Outreach Report: Lesvos, Greece

We are down to our final week here in Greece! We have been blessed with better and more widely available internet, so we have been able to do lots of mini-updates on social media. We will try to fill in the gaps and create an entire perspective of our time here in this post. 

We arrived on the island as volunteers on January 15, with 4 weeks planned to work as many shifts in the various refugee camps as possible. Our team was eager to see firsthand the crisis so widely publicized and talked about back home and abroad. After 52 hours of travel, we drove 1.5 hours across the island from the airport to arrive at our home for the next month: the medieval port city of Molyvos (also called Mithymna). Our accommodations at Belvedere Aeolis Hotel have been such a huge blessing to us. The hotel is hosting numerous volunteer groups at half price when it would normally be closed for the winter offseason. The same goes for many local businesses – restaurants, coffee shops, car rentals, specialty shops, and more – that have kept their doors open this winter and welcomed the flood of volunteers. It has been rewarding for our team to know that our money is going straight to local family businesses! But enough about Molyvos – we will post some pictures at the end, but you want to know about the refugee camps, the real reason we’re here. 

Our refugee camp experience started at Moria – a stage 3 camp near the capital of Mytilini, an hour drive away from us. The camps are categorized into “stages” based on what they are designed to do. Stage 1 is the beachfront where refugees are first taken off their boats and step foot in the EU. Stage 2 camps are transitional camps that provide some immediate needs like food, dry clothes, and possibly a night of shelter, but focus on getting the refugees on busses to stage 3 camps.  

This map shows the flow of the refugees’ journeys through the camps on Lesvos Island.

 In stage 3 camps like Moria, refugees are registered into the system and housed until they can get transportation off the island to Athens via the ferry from Mytilini. In Moria, our team worked in the family unit under the volunteer organizations i58 and EuroRelief. The family unit consists of 3 housing blocks, 8 rooms each, each room able to hold 25 comfortably. We regularly had to stuff them full of 40-50 people when the camp becomes backed up because of good weather for crossings or ferry strikes. Our duties varied depending on the shift, but generally consisted of cleaning out the rooms in the morning, admitting families back into the compound each afternoon, serving dinner, handing out clothes, making baby bottles and food, tidying, organizing and optimizing the volunteer areas, and all the while staffing the busy tea tent just outside the family compound. Cold refugees love their hot sweet tea! So that’s the basics of what we did during our 10 eight hour shifts in Moria, and there are a few stories that stood out to us from our time there. 

While it was just us two staffing the tea tent, for 2 nights in a row an Afghan man would come and try to teach us Farsi. He spoke no English and we spoke no Farsi, so it was slow going, but it was fun trying to figure out what each other was communicating. Eventually we learned that he was a policeman in Afghanistan, and he fled with his family after the Taliban attacked them and a rocket nearly missed his face. This story was all too common. Actually, nearly all the refugees in Moria are Afghanis, fleeing from the Taliban. We were surprised to see so many of them versus Syrians for which the crisis is named. 

Another story that we won’t forget is admitting a jam-packed line of refugees into the family unit one afternoon during a ferry strike. The camp was beyond capacity, so we had to be extra selective in giving our warm bedrooms to the most at-risk people only: small children and their parents. This does not include extended family or even older brothers/sisters. Through thick language barriers we had to deny some people entrance and split up some families. It was very difficult, but for each able bodied man we referred to another area of the camp, a small child got a warm room for the night. Our time in Moria taught us organization and communication within our team, to other volunteers, and to refugees. It also taught us how to stay patient and firm in our responsibilities under stress. Our team often received comments of how different we seemed than the non-Christian volunteers for our constant smiles and grace in situations. 

After 10 shifts at Moria at all times of the day and night, driving 2.5 hours each time, our team was pretty fatigued. We requested some shifts at a camp that was only 30 minutes away, and received our next 6 shifts there. Sikaminea is a stage 2 transportation camp one kilometer away from the beachfront at Skala, which is situated at the closest sea crossing from the Turkish shore (10km). So far, our shifts at Sikaminea have been very quiet – a stark contrast from the hustle and bustle of Moria. But it has been a welcome respite for our team to experience a different area of the island and of the refugees’ journey. God has spoken for our team to rest and wait on Him during this slow period and recharge ourselves for what is still yet to come in the next 6 days in Greece and then 4 weeks in Berlin. We are God’s hands and feet – available, ready, and waiting at Sikaminea for refugees to arrive, but it is almost a good thing that few are risking the cold, stormy, winter waters currently. 

While our time in Greece was mostly spent working in the camps, we did get to have a lot of fun as well! We enjoyed several runs around and through the town of Molyvos, went on a few walks in Medieval towns and hikes on the coast and in the mountains, and ate a lot of delicious food! We have truly cherished our time on this magical island. It is one of the most beautiful places we have ever been and we would recommend it to anyone for a visit! The diverse landscape, friendly people, delicious food, and rich history have made a big impact on us, and we will never forget any of it! We hope you enjoy the pictures below and hopefully they give you a little taste of Greece that will inspire you to book a plane ticket to come here! 

 

We love wandering these old streets! Especially with that stray dog we named Nikki who follows our team everywhere!

  
  

Some of the town of Mithymna.

  

Working at the tea tent at the Moria refugee camp. A warm drink puts a smile on any face!

  

A local restaurant where Connor and I had dinner one night. we had the best dolmas, fried local cheese, bread, lamb stew and cheese stuffed chicken! We can’t get enough of Greek food!

  

Waffles for brunch with our team! Connor loved this nutella and whipped cream waffle!

  

We love hiking up the hills for views like this!

  

When we have a house, I want a door like this! And it’s my favorite color! I took wayyyy too many photos of Greek doors.

  

We went hiking on a day off and stumbled upon Gollum’s pool, NBD.

  
  

Exploring in the fishing town of Skala.

  

We love going inside all of the Greek chapels! So pretty!

  

Connor on one of our hikes. We felt like we were in Middle Earth!

  

More of Mithymna, as seen from the port. Love the castle on the hill!

  

Ottoman rule in the area means lots of old Arabic carvings to try to read.

  

Some of our teammates!

    

Album cover material.

  

Those Greek doors though!

  

  

The best way to see a city is to run through it!

  

When you run with Alix you better be prepared to stop and pet any animal you pass by. This sheep dog was particularly cute!

 

Outreach Report:Windale, Australia

Hey everyone, thanks for bearing with us during our lapse of posting since the beginning of our outreach phase 3 weeks ago. It took us a while to get into the different schedule and find time to write a blog post between doing so much each day for outreach. We are currently in the old city of Mithymna, Lesvos Island, Greece, but this blog post will be about our first two weeks of outreach in Windale, Australia.

Windale is a low socioeconomic suburb of Newcastle (the lowest in AU, actually), where government housing, drugs, alcoholism, and abuse is extremely prevalent. We were graciously given a house to stay in a neighboring suburb, so we based out of there and bussed our team of 12 into Windale each day. On a side note, Connor got an international driver’s license for outreach and was the driver for our bus. It was quite a learning experience driving a manual bus on the left side of the road! 

Our ministry in Windale consisted of a variety of outlets, mostly to the youth, but also in local churches. Many groups from YWAM Newcastle go into Windale each Saturday during ‘community connect,’ so the area is somewhat aware of our organization’s presence. In all of those times, however, the groups hardly ever saw any youth. We couldn’t believe that, because from day 1 we were surrounded by a core group of 20-30 children from the neighborhoods. We saw at least some of the same familiar faces every day, and we were able to build some lasting relationships with a few of them. We saw two salvations among them, and planted strong seeds for a third. Our youth ministry consisted of inviting them to play games at the local park daily, which was all leading up to Summer Blast – a big party in the park with water slides, sports games, face painting, sumo suits, free sausage BBQ, music, and more. A few local church leaders organized the event, and our team was the majority of the volunteers. 

Other types of ministry included sharing testimonies (a story of how God has done something in our lives) and short sermons at the local ‘Brekkie Church.’ This church, held in the community center by volunteers, is dedicated to serving locals’ physical needs by offering a donation-based breakfast to anyone who comes to listen to the service. We both got the chance to share our testimonies here – our very first times of speaking about God in front of a crowd. 

The other local church we visited is called Vivid Life – they are the ones who provide the funding and volunteers for Brekkie Church and Summer Blast. Vivid Life runs its service out of a school auditorium, much like our church back in Colorado (New Life Downtown), and they believe in using their funds to pour into Windale instead of a physical building for themselves. Our team members shared testimonies here and helped reinvigorate their resolve of helping Windale by the fruitful stories we were able to share. Although small, this church is doing big things in the area for God!

Lastly, our time in Windale was marked by some amazing divine encounters (situations only made possible by following God’s voice). We even got the opportunity to write about one of our encounters for YWAM Newcastle’s blog, which you can read here.

Our last day in Windale and in Australia was Alix’s birthday! Our whole team got the day off, so we all went to the beach to celebrate. It was a perfect day, filled with swimming, sunshine, coffee, pizza, and milkshakes (all picked by Alix). Although half the day was also spent packing and cleaning, it will definitely be a 25th birthday to remember! We awoke the next morning at 3a.m. to begin our 52 hours of travel to Lesvos (2 drives, 5 flights), which by the grace of God had no complications at all.

That’s the short version of our time in Windale! When we first heard that our time in Greece was being cut short and replaced by 2 weeks in Windale, we were honestly pretty bummed. But God completely blew us away by our experience there. We grew so much as a team and in our relationships with God, which strengthened us to perform more effectively in the hardcore situations at refugee camps here in Greece. We have only had 2 shifts at the refugee camps here so far, so we will post another update once we have more even stories to tell! In the meantime, we are posting a good amount of smaller updates on Facebook and Instagram (wifi in the refugee camps is even better and more prevalent than Aussie wifi, haha!). 

So, a huge “Thank you!” to each and every supporter who helped us get through our lecture phase and onto this outreach. God has clearly told us that we have been chosen “for a time such as this,” and we are honored by every donation in support of us and our mission. Bless you all! 

Our team helping with Windale’s weekly youth game night

  

When praying about what to do for ministry, God told me “Do not forget the little girls” , so we bought nail polish, coloring books, and temporary tattoos to bless them with. They loved it!!

  

Connor and I and our team put up Summer Blast posters all over the city

    

The sumo suits at Summer Blast were the highlight of the day for most kids

 
   

  

God is doing big things in Windale!

  

Our team at Brekky Church-preparing to help with worship and give testimonies.

  

These people made my 25th birthday one I will never forget!

Before we left Australia we were treated to this awesome lightning show! Made us think of home!

Living Word

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you had a wonderful holiday filled with joy and peace. We had a lot of fun celebrating Christmas here in Australia – but more on that at the end of this post! This was our last week of lectures (we can’t believe we’ve completed 12 weeks of lecture phase!) and the topic was the Living Word of God, a.k.a. the Bible. This week we learned that the Bible isn’t written to us as individuals, but for us. Everything we know about God comes from the Bible, and we are extremely privileged to have it so readily available in the West. Since learning the Word reveals more of the Father to us, we need to devote time and discipline to studying the Bible. A simple, effective  way to study the Bible is to first pray and ask God to reveal truth to you and speak to you through the Word. Remember this isn’t a textbook but a letter written for you from God, and if you leave Him out of the process it becomes boring and dead, kind of like math class. The next step is of course to read, but to read not by chapters but by logical breaks in the story. The Bible didn’t originally have verse and chapter markers. Those were added much later for organization and reference purposes. To understand the Bible better, stop reading at the natural break in a story or letter, not the end of the chapter.Third, observe until reading becomes seeing or understanding. Next, interpret the text accurately, meaning don’t come to the text seeking to prove your own idea and then interpret it based on your own opinions. Remember the context in which it was written and who it was written to. Finally, apply what you learned. This is the most crucial step and is the goal of the Bible. Knowledge and revelation are useless without application.

Alix

This week I enjoyed learning more about how to be more effective and disciplined in my quiet times reading the Word. I enjoy reading the Bible and have found it is one of the primary ways God speaks to me, but I still lack discipline in reading it every day. I also learned that reading the Bible deductively (reading with an idea and seeking supporting evidence for it) can be dangerous. A better way to read is inductively, in which you make conclusions based on patterns you see in the scripture, allowing the Bible to speak for itself. Most importantly, I realized how rich every single verse in the Bible is in revealing God’s character. Each book was put into it on purpose (even Leviticus…ugh) to bring us into greater intimacy with the Father, so don’t skim over any part because it seems less exciting. God wants to tell you something about Himself in that book!

Connor

Something I have taken for granted about the Bible is that the base of everything we know about the God who we follow, praise, worship, and devote our lives to comes from this book. We know God’s character because of how He is described in the Bible. We know that Jesus is God’s son because scripture proves it. We know that we have the Holy Spirit because the Bible tells us so. Because of all of these facts, we can carry our our lives as Christians and live like Jesus did – bringing love and healing the sick. I also loved learning that the Bible is NOT a rule book. Being a Christian isn’t about following a bunch of rules. You do not reach God through acts; only through love. Jesus died on the cross so we all can have life; nothing we do can bring us closer to God than the love Jesus showed us all. All He wants us to do is love Him back, and through that love, we see transformation and revelation within ourselves as we become more like Jesus. Then, we see our lives starting to resemble the Bible’s teachings more and more, without trying to just live by its rules. Finally, I appreciated this week’s teachings because now that lecture phase is over and we are heading out to be tested on outreach, I won’t have staff and lecturers to constantly guiding me toward God. I will have to rely on the Bible every day during outreach and the rest of life for information, strength, revelation, confirmation, and so much more. It is the Living Word and I can always get so much applicable knowledge out of it – it just depends on how much time and effort I put in!

Christmas in Australia

Our lecture phase ended with the best celebration we could think of – Jesus’ birth! This Christmas away from home was bittersweet without the family, traditions, snow, and activities that we are used to, but we now have the great memory of an Aussie Christmas. On Christmas Day, the whole base woke up to stockings and secret santa presents. We received a bunch of chocolate and coffee (they know us!). Christmas dinner was amazing compared to the usual fare – we had chicken, turkey, and ham with grilled winter veggies, and a few (slightly strange) Aussie desserts. After we stuffed our faces, there was a hilarious talent show for the rest of the night where students put on comical skits, sang, played instruments, and “danced.” We wished we could showcase our talents of soccer and mountain biking, but the stage was pretty small. The day after Christmas in Australia is called Boxing Day, which has been described to us as basically Black Friday (but not as insane). Our school went to Anna Bay, a mile long, clean, white sand beach, and we spent the day running barefoot, tidepool hopping, dune hiking, and barbecuing. All in all, a very memorable and very Aussie Christmas!

Now that lectures are behind us and Christmas activities are over, our minds are presently in outreach mode. Our team will be preparing on Monday and Tuesday, then we leave for our first destination on Wednesday! We won’t be going far, just a few miles south to a different suburb for 2 weeks, but the mindset and daily activities will be vastly different. We will continue to update whenever possible depending on our schedule and internet availability. Thanks again for following along, and make the new year 2016 a memorable one!

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Merry Christmas from the Brusons!

 

This is my friend Abigail. She received this strangely life-like cat from China on Christmas Day. The best part is she has no idea who sent it to her. Awesome!

Anna Bay on Boxing Day

 

Alix hiking the sand dunes to get to the beach!

 

Holy Spirit

This week we had a lecturer from South Africa speaking on the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is awesome, and so are South Africans! In the Old Testament, when someone received the Holy Spirit it was only to do a job (example-to be a prophet, perform miracles, etc.). Not everyone received it in the Old Testament, which makes me grateful I didn’t live in those times (combined with a lotttttt of other reasons). After Jesus died, rose again, and ascended to Heaven, he sent his Holy Spirit to us. It’s critical to remember that the Holy Spirit is a person. A person who is freely given to us as believers. The Holy Spirit enables us to do a lot of things, but basically he allows us to be Jesus to other people. He gives us gifts – gifts which are freely given to anyone who is available, whether they are good or bad. The primary gifts of the Spirit include wisdom, knowledge, prophecy, faith, healing, miracles, discernment of spirits, tongues, and interpretation of tongues (1 Cor 12:8-10). These are separate from the fruits of the Holy Spirit, which are only attained through spending time with God and listening to Him. These fruits are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal 5:22-23).

Another critical thing we learned this week is that you cannot be saved without the Holy Spirit working within you. A person cannot believe Jesus is Lord and confess it without the Holy Spirit. So, every believer does have the Spirit within them, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they have the fullness or immersion of the Holy Spirit. There is more. You receive immersion in the Spirit by those who already have it laying hands on you and praying for you. We learn about this from Acts 8:12-17.

Alix

I came into this week being absolutely terrified and skeptical. I’ve seen videos of charismatic churches where people are passing out and speaking in tongues, and it makes me cringe. But after learning about what the Holy Spirit does for us and what we can do through him, I get really excited about him. This week I learned more about the gifts I already have, namely wisdom and discernment, but was also able to practice the ones that don’t come as natural to me. Since being on DTS, I’ve really struggled with comparing my gifts with other believers’ gifts. Wisdom and discernment can sometimes feel more intellectual and less spiritual to me (which is a lie), so I find myself comparing to people with gifts such as healing, which is a very in-your-face Holy Spirit party gift. Every single day I have to remind myself that my gifts are God-given and essential to the world, and that they are just as valuable as ones like healing and miracles.

Connor

For me, the Holy Spirit is like an untapped spring of God-given gifts. If I’ve had him within me since I became a believer years ago, I haven’t made us of him until now. Our lecturer has taught me how to be more in tune with the Spirit; to ask and hear from him. When I’ve been asked to intercede (pray on behalf of others) or ask God about decisions, I’ve had such a hard time determining if my thoughts were my own or the Spirit speaking God’s thoughts into me. This week was very confirming that many visions, thoughts, and words of knowledge that I’ve given and received are from the Holy Spirit. For example, we practised giving each other prophetic words in groups of 2. I asked the Holy Spirit to give me a word or a vision for my partner, and I immediately envisioned what looked like a butterfly. As I looked closer, it was actually a dragonfly. I told my partner what I saw, and asked whether or not it had any significance to her. She told me her next tattoo was going to be a butterfly, but she had changed her decision to get a dragonfly instead. Pretty weird, huh? This vision didn’t have a super deep meaning behind it or anything, but prophecies are meant to encourage, comfort, or strengthen. In this case, it strengthened her decision to get the dragonfly tattoo.

After this ‘warm up round,’ we were told that we would ask the Holy Spirit if he wants us to give up a possession to someone else during the last day of this week’s lectures. In my quiet time, I timidly asked God what I should give up, and who I should give it to. I received 2 people’s names, but no items. I asked Alix what she heard, and she got 2 items but no names! God loves to work through holy matrimony.

I asked again later, and immediately got a strong feeling to give someone in particular my running shoes as well. I really love my running shoes, and I need them on outreach as well. I wrestled with God until midnight, not wanting to give up this item I so idolized. But how silly is it to wrestle with God, right? He always wins – so the next morning, I gave my shoes away to my classmate Jonathan. Immediately after I gave them, another classmate Gordie called my name and handed me an item out of his backpack. I could hardly breathe when I realized it was his MacBook Pro! God had put it on his mind to give me his laptop a few weeks ago, and he confirmed it again before this giving day. Gordie didn’t know that both Alix and my laptops are totally broken at home, but God did! One day later, all of Gordie’s outreach fees came in within 30 minutes. But there’s even more to this crazy morning of giving. Jonathan was also told to give away a pair of shoes, but he wasn’t sure. He jokingly told God he would give his away if he received a pair, so after I gave him my shoes, he gave me his! It’s unbelievable how the Holy Spirit weaves everyone’s stories seamlessly, but the main point is that you have to be open to hearing him AND following what he tells you to do.

Outreach prep and fundraising update

The full amount of our outreach fees are due next Tuesday, the 22nd! Thanks to all of our family, friends, readers, and supporters, we have already raised enough to pay for our flights, but we still need $2500 by this deadline to cover the rest of the outreach costs. A donation of any amount helps us get closer to our goal, so we are doing a special fundraiser on December 20th: Donate $20 on the 20th, and we will send a handwritten letter from Australia on some awesome donut stationary. Donuts for donations! (While supplies last). If you know anyone who you think might want to support a team going to help the Syrian refugees in Europe, please share our fundraising link with them. https://www.youcaring.com/connor-and-alix-bruson-391046

Our outreach team has been hard at work this week praying, interceding, and planning for the best ways to join in on God’s plan for the people we will encounter. Since our team still needs some funds before we leave, much of this week has focused on fundraising. We put on an extremely successful donut fundraiser (the edible kind), we are selling milkshakes tonight, planning a ‘day at the spa’ for students just before outreach, and we are making a fundraising video so supporters can hear from our voices firsthand what we will be doing, and what their money is supporting. Connor contacted a local bike shop who was willing to give him some basic tools to take on outreach. He wants to tune up peoples’ bikes whenever he can as a way of practically serving people and as a gateway into sharing the Gospel.

Some other happenings this week include a little Australian town’s big Christmas event that a team from our base went to. Some fellow students put on a skit, one of our leaders spoke, and the rest of us were just there to interact with the local crowd. We both ended up finding an older gentleman sitting alone at the back of the crowd. We talked the entire time and learned he was a coal miner his entire life, and, even more shockingly, has fostered over 50 children. Who would have thought! Going to this sort of an event with the mindset to form relationships and listen to people as a way of evangelism (aka ‘encouraging love‘) provides an experience that we’ve never had before. If you’ve read this far, we commend you! The only other awesome part about this week is we are going to watch Star Wars VII! May the Holy Spirit be with you. We hope you all have a blessedly awesome weekend.

Donate $20 to our outreach fund on December 20th and we will send you a letter from Australia on this sweet donut stationary!

Our outreach team!

Awesome fireworks show at the Christmas festival!

Every week the School of Music in Missions here at YWAN Newcastle plays a show. They’re an incredibly talented band by the name of Arbor Lungs. Check out their Facebook page to hear their stuff!

Prophetic Evangelism

Week 10 has come to a close, and it was a wild one! The lecture topic was Prophetic Evangelism, and we had a hilarious speaker who made this scary-sounding subject sound doable and fun. Prophetic Evangelism is a really intimidating phrase but essentially it means encouraging love. It is loving God regardless of the outcome and loving your neighbor regardless of the outcome. We get the privilege of loving people extravagantly, and we should take advantage of that each day. We learned that evangelism can take many different forms. It can be smiling or opening a door for someone, or paying for a stranger’s coffee, or asking someone with a cast if you can pray for healing for them. Evangelism isn’t yelling at people and telling them they’re going to go to hell. It isn’t an activity you engage in sometimes – it’s a lifestyle. Any believer can do it if you’re willing to get out of your comfort zone and love people like Jesus loves them every single day.

This week we also learned first-hand the power of prayer. I’ve always heard that phrase – “power of prayer” – but I never really knew how true it was. If we believe in Jesus, the Holy Spirit lives within us, and that means He can do miracles through us. This week we saw classmates get healed of food allergies that cause anaphylaxis, of joint pain, of arthritis, of headaches, and of back pain. All of those miracles happened just by prayer right in front of our eyes. Every single day this week was just crazy! 

Alix

I was sick all of this week and spent much of it in bed, but luckily I was able to attend most of the lectures and learned a lot of exciting things! My biggest take-away was that evangelism can be really fun and creative if you are even just a little bit bold and willing to get out of your comfort zone. For the first time in my life, I (with 2 of my friends) prayed for a stranger on the street after talking with her for about an hour and finding out she had severe back pain. When my friends saw her later that night at a Christmas event, she rushed up to tell them she had no pain in her back anymore. She then proceeded to run and jump around the event praising Jesus for healing her. So cool. 

I’m not as intimidated by evangelism anymore because there is no one way to do it. Whatever skills God gave you, you can use those to evangelize. I’m a good listener. I’m my father’s child and I usually prefer listening to talking. I love listening to peoples’ stories and people love to be listened to, so that’s what I’m going to focus on from now on – being open to listening to peoples’ stories even if they are strangers. Especially if they are strangers. It’s amazing to me how bad most people are at listening! If all evangelism is to you is just talking at people about Jesus, it’s not going to work. People open up when they feel you are hearing them and that you care about what they are saying. Such an easy way to show God’s love!

Connor

Our speaker really embodied just a normal guy living an extreme life because he is led by the Holy Spirit. He is not afraid of taking risks for Jesus, and has hours upon hours of amazing stories to tell because of it. In fact, he even has two documentaries about some of his journies. Every chance that came up in conversation or during lectures, he prayed. Whether it was for the person he was telling a story about, or for someone in the room with a hurting back, or for a random stranger he met the other day. Our speaker showed just how easy it is to say yes and take risks to follow the Holy Spirit. I feel much more equipped for ‘evangelism’ during outreach, because it is merely encouraging love.

This week,  I also am more and more confident that my deadly peanut allergy will be healed! After seeing a deadly apple allergy healed instantly (she ate an apple on the spot!), I know that Jesus has the power to heal my life-long allergy. I have received prayer for it multiple times, but after this week, I am confidently praying it through until I feel complete healing. Please partner with me and pray for my peanut allergy to be healed!

Outreach Update

We are still trying to fundraise $2700 USD to pay for our outreach costs to Greece and Germany! Our outreach unfortunately is the most expensive one, more than we orignally thought before coming to DTS, but we are confident in God’s power of provision and in His calling on our time here. This Christmas, would you pray about supporting our outreach fund? A gift of any amount will bless us immensely and get us closer to our goal. We have seen God bless and multiply so many donors and donations already. Here is the link to donate if you feel led to partner with us financially: https://www.youcaring.com/connor-and-alix-bruson-391046

We want to wish all of our supporters a very Merry Christmas, and publicly thank you all for partnering financially and through prayer! Thank you for believing in God’s call on this season of our lives. We would love to pray for you this holiday season. Please comment, email, or Facebook either one of us any prayer requests!! If there’s one thing we learned this week: PRAYER WORKS!

Another update about our outreach is that, due to the high airfare prices around the holidays, we will be spending 2 weeks in a nearby community before we fly out to Greece. Our base has committed a few teams to this lower-income area over the past year, and we are being sent to continue watering the seeds that have been planted. We will host a second Summer Blast block party, which was a huge success last month. After this week’s topic, we are especially excited to be able to show this community more and more encouraging love! 

For more outreach updates, keep checking our blog weekly, or request an invitation to our outreach team’s Facebook group. God bless you and thanks for reading!

   

This week we had a Christmas party with our housemates! Games were played, Christmas music was listened to, and lots of sugar was consumed (which is obvious in the next two pictures)!

    
 

Lordship, Destiny, and Calling

Welcome to weeks 8 and 9 of our DTS blog! Sorry for the lapse in posting – Lordship week was intense (see below), there has been a lot of extra time spent in our outreach groups, and we have both been sick! Boo!

Lordship

Basically, Lordship is living your life with God at the helm. It is a step beyond merely ‘getting saved’ and accepting Jesus as your personal savior. It is acknowledging Jesus as the Lord and King of your life and actively following him. This is accomplished in a variety of different ways. One aspect is fear of the Lord, which consists of awe & respect for God, continual awareness of His presence, hatred of sin, and obedience when God speaks. Another way to achieve Lordship is by denying yourself and taking up your cross daily. Pardon the ‘Christianese,’ but this means looking toward God’s guidance in each and every situation rather than your own often sinful and self-serving ways. God is good and He has good plans for your life if you let him lead you if you take the literal leap of faith into Lordship! One major leap we took this week was getting baptised!! Connor for his first time, and Alix re-confirming hers. It was amazing taking this step of obedience and committment to Christ as a married couple.

Lordship week involved a lot of extra teaching time because the topic is at a higher level of understanding than most other weeks, so after such a full-on week (e.g. classes every night and one until 1a.m.!) we both were exhausted and caught a sickness that’s been going around. Despite the difficulty of the week, it was sandwiched inbetween two easy ‘feel good’ weeks, and we also had an awesome speaker on that Wednesday who holds the Guiness World Record for fastest person to travel to every country! He also created a guitar with drums in it, and he owns an incredible chai shop in India called Chai 3:16. All of this because God told him to and provided for him!

Identity, Destiny & Calling

What are we supposed to do after DTS? That’s a question we’ve been asking God  this entire time. This week’s teacher didn’t give us an answer, but provided some great insight into the decision-making process. First, he related life to a drama movie. There is always a hero, a villain, and a victim. In each of our lives, we often play each one of these roles in many relationships, and the vicious cycle never ends. We become addicted to the struggle and think it defines our lives. We must instead replace the drama with interdependence on God and one another, seeking Jesus’ example of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and self-control. This way, we live in our true Christ-given identities rather than the one given to us by our situations or surroundings. 

Another way to live out the destiny that God has planned for you is to not put God or yourself in a ‘box.’ There are 6 strongholds that keep us in a box. Fear, comparison, criticism, egoism, arrogance, and control. You can break each one of these by moving in the opposite spirit of each one. Fight fears with unconditional love: God loves us no matter what, so out of this, we’re allowed to live and take risks in what we desire to do. Break comparison with identity: you are created in God’s image – find your identity through him and not what others say. Deny criticism with exhortation: speaking truth and love; championing, discipling, and empowering others. Get rid of egoism through generosity – of words, money, faith, acts, etc. It is better and more blessed to give. Destroy arrogance through humility: humble yourself to God’s grace and love for each day. And finally, let go of control by recognizing freedom: not doing whatever you want, but being who you are in the framework that God provides, and not letting circumstances ruin your day. 

Alix

Since I’m once again sick with a cold, I’ll keep this pretty short. The biggest take-away for me this week was realizing that God isn’t boring. In fact, He is the most fun-loving person in the universe. I always thought that God wanted me to sacrifice all my dreams to do “churchy” stuff. This week’s speaker taught me that not only did God give me all my dreams, but He wants to do them with me. I love things like videography, soccer, outdoor sports, but God loves them even more than I do because He created them all! This week during a corporate prayer time I felt like God asked me to dream with Him and that He wanted me to write down all my dreams and hopes for my life. So I started a very long list and I’m sure it will keep growing. I know now that God wants me to take Him along with me in whatever I do and wherever I go. To lead me into greater love for Him and for people. To use my talents to glorify Him and to tell people about how cool He is. This week’s speaker also taught me that if you strive for excellence and creativity in everything you do, even in the mundane, joy can be cultivated. 

Connor

What Alix said! It was also revelationary for me to realize that God is a fun, creative God that has given me all of my passions and talents. To give God Lorship of my life sounded at first like never doing anything I wanted and just doing boring God stuff. But now I see that God wants to do whatever I like doing  right alongside me! God is jealous of our attention though, so I must not make my passions idols that rule me instead of God. Through Lordship week, I made some vows and sacrifices like reading my bible daily, not idolizing bicycles, and not using social media before lunch and at all on the Sabbath, but connecting more with my wife, people, and God instead. During Calling & Destiny week, I enjoyed the structure, depth, and relativity of the lectures. I identified my weaknesses and the strongholds on my life and how to oppose them to live more fully in my true Christ-given identity.

Outreach, Fundraising & Other News

We have been meeting with our outreach team nearly daily in preparation, prayer, thanksgiving, and team-building. We love our team (definitely handpicked by God), and we are ready to leave as soon as possible! We got our immunizations last week, and we receive more information regarding outreach each day. To stay up to date, let us know if you’d like to be invited to our outreach team’s facebook page! One new thing we learned this week is we will begin our outreach with 2 weeks in Australia pouring into a nearby community, while letting airfare prices drop after the Christmas season.

God’s hand has been in everyone’s fundraising efforts including our own. We still have some more to raise, but we are extremely thankful for the support received so far. This Christmas season, would you pray about sending a gift in support of our journey to help the Syrian refugees in Greece and Germany? No amount is too little, and prayers are even more welcome! You can send donations via PayPal to ako_alix@yahoo.com or use our donation website at https://www.youcaring.com/connor-and-alix-bruson-391046. Finally, thank you for taking the time to read our journey with Christ! Bless you!

 

Our amazing outreach team! #teamGsquared

  

Connor about to take the plunge

  

Alix re-confirming her baptism

  

Rejoicing together (and trying to stay warm!) Our school leader Kevin is stoked and also freezing.

 

Character of God

We just wrapped up week 7 of lectures and the topic was character of God. This week felt much more relaxed and gentle than others, like God was just wanting to confirm His goodness to us and increase our trust in Him. We spent the week discussing three realities that make up who God is. First, He has a nature. His nature is that He is infinte in power, knowledge, presence, love, etc. He is everlasting, sovereign, eminent (very close), and transcendent (bigger than anything He created). He is unchanging and has no beginning and no end. Second, God is a person; He has a personality and thinks, feels, communicates, etc. like a person (this is how we can have a personal relationship with Him). Third, God has a character. God chooses His character, and He has chosen firstly to be a father, a holy God, a faithful God, a kind God, a gracious God, a just God, a compassionate God, a generous God…the list is infinite because God is infinite. Sometimes we become so consumed by the enormity of our own struggles and problems that we start to think they’re too difficult for God to solve. But this week we were hit with the realization of how big and mighty God is. After all, He is the God who created the universe, and we are tiny beings sitting on a tiny planet in the middle of an infinitely large galaxy. So, I’m pretty darn sure God can handle any and all of our problems. If you want to sit in awe over how big  and creative God is, watch this video. I guarantee it will make your jaw drop!

Alix

There were a lot of gems of wisdom and truth this week, but what stuck with me most was the topic of faith. In the Bible, over and over again we see God ask people, “Are you up for making history with me?” We get to read about the awesome stories of the ones who said “yes”: Moses, Abraham, Joshua, Paul, etc. God is asking each and every person that same question, and it doesn’t depend on your circumstances or how capable you are. It depends on who God is and whether you have faith in who He is and what He says. For me, this really hit hard especially with our outreach looming on the horizon. So often I struggle with feeling unqualified and unworthy to go out and share the Gospel. But I forget that Jesus already annointed me to go save and rescue people (to do even greater things than He did on Earth!) (John 20:21-23). All I need to do is have faith that God has already annointed me and the sky is the limit to what I can do in His name.

Connor

Our speaker this week can be summed up in one word: precious. He is a humble man, small in demeanor, but so big in his heart for Jesus. He exudes love through his smile, his words, and especially his prayers. Although English is his second language, you would never know during his fervent, heartfelt prayers. He is transparent, and you know the Lord is with him. Because of this, he has some incredible stories of faith, and he has been led on some lifechanging journeys during his walk with Christ. 

Between our speaker’s words and the video linked above, I have really been reminding myself that God is always with us. He walks beside us in everything we do. We just have to acknowledge him and be in a relationship with him. I hope that living with that constant knowledge of His closeness will give me strength and reassurance during outreach. I also hope that His love will shine through my face to everyone I interact with, like it does through our speaker, and people will know God’s love through my words and actions. If you are praying for our journey, please pray for me in those areas – especially in terms of our outreach to Syrian refugees. 

Outside of school this week, we also spent another good day sightseeing around Newcastle. We traversed a suspended walkway on top of ocean cliffs called the ANZAC Walk, watched waves crash around the Bogey Hole, a man-made ocean bath, saw a pod of dolphins surf a wave, tried some good new coffee spots as per usual, and watched The Fellowship of The Ring with a LOTR virgin. It was a more relaxing week and weekend than usual. Next week’s topic is Lordship, which we’ve heard is pretty rough! We will let you know how we fare. 

 

Views from the ANZAC walk

  

The Bogey Hole : An ocean bath you can swim in when the waves aren’t as intense