I wish I knew how easily I would feel at home, and how easily I would make friends that felt like family -- friends who understand you and love you unconditionally. We are one big group of brothers and sisters pursuing the Lord together and growing in relationship with Him. As we get to know each other's strengths and weaknesses, we realize that these friendships are the kind that run deep and last a lifetime. Oh, and I wish I hadn't worried about not fitting in! Everyone here is just as crazy as you are for deciding to do a DTS!
2. I wish I'd known how I would receive God's heart for this beautiful city and it's people
I wish I'd known how much I would come to love this beautiful city, and everyone in it: the kids running around barefoot with enormous smiles on their faces, the old man with endless creases around his eyes fishing on the beach, the woman carrying her baby and selling balloons along the boardwalk. I wish I'd known how blue the ocean is, and how the sand is made up of thousands of little shells, each one different from the last. And I wish I’d known that the ocean would be the first thing my eyes would see every morning as I walked to breakfast.
3. I wish I knew to pack less for YWAM DTS
At home, most of us hold ourselves to a certain standard regarding our appearance. We've spent years hammering out how we like to dress, how we style our hair, what cologne or perfume we use, and how clean we like to keep ourselves. When we think about meeting new people from all over the world, it's natural for us to want to show them our best.
However, odds are, the first day of DTS you will overhear a plethora of people complaining, "I definitely over packed! Why did I think I needed a curling wand?” You are only here for a short time, and you will quickly realize that nobody cares if you wear the same shirt five days in a row, and no one focuses on your fashion sense -- they focus on your heart. This is a time to be real, act vulnerable, and live simply. Plus, it’s so much easier to re-pack for outreach, especially if you will be backpacking!
4. I wish I knew the culture shock wasn't that bad
You hear about the conditions in Mexico from people back home and you begin to form certain expectations. You expect to see impoverished children wandering around in tattered clothes, stray dogs, and petty crime. However, as soon as you get here, you realize there is far more to Mexico then what you see on the news. The Lord gives you His heart as He shows you both beauty and poverty side-by-side. You come to realize how beautiful and vibrant the Mexican people are -- some of their values are worth more than anything we could have in a first-world country.
5. I wish I knew how strong I would feel God's presence here
I wish I’d known how much I would feel like I belonged here. Between the morning worship, the words spoken in lecture, the laughter and yelling over card games, and the special one-on-one’s between friends, it is so evident that God surrounds YWAM Mazatlan. There is so much passion and fire in the people here, you can’t help but feel closer to God. Soon you catch the fire yourself, and you too desire to go out into all the world to share the gospel.
Hannah is a 21-year old from California. She's passionate about exploring the world and living in a way that will make a difference in others' lives. She came to do a YWAM DTS because she wanted to travel with a purpose, submerge herself in a different culture, and practice Spanish. She decided to come and join us here in Mazatlan, and now she wants to encourage others who are interested in doing a DTS. She wants others to know they shouldn't be afraid of surrendering their own plans and allowing God to work in their lives over the next six months!