I arrived in Berlin, Germany for the 3rd time, on the 2nd of September, 2016. I had fallen in love with the country, culture, and language during my previous visit. I’d lived in Berlin for 2 months earlier that year (2016) and now that I was back, I would begin My Plan and my dream of living in Berlin by, finding a job, opening a bank account, and getting a work visa (allowing me to stay as long as I wanted in the country), so the search for a job began!
I stayed at the YWAM (Youth With A Mission) base in Berlin. I helped with renovations and construction wherever needed, as well as participating in staff training lectures (even though I wasn’t staff haha).
When September 7th rolled around, My brother and a few of his friends went on holiday to Norway for two weeks and, because it was to late for me to go, I went with another friend to Israel for two weeks.
We stayed in the Old City of Jerusalem only 150 yards away from the Damascus Gate. Our hostel was located right in front of a round-a-bout with loud honking cars, and the clamor of bartering arabs at the market directly outside my window… One Friday evening when I was in the living room, a 50+ aged, Jewish, staff member came into the living room. He always wore the same white tank top shirt and dark pants. He led me to the hot & cold water distiller, put a cup under it, and said in his broken english “make the water”. When I asked him to repeat the question he said the same thing. With a confused look on my face, I pushed the little cold water button that was right in front of him. He drank it and asked me to do it again, and a third time! Then said “Thank you, I will give you a gift tomorrow”.
After that, he led me down the stairs and around the corner to the bathroom door and said “make the light”. Again confused, I asked him to repeat and, he said again “make the light”. I looked as he pointed to the light switch on the wall, not 2 feet from his extended index finger. I took a set forward and tapped the light switch on the wall as he said “Thank you, I will give you a gift tomorrow”.
A few minutes later he led me again, this time to the fridge. He said “open”, so I did, and same as before, he thanked me the same way. Later he gave me a banana as the gift, which I was hyped on because that would be my Saturday morning breakfast haha. He explained to me that the next day was Shabbat. In the Jewish culture from sundown on Friday until sundown on Saturday is their Shabbat which means, you cant do any work, including using electronics of any kind, even something as routine as flipping on a light switch.
It was so sad to hear of all the laws, rules, and regulations they are bound to keep because their culture and tradition demands it. I think this should inspire us to love more than ever because that’s something that all their tradition can’t create, GODS LOVE! After all, we need grace just as much as they do.
At the end of the 2 week, we flew back to Berlin. By then, I started thinking about doing a Discipleship Training School (DTS) through YWAM in Barcelona, Spain. It’s a skateboarding DTS starting in April 2017. I was accepted!
Two days after we got back, an action sports ministry called SRS Team Xtreme, emailed us and asked if we could come down to Dettingen an der Erms, (about 40 minutes south of Stuttgart, in southern Germany) and partner with them for a skateboard/bike event that coming weekend. We accepted, but because Nathaniel didn’t get back for 4 more days, I would have to meet me at the event on Saturday.
At 10:00pm on Wednesday night, backpack on and my passport in my pocket; I got on the S41 (the metro) located on the edge of the ghetto. Five stops later, I got off at “Messe Nord” and walked to the bus station. I looked at the departure board and found my bus, “München (Munich), 23:00 (11:00pm)”. So I went to the stop where my bus would be leaving from.
I sat on my skateboard leaning against the cement pillar with my backpack beside me, then the bus arrived. They started putting bags in the luggage hold, as well as checking people in by scanning their tickets. When it was my turn, the driver scanned my ticket, but it didn’t work. I knew it was the right stop because I had checked the sign above my head a half a dozen times, out of paranoia. It read the same as the departure board, “München (Munich), 23:00 (11:00pm)”.
The driver told me it was the wrong bus. So I, in my limited german vocabulary, tried to explain to him what the board said. I wasn’t quite getting my point across, so a german man offered to translate for me. When I was told they wouldn’t allow me on the bus, my heart dropped to my stomach.
As I watched the bus drive away, I wondered what to do next. I walked to the bus companies office but an employee was locking up for the night by the time I made it to the door. I walked to the announcement room and, in spite of the “closed” sign taped to the window, I tapped on the glass to say something, but the man inside said “geschlossen (closed)”.
There was only a handful of busses still leaving that night, going to different cities and counties surrounding Germany. One of the SRS guys was going to be waiting for me at the S-bahn in his town outside of Munich at 9:45am, (note: Germans are very punctual people, so arriving late is very rude). I felt hopeless… So as I walked out to the main area I prayed, “God, I don’t know what to do. My bus just left without me and I can’t buy another ticket at the office, if you want me there, please do… something.”
There were roughly 60 people still waiting for their busses. I walked up to 2 random college aged guys, each having a backpack, and proceeded to explain the situation in german. When I realized it was out of my capability, I asked if they spoke english, they did. I told them what had happened, and they said, “There’s one more bus leaving for Munich tonight. Our friend was going to come with us but he canceled, so now we have and extra ticket, you can have it for 15 euros (about 16 USD).”. Sometimes when taking the bus, you need to show your passport with your ticket or they wont let you on. The guy said “If they don't check your ID, then you’ll be fine.” I told them I’d take it.
As we stood in line, the driver scanned passengers tickets. I put my backpack and skateboard under the bus in the luggage compartment and when I came back, the guys said “Ok, they just scanned our tickets, and we’re good.” With a sigh of relief, I climbed the bus steps and sank into my seat.
We made it to Munich and I gave them 15 euros. I walked to the S-bahn train and rode it for 9 stops. I walked off the train and out of the station at 9:45am, and there was Micha (the SRS guy), waiting in his car to pick me up.
I was totally astonished that out of all the people I could have walked up to, these two college guys just happened to have a one extra ticket “ironically" after I prayed “God, Please do something”. God does’t think like us, He’s not limited to the box we put Him in, and He can do things the way He wants. If it was up to me, I would have chosen to get on the bus and arrive according to MY PLAN, but I think that God allows things to go wrong sometimes, to remind us to rely on Him and not our own plans or understanding, and that everything we do is actually HIS PLAN .
We met Nathaniel, he spoke at the event, and the next day we drove to Berlin. I concluded that I could work for 6 months and afterward, do the Barcelona DTS in April. Five weeks laters, I still hadn’t found a job. The problem was, I had bought a roundtrip plane ticket before flying to Germany, now my plane was leaving in one week. Stress began to creep in. Nathaniel said “Dude, why don't you just apply at YWAM Muezenberg in Cape town? There’s a DTS starting in January. You could go home for a month, raise support, and then go there.” It sounded like a good plan, so I applied.
Nathaniel moved to Nuremberg. I went to visit him before I (most likely) had to leave. He showed me around the beautiful, Bavarian city as well as introducing me to some of the staff at the YWAM base. That night, I received an email through a job finding website from two families interested in having me as their Au Pair (a man-nanny haha) for 6 months. Even though it is a rout mostly traveled by females, My Plan to live in Germany exceeded the slight embarrassment of being a nanny.
Monday I said goodbye to Nathaniel, somewhat stressed. Then climbed the stairs into the green double decker bus. I struggled to decided what to do next as I impatiently waited for a response from Muezenberg. Our bus stopped at a McDonald's for 15 minutes, so I went in. I pulled my phone out of my front pants pocket, went to my email, and there was the response I’d been waiting for, “Congratulations! You’ve been accepted to YWAM Muezenberg DTS, January 9 - June 22, 2017”.
As excited as I was, I now had a difficult decision to make: Work in Germany and do the Spain DTS, or fly home for a month, and then do the January DTS. I didn’t have peace about Spain, but I couldn’t just throw away My Plan. Either way, I had 3 days to decided.
Two of Nathaniels friends he traveled to Norway with, were attending to a wedding in Mexico, but one couldn’t make it. They offered him the free, available, plane ticket; but because of visa issues, he couldn’t leave to country. They asked me. With just a few days to weigh my options I finally made the hard call, I would cancel my flight to Chicago and fly to Mexico with them.
The vibrant golden-orange sun was sinking into the Ocean as our Plane landed at LAX airport on Thanksgiving day. We boarded a bus to the greyhound station, then another to San Diego, where we were taken across the boarder. We arrived at a large YWAM base located on a hill overlooking the beautiful Pacific, but at 3:30am we were too tired to appreciate anything other than our clean warm bunkbeds waiting for us.
During the 10 days we were at the base, I was still torn between the two DTS decisions. I said God, “If You don’t want me to do the January DTS, I won’t go.”.
Wednesday night, I walked up the hill into the large cafeteria and sat down in the back of the room around a white circle table. Surprisingly Jos, (a friend from Berlin) was speaking there that week. I don’t remember entirely what he said, but as he was talking, I feel that God spoke to me saying something so profound, yet so simple. It’s not where you go, but that you seek Me while you’re there. That hit me like a ton of bricks. I had been so focused on “where where where”, that I’d overlooked the “why”. I strived so much for My Plan, that I’d totally missed the point, “Seek Me”!
At present, I believe now is the time to seek God more than ever. That being said, I will be flying to Muezengberg South Africa for the Discipleship Training School January 2017 and ask that you keep me and all the students and staff in your prayers as we depart on this life changing adventure.