Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Next Step

I'm going back to school!

Well...sort of. 

Discipleship Training School in Ensenada, Mexico. 

"Schwat are you talking about, Shane?"  You may ask.  Alright, I'll tell you. 

In 2014, I did two things that were legitimately transformational and life-changing.  I think "life-changing" is used way too often to describe a fun experience that you'll remember forever, so when I use it, I'm serious.  These two things, I believe, completely changed the trajectory I expected for my life.

One of these two things I already wrote about here.  In short, my trip to Mexico made me realize that serving others in need is an important part of life that I have been neglecting for far too long.  After the home build, I made the decision to continue to look for opportunities to serve, which was a big factor in my decision to attend this school. 

The second of these two things actually occurred much earlier, chronologically.  Back in July, while I was working another early morning, my thoughts turned to church and small group Bible studies.  Before starting my job at the golf course, I had found a church in town that I enjoyed going to, that also had a good young adults group.  My job had made attending difficult, though, as I worked on Sundays and seldom had the time or energy to get to church after I clocked out. I realized that I was missing out on a close Christian community group, and that was something I needed in my life.  I guess you could call it an "Aha!" moment.  Immediately, I knew I should start my own small group with some close friends from college.  I approached a few friends with the idea of working on a study and video chatting once a week, since we all lived in different areas.  The idea went over great, and before I knew it, the first discussion time was upon me.  And that's when it hit me.

I know how dumb this is going to sound, but literally, until this point I had not even considered the fact that there needed to be a designated group leader.  And until that point, it did not occur to me that by starting the group, I was the de facto guy in charge.  Suddenly the idea didn't sound so great to me.  Despite my inner reluctance to lead a group because of a frank lack of qualification, I decided that I would step up.  It's times like that when you realize that God puts things on your heart for a reason, and there's no point in trying to back out. 

When I made the decision to start the Bible study, I figured it would be a great way to stay in touch with some good friends from college, while getting to study God's Word.  What I got out of it was so much greater.  By leading a group, I learned to take my own study much more seriously, thinking critically about the material, coming up with questions, and dedicating more time to my faith than ever before.  On top of that, I've gotten to see some good friends grow in their relationship with God, and recognize that I've played a part in their growth, as they have in mine.  It was a far greater blessing than I could have ever guessed.

So what did I take away from these two things? 

1. Growing in my faith and leading others is awesome.
2. There is nothing like helping the underprivileged. 

And that's how I found my way to the Discipleship Training School.

While we were still in Mexico for the home building trip, Guy East took the time to speak with me about his experiences with the program.  After hearing the similarities in our stories, I was really interested in finding out about how he found his way into doing something he is so passionate about.  After the trip, he stayed in touch and pointed me toward some of the upcoming opportunities.  After a week or so of consideration, I made the decision to apply for the program starting in April in Ensenada.

Recently, I received my official acceptance, and I'm incredibly excited for this opportunity.  So without any further ado, here's what I'll be doing.

For 5 months, I will be living at the Youth With A Mission base in Ensenada, Mexico, where I will be attending the Surf and Skate Discipleship Training School.  Each of the programs have a separate focus on interests; i.e art, music, sports, etc.  In this case, it's surfing and skating.  Each day, there will be lectures (hence "school") and service opportunities in the community with the goal, "To know God and make Him known."  In my free time I'll finally get to learn how to surf, which I'm quite excited about.  After a few months, there will be an outreach phase dedicated to mission work.  I'll have more opportunities to build homes for families in need and other sure-to-be incredible experiences. 

This decision was both difficult, and incredibly easy to make. Difficult, in that I'll be stepping way out of my comfort zone.  Cultural immersion, for one thing.  I can't wait to use all that Spanish I forgot from high school.  But also, stepping out in faith is a huge deal for me.  I've always kept mostly quiet about my faith, which betrays the strength of my beliefs.  It has never been an easy thing for me to talk about, which has made it difficult to act out in my faith.  But it was so easy to make the decision, because I've never felt more called to do anything.  I guess it goes back to my decision with the Bible study.  If God puts something on your heart that makes you squirm, you know it's what He has planned for you. 

After the 5 months of DTS, then what?  Well, I don't know yet.  But I trust that God will use that time to lead me where He wants me.  

The last thing that made the decision difficult was finances.  Having left my job in Colorado and moved back to Texas, I have no current source of income.  The Discipleship Training School will cost up to $5,500.  The first lecture phase will cost $2,990, with payment due by March 10, roughly.  The outreach phase will cost $1,800-2,500, with payment due in June/July.  I believe that I am meant to go to this school, and, as such, trust that I will get the funds one way or another.  I have a very difficult time asking for help, because I was raised to believe in earning my keep.  However, it will be incredibly difficult for me to raise the funds on my own in time.  So I ask for your help in any way you can offer it.  Whether it be through a donation made through the fundraising site I have set up HERE, or through help finding work in the DFW area, I'd greatly appreciate anything you can do. 

If you'd like to learn a little more about the school, you can check out YWAM's webpage.  I'm incredibly excited for this next journey of my crazy life, and I hope that you can be a part in helping me get there.

Much love,
Shane/Baby Haga