California Highlights

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After sending our students and staff out to change the world, we were finally up for some time off. So we jumped on a jet plane to Sweden to enjoy some quality time with the Mr.’s family. We had two fun weeks relaxing with family and friends and I finally got to experience some Swedish nature. (Which is quite different from the wide-open prairies this Minnesota girl is used to!) From there, we said our “hej då”s and boarded another plane headed farther west —

to California.

And so began our four days of California bliss! We were beyond blessed by two of Benjamin’s friends who opened their home up to us. Their hospitality went above and beyond our expectations and at the end of our trip, we both looked at each other and realized that this wouldn’t have been possible without them. We are so grateful for their hospitality and generosity! Their kindness gave us a vacation we won’t soon forget!

The whole trip to California – including the weekend spent in Tijuana, Mexico – was some kind of miracle. Somehow Benjamin managed to find incredibly cheap flights from Sweden to California ($900 round trip for both of us!) that came with a rental car for a week. So not only was our flight cheap, but travel in Cali was practically included. Such an amazing deal!

So what made it on our list of things to see and do while in California?

Whale Watchingdolphin

This was above and beyond our favorite part of our trip. We scored another deal and paid less than half price for two hours of whale watching in Newport Beach. Sure, there weren’t any whales that day, but there was no shortage of dolphins! How could we complain?

 

venbeach

 

Piers

Santa Monica, Huntington Beach, Newport, Venice. Those were the four that made it onto our list and if I had to choose, I think Santa Monica was probably my favorite. We also loved walking up the beach walk on Venice Beach. Even though we headed there straight off a 11 hour plane ride, the people watching was the best.

sessions

 

Sessions

Sessions was a sandwich shop recommended to us by our hosts. We were not disappointed! Quality food, decent price, sandwiches bigger than our stomachs.

 

Huntington Beach Farmers Market

This one was maybe a bit more of a dud – we were expecting more food than craft vendors. But it was a nice romantic evening out and we love to look at things (and people watch) so it was right up our alley. After being disappointed by the food at the actual market, we walked around the corner to Banzai Bowls and finished off the night with two giant açaí bowls.

Trader Joe’s

Not everyone is as strange as we are. But our favorite pass time is to walk around grocery stores. Not even with a list, but just because we love to look at food and how it changes from country to country, state to state. Trader Joe’s quickly stole our heart and we spent more than a few hours browsing their shelves.

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In-n-Out

Of course we couldn’t be in California and not experience their pride and joy. We took a road trip from our friends in Costa Mesa down to San Diego to meet one of Benjamin’s good friends from home who is working with YWAM in Tijuana. Before we headed down to Mexico, we needed to make one last stop. To be completely honest, the “Animal Style” fries were a bit of a letIMG_0665.JPG down, but the burger… 10 out of 10. We’ll definitely be back some day.

 

Churros 

Our experience of these happened south of the border, but we figured authentic as the best route. Walk on the beach with a bag of churros? Yes, please.

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Bartering

I learned something new about my husband during this trip. He loves to barter. As we walked through the street market, he was on the hunt. We stopped at just about every vendor that sold blankets and he tried his best to lower the price as far as he could and yet… he never got it low enough to satisfy himself. So we left without a blanket, but we laughed a lot in the process!

 

Kéan Coffee

This coffee shop won our hearts. It was the only shop we went to twice (well… if we’re not counting Starbucks…). When we drove back up to Costa Mesa after our weekend in Mexico, we had to stop just one more time.

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That’s when we said goodbye – to California and each other – and took our separate flights to each of our teams. Benjamin had the ultimate jungle experience with the team in Peru and I experienced Alaska for the first time. But I’ll save those stories for another time….

 

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Cultures

One of my favorite parts of my job is being able to experience different cultures. First of all, I’m from the smallest of small towns in the most northern part of Minnesota. So just coming to Switzerland is a cultural difference. Even though our center is located on the edge of a smaller city, there are still many differences in culture. (As well as typography…)

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Minnesota, USA

 

I always say that there’s a lot of similarities between Swiss culture and American culture, but that mainly comes from the fact that we’re both Western cultures. There are still quite a few differences, despite a small overlap. And that’s what makes life exciting most days. A bit confusing and frustrating at times, but for the most part it’s good. Experiencing different cultures broadens our perspective of life and it helps me to realize that there isn’t just one “right” way of doing life.

So United States to Switzerland, cultural difference number one.

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Davos, Switzerland

 

But beyond experiencing Swiss culture, we also get the opportunity to experience other cultures when we go out on outreach. The past two years, I’ve had the chance to travel to Bosnia and Croatia. Both times I’ve been there have been amazing experiences getting to know people and learn more about their culture.

This last year, we spent lots of time with the people we met at each location. So we got a pretty good taste of how people do life in different countries. It’s an amazing experience! But my favorite part of outreach is getting a taste of how people from other cultures encounter God. I loved being able to attend church services – even if they can be long and in a language I can’t understand – just to be able to worship together. Just to be able to experience God together. In those moments, you don’t need words. Your hearts are simply joined together in a moment as you realize that you’re all worshiping the same God. That’s a feeling that has never left me. I love it. And I think it’s something that sticks with a person throughout their life.

So the other night when I was in the kitchen preparing dinner, all of the sudden the words from a Croatian worship song popped into my head. I know it’s a song that’s been translated into Croatian from English, but I don’t know the English words. So as the words came back to me, I just stood in the kitchen, chopping onions and singing out the lyrics on my heart.

Isuse, budi centar
Moja nada, moja pjesma,

Isuse, Isuse 

I don’t understand Croatian. I have a bit of an idea of what the words mean, but when it comes right down to it, I have no idea what I’m singing. But God does! And that’s what blows me away by how great He is. He fits into every culture. He created every language. And He knows every single person on this planet and loves us all the same. And He loves it when we come together just to worship Him. When we put aside all of our differences and simply enjoy Him; He loves that.

I believe in those moments, even if the worship is in Croatian, my heart is still full because I believe that in those moments we can feel the joy God feels. We can feel His delight in our praise.

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Worship in on Outreach

 

Photo!

Mr&Mrs Pilkvist – 17.09.2016

 

SFDTS 2016!

Staff Training

 

Amsterdam Trip!

Amsterdam!

We went to Amsterdam!!

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Houses along the water… gorgeous

 

The base in Amsterdam hosted a DTS workshop, designed for DTS staff to come and learn more about what the essence of at DTS is and also to learn from each other. There were around 40 YWAMers, representing around 10 different bases across Europe. We all came together for one week full of lectures, discussions, and even practicing some of the elements of a DTS together. It blew me away that 40 complete strangers could come together at one even and still feel so close and like a family. And it was amazing to have all of that wisdom to pull from! Some of the people there had been involved with YWAM for longer than I’ve been alive. It was so good to hear their insights and also see that even after all of those years, the fire was still there. They still loved what they were doing and were walking in the calling God had placed on their lives so many years ago when they first did their own DTS. It just got me to thinking about where I’ll be in 20 years. Truly, I have no idea whatsoever, but it made me excited. Excited to be in their shoes and look back in 5, 10, 20 years and see where God has taken me. I can’t wait to see where God ends up taking this adventure. Judging by the fact that I’m living in Switzerland right now (and never would have dreamed of that… ever), I have no idea where it’ll end up going. But that’s part of the excitement, right?!

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We walked 20 to and from the base each day. While that meant walking for 20 minutes right after rolling out of bed, the view made it worth it.
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Jordie-B-J leading the way on our adventure!
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Our schedule was pretty busy all day every day during the workshop. But we finally got to explore the city a bit Friday afternoon!

 

Ok, so that’s why we were in Amsterdam and even amidst all of the crazy business of the workshop, it was still a great week. We learned a lot, but I felt like we also got to bond a lot as a team. Eight of the ten of us were able to go, and it was so good. I don’t know about you, but I love getting to hang out in places out of the ordinary. Maybe this is just me, but I feel like it helps you to bond more and just connect even deeper than normal – depending on where you are, I guess. But that’s what I felt like this week was for us as a YWAM Davos team. It could have also been the 16 hour bus rides we took there and back. (I do not recommend that method of travel for any one else. Ever. Having said that, it was worth it. So worth it.) Or it could have been that one night when we found a room away from the rest of the people at the workshop and just hung out and let all of our pent up energy loose. Being a part of the shred culture, we tend to have just a little more energy and excitement than most “normal” people. So when we were a part of the group, we tried to hold most of that in – just so we didn’t scare people, really. But one night, we just all needed to let it go. So we found a room where we could be our normal crazy selves and let loose. It was loud. It was pretty crazy. We laughed a lot. But we also got to get a little serious with each other and pray for each other. I don’t know what everyone else felt, but for myself, that was the biggest highlight of the week. It just made my heart happy to be able to connect with these guys that I get to serve with for the next year in a setting where we could just be ourselves and let things like praying for one another happen naturally.

I’m excited to spend the year with these people. Like really excited.

 

YWAM Amsterdam is set up with a main base in one part of the city – a huge building called Du Port which was built years and years ago by some Christian organization as a hostel for the sailors that would come to port in Amsterdam. I think everyone knows that Amsterdam is one of the sketchier cities in the world. So Du Port was built as an alternative for sailors to come stay in, instead of all of the other hostels in the city, which were located close to if not directly in the Red Light District. So that’s the main base. Right next to a beautiful canal and not too far from the train station. But from that, they also have a few different buildings not too far from the base, still associated with YWAM. Aleah, Jordie, Joy and I got to stay in one of those buildings, called The Lighthouse, which was a 20 minute walk from the base.

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This is a picture taken out of the living room window of the apartment we spent the week in. On the left is a cathedral or something of that sort. And then just to the right of that building is a brothel. It broke our hearts the first night we stayed there. The foot traffic on the streets is insane until about 5 in the morning, and the amount of people we saw walk in and out of that building brought us all to tears. I don’t think any of us had ever witnessed anything like this before. And it broke our hearts. We sat and cried for about an hour and prayed the biggest prayers our hearts could muster for the women and men caught up in this way of life… caught up in thinking that this is ok. That it’s normal. I sat there, tears in my eyes blurring all of the red neon lights together, and felt helpless. What can I do? I kept thinking. What could I do that would possibly put a damper on an industry that has been thriving for hundreds of years? It seems like a hopeless situation.

But I know that our God is the God of Hope.

Amen for that!

Even if there’s nothing I think I can do, He can do more. He sees the big picture. He’s bigger than human trafficking. And He loves those people more than I ever could.

In that truth, I take hope. He invites us to partner with Him to fight the injustice in the world, even if that’s just through praying. And prayers are powerful, this I know for sure.

I don’t really want to rant about this too much, because there are plenty of other blog posts out there that have done that much better than I ever could. But I want to encourage you to join me in praying for those women and those men caught up in living in that way of life. It breaks the heart of the Father, and we have the privilege of asking Him to change things. So let’s do that! Let’s ask Him to change the things that break His heart.

 

 

Back to Davos

Greetings Friends!!

We’re back! Back in the land of chocolate and cheese – otherwise known as Switzerland!

swiss alps and lake
swiss alps and lake

Thank you to everyone who was praying for travels this earlier this week! It was probably the easiest travel day that I’ve ever had. Besides a slight hiccup with my booking (something got switched somewhere and it wasn’t caught, so I was put on a flight that arrived in Toronto after my connecting flight had already left. No bueno.) which was sorted out pretty easily in Winnipeg, everything went perfectly. Checking in, connection times, and getting through security quickly and easily. So thank you all very much for your prayers!

And in case you were wondering, I think jet lag is a little easier to handle the second time around… or maybe I just knew what to expect this time. 🙂 It helped that I had an overnight flight on my way here (I left Toronto at 11 pm and landed in Europe the next day at 10 am) and thankfully got to sleep for most of it. That made transitioning to the time difference here a lot easier, which was nice.

It’s been so good to be back here at the base! Back in the places where I’ve felt God stirring and moving in my heart so much and back with some of the people who have shared in the journey of DTS with me. I’ve gotten so stoked to see what He has in store for the rest of our time here! This year is going to be awesome. I can’t wait. Because if there’s one thing that I know, it’s that God is super rad and His plans are the best. We’re all pretty excited over here.

We haven’t done a ton of stuff yet, since most of us just arrived on Thursday. We’ve just been hanging out, getting caught up with returning friends and getting to know new ones. My prayer for this time that we have the base all to ourselves is that we would grow together and really become family. I know that God has drawn each of us here for a reason and we’re going to learn so much from each other. And it’s going to be good! So if you all would join me in praying for that – growth and unity as a staff – and that God would draw in the students He has planned for this school. It’s going to be a crazy year, and I’m glad that you’re joining the adventure with me in prayer!

Thank you all for your prayers and support.

God is so good!