Friday, January 16, 2015

Cleaning, Coffee, and Conversations in the King's Country

We have had an exciting time here in Queenstown!  For the past week and a half, we have been constantly busy! Our team haven't had much time to stop and talk about what has been happening. We have been staying at the YWAM Queenstown base that  opened one week before we got here.  The base is an old church building that YWAM Queenstown are renting for a little while.  The building was vacant for 7 years and with the combined efforts of the two YWAM teams (the Queenstown staff and our outreach team), we have brought it back to life.  The building now looks might fine, despite the orange carpet from the 70s.  This base will be used as a training and living facility for the Discipleship Training School (DTS) that is starting right after we leave.  Our team has been working hard at the base, but we have also been serving the community with several work projects.  Along with work projects we have also done coffee/tea outreaches on the waterfront and promoting awareness on sex trafficking.  Our time here has been enjoyable and impacting. Here are a few stories from our team from the week:

Our very first morning in Queenstown, we drove to a point high above the town and prayed for the whole area! It was an incredible view, and wonderful to get God's heart for this place.
This week has been quite the busy one for the team and myself. We've done two coffee and tea nights, we've worked with the Salvation Army, and we've done a sex trafficking awareness stand in the heart of Queenstown... I told you it was a busy week! I've loved getting to talk to so many different people and just getting to know their story. The coffee and tea nights have been my favorite, I got to meet people from all over like Estonia, Russia, Sweden, Brazil, Australia and the list goes on and on! Its fun seeing people's faces as you told them that the coffee is free, and usually the question that follows is always "why are you doing this?"! Blessing those people with something as small as free coffee was truly a wonderful experience. 

One girl specifically stands out. It was during our time with the sex trafficking booth. She came up one time and was really interested in the topic. After a few minutes of talking she went on her way, but a few moments later she came back to talk some more. The second time she came around you could just tell that she was filled with curiosity, and after ten minutes of talking to her i could tell how much she cared for other people and how close she was to coming to Christ! We learned that her name was Isabel. After a few more minutes of talking we prayed for her and she went back to her friends, but after she left the three of us that talked to her just knew how close she was to coming to truth! All we could do was hope that our conversation would set Isabel on the journey of rediscovering her faith.   
After a crash course on the growing issue of sex trafficking around the world, we set up a booth in town to raise awareness about this injustice. In addition to raising awareness, this provided an easy conversation starter that sometimes led to sharing our stories or the gospel.
So as we said, we did practical work to serve the community. And every time it is kind of a surprise : before we go, we only know the address and the name of the person, but we don't know what we are going to do. I remember a few days before beginning these practical works, I asked God "God it has been a long time since I've been around horses (I used to ride horses before). Could you please give me 5 minutes with them? Just 5 minutes ?" So we were going to our first community help time, and what a surprise when we arrived! They told us that our job was to clean paddocks full of horses! So God gave me not only few minutes around horses but a whole morning with them! Well, we basically cleaned horse poop during couple hours, but it was so great to have the opportunity to pet them and be around them. It was God's little gift for me, and I really enjoyed it  :)

We’re at the end of week 2 of outreach – we’ve been in Queenstown staying at the new YWAM base… and what a GORGEOUS setting it is!  Heaps of practical outreach – helping the base get ready to begin their very first DTS and volunteering time in the community. We also did justice awareness downtown and have had free coffee, tea & slack line nights by the waterfront.

The "new" YWAM Queenstown building! We were a Godsend for the YWAM staff here, who have had a very short time to prepare the building for the first DTS, beginning at the end of January.
Connor and Isaac doing practical work (landscaping) at the new Queenstown YWAM base.
Andrew and Crystal making heaps of bunk beds for the first Queenstown DTS!
Reaching out to people in the western culture is so unique… and kind of challenging! We love on people and spread Jesus’ love in a very relational way. It’s been cool meeting people, talking with them and hearing their story. We’ve had some great conversations about what they believe and getting to share what we believe and how real the love of our personal God has been in our lives.

Raising awareness for the injustice of sex trafficking was pretty impacting. To hear people say they never knew this happens blew me away! I loved raising awareness and helping to fight something that steals life and joy from so so many people.

One evening, we hiked a mountain that towers above Queenstown and spent the night on the mountain, under a big starry sky. It was AMAZING! And seeing the sun rise the next morning over the quiet peaceful town was breathtaking.
       --Andrew & Crystal

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