Praise God! Luis has grown in ways that fills me with joy and pride. I am blessed to know him as my brother in Christ!!! I have so much love for him and wear a refreshed spirit in seeing and hearing the ways that God touched him during his outreach. I look forward to talking with him further before he heads back to his home in Liberia on Friday.

For those of you who don’t know who I am referring to, and to those of you who do know who I am referring to, here is a recent picture of myself with Luis. He’s developing such a beautiful heart for God and for God’s direction in his life! Amen!!


Aside from all of this, the base was without internet for three days over the weekend which shook this place to its very foundation. LOL I laugh because it’s amazing to me that so many people would become so passionate about a piece of technology that is so imperfect! I welcomed the ‘disconnect’, as it were, for I saw it as an opportunity to direct my time into more fruitful directions like praying more or reading the Bible more. I guess I’m just at that stage in my life where I could be with or without the internet.

Anyway, now that we are getting closer to our outreach phase of the DTS, I thought I would break down some timelines for all of you to show you what the remainder of my time here will look like.

Classes:
- Currently in week 8 with 3 weeks left. The 12th week will be our NIKO camp and then outreach will follow.

Visa Renewal:
- One of the factors of staying long term in the country of Costa Rica is the need to renew our passports/visas every 90 days (this amount of time varies depending upon the country in which you reside). We will be leaving September 9 to travel to Nicaragua to complete this process and will remain out of the country for a couple days in order to solidify the renewal. We, as a team, will be travelling via one of the YWAM vans and will return in the afternoon of September 11.

NIKO Survival Camp:
- This is an intense and breaking 4 days that will take us to a place called Cartago. We have been told that it is jungle like and very challenging in every conceivable way as well as colder in temperature. This will be an opportunity to get the physical exercise that my body has been lacking since coming to YWAM, on a very extreme level. We will be leaving on September 19 for NIKO and we will return on September 23. We will have only a couple days to recover, do laundry and re-pack for Outreach.

Outreach Phase:
- This will be two months of ministry outreach spanning the country of Costa Rica with my classmates. We’ll be travelling in the YWAM vans while seeing the many topographical wonders and beauties of this spectacular country!! While we still haven’t found out the particulars of where we’ll be travelling and for how long, nor have we been told what kinds of ministries we’ll be participating in at each of these locations, we’re just trusting God for all of the details! :D We will be leaving on outreach on September 26 and returning shortly before our graduation day which is November 18. Another thing that I am uncertain about is if or when we’ll be returning to the YWAM base over this period of time. My guess is that because we are remaining in the country, that we will have the chance to come back to home base once in a while to get refreshed, do laundry and deflate. Hee hee

Graduation Day:
- As mentioned above, our graduation date of the DTS program will be on November 18. This will, indeed, be an incredible day of celebrating various victories achieved during our time of outreach and for, successfully, completing the purpose in which God had brought us all together in the first place. It will be a great time of reflection and debriefing before we all go our separate ways in following God’s direction for each of our lives.

Personal Reflections:
As I continue to seek God and dive deeper into His word each day, He has been faithful in revealing new sides of Himself to me. My quiet time with Him each morning has extended to two hours and I could certainly remain there longer. He speaks to my heart, fills me up and prepares me for the demands of the day ahead. He grants me words to speak and when to speak them, when to be quiet and when to pray. He calls me with His still small voice and I run after Him just to be in His presence.

The past week and a half found me in the middle of a spiritual battle that involved the entire base. It was a spiritual attack from the enemy that had emotions heightened and irritation magnified. My spirit had become so unsettled as a result of it and after speaking to another person, it was affirmed that, indeed, the base was under attack. The enemy was trying to force each school apart by causing dissension among us. For the DTS this dissension came in the form of issues arising between the staff and the students. We knew, as a team, that we needed to do something about this and immediately. That we had to deal with the issues, resolve them and come up with a positive solution before we entered into our time of NIKO, where there would be no separation among us for four days.

I saw NIKO as a critical point that would either make us or break us as a team so finding a positive resolution was key. A time was arranged to meet with the leaders utilizing three class members, myself included, as delegates, representing the concerns of the other students. After a time of opening prayer, we spoke in love and compassion to our leaders and had very fruitful discussions. During that time, I could feel the enemy flee in fear from the battle he had just lost. In fact, I could hear the enemy tremble. It was an incredible victory and we obtained even more victory when the leadership went further to explain the why’s behind the issues of concern we had raised.

Our unity was restored and celebration broke out among us! We rejoiced in prayer and entered into a unity pact that spoke of communication and transparency all in the name of our love for God and for each other! It was truly a GOD moment and we all felt lighter once we left from that meeting. Praise God for His goodness all the time!! I believe that we were under spiritual attack, initially, because great change is coming within our team and depending on the outcome of our meeting with the leadership that would determine whether the change in our group would be good or bad. So we needed to make things work, we knew that as a team and so did the leadership. The enemy’s been defeated! Woo hoo!

Aside from that, God continues to work in me and through me and I keep asking Him to do what He wants to do next in and through me. To speak to my heart, to lead me and guide me and to show me my future if He so wishes. He keeps revealing things to me about Himself that capture me, draw me in closer to Him and dumbfound me in incredible ways! He shows me snapshots of His intentions for me of which I am still trying to sort out and make sense of. But no matter what, I trust God and keep following Him through each moment of each day and know, full well, He will reveal all in His timing, not mine. Reminders of His ways not being my ways or His thoughts not being my thoughts echo in my mind and just keep my heart in tune with His.

I just want more of you, God. Show me whatever it is you want me to know, learn or understand about you. I had entered into a time of prayer before lunch today praying exactly that to God and a couple minutes after I had prayed He gave me Isaiah 62. I meditated on it and believe that it encompasses both how God sees me and what God sees in me as to the power He has given me to be used for His purposes. So it will be interesting and exciting to see when this chapter of Scripture will come to life! :D

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Lay It Down



Laying down your rights. I’m talking about lifting up or surrendering everything of your will over to God and His will for you as a follower of Christ. I’m talking about giving up your right to being right, angry, vindictive, and so many other things that we, as humans, believe we have a right to do or have in our lives.

But what we sometimes don’t realize, is that once we choose to follow God, our priorities have to change if we want to be changed for the good and if we want to have the very best that God has for each of us. When I first arrived here to YWAM, I knew that I would have to surrender certain rights fairly immediately in order to survive the first couple weeks adjusting to the community living, alone.

As time went forward, it was becoming clearer that it was more than just the basic discomforts of community living that I would have to lay down. It meant me laying down my right to have a say in certain things and laying down my right to be married again. It also meant me laying down my right to correct others in their behaviour and my right to enforce certain rules of the base.

All of the things that have and will annoy me about being here must be lifted up to a higher source, God. For God had been speaking to my heart on several occasions about bringing ALL things to Him and leaving them there, no matter how big or how small they might be. Essentially, God would be my drop off point, the one I would vent to. God’s urging really was put into action a couple weeks ago when I found myself in a situation of being fully prepared to go postal on several people and then quickly change my plane ticket home. All the essential elements of a meltdown were present; I was tired, fed up and every ounce of patience I had (which is very little to begin with) was gone. But, and it’s only by the grace of God, I managed to hold off exploding until I was out of the situation and by myself.

I quickly made my way to my room, grabbed my Bible and headed to the prayer room. It was there that I fully put into practice, God’s earlier command to me. Oh boy, did I ever VENT! There was no holding back, I was feeling stuff I had not felt in a long time....that I really didn’t want to feel. So, there in the prayer room, I offloaded every single thought and emotion that had boiled up in me. Once everything flowed from my lips, I felt the weight lighten and then I was left with nothing but peace, God’s peace for me for obeying Him in this difficult task.

I had told no one of what was bothering me. I only made my way to a quiet place where I could freely let go of all the things I knew I had to let go of. That included my right to making a big deal about the injustice of the situation I had just left. And to tell you the truth? It felt pretty darn good to give it all to God and just leave it with Him to sort out. I left the prayer room feeling elated and at peace. I had found a new addiction in God.

Ever since that first offload, it has now come naturally for me to offload on God each time I am confronted with a person or situation that is frustrating or hurtful and I have come to love God even more for working in my heart that way! I actually feel extremely free when I do that!!! It’s pretty incredible, I have to admit! And as an added bonus, all of this has strengthened my prayer life! For instead of trying to convince another person to change their ways, I engage in wholehearted intercession for the person or persons and I pray that God would place a desire in their heart to want to change, to become more like Christ.

So, it is with this new found freedom that I can keep offloading to God AND lay down my rights in various things. Does laying down my rights still hurt??? HECK YEAH!! It sucks being hurt and in pain but at the end of the day, I want something more in my life. I want to be the woman that God intended me to be from before I was born! I want to be the woman that God wants me to be for my family, my son and my future husband and his family. With that comes sacrifice and the obedience and submission to allow God to do exactly what it is He wants to do in me so that I CAN be that woman I desire to be for God and for those around me.

So if you are like me, struggling with wanting to say something, try saying nothing and try taking it all to God and offloading on Him. I can guarantee that you will feel better when you vent to only Him and you will feel better for it as a person who is trying to win the heart of God.