what I’ve learned | Year one of being a ‘full-time missionary’

I have been a full-time missionary with YWAM for about 1 year. (Probably a bit more including when I came back as a volunteer staff back in February 2016). I am 21 years old. I don’t get paid. I don’t have a university degree. But there is nowhere else I would rather be at this point in time and nothing else I would rather be doing.

I think the expectation as you enter your twenties is that you have a small window of time left to “get it together.” To become fully independent. To choose your career, finish university, solidify a decent job to earn enough money not just to survive but to “enjoy” life. Not only is this expectation a reality for young adults but on top of that you have the pressure of being attractive and desirable to the opposite sex, healthy and fit, posting aesthetically pleasing things on social media that make your life look interesting, not to mention having only a small portion LEFT of your twenties to find the one person that is going to commit to loving and cherishing you for the rest of your life and vice versa.. it just doesn’t seem feasible. Sometimes I feel like I have less of my life “figured out” than I did when I turned 18.

I can say that I am not really living out the “normal” stages of a person’s early twenties. I have committed 2 years to a lifestyle centered around Jesus, relying on others for financial support despite my age, listening to God and hearing more of His call for my life. Serving where God calls. This last Spring it was Sweden, Ukraine, Poland, and Spain with an outreach team of 9 students that had the same committed call to know God and make him known in the world.

But I can say fairly confidently that this past year, I have learned a lot.

I have learned that all the money in the world belongs to my Father and He has blessed me countless times with more than enough.

I have learned so much more of the French language, communicating with people on a daily basis even if it’s a quick conversations with the bakery-employee or the dear French grandmere who is can’t find something in the grocery store.

I have learned that it is possible to lead a team of young people serving God throughout Europe and enjoy every minute. (And how to book flights for 11 people on a budget.)

I have learned that God has placed dreams and desires in us for reasons we have yet to even imagine.

I have learned that the Holy Spirit is active today and is speaking and inspiring every minute of every day.

I have learned to conquer fear and doubt in my life and trust in the faithfulness of a mighty God.

I am learning to walk in the identity of being a child of God. Not in performance, not in what I can do for God, but understanding I don’t have to be anyone other than myself or do anything to earn grace or earn love.

And I have learned that I have so much to learn. SO much to learn.

I am excited for another year. To dream what it may hold, and to be laughing in the unknown, rejoicing in the known, and spending time with my Father who will reveal more in his good timing.

I may not have it all “figured out” but I guess you could say I have “figured out” that God is on my side. My biggest support. My biggest dream. My highest goal in life. And that is why there is nothing I would rather be doing than serving in Biarritz this season of my twenties. I’m so thankful.

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l’été avec Jeunesse en Mission Biarritz

Hi everyone! It blows my mind how it is already almost August! July went crazy fast!

My parents and Maya have made it to Singapore safely and are getting settled- which is so exciting. They will be writing updates I believe at http://theweissfamilytravels.com/ if you are interested!

For the summer season (and possibly into the fall) I have been leading the hospitality ministry once again here- which I love- it’s just been busy with lots of change, and with a wedding last weekend where many guests came. 2 staff members here got married on Saturday and are on their honeymoon in Panama at the moment! It was great fun!

I am organizing different comings and goings, whether guests, volunteer staff, or full-time staff here in Biarritz, making sure they have beds, airport pick-ups, drop-offs, all those details. As well, I mentioned before, but in August we have a gathering where all Ywammers in France come together for about a week and our whole base will be attending that August 21-25th. And a couple days after we return, we are hosting a conference for about 60 people in Biarritz. A lot to organize for that but there is a team of people working on it and it is going to be lots of fun work!

Coming off of a “different kind” of busy season from staffing the January DTS, it has been a bit difficult to adjust back to “normal life”- (how living in the South of France doing missions-work has become normal is crazy in and of itself)- but God’s grace has been so plentiful and I have never been lacking anything- despite being away from close family and friends, and not knowing when I will be in Canada again next either! God’s grace is sufficient!

In early October the Surf and Snow DTS will start and students will be arriving once again! As well around that time, the committed staff for the Paris base plant will have left, so it will be a new season for us as a base. Excited, though for all God is going to do.

So very thankful to have support and the means to be able to do this! Thank you again for the faithful supporters who pray, who give, and who encourage!

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Some of the incredible staff here I get to live in community with!
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sunsets on the beautiful Atlantic!
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Wedding night of Tanja and Alec! I helped make their wedding arch, it looked beautiful set up at their beach ceremony.
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quick dip in the ocean after their “I do’s”

Blessings,

Steph

back in France!

Hi everyone! All the teams made it back to Biarritz safe and sound, and had an amazing week back together! We had some teaching on spheres of society and how to reflect God in our different callings, and on re-entry for the students. Such a blessed week back together! Sad to say goodbyes but I know that I will see many of them again in the next few years either in Canada or France.

Walking the El Camino was an incredible two weeks! I had 4 students with me, and we took a bus to Pamplona, Spain and walked a total of around 225 kilometres, to Burgos. It was a cool way to meet people from all over the world who were walking the same route, and to hang out, and even pray and share faith with some of them. At the end of our time walking we met the other teams in Santiago, and took a train back up to Biarritz!

I am so thankful for the past 6 months staffing this school. I can’t believe it’s over! I was so blessed with my group of students that I got to lead on outreach, and had just an amazing 3 months serving the Lord together. I want to say a huge thank you to all you who are keeping up with me and have been supporting me, praying for me, it really has been a blessing and privilege to serve in all these different countries.

I’m excited to share a bit more about what this next season holds for me personally and for us as a base! Some of our base leaders are starting a new base in Paris this fall! A number of staff are joining them and they will be following God’s call to start new ministries and DTS’s and training schools in Paris! I was praying about this move and felt the Lord speak clearly that I was to stay in Biarritz. It is a bit sad to see some close friends go, but we will still be very connected as bases and continue serving the Lord together in France! I am also still processing what exactly and how exactly I will be serving in Biarritz but I am so excited for dreams to become plans and reality soon and to share with you all!

As many of you know, there are some big changes happening back home with my family, as my parents are moving to Singapore this summer and teaching internationally again! Julia will continue her studies at Columbia bible college in Abbotsford, and my parents and Maya will be leaving at the end of July for this exciting new season. We are planning to be together in Singapore this Christmas together, which we are all looking so forward to!

Through all this change, I still feel very at peace with where I am in France and I am going to continue investing in this community of missionaries and in France! God really does give us the desires of our hearts- and this biblical truth has really become a reality in my life when I took this step of faith in moving to France. Biarritz definitely feels like home.

I would appreciate your prayers for the summer months as our base is going to host a conference about running these Discipleship training schools for other bases. And with all the change as some staff move to Paris. I am also going to be applying to the health care system here, so prayers for favour and ease with that would be very appreciated.

Thanks again for your prayers and partnership that enable me to serve this way in Biarritz. My heart is so full!

Here are some pictures of the El Camino and of graduation night!

Steph

 

Poland & the Camino de Santiago

Hi everyone!
We have had an incredible last few weeks together in Poland!

We helped with 2 conferences back to back the first week- it was crazy but so fun. We helped with childcare- which was a fun adventure as none of us spoke Polish. The kids still had a. blast and so did we! The second conference was Heidi Baker which was so amazing to hear her speak!(we got to attend the evening sessions.)

Then we were off to a small town called Namysłow. We arrived not knowing about a lot of what we were going to be doing, but it was a highlight for so many of us. We got to hang out with teens every day that wanted to practice English, and just hang out with us. Every morning/afternoon we got to go to elementary schools, middle, and high schools into classrooms to practice English with the students. The teachers were STOKED that we were there, and were so friendly. The elementary kids got us to autograph their arms afterwards. Safe to say they had a ball! 🙂 Namysłow is a really small town so they were so happy to have some foreigners coming to visit which is rare.

In each school we would separate into about 3-4 of us in each classroom. The first class in our high school consisted of about 30 17-year old guys and 1 girl. What an adventure! Some classes could speak a lot of English and others, it was harder. But so many opportunities to bless the schools and the students and it was tiring but so good.

Our very last day we got to perform the everything skit in the main square. A number of the friends we had made were in tears and it was amazing as we got to pray with them and give them bibles.

Please pray for safety for my team and I and a covering as we are on day 2 of the Camino de Santiago! The famous hiking pilgrimage through Spain. We are walking around 20 km per day for 2 weeks and listening to God and see what he wants us to do along the way. Many people come from around the world to do this pilgrimage, so we are praying we can be a light to those searching for truth.

Bless you all, thanks for your prayers and support!

Just another quick note- I am looking to raise about $50 more CAD per month to cover health insurance fees while I am abroad. If this is something YOU have the desire and ability to support me with, please send me an email and we can talk! It’s a great privilege to be living by faith financially and I would love to invite you to be a part of what God is doing in Europe!

And here are some photos of Poland and the first couple days of the Camino.

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With love,
Stephanie

доброго ранку з України

..And just like that we are into our 6th week of outreach!

I cannot begin to explain how awesome the last 5 weeks have been and how blessed I feel to be leading this team! I will do my best to summarize our time in Sweden, Albania, and Ukraine so far.

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This is our team posing with the lovely Mike and Lotta Stevens who run the Ywam base in Borlange, Sweden. This is where we spent our first 2 weeks, where we were greeted with snow and lots of Fika!

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The majority of our time in Borlange was spent meeting the refugees that are living there. This is a picture with some Afghani Christians where we had bible study and worship in Dari together. Sweden has taken in so many refugees, and this particular town in Sweden has many refugees living there, either waiting for papers or studying. It was such a privilege to work with Mike and Lotta and others who are investing in discipleship and friendship to these people.

A highlight for me was one night where a number of them came over to the Ywam base and we had teaching together, shared testimonies, worship, lunch and fika, and at the end of the day we were able to pray for them individually. Many have family members that they have lost, or don’t know where they are.  It is amazing to see how they met Jesus and hear their stories.

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Just a taco team selfie..

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Next stop was Albania- and we had a direct flight into PodgaRica, Montenegro, where we stayed the night in an Airbnb with a cool view over the city. I was also able to coordinate a surprise meeting up with another outreach team that was also going to be in Montenegro at the same time– which was oh so fun to see the students freak out as they showed up at our apartment here as a complete surprise! We ended up taking a bus to Durres the next day together!

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Montenegro is beautiful. Would love to go back one day!

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And here we are looking at our home for the next week in Durres, Albania. All the teams (4) met back together (along with 600+ people) for a Ywam conference.

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The conference was amazing! It was in a huge tent on the beach, and was a coming together for missionaries in all of Europe. (I forgot to take a picture of the tent!) We heard from different speakers, and a highlight for me was hearing the many miracles of 2 women that came to Albania to share the gospel when it was still under communism. Some incredible stories.

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Sunsets alongside good friends.

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Spent a free afternoon in the city with Paloma and Maddie!

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Also at the conference was my good friend from my DTS 2 years ago, Graham! We were able to catch up and it was so good to see him again! His team was about to leave on outreach to Malawi. The week went fast and we were ready to head off to Vinnitsa, Ukraine!

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There is a group of Ywammers in Vinnitsa who are doing a handful of amazing things for God in this city. This is an orphanage that did a performance for us, and we hung out with these kids for the afternoon. We have also been going to a baby hospital and holding sick babies from the orphanage, and going out to different villages and spending time with the youth there that come together for “youth group.” In the village we went to yesterday, there were apparently only 2 Christians. There are different missionaries that go to villages like these and run summer camps, and youth groups, it’s cool to be a part of it!

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Bumpy, beautiful Ukrainian roads to the village.

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We might have also found a litter of puppies in this village yesterday and had some fun with them.

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We have another week here in Vinnitsa, and on the 1st we head to Poland! God has opened so many doors for us to help out in Warsaw and in another city, Namyslow. And after Poland we head back to Biarritz for a night, to re-pack for the El Camino to Santiago. Then we walk for last 2.5 weeks on this famous pilgrimage, meeting people from all around the world.

Thank you so much for supporting and praying for me and for our team. Some of you might have heard but I had a weird pain in my shoulder that kept getting worse, spreading to my arm and hand. I ended up going to the hospital just to be safe and check it out in Sweden. The doctor thought it was an impingement, possibly from just sleeping on it weird. It is getting better but it is still not back to normal, so prayers for healing are appreciated. I would also love prayers for wisdom as I continue to grow in leadership and make decisions for the team.

I am excited for the next half of outreach and will try to do another update soon. 🙂 God is good!

Blessings!

T-5 hours!

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Hello friends and family! This is my lovely team and we are heading out in-yes- 5 hours! We are taking an overnight bus to Paris and flying from Paris to Stockholm!

I wanted to give a really quick update and some prayer requests before we head out.

So yes- our first stop is Stockholm! We have a Ywam contact there who has local church work, and lots of opportunities to get to know refugees that have been relocated to Sweden and are living in the same city as this Ywam base.

I am co-leading with another staff named Esteban and we would love prayer for wisdom and discernment as we lead and make decisions for the team. We are praying for something to open up in Stockholm as well so we can spend some time in Stockholm before heading to Albania for the Ywam conference there!

The Ywam conference in Durres is 5 days, and we are flying/training to Ukraine after this. Please pray that God opens a door for how exactly we are getting there. We’ve got an awesome contact in Vinnitsa and we are going to be serving in an orphanage and a baby hospital there. We just haven’t found a flight quite yet!

God was speaking to me about Poland and he seriously wants our team to go there because there have been SO many doors that have opened in Poland for us. Depending on a few things we may stay longer in Poland, or head over to Prague for a few days before heading back to Biarritz, dropping off stuff, and walking the Camino for the last 2 weeks.

Please pray for smooth travels and for God to lead us! I am so excited that this trip is almost underway and we are so expectant of what God is going to do. We are full of FAITH and so ready to serve in these places! Thank you for praying for us. I will try to write an update or even write some quick stories on here as we go.

Blessings!

Steph

 

 

 

Tornado Week

Hi friends! What a week! I have a couple encouraging testimonies to share with you.

Time is just flying by- and the countdown is on until outreach. Less than a month now until we leave.

There really has been an open heaven over our base over the last week. We have been learning about Spiritual Authority with a speaker from Ywam Perth this week. On Tuesday night we had our “open meeting” where different people from the community come join us at the base for some worship and some teaching. The Holy Spirit was mightily at work and the presence of God was tangible. A few people got words for the whole group, and a few people were miraculously healed, and a handful of people from the community gave their life to Jesus!

The following day we had a “regular” day of teaching and I don’t really know how to say this other than the Holy Spirit moved, and in about an hour we raised more than 13,000 euros for the rest of outreach fees. Everyone who still was trusting for money to pay their outreach saw it ALL come in- including me. Just from the generosity of one another- incredible.

That same day we had our weekly 2-3 hours of going out into the city for evangelism, listening to God and seeing what He would want us to do in small groups of 2 or 3. I was with a group of 2 other girls and as we were praying I really sensed that God spoke a name to me. Matthieu. I can’t say that I’ve ever really felt like I’ve gotten a name of someone in evangelism so I was a little hesitant, and I kept it to myself. Sure enough as we continue to pray, this guy goes past my line of vision multiple times on his skateboard. Back and forth, and I have a sense that I need to talk to him, but he ended up sitting back down at this cafe with a couple of other people. I was asking God for him to get back up and get back on his skateboard. He didn’t. After a few minutes we decided we were going to leave and started walking away. I looked back and I saw him get up and start skateboarding again! The other girls prayed as I walked back his direction.

I approach him and ask him what his name was.

“Um, Matthieu.” He says.

I was literally so stoked with life and overwhelmed at how cool God is and he was just totally weirded out by my reaction to him saying his name- but what a sweet opportunity. We talked for a few minutes, I explained that God has spoken his name to me earlier. He said he didn’t believe in God but I was able to share about why I believe in God, God’s love for him and purpose for his life. I am still praying for him that he will encounter God in a real way and that I will meet him again someday!

Yesterday, Leah, our school leader, heard God speak the word “tornado” for how He is going to continue to move this week. She didn’t tell anyone this, and later that day one of our students was checking the weather in the regular weather app – and no joke it said the current weather for Biarritz was a tornado. See the picture below.

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It makes no logical sense whatsoever. It was a regular cloudy day in Biarritz!

Friends, God is so real, and He is so in LOVE with us! This week has me STOKED for what God is going to do on outreach and through us through simple obedience and Holy Spirit.

I hope this has encouraged you greatly. We really do live in a day and age where the Holy Spirit moves and falls in real ways. I believe this should be normal. That it doesn’t have to just happen in a group of young people in Ywam in the South of France, but Christians everywhere- not to put God in a box, to say He speaks this way and does things that way. But to live in generosity. To hear God and obey him. To be generous with what we have. To see people healed. To not have to put up with sickness or sin. Let’s love people! Let’s understand (and exercise!) the real authority we have in Christ because we are seated at his right hand in heaven. (Ephesians 2:6).

Be encouraged and blessed this week!

 

(Ephesians chapter 1)

Greetings from Paul

This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus.

I am writing to God’s holy people in Ephesus,[a] who are faithful followers of Christ Jesus.

May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.

Spiritual Blessings

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son.[b] He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.

God has now revealed to us his mysterious will regarding Christ—which is to fulfill his own good plan. 10 And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth. 11 Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God,[c] for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.

12 God’s purpose was that we Jews who were the first to trust in Christ would bring praise and glory to God. 13 And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own[d] by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. 14 The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.

Paul’s Prayer for Spiritual Wisdom

15 Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God’s people everywhere,[e] 16 I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, 17 asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom[f] and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. 18 I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.[g]

19 I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power 20 that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. 21 Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come. 22 God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. 23 And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.