School of Ministry Development

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With just four months of marriage under our belt, my husband and I packed our bags for YWAM LA to take part in a three month training school called SOMD (school of ministry development.) We had met two years prior during our DTS in Costa Rica and had a shared passion for missions. We both knew that we had callings in longterm ministry and with that in mind we knew that we needed tools, training, and resources. As we prayed and sought guidance it was suggested to us that we do an SOMD. After learning more about the school we instantly knew that it was exactly what we were looking for. Twelve years later and after serving in missions overseas, pastoring a local church and directing a YWAM base I still look back on those pivotal months as a time of growth, faithfulness, and equipping. I can’t tell you how many times I have gone back to notes and teachings from that training school. I am so thankful that God called us there and that we took those months to fully submit and be present to each teaching we received. We have since had the privilege of running two SOMDs at our current YWAM base in Pismo Beach. Walking with, equipping, and championing our students gives us so much life and those seasons have been so rich in growth and learning. With each school we run I gain a new composition notebook filled with incredible and valuable teachings to soak up and continue to look back on.

As we soon approach the fall I am looking forward to adding a new composition book to my collection as we will be running our third SOMD at YWAM Pismo Beach! We have already begun to accept students with a desire to learn more about their callings, passions, identity and how to effectively serve and lead in ministry. If you have completed a DTS and desire to further your growth or if you are looking for training to launch you into your next step this is the school for you. I can’t wait to dig in and see callings and desires unfold with a new set of students. If you want to be a part of that I would absolutely love to chat more about how we can tailor this school to best suit your needs. Email me at somd@ywampismobeach.org and let’s talk soon!

-Sarah Ortega

Cultivate / / P R A Y E R

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In some seasons of life, I hate being alone. And when I’m forced to be out of necessity, I pretend I’m not by getting online or playing some distracting music.

For me, this has always been a tell-tale sign that I’m running from something in my spirit. There’s something I refuse to face, or confess; something I need to acknowledge but won’t. Being alone, just you and God, is an essential part of our spiritual walk. It not only illuminates sin and gives room for sweet confession, but it shows God that we want to be with him, and we care enough about the world to pray for it.

The following is an excerpt from Tim Kellers book Prayer.

The seventeenth-century English theologian John Owen wrote a warning to popular and successful ministers:

“A minister may fill his pews, his communion roll, the mouths of the public, but what that minister is on his knees in secret before God Almighty, that he is and no more.”

To discover the real you, look at what you spend time thinking about when no one is looking, when nothing is forcing you to think about anything in particular. At such moments, do your thoughts go toward God? You may want to be seen as a humble, unassuming person, but do you take the initiative to confess your sins before God? You wish to be perceived as a positive, cheerful person, but do you habitually thank God for everything you have and praise him for who he is? You may speak a great deal about what a "blessing" your faith is and how you "just really love the Lord," but if you are a prayerless - is that really true? If you aren't joyful, humble, and faithful in private before God, then what you want to appear to be on the outside won't match what you truly are.

Just prior to giving his disciples the Lord's Prayer, Jesus offered some preliminary ideas, including this one: "When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. . . But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen . . . in secret" (Matt 6:5-6). The infallible test of spiritual integrity, Jesus says, is your private prayer life.

What a beautiful and humbling place to be alone before God with none of our friends, phones, or worldly status' beside us. Let's enter into that place with him this Easter weekend.

 

Interested in joining our Cultivate DTS? Learn more about it here!

Good things take time // encouragement for those who have not yet arrived.

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Change is a funny thing. Sometimes it happens suddenly and without warning, and sometimes we don’t even realize it has happened until we look back. But other times, we wish for it but it never seems to come. Change is fast and change is slow.

It's no secret we live in an instant society. We can have almost anything we want whenever we want it, and while I love getting a latte within 3 minutes and anything shipped to my door in only 2 days, I want to remind us of the value of things that will never be made instant.

I’ve just recently become a mom, and I understand why people say it can be exhausting and sometimes unrewarding: because it takes a long time to raise a child. To teach him/her everything from how to sit up or how to read, to how to be kind to those who aren’t. Sometimes really really important - perhaps even the most important things - take a long time to learn.

For instance, job satisfaction. Or good friends. A strong marriage, self-confidence, a healthy lifestyle. If you’re frustrated because you’ve been trying hard with no success at one of these things, I’m here to give you permission to breathe. There are a lucky few who instantly connect with a new friend, or who love their jobs the moment they walk in the door, but it’s taking the vast majority of us a lot longer. We get discouraged because it appears that everything is coming easily to everyone but us, but that's just not true. These things take a lot of hard work, perseverance, and picking ourselves up again after we fail.

I am 23 years old and still dread small talk or meeting new people. I can't seem to break old habits and eating healthy is hard. But I’m okay with this, because I know some things just take hard work and a lot of time to develop. So be encouraged - not everyone is as successful or as disciplined or as confident as they seem. With God, change will come. Sometime in a moment, and sometimes in a lifetime.

 

By Olivia Gallagher

 

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Stories from Central America

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This winter we sent our DTS on outreach to serve first in Nicaragua and then in Belize! It was led by our staff members Aaron, Sarah, and Andy. The following is their experience through the eyes of Sarah. Our first two weeks in Nicaragua flew by! We spent the first 10 days in a little town called Masatepe. We had many wonderful opportunities to work alongside ministries in the area including sharing in local churches, serving food and passing out toys and clothes at a Christmas celebration for children, working at a farm that also operates as a rehabilitation center, hosting a worship night, and helping with a youth outreach. We quickly connected and made relationship with many of the locals and our neighbors!

On week three, we traveled up to the capitol Managua and spent our time partnering with a local church. We helped run children’s programs every morning, a VBS, and other local outreach in the city.

After our time in Managua we returned to Masatepe for our final two weeks in Nicaragua where we played with kids and served food at the local dump, helped wire a house for electricity for a local family, cleared land for a sustainable garden at an elementary school, taught English lessons, painted a building that will serve as a community and education center, and everything in between. I can't help but be amazed at all that God did in this country during our stay! I am thankful to Him, and so proud of our team and their hard work, dedication and love. We left the country with full hearts and with the same expectation to see God to great things in the second half of our outreach.

Our first ten days in Belize were spent at the capitol, Belmopan. Within one day of arriving we were graciously offered a van and a cell phone to use during our time by some YWAMers that we had just happened to meet. This proved to be a huge blessing to us and was a great help to get around the city. God’s provision is amazing!
One of our favorite ministries that we got to partner with was a girl's home. This is a safe place for girls who have been removed from difficult and abusive environments. Here they provide nurturing care, counseling, education and empowerment for all victim of abuse and neglect. We loved spending time at the home, whether it was helping during homework hour, doing devotions with the girls, or playing games outside.
We then drove to the south of Belize and arrived in Punta Gorda where we spent our last weeks of outreach. We stayed at an inn that is run by a local ministry. We shared at a women’s group, a youth group, and a church service- all which take place here at the hotel. It is really cool to see the students training and equipping people in things that they have learned in their DTS. One evening they taught on creative intercession and how to use art and creativity as we pray for others and seek God’s heart for them.

There were some amazing chances to serve the city and work with local ministries! One day we all met at 6:30am to do a prayer walk around the city and afterwards we went to town hall to share with the town officials and mayor to pray together with them. We asked them how we could serve Punta Gorda so that afternoon we filled up 11 trash bags at a local park!

Our days have been so full and we had many opportunities to serve and pour out. Our final days in Punta Gorda were nothing short of amazing and our team has really finished strong.

This week we also had the chance to work with a ministry that provides nutritious lunches to school age children. We all ate together and got to play and teach some Bible stories. We also had an opportunity to encourage and pray over the staff and workers, they have such a beautiful heart for these kids.

The last two days have been especially awesome for our team. On Wednesday and Thursday we got to work in villages tucked in the very south of Belize. Both were about 90 minutes away on a very bumpy dirt road. On Wednesday we visited Barranco, a Garifuna village and on Thursday we went to Sunday Wood, a Q’eqchi’ village. In both places we visited homes, prayed for families, played with children and shared at evening services. It was incredible to meet the families of these communities and get to know them.

Our time in Punta Gorda couldn’t have ended in a better way. It will be hard to leave this town and especially the good friends we have made here. I am so grateful for all that happened here and the privilege it was to be a part of it.

What a good God we serve! We will be welcoming our outreach team back to the states next week and can't wait to have them home! Stay tuned for information on a missions night we will be hosting full of testimonies and to hear first hand some of the things God is doing in Nicaragua!

Cultivate / / W O N D E R

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I remember how I felt driving up to it. It was the most beautiful wooden bridge I had ever seen. And we were there at the perfect moment, just as the sun was turning everything vibrant. The river ran full and blue, littered with rocks to jump on. The wood was a deep brown with a sturdy frame.We left our sleeping baby in his car seat and practically ran around exploring, capturing it with photos, laughing at how crazy of a discovery this was, and tucking the moment into our hearts.  

won·der

/wəndər/

noun

The same feeling I got watching my husband hopping along the rocks in the river is the exact feeling God gets when we stand in wonderment at something he created. The joy we get when someone dear to us experiences something they love is an unbelievable feeling! And I believe that's why God places those places and experiences in our path - because He wants us to experience joy, beauty, and ultimately be drawn closer to Him, where we belong.

Wonder is not only a feeling that happens unexpectedly, but one we should cultivate, one we can almost plan. Yes, sometimes wonderment is something that hits you out of nowhere like the first time you catch a glimpse of Half Dome, or staring down at the Grand Canyon, or the ocean at golden hour. But I believe wonder can (and should) be a lifestyle. When we are grateful and take time to focus on something beautiful and or new, awe can come as a natural overflow of the heart. Dreaming big and praising God like we were meant to.

That is why my family will always seek adventure. Whether from a wooden bridge at golden hour, or the way our son smiles when he wakes up. Wonder can be found in the home or in the big wide world. Go seek it!

Joshua 3:5

Then Joshua said to the people, "Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you."

Job 37:5

"God thunders with His voice wondrously, Doing great things which we cannot comprehend.

Isaiah 25:1

O LORD, You are my God; I will exalt You, I will give thanks to Your name; For You have worked wonders, Plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness.

 

By Olivia Gallagher

 

Interested in doing a DTS at our base? Apply now for our fall 2018 Cultivate DTS!

Jesus' good idea // the importance of serving the local church

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By Sam Gallagher

I know it can be difficult to not only get plugged into a local church but sometimes attend one at all. There is something about a local body of believers that Jesus must love so much that would cause the devil to do anything he can to stop us from attending. But that’s jumping ahead. Let me first tell you of my love hate relationship with the local church.

I was what you could call a church kid. Between youth group, worship team, bible studies, prayer meetings, I think there were years of my life where I spent more times inside the four walls of the church than outside of them. But unfortunately as you may know, the more involved you get, the more jaded you become. I think it was the fact that I went to a small private Christian school that also felt like church that I stopped feeling like church was a necessary part of my life. After all, I took Bible classes and prayed as a part of my daily routine so why continue to be a part of a local congregation? Things only got worse when I attended Biblical university as a Biblical studies major. Talk about needing an attitude adjustment. I started to feel not only smarter than “normal” church attenders but also the people teaching from the pulpit.

I now find myself in full-time ministry as staff with YWAM Pismo Beach, and I wish I could tell you that church is a natural easy overflow of my normal life, but it’s not. I still struggle with attitudes of thinking church doesn’t do “church” like they should, that church doesn’t happen within four walls, and other such feelings. But let me encourage you, church is a vital necessary part of our relationship with Jesus Christ.

First off, I believe that Christianity was never meant to be lived alone. I know you can argue that you find community and fellowship outside of a church building but I know the only time during the week that I engage with hundred of other pursuers of Jesus is on Sunday morning. This larger community is one where suddenly the worries of my week and secret struggles no longer overpower me, because I know that I am not alone. There are lots of other Christians going through what you are going through and church is the perfect place to walk alongside them.

Secondly, I think church is Jesus’ good idea. Clearly if God wanted to appear to everyone on the earth and tell of His goodness He could, but instead He allows us to be the bearers of the Gospel. I think that God wanted to put broken, hurting but hopeful people together to dream of ways to show His love and glory to the world around Him. Yes many churches miss the mark on being missional but many hit it right on the head as well. It is really exciting to be a part of something bigger than yourself and find yourself in the middle of a church who is passionate about seeking the lost.

Lastly I want to speak to the jaded, the frustrated - basically my former self. I once heard it said that in life you are either learning or teaching, never neither. So if you feel like the church you are going to has nothing to offer you, that you have learned everything you can, or that they just aren't missional enough, ask yourself, what can you give? For some reason it seems that the west has lost the idea that church is a two way street. It is not simply an establishment to show up to on Sunday mornings and get refreshed and encouraged for your week to come. It is an avenue for you to use your giftings and abilities to build up other Christians, to love your brother, and lead others to pursue the hearts of those who do not yet know Christ.

Begin to look at church as Jesus’ idea for community, for growing together, as a place to serve and be served, and you begin to look at church as the best part of your week. Even if you think you get all that church is outside of church I still challenge you to be as involved as you can with a local body of believers. If you're edgy, look for an edgy church. Or better yet - find a super conservative church and challenge others. There is no right way to do church as long as you actually are doing church. It can be in a park, a building, or a local coffee shop. Hopefully you get the point and find yourself at church this Sunday. 

Our favorite things! Gifts under $20 that give back.

PC: mudlove.com Christmas season is upon us! Are you looking for gifts that bless both your loved ones and someone in need across the world? We've gathered together some of our favorite non-profits for the ultimate wish list that gives back! (And all for under $20!) Check them out:

(click the non-profit's title to visit their website)

1. Prosperity Candle

$20.00 Narela Box. Each candle helps employ and support refugees and artisans.

 

2. The Restorative Initiative (TRI)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

$18.00 Leather Journal. With every purchase, TRI sponsors individuals and organizations working tirelessly to abolish human trafficking and defend the worlds most vulnerable.

 

 

$18.00 Dice set. With every purchase, TRI sponsors individuals and organizations working tirelessly to abolish human trafficking and defend the worlds most vulnerable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

$15.00 Wooden Spatula. With every purchase, TRI sponsors individuals and organizations working tirelessly to abolish human trafficking and defend the worlds most vulnerable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

$15.00 Camel Bone Earrings. With every purchase, TRI sponsors individuals and organizations working tirelessly to abolish human trafficking and defend the worlds most vulnerable.

3. Water for good

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

$19.95. Each tumbler provides a year of clean water to 2 people in the Central African Republic.

 

 

 

$12.50. Each bag of coffee provides 6 months of clean water to 1 person in the Central African Republic. Check out their website for more blends!

 

 

4. MudLOVE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

$20.00 Bogart mug. Each mug provides one week of clean water to someone in Africa. (check out many other styles and colors on their website!)

 

$12.00. Each ornament provides one week of clean water to someone in Africa.

 

 

$20.00 'Pursue Love' tee. Proceeds are able to provide one week of clean water to someone in Africa.

 

 

Merry Christmas and happy shopping!

A Holy Act

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by Olivia Gallagher Can sitting down to a Thanksgiving dinner be a holy act? I believe it can.

The gospels are packed full of Jesus ministering to people with one of the most ordinary things we do: eating. He demonstrates how life changing conversations can occur during normal, everyday activities. We don't have to look far to realize some of Jesus' most impactful times of ministry was over a meal.

His first recorded miracle was to refill drinks at a big event (John 2). He shared conversation with Mary while waiting for a meal, and encouraged Martha that the table didn't have to be perfect (Luke 10:38-42). He ate with people who were both easy and hard to get along with. He shared big news, and big encouragement during one of his last meals (John 13).

So lets be intentional this holiday season! Let's offer to refill drinks, or hold a meaningful conversation while the turkey cooks. Let's help mom and tell her to sit down, that everything looks beautiful and you want her presence at the table. Whether your dinner table is full of difficult people, or people you feel at home with, let's make the most of every opportunity just like Jesus did.

 

Love sets the table

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Sarah Ortega, one of our base leaders here at Pismo, recently wrote this post on hospitality that we wanted to share with you! If you've ever been to the Ortega's house for dinner, you know how good she is at making you feel loved. For more of her writings, check out her blog at: http://www.sarahortega.com

"Practicing hospitality right where we are with the people we love is always a good place to start giving away our love. Especially when we use what we have and do with it what we can. Whether we use paper plates or fancy china, no one really cares what the place settings look like if a person is sitting where they're loved. It's a reminder to me that we buy the plates, but love sets the table."

-Maria Goff, Love Lives Here

I remember at the beginning of 2016 as we thought about the year ahead of us, I told Aaron that my heart for the year was to have as many people over for dinner as possible. Up to that point my worry of cooking the right food and keeping a perfect home was greater than my desire for cultivating deep community and making room for togetherness. The days were too busy, I had an infant, our house was too small, I might burn the rice... the excuses were unending. I finally decided that if this was going to happen, I needed to keep it simple, keep it a priority, and keep doing it!

There is something immensely sacred about opening your home, joining together at a table and sharing a meal. That is what I came to find as we welcomed family after family, couple after couple and single after single. We broke bread with retired grandparents, college students, young families, people we had known for years and people we had met once or twice. I soon learned how to cook for every food intolerance and preference- dairy free, gluten free, vegetarian, vegan, whole 30, you name it!

Before long our teeny tiny house was filled with so much love. Our community grew as did our hearts. Whether it was sourdough pizza served on paper plates in our backyard or sweet potato black bean chili around our secondhand kitchen table, it was served with love and offered with care. 

The desire that stirred up in my heart that year has become a lifestyle for us, a lifestyle of invitation, hospitality, and connection. When people come over we don't just share a meal, we share our hearts, our lives. It truly is a beautiful and sacred thing. 

How do you cultivate community? What is something you have learned about hospitality?

I'll leave you with this prompting and one of my favorite quotes from Shauna Niequist in her book, Bread and Wine.

"This is what I want you to do: I want you to tell someone you love them, and dinner's at six. I want you to throw open your front door and welcome the people you love into the inevitable mess with hugs and laughter. I want you to light a burner on the stove, to chop and stir and season with love and abandon. Begin with an onion and a drizzle of olive oil, and go from there, any one of a million different places, any one of a million different meals. Gather the people you love around your table and feed them with love and honesty and creativity. Feed them with your hands and the flavors and smells that remind you of home and beauty and the best stories you've ever heard, the best stories you've ever lived." 

Why do a Discipleship Training School?

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By Sam Gallagher

Why Do a Discipleship Training School?

A Discipleship Training School (DTS) is arguably the bread and butter of who we are as Youth With A Mission. That is to say, it’s what we do best. Before I tell you why you should do a DTS let me first tell you what it is. To put it plainly, DTS is six months of living out of the ordinary.  You leave your friends, family, your normal everyday life, and you put all that aside to learn what being a Christian is really all about. Some people have said that DTS is like a pressure cooker for Jesus, you go in the oven, and then six months later you come out completely changed. Let me explain why. First you come to Pismo Beach, a beautiful sleepy beach town on the Central Coast of California for what is called “Lecture Phase”. Lecture phase is 3 months long and it is where we fly speakers from all over the world to come and teach you about the love and goodness of Jesus Christ. We cover topics like spiritual disciplines, grace, the nature and character of God, and many more. But that is only the tip of the iceberg.

After lecture phase you will go overseas for 2-3 months with your fellow students to put into action the love and grace that has been displayed to you by our heavenly Father. I won’t lie to you, this experience can be really challenging. You will be working with your hands, your voice, and your heart. The goal is to experience all kinds of missionary work, from preaching and evangelism, all the way to digging irrigation ditches. Although difficult, outreach is life changing and inspiring.

So now that you know the general idea of what a DTS looks like let me try to explain why you should come and do one. First I must admit that I cannot really do it justice to tell of the friends you will make, the lives you will impact, and the life changing love of Jesus you will experience. So instead of telling you about all the amazing reasons to come and do a DTS let me explain to you that life doesn’t stop with a Discipleship Training School with Youth With a Mission. The whole goal of a DTS is not to take you out of normal life and show you how great six months with Jesus can be, but instead it is to reinvent what normal life looks like for you. At YWAM Pismo we believe that your best chance of living life to the full is alongside of Jesus Christ. That’s why we want you to come do a DTS, but also go home and make an impact in your community, your family, your own “normal”. We want you to do a DTS because we want you to tell your town about the love of Jesus, and maybe coming to our base will help show you how.

How DTS still impacts me, a year later.

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Hi, my name is Joel, I am from Switzerland and I was a student in the Fall DTS 2016. I heard about YWAM through my older brother who did his DTS first. I originally had no interest in discipleship training and I already had the next years of my life planned out. However I guess Proverbs 16:1 was written for a reason and somehow I found myself in Pismo Beach. It ended up being the best thing that ever happened to me. Oftentimes I think back to what I learned in DTS, not only about God and the Bible, but also about life in general. I get into situations daily where I can use the knowledge I gained from lectures or an advice I got from a leader on a one on one.

Growing up in a wealthy family, I was used to privacy and having a room of my own. DTS taught me to live differently. Sharing a room, or sometimes not even having one, was surely challenging but an important lesson for life. It taught me to interact with people no matter how I feel and to figure out ways to live well with them. That might sound like I didn't enjoy the community at all but there are many upsides of always having someone around, i.e. the possibility to pray together or worship God with songs. All of this brought us closer and I look at these people as family now.

Living with young people of different ages and from 9 Nations all around the world was surely an eye opening living situation that awoke in me an interest in the world and how people live differently in different places.

Through that and through outreach to Greece and Italy I caught a glimpse of the beauty of stepping out, talking to people and socializing with strangers. I had to learn that without stepping out there is no growth in my life. Even though my steps are small, it was in DTS where I started to challenge myself to come out of my comfort zone.

Although it was important to grow as a person, the spiritual growth I experienced in DTS was more important. Of course I'm not some kind of holy person now and sadly I'm not a daily bible reader either. But I’ve become a better friend to Jesus and the Holy Spirit found a home in me. I understand a little more of who God is and what it means to be His child, what it means to be a disciple. I knew how to talk to God, but now I know how to listen to Him.

It is hard for me to see how DTS changed me and how it affects me today because it was such a radical change of lifestyle that I forgot how I used to be before. What I learnt is now a part of me and so are the people that I got to know. I am writing this from halfway around the world from where I live and I am here because of a friendship I made in DTS. God is so much bigger than anything I could ever imagine or plan myself, and fortunately that is something you and I can always depend on.

God bless !

Are we there yet? Pt.2

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Are We There Yet?
Part 2
By Lori Barrow
International Travel with kids: “I want to go home”
Being a missionary family, we’ve done our share of international travel with our lovely offspring. Whether you’ll be traveling with 1, 2, 3, or 4 (or more) children across the open waters, here are a few of my go-to tips and tricks for making the whole trip go a bit smoother and not hear those dreaded little words every other day, “I want to go home!”
  1. Stir Up Excitement 
Going overseas can be a bit overwhelming for kids to imagine and a little scary when they don’t know what to expect.  I try to stir up excitement for our upcoming trip in a couple of ways.
  • Research with your kids.  Google the country to answer questions like, what does it look like, what do they eat, what do the people look like and wear?   I also like to check out geography books in the children’s library so they can look over it in the weeks prior to our trip. Watch videos on the travel network or even movies that take place in your destination country or a similar culture.  This really helps create a sense of expectation in your children and will also help them feel more familiar with the culture once you land.
  • Go to a restaurant with that type of food if possible.  Going to Thailand?  Hit up your local Thai restaurant.  India, China, Mexico, etc - most of these are fairly common restaurants you can find all over the country. A benefit of this is sometimes you may even meet someone from the country you are going to you can talk with and ask questions!  Try making a local dish at home as a family activity if you don’t have the restaurant available.
  • Learn a little language.  Knowing how to say ‘Hi’, ‘Bye’, ‘Thank you’, and a few other simple phrases will go a long way.  I’ve found people love it when you know how to greet them in their own language, and I haven’t met a child yet who doesn’t love learning how to say a few words that sound so different from anything they know.  Expect a lot of giggling during these lessons.
  1. Bring a piece of home along. 
Kids need some sort of stability even when gallivanting around the world.  Bring along that favorite blanket, stuffy, lego set or toy, book, or even pictures of loved ones they can look at when they start feeling homesick.  My kids each pack their own carry on bags (with supervision so nothing is left behind) and it includes one or more of these items plus activities to do while traveling.  It won’t be home, but it’s a little anchor to home for their little hearts. (I do this for myself too!)
3.  Familiar Food
Depending on where you’re going and how long you’ll be gone, familiar food is a huge deal to kids (unless you have ones with adventurous palettes).  For shorter trips, I will pack a Costco size amount of instant oatmeal packets, granola bars, and fruit snacks.  Nut butters are good to bring along and can be really expensive overseas depending where you go. On longer trips I also budget to buy staples they like which may not be standard in the culture we’re visiting.  You’ll be surprised how much plain cheddar cheese can be, so make sure you have a bit of a bigger food budget for your kids than you would for yourself, counterintuitive I know, but super helpful for times when they flat out refuse to eat one more noodle dish or rice and beans.
4.  Establish a Rhythm
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned during longer jaunts, is to try to establish a rhythm for our days and weeks.  As chaotic as our homes are with our precious babes, they actually need structure and stability to be able to function well as little humans.  Our family traveling is usually for ministry purposes rather than vacation, so if you’re on vacation, this may happen more naturally anyway.  Our time though, is often filled with meetings, coffee dates to debrief other workers, outings for ministry, etc.  It is important for our us to give the kids a slower schedule, have a routine in the mornings and set aside time to connect with one another.  They are little people with big emotions, and living in a constant state of transition (ie. traveling) can be upsetting and make those emotions go on grand display.  We make sure to schedule in family down times and also incorporate outings the kids are able to choose to make sure they feel included in our whole time abroad.  There are still quite a few rocky moments, but the more the kids know what to expect of our day and can rely on certain things always happening, the more peace our kids have within themselves and with each other.
5.  Entertainment
International travel often means long plane rides and most of the time, lots of waiting. Many other cultures operate at a much slower pace than we do in the west, and that can be hard for kids to adjust to.  Being prepared with things for them to do will save you from the constant chorus we all know so well, “I’m bored!”
If you haven’t yet, read part one of this blog post: http://www.ywampismobeach.org/are-we-there-yet/.  Several of the activities we prepare and use for road trips, are also great ideas for long plane rides. Some don’t take much space and can be used in multiple ways, very handy when you only have one carry on bag each!
For kids who can read, I make sure to download our local library app and Hoopla, and have them choose as many e-books as they can to put on their Kindles. We also allowed them to download a few new games.  I spaced out the when they could play a new game to help the time go faster and keep the newness of the games last longer.  (*Side note: I do set time limits for tech normally, but when we’re on the plane it’s free for all).
Small Toys: For in country bribery, I mean fun, I bring along several new small toys for each child to pass out as I need. Small things like lego sets, puzzle books, figurines, and play-dough, are easy to travel with and can bring great joy and hours of entertainment when the world is falling apart and there is absolutely “Nothing to do!”.
All in all, I’m a huge fan of traveling, and a firm believer that travel helps our kids grow into more well rounded humans with a larger view of the world than we can give them through the travel channel.  When you get the opportunity to go, don’t let any fear of traveling with children prevent you from taking that leap and experiencing something only a different culture can offer you.  With a little preparation and a lot of deep breathing and patience, it will be an experience you never forget and so very worth all the momentary trials that come along the way.
Happy Traveling!

Are we there yet?

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Part 1: Traveling with children and still loving each other when you arrive.
by Lori Barrow
Every summer our family practices the ultimate exercise in growing towards one another in love and good will: “The Road-trip.” I’m not sure how this event has wormed it’s way into our yearly summer vacation, but we’re four years running now, and last year we embarked on the Mother of All Road-trips; a transcontinental adventure spanning from Pismo Beach, CA to Toronto, Canada and back.
Now I know some of you are already doing the math in your head (one mini van + one roof cargo carrier+ 4 kids under ten + 2 parents + 52 hours one way + 21 days total + one wedding + one family reunion = INSANE) and you have counted yourself out! But not so fast my dear friends, I have discovered a few tips and some tried and kid-approved activities that will bring some peace to your vehicle and allow you too to experience the fun and adventure that road-tripping can be.
  1. Activity Boxes
Especially for the pre-readers - I used pencil boxes and zip lock bags and created a few activity kits to hand out throughout the day.  A few favorites:
  • Pipe cleaners and beads. Each pipe cleaner had a paper square glued to one end with a number written on it. She then had to thread that many beads on the pipe cleaner and count them out loud.
  • Oversized buttons and shoe laces, perfect for threading.
  • Chalk Board Trays: I spray painted dollar store cookie sheets with chalk board paint. These worked as drawing surfaces and tray tables for other activities. They are also magnetic which we used for another activity.
  1. Travel Binders
I created a binder for each child with age appropriate activity pages. Each binder had:
  • A pencil pouch with a dry erase marker, colored pencils (we don’t do crayons in the car, heat + wax = no good), a pen, a pencil.
  • A map of our entire trip, one page for each day’s journey.
  • Connect the dot pages, word searches, drawing prompt pages, pencil game pages, etc.
  • State activity pages for each state we were driving through.
  • Letter dot pages and round stickers.
I used tab dividers and spaced out the pages for each day. This way they were only allowed to work on the pages for that day, ensuring that there were new activities each day we were on the road. Reusable activities went into page protectors so they could use a dry-erase marker and wipe it clean to play again.
  1. Parental Sanity Tools
  • Post it notes. Seriously.These are fantastic and can be used in a variety of ways. Give a small stack to the littles for them to pull apart and put back together. Place a row of them on the dashboard with each hour written on them until your next stop (9am, 10am, 11am, etc). At every hour give the children a new activity or snack and remove the post it, helps them stop asking for things every five minutes and have some idea of how long until the next stop.
  • Little toys or snacks, for handing out at these hour intervals. Pieces of gum, toy cars, stickers, fidget spinners, anything small and inexpensive your children would like.
  • Baby wipes, paper towels, kids and adult tylenol, bandaids, essential oils/car diffuser.
  1. Audio Aids
    1. Family Play list - I asked each person to choose 2 songs and compiled a play list. This created a 12 song eclectic loop that everyone enjoyed.
    2. Audio Books - driving through the plains can be a little boring (no offense plain dwellers), and while the kids had activities to occupy themselves, I found myself going crazy staring at the endless horizon!  Thus the audio book.  Will and I have never listened to books together before and found it a bit addicting. There are several apps you can download books from, but I like to use our local library online system to borrow books for our trips.
  1. Adventure Stops
Plan your route ahead and be sure to stop at some fun places and famous land marks to take photos and get out the wiggles.  We found the best park at a random stop in Grand Junction, Co - it’s sure to be a planned stop on future trips through Colorado.
Check out my Road Trippin’ Pinterest Board for these ideas and more that I put into play last year!  https://www.pinterest.com/loribarrow/road-trippin/
Road-trips can be enjoyable, and with a little planning and preparation I think you’ll find some of the best moments and memories are in store as you load up your car and hit the road!
Tune in for Part 2 - International travel with kids.

Serving in YWAM as a family

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At 18 years old I remember boarding my plane to San Jose, Costa Rica. I had just applied to my DTS in Heredia less than a month prior and little did I know that the next six months would change my life. I met my husband, Aaron on the school and as newlyweds we went on to work with YWAM in South America. We eventually moved back to California, started our family and two kids later we were pastoring a church in San Bernardino. I looked back on our YWAM years with fondness and we were always excited when the young people from our congregation felt called to do their DTS.

When our daughter was two and our son was just four months I remember Aaron telling me that he felt that God was calling us back to YWAM. I thought he was ten kinds of crazy and even though I knew of families serving in missions, surely it wasn’t for us. As a 20-something I was happy to live out of a backpack in South America but with two small children it was a different story. In the months that followed God changed my heart and gave me a peace that could only have been from Him.

In July 2013 we packed whatever belongings would fit on our cars and made our way to Pismo Beach. Since then we have staffed and led DTS’s, pioneered a secondary school, and added another baby to our family. I can't tell you what a blessing it has been for our children to grow up in this environment. They are surrounded by different cultures, languages and food and also have countless honorary aunts and uncles from around the world. Last year we took our eight month old daughter to Greece to work with refugees and at the end of this year all five us will travel to Nicaragua to lead a three month outreach.

Serving as a missionary family has taught me to have more dependance and trust in God than I ever have before. I have had to lay down my rights and walk in obedience at times when I was scared and full of doubt. We have made sacrifices and have had to say no to our own agendas.

Being a family in missions has also been the most fulfilling, rewarding and valuable experience for us and our children. I wouldn't trade these years for anything and I look forward to what God has in store for our family in the coming years here at YWAM Pismo Beach.

-Sarah Ortega

YWAM Pismo Outreach Update

The large event with YWAM United that we mentioned in the last post was a hit! Each day continued to be better than the last. We saw new believers come to Christ, and have been following up with discipleship and long term relationships with the believers here in Athens. Praise Jesus! This week we were able to witness 2 very different refugee camps. One we found quite a ways from the city and it was very encouraging to see the state of the camp - it was full of small homes made from shipping containers to stay out of the cold. It looked clean, and there were many non-profits actively serving. Although we weren't allowed in because we weren't with an organization, we prayed and left feeling encouraged.

The second camp was quite different. A large group of YWAMers visited a camp that had been established in an abandoned airport. Though we were again not allowed inside, we are told there are rows and rows of tents set up inside, and it is largely understood to have the worst camp conditions in the area. There is a large parking lot outside the camp where anyone is welcome, and the refugees can come out to talk, and we were all able to start conversations with adults and play with the kids. We partnered with a team of performers who brought a lot of joy, and we colored and made balloon animals with the kids!

Multiple members of our team have had the chance to go to an organization regularly that plays with refugee kids! They do art, singing, stories, and playing. Our team has really enjoyed this time, and they do a great job connecting with the kids.

Our time with YWAM United has come to a close and today half of our team will fly to Milan, and Friday the other half flies to Lesvos. Please continue to pray for health for our team, and that we will finish our first chapter of outreach well!

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DTS Outreach Update from Athens

Hello from Athens! This week we joined together as YWAM United. With around 300 students and staff from all over the states, we have gathered for 3 weeks to serve and unite for the country of Greece, and the refugees inside. The United outreach began with two days of worship and intercession over the city. We believe that prayer and worship can change the atmosphere of a city, and we wanted to sort of 'set the stage' for the rest of our time here. After those 2 days, we began dispersing throughout ministries in the area. Every day we arrive at our meeting place, get our ministry assignments, and head out to serve in many ways. We could be serving at any of the following: the prayer room, the Salvation Army, Centers (non-profit places refugees are taken care of outside of camps), refugee camps (run by the government), street evangelism, as well as a handful of other ministries caring for refugees in areas such as health and education.

YWAM United has also been putting on an event twice a day this week yesterday, today and tomorrow Saturday, January 6th. This event is intended to welcome refugees into our rented space, feed them, entertain them with worship songs in cultural music, and present the gospel to them. Our team served at this event on Thursday evening and will help again tonight. We saw a few people get saved at the event last night! Praise God! There were also many relationships built, and we were able to hand out bibles and resources to get connected with a church. Please continue to pray for this event!

We were able to hear from some missionaries who have been serving Greece much longer than us, and we were blessed to hear about the country's spiritual history. If you are looking to pray something specific over the city, please pray for intimacy with God, and reconciliation. Many Greeks consider themselves religious, but it never goes to a deeper, more intimate relationship with Jesus. Also on a more personal note, many of our team members are getting sick and could use prayer for a quick recovery! Thank you for your prayers!

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We had the privilege of worshiping in the New Year as a team! What better way to begin 2017? Above is a photo taken early in the night.

 

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Worship on the street.

 

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Playing soccer and spreading the gospel on the streets of Athens.

 

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A team from YWAM Kona invited us to dinner! They were so kind and we hit it off so well, that we plan to continue to share meals once a week!

 

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An aerial view of the events happening this weekend.

Outreach Update

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With this having been our second week in the village and also our last official week of ministry before we debrief and prepare to head back to the states, things couldn't have gone more perfectly. As we went into this week, our main goal was to continually build on what we had already been doing, which was gaining influence and growing in the relationships with the villagers. This week definitely exceded my expectations and God opened some amazing doors that we were able to step into.

One of these doors took place when Simon, our Translator and intern for Zion Cafe had noticed a cross on one of the homes in the village. Simon then went to this home and began talking with the family that lived there. While there Simon was informed that they were the only Christian family in the village, and they later asked for all of us to come over and fellowship with them. This time with the family later transpired to us being able to bless them with scriptures writen on poster board for their home and for their gate so the other villagers would see in passing. They also invited us and our families to come with them on Saturday to the Thanksgiving service at their church.

Only two of our host mothers went, but even this was amazing and we're hoping by introducing them to this family that maybe they will go again.

Meeting this family was also a huge blessing because anytime you go somewhere to do short term missions you always leave hoping someone else will be able to keep being a light and showing the love of Christ. Knowing we leave this family behind gives us great encouragement for the things to come in the lives of the villagers.

Throughout the week we were also able to continue cutting garlic and were actually given the opportunity to go help plant in the rice fields. We also kept meeting the kids down at the basketball court every day at 4 o'clock. By the end of the week the kids had taught us their version of dodge ball, a traditional Thai dance, and were able to beat us in P.I.G .

To end our time in the village our team planned a bon fire where we invited all of our families to come and hangout one last time. This was a time filled with great laughter and Joy. We taught them how to make smores and they showed us how to properly break open bamboo rice.

Since all the families were there, we honored them by thanking them for their hospitality and generosity over the last two weeks. We truly were so blessed by our host families and they will all hold a great place in our hearts. We finished the evening off by singing some worship songs to the villagers and Sharing a few testimonies about why we follow God and what He has done in our lives. Ultimately, our last evening with our host families was amazing, and as we left this morning and the villagers waved us off I had this peace knowing we did what we were called to do, which was to love our neighbor as ourself.

- Austin