"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." -Galatians 2:20

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Look mom! I can ride a bike!

I’ve been here almost a week already, whoah… I want you all to know just how stoked I am to be here.  Although it was a rough start, I know that God is with me and I am right where He wants me.  For 6 years I have waited for this, and it still feels surreal that this is actually in my passport

My schedule has been pretty tentative, and apparently it could be changing every week, so I’m always on my toes.  This week there were a couple meetings, getting to know the staff here at YWAM Amsterdam, and of the specific ministries, such as the Lighthouse (where I will be focusing).  I also got a chance to join the homeless ministry here on Monday night for a couple hours.  The homeless ministry on is on Monday and Friday nights; the team goes out when the Salvation Army truck stops to make their food drop which happens to be right outside De Poort (the building I’m staying in) and we meet them with coffee, tea, and cakes.  Since the Salvation Army people leave as soon as everyone is served, we get a chance to hang out long after they leave when the homeless just linger and talk to them about the gospel as well as build relationships.  It was a pretty neat experience actually; there were about 70 people that showed up, almost all of them men, from all over Europe.  I got to talk to a man named Gabur (gah-boor) from Bulgaria for an extended amount of time.  He originally came through Amsterdam looking for a job, and didn’t find one, so he turned to “the green smoke,” as he called it, for a while and realized that was wrong.  He believes in God and is looking for a church, because he wants to understand the Bible more, and said he wants help.  Please pray that Gabur finds a church soon that will give him a community of believers to disciple him in the Word.

Wednesday was my first time getting to go through the Red Light District with one of the Lighthouse ministry staff doing a prayer walk as she told me about the specific areas and where they go as a team.  What I thought was really interesting is one of the parts of the Red Light District is literally surrounding this huge church called Oude Kerk, which means “Old Church.”  In the pictures below, if you look closely on the last one you can see that on the right side of the church there is a building and on the ground floor there are windows with red curtains, those are where the ladies windows start and keep going behind the church and around it.  This view is actually from the Lighthouse building, as it is located directly across from the Oude Kerk and part of the RLD. (P.S. if you didn't already know this, if you click on the actual picture, another screen will pop up with a bigger version of it so you can see pictures clearer :)

On Thursdays the Lighthouse team (as well as whoever else wants to join) has an intercession time in prayer for about 2 ½ hrs. on behalf of the Red Light District at the Tabernacle, which is another YWAM building that is like a house of prayer and worship, actually located right next door to the Lighthouse.  It was really neat to be a part of that, knowing that we, as Christians, are given the privilege and opportunity to intercede in prayer for the women and men that work in the sex trade on these streets, putting them at the feet of God.  Pretty cool stuff.

The rest of the time this week, for me, has been a lot of familiarizing myself with the city, which had it’s highlights…
#1: below is pictures of probably the best library I have ever been to in my life, and the view from the very top floor which is a really good cafe.  This library has everything you could possibly imagine in it, complete with very modern technology that is accessable to the public, awesome (and comfortable) seating areas, and this giant wing that kids can just play in.

#2: Seeing some of the cool sites in this beautiful city with my friend Tania, who was really the person who helped make this whole trip happen, she has been wonderful :)  The last two pictures are of the Palace, where the royals used to stay, but is now just a museum, and one of the oldest movie theaters in Amsterdam.

#3:  Finally, below is me risking my life and getting on a bike in Amsterdam for the first time :D oh yeah! I did it.  By the way, if you don't know, riding a bike here isn't all "happy go lucky riding over bridges by the tulips and windmills" like they show you in the pictures...the best comparison I could come up with is like driving a taxi in New York... A-GRESSIVE.

 Over at de Poort, I took a few pictures so you all could get a better glimpse of where I live...

This is a view down the hall, from the kitchen.  I live through an orange door just like the ones you see close up that is through the wood/glass door that you see in the distance on the left side.

This is a back door that leads onto part of the roof that most of the missionaries kids use as a playground.

De Poort was originally a hostel for sailors, but was taken over by the nazis in WW2 and they used this tower to watch the city.  Now, it is called "the prayer tower" and used as a room for prayer :)

This is my lovely little community kitchen that I share with the rest of this side of the hall.

This is the view from my bedroom window...

Oh ya, and I still sort of have a sore throat...Rebeca, one of my neighbors who is a lady from Mexico who leads the homeless outreach here, gave me this shady medicine for your throat from Mexico...hahah.  Apparently it's like iodine for your throat/mouth, so you dilute it with water and gargle with it.  Thankfully I can read spanish so I knew I wasn't just putting something in my mouth that I had no idea what it was...but the fact that I was gargling with something that closely resembles iodine was still sketchy. The things you do on mission trips...eh, what the heck.  However, the Dutch thing to do is drink lots of tea and coffee over here, which feels great on the ol' throat, so I've been drinking plenty of that :)  The picture below is of some fresh mint tea...mmmmm.

Thank you all for continuing to pray.  It really means a lot to me to know that I am supported by such prayer warriors as I step out in faith boldly proclaiming God's truth to the people here.  This is a spiritual battle people, so pray for God to unleash His power over the evil work that is in this city protecting me and breaking the chains of bondage that the evil one has people under.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Day #1 - Sick

Ok so here were the travel highlights, amongst the normal waiting in 3 hour lines, feeling like I’m in a grocery store line where instead of scanning the produce, they scan you, and of course, enduring peoples pathetic but entertaining attempts at pronouncing my last name (“It’s easier than it looks,” I tell them):  My first flight from LAX to O’Hair was delayed about an hour, which wasn’t bad, I actually got to talk to this nice guy on the plane and share the gospel with him.  However, the delay resulted in me literally sprinting out of the plane and through the terminal to the gate to my connecting flight from O’Hair to Amsterdam, thankfully I made it just in time.  Suprisingly enough, I got the aisle seat on the 8 hour flight and met a sweet Dutch guy that sat next to me, and heard all about his family and learned a few Dutch words on the way, score! J  The bad news is, I think I’m sick…it hit me at the end of the first flight, my throat started feeling weird, and my eyes were burning as it was because I was so tired and then I just didn’t feel right.  As each hour passed my throat hurt progressively more and my body feels like someone took a bat to it.
But my friend was at the airport to pick me up, my baggage wasn’t lost, and overall it wasn’t bad.  I am staying in an old building called De Poort, it is one of the buildings that YWAM has owned for a long time and half of it gets used by YWAM staff and the other half is rented out to a music school.  I am staying on what looks like a dorm floor, which is fun, in a room that someone is letting me use since she isn’t going to be here for a couple months.  It is THE CUTEST little room, I feel like I’m staying in the penthouse suite, definitely did not expect to be staying in a room like this, God CLEARLY wanted to bless my socks off.  Check out the pictures below!
As far as specific prayer requests, please pray that God heals me from this sickness, because I literally feel like my body got hit by a car and my throat hurts reaaaaally bad.
Stay tuned for more pictures and updates!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Wait is Over

Well, the waiting is almost over.  I only have 2 days left here in California before I take off for Amsterdam!  I am ecstatic to report that God has provided above and beyond what I needed in terms of finances for the internship.  Thank you to all who have been praying and giving!  Although I can always count on God’s faithfulness to provide, it’s always incredible to see it actually happen. Can I get an amen?!
These past 3 weeks being home have been really great actually.  What is funny is, if you read my last blog you would know that I was supposed to be working while I was home before I left for Amsterdam, but a few things happened to where I ended up not getting the job I planned on, so these last couple of weeks have really been a nice break.  A much needed break after all the craziness at school last semester.  It has been wonderful being able to have the time to meet with friends and hang out with family, see my sister get baptized and graduate high school, and a lot of other things :) 
As far as my internship goes, there were a few complications concerning who is going to be my supervisor at the organization (YWAM) that I was informed of last week. Though I wrestled with being overwhelmed with worry for a night, I was reassured that our God is in control, and this was really just one of the devils schemes to knock me over.  I know that God wants me in Amsterdam, and at this point, my contacts over there on the ministry staff figured out someone else to be my supervisor and work out my new and revised schedule. 
Updates about what specifically I will be doing, now that a few things have changed, will be up in a few days when I get over there and find out more…as well as plenty of exciting airport and plane pictures of my 14+ hour trip overseas. Yaaayyy.
Keep praying, the Lord is going to do some awesome things! Look for pictures soon!