HELLO FROM SRI LANKA
Yes, you read it right - I made it to Sri Lanka!! I arrived with my team almost two weeks. We flew into Colombo (the only airport on the island) then took a 7hr van ride through the night across Sri Lanka to Arugam Bay. I slept on and off, so I got a glimpse of the beautiful lush forestry and an elephant! It is crazy to think that I have finally made it to my outreach phase of DTS; after three months of talking about it and preparing, I am here!
Jumping back to a few weeks ago after our lecture phase finished we travelled down to Sydney for about two weeks where we stayed at YWAM Island Breeze for local outreach. It was an amazing time of ministry that included evangelism at malls, feeding the homeless, cleaning the base and experiencing many different cultures. We all absolutely loved it and were sad to say "see ya later" to our island friends. We travelled back to Newcastle for Annual Retreat with the whole Newie base (a weekend of camping and encountering God) which I LOVED! Then it was time to head overseas which takes us to the 'now.'
Being my first overseas mission trip, I tried to lay down all expectations before coming as I really only had other peoples opinions to go off for what it was going to be like. I just want to be open to what God has in store for me and not let preconceived ideas affect my experience. So there I was over a week ago, sitting at our hosts house listening to them talk about their vision for Arugam Bay and how their motto is to LOVE WITHOUT AGENDA. I was excited to hear that as this was truly how Jesus loved. We are to love with no expectations and no time limit. Always, in every moment as this is what the people of Arugam Bay need to experience; the love of a Saviour.
We are here in Arugam Bay with Surfing The Nations (do a quick Google if you have no idea what I just said - Tom Bauer, the founder spoke to us about missions in week 10 of our lecture phase!!). Our hosts, Tiffany and Cody Carether, along with their two boys, Koda and Kenai, have been here for 8 years, loving on people and introducing surfing to the nation. They are from America and said yes to full time missions here as they love God and surfing. It is amazing to be fully immersed into the ministry they have set up as it gives us a great insight into Sri Lankan culture. The Carethers have a weekly schedule which includes things like family nights, bible studies, girls make waves (empowering women to surf), movie nights, kids ministry on Saturday morning (bible teaching, beach clean ups and swimming/surfing lessons) and we've been involved in all of it. So we have been seeing the people of the Muslim village up to three times a week which is great as we have so many opportunities to share Christ with them.
It is so beautiful as the fruit that I'm seeing coming from this intentional time of relationship building is the smile on kids faces when I see them again, or the fact that because I am looking after kids on the beach I am actually empowering women to go out and hit the waves! Fruit here may not look the same as fruit during our evangelism times in Australia but I am learning to see God in news ways. To let him blow my mind out of the water and allowing him to transform my heart.
I am SO blessed to be here in Arugam Bay, living by the beach with my amazing team. It is literally a dream location. As far as food goes, it is amazing!! Except I am beginning to experience what it is like to eat spicy food three times a day, everyday. As one of my team members quoted, "you can't rush the curry but the curry sure can rush through you" I can now say that with experience! But all in all, we are all doing pretty well. It is so hot here that we've been sweating buckets for the Lord! So I guess all the water we're drinking helps to flush out our system...
Today was our Sabbath and I spent it attempting to surf and chilling out at restaurants with free Wi-Fi. Life is truly amazing.
We are here until next Thursday when we will begin our travels to Thailand. To be honest, I have not really thought about it much as my mind has been so focused on the here and now. But I can say that I am so excited and expectant for what God has planned.
Your prayers are SO valued! I cannot thank you enough. Some prayer points this week:
-continued health for myself and the team
-boldness in building relationships with the locals and tourists
-that we would seek out every opportunity to best serve and bless our hosts
Many blessings to you all,
Love Laura xo