Hello from a situation I never could have imagined. I am back in the UK!! The past weeks have been the strangest weeks I have ever experienced. 2 and a half weeks ago I was in sunny Brazil, enjoying the last few weeks of ministry with my Youth With a Mission (YWAM) outreach team. We knew things with Covid-19 were escalating but we were always up to date with the situation. On the 13th of March our base back in Norway decided to call us back as there was talk of borders closing. We started to prepare ourselves as a team to return back earlier than planned, however the next morning we received the information that we were all going to have to go back to our own countries as Norway’s border closed that night to us as internationals. It was a shock, one that we never saw coming. Within 24 hours of that call we were all on flights back to our home countries.
Coming back to the UK so soon was very unsettling to begin with. All of my possessions are still in Norway, so when I arrived back in the UK I paid a quick visit to Primark to acquire a pair of jeans, a long sleeve and a jacket – things which weren’t really a necessity in Brazil… But I felt the Lord’s closeness and with Him I started to feel at peace. I am now living with my Dad, Step-mum, step-brother and step-sister in Odell, Bedfordshire. As for the team, everyone is now all safely back in their home countries – the majority of us in some form of lockdown. We have been putting the videocall program ‘Zoom’ into good use, and I’m sure we are not the only ones! I really appreciate those who messaged me and have kept me lifted in prayer – it really means a lot!
Although our leaving of Brazil was crazy – our time there was absolutely incredible! I have so many testimonies that I can’t write them all down – which is a very good problem to have!! Throughout our time there God was so faithful and spoke so clearly to us all.
The photo above is my team made up of 11 people: 7 girls and 4 guys from 7 different countries – Germany, Norway, Canada, Kenya, Ukraine, The Netherlands and of course the UK. Watching them grow over the past months has been an honour and a blessing. Their hunger for the Word inspired me to want more and watching them step out in Faith encouraged me to keep going – I could not have asked for a better team to have lead!
We were in Brazil for just under 2 months, in which we were in 3 main places. Camaragibe, a small community in Recife (North East of Brazil), Piratininga, a village in the State of São Paulo and Duque de Caxias, a city in the State of Rio de Janeiro. Throughout our time in each place, we got to experience the beautiful thing that is Brazilian hospitality. In every place we were welcomed with open arms. When we arrived in São Paulo, a group of friends that we had never met or had contact with until that day came to collect us from the airport and hosted us. We were in the city of São Paulo just for a weekend for a mission event called ‘the Send‘ – 150 thousand people meeting in 3 stadiums for 12 hours in Brazil to worship Jesus together. Our stadium had 70 thousand in and it was an experience I will never forget.
One of my favourite testimonies is that the Brazilian President turned up to one of the other stadiums. Once the organisers knew he was there, they invited him up to the stage. He stood on the stage and proclaimed that Brazil belonged to Jesus. When we found out, the stadium broke out in applause and worship. Revival is happening in Brazil!!!
In Brazil, we were involved in a lot of different ministries. These included practical work (working in a jungle is very fun, tarantula’s are not), homeless work, street evangelism, youth and children’s work, prison ministries, carnival outreach, home visits, sports ministries and work in elderly homes. Here are some of the highlights:
Carnival is an event I’m sure we all have heard of. But being there in reality is something completely different! Prior to our travel to Brazil, we believed we were joining an already organised event however this didn’t turn out to be the case. So 4 days before carnival we met as a team and sought the Lord together. After being at the Send a few weeks before, we knew that God was doing something in Brazil and carnival was an incredible opportunity to meet people and share Jesus. When we met as a team, I felt the Lord tell me to create a group dance. I’ve never really made a dance before, let alone create one and teach it all in 2 days! But when I told the team, they got right behind the idea – one of the student actually helped me create it! When we arrived at Carnival we were informed by the police that we couldn’t do anything. However I knew that this is what God had spoken, so as a group we had a time of worship and intercession to seek the Lord and ask what to do. One of the translators felt that we should go and ask McDonald’s which was two minutes away, and not only did they say yes, they allowed us to use their car park and gave us a socket to plug in our speakers.
We were there until sun set! We did the dance four times, street preached to the crowd, and split into the groups to meet, talk and pray with people. That day we prayed with so many young people and introduced people to the love of Jesus.
Whilst in the State of São Paulo, we had the opportunity to work with a project called “Galpao” which is a Homeless project. At Galpao, the would provide a place for people to eat, have somewhere to shower and get some new clothes. They would also have someone share a devotion with them. Every week (sometimes twice a week) as a team we would go and serve with the workers. We were split in teams – some would be cooking, some would be serving, some would be helping with clothes and others would be talking with the people. We also had the opportunity to lead their Sunday service, where I got to preach and on the closeness of God. Building relationships with these people was very special to us as a team. Hearing their stories and their struggles but still seeing their heart and faith in the Lord really showed me how much the love of God was in them. We got to pray for them and bless them, and I can say that that project has truly impacted me.
Throughout our time in Brazil, we got to work with a lot of different youth in a lot of different Churches. Whilst we were in Piratininga (a small town of 13,000 people), we got to work with a Vineyard Church. The last time I went to a Vineyard Church was last year in India where the Church community met underground, so it was really cool to be a part of a Vineyard Church over in South America on the other side of the world. On the 29th of February, as a team we got to be a part of running a worship and prayer night for the youth of the Church. This included sharing testimonies and praying for them. One of the students talked about how God had healed her and if anyone in the room needed healing in whatever way to come and we would pray for them. And it was all hands on deck – around half the room of 120 people came forward to receive prayer! It was such a powerful evening, we saw the spirit move as people met with God and were healed mentally and physically.
One of my favourite testimonies is that I got to pray for a girl called Jhulia. She had broken her toe badly and was wearing a big boot over her leg as she couldn’t walk properly without it. After we prayed the first time, she said she thought it had got better but she couldn’t tell as it was very strapped up. So she decided to take off the boot to find out. 4 minutes later she was walking up and down the side of the room with no bandage, crutch or boot… completely HEALED!! It was amazing for her to see and for her boyfriend who had come to join to pray for her. Afterwards she said to me “if I knew this was going to happen I could have brought another shoe – I only have one with me!” Happy to say she borrowed some flip flops and was able to show everyone her new foot!!
Left to Right: One of the translators, Jhulia and her boyfriend David
As well as working with and helping disciple youth, we also got to work with a lot of children. In Camaragibe, Recife, we got to work with a project called ‘Show de Bola’. Show de Bola is part of YWAM Recife (where we were staying) and it’s goal is to reach out to children and youth of the neighborhood through football. Recife has one of the biggest crime and murder rates in Brazil, which makes it hard for many families to keep their children safe and keep them out of danger. A rule of the project is that the children have to respect each other and have done all their school work that week as a way to make sure they stay in school. The project started in 2006 with 15 boys and today more than 100 children and youth are a part of the project! We got to lead some of the children’s football practices and share devotions with them. As well as football, three times a week the workers of Show de Bola go into the local community to visit the families of the children to support them. This can be through checking up on school work, prayer for the family and seeing what they can do to help them be safe. As a team, we got to be a part of this multiple times, going into the community and seeing the kids in their own homes and meeting with their families – praying for them and blessing them. As well as this, we got to do some door to door evangelism – praying for and meeting the people of the local community.
Street evangelism looked different every time we did it. In Recife, we were involved in street night evangelism. As a team, we would join a group who would go to the streets every Wednesday and Friday nights to work with the youth, adults and families living on the streets. We would play with the children and make them feel safe. You can tell the good work the YWAM Recife base was doing as you can see the relationship between the people and them. A problem they face is that a lot of people are addicted to drugs, particularly sniffing glue. When we were there, children as young as 8 or 9 would be addicted to sniffing glue. Sniffing glue can be life-threatening – even if the result isn’t fatal, the risks associated with glue and other inhalants include possible brain damage and severe breathing problems. Please keep the YWAM Ministry team who does this work in your prayers – they are doing such great work!
In Rio, we joined a group of friends who wanted their city, state and country on fire for Jesus! Our ministry was primarily evangelism whilst in Rio. This involved hospital ministry, doing dramas in the street and prison ministry.
Although the very bittersweet end to our trip, God was faithful. These stories are just a little snippet of the things that we saw God do. Even though we are now all dotted around the world, I have to give a shout out to my amazing team! My co-staff, Ben and Thora and the 8 amazing students: Leonieke, Meike, Peter, Artem, Juliet, Amy, Lucy and Stian. These people are so amazing and getting to chase after Jesus with them has been and honour and a blessing. We are now putting the videocall app ‘Zoom’ to good use!!
The team were particularly amazing when I received some difficult news. On the 10th of February I woke up to the news that my Grandma June had passed away. Many of you will know that I came back quickly to the UK before going to Brazil to visit her as she was unwell after a very sudden battle with cancer. However it didn’t really hit me that that was the last time I was going to see her. Finding out this news that a loved one has passed when your half way around the world away was very hard. It was some of the hardest days and weeks, especially as I couldn’t go back for the funeral. My Grandma had such a heart for mission, so I knew she wanted me there. I miss her terribly, but I know she is with Jesus and at peace.
But what about now? Well, I have some exciting news! As of today (Sunday 5th April) I am now a DBS Student. DBS stands for Discipleship Bible School, a secondary school ran by YWAM where we read and study the bible together in 12 weeks. This school is something I have always dreamed of doing, so this opportunity is amazing! God really knows how to make good from any bad situation! So for the next 3 months, I will have 50-60 hour weeks, studying the whole bible by lectures, small groups, essays and a lot of homework. This is a big challenge, but one I am very excited for! Obviously due to the world situation, this is now all run online. SO along with 28 others scattered all over Europe, we will use our lockdown to dig deeper into the Word! Please keep me in your prayers as I will need a lot of energy and concentration for such a high intensity school.
- For the new DBS to run smoothly and that God will speak to me in new ways
- For the students on the DTS who are now all over the world, that they can find rest and peace about the school ending early
- For our country and the world fighting Covid-19, especially those in health work
- For my family to feel the Lord’s closeness, especially after loosing Grandma June
- That the worries over finances will have no hold over me as I know the Lord is my provider
- For Hayden’s parents who work in healthcare and the police over in the US
As for Hayden and I, we are now back on the same soil! Both of us had to leave the countries we were in very quickly and 2 days after I got home he also arrived in the UK. He was also supposed to be going back to Norway and so found himself in the same situation as me when the borders closed. Straight after he arrived we went into lockdown as a country so he is now living here with my family which was not planned but is proving very fun! My dad enjoys it, they go on runs together and make ikea furniture, so I think he’s happier than I am that he’s here!
I hope that you are well, wherever you are living in the world. Please send me a message if you have any prayer requests or need anything and I will do anything I can to support you during these crazy times. Thank you for your messages, prayers and support – especially over the last weeks! They truly mean a lot.
All my love! Blessings,