Update from Analies

Reflection

Seasons are a bit different for me. Growing up, April held warmer weather, trips to the tulip fields, spring break, and dreams of summer vacation, but as an adult living in Australia, it's a bit different. The weather is finally transitioning, with cool breezes and dark evenings. The local community doesn't flock to the beach anymore, switching to milder places like the shopping centres or nearby parks. As we glide towards winter, I've been able to reflect on 2017 and what wonders it held.
I started the year in Cairo, Egypt, finishing off an outreach with a great team. After returning to Australia, I was able to serve the YWAM Wollongong campus through co-ordinating the hospitality department, taking care of all of our guest speakers, as well as all of the visitors that stay with us. I made a short trip home to Oregon in May to watch my younger brother graduate high-school, as well as connect with the new pastors of my church. Fit in a quick trip to Hawai'i with my family, and I was back in Australia, this time to co-lead a Discipleship Training School in July. We trained 9 students from America, Canada, New Zealand and Australia through 12 weeks of lectures on our campus, and then through 8 weeks of cross-cultural outreach in Siem Reap, Cambodia. I loved watching these students wrestle through questions, push through cultural barriers, and realise more of themselves. It was a priviledge to lead and work along side them for 5 months.
I managed to sneak a quick bit of training in December by attending a Trauma, Hope, and Healing Seminar that focused on breaking down what trauma can look like, the impact it has on the different part of our bodies, as well as how to bring healing to those areas. 
The highlight of my year would be the end: I traveled to Portland to celebrate Christmas with my family. The only thing - they didn't know I was coming! I hadn't had Christmas at home since 2013, so getting to watch the snow fall on Christmas Eve with my family around me was really special.

That brings us to 2018.
As I was praying at the start of the year, I got the word   h o m e   for 2018. Home in myself, home in my community, and home in God. As someone who travels a lot, it can be difficult to engage with what's around me. But I have been realising more and more that there's peace found in something that's not limited to a physical place or physical person, rather a peace that can meet me wherever I'm at. That's my prayer for this year, that I would be made fully alive, so that I can share my peace, and make home anywhere.

One of my favourite stories from Cambodia was when we traveled out to a village on the side of a mountain called Phnom Krom. This village was situated next to the Tonle Sap river, which when flooded, creates a huge water plain that stretches for miles. Two of our Cambodian friends/translators went with us to help us facilitate a healthcare program we planned for the local kids. I had told the team that morning, that I was going to step back and let them take the reigns, knowing they were fully capable, even though they felt a bit nervous. We had already done this program at a few other villages, and I knew they no longer needed my direction. At first it was really hard, no one was sure what to do, especially since our tuk tuk drivers had dropped us off in an area with no kids, only a herd of cows. The natural instinct was to grab back control and start telling people what they could do instead of standing around, but I felt that gentle reminder to just trust that the students would step out in confidence. And slowly but surely they did. It was the most amazing thing to see - people who had said "I don't like kids, I don't know how to play with them" grabbing little hands and teaching them 'red light green light'. People who had been quiet and shy, stepping out and starring in the skit. People who were comfortable being in the background, being courageous and lead the team. Having my team own their opportunity was the most wonderful thing to experience. I've been starting to see that more and more with God. He doesn't control me or my life but teaches me what I need, and is right here next to me, but gives me a little push and says "I trust you, you can do this!" Often I'll pendulum swing from one side of wanting Him to tell what to do and do it for me, that way there is no mystery and no risk. Or I'll end up on the other side, in independence, closing my eyes and ears, walking forward blindly like a 4 year old who "can do it myself because I'm a big kid!". It doesn't lead to anything but falling off walls and loneliness. But often now, I'll settle down in that sweet spot, where I'll trust His leading and just go for it, knowing that I've been given all I need to experience what's in front of me, whether that's leading a team in Cambodia, or running a kitchen in Wollongong.

Since returning to the base in Wollongong, I've been co-ordinating the kitchen that feeds all of the staff and students! It's a job and a half, especially when you don't have a kitchen to cook in! Our old kitchen needed a new floor, so the room got some major renovations, including a new doorway, counter area and industrial sink, fridge, and floor.  It was quite the challenge cooking for 40+ people in a make-shift kitchen in our common area, but creativity (and summer weather) helped a lot! Someone described the situation "like camping", which I agreed with, but camping style cooking usually starts to lose it's enjoyment after after a few days, let alone a few weeks! I made it through and I'm so thankful to be back in an actual kitchen, but feel confident in my ability to handle pretty much anything now! 

At the beginning of April, YWAM Wollongong welcomed our first "All Generations DTS". We have a family from Australia / Canada, another family from Australia / Pakistan, and a single from Australia. It's been a lot of fun getting to know the students and their families.
We also welcomed a Missions Adventure camp for a few days. These Year 9 students came with their class to learn about themselves, God and the world. They participated in team building exercises, devotionals, and a cross-cultural simulation where they got a glimpse into how a lot of other people have to live everyday. It was a blast sharing in their energy and joy, and we're excited to continue our relationships with them as the Mission Adventures team prepares to take them on a missions trip to Cambodia next year!

Coming up next...

I'm co-leading the July DTS! Come this July, myself, my co-leader Rezzie, and a wonderful team of staff, will welcome a bunch of students from all over the globe. We'll dive into lectures from local and international guest speakers, we'll wrestle through big questions, we'll invest in the local community, we'll take time to look at justice issues of today and what our response as Christians could be, we'll explore different ways of worship and prayer, and that's just the beginning! The school in July has two themes running through the basic curriculum - Justice & Mercy and Media. My co-leader Rezzie is super creative and passionate about how we can take the skills God gave us (whether that be art, music, videography, photography, design...) and use them to reach out to people, create, tell stories, perpetuate the Kingdom. She's carrying the Media focus while I carry the Justice & Mercy focus. I've been invested in the J&M theme since I did my own DTS in 2014. It's something that I've continuously wrestled with - what does God's justice look like vs. what the world says is justice? How is it different? Where is my place in it all? I'm excited to explore all of these things with the students through workshops, projects, discussions, and anywhere else we can go digging.
This will be the 4th DTS I am a part of (not including my own) and I'm really excited for what God has for us. He's already been specifically about a few things and it will be cool to watch everything develop as we get closer to the school and as the school starts. If you're curious about what a Discipleship Training School looks like here at YWAM Wollongong, click the button below!

Find Out More About DTS

Thank you to everyone who has been a part of my journey and supported the work that is happening around the World! All of these things, whether it's a Nepali villager being encouraged, or a Cambodian child being taught basic hygiene skills, to high-school students having a glimpse at the bigger picture of what they are a part of, all of it possible because of people partnering with us! 

Right now I am looking for more prayer and financial partners. If you are interested in partnering with me in prayer, please let me know and I can connect you with what my needs are at the moment. If you are interested in partnering with me financially, there are a couple options: if you would like to give a donation, click on the button labeled "Join Me!". If you are interested in partnering with me as a regular monthly donor, let me know and I can provide you with more information!

Join Me!

For the safety of those I work with in Australia and around the world, please don't share this information through social media platforms. 

I love getting mail! 
If you want to encourage me or send me a card or package, please do so!

Analies Steensma
PO Box 132
Port Kembla, NSW
2505
Australia

The Choice...

About 6 weeks ago, God started stirring me up, and it hasn't stopped since then. An honest response is that it’s extremely u n c o m f o r t a b l e, but I’d much rather be here in the mess, than not growing and changing with Him. 

Zack, our speaker that week, started with this video, please please give it a watch:

{ Looking for a Savior - United Pursuit }

I don’t have any words for the beauty that is in those lyrics. All I can say is that it’s my heart cry for myself, my community, my nations, and my world. 


One of the big journeys that began a few weeks back, got started with a revelation of some yucky stuff - Pride - the disagreement of truth; the opposite of humility, which is agreement with God. It’s the birthplace of judgement. It’s ugly. God hates it. And it was in my heart. 

How could I tell? Often times to see what’s really going on in your heart, all you have to do is look at your reactions to situations. In my reactions I could see resentment, judgment, and bitterness towards people when they did something I deemed wrong. One stark example that God kept reminding me of, was how I viewed the men who picked up the prostitutes on the street we live on. I don’t agree with it at all, but in the place where I only had hatred, disgust, and anger, I was left with a question: What does Jesus feel towards these men? I’m completely confident that the answer is love. My reaction to an ‘enemy’ shows exactly how much Jesus I have in my heart, and in that instance, I didn’t have very much. I’m not using this example to start a debate around sin and the appropriate responses, rather, this was something that God showed me to reveal the sin in my own heart. The dangerous thing about pride is that it tells you that you don’t have any. Isn’t that funny! But in that place where pride would want to blind me to my own ugliness, Holy Spirit gently comes in and reveals t r u t h and brings c o r r e c t i o n. 

Here’s the kicker though - The pride I saw in my heart doesn’t define who I am or who I will be. Why? Because the bible shows me that pride never belonged there. It reveals to me my original design and shows me how God comes in and takes out the ugly and restores my heart. He corrects us - returns us to our original intent, which is holy and blameless. 

You may think we’re at the full circle picture now, everything is settled, but buckle up buttercup, we’re just getting started! 

Discovering pride and repenting from it was step one, realizing it was never part of my design is the second step, but deciding that I’m going to live out of that place of original design, and consciously choosing is every morning is step three. Everyday, I get to choose whether to live in the Kingdom of light or the Kingdom of darkness, the Kingdom of joy, humility, holiness, truth, obedience, love, or the Kingdom of judgement, fear, hatred, death, jealousy, bitterness, the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of satan. Choosing to live in the Kingdom of light is a step I will have to take every single day. Even when I’m tired, even when I’ve been hurt, even when I’m at my lowest of lows. I will choose to be committed to love. Everyday, in everything I do, I need to be thinking - how am I advancing the Kingdom of God? Am I living out what Jesus lived out? Even simpler than that - Am I loving? I could say I hope the answer is yes but ‘hope’ makes it sound like it’s a chance thing, when really I have control, I get to choose. So, with all that I’ve learned behind me and more journeying in front of me - I choose y e s.


Here are some photos of what the September Discipleship Training School (DTS) that I'm currently staffing has been up to!

About Me & What I Do

Hopefully you've already gathered it from the title, but my name is Analies Steensma. I joined Riversgate Church when I was 16 years old, and now I am a missionary. Yep, you read that right, a missionary. Now, don't get stereotypical picture of me in your mind, I wear normal clothes, go out on the weekends, I don't live in a shack in the jungle, and yes, I have wifi. But hopefully there are some things about being a missionary that you would think of that are synonymous with what I do: I love God, I love people, and I love loving on the least reached people the way God calls us to.  That's all you really need to know, but if you want more details about my journey of getting to that point, keep reading below.

When I joined Riversgate as a high schooler, I was immediately immersed in younglife, youth group, and church. I spent most of my evenings joining in on service projects, worship, bible studies, small groups, and younglife ‘clubs’. I loved every minute I got to be a part of it; I came alive in those moments and as soon as one event would end, I would start counting down the minutes until the next one began. 

During the spring break of my sophomore year, I was part of the team that Riversgate sent down to Tesoco, Mexico. Knowing no Spanish, and having never done a short-term missions trip before, I felt like I had a very tall wall in front of me, too tall to jump or climb over. I felt super unprepared, but God met me in that place. He taught me that there is no such thing as a language barrier, because my actions were much louder than any Spanish word could have been. He showed me that He was always going to give me the tools I needed, and that He was going to be with me every step of the way, so that no matter how tall the wall was in front of me, I was always going to be able to get over it. 

Coming home and leaving Mexico left my heart raw and longing for more, so when a close friend of mine left for a six month adventure pursuing God in Costa Rica when I was a senior in high school, it got me thinking again. After trying the typical road of university and not feeling right about it, I decided to spend a gap year in Australia doing the same six month school my friend had done the year before. That school is called the Discipleship Training School or DTS, and is run by an organization called Youth With A Mission. I spent 12 weeks in Australia, in classes, doing workshops and community service, making life-long friends, learning about evangelism, and most of all, discovering who God truly was and who He said I truly was. I went to DTS feeling pretty confident in my identity and in my knowledge of who God was, but quickly realized my identity wasn’t formed out of truth from God, but rather what the world had defined me as. I also had a lot of problems of letting God into my heart, places I didn’t trust Him, see Him as good, or understand Him as my loving Father. Through my three months of lectures, the hard places in my heart towards Him were thawed, and my view of God totally changed. He showed me how treasured I was and that I could simply just be me for me, and I didn’t have to be someone for anyone else. The next three months were spent on outreach in India, a place unlike any other. In my time there, my team preformed skits for schools, did a lot of christmas caroling, taught english in slums, lead a women’s bible study, took care of babies, visited people in their homes, prayed for anyone we could, and much more. I got to witness incredible moves of God, and experience hearts change from darkness to light. I learned a new language and how to live in a new culture. I lived with people who had the most faith I had ever seen, and in turn, that grew my faith. God showed me His heart for India and for the people there, and how much He longed for them to know His love. 

As I prepared to leave India, I knew so confidently in my heart, that God hadn’t called me into the season of discipleship for only six months, or even for just a gap year. I was on fire with what I had seen God do I my life, in my friends’ lives, in the lives of people in India; all I wanted was for other people to experience what I had experienced. With all of those things in my heart and more, I decided to join Youth With A Mission (YWAM, pronounced ‘why-wham’) as a staff member and move to Australia. My new role was very unique to other jobs and to other missions organizations. YWAM is a inter-denominational, non-profit, missions movement of Jesus followers from many cultures, age groups, and traditions, and it operates in more than 1,100 locations, in over 180 countries, with a staff of over 18,000 people. All the campuses are unique, but they are all united in a common purpose “to know God and make Him known.” At YWAM Wollongong (the campus I live and work at), we are passionate about living out a life that focuses on putting Christ first in our relationships - with each other, with the people in our city, with the people in our country and with the people in the countries we go to. Those are a lot of long sentences, but the bottom line is this: We are dedicated to living out God’s love through the way we teach, serve, learn, and live life. There aren’t any facades or masks that we put on, we are real and raw with the community around us, and we live to bring God’s love to the world. I get to serve in many different ways; in the past year, I have been a part of a DTS, lead an outreach to Bangladesh, worked in base operations, and have run the kitchen. Each job offers different opportunities and has taught me different skills, from patience to grace, flexibility to boldness, but most importantly, how to rely on God. 

I think the biggest thing I have been learning, in the last month especially, is how far am I willing to trust God? I’ve grown and experienced enough where I can trust Him with a lot of things, but every once and a while, something will come up and test my trust; it usually is something I hold close to my heart: my family, deep friendships, my dreams. It’s a funny place to be in too, because I’ve spent the last two years of my life living in a place of having to trust God in everything I do, yet there’s still doubt. That can either provide an opportunity for condemnation to come in, or it can be a chance to draw close to the Father, and I hope that more often than not, I chose the latter. I’m never going to get to a perfect point of complete and utter trust in God, but I’m never going to stop pursuing His goodness, and I’m definitely not going to stop sharing about His goodness either.