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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Experience—the Best Teacher

This past weekend, my son Blake returned from a five-month YWAM (Youth with a Mission) experience. Seeing him again brought tears to my eyes, and the realization that he was a different man.

Blake left Wichita on January 4th as a 20-year-old Christian-American student simply desiring to explore his calling. He has felt a tug toward missions since he was about 12 years old and has been on three week-long trips with us and our church family. Last fall, Blake asked Mike and me how we felt about him taking a semester off of college and participating in YWAM. We both agreed that he could potentially learn more during five months immersed in missions, than during one semester at our local college.

Needless to say, from January to June, Blake experienced much more than just his 21st birthday.

He spent the first three months on a YWAM base in Mendoza, Argentina, completing DTS (Discipleship Training School). While there, he:
· Maintained a rigid schedule of classes, chores, and soccer conditioning
· Washed his clothes by hand in a tub and hung them out to dry
· Shared one bathroom with eight guys
· Lived with no air conditioning or heat
· Drank powdered milk and ate unfamiliar foods
· Didn’t have a cell phone or consistent access to the Internet
· Got to know guard dogs (and their value)
· Discovered how to find his way on the city buses and the importance of returning to the base before dark
· Improved his aptitude for understanding and speaking Spanish
· Woke up every morning to the view of the Andes mountains
· Experienced a new depth of relationship with God
· And saw God provide in amazing ways

Then he completed eight weeks of outreach—four weeks in Brazil and four in South Africa, where he:
· Encountered more diverse cultures
· Stayed in homes of extremely generous Christian families
· Got to know some amazing people
· Ministered to street children
· Played soccer with Muslims men, women, and children
· Held soccer clinics for Muslim and Hindu children
· Taught English
· Preached in a Zulu church
· Preached in the streets
· Attended a variety churches hearing—Spanish, Portuguese, Zulu, Zutu, Afrikaans
· Went on a safari
· Performed dramas in schools and parks
· Held a severely disabled child in his arms
· Looked into the eyes of many orphans
· And depended on God to open doors and provide strength and protection

I can’t put into words the joy I felt as I saw him walk down the walkway at the airport on Sunday. But the greater joy is getting to know the 21-year-old man who came home.

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