It's been about a year now since we first said "The Amazing Grace should be headed down to Mazatlan in two weeks". On February 12th 2017 around 100 YWAMers gathered at Marina Mazatlan to welcome the Amazing Grace to Mazatlan and celebrate the end of "two weeks". Over the last year "two weeks" has become a bit of a catch phrase around the base. At the beginning it was funny, but as weeks turned to months you could tell that "two weeks" started wearing on people. What was funny, was now the butt of the base jokes and as we have journeyed over the last year there are a few lessons that we have learned about two weeks that we wanted to share.
Share God's vision
Over the course of the last year, one thing was clear. We need to share the vision of YWAM Ships Mazatan with as many people as we can and as often as we can. As we shared what could be, we were amazed at how people have continued to respond. Students off of our Ships DTS' and from other bases joined our staff team, even though there was no ship. Medical professionals and marine crew began inquiring and so many people got behind the vision financially.
Trust God's process
A friend who often speaks on the various training schools that we run, asked this question in a staff training session. "When is the last time they laughed at you?". They laughed at Noah while he was building the Ark. They laughed at Nehemiah, while he attempted to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. They laughed at Jesus when He told them that He was the Son of God. All of these people had one thing in common. They trusted God's process. When God speaks, all we have to do is obey and He takes care of the rest.
Embrace God's sense of humor
The last time I went up to the Bay Area to help prep the ship we set a tentative departure date, which was two weeks after I was set to arrive back to Mazatlan. Two weeks later on January 30th, the Amazing Grace left San Francisco on what was meant to be a 10 day trip. Thanks to some weather and scheduling delays the Amazing Grace pulled into Marina Mazatlan two weeks later on February 12th.
Never give up on God's dreams
When the Amazing Grace was finally here and the owners and crew were running up the gangway to the welcome party we realized something. God spoke to us in 2010 about YWAM Ships, but made it offical in 2015. For all of 2016 YWAM Mazatlan has been waiting for this moment, but the unsung hero's of this story are the owners of the Amazing Grace - Zeus and Charlotte Ebio. Almost 17 years ago, God spoke to them about selling their home, buying a ship and using it for His glory. For almost 17 years they lived on the ship, invested their blood, sweat, tears and money into the ship. They didn't know how, they didn't know when, they just knew that God had spoken to them. Perseverance can be defined as "I will not quit". The Ebio's embody perseverance, because they held tight to the promises of God and they did not quit.
Put God first in everything
Seem's like a pretty straight forward comment from a missionary, but you'd be suprised at how much we as human's try to get in the way by doing things the way we want to. We have timelines that we want to keep to and plans that we want to follow, but at the end of the day what is most important is to keep God first in everything and let him guide us. So when the crew of the Amazing Grace ran up the gangway to the crowd of YWAMers there to receive them, the very first thing we did was worship and give thanks to God.
Since the beginning of the year we've jumped in pretty much full-time with the pioneering of YWAM Ships Mazatlan. It has been quite a learning curve as we dive into the world of ship equipped ministry, but God has been so faithful in the process. Here is our latest update in regards to where everything is up to with YWAM Ships Mazatlan.
The M/V Amazing Grace
This is the thing that we need the most prayer for. We've been trying to get the Amazing Grace into one of the Bay Area ship yards for a couple months now. Once we get her in and out of the yard, she'll be on her way to Mexico.
Please pray that we get an appointment this week since many of refit projects need to happen in the following months in order to have the Amazing Grace ready for deployment by December.
Since the beginning of the year we've added Sebastian, Tyla and Kara to the YWAM Ships Mazatlan team. There is a growing interest in what God is doing with YWAM Ships and we're excited to see how God continues to grow this team of people as we learn & journey together.
As the team continues to grow we know there is a need to add very specific skills to the team. Pray with us for qualified crew, medical staff, experienced ship equipped ministry staff, etc...
We've seen some tremendous breakthrough in the area of finances, but we have a lot more money to raise in 2016. So far we've seen $17,000 USD donated and another $5,000 USD pledged.
Our goal is to raise $100,000 by the end of 2016 to help prepare the Amazing Grace for service and getting the other aspects of the ministry ready. Pray with us that the money and people that we need to make all of this happen would come our way.
Every once in a while we get to go on what we call a "Pastoral Visit", which is where we get to spend a week with one of our DTS outreach teams to check in on the staff are and students to make sure everything is going well while on outreach. At the beginning of May, I had the opportunity to visit our Ship DTS outreach team in Greece. The team was on the island of Lesvos working primarily in a refugee camp. In this post I wanted to share a story about one 45 minute conversation I had with a refugee.
If you would like to hear more of the heart of this experience, I suggest you read the following blog post by the leader of the outreach team that I visited. Her name is Micah Madsen and she has an incredible way with words.
If you want to read about what has been happening in the camp since I was there, you can check out this blog about the recent riots
my favorite 45 minutes in Greece
I was in the clothing tent, where clothing is gathered and sorted. We'd go out in the morning and take clothing orders from mostly new arrivals but without fail as soon as you walk by someone would ask you for clothes or shoes. Once the orders are taken, we head back to the clothing tent to fulfill the orders and then take them back and deliver them to the people at their tents. On this particular day, we had the second shift (4pm-12am), so by the time we started most of the clothing tent activity is done for the day.
So we were in the clothing tent trying to stay busy, but slowly the last few groups of volunteers headed out to deliver clothing and one of the refugee translators pulls me aside and starts asking me questions. By this time I had told this particular translator that I am a full-time missionary with my family and that I have been doing it for close to 15 years. So his first question to me was... "So are you a high missionary?" To which I chuckled and said, no I'm just a missionary. Then he said, well I'd like to ask you some questions about Christianity and we began having a casual conversation. Before I knew it almost everyone was outside of the tent so he asked if we could sit on the floor and continue talking.
As this was taking place, one of our Mexican DTS students, Ernesto was nearby and I asked him if he wanted to join us. Ernesto being the evangelist that he is, jumped at the opportunity and almost immediately it felt like we were the last ones in the clothing tent. So our translator friend continued with the questions and the tables turned and I became the translator, mediating a conversation between these two young guys from completely different parts of the world, one from Syria, the other from Mexico. What unfolded in that 45 minute conversation in the clothing tent will stay with me forever.
For me it was an honor to have someone who I had met only three days before reach out and ask me about the Gospel. It was an privilege to to help bridge the Gospel from Mexico to Syria by translating. In the conversation that ensued, Ernesto took our friend through pretty much the entire history of the church, answering questions that were asked. The conversation didn't end with our friend praying the sinners prayer, but as the volunteers mysteriously returned at the end of our conversation he was left with a clear understanding of the Gospel, no more questions and best of all no more excuses.
My prayer is that our friend will continue in his quest to find out who God is and that someone will pick up where we left off.
God spoke to Zeus and Charlotte Ebio about buying a ship and using it to further His kingdom. That is what motivated them to sell their home, buy a ship and live on it. That is the dream that they have been pursuing for the last 15 years. We've known Zeus & Charlotte now for about 2 years and their BIG FAITH never ceases to amaze us. They are confident in what God has called them to do and have persevered and stayed true to that for more than 15 years.
In April Ikaika had the chance to go and visit with the Ebio's, get onboard the AMAZING GRACE and dream together about what this vessel will become in just a few short months. We strategized, we sanded the hull, we painted and we came away feeling encouraged about what God was doing. It was a timely trip and a very key time in the pioneering of YWAM Ships Mazatlan.
We just wrapped up our 11th annual Carnaval outreach and as always the outreach did not disappoint. We had 150 people from all over the world join us in Mazatlan for the week long celebration that is Carnaval, where we engage with God and get His heart for the city of Mazatlan. Here are just a few of our highlights from this year.
God can restore a marriage anywhere
One of the most incredible stories that we heard came from a girl named Lily on our January DTS. She was able to pray for a young married couple in the midst of the party of Carnaval and God began to work.
You can read Lily's first hand account by clicking on the link below
Intercession and obedience
During the Carnaval outreach we have evangelism teams, worship teams and intercession teams to name a few. One of the greatest things about the Carnaval outreach is watching how God works His purposes through all of those teams. For example, one of our staff was on the intercession team at the base and around 11:30pm God told her to pray that our evangelism teams inside of Carnaval would be able to get on every stage inside of Carnaval and preach the Gospel. She thought this was kind of a bold or audacious prayer but she felt it was from God so they prayed.
Later that evening the team that was inside of Carnaval doing evangelism came back excited as can be and said that they had the opportunity to get on every stage inside of Carnaval and preached the Gospel. Coincidence? I think not. When they got to talking, the intercession team said that they were praying for that right around 11:30pm and that when the team said they began getting on the stages.
What would have happened if Micah shied away from praying out that prayer or if the team inside was too afraid to get on the stage? For God to be able to move all that was required was obedience from an intercession team at the base and an evangelism team inside of Carnaval.
Dori's parents, Tom and Chris Morales own a staffing and fulfillment company called Morales Group in Indianapolis, IN. This year they had the opportunity to bring their internal staff down to build with our Homes of Hope ministry. For obvious reasons this was a special build for us, Tom and Chris have been coming to Mazatlan for years and have fallen in love with the city, the base and our YWAM staff. This build with the company gave them the opportunity to share that with the people they work with every day and have the opportunity to give hope to two families here in Mazatlan!
Our friends and family from Hope Chapel Maui came back to Mazatlan for their 3rd and 4th Homes of Hope builds in less than 9 months! What made this trip unique was the amount of kids that had the opportunity to participate. The video below gives some insight into what it's like for kids to build with Homes of Hope.
Overall the trip was great and it's always a blessing to have our home church come to Mazatlan and get behind the work that God is doing here.
Crosspointe Church is a church from Dalton, Georgia where Dori's sister Callie and her husband Michael are on staff. Just before the end of the year they came back for their second Homes of Hope build which we were able to be a part of. Working with the team from Crosspointe is always a delight and we look forward to them coming back next year.
This week in the School of Navigation and Seamanship we have learned how to chart a course. It has been a very hands on week using parallel rulers, spreaders and charts. And as fun as all of that is, it has really got us thinking about what God is doing right now with us and YWAM Ships Mazatlan. Together with the Ebio's and all of YWAM Mazatlan, we are charting out a course for a ship equipped ministry in Mexico and beyond. So here are a couple of things that God has highlighted this week through our navigation training.
On a navigational chart you often will find a compass rose that points to true north and one that points to magnetic north. The lines of longitude go from the north to south poles, where they end up north is what true north is based on. If you have a compass it does not point to true north, it points to magnetic north, which is a place up north where there is a whole bunch of iron ore that attracts a compass and seems to move slightly each year. This week we learned a formula to find our bearing and it starts with true north. In our process the starting point or our true north is the word of the Lord. Without it we are nothing and we have nothing. Just like in navigation if we have our true north or the word of the Lord we can figure everything else out. Sure there are things like variance, magnetic north and deviation that we have to figure out, but God will help us figure it out. We need something we can hang our hat on and that has to be the word of the Lord and being in the center of God's will.
Synergy is defined as "the interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects."
The idea of synergy is something that has become so clear to us as we have gone out to sail. Just to get a boat to sail requires an enormous amount of synergy. There are so many separate things that have to happen in all perfect timing to successfully sail. For example you have to take into account the wind direction and speed, but then you have someone at the helm, on the jib sheets and main sail. If all those things are not working together your sail will start to luff and you will end up in irons, unable to sail.
And just as we have learned the importance of having synergy while sailing, we are also loving the opportunity we have to be with the Ebio family who own the M/V Amazing Grace and are helping us pioneer YWAM Ships Mazatlan. It has been one of best things so far, getting to be in the same place taking advantage of every moment we have together. From sitting around the dinner table dreaming up ideas to sitting with Captain Ann or other leaders here, we are learning so much and so excited for this time we have together to hear God for each next step.
So far we have learned so much and it has been an incredible time of connecting with so many different people who have a wealth of experience and wisdom. The boys are loving their school and enjoying the perks of an ocean & pool right at their door step. Stay tuned and connect into the story of YWAM Ships Mazatlan, God is charting our course and you don't want to miss it!