Life As YWAM Staff: One month down, lots more to go!

Hello Friends!

Wow! The month has seriously flown by, it feels like I just landed yesterday and now our DTS students are arriving! This time of preparation has been fantastic, so many things to learn, so much to do! Let me fill you in a little bit on what I have been up to in this past month.

As most of you know, I hit the ground running, as soon as I landed I was heading straight to a conference where I would be part of the team leading the youth program. Needless to say, it was totally awesome! Our program included games to get to know the youth, bible study, worship, a trip to the beach for team activities, and possibly the longest game of capture the flag I have ever played in my life! We also joined the main conference and listened to the speakers there, we heard awesome testimonies and teachings. Working with the youth really refreshed my heart, this is what I had been preparing and waiting all summer to be a part of again. It felt like coming home, and made me even more excited for the coming DTS.

After we came home from the conference, it was straight to DTS staff training. We came together as a DTS staff (there’s only four of us) and went over “what a DTS really is, and how is it supposed to function, what is the purpose of it?”. We went over teachings on what our roles and responsibilities as staff in the DTS, and how we can create the best environment for the students to grow. It was a lot to learn, and my studies are far from over, but I am thrilled for the opportunity to take on this new role and grow as a leader.

The next big event to happen was staff days, where all the staff that work here at Borgen gather together to talk about the new year. The ministries taking place, the dreams we have for new ones, what this season will look like, and ultimately to spend time in prayer and worship together. It was like a family gathering, and I am so blessed to be a part of this family and its ministries.

Between, DTS staff training, staff days, and now until the students arrive it is all DTS prep time. We as a staff are planning everything, the daily/weekly schedules, assigning responsibilities, creating assignments, events to participate in, etc. I absolutely love it, I’m so excited to see this DTS unfold and see God at work in the student’s hearts!

Besides that, I have been enjoying hiking, fishing and exploring my surroundings, the Lord really knew what He was doing when He created all this beautiful nature around us.

That sums it all up pretty much! I survived the first month! I’m so excited and blessed to share this journey of serving God with you all, stay tuned for more updates!

Love,

Dani

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One Lesson At A Time

Hey hey hey hey!

Yup, it’s me again, and it’s time for another update on my life this summer. As you guys know (if you read my last blog post) I am going to be a missionary!! WOOHOO! Crazy I know, right? Well it’s the best thing I have decided to do since I ate a full tub of ice cream by myself. I just wanted to let you guys know how it is going and how you can get involved and support me!

I’ve been thinking about this post for a while, wondering what I should write and update you all about, and I think I’ve finally found it. It’s on my lesson (which I’m still learning) about pride, being able to receive blessings from others, and with that being totally dependent on God, because He really does provide. With that, here goes nothing.

I come from a family of hard workers, and yeah, I know, that’s no uncommon thing, or really, it’s what everyone says. I’m used to working for what I get, I bought/own my own car, my first computer, worked most summers on the farm and/or for the family business. Point in case, I am used to working for what I get, and I happen to really enjoy that. However, with that comes a sense of pride of “I can do this myself”. Over this past year, I really learned how much I CANNOT do this myself. I can’t do life myself, nor do I want to anymore, I have something that is forever and I’m overjoyed about it, I have Jesus. If you don’t know Him, you should get to know Him because He’s seriously the best thing that has ever happened to me. I digress though, the lesson here as you can obviously see, is my pride and what it does to rob me of joy in receiving blessings from others. I am sure that I am not the first nor the only missionary that received their call and went “Are you serious God? How am I going to pay for this?”. Admittedly I have drug my feet in writing my fundraising letters, and am still working up the gumption to send them out. (Don’t worry, I will). It has really given me cause to reflect though, why is this so gosh darn hard for me? Well after mulling it over, I really do think it comes down to my pride and my fear of being wholly dependent on God.

It’s one thing to say you’re dependent on God while you have a job that is paying you money, it’s another to work and depend on God moving in others to give to you. It’s like that trust fall exercise we all did as team building when we were younger. Turn around and fall backwards completely trusting your friend to catch you before your head smashes into the ground. If you had any friends like mine growing up, they let you fall past the panic point before they caught you, but they always caught me. That is what I’m doing now. I’m going to turn around and trust; I know God has called me and He has my back. It might be scary and I might go past my panic point, but in the end, He will always catch me and provide. So, if you feel led, and want to join with me in saving the galaxy, click the link under “about me” and read through my fundraising letter. I’m excited for this journey and even more pumped to see what God does next in my life. Stay tuned!

Love, Dani

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I’M HOMEEE

Well I’ve been home almost a month now so I suppose it’s time to write another update and talk about how the rest of outreach was and how being home again is. It’s probably best to pick up where I left off in Bulgaria, and continue the journey in chronological order.

Greece was a whole different world after coming from the snowy Bulgaria, and the sea was less than ten minutes from our apartment. It was still plenty cold when we got to Greece but there was no snow so going outside for long walks was way easier. After being cooped up for so long it was good to finally be able to stretch our legs a bit and see the sun.

This part of the outreach promised to hold a variety of new and very difference challenges from the ones we faced in Bulgaria. Greece didn’t hold any firmly set ministries that we could join into like we had in Bulgaria. It was up to us to figure out what God had in mind for our time in Greece. I think this may be my favorite part, because much as I love planning (and I really really do), it was exhilarating to just go with the flow and explore each day with what God laid on our hearts. Spoiler alert; it turned out beyond awesome. We did everything from street evangelism to working with big organizations in refugee camps. My favorite adventures came from taking to the streets with my ukulele and working in the refugee camp.

Greece has these huge squares around town and my goodness are they amazing! They hold a variety of all kinds of artists, painters, jewelry makers, musicians, and dancers. You name it and you’ll most likely find it. It was a sunny day that some of my team members and I went to one of these squares with our instruments and started playing worship music. Well, we definitely met some interesting people! One was a vagabond by the name of Marco, he had been on the streets traveling since he was 18, no other reason particularly than he just wanted to see the world. We talked to him for at least two hours; about life, about faith, and his travels. He played music with us until he had to leave. On the surface this story doesn’t seem like it should be one of my favorite memories but if we take a step back, I’ll explain why it is.

Our God is a God of relationship, He knows us and desires for us to know Him and build that relationship with Him. We are made in His image and so therefore are also made for relationship. The reason I’m so fond of this story is because we had the opportunity to build a relationship with Marco, even if it was just for those two hours. We listened to his story and his music while enjoying the sun with him. We spoke to him about life. We not only shared God’s love with Him, but shared God’s love for him from our hearts by our actions.

So, learning the importance of how to just love people was the most important part of the ministry work in Bulgaria, and I have to say, it has carried over into Greece. I continued to grow in how to love people, as did the rest of our team. We had the opportunity to love a new people in radically different situations than the previous month, but no matter the scenario the solution was the same. They all needed love, and specifically God’s love, and we shared it with them. How cool is that?

I am so blessed and privileged to have been a part of such a grand adventure of serving others. It truly has been the best six months of my short life. Thank all of you who have supported me! I would not have made it as far as I did without your love and prayers. I am eternally grateful.

The question I’m sure you’re all asking now is “What’s next?”. Well, I’m sure you could have guessed it, but I will be continuing in the same line of work. I will be heading back over in August for a two-year commitment to work as staff doing the same exact thing I did for the past six months, and hopefully more stuff! I’m really excited for what lies ahead of me as I take on this new adventure! Make sure to stay tuned!

I will be doing some more fundraising in the coming months, so if you’d like to see how you can get involved and support me please email me at norainnoflowers14@gmail.com!

Much love for all of you guys!

Dani

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Bulgaria – Outreach Part One

The first month of outreach has been a success! So many things have happen in the past month it’s hard to narrow down what to share. It has been amazing to be apart of so many ministries in the field, the people here are doing a fantastic job. However, I’m sure many people right about this too, it’s not glamorous as so many people would like you to believe. We didn’t see mass amounts of people come to salvation, we actually weren’t even allowed to talk about God in the streets. What we saw, and did was actually so different than what I grew up imagining missions to be like. I’m so thankful for it though, because it really shows the value and the emphasis of just loving people.

Growing up, my Mom would tell me to live my life in such a way that people would know I was a Christian, because the way you live my be the only bible someone ever reads. I never really knew how important that was until all I could do to help someone and show them Jesus was just to love them. Actions speak louder than words, and people only truly change when their hearts have been touched by the love of Jesus that we carry.

So what did loving people look like in Bulgaria? Well it was a lot less glamorous than you’d expect, but it was real, and that is the most important and wonderful thing about it. Out on the Ring Road, we served coffee, gave out hand warmers, food, and talked to the girls as much as we could between customers. We got the opportunity to build relationship with them and visit outside of the Ring Road. I wish I had a better vocabulary to describe the girl we got to hang out with the most. She is truly a wonderful person, who has been given a bad hand, who has done what she had to. She was abandon as a child, unwanted her whole life. She fell in love, married, and had a child, but they fell into rough times. So to make ends meet, to provide for the child she brought into the world she started working. Her motive was to provide a life for her son, but in the end he was taken from her because of they life she leads. She has made sure that even though her son does not live with her, he knows that he is wanted and has family. It was so heart breaking to hear this and know that if we had been put in the same situation, would we have done anything different? She tried everything, but in the end sacrificed it all so that her son could be provided for. It hurts, and yet all we could do was listen to her, love her, and treat her as she should be treated, God’s precious daughter. Because at the end of the day, it is His love for her that will change her, and His strength that will bring her healing.

Another ministry we worked with was teaching bible stories to children in Roma villages. Let me paint the picture of this: it’s around three feet of snow outside, the buildings are made of patched together brick mostly, with only a small wood stove for heating. Honestly, it was usually as cold inside as it was outside. These kids were showing up in ratty summer clothes, practically barefoot in some cases. It is so hard to not be enraged with the sheer unfairness of it all. It makes me squirm just thinking about it. Yet, these kids were so full of life, love, and happiness. The kids would just swarm around our legs, I couldn’t move sometimes because my legs had three or four kids hanging on them. They were so beautiful.  All we could do was teach them stories, play with them some, and love them as much as we could in the short time we had.

Honestly, loving people in Bulgaria was so hard. Not because the people were hard to love, but because we could only offer love to them. The crazy thing about it is, love is enough, especially God’s love, His love is way more than enough. That is the important thing to remember, that it’s not our love, and what we do, but His love.

We did many other things, but that is the most important thing I want to highlight from Bulgaria. God has been really showing me what it looks like to love others with His love.

 

Love you guys! I’ll be home soon!

Dani

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On to the Next!

It really feels like life is going at hyper speed these last few months, every time I sit down to write it seems another thing pops up that needs to be done. Well that being said, it’s now 2017 and the end of 2016 needs to be summed up and explained a bit, then I’ll let you know more about the forecast for 2017.

2016! Wow what a year. If you had told me that I would be sitting in an airport in London heading back to Norway; then shortly leaving for Bulgaria and Greece afterwards I would have given you a strange look and walked away slowly.  However, as crazy as it seems, I am beyond blessed and frankly need a better vocabulary to describe the feelings of sheer joy that I have being where I am and doing what I’m doing. 2016 has taught me many things, but the most important thing I have found that God really is good, and He is good all the time.

Let me explain a bit. Lecture phase of DTS is over, we have been put through the wringer for three months of examining ourselves. Learning about not only who we really are, but who God is and what He intended for us individually and our world. We focused our energies on learning how to apply His love and His principles to our hurting world, and let me tell you it’s been amazing.

At the University of Washington which I graduated this past spring, I studied International Studies, and Comparative Religion, my area of focus was in Latin America. I studied some of the worst things man has done to each other, genocides, rapes, gang violence, drug cartels, corrupt governments, etc. I’m not going to lie, my faith was shaken, I was looking at a world that was so messed up and asking the age old question, how can a good God allow all this? I didn’t understand, and it made me question a lot of what I believed in. I was angry, confused, and frankly lost hope. All I wanted to do was help people, and stop the suffering, but the more I studied the more hopeless it seemed. I could not understand how people could be so terrible to each other and how a good God could let innocents suffer like that.

Thankfully when I exited university, my Mom encouraged me to take a DTS, which I reluctantly did. I can say now with certainty even though it’s only half done, it has been the best decision of my life. I got answers to the questions that had shaken my faith from the past four years, and came to rest on firmer ground. I definitely think, I am better for having gone through all of it. I have studied the depravity of humankind and understand our capacity for evil and how a truly loving God still acts and works in our lives.

Free will: two words when put together have the capacity for the greatest good and the worst evil. Work with me now because I’m still wrapping my own head around this concept as well, but to me it comes down to this; if we can’t choose whether or not to love God, is it really love? Is it really love, if we’re just forced to worship and do what He says? I mean it’s good for us, and the world would be a lot better of a place if we had just listened but we didn’t. God loved us so much that He gave us the choice to choose Him or not, no strings attached. However, we are free to choose, but not free of the consequences of our choice. If we choose to be greedy, then we will hurt others, if we choose to lie, we will hurt others, you get the picture.  When we choose to disobey God, we separated ourselves from Him and just look at our world, we are suffering the consequences.

So what does that have anything to do with what I’m doing now? As a justice school, I’m back at it again studying the injustices of our world, the horrible things that people do to each other. In particular in the next few months we will be working with ministries that are reaching out to prostitutes, refugees, and other groups (orphanages, Roma communities). Looking again into the depths of human trafficking, girls forced to sell themselves to live, people fleeing from war torn countries, people who are discriminated against, and those who are left alone in this world. There’s a huge difference this time though, this time I have hope, a hope that I can share with all of them. A hope that I know will make an impact on them because it is based in the most beautiful thing known to man, love. Ephesians 3:19 “And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God”. He is my hope, and the reason I will continue to fight to bring love to all of those people who are suffering.

So there is your quick sum up of the past few months, and my plans for the future all in one. Thanks for sticking with me and supporting me in this adventure! I’m really excited to go and put all I have learned into practice!

If you have any questions for me or encouragement, my email is in my info page, feel free to drop me a line anytime you like!

 

Much love!

Dani

 

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Outreach Locations!

Hello All!

Here’s the update I’ve been promising, I’m sorry for the delay, by blog decided to delete my last post before I could publish it and well here is the rewritten one!

We have our outreach locations and one way tickets!!! We will be traveling to Bulgaria and Greece in January and will be working with a couple of ministries in various cities in both countries. The range of topics will be working in Roma communities (for those of you who don’t know who they are, they are more commonly known as Gypsy’s). Normal preaching in churches and helping with their ministries in local areas. Building relationships with prostitutes, loving on them and listening to their stories and through that sharing the hope there is in Christ.

In Greece we will be doing a variety of things as well, but the main goal will be to work with and in refugee camps and centers. Nothing is completely set in stone yet, but those are the forecasted areas of work.

Besides that we have been learning so many things! We have completed weeks of teaching on counseling, Justice Water, refugee work, the nature and character of God, evangelism, and we are currently learning about Voice for the Voiceless. Who knew there was so much to learn about how to properly build relationships, share the love of God, and somehow at the same time come to understand an all powerful, all knowing God. There definitely has been Aha! and Huh? Moments in the journey thus far, but it’s been a place of growth and learning that I didn’t know was actually possible.

The overarching theme that has been reoccurring throughout the weeks is that God is so many things, He cannot be put into a box no matter how hard we try. I am definitely guilty of trying to put God in a box and say this is who He is, if you’re like me I would recommend rethinking it because you are seriously missing out. Our God is ginormous, massive, colossal, immense, mammoth, and my personal favorite, titanic because we’ve all seen the Wrath of the Titans right? Those things were HUGE! God is bigger than that, and He is tired of being put in a box by us mere mortals.

My journey thus far has been of readjustment of all my original views of God. I say readjustment because my views have not changed really, they have rather matured, grown in dimension, and exposed how little I actually know. It has also been a time of healing from past hurts, and of growth in areas that I didn’t think I needed anymore guidance. Let me tell you guys were seriously never going to stop learning, and honestly I think that is immensely exciting. To say I have grown so much here would be a sad understatement of the amount I have actually changed. It’s only been about two months since I landed in Norway but I can say with certainty, that I am not the same person who got off that plane. I know I keep saying this over and over again in my blog posts, but it is so true. I am so excited for this time here, and where it is leading me. Thank you all for following along and supporting my journey. As C.S. Lewis said, and a great teacher reminded me “Further up and further in”

Miss you all!

Dani

Also, if you’re really itching to ask me more questions or just want to say hello, I have finally figured out my email address for the blog! Drop me an email at danibraun@norainnoflowers.com. Also there is now a prayer request page, if you’d like to see how you can pray for me and our activities here check it out! 🙂

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What Better Place to Start then God’s Creation

Hello From NORWAY!!!!

Well this week has comprised of meeting all of my classmates, (there’s six of us total) Sara, Lotta, Hanna, Ann Christin, and Ole Kristian, five girls, one boy. We started with an orientation day on Tuesday and promptly left the next day for a couple day’s in the wilderness.

That all being said week one has been pretty awesome, but I’m sure you’ll want to know what I’ve been doing in the days leading up to day one. I arrived on Saturday and promptly started getting accustom to the time change, now that I’m nine hours ahead my sleep schedule was just slightly off. So the logical think to do when you have jet lag is going hiking right? Of course! So I went hiking with one of the staff members, Guro, we went down to the fjord, where we got picked up to go fishing! The awesome thing about it was I actually caught a fish! (Not a big one of course, but I still caught one, so it counts). However, Issac one of the other staff members did catch a fish and we had it for lunch the next day! Monday was a dreary day so we stayed inside and sort of relaxed before the whole thing started.

Tuesday, is the day everything started and everyone arrived and we all got to know each other. We had a huge family dinner/welcome evening. Everyone from the base came together to greet and welcome us to Borgen. It’s been awesome getting to meet everyone.

Wednesday, we left for the mountains, we hiked two hours into one of the larger mountains surrounding the area. It was one of the most beautiful hikes I’ve been on to date. Norway is surprisingly like home in many ways. The trees, weather, landscape, it is a lot like Washington, (except it’s about to get a lot colder, and it’s actually going to snow). We spent Wednesday through Friday in the mountains doing team building activities and getting to know each other better on deeper levels. We shared the reasons why we decided on this YWAM base in particular and what goals we hoped to accomplish throughout our DTS. Friday came way to fast for me and we had to leave our place in the mountains, I think it will forever hold a special place in my heart and I plan to return and visit it again.

The weekend was a recovery from our time in the mountains and a preparation for the beginning of classes. We got together on Saturday and shared our testimonies as a group. Sunday we got to grill in a Lavo which is similar to the buildings of the native Norwegians, and celebrate the birthday of one of the youngest members of the base.

All in all, week one down and many more ahead! Classes have now started and the real work has begun, I’m excited for the weeks to come and the learning ahead.

Hope all is well with everyone at home,

Love,

Dani

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Ready, Set, Go

The day has finally arrived. I’m sitting in the airport awaiting my first of three flights that will take me from Seattle to Newark, Newark to Oslo, and Oslo to Tromso, where I will be picked up and finally meet some of the people I’ll be spending the next 6 months with. So much preparation has gone into this day/trip it’s almost hard to know where to begin. That being the case we’ll start with the most appropriate point, finances. How was I going to pay for it all? I’ll admit right now that despite my best efforts not to, I worry, a lot. I remember thinking, “God if you want me to go there, you’re going to have to provide the money”. The very next Sunday, my pastor came up to me and said “It’s not your job to provide the money, God will raise it for you”.

Now I know you’re wondering how exactly did God raise the money for me? I’m getting on a plane today so it must have worked out somehow. That somehow came in two forms, the first and foremost came from my church family, the second came from the wonderful giving nature of those around me.

My church focused on Matthew 25:14-30, the parable of the talents. For those of you who might not know what that is, it is a story of a lord giving to his servants five, three, and one talent (which is a sum of money). The lord departed to a far off land, and upon his return two of the three servants had multiplied what he had been given. They invested what they have been given and returned the original amount and a profit to their lord upon his return. Don’t hold your breath, I’m going exactly where you think I’m going with this. Our pastor decided this was principle we would use to raise the money. My tiny church gutted its account and put 1,000 dollars in envelops of various sizes, 10$, 20$, 50$, 100$. All the envelops were unmarked so there was no way to know who had what amount. The goal was to raise it seven times.

What happen? Was enough money raised? Was the goal achieved?

Drum roll please!

YES!

That and some, not only was the goal achieved it was exceeded which just serves as a reminder that our God is an incredible giver. The number of stories that poured in as each person/family gave their testimony as to how they used their God given talents to raise the money were simply inspiring. Stories of success, failure, doubt and how success came out of our doubts and failures only served to solidify He was at work.

I still am in awe just thinking about it today as I make my way through the airports in route my final destination. This is just the beginning of the journey and I am so excited for what lesson in faith is next.

A huge thank you to all of you who have helped, supported, prayed, and encouraged me to pursue this adventure. Stay tuned for the next update! 🙂

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What to do when you get kicked out. Go to Norway!

Let’s be honest, I didn’t really get kicked out. After being away at college for four years, even though it was really close, the last thing my parents wanted to hear was “I’m leaving again”. Oh well! My well laid out plans to stick around my hometown for a year and fix up a house with my best friend Shelby were completely out the door. Now I’m just 22 days away from heading out on a new adventure that will take me overseas for 6 months.

Now we’ll back up just a tad and fill in how I got to today.

After four years of school at the University of Washington, I graduated with a double major in International Studies and Comparative Religion. I was also a four year varsity letter winner in softball. Like most freshly graduated college students, I had a degree in something I loved but no job that had anything to do with it lined up. Lucky me, right? So I did the next best logical thing, I started working for my family company. A job is a job, and Momma and Dad didn’t raise no bum (yes I used a double negative, sorry to all you grammar police out there). I love our family company, and until I figured out what I really wanted to do, it was a place I would be able to grow and continue to improve myself. My plan was to work there while I weighed my options and explored some different career paths.

Speaking of career paths, at that point, all I thought I had wanted to do with my life completely fell apart. I was back to square one wondering how I had spent four years in college, graduated, and had absolutely no clue what I wanted to do next. Funnily enough, my Mom had always been talking to me about this YWAM thing all through college. To which I steadily refused to consider it every time the topic came up. My excuses were, but not limited to some of the following, “I want to work”, “I don’t have time”, and culminated in “I don’t want to, so I’m not going to”. HA that worked out well…

And we all know what happened next. PLOT TWIST!

It’s August 17th and I’m leaving for a YWAM in Norway in 22 days! I know what you’re thinking, “what happened”?! Well, I was sitting at the computer one day, just searching YWAM on a whim, maybe I’ll just look it up and see what they have (that’s what I thought). Wouldn’t you know, I found a school that appealed to both my sense of adventure and my passion to help others, a YWAM mission focused on justice. The next thing I knew I was applying and thinking there’s no way I’ll get in. Three days later, I got an acceptance letter. Now the rest is history.

I’m excited to have this wonderful opportunity in front of me and I’m even more pumped to share it with you all. Keep an eye out for updates as the adventure unfolds! This is only the first step of many.

 

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