Approaching the Finish Line

Wow time flies! I was given a slight rebuke this week for not having written a blog for some time. It was definitely a fair reminder and so I offer my apology for being slack!

The last couple of weeks have been fairly chaotic but God’s guiding hand has brought stability through it all; even with Him pulling the rug out from under my feet once more. But in all of it God remains the same, His character is unchanging, and so I find peace and comfort. Here is a summary of how life is going:

The DTS:
I have seen tremendous growth in each one of the students over the last 10 weeks. God’s finger print is clearly displayed all over their lives as He moulds and shapes them as new creations. He is healing past hurts, binding up what was broken. The lecturers have brought revelations and most weekends see the students looking a little stunned as they try to process all the information they have just been given.

Bible Studies:
Chollom and I continue to share the teaching of the Bible Studies. I must say this is a highlight for me. I have discovered an untapped passion for equipping them to study the Bible and dig into it for themselves. The method we are teaching them is very full-on but I am so proud of how well they are picking it up! This is definitely a highlight of my week and, overall, of the school!

Outreaches:
We’ve continued to do small weekly outreaches. Many of the students seem to enjoy the school outreach when we went to local primary schools doing skits, games and short teachings about Christ and Scripture. I continue to really love the time at Isibani, a local community centre, where we have been going weekly to uplift the workers through prayer, fellowship and teaching. We’ve also done some practical ministry throughout the school, such as painting.

Relationships:
The Drakensberg continues to feel like a home away from home; just as it did 3 years ago on my own DTS. This certainly helps you feel more comfortable in the environment and in the role as staff member! Community living has its challenges at times but there is such a family feel on base. Glenn and I continue moving forward in our relationship and are trying to use the remaining time together wisely to solidify our friendship.

Challenges:
The last couple of weeks have seen the school getting tired with the work load – lectures intellectually tire one with the amount of new information and then there is outreach to plan for and assignments to complete. But people are being very intentional towards maintaining strong relationships and being sensitive towards each other when they need space and processing time. Great opportunity to practise the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, self-control…

Plans:
Plans have a way of changing when you walk with God. He likes pulling the carpet out from under my feet just when I have everything neatly placed and planned. I will be returning to Australia as planned, after a short week trip to Uganda (definitely a flying visit but more about that later). I’ll now be home for 3 months rather than 2 but I will not be going on to staff the School of Biblical Studies in Taiwan. I will be returning to South Africa in April 2012. I don’t have set plans but at this stage it is looking at remaining in some form of ministry; whether with YWAM or more community based (perhaps using the OT skills…). Who knows – life is an adventure! There is also a project stemming from Congo/ Uganda that am involved in but it will not require me to physically be in Uganda; I’ll be helping in a more administrative and networking capacity.

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Half-Way Highlights

This week marked the half-way point of the DTS lecture phase. There has been ups and there have been downs but here are some points of praise:

Friendships
God made us relational and I have loved building new relationships and furthering old ones since coming back to the Drakensberg. Christ said, “there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.” (Mark 10:29-30). And that is exactly what He has given me here. I am blessed to live on base surrounded by many brothers and sisters in Christ!

Outreach
I’ve really enjoyed the outreaches we are doing into the local community. My favourites have been going to the schools as well as offering what small practical help we can to Isibani, a community centre.

Growth
Watching God work in my life, the students and those here on base is a privilege and joy.

His Beauty
The Drakensberg truly is a beautiful part of the world! I am so blessed to wake up every morning and see His glory in the nature that surrounds this place. The mountains never look the same. Sometimes they are so close you think you could touch them. Other days you can’t see them at all and you can only assume they took the day off. God’s also blessing me with many visits by His creation: monitor lizards, eagles, falcons, bucks, snakes… Some more appreciated than others!

Bible Study
How can I not mention how much I have loved taking the Bible Studies with Chollom on this school! It is confirming this as my passion. Very good thing given I’m going to staff on the School of Biblical Studies next year…

Birthday & Affirmation
Everyone here makes me feel so loved and special. Not only on my birthday but everyday. My birthday was definitely a highlight though with many encouraging words and prayers spoken over my life. The DTS students were determined to give me a great day up at Dragon Peaks and then back on base the rest of the staff came around and loved on me.

Communication
I’m really grateful for internet that allows me to stay in touch with everyone back home and especially Skype, which lets me keep in touch with family 

There are many more positive moments I could share and things that I love about being here but I best leave it there for now.

A little sample of base life…

We are now into our 5th week of the DTS lecture phase. The first 4 have flown by with great teachings, outreach opportunities and fellowship. The base has settled in to a routine and all of us here seem to have found our place within the YWAM Drakensberg family.

Here is a sample of a typical week:

Monday-Thursday:
7:30 Breakfast
9:30-13:00 Lectures
13:00 Lunch
16:00 Work duties (cleaning, cooking, gardening, maintenance etc)
18:00 Dinner

Monday:
8:00 Base worship
19:00 Missions Evening

Tuesday:
8:00 Students give a Chapel Talk (preparation for speaking on outreach)
14:00 Outreach preparation

Wednesday:
8:00 Base Intercession
13:00 Outreach to local Primary school (lunch after)
15:00 Outreach to a local ministry

Thursday:
8:00 Bible Teachings/ Study
Afternoon – “one-on-ones” Where the students meet with one of the staff 1:1. I meet with 2 of the girls. It is a privilege to hear what God is doing in their lives as they process the week and to be able to give them encouragement and support them through prayer.
19:00 Community Night

Friday:
7:30 Breakfast
8:00-11:00 Lectures
11:00-13:00 Small group
13:00 Outreach to local Primary school
14:00 Lunch
14:30 Work duties (cleaning, cooking, gardening, maintenance etc)
18:00 Dinner

The outreaches seem to be a highlight for the students at the moment. The local primary schools love the skits and messages that are brought to them; even more so when they get a chance to re-enact the skits themselves! We’ve also done some painting and, during the school holidays, assisted with a youth club.

Weekends are usually free. A few weekends ago we participated in a Healing Conference and Workshop. God did amazing works during that weekend, in us and in the community, leaving us uplifted, tired and eager for the teaching of the following week which was on the Holy Spirit.

Welcome to D.T.S.

This week marked the start of the September DTS in the Drakensberg, South Africa. The base currently runs 2 DTSs a year – one commences in January and the other in September. The DTS is YWAM’s (Youth with a Mission) foundational school. It stands for ‘Discipleship Training School’. The school consists of 2 phases – the lecture phase and outreach phase.

The lecture phase, which has just begun, consists of 12 teaching weeks. The lecture topics for this school will be:
1. Intro to YWAM
2. Nature and Character of God
3. Holy Spirit
4. Inner Healing
5. Word of God
6. Discipleship
7. Relationships
8. Worship
9. Spiritual Gifts
10. Victory in the Cross
11. Team Dynamics
12. Debrief

Unfortunately, one of our guest speaks had to pull out but I am selfishly excited about the opportunity it has given me to teach on the ‘Word of God’ week. Chollom, the school leader, and me will teach the students using the inductive Bible Study Method we learnt on the School of Biblical Studies. In addition to this week, we are taking Bible studies every Thursday morning. It confirmed my passion for equipping the church in Bible teaching when I took this Thursday’s class on the Bible Overview.

Other than the set lecture times, the students are also involved in the following duties and activities:
• Base Worship
• Chapel talk (practising giving sermons, testimonies and messages in front of an audience)
• Base Intercession (prayer)
• Outreaches to local schools, townships and serving local ministries.
• One-on-ones: students meet one to one with a staff member. The student brings the agenda and it is an opportunity to process what they are learning and what God is doing in their lives.
• Small groups (processing over the week’s teachings and events. On larger schools the students are broken up in to groups of 4 or 5 but as this is a small school we remain as a whole group).
• Community meetings – inviting the community to a time of fellowship and worship. The guest lecturer also gives a small message.
• Missions evenings – guests are invited in to show the students different sides of missions.
• Work duty – a very important part of discipleship and growth! Students help out with base living such as cooking an cleaning for about 2 hours a day during the week. We rotate weekend cooking duty.
• Journals– the students journal each week. They record things such as:
o New Ideas – something new they learnt that week
o Intercession – what God was speaking to them during intercession
o Cheer – a positive experience during the week or something that they really enjoyed.
o Jeer – something negative or that they disliked.
o Etc
• Book reports – the students read 2 books during the school which they complete a book report on summarising what they learnt or the main theme of the book. The compulsory reading is “Is that really you, God?” about how YWAM was founded.

I hope this gives you a small insight to life during a DTS lecture phase. As a staff member I help facilitate this time as well as lead small aspects of the class times. I take some of the one-on-ones with the girls. The other female staff member is away at the moment and so this week I took the 3 female students. It is such a privilege and a humbling experience. We also lead small groups and some of the intercession times, coordinate outreaches, arrange for the outreach phase, “mark” the journals each week, and so forth.

Its been busy but I love it. I am so glad God gave me this opportunity and it is a privilege to see what He has already begun in the lives of our students. It is a school I recommend for anyone who desires to know God more and develop their relationship with Him. It certainly isn’t a holiday but it is more than worth it!!!