Open Doors…

 

When I came to the city of Troas to preach the Good News of Christ, the Lord opened a door of opportunity for me.

  2 Corinthians 2:12

The last six weeks brought many new and exciting opportunities for us at Outpost as we welcomed a DTS Outreach team from Kona.  They spent their time being the hands and feet of Christ not only at Outpost, but also in a few remote villages, and volunteering alongside other organizations here in Bocas.  The Lord used this team in great ways to open new doors of ministry.

The most exciting moment for us was being invited to speak in one of the Mama Tata churches.  For those of you who are unaware, Mama Tata is a religion that is specific to the Ngäbe here in Panama. It is a cross between Catholicism and animism with lots of twists.  It began sometime in the 1960s. The story of this church begins with a woman who was washing her clothes in a creek outside her village. She received a vision of Jesus on a motorcycle.  He proceeded to preach a new creed over the woman, essentially abolishing the church and naming the Ngäbe as the chosen race that will inherit eternal life. She returned to her community and began spreading the teaching. Those who adhere to strict Mama Tata beliefs typically keep to themselves so as to not allow outside influences to affect them.  They oftentimes do not register the birth of their children and do not mandate their children to go to school. Because of fear, they do not accept government medical care or other help, and they only speak their native tongue of Ngäbere. They are very superstitious in many of their beliefs.

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Knowing all this, it came as a big surprise at how welcoming and engaging they were.  It helped that our Ngäbe friend, Simone, introduced us. He has been witnessing to this village for many years while assisting them with access to clean water.  He helped us understand that they really needed encouragement to read scripture. They think of themselves as Christians, sing many similar songs, and know some of the stories of the Old Testament that have been orally handed down. However, with a lack of understanding and inability to read the Bible, they have been led astray from sound doctrine and do not live by biblical standards.  Our students had the opportunity to share testimonies and teachings on the importance of knowing the Bible and holding firm to the truths God gives us in the scriptures. We also handed out 15 SD cards with an audio bible and the Jesus film.  I was brought to tears as we sang “Came to My Rescue” in Spanish.  You could see in their faces how much the song ministered to their spirits. Before we left, they asked us to sing the song again. After all was said and done, they were very eager to welcome us back, offering to open their homes to house our teams and feed us delicious freshly caught fish from the ocean.  They also asked if we could do more bible teaching and English classes. What an open door!

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During the final week of the Kona students’ visit we revisited this village to assist Simone with water catchment tools and ended up helping the community with some of their daily work.  It was a neat experience for our students to get a glimpse into the daily lives of the people. The women helped clean up the common areas while the men harvested a GIANT log to make a new bridge through the swampy entrance to their village.  The log was a great addition as many of our students and staff succumbed to the swampy wetness after falling off old rotten boards that were originally meant to keep people afloat. Please continue to pray as we plan for some fall ministry days in this village with our upcoming DTS students.  Pray that the Lord would open the hearts of those enticed by the Mama Tata church, that they would see God’s truth as we help them understand scripture.

The Kona Students also had the privilege of assisting Coral Restoration, a nonprofit organization here in Bocas that is working to rebuild our reefs.  Currently, our reefs have succumbed to the damaging effects of climate and human impact. Because of the loss of reefs, we are seeing a devastating loss in the fisheries.  Our Ngäbe neighbors historically are fisherman. This has had a drastic impact on their nutrition and means of earning a sustainable living. Community development is part of the drive behind the passion to help our indigenous neighbors, and bringing back the fish is one way we can help.

We are excited to be working towards building a reef in our bay.  With the help of Coral Restoration and our community development DTS schools, we hope to make a noticeable difference and assist our community on improving this fragile ecosystem.  Coral Restoration has been working hard at developing new techniques and structures in their nurseries to promote coral growth. In just over a year, they have seen predator fish returning. They have made such progress that the Smithsonian Institute and the government are taking notice.  If anyone is interested in giving towards the purchase of supplies for this project, please email us! It takes many hands to make a project like this succeed.

With all of these new ministry opportunities we have been working hard at getting Outpost ready for the influx of students and staff this fall and beyond. We recruited some willing and able-bodied people to assist us over the summer.

The end of July brought a team from one of our supporting churches in Minnesota.  Grace Church sent 12 eager volunteers. They assisted us in the daily grind at base, as well as the building of our new solar supports.  We could not have done this project without them! We also had the privilege of doing a clothing drive for our neighbors and gave away bags and bags of used clothes.  To close out our time, we had a Jesus film viewing with many excited neighbors.  We ate popcorn and watched the video together.  We were very encouraged by this team and our boys had a blast playing with the kids that came. It was a boost our family needed.

 

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August brought us friends from another season of life. It always amazes me that even as time marches on, bonds of friendship forged long ago remain intact. The Bergeron family came to be the hands and feet of Christ and served us and Outpost in many ways.  Dan jumped right into finishing the casita with the guys; Kate helped me organize some rooms on base for our upcoming DTS, as well as write up some fundraising campaigns for the next stages of development at Outpost. The kids hung out together, just like old times, and they helped dig up many trees from around the new building.  It was so encouraging to have them here showing us their support of what God is doing, and encouraging us to keep going.

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So there you have it. We now have a very small window of rest and preparation for the next round.  We are excited to announce that we have 10 new staff joining us this fall to help lead our DTS and assist with base operations!  Please pray for us as we meld together this new team and also pray for the students who will be coming. Pray for God’s blessing and anointing as we seek Him together over the next three months.

 

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Rest for the weary…

Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.

  Matthew 11:28

It’s hard to believe we are already back in Panama!  Our time in the U.S. went so fast. When we left Bocas, we were desperately in need of rest. We were bone tired and also in need of encouragement. The Lord definitely delivered on His promise to give us rest, and we came home to Panama ready to once again take on the joys and challenges of living life in Bocas.

We began our homestay with a two-week leadership conference in Mazatlan, Mexico. Our days were packed full of many good things that we have tucked away, and our hearts were encouraged by fellow “YWAMERS” who have gone or are going through the process of building ministries. I am so grateful for the time we were able to spend chatting over coffee and tacos. It was a priceless two weeks.

Our time in Minnesota was a blurr. We traveled a lot, visiting family, friends, and supporters, and we stocked up on precious items that are hard to find in Bocas such as personal care items, coffee and many boat parts. One of our highlights of our stay in Minnesota was the time we spent at a friend’s cabin in the Boundary Waters. This is our favorite place on earth!  It was a time of much needed refreshment and reconnection with our boys. We had lots of late-night games filled with laughter and competition. We read, did puzzles, and marveled at how God designed birds with cute little personalities that were revealed as they fought over the stale bread on the picnic table. We had many chilly nights roasting marshmallows for s’mores over the campfire, and there was an abundance of giggles and strange voices coming from little boys who are changing into men. We cherished this time, knowing in a few short years the boys will be off to their own adventures. It goes by so quickly, just like everything else! 

We ended our time in Minnesota with my mothers wedding! It was such a sweet time to celebrate together this new union and we pray Gods blessings on them for many years to come.

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We have been back in Panama for a week. We had one day to unpack and get ready for a DTS Outreach team from Kona, Hawaii. They are joining us for the next six weeks and will be working on coral restoration, Bible distribution, as well as various community development projects in the islands and on base. We are so excited to see what God will do through them as they reach out to bless not only Outpost but the community of Bocas as well.

We are also excited to soon welcome a team of 12 from Grace Church in Wyoming, Minnesota, in just one week. They are coming to help build the supports for our solar upgrade! We are very excited that God has provided the funds, supplies, and teams to help move Outpost forward in this area. It will be huge for us to be able to have the electricity that we need to keep Outpost thriving and growing!

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Finally, we will also receive the Bergeron family at the beginning of August. We used to do homeschooling together way back when our guys were little. We look forward to the gifts they bring to assist and encourage our family. They will also be assisting us in the development of an improved bookkeeping system for Outpost!  I love when God brings people with the special gifting we need to move Outpost forward! It encourages our hearts as we remember that God is in every detail.

So many great things happening!  Please join us in praying for our family and our team. The next six weeks are packed full of great projects that we can’t wait to share with you once they are done!  With all of the hustle and bustle, we need a supernatural filling of his spirit to keep us going! Please also pray for the hearts of the people we are serving, that God’s love would radiate from us all.

 

Grateful to have you all on our team!

The Pineault Family

 

Carrying the Torch…

 

The Olympic flame is the most recognized symbol of the Olympic Games. During the time of ancient Greece, athletes competed in a relay race, passing a torch from one to another until the last runner, in a long procession of runners, would sprint to the top of the stadium and light the flame to signal the beginning of the competition. Yet today, the Olympic flame continues to carry a message as it passes through each city. It announces that the games are about to begin; it embodies the shared ideals of the Olympics and speaks of unity and peace amongst the people. It bears witness to the allegiance, the courage and the solidarity of all the competitors.

God has handed to each of us a torch to carry for Him, one that carries a message as we run our race towards that final goal.

We came to Outpost in 2017 content to serve as medical directors for years to come. We were excited to be a part of a team whose goal was united in reaching the isolated/unreached with God’s love. Little did we realize how soon we would be handed the torch of leadership as our predecessors began the process of obeying God’s call to another ministry.

This past year was a time of transition, and it reminds me of the transition point in the torch relay race. I am reminded of how a torch changes hands. One runner runs with all her might, carrying the torch to the next runner. As she approaches, the second runner starts to jog forward in anticipation of receiving the flame. There are a few moments when both are running together. One is in the final push to end her race while the other is building up his momentum to continue carrying the torch forward.

The second runner can prepare as much as he can, but that torch will still hit him with a jolt — a  sense of realization that it’s time to hold on tight to the responsibility that was just handed to him. And as he watches the first runner finish, he presses in, accelerating to carry the flame forward.

Just like a relay race, we have been running alongside our base leaders as they faithfully handed off the torch of base leadership to us. As we began to jog, we entered into a season of learning, and a time of heavily relying upon the Lord.

Our legs were shaky at first. Sometimes we can still feel them tremble, even as we gain strength. Thinking back to all of the life experiences that have prepared us for this moment, we see how God was crafting them, using every high and low to prepare us for our next race, as the new base leaders. In spite of shaky knees and feeling ill-prepared, God gently reminds us that it is in His strength alone we are able to move forward. It has always been in His strength. “He will build his church” is a mantra that keeps ringing through my head as we continue to run. He is the one doing all the work; we need to be obedient, putting one foot in front of the other, no matter how tired or shaky our legs become. To continue to push through either to the next transition or to the finish line, only he knows.

We plan to come home for a short stay in May-June. We first have a leadership conference to attend in Mexico. It is a two-week intensive and we are excited to glean all we can from it. During that time we will also be celebrating 16 years of marriage! There is so much to thank the Lord for! Please be praying for our long-term staff, Ryan and Payton, along with a few volunteers, who will run the base in our short absence.

 

Here are the churches and dates we will be visiting.

Cornerstone EFC in Rochester, MN – May 19

Grace EFC in Wyoming, MN – June 9

Lakes EFC in Lindstrom, MN – June 16

Immanuel Church in Forest Lake, Mn- June 23

Hope EFC in Osceola, Wi – June 30

We hope we can see you all while we are home. We have lots of exciting ministry updates to share more in depth.

 

“Ministry doesn’t make appointments”

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Being on the mission field has meant saying hello and goodbye to many different people along the way.  Some were only acquaintances, but some turned into really good friends. One thing was consistently true: Our time together was all too brief.  We have found ourselves and our children grieving the losses over and over, but continually trusting God’s hand. Here in Bocas, it is really difficult to make friends.  Not only are we very isolated geographically, it is also a community that is very transient. From the tourists and expats living abroad, to the sailing community and beyond, many people come and go.  It can get pretty lonely here, but it’s funny how God knows this and provides friendships in unexpected ways.

We live between two small indigenous villages.  The people come to our base often, for various reasons. We do a lot of minor healthcare, provide rides to town, and many other things.  It takes a long time for this group of indigenous people to trust outsiders, so when a friendship started to develop with my neighbor, it was a delightful surprise. This woman came over on a daily basis, sometimes three times a day for various reasons, but mostly just to talk.  I really enjoyed our time together, but quickly became frustrated with the constant interruptions throughout the day. It was hard to get the necessary things done and focus on homeschooling the boys. There were days she would show up before we even had a chance to eat breakfast or sip our first cup of coffee.  (All of you coffee addicts can understand the problem this may pose!)

I never knew the greeting “Buenas” (Good day) could cause my nerves to jump.  I grumbled under my breath frequently, but God always gave me the strength to be gracious.  I would sit on the front porch, in my jammies most days, and Nathan would bring me my first cup of coffee.  He would lean in and whisper in my ear: “Ministry does not make appointments,” a phrase his mother said to us often when she was alive.  I know this. But man, sometimes I just wish they would. So I would offer up a little prayer for a gracious attitude and sit, sometimes for hours chatting with her and playing with her kids and the baby birds she happened to bring that day.  After I got over the initial frustration, I began to enjoy our time together. It became less of a chore and instead a part of the daily routine.

As our friendship began to emerge, the conversations shifted from talking about our families, the rain, and often just sitting in awkward silence, to deepening chats about faith, hopes, and dreams. She started asking me lots of questions regarding baptism and some of the basics of faith. I then began feeling prompted to start a Bible study with her.  I had a Spanish study about the fundamentals of the faith that we used with the church in Espavé. I was nervous, because my Spanish is still not stellar, but God continued to prompt me so I obeyed.

She was very interested and we enjoyed reading through scripture together. One day she came to me and very anxiously described a dream she had.  She didn’t quite understand the meaning and was asking me about it. Dreams are very significant to their culture. She shared with me that her deceased grandfather came to her in a dream and gave her a cross necklace and told her to follow it.  I have not had much experience with dreams, but I explained to her that it sounded like God was telling her to follow Christ. She smiled and said, “I thought so.” Her continence changed that day; she seemed to walk a little taller.

The next morning she came to me, looking very disheveled, and asked for a ride to town.  It was unusual for her to do this. We were not going into town that day, so she asked if we could take her to the public dock nearby where she could catch a taxi.  I agreed. She went home to gather her children and came running back to our dock with a suitcase in hand. Her mother-in-law was chasing her asking, “Why”!?! Confused, I did what I’d agreed to and dropped her off at the dock.  As she got out of the boat, a feeling of dread hit me in the pit of my stomach; I didn’t know if I would ever see her again. I turned to her and told her that if she was not coming back, to please, somehow send word that she was ok.  I gave her a hug, prayed for her, and told her I loved her. She responded back with “Te quiero,” which means “I love you.” I hugged her little kids, who had come to call me “Abuelita” (little grandma), and off she went.

To this day I do not know what caused her to leave.  I can look back at our interactions and see that there was something off, which was why she was over several times a day in the last few months.  I am so grateful that I died to myself and didn’t allow the “interruptions” to ruin this friendship. I know now that she went to her mother’s village, which is about four hours away by boat. It’s in a location that is only safe to access during the calm months of September and October.  This is one of the locations outside of the archipelago that we pray we can visit. There is no access by roads, only water. Their village is just off a river that runs into the ocean off the Mosquito coast. In hindsight, I can recall a time when she showed us where her mother lived on a map.  I’m so thankful my husband is a map fanatic because he pinned the location. I remember her telling me that her family there lives in very poor conditions and often there is not much to eat. They also have no access to clean water and other resources, and there is no church there. This raised an eyebrow for me when I consider how she currently lives as she too lacks many resources.  

Her last request as she left was that I would pray for her. Since then, the Lord has put her on my heart and I constantly lay her needs before the throne, hoping she is doing well. I pray that someday soon that our boat will be up and ready to sail out to the opening of the river where she now lives. I do not think our time together was an accident. I hope and pray the Lord continues to move in her heart as she learns to walk with him. I also pray this will serve as a reminder for me, when the demands are ever increasing, to allow God to schedule out my day, and that sometimes those mundane and frustrating moments have great impact. Please pray with me for this friend and her kids, and pray we can visit her soon.

 

 

By Faith…

 

As we start our fifth year in missions, I can’t help but reflect on what God has done over the years, and we know he is calling us to many more exciting adventures of FAITH in 2019. I continue to stand in amazement of His faithfulness amidst the trials and joys of 2018. From God-ordained meetings with His servants in Barbuda to seeing him move among our indigenous neighbors, and now, finishing out our first DTS school and watching God bring in over half the money we need to update our water and solar. God is SO good!

When we first came to Outpost, we began praying about our housing situation at base. We loved living in community, but soon found we had little time and ability to pull away from the daily stressors and be a family. Interruptions for various needs from our neighbors were 24/7 and we knew that in order to stay in missions long term, it would be vital to maintain a healthy balance. We also quickly discovered because of a lack of housing options, there was little wiggle room when speakers or new staff came. As we prayed, God affirmed our need to live off base. However, we quickly discovered that finding housing for a family of five in close proximity to base was impossible.

In the fall of 2017, it was suggested to us to think about buying a sailboat for the dual purpose of housing and use it for medical/evangelistic outreaches. After all, we were serving with the ships division of YWAM with the goal to bring transformation to isolated communities, accessible only by ships. However, we were very quick to say “no” to that idea. We thought, yeah, we don’t know how to sail. That’s a crazy idea. Right?  Then God gently whispered, “Are you even going to ask me about it?” I can remember arguing with Him and telling him all the reasons why we couldn’t. Have you ever found yourself in that situation? As we surrendered, and began to ask God, He began a series of confirmations that, indeed, this was His plan for us: To live aboard a sailboat even as we use it for ministry.

So much of our walk with the Lord is navigated by faith, not by sight, by what makes sense to God, not man. We need to be ready to step out in faith, into the unknown as he leads. Trusting the plan He is orchestrating even when we can’t see it. Also, with God’s purpose comes His provision. Boy, did He rain down provision for us! It was a constant reminder that where He leads you, He provides the way for you to do what He is asking you to do!  Hands down, every time!  So we asked God three things: To confirm it in his word, to provide someone to train us, and to provide the money.

The first of many confirmations came through God’s word. I do not have time to write about the many verses that came to us about the coastlands and people walking out of the darkness and into light. It was clear that the isolated/unreached people living in our region, along the Mosquito Coast, are on God’s heart and he wants to redeem them.

The second confirmation came through our dear friends, Craig and Tricia. These lovely friends sailed their boat to Panama in 2017 to serve alongside Outpost and live in Bocas on their boat. Craig has been sailing since he was a wee lad and sailed charter boats for many years in the Caribbean. They encouragingly told us that we could, in fact, learn to sail, and that they would be by our sides teaching our family all we need to know.

The final confirmation came in December of 2017, as we began to step out in faith and looked at what was available. We were quickly discouraged because so many of the boats were small, and would not fit our family of five. We gave one last look at a boat, the White Falcon, which we thought was way out of our league price-wise. She was a 60-foot custom built ketch with a double mast. She needed a lot of TLC but she was the perfect size. Each of us could envision our family calling this boat our home. As the excitement waned and reality set in, we were quickly discouraged because it was way out of our price range. I prayed and asked God for this boat, but quickly let it go, thinking it was impossible.

But God. He did what only He can do.

The marina owner told us the boat had been in an estate for the last three years and the family was desperate to close out the estate. He suggested that we write the family a letter explaining what we wanted to do with the ship and offer them what we could, which was far far less than they were asking for, and way less than its once-appraised value. So we prayed and took a leap of faith. As we began to formulate a letter, we still didn’t know how much we could offer. That’s when God stepped in and provided the money. As 2017 drew to an end, Nathan received an unexpected inheritance. We were shocked. I thought, “Did God just buy us a boat?”

We finished the letter with a very low offer. It was all we could afford. We prayed, our friends prayed, and our teammates prayed. And guess what? They accepted our offer.

So, in Jan of 2018 we became the owner of the White Falcon, hopefully soon to be renamed Redemption. After a lot of work to get her livable, we moved in just before the start of the Fall 2018 DTS. Just in time for the base to be able to accommodate our staff, students, and weekly speakers.

Living aboard is still a lot like camping. Only half our electricity works, we use a garden hose for water, and we have leaks everywhere that we are trying to plug. But it is our home, a refuge and retreat when living and working in Bocas becomes hard. It’s also a place we are making ready to accommodate small teams to reach out to our neighbors who live in very remote and isolated areas, to assist them in using Community Health Evangelism principles and teach them God’s word using our audio bible chips that have been translated into their heart language. Our hope for Redemption is that she will not only be a refuge for our family but a beacon of hope to others, showing them that God cares for them, too, just as he cares for us. We want to encourage our students to also step out by faith and serve their God who is always faithful.

Would you join us in prayer as we begin to step out of our comfort zone and begin developing relationships with other villages? We are in the process of connecting with a local church that has a small indigenous church a few islands away. Pray for us as we continue to learn how to sail and navigate the archipelago. Pray also that Redemption will be more than merely the name of a sailing vessel!

 

Build the dream…

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The end of the year is quickly approaching, and we are in a new season at Outpost.  It is a very exciting time as we dream and plan for the coming years. Outpost Panama exists to bring the hope of Christ to the islands of Panama. We do this by equipping students and nationals to partner with communities to help them move towards God’s intentions for their lives. To accomplish our mission, God has placed in our hearts the need to develop Outpost into a training ground, not only for students, but for nationals as well.  We envision training stations for sustainable farming techniques, gardening, clean water systems and sanitation, as well as the ability to train locals on community health while using principles from Community Health Evangelism. We dream of Outpost becoming sustainable, with more University of the Nations courses offered, more outreach teams, and adequate staffing levels to join what God is doing here in Bocas Del Toro.

We already have many interested staff and students who want to come and join our work.  However, in order to accommodate more staff and students, we need to strengthen our current infrastructure and begin planning for expansion.  For those of you who don’t know, Outpost is completely reliant upon the sun and rain for electricity and water. It is really great for our environment and helps keep our costs down. However, our current systems are not able to support the growth we have planned for the future.   

We want to see Outpost move from surviving to thriving.

With the increased interest in serving at Outpost, the leadership team is in the beginning stages of developing a plan to build staff housing and increase the amount of space for students and classes.  As we begin this growth and expansion, we first need to make sure our solar and water systems can handle the increased demands for energy and water. We are stepping out in faith, together with you, to bring Outpost to the next level.  

We are looking for individuals to come alongside Outpost to help us raise money to begin these new and upgraded systems.  The cost for these projects is approximately $20,000. For our solar energy system project, we need new inverter(s), cables, control panels, batteries, and mounts.  For our water system project, we need new gutters, supports, connecting pipes, and pre-filter(s) as well as upgrading the plumbing for the water pump improvement.

These changes will allow us to accommodate  additional staff and visiting teams here at Outpost.  Would you consider joining with us to make these dreams a reality? Would you help us move to the next level at Outpost? We see God at work and we want to prepare the way for what he plans to do!  

Click HERE to give online.

Or

mail a check to:

Accounting Department

PO Box 3000

Garden Valley, TX 75771-3000

 

**Make checks payable to YWAM**

Enclose a note stating the donation is for Nathan and Christina Pineault.

(If our name is on the check it cannot be accepted)

We will be purchasing the needed supplies for Outpost along with guidance and accountability  from the Kona leadership team.

 

With many thanks and anticipation of what God is going to do at Outpost,

 

Nathan and Christina

Outpost Panama

YWAM Ships

 

P.S. Thank you for considering how you can partner with us for the next stage! (And remember that your gifts are tax-deductible at this year-end season of giving.)

 

Give Here Today!

 

Bursting forth…

 

I think one of the best parts about living mission-minded is watching God grow His garden.  He is the one that has been cultivating the hidden, below ground work from the beginning. The best part is He also allows us to participate in the process.  Sometimes we are the sower, planting seeds and praying for them to sprout. Sometimes we are providing the support, daily watering, and providing the right amount of sunshine and nutrients for growth, and sometimes we get to be there as seedlings burst forth into new life.  It’s a laborious process and often we don’t see immediate results. It takes time to germinate a seedling. But when God steps in to make it grow it is nothing short of a miracle.

It doesn’t happen every day or even every week.  At times it seems as if what you are doing is not making a difference. It’s hard not being able to see below the dirt as the seed is germinating. I often scratch my head and think to myself, “God when are they gonna get it? When is it going to click?”  God gently reminds me, that it is His timing not mine. But those moments where you get to bear witness to the incredible heart work that God has been doing in someone—growth that has sprung forth like a tiny plant bursting from the ground—is priceless.  It’s what makes all the hard days of sacrifice worth it.

In our Discipleship Training School, often students come with lots of chaos swirling around in their heads.  They have questions that have gone unanswered for a long time. They don’t know what they want to be now that they are grown up, and some are trying to figure out how to separate themselves from their parents’ faith and make it their own.  There are those who are really struggling with deep wounds because of others’ actions, or from choices they have made on their own. We get the privilege to walk alongside them in a mentoring relationship as God does heart work. When they come here, they begin a journey from head knowledge to heart knowledge.  A journey that is riveting with new discoveries about themselves and who God made them to be, as well as experiencing healing that only God can give. They journey from understanding their identity and purpose to knowing where they fit in God’s story, and standing up to finally take that place. They walk away with a deeper understanding of who God is and what He’s called them to.

Many good things have been happening amongst our students over the last few weeks.  In week two, we saw two of them decide they were done being on the sidelines and chose to be baptized.  It was the first baptism we have had the privilege of participating in here at Outpost. To see that seed burst forth, a soul changed by experiencing the freedom Christ has to offer, is a gem I will treasure in my heart for years to come.  You too have been a part of this. Each of you who have continued faithfully supporting us over the years have made this day possible. What a blessing!

Would you continue to labor with us, by praying for our students over the next 10 weeks.  They will continue to have moments of wrestling, and moments where the light goes on, as we guide them through the curriculum. After that they will be going on a two-month outreach through which they will need continued prayer.  They will be taking what they learned during the 12 weeks they were here at Outpost and applying it in real-world situations.

 

God has given us a song to pray for this particular group of students, and one we continue to sing over them…

Hosanna

I see the King of Glory Coming on the clouds with fire, the whole earth shakes.

I see his love and mercy, washing over all our sin, the people sing…

Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna in the highest…

I see a generation, rising up to take their place, with selfless faith…

I see a near revival, stirring as we pray and seek, we’re on our knees…

Heal my heart and make it clean, open up my eyes to the things unseen, show me how to love like you have loved me,

Break my heart for what breaks yours, everything I am for your kingdom’s cause,

as I walk from earth into eternity.

Would you also pray for us and our staff: Katie, Ryan, and Payton? Leading others through heart work is very time consuming and exhausting.  Pray for stamina and continued unity for our team throughout the next 10 weeks.

 

Snares, Arrows, Pestilence and God’s Protection

For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler

and from the deadly pestilence.

He will cover you with his pinions,

and under his wings you will find refuge;

His faithfulness is a shield and buckler.

You will not fear the terror of the night,

Nor the arrow that flies by day,

Nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,

nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.

– Psalm 91:3-6

I was listening to the Oceans song this morning and was struck by how relevant that song still is to our journey: When he “called us out upon the waters” I didn’t realize how deep the waters could be, and sometimes, how you could feel like you’re barely keeping your head above water and could go under at any moment.  At the same time I am also reminded of His sweet embrace and that I need to press in as he “covers me with his pinions,” all the while knowing his talons are close by. It’s no joke, this spiritual warfare stuff. It’s also not a surprise the attacks keep coming on the eve of our DTS students’ arrival next week.

I have always thought of spiritual warfare as something that was done to me. What God has been teaching me is that I need to change my perspective on this.  He didn’t create me to just take hit after hit. He created me to “stand against the enemy’s schemes” (Ephesians 6:11). “To stand” is active, not passive. So over the last year, I have learned to take a more defensive stance and not let my guard down.  I have learned to surround myself with warfare verses (like the one above), fight songs, prayer, and I’ve learned to speak with the authority God has given me as His child. It doesn’t mean that some of the “snares, arrows and pestilence” don’t get in, because the reality is that at times they do; after all, we are at war.  But we need not be afraid, because the enemy can steal, kill, and destroy that which he thinks will take you down and immobilize you, but God is right there replacing, resurrecting, making new all that has been done, and sustaining you to keep up the fight. This is exactly the path we have walked this past month, well, honestly this whole last year.  At times it feels like one thing after another, but God is faithful.

So, with last month’s fateful accident, Nathan vs. the nail, we welcomed in a short time of forced rest.  And true to form, attacks kept coming at us and just this week we lost our brand new motor — the one we had just purchased for our family’s transportation — to the bottom of the ocean.  It just flew off the back of our dingy and now sits entrenched in three feet of muck, below 45 feet of ocean.

But God . . . even as this came on the heels of totaled trucks, crazy con artists, things breaking down on base, and impalement . . . has provided friends who are certified divers and are willing to help at the drop of a hat.  Thus, we press on with the hopes we can find the motor in the muck and salvage it. 

Nathan’s foot is healing nicely and he is starting to get back on his feet (no pun intended). All of the stitches are out, but he still has a lot of swelling, which forces him to slow down and rest.  But God in his goodness knew and sent help. Our new Discipleship Training School (DTS) staff joined the ranks with us here at Outpost at the end of August. It was so refreshing to have them here to help carry the load.  Especially with Nathan down for the count. They have been very good at jumping in and helping us get the base ready for the students who come next week. Two of them also came with the exciting news that they will be joining us here long term for the next year and a half.  This is an incredible weight lifted off our shoulders with the knowledge that we have a team to help us here at Outpost. I am very excited to introduce them to you now.

 

Katie Beard comes to us from Pennsylvania.  She has been with YWAM Ships for six years, two of which she previously spent here as Outpost staff.  She is returning for the next three months to lead our DTS and to train us to lead future DTS schools.  I am learning so much from her and she is a joy to have on our team. She has jumped right in and taken over meal planning and running the kitchen (a huge relief for me) alongside all her other tasks as the school leader.  I am truly grateful for her.

Payton Howitt comes from Saskatchewan, Canada.  She did her DTS last year and joined YWAM Ships with a long-term commitment.  During her time at Kona, Hawaii, she spent time working in the admissions office, and kept hearing about Outpost and it intrigued her.  Little did she know then that God was calling her to finish out her long-term commitment with us here at Outpost and we couldn’t be more thrilled.  She is very experienced with driving boats and has fearlessly taken to navigating the sometimes huge waves. She brings very strong administrative skills to Outpost, which I think God will be putting to good use in this season of change.

Ryan Veltkamp comes to us from North Carolina.  He did his DTS two years ago and joined YWAM ships with a long-term commitment as well.  He spent his time in Kona, Hawaii, as head of maintenance and going through YWAM’s Pacific Equip program, which teaches you how to lead a DTS school.  We are excited to see him blossom in the skills he learned as well as the many talents he puts to work here at base.  God knew what Outpost needed and we are excited he is here for this new season.

So there you have it.  A new season, a new team, and new students joining us in a week.  Please continue to pray for us as we begin our fall DTS. Pray for protection, wisdom, and most importantly, that God would guide and speak to the students as they set aside five months of their lives to seek his face.

 

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly….

When you joined this mission with us, you signed up to walk with us during the good, the bad, and the ugly.  A lot has transpired over the years, and we are forever indebted to you for your faithfulness and steadfastness.  Standing with us at those times when we felt like we couldn’t stand, as well as during the times of rejoicing over what God is doing.  Now I preface this with the knowledge that there are worse things that could happen to us. We also know God cares about all things and so we confidently come before you asking you to once again pray, and this time it is for our poor truck.

The saga of the white Toyota Hilux

We haven’t shared everything that has transpired over the last year, yes YEAR!!  Frankly, we thought it would be a quick fix and then bam! — back onto life. So here goes…

When we first moved to Panama, we took our time finding the perfect truck for the ministry we were going to be doing. We needed something rugged and able to haul things. Most of our ministry at the time was in rural areas with bad roads.  After much prayer and discernment, we stumbled upon this gem, a white Toyota Hilux. Known for its strength, durability and longevity, we felt we made a good decision. This truck faithfully served us and the people we were serving in so many ways, from hauling supplies, cement mixers, and people.  Who knew you could fit eight or nine people in a five-passenger truck…only in Panama!

Last September, we made the big move to Bocas Del Torro. We no longer needed our faithful truck, and began the process of looking to sell or trade for a boat. We thought we knew a thing or two after having lived abroad for three years.  However, Bocas Del Torro is a tough area, and there are people who will take advantage of you. We were just still naive enough to get taken. And we are still reeling from it.

We had a verbal agreement to trade our great boss hog of a truck for what we thought was an even trade of a boat.  It wasn’t. Needless to say we had been duped, but God in his providence protected us and prevented the transaction.  The person we were dealing with hadn’t completed the paperwork for our truck and was in an accident on the way to meet us, running head on into a Mac truck. Because the paperwork was not complete, the truck was still in our name, thus under our insurance. We canceled the trade, the boat was sold to someone else and we have been waiting for our truck to get fixed ever since that fateful day last September.  In the states our truck would have been totaled. But we live in Panama. So, for the last 10 months the insurance company has been “fixing” our truck.

This week we FINALLY got the call that it was ready…ahem…“Ready?”  

Somehow, during the 10 months it’s been in the possession of the insurance company and repair shop, it was in ANOTHER accident, sustaining even more damage, this time with the back end. Of course, no one wants to claim responsibility for it.  So our battle continues. Thankfully, my husband is a smart man and took pictures of the truck from all angles after the accidents, proving there was no damage done in the back, and we had never had it in our possession after the accident. The hunt is on by the insurance company to figure out what happened.  

Please pray for resolution of this situation.  We have been waiting to resell the truck for almost a year.  Right now we are looking at losing major value on it because of the accidents.  There are still things not working from the first accident and now this. I really do love living here, but some days, it’s just an ugly mess…

 

Equipping those He calls . . .

 

But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this”?

Romans 9:20

 

Before we felt God calling us to go into missions, I always felt like I didn’t have many skills to offer. I felt extremely inadequate. I would look at many of the ladies at church that led different programs and wished I had what they possessed. I always heard the line “God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips those He calls,” and felt it was so cliche. Deep down I didn’t believe this truth for myself. I could believe it for other people, but not for me. I am just ordinary. I often prayed for gifting. Oh Lord, if I could just be like her . . . even when we started our journey to the mission field, I remember thinking, “Ok God, we will apply out of obedience, but I doubt they will accept us.”  Little did I know then, when God looks at us He already sees what we will become. Even if we don’t believe it or see it ourselves.

I still am ordinary. I still feel inadequate. I have learned as I have stepped out in faith over the last five years that it’s true: God takes that gem buried deep within, underneath all that self doubt and baggage we carry, and He gently digs it up and reveals it to us as we allow Him to do the work. Who are we to say, “I can’t do this or that”? In the potter’s hands we are able to become what He sees in that lump of clay. It took me 20 years to truly believe it and see it played out in my life.

For example. Right now. Spanish is my second language. I am really not very good at speaking. Four years into this venture, I still stumble over words and my accent is horrible. Sven and Ole meet Jose and Maria. God doesn’t care and in fact He asked me to stretch myself two months ago when my 18-year-old Ngäbe neighbor asked me to teach her how to read. ME!!!! I looked around and I was the only one standing there. Ok Lord. Here goes nothing. I know nothing about how to teach a native Spanish speaker how to read. I mean, I taught my boys to read, but Spanish is totally different. My first couple of days were horrible. I tried to mimic what I did with my boys, but the words cat and hat in English do not have the same word families in Spanish. But, I kept meeting with her. To me it was strange that she kept coming back. I found a Spanish kindergarten learn-to-read book and three times a week we meet. You know what is happening? She is reading! I do not know how God is doing it, but He is.

Every time she comes over, I still feel so inadequate, but THIS is the lesson. THIS is where God steps in to fill in the gaps. He is supernaturally equipping me and doing something through me that is not of my own doing. I am HIS vessel. If He can do it with inadequate me, He can do it with inadequate you! All God is looking for is a willing spirit and steps of obedience EVEN when you have no idea how you are going to do it. What is He asking you to do that you do not feel qualified for?

Please continue to pray for me! Pray for God to continue to use my time with this neighbor to develop our relationship. I have given her one of the audio Bible chips for her phone. I am praying, as she continues to learn how to read, that one day we can begin to practice reading using the Spanish Bible. What an opportunity for her to discover God’s story for herself as she reads the age-old words and she doesn’t have to rely on what someone else tells her. Praise God!