The Adventure of a Lifetime

Note: This was written by some of students of the 2015/2016 DTS chronicling their outreach to Cambodia and Thailand in Winter 2016.


Hello Everyone!

We are the one half of the DTS 15/16 from Skjærgårdsheimen (YWAM Kristiansand) and we traveled to Cambodia and Thailand on the 6th of January 2016. After three months of teaching, a Christmas break and a YWAM conference we set out for our journey to Cambodia. The outreach started with a few days at a guesthouse in Siem Reap, one of the richest cities in Cambodia. At the guesthouse we got over our jetlag and adjusted to the new culture. We tried the new food, visited the markets and got our first touristy feelings put to rest. After a few days we hopped on a Tuk Tuk – the Cambodian answer to a taxi, and went to a nearby village called Puok. This was our first place of ministry.

0316-dts-outreach-036
A tuk tuk on a Cambodian road

Our First Ministry

The people of Puok live in bamboo houses with a lot of dogs, chickens and even cows walking around. The landscape is covered with palm trees, bright green rice fields and here and there you see water buffaloes grazing. Here in these beautiful surroundings we stayed at a school run by YWAM. At the school the main focus was to teach English, since English is the major gateway to a better life for the Cambodians. During the 3 weeks we were there, we stayed at the school. The head teacher Mariele, one of the missionaries, was leading us during our stay. Our main job was to teach English to the local kids and youth, encourage the staff, and help the teachers. Besides the ministry at the school we played with the village kids and taught them about God and hygiene, planted new corn for a woman who needed help, gave clothes away to the villagers, and shared the gospel about Jesus with them.

We believe that God cares for us in every area of life and that he wants to bless us even with the simple daily things. So in all the things we did, our hearts were to bless and love the people where they were at, because God did that first.

“During two days of our stay in Puok we helped an old lady in the village to plow her cornfields. With Hoes and Shovels we were digging the dry soil for hours in the burning sun while the sweat was running down our backs. While I was standing there in the field God suddenly spoke to me. He asked me if I was willing to serve unconditionally like Jesus did? Was I willing to set aside my own pride and feelings to really serve this woman with joy and a loving heart? God reminded me that this woman was his daughter and that she was very important to him. As God revealed this to me I could feel a big joy in my heart for the opportunity to serve one of his children. The joy grew even bigger when I saw the thankfulness in the woman’s face, as she looked at the cornfield. I also got to know that our hard work in the cornfield had made other people in the village ask questions about “these Christian people” and that they suddenly were much more interested to hear about God and the Gospel. Afterwards we got to pray for some of the women that had gathered and we came back and had bible studies with some of them. As I left the village for the last time, God reminded me that in the same way he makes the corn grow, he will make the faith in their hearts grow as well.”

0316-dts-outreach-037
Tilling the soil… and hearts

Thailand

After finishing our ministry in Puok and saying goodbye to our new friends, our journey lead us to the YWAM base in Way Ta Loo, Thailand – a village on the border to Myanmar (Burma). Because of the history and situation in Myanmar a lot of people had fled to Thailand, specially the Karen people group. Therefor we were living with Karen people and experiencing their culture. Together with our new friends from the YWAM base, we drove to a mountain village to share the gospel. Our approach was to visit people in their homes and talk with them. We used the second week at the base in Way Ta Loo. In this time we encouraged and taught the staff about working in teams and leadership.

Here is a story from one of the team members experience in the village:

“One day we visited a Buddhist grandpa, who welcomed us into his home. We talked with him and got to know parts of his story, and we also got to share from our lives and about Jesus. The more we talked, the more interested he became in knowing the difference between the God we believe in and his god. He wanted to hear the whole story, all the way from the beginning. So after sharing about God’s plan and love for us, and how he saved us through Jesus and his death on the cross, the grandpa asked if he could see the story – with his own eyes. Luckily we had the Jesus-film with us. So the next evening we came to his house, and to our surprise his living room was packed with people, and we got to show them the movie. It was amazing to experience how God gave us the opportunity to share his love to all these people. After the movie we gave him a bible and he seemed eager to start reading it. We pray that God will continue to reveal Himself to him, and the other people in the village, so that they one day will get to know God for real.”

0316-dts-outreach-530
Encouragement was a major theme of outreach

Going Back to Cambodia

Sadly our outreach was coming to an end and at this moment we were staying at the YWAM base in the heart of Siem Reap. Going to the city was a big difference from the quiet remote village life in Thailand. The packed streets, busy life and tourists everywhere challenged us to do ministry in a new way. Luckily our previous experiences of teaching helped us, since we were to teach English again, but this time at a bigger school than the one in Puok. The school staff had been dreaming of a new and better version of the school for the next term. So in order for this dream to come true, our job there, besides teaching, was to clean, paint and decorate the classrooms.

We are thankful for what God has done through us these two months and we are excited to see what will come in the future. God has taught us a lot through this outreach; here is one of the student’s experiences:

“On outreach I did a lot of things that I’ve never done so much before. I tried out being a teacher, having devotion, sharing testimony, singing with the kids and leading games – Yes, I was in charge of something. I experienced that God was with me and gave me what I needed in the situations. Even though I sometimes was tired, or maybe not feeling prepared enough, God showed me that He could use me, anyway. I learned that I didn’t need to be perfect, but God wanted my willing heart, and through that, He could do great things.”

0316-dts-outreach-833
God can indeed use everyone

You can continue to follow the blog for more updates from YWAM Kristiansand! Please continue to remember all the students and staff in your prayers.

Ask A Student…

This fall, we have asked some of our students about their experience with BSN and DTS here at our base. To reflect the dual nature of this fall, with the BSN and DTS running simultaneously, we’ve added twice the content this time! In today’s interview you’ll hear from Renske and Thorbjørn. Enjoy!

Renske

Renske

Tell me something about yourself?

My name is Renske and I’m from the Netherlands. Some people know it as Holland. It’s the same country but some people think it’s different. I have three sisters and both my parents are still together, so that’s a blessing. I was born in a Christian family and I was able to go to Christian schools so I learned a lot about God. I really love to just spend time with friends — just enjoying and being together. I love traveling a lot. I have a boyfriend and he’s from Africa. We’re having this long distance relationship which is kinda hard but it’s also cool to have a boyfriend.

Why are you here?

The reason why I’m here is to do the BSN (Bible School of the Nations). You read through the whole Bible in four months and learn what’s in the Bible and how you can read the Bible. After, we’re going to go on outreach to teach people how to read the Bible and what God is trying to communicate to us through the Bible. I really felt like God was calling me to do it because my foundation was not very strong in Him and it’s good to have a strong foundation in Him for the rest of your life.

What has God done in your life so far here?

I think it started in the DTS. I knew about God before that but now I know more about God’s truth — that He’s loving me and that He made me with a purpose. He healed me from insecurities, depression, and also some addictions. I’m still in the healing process but those are some of the things He’s done in my life here.

Can you share a story where God has taught you something?

So I was at B­City — that is a Christian ministry in Kristiansand where people can come to at night. There was this guy there who really wanted to know more about God and wanted to be prayed for because he had been really scared for a few years. We prayed for him and afterwards we went with him to a quiet room where he wrote down all his sins. After that, we went outside and burned all the papers and prayed freedom over his life. He wanted to be saved, so we prayed the salvation prayer with him. Afterwards, we encouraged him and felt a lot of joy!

If you could say one thing to the world, what would you say?

That God loves you. Because I think that is what God is trying to communicate to us — that He really loves us and that He just wants us to be with Him. That is the purpose of our life. So yeah, that is the thing I would communicate to the world.

 

Torbjørn

Thorbjorn

Why are you here?

I’m here because I have this longing and hunger inside me to get to know God and to let Him hold me, to let Him use my life as He wants to use it. And I just felt that God told me to be here. He just lead me to this point and now I’m here.

What has God done in your life so far?

God has always been there, always had control. He’s been my rock. He’s been my foundation. He has always looked after me. When I look at my life, I just see that God has always been there. He’s always made my life good and He’s always faithful. He’s always there with me in good days and in bad days. And He always gives me so much joy and so much pleasure. For me, I can’t imagine a life without Him. That is so empty—life without Him.

Can you share a story where God has taught you something?

One concrete thing is a bit hard, I think, because there are so many things. God has worked with me throughout the entire DTS. He has reminded me of many things and shown me what has prevented me from getting closer to Him. God has also reminded me of things that make me so glad to be in His presence — just to get to know Him better and to learn so much about Him.

If you could say one thing to the world, what would you say?

Trust the Lord and your life will be so good.

 

You can continue to follow the blog for more updates from other DTS students and our outreach teams! Please continue to remember all the students and staff in your prayers.

Everyday life in Cambodia

Our journey began the 5th of January, when seven excited young DTS students and staff boarded a plane leaving Norway.  After thirty hours of traveling, we arrived in Cambodia, where we would stay for nine weeks. During our layover in Bangkok, we spent three hours at the airport where we arrived, and at the last minute (technically hour) we realized we were at the wrong airport. Where we needed to be was a 45 minute bus ride away. But thanks to God (and our fearless leaders), we made it to the right airport on time and arrived in Siem Reap safe and sound.

We spent our first week in Cambodia in a hostel not far from the city center in Siem Reap.  Our time here was used on team building, which included lots of prayer, worship and seeking God together. Not to mention getting used to the city, food and the heat (the transition from Norwegian winter to Cambodian dry season was harder than we thought). One day, we even had a prayer walk in a temple in the city center and did some street evangelism.

After our week in Siem Reap, we traveled to our first ministry location, Po Peyl, which is located an hour outside of the city. We worked with a missionary couple from the Philippines and their church planting ministry. Our responsibilities for the next three weeks included teaching English class, Bible studies, and sharing testimonies and devotions. When starting to prepare for the first week, we thought that there were only six classes. When we got to the village we learned that there were 24 classes every week. We were not expecting it, but we all joined in the preparations and teaching and had lots of fun with the youth and children.

IMG_0780

With some of the missionaries and children in Po Peyl village 

Outside of teaching, we were involved in community fun-nights, prayer meetings and feeding programs with the children. During the feeding programs, we played games with the kids, removed lice and washed their hair, cut their nails and helped serve them a big meal. We have also gone on “house visits,” where we got to visit and talk with the locals and where we learned a lot about Cambodian culture and traditions. Plus, we were always offered coconuts during these visits! We had a tight schedule everyday, so when there was time off it was always a race to reach the two hammocks.

In addition, we also helped build a fence around the property where this ministry is located. This has made for a funny story. We found that many ants lived here. The first day while clearing the area where we would build the fence, we helped the “The wall of Jericho” fall down, and then we conquered the Kingdom of Ants. In other words, we cleared the area of land where we were preparing to build a fence. Let’s just say the ants were not happy about us cutting down their home. Just imagine seven white people jumping around and yelling in the bushes, while the locals were laughing.

Every Saturday morning, we all traveled back to Siem Reap for a small house church service of eight members (plus our team of seven). All in all, we were five different nationalities. Being in such a small and humble church was very inspiring. Often we think we need to be in large congregations to have powerful worship. While we worshipped at this church, we sang the lyrics “every tongue will confess you are God” in five different languages at the same time. For many of us, it was a very powerful moment and we really felt God’s presence. It was meaningful to all of us to be a part of the everyday life of these missionaries and to truly experience how it is to be in long-term missions (as short term missionaries ourselves). It is inspiring to see how they rely on God for everything and how they include God in everything.

We are excited to see what the rest of outreach has for us!

– Kelsey Lersbak and Elin Iversen (DTS students) 

DTS Outreach Update: Thailand

thai NRTCDTS team in Bangkok, Thailand,  working with students at the Nancy Ross Training Center

One of our DTS teams sent us this report from Thailand, after working a month in Bangkok. Now they have arrived in the northern part of the country, where they will work with the Karen people near Mae Sot. When we arrived in Bangkok, we had no idea what adventures God had for us, which gave us big expectations for our time here! When we took our first steps in this beautiful country, our excitement really started to grow! Even though we were tired after a long flight, we were filled with joy and happiness. It was exciting to think about the month we would have in Bangkok, before heading to some of the northern villages near Mae Sot. Here we are, one month later, so thankful for all we’ve learned during our time here. We’ve stayed at the YWAM base in Bangkok, and it feels like our home! The base has blessed us in so many ways. Showers, familiar toilets (not squatty pottys, which we’re tried outside the base) and Internet are some of the goodies we have here. But the biggest blessing has been the fellowship with people who share a common goal and purpose- to know God and to make Him known. The great thing is that it’s not only a goal, but that its a lifelong journey, as we’ve learned through many of our new friendships!

thai ywam baseView from the base in Bangkok

We have made many Thai friends, and they are beautiful! The culture here is very different from Norway; it is very warm and joyful. If smile at a stranger on the street, they smile back. Everybody is tan here, yet they love people with white skin. Due to this, they use “whitening” creams. So we have to be careful about which skin products we buy! The food here is also very nice! Thai people eat rice and noodles for all their meals- breakfast, lunch and dinner. This was an adjustment for us as Norwegian bread-lovers, but now we really like Thai food! Another thing we love about Thailand is all the markets! So now all the girls on the team wear “alibaba” and “elephant” pants, as we call them. We also have to be careful about the way we sit and the way we’re pointing our fingers or feet. When we’re sitting, we have to have our feet down on the ground, and when we’re pointing, we have to use two fingers. If we’re not doing this, we might offend someone.

To further help us understand the culture, we’ve had a translator with us this last month. There are many people we’ve met who can’t speak English, and our translator has helped bridge that gap of communication. She is an amazing person, and we are so thankful to be working with her! The base in Bangkok is also very diverse. It is a meeting point for Christian teams from all over the world! So not only are we learning about Thailand, but we have also learned about many different nations.

thai 1Praying for the fortuneteller we met, along with our translator

Yet one of the biggest differences is the awareness of the spiritual atmosphere here. There are Buddha statues everywhere, and there are “spirit houses” all over. “Spirit houses” are said to be small houses where spirits of the dead people live. We have also gone for prayer walks during our time here. On one of these walks, we met a fortuneteller. We have noticed that these spiritual things have been challenging at times, as we’ve tried to talk with others about Jesus.

When it comes to ministry, we’ve done many cool things! The first days, we had a cultural introduction, and we went on a prayer walk in two Buddhist temples. The following week, we worked at the Nancy Ross Training Center with the NRTC Student Ministry. We had a lot of fun teaching English! We played many games and laughed so much! We helped prepare food in the restaurant on the base, painted and went on more prayer walks and for evangelism in the nearby university campus. In the evenings, we helped lead a couple of meetings. We praised God through worship, sharing testimonies and playing games.

The two following weeks we served at The Ruth Center. This is a ministry which helps elderly people living in the slums of Bangkok. We washed a huge house, we went on more prayer walks and house visits, and we helped with the “Dream Project.” This project gives elderly people opportunities to make items that they can sell, providing them with an income. On our house visits, we had many good conversations and strong prayers! Many people had a huge reaction to us showing them God’s love. Some of them started crying, and they where really touched by God. Its amazing to see how God is working in these visits and in the ministry! We are learning that it’s not about us, but about Him- everything that happens is to His glory! So far we’ve had a great experience, and we’ve learned a lot! Mae Sot is our next destination, where we’re going to work with the Karen people. Its going to be exiting to see what God has for us there!

Text and Photos: Kine Marita, DTS Student

Student Profile: Henrik

This month, we have asked some of our DTS students about their experiences with DTS here at Skjærgårdsheimen. We’re asked them about what they have learned, why they decided to take a DTS, and what they are looking forward to on outreach. Read what Henrik (21, from Vestfold, Norway) has to say.

IMG_2641

Why did you decide to take a DTS at Skjærgårdsheim?

I decided to take a DTS because I saw that my life needed more focus on what is really important. Last year, I took a short weekend course about relationships and how to live a good life in Christ. After this course, I could see that my view of life was changed, and I wanted those changes to continue. So I started looking for a Bible school, courses, or schoolr to continue the process of learning and growingand something about Discipleship Training School stood out to me. I wanted to give my life to God, but just a little bit, so I could still continue my plans and education. Six months also sounded like the right amount of time for a school- I still had the possibilty to work and earn money the rest of the year. I choose Skjærgårdsheimen because I wanted to do a DTS in Norway.  In the end, I was looking at two different bases, and Skjærgårdsheimen was the one that I liked the best.

What has been the most meaningful week in the DTS so far?

The most meaningful week so far has been the week of teaching with Eleanor Rich. All the weeks have been a part of a bigger picture and all of them are important. But Eleanor’s week was about listening to Gods voice. It’s so basic, but at the same time was it really good to become more secure in the way God communicates with us. This makes all the other aspects of God more trustworthy and just creates a big security in Him!

In what ways has your relationship with God changed since starting the DTS?

Throughout my entire life, others- society, schools, church, my parents and friends-  have tried to tell me what life is all about. And then I formed my own opinion about it- what the world is like, who I am, and God is. This view was not completely wrong according to what God wants and what the Bible says. But this school has been an eye-opener to how God created humans to be and the how our identity is founded in him. I already have a much bigger view about God and how my identity is grounded in him. Before the DTS, I was more concerned with “religious” things and doing “right” Christian things. But that is only about culture. But now I realize God is about and in all cultures.

From my previous experiences, I experienced people judging one other because of what they do, or don’t do. Now, I am very aware of my role in the world, and that it’s all between me and the Creator.

Where are you going on outreach and what are you looking forward to the most?

We are going to Cambodia! I am so excited about it. We have so many opportunities to make a difference for the people there, and to spread Gods love to them through different things.  The ministry I am most excited about at the moment is Justice Water. As far as I know, this project is quite established in Cambodia. But it is a BIG project, and there is still a lot of work to be done. Lack of clean water is a big problem in the third world, and it is the main reason why people become sick in those countries. Hand hygiene is also key to preventing disease. Through the Justice Water project, we will be able to partner with locals who have been trained to bring sustainable clean water tanks and techniques to those who need it most.

We will also have opportunities to teach English classes, work in orphanages, evangelize in the street, and join local church ministry. I really look forward to the outreach, and I am excited to see how it can bring me closer to God, and how I can get to know myself better, the world better, develop relationships with other people, and ultimately how it can challenge me to walk the path God has for me.

 

You can continue to follow the blog for more updates from other DTS students and our outreach teams! Please continue to remember all the students and staff in your prayers.

Photo: YWAM Kristiansand photo database

Learning from the Local Church in Hammerfest

DSC05236

During our time in Finnmark with Bible to All, we had the privilege of cooperating with some of the local churches in Hammerfest. Not only did the local churches help with many practical details of this trip- arranging places for our team members to stay, providing food, and transportation in Hammerfest- but they were also a vital part of making the outreach happen. We are so thankful for the help they provided and for the new friends we made during our time in Hammerfest!

Filadelfia church in Hammerfest was our church home and “command center” for the week. Not only did some of Filadelfia’s church members open their homes to us, but this church also became our “second home” during the day, where we met for team meals, where we packed Bibles, gathered for worship and prayer, and warmed up in the evenings when we we gave out Bibles.

DSC05231

We also had the help of the pastor and members from the local Methodist church. The pastor of the Methodist church, Per, was one of our main contacts in Hammerfest. He has a strong commitment to his church and city, and it was so encouraging to see his passion for Jesus and his heart for his friends and neighbors in Hammerfest. He and others in the church joined us for giving out Bibles, and this made the project all the more personal for us- hearing and seeing how they knew or could follow up with the people we were handing Bibles to.

DSC05166

Another member of the Methodist church, Richard, was one of our most faithful drivers, always offering us rides, whether we were on our way to give out Bibles, or if we needed rides to where we were staying (in the cold or up some of the steep hills of Hammerfest). He had a great sense of humor, always cracking jokes about how we could call him “King Richard” or about the awesome four-wheel-drive vehicle he drove. These church members showed us God’s love through both their words and deeds. They showed us how to live out the Gospel practically, through their hospitality and generosity, and through their words, by encouraging those around them and through prayer.

During our time in Hammerfest, our team’s perspective of God grew. Even when people turned down or did not accept a Bible, the local Christians reminded us of the “big picture”- that God will turn those interactions into something good. We were also encouraged to see the churches’ hope and expectation of how God will use this project for good. They talked about the opportunities they would have to follow up and connect with their co-workers and neighbors. Several hundred people in their city received Bibles, and there will be new opportunities for discipleship. New people might come to church, kids in school will talk about the Bible and their co-workers will ask questions. This created a new excitement in the churches we worked with- to see God do new things in Hammerfest. What a blessing to know the seeds we helped plant will continue to grow and receive water and nourishment, thanks to the local church!

Text: Ana Cline, Communications staff, YWAM Kristiansand                                                        Photos: Thomas Reinink

“You call me out upon the waters…”

helene-pouk_web

Here is another post written by Helene, from her time in Thailand and Cambodia. 

“You call me out upon the waters, the great unknown, where feet may fail.”  

 –“Oceans,” by Hillsong

As I’ve listened to this song the last few weeks, God has been speaking to me. To walk on water with him. To make the impossible possible. God is challenging me to push my boundaries, think bigger, and reach for the extraordinary. God doesn’t exist in our definition of normal. God is God, and I’m not. My feet may fail, but I’ll trust in Him to guide me.

We have now been in Cambodia, in the village of Pouk, for almost two weeks. Our days include teaching English, computer and music at the school, plus Bible teaching, kids ministry, gardening, and helping out with the Justice Water project. I’m teaching an “English for Beginner’s” class. It’s amazing to see the students improve and their eagerness to learn. God is really revealing himself through the kids. Both here and in Thailand, people around me showed God’s goodness. Just by letting their light shine.

kids-pouk-web(Photos: Eiliv Søyland)

To be honest I’ve struggled to see what God has been doing through me during this outreach. I know that what we’re doing is good, that we’re helping and showing God’s light in a dark world, but I’ve been so eager for more. This desire is a good thing, but it has also blinded me to see the things that are actually happening. God has reminded me that he has given me that desire- to know him and see great things happen. Now, I’ve realized we  ARE making a difference, and that God is working through our team, but I still long for more. I still long for miracles to take place, so that Gods name will be glorified.

Cambodia is a country with awful history. In 1970, a civil war broke out, and 1/4 of the population was killed under the Pol Potts regime. This had severe consequences. One of these is slavery – child labour, physical work and prostitution. We have also noticed a difference in the spiritual atmosphere here. During these weeks, we’ve all felt challenged to stay joyful. Honestly, it’s been a long time since I’ve felt as annoyed and angry as I was the first days we were here. For no special reason. My attitude needed some serious work. Luckily for me, and the rest of my team, God is greater than any bad mood. But there’s still challenges- every day is a battle. But we’re all warriors of Christ, and with his armor, we’ll always be ready to fight the spiritual battle. The armor does not cover the back, so God doesn’t give an opportunity to run away from this battle. My weapon for attack is His word (Eph 6). This makes me eager to know more of what God says, and get all the knowledge I can.

Every morning I need to make a choice – how is my day going to look? I’ve figured out that it is best to lay it in God’s hands. And to quote again from this week’s song: “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders. Let me walk upon the waters, wherever you will call me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander, and my faith would be made stronger. In the presence of my Savior.” This is my prayer and my wish. For God to lead me to and through things that seem impossible for the human eye. To live in his presence and to be guided by the world’s best guide. Because that is when I’m going to see the most interesting things. Who is guiding you?

Love from Cambodia.

Helene, DTS Student

Village Life in Thailand: #2

Here is another post written by Helene, from her outreach experience in Thailand earlier this year. 

HeleneBlogThailand(Photo: Eiliv Søyland)

After thirteen days in the village Wa Shi Kaaw, we have now returned to the base in Way Te Loo. Here we have all of our belongings, wi-fi connection and the possibility to buy chocolate. All of this is awesome and we’ve been missing it for a while now, but after getting use to a different, simpler lifestyle in the village, we’ve also gotten to love this way of life. This lifestyle includes bucket showers, cooking all kinds of food on the fire, burning the trash, going to bed at 8 PM and listening to the roosters all night long. A simple lifestyle, with a lot of challenges along the way, but it really makes you appreciate the important things in life. Even though the spiders are HUGE, there are pigs outside the toilet, three roosters in the kitchen, cats in the beds, and chickens all over the place, and even if the smell of fried rat is filling the house, it is the love these people give that will remain as the strongest memory in this village. Still, we are making memories that will bring laughter in the years to come. It’s hard to forget not being able to hear Rachel and Finn sing on Glee, because of the roosters singing louder in the kitchen. Or that one by one on the team had to experience an unspoken amount of food coming out again one end or the other, and for some, both.

But one thing I’ve understood during this time, is that it does not depend on where you are, or what you’re doing, everything depends on the people you are creating memories with. The new people you get to know, and the friends already surrounding you. To be able to pray and worship the same God with someone that speaks a different language, and know that your hearts are dwelling in the same place, with the same Lord, is the most awesome feeling. For me, the hardest part on outreach is the fact that we have to leave all the wonderful and lovely people we get to know.

blog-3_rolf(Photo: Helene Fjærtoft)

Then it’s so great to leave with the knowledge that some time, God knows when, we will see each other again. One thing from this culture that will stay with me forever is the hospitality and friendliness of the people here. It doesn’t matter where you’re from or when you come, you’re always welcomed into their homes and served snacks or food. They will kill any sized spider or snake if you ask them to, and if your legs are covered in bites (yes, mine are), they will crush some kind of orange root to give you as medicine. You will always feel secure in the present of the Karen people. At least I do!

These weeks have contained a lot of exciting things. We have been teaching the most beautiful kids at the school here. Even if they don’t understand any English, it’s amazing to see how you are able to communicate in other ways. We have had the opportunity to teach them about the Gospel, to sing songs with them and we have played a lot of games. In addition to the teaching, we have also done some practical work. This meaning picking and bagging corn in the fields. In the evenings we have been visiting the homes, where we have prayed and seen healing, eaten a lot of good snacks, and gotten to know the people in the village. Through singing, laughing and sharing some of our testimonies, we have seen God work in wonderful ways. After a few days of vacation we are now ready to continue our outreach in a new country.  Now we’re heading east towards the Cambodian border. I’m so excited to get to know new people, a new culture, eat new food, and see God’s plans for us in Cambodia.

Lots of love from Asia!  Helene, DTS Student

Creativity and serving God!

andrea-blog

The DTS finished just a few weeks ago, after our teams returned home from outreach and had their last week of teaching here at Skjærgårdsheimen. Check out what one of this year’s students, Andrea, has written about her experience during the DTS. 

The DTS has taught me a lot of new things about myself and about God. How he sees the world and how I should try to see the world through his eyes. This has already had an impact in my life, my future life choices and my outlook on life.

I’ve always been very creative, ever since I was little. Drawing, singing, writing and just making something, anything creative in general. When I was a kid, I wanted to become a pop star off course, but as I got older, people told me that was impossible. And I also began thinking that doing something creative with my music or designing would be very selfish. So, I stopped having those dreams or more honestly, stopped dreaming those dreams. I began thinking about psychology, the priesthood or something like that.

One of the weeks at DTS, we had an awesome teacher named Tove Poulsen. She taught about biblical worldview, which really changed me. I realized that God has created me the way He has for a reason. The dreams we have were just as carefully made in his hands as the other parts of us- He gave us the ability to dream and our heart’s desires for a reason.

My dream is to change the world and make it a better place, and the way I’m going to do it is through art, music, and creative writing – the ways I can do it best, the way He made me. It’s not about doing the most “holy” job in the world, but doing whatever job you have to honor Him. Basically, doing what makes you happy to make Him happy.

andrea-blog2 (Photos: Roland Baltzersen)

When I was on outreach in Thailand, we were carrying wood down from the mountain, and while waiting for the others, I was talking to one of the girls from the Karen team. We were talking about the differences between Norwegian and Karen culture, and all off a sudden she asked me what I wanted out of life. I answered as a Christian girl ‘’should’’ answer, “I want to follow Gods plan for my life.” But then she asked me once more, “but what do you want to do?” Then I told her about my dream and as I told her, my voice just got more and more energetic, louder and faster. Because then I was pouring out my heart, the dreams of my heart. Then she said with tears in her eyes, “you should not deny God and you should not deny yourself. Keep God close and follow your dream, ’cause that is what you’re meant to do.”

The DTS has changed my outlook on life. It has taught me that my dreams, talents and interests have value and I was given them for a reason.

“Not only has the Lord filled him with his Spirit, but he has given him wisdom and made him a skilled craftsman who can create objects of art with gold, silver, bronze, precious stones, and wood.”  – Exodus 35: 31-33

Andrea, DTS Student

Village life

villagelife

It’s been a while since the last update, and the reason for that is the life without electricity and internet. But here are some updates from our two first weeks in the village Maw Kwee in the middle of the jungle of Thailand. Adventure.   

We have just returned back to the YWAM base in Thailand, after some amazing days in the village. We have showered in a river, taught at a school, torn down a house and made room for a new one, ate rat, killed a snake, and also gotten to know some lovely brothers and sisters in Christ.

After two hours in the back of a pick-up truck, we arrived in the village Maw Kwee. We drove through a river, and up a dusty road, which I don’t think would be called a road in Norway. We finally stopped and were met by the Karen-DTS team, and a lot of beautiful kids from the village. The first day we got settled in, took our first shower in the river with sarongs, which wasn’t that easy…
The next day began at 6 am with work duties- making food, cleaning and getting water, quiet time to spend with Jesus, and then breakfast at 7:30 am. The first challenge came right after breakfast: teaching. Christina, Ana and I got a translator and three classes, and without any preparation we stood in front of a class with kids that were eager to learn. After that day I didn’t want do do anything like that again. I can say that my wish was not granted. But after several days with teaching, and some more preparation, it became more fun.

During the week we also got to help the Damola project. This is a project started for the women in Maw kwee in 2012, where they weave things like zipper bags, table runners, handbags and many other things, and sell them in Thailand, Norway, and the U.S. We helped out with different things, like sewing. We are also learning the Karen language and soon we’ll be perfectly good at making Asian food. The “colla was”, also known as the white people, are slowly but safely getting intergraded into this new culture.

During these weeks we have heard a lot of stories. Many of these stories are hard for many of us to even understand or imagine. This village contains mostly of people from Myanmar who have moving stories to tell about their lives, from situations we can’t even imagine. Strong stories from the civil war, soldiers taking over villages with violence, natural disasters…  This really opens our eyes, and makes us appreciate the things we take for granted. We should be better at thanking for the people we have around us, for having a bed, food and clothes. So wherever you are in the world, be thankful, cause we have always something to be grateful for. Make sure your heart is in the right place. As it says in proverbs 4.23; keep your heart with all diligence(…). It says ‘your’ heart. Don’t worry about others, but make sure that your heart is where you want it to be. Because when it’s all over, that is what matters. I will conclude by quoting a wise friend: “We are too small to get in the way of God doing great things through us. Just by walking you are carrying Jesus to dark places. Remember that God is in your presence whether you feel it or not.”

And please continue to pray for us. Blessings from Thailand.

Helene
DTS student