A Welcome and an Introduction.

**WARNING: extremely long post ahead. Just warning you. Don't go away though- get comfy and get reading!**

Sounds like the first day of school or something, right?? No school here.. Just a welcome to my little blog and an introduction of sorts. 

First of all, I'm Vanessa. That's me up there with three of my friends- we took some fun photos for our graduation party. A serious photo of me is a rare thing.. So get used to stuff like this! Haha. 

I will be writing on this thing. What will I be writing about? My journey coming up this October- My 6 month journey with YWAM! I can hardly wait! Are you confused as to what YWAM is, though?? This is for you: 

'Youth With A Mission is an international volunteer movement of Christians from many backgrounds, cultures and Christian traditions, dedicated to serving Jesus throughout the world. Also known as YWAM (pronounced "WHY-wham"), our purpose is simply to know God and to make Him known.
When YWAM began in 1960, our main focus was giving young people opportunities to demonstrate the love of Jesus to the whole world, according to His command in Mark 16:15. Today, we still focus on youth, but we have members (known as “YWAMers”) of almost every age and many of our short-term efforts have grown into long-term endeavors that have impacted lives and nations.
YWAM has a decentralized structure that encourages new vision and the exploration of new ways to change lives through training, convey the message of the gospel and care for those in need. We are currently operating in more than 1000 locations in over 180 countries, with a staff of over 18,000.'
Above text taken from here.

Basically, it's an amazing volunteer program that has been around for awhile. During the DTS, (Discipleship Training School) I will spend three months at the base of my choice, training for outreach and learning about and growing closer to my Heavenly Father. The second part of my DTS I will apply what I have learned and go on outreach, which is basically a 3 month mission trip! I could go almost anywhere in the world to do a YWAM-DTS; however, I know without a doubt that God wants me in Newcastle. 
....And that's where my blog name comes in: He Says Newcastle. God specifically told me that Newcastle, Australia is where He wants me to go. How He did that goes like this:
For a long time, I have known that after I graduate from high school God is calling me to do a DTS with YWAM. This was so exciting to me, but at the same time a bit scary. Especially knowing that there are literally hundreds (HUNDREDS!) of different places I could go. Where do I even begin?!! 
Me with two precious boys from the orphanage.
Summer 2008.
Okay so here's a side note.. I feel like I was first being called to YWAM when I was in Haiti with my youth group, the summer after I had finished 9th grade. I had never in my life been anywhere like Haiti. My experience was indescribable. I remember thinking, "I could do this for the rest of my life and be so happy!" (Maybe I forgot about the heat though... It's HOT in Haiti!) Since then I have been back to Haiti once, and am going again this July. Yay!!
My parents & I at senior night for basketball. Parents really
do know best. At least, mine do. I love them so much!
But anyways.. When I began getting closer to graduating high school, and I began trying to figure out what to do with my life, I looked to YWAM, and of course- Haiti. My good friend, Alyssa, mentioned a YWAM base in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, and I immediately looked it up and began pouring over it. Doing my DTS in Haiti sounded like the perfect plan! I immediately said to myself, 'I am so doing this." When I had my parents take a look at the website, they thought it was cool but encouraged me to skip Haiti and look to go somewhere new, somewhere I've never been and probably wouldn't get the opportunity to go to normally. "Uh, no. I want Haiti. God obviously has placed Haiti on my heart for a reason." That's all I could think of. So I was stubborn and forgot about anything but going to Haiti in June 2012.

In the meantime, I graduate from Sarasota Christian High School in May of 2011. I began working and working to save up money for my DTS in Haiti. I kept checking back to see when I could apply, and one day I decided to email them and ask for some info about the June 2012  DTS. To my absolute horror, the registrar informed me that they're taking a year off and not doing a DTS this year. WHAT?! Welp, there goes my plans. Now what? I sure didn't know. 
My family & I the night I graduated. Please ignore the puffy, red eyes. I cried like a baby! 
So I kinda pushed YWAM aside, and decided to do school. I figured, I already have 18 credit hours from high school, so how about I go to the community college and get my AA degree, then go do a DTS in Haiti. Maybe they'll be doing another in a year or two. I sign up for the Spring 2012 semester and pay for online courses at State College of Florida, (seven of them!) go to orientation, and try to prepare myself for "school mode" again. 
Right after Christmas my boyfriend, Jackson, (He is so wonderful. Hey Jack!) and I were having breakfast at Chickfila. Some friends (Sarah & James Beechy) from Jacksons church came in and sat by us and we talked for awhile. Eventually, we began talking about Passion 2012. Jackson was going with some people from his church, and I sort of missed the boat and didn't get to join them for the week in Atlanta, Georgia. Sarah mentioned that they had one more ticket left, and I heard myself saying, "I'm sure I can't get off work." "Just ask!" They insisted. So I sent a text to Kristin, the mom of the boys that I nanny for. She told me she would check with daycare and see if they could take the boys for the week. Yep! Just like that, I was going! So exciting. And to top it all off, the extra ticket they had was for Jackson's little brother, Logan, who wasn't able to go after all. Jackson's mom, Jill, who is the the sweetest person you will ever meet, had already paid for most of it, and insisted that I just use the ticket and go! Whaaaat! How neat is that.

So I went and had an amazing week! We listened to sermons from Louie Giglio, John Piper, Francis Chan, Beth Moore, and others. We worshiped with 45,000 other people with Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, Christian 
Stanfill, David Crowder Band, Lecrae, and more. We raised over 3 million dollars. 3. million. dollars. And every bit of it went towards the fight for slavery. Did you know that there are over 27 million slaves, worldwide?? Probably even more than that. Yeah, I didn't know either. So all week we talked about this issue. I was brought to tears daily just hearing the stories of people held captive and in bondage to slavery. Human trafficking, prostitution, child slave labor, even adults caught in slave labor. It's just sickening. One night we were listening to a speaker, I can't remember who, but I remember that they said something along the lines of, "Why wait to make a difference in this world? You need to go to college? Get a job? Make money? Be stable in this changing economy? Those are all important, but God has even bigger plans for you. Stop thinking of what you think you need to do and do what He is asking. God wants to use you NOW, wherever you are!" This hit me like a ton of bricks. He was talking to me! I know it. Right away I knew that I needed to find the YWAM -DTS God intended for me and just GO.

45,000 people ages 18-25 gathered in the Georgia Dome for this amazing week!  
So I got home and the next day I got online and began looking at YWAM's website. My friend Tara told me that YWAM has a special DTS that focus on Compassion, so the outreach would be focused on reaching the prostitutes, the homeless, orphans, and others in desperate need of God's truth and love. A compassion DTS sounded absolutely perfect for me. So I searched 'compassion DTS' and came up with quite a few, all mostly in Australia. Woah! I had never even considered Australia- almost forgot about it, really. But the more I thought about it, the more crazy awesome it sounded. 

A nice 'ol screenshot of YWAM Newcastle's Compassion DTS page, found here. Believe it or not, most YWAM base webpages that I looked at were very unorganized. I'm a very organized kinda girl. Newcastle's page caught my eye for sure! 
I looked at all of the Compassion DTS options and narrowed it down to a few, and sent my info to them. Still, I didn't feel a peace about it. All of a sudden I saw the Newcastle base and clicked the link for the website. I was so impressed by the website! It sounds totally silly, I know. But it was beautiful, and I immediately sent my info to them and very quickly received a very sweet, informative, and welcoming email from them. I was hooked! I felt like this is exactly where I need to go. But still, there was this fear and doubt that was waiting around in the back of my mind... It can't just be this easy! How can I decide where I spend 6 months of my life this quickly?! And HOW IN THE WORLD am I supposed to get around $10,000-$12,000 by then? I can't do school and work.. It's just too much! What to do, God? Give me a sign! 
A few hours later I went online to look at my courses (that were about to start that Monday). What did I see when I went to look at my schedule??

We are sorry, you are not registered for the Spring 2012 semester at the State College of Florida. To register, click here.

This was a very unexpected, exciting surprise! I could hardly believe it! I told my mom and she was excited too! We both knew that deep down, I really wasn't ready for school yet. Mom also told me I better be able to get all the money back! Haha.
So after something awesome like that, I should be totally confidant that I'm supposed to go to Newcastle, right? Yeah. But not me. I don't know what I was so afraid of, but I still didn't want to make a for sure decision, maybe because I have been waiting SO LONG to do this. My lovely mom tells me I should ask God for a sign, a specific sign. I really didn't want to do that because I feel like I would be testing God, and making Him do things He didn't want to do. Also, in the back of my mind, I didn't want to ask for a sign and not get one, only to be disappointed and left again without a DTS.; however, I was so ready to just know. I just wanted to know. So that night on my way to babysitting, I asked God, "Okay, if Newcastle is where you want me, please give me a sign Lord. Have someone talk to me about Australia, or have Australia pop up everywhere in random places!" Seems like a strange thing to ask, but hey, a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. So as I was driving, I kept thinking, I'm gonna get there, and Bob & Shelly (the people I was babysitting for) are gonna talk to me about their trip to Australia they just decided to take! Way to set myself up for disappointment, cause that sure didn't happen! So I was bummed. They left, and after their son went to bed, I went on their ipad to look at wedding blogs, which is something I do all. the. time. I love weddings. But what do you know, the first three weddings I see are AUSTRALIAN WEDDINGS!! What the world! I had never seen an Australian wedding featured on these blogs before! That was so exciting! I sent a super excited text to my mom right away. And if that wasn't enough.. I later turned on the TV to see an 'Australian Western' movie featured on some Indie channel. I didn't even know those existed, but I'll take it!! 

That night in January was so amazing. I had complete affirmation that Newcastle is exactly where God wants me, after all this time! Every time I tell the story I get so emotional and all worked up about it! It's amazing how His plan unfolds along the way, as I try to be in control and make my own decisions. God knows what's up, and He knows what's best for me! He knows what is best for all of us, and we can take comfort in this, knowing He will take great care of us! 

So, that's my story so far! Oh! And I got my money back from the college :) Mom and Dad were very pleased about that! 

In the next few days I will write another post, which will be about what I need to do to prepare for October, (Passport, visas, health insurance, all that crazy stuff) and how I'm going to corral all that money! Thanks for reading, come back soon! 
xx, Vanes. 

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  1. Yay! Love this. So excited for you!


  2. Just seeing this now. so excited for you and your beautiful journey :) xoxo


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