Hello to everyone at home! I’m so sorry I haven’t been more faithful in keeping everyone up to date, but I’m going to try and make up for that now.
My flight from Houston to Belize was very successful. It was my first ever flight on my own and I have never felt so much freedom after going through security in Houston. It was an awesome and terrifying feeling, and I loved it. I ran into three other YWAMers on that flight. Customs all went smoothly once in Belize city and we all got into the country, so no complaints!
The adjustment was pretty difficult at first. Time seemed to go by at a snail’s pace. The first five days were considered orientation, in other words, a lot of sitting around thinking about all the comforts you’ve just left at home. But I was comforted by the fact that most every other student was feeling the same way, all for different reasons, but all with the same emotions. Having our first speaker really helped things go by more quickly. John Peterson led us through the book of John throughout the week and taught us some tools for reading our Bible’s. Throughout the week we read through John five times, using different techniques each time. We also had a daily quiz on the chapters (which by the third day we all got 100% on! Free ice cream!) so that by the end of the week we knew the book of John inside and out! During this week I got a visit from Ron, Linda, and Lindsay Dyck. I knew they would be arriving in Belize around the same time I was, but it was a shock when I found out their resort was on the same little island within 20 minutes walking! They went above and beyond to find out where the base was and I was so thankful for their hospitality. It was nice to have a bit of familiarity with everything being so overwhelming at first.
Our second week’s speaker was one of the base director’s, Lynn Toney. Her first lecture started with her shuffling to the front of the room with a ball and chain around her ankle. This described her topic, Spiritual Bondage, the ball and chains in our lives that keep us from an intimate relationship with Jesus. John’s lecture was considered an academic week whereas Lynn’s was a “heart” week. Both were really powerful, but in very different ways. Lynn talked about things like unconditional love versus conditional love, forgiveness, and my favorite, conviction versus condemnation.
The next week Jeff Pratt taught on the Father Heart of God. He focussed on God’s character and brokenness in our past. He was an amazing speaker, but I found I wasn’t really able to apply a lot of the things he talked about because I have never really experienced any deep wounds that I still need to deal with. At first I found this discouraging and I didn’t feel like I was getting anything our of his teachings. As the week progressed I saw more and more pain that my fellow students were still experiencing whether it be from past relationships or friends or whatever it was. I realized how ridiculous it was to be feeling discouraged, I have been so blessed! I never realized how rare it is to receive unconditional love from both parents. I have had so much support from not only them, but from friends and extended family, and I want to offer my sincere appreciation. Thank you so much for your positive influence in my life! It’s heartbreaking to see so much pain and hurt and feelings of abandonment, but seeing it has helped me to understand how fortunate I am to be surrounded my people who love and support me.
This week John Murphy is speaking on relationships. He’s 31, married, with five kids, and runs a DTS in Denver, Colorado (which I am trying to convince my little brother to go to, it sounds so sick!). I think this week has definitely been my favorite lecture week. His first day was just his testimony, it was really incredible. He lost his baby girl, Elianna, at 6 months because of a brain tumor. It reminded me so much of my parents story. The effect it had on him, even just sharing it, really helped me to understand what they went through, and even what they are still struggling with 19 years later. The next day was on our relationship with God, and today was on our relationships with the opposite sex. I’m so excited for these next two days with him!
Besides daily lectures, leadership classes, book reports, other presentations, and work duties, we do have a lot of fun! There’s 18 students (16 girls, yikes!) and we all get along really well. 11 of us are sailors and we’ve done three day sails so far (and I’ve only gotten sick on two of them!). There’s always opportunities to go kayaking, swimming, snorkeling, biking, and fishing during the week, but we mostly just spend our time hanging out and getting to know one another.
This past Friday we finally found out our Outreach location! I am going to Turkey! There is 10 of us on the team, and the rest are going to El Salvador. I am really happy with our group, but the cost of it was really shocking to hear. It’s about $2000 more than what we were initially told, but I’ve made this commitment and I know God will provide.
Thank you everyone for all your prayers and support! Please keep me and the rest of the team in your prayers in these next few months as we prepare for Outreach! Love you all!