Hello friends and family,
I know I haven’t been posting much the past few weeks, and well, to be honest, I haven’t done much. I spent two weeks in Panama City hanging out in a hotel editing for hours on end to finish my first short film and documentary. The odds were stacking up against us after Adobe’s programs crashed time after time again, and once too often, the file would show up as corrupt, and every now and again, it would crash in the middle of my word, and that would be the time that I didn’t save. So to my disappointment, I didn’t get to see much of the city, didn’t get a single picture of the skyline, but I did get to enjoy air conditioning and coffee for my 6 hour editing marathons, and to my surprise and satisfaction, I finished on time to show it to the staff at the YWAM Tijuana base where we prayed into a future ministry and for the men in our documentary.
Unfortunately, I can’t share the film with you yet, I’m still trying to sort of music licenses, and trying to figure out why Bethel is charging me $160 to use one minute of one of their songs. So I am waiting for some emails to come through before I can finalize it for Vimeo. But I would like to share with you about the film.
Going into this, we didn’t know what story we were looking for, we didn’t know who we were going to interview, we didn’t even know how long we wanted it to be. So we get there, and we go into Zona Norte, and started interviewing people. One man, Ruben, was a deported veteran. He fought in the Vietnam war for America, and after getting out of the service, he started living recklessly, and began holding up banks. He was in prison for 32 months, and despite the officer saying that it would be too much paperwork to deport him, he got deported anyway. The second man we interviewed was one part alcohol and two parts drugs. Fortunado has been a drug addict for a long time, and we were hoping to find him sober. Tiffany, our leader, has known him for the past two years. She met him when the homeless still lived along the river right next to the boarder before the police began to flush them out. The third man we interviewed we found sitting in a park enjoying a sucker. Eduardo told us that when you’re over the age of 40, it becomes increasingly difficult to find a job. So we prayed for him to find a job, and two days later when we were walking along Playas, we saw him working as a security guard. God answers prayers, friends! He was thrilled, and gave the glory to God for providing for him. The last man we interviewed, George, used to be in the mob, and after getting married and getting deported for domestic violence, he ran into a pastor with a broken down car. Being a mechanic, he offered to help, and told him that he wanted to go back to California, but the pastor told him that he should stay in Tijuana and help people out, because a lot of people need help here.
But despite the situations these men went through, by the miracle of God, they’re finding hope and making it in Mexico. So this documentary will be up, hopefully in the next few weeks, but that’s just a short overview of what it’s about!
So now that we’re back in Hawaii, this will be my last blog post on DTS, and I just want to talk about some incredible experiences I had here. Some of these things were written in previous blog posts, but I want to do a short summary of everything
So starting in lecture phase, I realized pretty quickly how blessed I am to be going to a church that has really solid teaching and puts a lot of effort in covering the most important things. I realized this because most of the topics for each week, my church has had entire series on in the past. I felt like I knew more than I thought which was encouraging, because coming into this, I felt like I was inadequately prepared. I had only read a few full books in the Bible, I wasn’t familiar with all the new worship songs that everybody loved, I didn’t have quiet times often, if at all, so that was a little intimidating going into this. But with each week, hearing the things that I had already known made me remember and start to realize what that means in my life. It’s like when you’re studying about a particular landmark in school, and then you finally get to see that landmark, or when you spend hours reading trail reports, and then you finally get up and hike the trail, that’s when it makes sense, that’s when it clicks. So no, I didn’t really learn anything new, but things started to click, that’s the important part.
I did learn a new appreciation for my mother though. After sharing a space with 20 girls, and being one of the few people to do dishes, I realized why my mom would get frustrated when she would come home to a few dishes in the sink. I also learned that it really doesn’t take that long to take care of dishes, especially when you don’t have to wash them by hand. I also look forward to doing laundry. It’s hot and humid here, so your clothes get sweaty and sticky pretty quickly, so it’s always great to have clean clothes. I will add that to my list of things moms want to hear their children say.
I learned that I’m more of a morning person that I thought I was. This may have been the fact that we were getting up at 4:30 every morning, or it could have been the coffee I drowned in to fully wake me up after a restless night, but once I got on outreach, I was almost always getting up around 6:30-7:00 to enjoy breakfast, have a cup of coffee, read a book, play a little piano, and just enjoy the quietness of the morning. It’s not a chore to get up anymore, and I look forward to coming home and getting a job that allows me to work earlier in the morning.
When we were in Tijuana, I got to play violin in a prayer house that works with the red light district there, so they have one team that goes out to do ministry, and one team that stays back to worship and intercede. Because I had such a hard time with the environment, it was loud and distracting, and I couldn’t keep my thoughts straight, I started to stay back to lead worship. This was something I felt like I was good at, and something that I could be useful in, and I was. I think intercession has incredible power, and I’ve seen it alive and active in my life, and I’ve seen a lot of those prayers come through. On the last night we were there, I was playing violin, this guy, Jojo was playing piano, and it was entirely Holy Spirit led, and I just wanted more of it. So before we left, the entire team of Selah blessed us, and they blessed me with new melodies and new music.
Mexico City held a lot of worship. Worship in the park, worship on rooftops, worship in front of cathedrals, worship on the streets, and I was playing just about every other day (which totally made the $65 fee to bring in on the plane on Mexican airlines worth it). I didn’t see very much of Mexico City again because I was working on the video, and Adobe was crashing worldwide, so it took me about three hours to pull the program up so I could do about an hour of editing, and then it would crash again. So it was frustrating, there was a lot of spiritual attack there, but I liked the city a lot. From the overcrowded Metro to the amazing street food, Mexico is pretty great. However, I can live a happy life not eating Mexican food for the next few months!
Panama was my favorite place. We took an 8 hour bus ride from Panama City to David where we spent the first half of our time there in the Ngabe tribe building a home of hope for a widow, playing with adorable children, and capturing the beauty of the mountains. It was dirt, sandwiches, bug bites, rain, sun, and hot, hot, hot for that time, but it was great! We made new friends from different YWAM bases, we touched children’s hearts, and we started a movement in a community that will lead to incredible revival. I also got to play my violin up there, we did a prayer walk around the build site, and I played violin as we walked, dodging trees and trying not to slide on the constantly moist ground. I also played worship for the team when we were back at the campground. The food was amazing, turns out I really like Panamanian food, it’s not spicy like Mexico, but the flavors are good, like the Indian fry bread we had for breakfast. Heaven. On. Earth.
When we came back to the city, the rush to finish the video began, and I didn’t leave the hotel for 3-4 days straight. But on one of the days that I left, I got the opportunity to play violin for the former dictator of Panama when we were visiting a prison to teach a Bible study. This man has given his life to Christ, made a live, public apology for what he did when he was in command, and is working closely with his pastora to learn more about Christ. I don’t think I’ll ever get an opportunity to do something like that again.
I ended up selling that violin though. I knew it wouldn’t make it back to Colorado with the humidity changes, so I figured it would serve better on a YWAM base that holds art focused courses. It does feel kind of weird not having to carry it around all the time, actually, it’s really nice, it’s not as bulky, and the first time I went through security without it, I could have made record time! So I’m glad that it’s in good hands, and I don’t have to worry about it!
Now I’m back in Kona, we’re about to debrief the last five and a half months, I’m putting final touches on the documentary, anxiously awaiting the last 10 days to come home and rejoin my family.
I feel like I’ve matured a lot here. Gaining cultural experience, surviving community living, (Emily, you were the best roommate in all my almost 20 years of living) and being away from home for so long has brought out a lot in me.
Being an introvert, this was probably the worst thing I could do.
Being adventurous, this was probably the best thing I could do
There were ups, there were downs, there were things I wish I could have gone back and changed, but thinking about it now, this was the right season, this was the right time, this was the place I was supposed to be in this moment.
I really just learned that I’m not always in control, and that’s ok. Right now, my plans for the future are changing and shifting from what I originally thought. I’m still planning on going to school when I get back, but there are also some opportunities that may be available to me that will either prevent me from doing that right away, or I’ll just end up doing online school.
I learned that I sometimes spend a lot of time complaining when faced with limitations. Being on an island, and not being an aficionado of the ocean, has been pretty difficult. I spent weekend after weekend just sitting here complaining that there’s nothing to do, that nobody invites me to do anything, and all this, and my poor boyfriend listened to me complain for 12 weeks, and even now, I’m still kind of doing that, but I at least realize it. And to my surprise, when we were in the hottest place on outreach, with the most humidity, I felt like I did very little complaining. That was something I really wanted to kill in myself by the time I go home. I don’t have it perfect, but it’s definitely better.
With 6 days left, I’m ready to come home, I know my family is for sure, and I’m ready to stay home for a good while before traveling again.
19 roommates, 14 flights, 12 weeks of lecture, 11 weeks of outreach, 5 YWAM bases, 2 8-hour bus rides, and one unforgettable experience are all being wrapped up this week.
I want to send out a huge thank you to everybody who donated toward my time here. I literally would not have come without you, and the opportunity that you all provided for me has been one of the best things I could have done in my life. Thank you for contributing to the person I’ve become.
In the end, I have found a joy that I've never had before.
See you all in 6 days!