In our last newsletter, we shared about YWAM Bend, Oregon, a one-of-a-kind ministry with a vision calling for equally visionary mission builder volunteers. True to form, the first project accomplished at their location was out of the ordinary, just like the mission builders who showed up to help get the job done.
David and Crystal Cook happened to be in the area in early October of 2014 and volunteered to help set up YWAM Bend’s Mongolian gers (yurts), which would become housing for ministry staff. In the span of four days, David helped spread mulch, set up one ger, disassembled a second one at another location and prepped it for moving. Crystal helped with meal preps and garden gleaning (and David found time to cook some of his famous burgers for the staff as well). With the Cook’s help, the YWAM Bend team was settled in before the snow fell.
YWAM Bend wasn’t the first ministry nor will it be the last to benefit from the Cook’s volunteerism. Along with their son, Michael, and daughter, Amy, the Cooks began their mission-building adventure while visiting friends at YWAM San Francisco six years ago. David, who owned his own construction business, says, “While we were there we noticed so many broken toilets and door hinges and the like. We said we would stay and help and began to get a glimpse of the need out there.”
On their first long-term mission building trip, the Cook family traveled from Seattle to YWAM Orlando in Florida in a truck, living out of a camper on the back. There, David says, “The young staff would tell us about having a heart for Turkey or Africa, but they were at the campus helping with needs like cooking or maintenance instead of going where their hearts were. I wanted to help with those practical things so they could actually get out and do what God was calling them to do.” That’s when the Cooks decided to invest in missions by becoming full-time mission builders. They bought a pull-trailer and hit the road, making, to date, four circuits of the United States, volunteering at numerous YWAM campuses and taking YWAM missions training along the way.
Together, David and Michael worked at general maintenance projects, repairs, roofing and similar tasks. “Michael was my right-hand man,” David says, “as capable if not more so than me. From blenders to cars, he can fix so many things.” Their biggest project was at YWAM Mendocino in California. “The Woodbutcher cabin, their premier cabin from the ’70s,” David says, “was built on a hill. It was made with dowels and pegs; no nails. The foundation was rotting and needed repair, andthere were gaping holes in the deck. The staff had been at a loss as to how to save it. Michael and I spent 2 months jacking it up, tearing out old foundation and building a new one.”
When the Cooks first launched their mission-building lifestyle, Crystal says, “I felt like I was going to be tagging along; that I didn’t have a lot to offer and I would just be seeing what David would do. Friends prayed with us and helped me realize I had something to offer.” She and daughter Amy started working in the campus kitchens serving healthy, good-tasting food. Now, she says, “I get so much appreciation for cooking! People are constantly thanking and complimenting me! And Amy learned and grew so much; I am confident she could take on any YWAM kitchen.” But it’s more than just putting food on the table. Crystal says, “I like being a mom to the staff and teaching them. I’ve worked with several gals, teaching and mentoring them in kitchen and life skills and speaking into their lives spiritually. We adopt the young folks and feel like they are our kids. Some call me Mom, which blesses me because some of them don’t have good families. We love being family for them, pouring into them like parents.”
Although Michael (to be married in June) has now launched into his own YWAM adventure, David, Crystal and Amy continue traveling, enjoying the countryside, history and parks as they mission build campus to campus. What they like most, however, is meeting new people and making friends. “Our world used to be so small and now it is so broad,” they say, “and we haven’t gone international yet! No, we don’t have a home anymore, but we have many, many locations across the United States where we feel at home. We have people who are like family in all those locations.”
The Cooks agree: “There is so much need out there, and God has given His people the skills to meet those needs. Being the ones God uses is more fulfilling than anything we did living the normal North American lifestyle. Not everyone is called to do what we’re doing for a lifetime, but there are probably a lot of people who are called to do it short term. We wish we’d done this sooner, but we figure we have a good thirty years left, so we’ll make good use of it.”
Are you ready to share your time and skills in missions for a season? Looking for ministries you can serve from your RV? Visit our website at www.missionbuilders.org and see all the YWAM ministries around the world who need your help. Apply online today or contact us!