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.

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.

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

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

Karen Feast

KKKLast Wednesday we had a Karen Feast Fundraiser here at Skjærgårdsheimen. It was a lovely evening with about 50 people that all have a heart for the Karens, coming together. We shared a three course Thai dinner followed by simple Karen snacks, sitting on the floor in the candle light the Karen way. Frank Otto, who himself has lived real village life among the Karens, entertained with singing and telling stories from good old days in Karen land. Several others who also have been there, joined in the storytelling and made the evening a fun and personal time with sharing of good memories around the dinner table.

A generous gift was given to Serving Karens, a ministry connected to Skjærgårdsheimen, started and run by fieldworkers sent out from here.  There were woven products for sale made by women who are a part of the development project, Damola. Damola means hope in Karen. The project was started by one of our fieldworkers, Karina Vennerød, and helps five very poor women feed their families. We experienced an evening with a warm atmosphere as we got together in this cold and dark season to put the Karens, their struggles and the ministry among them on the agenda. 

Liv Jorun Bolås,

Staff International Department