Greetings from Santa Cruz! I cannot believe how fast this DTS has gone by. In two weeks, we finish up the theory phase (12 weeks) and start the Outreach (8 weeks)! I dunno what it is, but time just seems to speedup, and never slow down.So, what has happened in these last 10 weeks? Lots of stuff! Honestly, it hasn't gone like I thought, which is usually how it goes. I pray that God really does what He wants, that his will be done, and He always ends up doing exactly that. I can say that this DTS has had it challenges, but a lot different than the last one. But also a whole different dynamic. Since there are so many English speakers, I speak a lot more English than I have been used to. Sometimes I like to talk to my mom in Spanish, just to have a little English break. lol.
So I would says it's been a lot harder, this last month, so much going on with students, staff, just a lot of stuff and I have felt overwhelmed. I have really been tested in my patience, my ability to deal with tough situations, having to really seek knowledge and discernment, and just really having to trust God in it all. Sometimes we don't understand, we can't make sense of things, we get confused and focus on circumstances but that cannot be what defines us. I always remember some wise words from a friend, 'our circumstances do not define us, we define our circumstances'. It's so true, and also hard to do sometimes. But Jesus was never limited by his situations, the things he went through, the way people treated him. He never lost heart, or faith, and always persevered. I have been encouraged by many people here, telling me they see my perseverance and bravery, and although I can't always see it, I know that it just goes to show how God molds us, and develops his character in us. A year or two ago, I know I wouldn't have been able to get through many things I have experienced here, I wouldn't have been able to see clear enough to carry on towards what I cannot see, but know is there. And so I can say, this is really a time when God is growing me, in every way, stretching me so much, but knowing that I can get through it. It really does help to talk about it, knowing I am not alone and that there is nothing impossible for God. I don't know how many may read this but I want to encourage you, yes you, to just trust God is your situation. He sees it all, the big, entire picture. And he loves you so incredibly much that He is going to carry you through this. You just have to trust Him, and give it all to Him. Can you do that, really trust, wholehearted that God is big enough to take your burdens away, to forgive your sins whatever they may be, to heal your past hurts however deep they may be, to get you through this and that he is going to bring his blessing to you? I know it's hard, trust me. Life is not easy, and God didn't promise it would be, but he sure does promise he will be with us. Wherever we go, any situation. He will never leave us, no matter how far away we FEEL from him.He will never abandon us no matter how much we've been hurt by people leaving us. He will not forsake us. He is always with us. He is not like the people in our lives. He is a perfect loving Father, and he loves us unconditionally. He loved us first, and so incredibly much that He sent his one and only son to live as a man, to suffer rejection and in the end death on a cross, a brutal death, to raise him from the dead, to defeat Satan, so that we would have the victory. How incredible is that?! Have you ever heard a story of greater love that that? I think not. God did not want us to have to suffer any more, he wants us to be able to live in freedom and know we have free access to him through his son. So amazing!! Such amazing love. The grace of God, is a free gift, we cannot earn it, there is nothing we can do to earn it, but it is ours, we just have to take it. And all he asks is that we give him our lives, so he can take care of us,so we can receive the very best for him. Believe it, it is the truth, and it will set you free!!
I got to celebrate my 23rd birthday here this week, and it was wonderful. I had an amazing, chill day here and it's all thanks to my wonderful family here. We had a 'social night' that evening, and it was Hawaiian themed, so everyone dressed up, we decorated, had some flower necklaces, ate a lot of yummy fruit and it was great. And they sung me happy birthday, pushed my face into the cake, as is tradition in Bolivia, and then they said some kind words, prayed for me, and I got some nice gifts. The students and staff, all said such sweet things to me, they really really blessed me with there kind, affirming words, and I just felt so loved. That was the best moment of the day. I was so overwhelmed that when it was my turn to say something, I got a teary, but it was because I was so happy. Some friends from church also came, and that was really nice. All in all a wonderful day. I also did manage to talk to everyone in my family, 4 separate skype calls but I got to talk to them all, and that was just the icing on the cake!
We have had some wonderful times of evangelism as a school, and I am so blessed every time. A few weeks ago, we went to Pailon, a town in the country, a few hours away, and went to support a little church over there. We were party of the service Saturday night, and Sunday morning. We preformed a few dramas, and choreographies, and a student shared the message in each service. They did a fantastic job! It was our first experience like that, and I was so proud of them, so blessed by them all, it was wonderful. They were willing, encouraged, and they did an amazing job with the kids. We really enjoyed ourselves as well. One of the students, a guy from Paraguay, lives out there with his family, and we stayed at his house, and his parents prepared a wonderful meal for us. They were all so hospitable and it was a wonderful blessing to get to know the people out there as well. It was so beautiful! I just feel in love with the place, and did not want to come back to the base. I don't know if I've ever been in a more peaceful place, with such fresh air, nice scenery, and just good old peace and quite. I was so blessed by it all and I hope to have the opportunity ot go back soon. Next time we get to ride horses! We also helped out with one of the projects my church has, in a little neighbourhood called San Isidro, it's in a town outside the city. They meet with the people there every week and do a service with them every week, with worship, and a message for the kids, youth , and adults. So the DTS went this week, and we did the worship, preformed a choreography and a drama, and divided up and shared God's love with the people. It was wonderful to be there, to be able to take to students there to see what we do, and to be a part of blessing the community. The older ladies were so sweet, so receptive. One of the girls said she just loved the way they gave grandma hugs. Very kind people. The kids are crazy, but they were wonderful and they had a ton of fun. It was a blessed time indeed. I want to sincerely thank all you wonderful people out there who pray for me. I know that God has blessed me so incredibly with wonderful brothers and sister in Christ, who take time to pray for me because they believe in what I'm doing. And I want all of you to know that I really appreciate it. I feel your prayers, there are day where I just know someone sent a message up to God for me, and He made the way. Muchas gracias! I could not be here without your support in prayer. More than finances, I need your prayers. That is what really keeps me going, and I could not do it without you wonderful people and your faithfulness.
God has been sooooo faithful with finances here, I have never been without and when I am in need he always provide in a unique way, using amazing people that really bless me. I feel like I'm living a dream when I see how he provides, and it always leave me in awe. I have truly seen God's faithfulness, time and time again and it just blesses me more and more. Thank you so much to all those who give, I am so grateful to you all.
And I would like to ask for your continual support in prayer. Things to pray for:
* More revelation from God, wisdom and discernment in the tough times, in working with others, and for good communication. Communication is so key, our newest YWAM value is Communicate with Integrity, and it has been added because it is so very important. Prayers for communication on my part and as a team would be greatly appreciated.
* For us to prepare as a team, in these next two weeks before we go on Outreach. To prepare our hearts to minister to the people, to tune our spiritual ears to hear from God, to humble ourselves and admit our fears, recognizing how the enemy tries to got to us. Preparing for battle, readying ourselves with the Word, prayers, a willing heart, and the faith that will carry us through.
* For my health, it's not so bad, and I hate to complain, but my arms have been a bit worse than usually. I need a good nights sleep each night, that really affects me, and I need to remember not to do more than I should. Ultimately that God would heal me, that he would take this away, for his healing power, and his grace to carry me through until he heals me.
* For my family, that God would continue to keep them safe in his arms, teaching them, growing them, leading them in all the different places that are at in life right now. I cannot wait to see them in the spring!
* For the base, that we can be prepared for all the people who will be coming to visit at the end of November. We are celebrating 30 years of YWAM in Bolivia, yeah!, and we are going to have a celebration with tons of people coming from all over. It's gunna be nuts! But pray for God to lead us as we need to get a lot done in these next 2 weeks before we go on Outreach. We will be in Santa Cruz until the anniversary, but we won't have much time to work at the base because we will be busy with our mercy ministry. Pray that I can get all the hospitality stuff organized, I have a lot to do!
* Please, please pray, and fast if you feel so inclined, for my next Visa process. My one year missionary Visa will expire in December, but I can start the process for my 2 year Visa now in November. Please pray for God to work in it all. Immigration here is a nightmare, no joke. Unfortunately it is not well organized and you can give them what they asked for on paper, but they will tell you something different once your go to hand it all in. Pray that it goes fast as well. IT can take months, to get the 2 years Visa but I need it in one month. And I know it is possible with God, so I really just ask for your prayers in that. I will keep you posted about it.
* Financially, I need about $400 or so to cover the outreach, a visa for where we are travelling to and everything. Thankfully God has been so faithful and I have all I need to got my Visa, so just the Outreach left to cover. And after that, it will pretty much just be my flight to come back and visit, which will be about $1200 round trip.
So that's all for now, I hope you can see a bit of what life has been like these last weeks. May God bless you greatly, may you continue to be surprised by him, and get to know him more an more!!Please feel free to send me a message, ask me questions, anything. I love hearing from you all and I miss you all! Lots and lots of love from Bolivia!-Amanda