Returning to the Home Land
So, it’s been a while since I updated! Much has happened since then.
On June 26th, I graduated from SBS!! What a wondrous and wonderful feeling. The 9 months of SBS went by so quickly, and even now I think, if God gave me the opportunity to do it all over again, I would! It was one of the harder things I’ve done in my life, but probably the most rewarding and life-changing things I’ll ever experience.
The weeks after SBS grad have been a bit of a blur. I stayed in Seattle for a week before flying home to Bangkok, where I spent two weeks, catching up with old friends, resting, eating, and getting ready for my summer adventure!
Now, I am in Chiang Rai, northern Thailand with Ging Gaan. I volunteered my time here before in 2012, so it’s good to be back for this month. Since I was here 2 years ago, the ministry has had the opportunity to lead a number of college students to know Jesus, and so we’re taking this month to spend more intentional time discipling them through a mini-DTS (discipleship training school).
For me, this time has been very fulfilling. Coming back to Thailand has not been… easy, I miss Montana, I miss my friends, I miss living in a close-knit Christian community where we have close relationship with many peoples. But, I do love Thailand, and I’m realizing day by day, as I live in Thailand, how much I missed being here. How much I missed the people here, and the culture. How much I am blessed to be able to see the curiosity and hunger in new Thai believers. I’ve been able to see fruit in areas that I have poured into in the past. It’s just the grace and blessing of God that I am able to return to places I have been before, and be apart of what He’s doing. That includes being in Bangkok, and seeing the kids in my youth group grow, as well as coming up to Chiang Rai, and staffing this mini-DTS, hearing the testimonies of these students, walking with them as difficult and painful things have been dug up from their past, in order that as we talk and pray, that they might find healing and freedom in new life in Christ. It is a precious thing, not to be taken lightly, not to be taken for granted.
Sadly, I’ll only be with them for 1 month, but hopefully, these relationships and this change will be for life.
God is good!
Dawn's Update: 2014-06-17 from Dawn Mekunwattana on Vimeo.
Hey guys! I made my first video update ever: please check it out and leave your comments below! I would love to hear from you =)
I have this 20 minute time slot during which I want to write this quick update. As you can tell, I’ve been pretty busy. I’ve always loved life in Montana, but SBS is a lot of work! No wonder! It is a school after all =)
We’re already a month into our second quarter of SBS. It’s pretty hard to believe that Christmas break was so long ago, because I feel like we’ve just started second quarter. Since then, we’ve finished our New Testament studies, we had a party (and a hilarious anti-talent gong show), we’ve done our New Testament Oral Exam (had to memorize key verses, reason written and main ideas for the 26 books of the NT that we have studied - we have not done Matthew yet, that’ll come at the very end of SBS next quarter) and my first class on Genesis is in less than half an hour!
We didn’t go through the New Testament in chronological order (or in the order it was written), but we will be going through the old testament in Chronological order, which is pretty sweet. Taking the 3 and a half hours to read Genesis the whole way through was difficult, but very interesting and actually really fun! (You should give it a try! No skipping on the names!) and I’m excited to get into the Old Testament, to see the consistent, never-changing character of God in the Old Testament.
A quick something that I was thinking this morning: the more I study the bible, the more I talk to God, and pray, and focus on Him, the less smart I become.
By that, I mean that the more I’m in His word and seeing who God is, the more I see how small I am - not in a bad way. It just makes the grace and love of God that much bigger and even more awesome. Seriously. He’s so good. He’s good when I’m good, and He’s good when I’m not good. He’s good. It’s the only truest thing I can hold on to, always.
Anyway, off to get ready for class!
I am God’s favorite
I have been blessed beyond imagination today. His voice has been so loud and clear all day, it’s crazy!
Yesterday was my last year.
What I mean by this is that, yesterday really was the last day for a lot of things. A lot of things I had to lay down. A lot of hopes and dreams that now are laid down, another grain of sand in the desert of my life. A lot of expectations that I lad to lay down. A lot of things I surrendered.
Yesterday, God brought to the surface, to eye level, a lot of things that I thought I had let go of, but I actually had not. God brought to mind things in my past that I was hurt from, that I allowed to create fear in me, that I allowed to create barriers that seem to stand miles and miles high. I never could see the tops of those trees. I never could see past those rapids. I stood, feeling so small at the foot of what I thought was a mountain…
Then God showed me, it was only a hill… and beyond that hill lay other hills. Hill after hill, they slowly got higher and higher, and slowly I took his hand and climbed and climbed and climbed, like I was ascending a set of round stairs towards the stars. With every step we took, we broke off a chain. Every moment I looked back, I shook off other grains of sand, and pebbles, and rocks that were weighing me down.
Well, we got to the top. Finally. And there’s still one more wall that I need to push down, but it’s hard, and it’s heavy, and It’s frightening, I don’t know if anything else is going to fall down with it if I push it down.
But I know God wants me to push it down. So down it goes.
Yesterday was my last year, my year of being 24. And with yesterday, I lay down my hopes, my dreams, my expectations for my year of being 24, like grains of sand that got lost on the desert floor, so that I could pick up His dreams, His will, His hope for my life.
I woke up with a song in my heart. I woke up feeling noticeably different this year. I don’t think I’ve ever felt this way before. I don’t know if God’s ever spoken so clearly before. But He is now, and that’s what matters.
I am His favorite - He loves me, He trusts me, He sees me, He blesses me, He hopes in me, He desires me, He’s in me and I belong to Him.
I’m so excited for 25. I’m beyond ecstatic, and I just know in my heart it’s going to be a great year. I already have a new name, and an anthem. I’m surrounded by people who love me. I’ve been gifted with so many awesome opportunities. The endless blessings of God are so tangible, and His goodness is above every thing, every circumstance, every obstacle that can be thrown at me. His goodness is above all that. His love is above all of that.
And… the coolest thing, is that He’s got enough love for everyone to be His favorite ;)
It’s been a good 24 years, Abba, thank you.
How I can tell I’m an SBSer…
We just started week 4 here at the Lakeside Base! It’s strange how time works here. 4 weeks really isn’t that long to be in a place, however I feel like I’ve been here forever! I feel like I’ve known these people for forever, and that I’ve been doing this forever, but not in a bad way.
In the course of 3 full weeks, we’ve studied through Philemon, Titus, Ephesians and Galatians! I’ve never read so much of the bible in such a short amount of time, or with so much gusto and joy! Why is it that I’ve always felt like it was so hard before this? It really isn’t. It only takes 20 minutes to read through the whole of Ephesians out loud in one go! That’s so little time!
Our first three weeks consisted of SBS seminar, through which they taught us the method of Inductive Bible Study. In a nutshell - the purpose of using this method is so that we can take a step back and look at the bible with new eyes. It’s a three step process (with other things added on and details… etc) We read the whole book out loud and in one sitting - because they were written to be read like that (especially the epistles that Paul write? Can you imagine just reading half way through an email from a friend and picking out just one line, framing it, and hanging it on your wall? Crazy!!)
So Inductive Method! First we observe the text. We look at what the text says, in context, historical and cultural background, and just observe the text. Next we interpret the text. Some of the questions that we ask include “What does this mean to the Original Reader?” “How would the recipient feel about this letter?” “What implications does this command have on the church of that day?” and after we interpret what the bible says in context, we find a Timeless Truth (a truth that transcends the barriers of time and culture) and we apply it to today in our third step which is Application. We ask “How does this timeless truth make a difference in my life? Or in this world today?”
It’s so fantastic. There are so many things I’ve read before in the past but never paid attention to. For example. In Mark’s account of when Jesus was arrested in the forest, there’s a naked man who runs away! Never even realized that was there before!
While I was studying through the book of Titus, I was so overwhelmed by the thought of God’s grace and what it means to me. Without His grace, which brought me and the world salvation, we’d still be stuck in sin and sacrifices! His grace really is just Him showing me how much He loves me, how much He wants me to be closer to Him and more like Him. I don’t know if I want that enough! The book of Titus to me, was very much about how good works count has to come out of a place of intimacy and everyday walking with God. His grace is the only reason we have this chance to do good, and it’s all supposed to be for His glory.
With all that said, part of the Inductive Method is the Final Application - we have to pick one of our applications, and write a final paragraph on it about something we can actually do, and it has to be something doable, tangible - so that we can actually do what we say we’re going to do! Now, that was hard with the grace deal, and I struggled through wondering what to do, so I mostly prayed about it and just kept trying to ask God what to do. After all, grace can only be extended if I’m not currently being graceful, or when a situation arises!
The funniest thing?
Something came up the very next day after I completed my assignment!
I laughed and thought to God "Of course you would!" and he really challenged a place in my heart that needed to be bold to change. It took me a couple days of praying and reconciling different thoughts in my head and finally deciding, I have to talk to this person. (I’m a super non-confrontational person so I get super terrified when I have to do something like that!!!) God was really awesome and He really showed me grace and taught me how to extend it, and removed that heart of fear and holding onto my ‘rights’ and it was awesome! Definitely had a mini breakthrough =) God is so great! =D
Another story about how I can tell I’m an SBSer happened this past Sunday. I went to church, and during service, the guy who was preaching had referenced several verses from both 1st and 2nd Timothy! I had the hardest time concentrating on the sermon he was sharing because I was so preoccupied with thinking that I didn’t know the context of the books because I hadn’t read them whole yet!!! So I went back to my room when I got home and read 1st and 2nd Timothy! Which, I didn’t study in depth so I definitely still need to do that when it comes time to study those books, but that was such an SBS thing to do! I love how God is giving me a new love for His word, and how these good study habits are infiltrating my life!
Anyway, we’re in the book of Mark now, and we started week 4, which is also the first week of our regular schedule! Which means, class only 3 times a week, 3 hours per session! YAY!! Which also means that I really have to learn to manage my time so that I can get all my work done when I don’t have classes (which is quite a large number of hours!)
Off to bed for me!
SBS 2013 - Week 1!
We’ve already come to the end of week 1 of SBS! The concept of time and dates are so foreign to my brain right now, because YWAM time seems to fly by much faster than the rest of the world (but of course the laws of science tell us that it’s not possible…) but it really is weird to think that it’s only been one week. In some ways, it feels like it’s been so long! The familiarity with this place (I mean, I have lived here before so I’m already familiar with the base but still…) and the comfort level of being with people here, and settling into SBS life. It’s been really great =)
The first book we started with was Philemon - we took it pretty slow. For the first three weeks, we are in seminar, where we all have class together, every morning and every evening. They take us through each step of the Inductive process of studying the bible - Observation, Interpretation, Application, charting, color coding, all sort of stuff - so we go pretty slowly and they give us time to work through things, so we’re charting as we’re learning and figuring out to do it all. It’s a bit intimidating, but at the same time, there’s this confidence that Jesus will help us get through this. 66 books in 9 months. Well, we’ve finished 1! So we’ve got 65 books left to chart =)
After these first three weeks, we’ll break into our sessions - there will be 3 sessions this year (new way of doing stuff!) and we’ll each have 1 morning class, 1 afternoon class and 1 evening class a week (and then we’ll rotate - so I’m in Blue group, and this semester we’ll have Monday Evening class, Wednesday Afternoon, and Friday Morning classes. And then next semester we’ll switch.
It’s so good to be in the Word. It’s weird (but not completely surprising) but I feel like even just in one week, my mind is already being completely blown away by the openness in which I’ve been able to read and study the Word. I’ve never been so open, and I’ve never approached the text with such a clear mind. God’s been saying so much and revealing things I’ve never thought about (in the context of the book) and yeah it’s crazy! So good =D
So yes, I’m loving the student life. It’s really great to be studying again, in the Bible, in my notes and books and looking up information and looking into history and finding out more about people, real people. Love it!
More to come, but I’ve got an internationals Ice Cream night that I’m headed to now =D
3 day countdown.
There are people in the dorms!
It is so refreshing to have friends and to actually have people to hang out with, and meet new classmates, and find out who’s in who’s group, etc etc. It’s so fun!
I’m starting to learn names, and hear more of peoples stories, and it’s so amazing how we’re able to become friends so fast and get along with everyone! Especially after seeing all the different cultures and all the different places we’re all from.
God’s creativeness really amazes me. Just how He created all this, and how He brings us all together from all over the world to this one small base to study together, be together, grow together. Just tonight, my new friend and I were sitting in her room, talking about how there was a perfect spot for a couch in her room under the bunk bed, and how maybe we could pick a cheap one up from a thrift store somewhere, but that we’d probably need some sort of car/pick up truck. Not too long after that, we met a fellow SBSer who arrived today, in his pick up! BOOM! God just provided =D He’s so awesome =D
So - tomorrow we get a chance to go into town and get some shopping done! I have a whole list of things that I need-to/would-like-to purchase. Fun deal! And it looks like we might hit the Tamrack to celebrate a birthday (which was actually today, but we’ll go celebrate tomorrow!) Fresh brewed Root Beer! The best ever~
One step closer
I got my visa today!
This morning I woke up majorly early (but not as early as Kin!) to go to the US Embassy. Traffic was extraordinarily bad! It took me over 2 hours to drive to the embassy (ended up a little late) and so I was quite flustered when I got in there. I had two right hands, forgot a pen, and forgot what my dad’s phone number was in thai (I had to mutter it in Chinese under my breath to translate it before telling the lady!)
But all in all, the process went well. I had all the paperwork I needed and more, and I was out of there in an hour! Yay! And then I treated myself to some hash browns before heading to work =D
Next step: FLIGHTS!
Last thing is: I’ve been writing personal update letters to some people, as well as a financial report of what my needs are and what I have already been blessed with! So if you’d like to know what’s going on, what I am doing next, or a financial report: please let me know in the comments below, or facebook/email me!
Ah yes there are so many things to write about BUT! I am leaving to go to BALI in just a couple more hours! WHOA. God is crazy good =)
Bali is one of those places that I never even thought I would have the privilege of visiting, Thank You Jesus for this blessing!
I’m going over there with 4 others & a baby (Baby Miah!) for a week long CMA (Christian Missionary Alliance) conference - it’s for the missionaries and CMA pastors and families in Indonesia, but the youth pastor of my church was invited (for the 3rd time) to go and head up their youth program for the week, so we’re going along to be a part of that. Amazingness =) I am so glad that we are able to go and connect with people in Indo and to be a part of their life and have them be written into my life story too.
News from outside of this Bali-Excitement-Bubble:
For the past 3 months I’ve been working at Entrance Coffeehouse & Studio which is absolutely an amazing ministry. We’ve become family in this very short period of time - love it! In title, I’m a barista, but in heart it really is family, love of coffee, and ministry. We all belong, we all have a say, we’re all partners working together. I’ve also been doing photography and graphics for them which allows me even more fun and gives me more opportunity to pour out the stuff I love to do. God is good!
The next big move for me is happening this SEPTEMBER. I’ve been accepted into YWAM Montana’s School of Biblical Studies (SBS) So excited for it, I have dreams about being there. Things are crazy =D I have to raise quite a large sum of money though to get to the states, to pay for school and to live there but God has always been faithful and I know He will continue to be so from now until the end of eternity (Good thing eternity can’t end…) More about that later =)
Look out for a Bali post in a weeks time!
What’s been happenin’?
Youth Retreat was March 22nd-24th and we had a fabulous time exploring God’s voice and what He says when facing certain issues in our life! I had a small group made up of kids who I don’t usually have in my small group on Friday night Exchanges, and I loved getting to hang out with them over that weekend. I also loved being able to connect with people I don’t usually get to spend a lot of time with, such as my fellow youth leaders.