*This blog will be more informational. I have found over the last few weeks these are the questions friends and family have been asking us. A little dry for my normal writing, but will give you a good overview of what we are doing. Also, several parts from the YWAM websites are copied and weaved in below*
First...WHAT is YWAM?
YWAM stands for "Youth With A Mission". In 1956, a vision was given to Loren Cunningham, a 20-year old student from the States, of ocean waves crashing onto the shores of the world”s continents. As he reflected on the vison’s meaning, it was revealed the waves were young kids covering the continents preaching the gospel. Two years later, while leading a mission trip in Hawaii, he gained sense of this new ministry that would send young people out after high school to gain a sense of purpose. It would welcome all Christians no matter what their denomination. Two years later, he and his wife co-found YWAM with the purpose "To know God and make Him known." They are known for Discipleship Training Schools (DTS) for college age students: 12 weeks of lecture followed by a 2-month outreach phase.
WHERE is our DTS?
Well...if you read our first blog you know it's Baja, Mexico! But Baja is really long (about 850 miles)! Our base is located close to Encenadas, Mexico. Brian and I chose this specific base, Rancho Abierto, for a few reasons. If y'all know our family...we don't shy from a sense of adventure. All bases have a different focus, different facilities...this base is "off the grid". Each family stays in a small cabin, enough room for sleeping only. There are bathhouses located nearby, a yurt where staff cooks meals, picnic tables for dining, and a generator to keep us running during the day. (But, more about that later :).
"Abierto" is Spanish for "open" - open hearts, open hands, open home is their theme. Brian & Sue McCoy, the base leaders, have turned their home “Rancho Abierto“ into a launching point for missions. They describe the ranch as "tucked away in a beautiful remote canyon, beside a seasonal stream bed full of native oaks and sycamore trees, and surrounded by rolling hills."
We chose this base not only for the location, but more importantly for the servant hearts of the Brian & Sue McCoy.
We met with them on a zoom call last summer. I was interested but my heart still resistant to leave home- I wanted to go but struggled with feeling like I was leaving Hannah behind. I cannot remember exactly what Sue said during that zoom call, but I remember I felt the compassion of her spirit and knew instantly this is where the Lord wanted us to be. Brian (hubby) also felt the same connection in spirit as soon as he read their bio from their web page. It felt like we found that "sweet spot" ...this was where the Lord wanted us to be.
WHEN is our lecture and mission?
Lecture Phase: 11 weeks (March 28- June 10)
Our DTS lasts 11 weeks. The trainings aim to equip Christians to grow in their relationship with God and to serve others. Each week, a lecturer travels to the base and stays the week while leading the classes. A new theme is introduced each week, with different bases providing unique variations to the lectures depending on the focus of that DTS. God has blessed this DTS with 10 staff families and 10 student families from Canada, Mexico, Germany, New Zealand, Denmark and Singapore!
As I was reviewing our specific schedule below, I enjoyed finding little treasures..
Week 1: The Gospel
Week 2: Humanity of Jesus
Week 3: Storytelling
Week 4: Identity in Christ (What a treasure this also is the week of Passover/Days of Unleavened Bread! 💜)
Week 5: Hearing God's Voice
Week 6: Marriage
Week 7: Leadership & Parenting
Week 8: Friendship with Jesus
Week 9: Freedom
Week 10: Spiritual Warfare
Week 11: Holy Spirit (Another treasure! This follows the Day of Pentecost💜, and our lecture phase ends the same week as Hannah's birthday)
Our day time schedule is packed! It begins at 7am with breakfast, followed by worship then lecture for the morning. After lunch various activities planned such as intercessory prayer, outreach, small group and time with staff for mentorship and counceling as we process all we are learning. It appears evenings are free with exception of Wednesday night worship around a campfire. (Doesn't that sound lovely?!)
Our weekends are free to help around the base or community, rest or explore Mexico! We are hoping to spend some time at the beach and find the best taco stands in Encenada! (Aiden says the beach doesn’t look like this…I’ll be sure to update you with my own pictures haha!)
The kiddos also have DTS. They meet in a child friendly environment to learn the same theme as the adults. Focus for the kiddos is not so much academics but more a “school of the heart”. They also meet 9-3 each day...activities include: teaching from the weekly theme (mentioned above), worship, intercessory prayer, journaling, reading & writing book reports about missionary biographies, learning to listen to the voice of God, praying for the world, learning Spanish & working outside on the farm.
Outreach Phase: 8 weeks (June 11-Aug 6)
The DTS outreach phase gives us a chance to apply the principles we learn during the lecture phase. The goal is to share the love of God which we have experienced in our own lives. There are many kinds of locations for DTS outreach. Following the 11 weeks of lecture, our family will then travel to a mission location (unknown at this time).
Debrief: 1 week (August 7-12)
By the time outreach ends, we will have seen and experienced a lot of new things. It is a time to regroup, share stories of how God moved, and process what God did through us and others during the DTS. It’s also a time to explore where the Lord might be leading our family next. (Another little treasure for us..our DTS ends the same week of the anniversary of Hannah's death 💜)
And lastly..... WHY?
Lastly, a little personal ending from our family. It will be fun to wrap back to these at the end of our 5 month journey!
YWAM: "to give you an opportunity to discover your passions and your part in God’s purposes for the world. It is for those who long to follow Jesus in new ways with a different perspective."
Brian: "A desire to see and feel the power of God so that we can better testify of His strength and goodness. Similar to the respect and exhilaration of swimming in the Pacific surf."
Jenn: "I see this as an opportunity as a family to diving into knowing and encountering God, and pursue His purpose how He wants us to make Him known. I love this base is "off the grid" with a focus to be submerged in His creation. The idea of taking a break from our busy schedule, rest and breathe in God's Spirit for focus and encouragement is appealing. And I'm not going to lie....a bonus is not making dinner for a few months 😜."
Weston: "I want to be a missionary, so I am looking forward to knowing more what I need to do to pursue this and how to witness more easily"
Aiden: "To know more about how God works and how to see Him working in peoples lives, to learn to approach people with a loving heart, and to be submerged in different cultures.
Soli Deo Gloria!