Friday, August 1, 2014

Where did you do your DTS?

"Where did you do your DTS?" If you have been in Youth With A Mission, you have heard that question before. But it is usually not a one-word answer. A Discipleship Training School intentionally, physically and spiritually moves you. For three months you leave home to live on a campus with the other students in the school. That campus may be in your home town or across the country. In 2007 we left our home in the midwest and traveled to Salem, Oregon. For some, the campus where their DTS journey begins is in a country far from home.
Heading out for our own DTS years ago.
But getting to the campus where you live and learn together is just the first step. After three months, just about the time you are getting comfortable with finding your way to buy toothpaste and laundry detergent, another, more drastic change of your situation occurs.

Commonly called outreach, it is the MAKE HIM KNOWN portion of the training. (YWAM's mission is to know God and make Him known.) At this point you have been challenged to listen for God's voice, trust Him in new ways, see His heart for every tribe and tongue, and seek to know Him more deeply than you ever have before. Outreach is the living classroom where you learn by doing. For us, that living classroom was the Philippines - Manila, Naic, Kakabay, Baguio, Bontoc, Can-eo, Sadanga, and Sacasacan.

Did we do our DTS in Salem, Oregon? Partly. Did we do our DTS in the Philippines? Partly. We did our DTS in Salem and the Philippines. Without the combination of KNOWING GOD and MAKING HIM KNOWN, the DTS would be incomplete. Discipleship is not just to know God. In following Jesus, we have the privilege and responsibility to make Him known. Of course a DTS is just a step in the journey of a life of discipleship.

Beginning in January this year, we helped to staff a DTS which began at YWAM Baguio Training Center. We were (and still are) excited to help others on their journey to discover more of who God is and His plan for their life. Our students came from various places throughout the Philippines as well as Vietnam and Australia. One exciting aspect of our work with YWAM has been the opportunity to meet people from so many countries and cultures around the world.
Our family with my Vietnamese DTS "daughter", Faith
The first three months were at the YWAM Baguio Training Center. During that time, we had one-on-one discipleship and mentoring with students, small groups, community activities, evangelism, and much more in addition to the lectures. I really enjoyed my one-on-one times with James and Junior. We would discuss what was going on in the lectures, their families, and their hearts. It was exciting to see the changes that God was bringing about in their lives. It was a privilege to be invited to be a part of the process.
Junior with his wife and daughter on Camiguin Island
James with a Camiguin lunch - or is it breakfast or dinner, hmmm?
After the on-campus time was complete, it was time to step out and help the students learn to make Him known. I had the honor of taking Annalise with me as I led part of the team to Camiguin Island at the far northern end of the archipelago. (There is another Camiguin Island further south known for being a tourist destination...that's not the one we went to.)
Naguilian shoreline on Camiguin Island
Camiguin Island has three communities. For those places with electricity, it is supplied by a generator that runs from 6:00 - 10:00 pm. Fuel has to be brought over on a boat. It is 4-5 hours to the mainland in good weather and in bad weather, no boats make the trip for cargo or people. Hand pumps are the source of water, and many wells are somewhat brackish (imagine unflavored Gatorade). There is no hospital and only 1 high school on the island. Only one of these communities has an established, functioning, biblical church.
Thomas, Annalise, and friends on Camiguin Island
Annalise and I spent two weeks on the island with the team. During that time we enjoyed the peaceful, slow pace of island life. There was plenty of time for talking with people. One day I spent a long time talking with one man as he relaxed in his hammock under a thatched shelter with his fighting rooster on a leash nearby.
How do you solve the problem of a disintegrating sandal on a hike between villages on a small island in the Pacific? With duct tape of course!
As a team we went from village to village, doing open air evangelism, dramas, and Gospel film showings. People were so open to hear what we had to share of God's great love shown through Jesus Christ. I remember one night, at the beginning of our presentations, only a few had gathered. But more and more came as dramas and testimonies were shared. Afterward the team sat with different groups talking and praying with them. We still had an hour's hike in the dark to return to the place we were staying that night and when we had to say good-bye, the people were sad and reluctant for us to go.
Annalise - fresh fish, rice, and noodles
It may seem silly, but perhaps one of my fondest memories of my time on the island with Annalise comes from a funny thing she said.  Before the trip we were talking with her about how she would not be able to be particular about food. She had been adamantly against eating fish for many years and since there is no market on the island, it was obvious that fish and rice would be the primary foods. (Yes, rice and fish for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.) Well, one day we were sitting in the shade after swimming in the clear waters around the island and she dreamily states, "I could live here forever - fresh fish, rice, and noodles."

After two weeks, Annalise and I took the team back to the mainland where they continued ministry for another week or so. I had to get back to prepare for the first session of PHILEO Response Team training.
Alayna, before the 13 hour trip so where you catch the boat to Camiguin Island
Later, the team returned to Camiguin Island to follow-up with the work that was begun there. On the second trip, I had the pleasure of Alayna's company.
3 smiling MK's - missionary kids
Alayna and I were separated during the first week of our ministry. She went to the village of Minabel to spend time with a local missionary's family. I continued to lead the team in Naguilian. By this time in the outreach, the students were really doing a great job. My "leading" became more of an ongoing process of one-on-ones with the students and younger staff.
Alayna, Analo, and Faith doing sea-vangelism
We talked with people along the road and in their houses. This led to starting a Bible study with a couple families. We also distributed Bibles in the Ilocano language so people could continue to learn more about the magnificent salvation we have been offered.
Octopus was sometimes on the menu/table also...chewy
At the end of June, both parts of the DTS were complete and it was time for the students to graduate and move on.  "Where did you do your DTS?" I don't know if they would answer Baguio City or Camiguin Island - probably both.
But that was just one step in the journey. "Where are you going?" is now the question to ask. Several of the graduates have already entered into some sort of missionary work with YWAM. We pray that each student who completes a DTS, like all disciples, can answer without hesitation, "Wherever HE leads me!"


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