Friday, October 30, 2009


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Monday, October 26, 2009

Update and counting the cost

These past few weeks have flown by.We have entered into the second half of our lecture potion, and we are officially a quarter of the way through our entire DTS. The first six weeks of lectures focused inwardly, on our personal relationships with God, and we discussed topics such as forgiveness and repentance, God's destiny for our lives, and the character and nature of God. Now we are turning to focus outwardly on how God views the world. This week we began talking about missions,and we also began doing outreach preparation.

In beginning outreach preparation we have been continually reminded of the difficulty of what lies ahead. We are told again and again how much people are stretched on outreach, and this will only be more so for Laura and I because we are in a committed relationship. We had several conversations last week about what our relationship is going to look like on outreach, and it has been something that we have been struggling with, as it is going to be the farthest away from what our relationship looked like in the states. Because of the culture, there is no physical touch allowed, and we have also been warned that our one on one communication will be very limited if we are even to have it at all.

Though we know that outreach is going to be the hardest thing that either of us have ever done, we know that it will only drive us closer to God as we depend solely on his strength. We also know that outreach is part of counting the cost of being a following of Christ. It is quite strange when I really think about it that we are paying a large sum of money to travel to another country to suffer in many ways which we could have completely avoided by staying at home.

Today we talked about what true conversion really means and about counting the cost of being a disciple of Christ. The base leader, who is teaching us this week, made the statement that, "we did not join a social club, we joined an army
(2 Timothy 2:3-4)." What a true statement that is! When choosing to follow Christ we did not choose an easy task, however, the benefits of experiencing God to the fullest is worth it, and something that we would not trade for anything. Laura and I are simply beginning to learn why Paul said that he counted all things as a loss compared to knowing Jesus (Philippians 3:7-8).

We also know that what we are doing is not only about this life, it is actually more so about the next. "If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pittied more than all men (1 Corinthians 15:19)." We know that what we are doing is about eternity, it is about showing God's love to the world, and it is worth the cost of being uncomfortable.

However, even though it is worth it, that does not mean that it is going to be easy by any means and we have continued to experience the difficulties of outreach weeks before we leave. Please continue to be praying for us as we prepare for outreach and as we continue to grow here.

Please also be praying for Laura as she is experiencing health difficulties with either allergies,as it is spring here, or some kind of sinus infection.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

New Address

Before coming, we gave out our mailing address, but that address expires the end of the month. Please use this new address if sending anything :)

Name (Laura or Stephen)
c/o YWAM Wollongong
PO Box 4040
Shellharbour NSW 2529

Love to you all!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Outreach take 2

Because of the sensitivity of our outreach location, the leaders have requested that we do not publicly post any details about our outreach location. We did find out today that we will be going to South East Asia, and that Laura and I will be in the same group. I'm very excited about our group and know that God has great things in store for us.

If you would like to know more information about our outreach, please send me and email at:

I'm planning on sending out an email soon to tell about our outreach location, and this email address will be the only means of contact that I will have while on outreach. Laura's email address for outreach is:

One of the major prayer requests about outreach right now is money. Over all as a group there is still $45,000 that need to be raised. Even though Laura and I have been blessed to already have our outreach fees paid for, there are many who are faithfully relying on God to provide the money for them to go.

I would ask that you would even prayerfully consider donating to someone in our group. If you would be interested, please send me an email.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Photos by Josh Hantho

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Month #1

Month 1

Today marks the one month anniversary of me being here in Australia, and what an eventful month it has been. I want to spend some time updating you on what has been going on in my life this past month, and then let you know how you can continue to be praying for me.


In the class room we spend 12 hours every week receiving teaching from a variety of different guest speakers. So far we have had a local pastor, an YWAM national leader, and a former YWAM base leader speak to us on the topics of: Hearing God’s voice, Repentance and Forgiveness, and The Father Heart of God. Many of the class sessions that we have had have left my head spinning. Although I say my head, it is really more a stirring of my heart that causes me to think. The topics that we have covered have been very challenging to many of my former ways of thinking and it takes quite some time to process all the information. It seems I am never done processing the information before we receive teaching on another topic which has a similar effect.

Most of the teaching has been excellent and beneficial, though it is far different than the teaching that I have received from the Greek style of education in the states. So far none of the teachers have used bullet points, graphs, power points, or fill in the blanks as I am used to. The instructors tell a lot of stories, do hands on exercises, and are willing to go down “rabbit wholes,” as one speaker put it, if there are questions on a topic that is not necessarily being addressed.
I have struggled somewhat to fully grasp what each speaker is trying get across, due to my preferred analytical style of learning, but there has been at least one thing in each class period which I could think and study for days, even without structured teaching.

One of the best things about the lecture portion is that those who are teaching stay on base with the rest of us. This means they eat with us, hang out with us, travel with us, and “do life with us,” as is the popular saying here. This allows us to really get to know the instructor and to ask questions that we didn’t have time for in class. This is something that I desired while being at my University that was lacking; closeness with those who are imparting information which has the potential to change your life.

Continually in Scripture we are warned against the danger of false teachers (eg. Colossians 2:8, 2 Peter 2:1-3) and as Paul says we are to “Test everything. Hold to what is good” (1 Thessalonians 21). I have found living in the same community with those teaching me has allowed me to do just that; it has allowed me to see if the speakers practice what they teach. Not seeing pastors or teachings out side of a professional environment has hindered me from doing so in the past.

Outside of class

We don’t have near as much free time as I had expected, except for the weekend on which generally we are able to do what we want with our time. During the week when we are not in class our time is filled with intercessory prayer, worship, evangelism, one on one mentoring, small groups, and work duties. Evenings are also generally free, but always seem to go very quickly. We also have a community night every Thursday when members of local churches, or others that we have met in the community, are invited to the base for a time of worship and teaching, along with a tea and social time.

Thursdays are my highlight day of the week because of the opportunity to do evangelism. The past two weeks I have gone to spend time feeding and talking with the homeless in Wollongong, which has been a moving experience. I’m now beginning to build relationships with them and I look forward to going there every week. I also enjoy community night because it is always good to see new faces on base and have the opportunity to meet some none believers in the area.

Other highlights out side of the class room have been: Taking an adventurous trip to Sydney, seeing dolphins in the ocean, going to the beach on a daily basis (when the weather is nice), going to see a local water fall, and doing a DTS amazing race.
Laura and I

Being in an environment with such close community has been a real change for Laura and I. It is hard to find a place to go where we are able to have a private conversation, and we haven’t been able to have the one on one time near as much as we were able to at home. However, the staff here has been very generous to us, allowing us to go on a few dates, and have even encouraged us to spend more time together. As some of you might not know, YWAM has a no dating policy during the DTS, but Laura and I have been allowed to be the exception. Although we haven’t had as many date opportunities as at home, it has been such a blessing to be able to see Laura, and spend time with her everyday. We have learned a tremendous amount about each other, but at the same time learning and growing closer with our personal relationships with Jesus.
Out Reach

We are still uncertain where we are headed for the outreach portion of the DTS. As I found out soon after I got here, there is not a pre-planed location for out reach. In order to determine where to go on out reach, we simply spend a week praying asking God to reveal to us where to go. Because of YWAM’s globalized organization, there are seemingly endless locations we could go. The one thing we do know for sure about the location is that we will be going somewhere in the 10/40 window.


-Please pray for wisdom and guidance for an out reach location
-Please pray for the health of everyone on the base. (There seems to always been someone sick, and sickness spreads like wildfire here)
-My relationship with Laura,that we would continue to learn out to serve one another, but that we would stay focused on the reason for us being here, which is growing in and serving Jesus

Thank you for your time, I miss you all and am praying for you all. I really would enjoy to hear an update from you on what is going on in your life and how I can be praying for you. It would mean a lot to me if you would take a few minutes to update me on your lives.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Hello from the common room...

says Laura :) Yes this is officially Laura writing you all the way from the common room on our base in the chilly land of Australia! It is surprisingly chilly here with the weather moving from winter into spring. It has also been rather rainy the past few days which has been, at times, rather refreshing but also tends to add to the overall chill in the air. It's now Tuesday evening of week 4. This week, we are learning about the Fatherheart of God. These past few weeks have been an incredible journey, each day holding more than I can really even recall. I have been stretched in ways I never expected and have been discovering things contained within myself that I never knew were there.

Last weeks teaching was done by a woman from South Africa named Fiona. She was a lovely firecracker of a woman! Right at the beginning of the week, she made it clear that she would love to meet with each of us individually to talk about anything we may like. And by the end of the week, I believe every single person did sit down with her, if not more than once, simply to talk about life or issues that had come up throughout the week of teaching. She gave of her time and heart abundantly pouring out all she had to give, only to go on to another week of teaching somewhere else. The topic was repentance and forgiveness. I remember at the beginning of the week, reflecting on the teaching and feeling like what she was talking about would go all over the place topically. But by the end of each day, I would come away learning some incredible concept that applied and challenged in a way never expected. Just a few of the topics she touched were how we put people in boxes, seeing the value in individuals, asking questions of others, sex, desire, and much more.

This past weekend was a mixture of ups and downs as I'm finding most weeks to be. Sometimes, it's been really difficult going from such extreme ups to such extreme downs. It becomes rather exhausting really fast. Something I've found to also be challenging to me is the lack of ability to get off base whenever you like via car or something faster than my own two legs! I really miss being able to hop in my car and go somewhere whether to actually get somewhere or just go for a ride for fun. Since the base isn't huge, I sometimes start to feel a little stuck. Besides that, I have already had a horrible case of the flu that took me out a few days, I randomly will get hives on my chin and face which can be kind of uncomfortable, and sleep on the top bunk (mainly because that's the bed they put my name on to sleep on) which has surprisingly been working out well, considering my fear of heights. My favorite time of day is often cuppa time which is a mid-morning tea and cakes that most everyone on base takes. It's a brilliant idea that Americans somehow are missing out on! Otherwise, I really enjoy having some time to just hangout with people or curl up with a cup of tea and a book.

I am ultimately here to grow in my faith and learn how to bring the gospel to all people and all nations. I have grown tremendously in both areas. A few mornings a week, we join in intercession for different people groups and nations, praying for God's heart for them. It's amazing some of the images, passages, and thoughts that God gives and we are able to pray through. Just this morning, we spent time praying and seeking God's heart for Indonesia, the Philippines, and Samoa where the earthquakes and Tsunami hit. I kept getting the idea of "new foundations" in my mind towards Samoa (I took it to mean re-building on new foundations, of love and faith alongside actually re-building what was destroyed), and also of many people very self focused and busy being pulled out of that into an attitude of great love and self-sacrifice for each other.

I promise to write again soon and tell much more about everything I've been experiencing! I have made a few great friends, one of which was married about a month ago and her and her husband (Renae and Aaron) are leaving in just a few days to go out to New Zealand for a two month ship tour calling out missionaries. I am so sad that they are leaving as we have been becoming such great friends (Stephen included) but I know they are going to be used in some incredible ways and God is challenging me to lean more on him and less on any relationships I've been developing here.

Sending my love to you all,

Laura :)