Outreach

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!

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