Canadians Stuart and Barclee Huggins and their son Lincoln set off on a round-the-world mission-building trip in January of 2020. Although the pandemic cut their time short, their time of service still made an impact. Here is their story:
“Stuart and I had heard of YWAM, and we stumbled upon MBI ten years ago while researching the organization. We both come from families that have done mission work, and we’ve both spent time in third-world countries. MBI would allow us to explore the world and serve simultaneously using our gifts and talents.
“Our first reaction was excitement! We decided to sell our house and do back-to-back volunteering in a ‘go big or go home’ way.
“The first thing we looked for were locations that accepted families. Secondly, we looked at places that could benefit specifically from Stuart’s trade skills. Stuart is a very skilled mechanical engineer, and we wanted him to be able to use his gifts for God’s glory. I would spend time with Lincoln and help with whatever practical tasks I could. Thirdly, we set a goal of going to as many locations around the world as possible.
“Our original plan was to travel for eight months to eight different countries, staying about three weeks at each location. We quickly learned that we needed to remain flexible. Our wonderful MBI representative, Jeanette, had to make some adjustments to allow us to apply for eight locations at once, but she made it work. Having someone available to answer all your questions and concerns is what makes MBI so unique!
“We served at YWAM St. Lucia in the Caribbean, YWAM Heredia in Costa Rica, and YWAM Village South Africa. We were excited every time we got to a new country. In each location, we were picked up at the airport by a YWAM staff member. It was helpful and welcoming to be met by those with whom we would be staying. It gave us a chance to get to know them and ask questions about what the next few weeks would be like, and it allowed them to get to know us as well.
“At the first two locations, we lived with the YWAM staff and volunteers, working and serving together. We shared every aspect of life. There was no real difference between staff, students, or MBI volunteers because everyone was there for the same purpose: to serve God and others.
“Our son Lincoln benefited in exactly the way we wanted him to. The experience opened his young eyes to see first-hand the different cultures, religions, and poverty levels that he doesn’t see in Canada. At each location, Lincoln had jobs he could help with, ministries he could be involved with, or classes he could attend. He was excited to meet and ‘help’ people. In St. Lucia, Lincoln helped with the homeless program, amongst other things. He loved feeding the homeless; it was by far his favorite ministry. When we spent a few days at Hunt South Africa, Lincoln did everything Stuart did around the ranch.
“Our goal was to serve the missionaries in practical tasks so they could continue their work. We wanted to encourage and help them towards their goals and plans, to let them know they’re supported and loved. The YWAM staff and volunteers always made it clear how just seeing us there encouraged them!
“After this experience, we will likely never be able to travel ‘normally’ again. And we don’t want to! We want our future travel to involve serving others. Volunteering with MBI is the perfect partnership for that. It is a great organization with plenty of opportunities to serve God and others.”
Mission builder volunteers are a do-whatever-it-takes kind of people. They’re learners who aren’t afraid of new places or different cultures. They fit in almost anywhere; ready to tackle whatever work they’re handed. They love stepping into the relational and spiritual life of the campus they serve, often building life-long friendships with missionaries and other volunteers alike. Mission builders are the stuff real help is made of, which is why they’re first class world-changers.
These are just some of the reasons why Mission Builders International is proud to continue connecting as many Christian volunteers as possible with frontline YWAM missions the world over. And Ken and Arlene W. are just the kind of service-hearted people we’re talking about. Here, in their own words, is their story:
“We didn’t know what to expect when we stepped off the plane in San Diego in March. But we did know that God had put it in our hearts to have a ‘different’ kind of vacation this time—a vacation that would be more about serving him and others than about being served. We had heard about Mission Builders, an arm of Youth With A Mission, from some friends of ours. After researching several opportunities on the internet and spending some time in prayer, we both felt a peace about serving in Mexico at the YWAM San Antonio del Mar campus.
“Upon our arrival, we were overwhelmed (in a good way) by the welcome we received and the friendliness of those involved in various programs there. YWAM San Antonio del Mar is a big and busy place. There are many ministries that flow out of this base. So aside from completing our daily tasks, such as food preparation and serving, washing dishes or cleaning toilets and mopping floors, we were also invited to join teams doing outreach in Tijuana and other nearby locations.
Homes of Hope project.
“This was like a dream come true for both of us. Early morning visits to a local orphanage to make breakfast for the children and visiting a local school with the library bus gave us insight into the lives of many Mexican children. We also had the opportunity to share with men in an addiction recovery center and a homeless shelter. Going for a prayer walk through the red light district of Tijuana and joining the team members who had started a program for children and mothers in another needy area of the city were definite highlights and real eye-openers as to how people live outside the resort areas of this well-known vacation destination. We felt privileged to join in with three different teams to build houses for needy families through the Homes of Hope program. Our hearts broke as we began to see these people through God’s eyes and with HIS heart. “I haven’t even touched on the blessing it was to fellowship and worship and pursue God’s heart with like-minded people from all over the world! All in all, by the end of our stay, we had fallen in love with the place and the people. As they say, ‘We have been spoiled for the ordinary’! We went to give but received so much more in return. Now we look forward to the next adventure that God has for us.”
Does Ken and Arlene’s story resonate with you? Perhaps you, too, would like to take a vacation of a different kind. We guarantee your life will be changed while you’re busy helping to bring positive change to other’s lives.
If you can see yourself serving, visit the Mission Builders International website at www.missionbuilders.org and search the “Where to Go” tab for possibilities (just look at how many!). Then click on Contact Us to request a link to the application process.
We’d like to welcome you to our growing Mission Builder volunteer family!
MBI has fully launched its new online application system for connecting volunteers to Youth With A Mission locations around the world! Get set to serve at the YWAM location of your choice by following these simple steps:
- New to MBI’s volunteer program? Go to our website at www.missionbuilders.org and click on Contact Us. Fill out your name, email address and the last four digits of your phone number to create your own unique and personal contact record. Choose a username and password that will be easy for you to remember. When the message box pops up, let us know you’re ready to start the application process by clicking the Volunteer Application button, and we’ll send you an application link. (For couples, both the husband and wife must create their own individual contact records as well as complete separate applications.)
- Open the application link and fill out the form, including your references’ contact information, which will follow. Submit your application. Once your references have been returned to us, your application will be complete. You’ll then receive a message from us inviting you to choose your location. Your application and references will be sent to that location for consideration. Once you’re accepted, you’ll then confirm the details of your travel plans.
Important: Each individual applicant must supply two references. Simply provide and submit your references’ email addresses, and the reference forms will be sent to them automatically. The forms are quick and easy to fill out and may be completed on any device — smart phone, tablet or computer. (Incomplete references or inaccurate email addresses are the most common causes for application hold-ups!)
- Are you a veteran Mission Builder volunteer? If you filed an application with us prior to the launch of our new system in 2016, you’ll need to update your information and provide new, current references. Simply go to our website, click on Contact Us and follow the initial prompts to verify your information. When the message box pops up, let us know you’re ready to update your information and we’ll get you started!
- Once you’ve submitted or updated your application and requested references, you may check your application status anytime by logging into the Volunteer’s Site found in the Quick Links at the bottom of any page in our website.
That’s it! You’re now able to change and update your information at any time and volunteer at locations of your choosing without having to fill out new applications or request new references. Everything you need is stored and ready to send for your next Mission Builder adventure! We remain available to answer any questions you may have. Welcome aboard!
by Amy Lindstrom
I remember looking in my husband’s eyes as we sat across from one another at a local restaurant. I had called a meeting. I had a lot on my mind.
I was fighting my way through the sadness of an empty nest, looking for new meaning and purpose. I knew I needed more and I wanted to “finish well.” I had deep fear that my last productive decades would be spent going out for lunch with friends, sharing photos of grand babies, scrap-booking and reading an occasional book. It wouldn’t be enough.
“Give me a few more years,” Paul said. So I did. I waited a few more years, finding more meaning than I’d anticipated. I finished a master’s degree in Christian counseling ministry. I was involved in mentoring younger women and mothers, counseling, praying, leading small groups, teaching. Still, I knew there was more. I wasn’t sure exactly what it was going to look like or how it would happen, but my soul longed for adventure, depth, more of Jesus and a community of others that longed for the same things.
Finally, God intervened and some rearranging began to happen in our lives. Some was good, some was difficult. Paul submitted to the changes, remembering the agreement he made across the table that winter day.
It was time for an adventure with Jesus. Depth, growth, challenge, pain, revelation, surrender; all of these were part of the MBI Crossroads DTS we participated in during the spring of 2014. Not even two years ago! Amazing, considering all that has happened since then. It was as if the waters of labor broke and the real me was birthed from a struggle I didn’t understand at the time.
Like many of you, I knew there was more in me than the world would want me to believe; more than what I saw so many in my generation settling for. I knew all of the experiences, failures, pain, loving and sacrifice I’d lived through was training that made me fit for a work that was somehow holy.
Holy is defined as: consecrated to God; set apart for the service of God. I knew the coming decades of my life were to be set apart in a way that was different from those now past. Motherhood and teaching had been services that were sacred in their own particular ways. But, I knew something was waiting that was different.
Looking back at the past 24 months, I find it amazing to see what the Lord has done with the days and weeks and months now in my rearview mirror. I’m blessed to have seen many of my life-long dreams reach their fullness. Some I had even protected from utterance in my prayers. There have been times when I was filled with doubt and painfully stretched, but the adventure I began in my Crossroads DTS has become a whirlwind of adventure, growth and delightful surprises.
Last January, I traveled to Mazatlan, Mexico, where I was a mission builder for 10 days. I went there in a desperate attempt to remind myself that God was working on a plan, ordering my steps, and there was something else to come after my CDTS. I went with small expectations, not knowing what would happen, just willing to serve in a warm and beautiful place. What happened was immeasurably more than all I asked or imagined (Ephesians 3:20). I worked in hospitality and housekeeping, something I knew a little about. But the Lord gave me grace and favor, opening doors so I could also use my education and experience to lead a time of intercession and minister to staff and students through prayer, counseling and teaching. Those younger than me sought my wisdom, knowledge and friendship. They welcomed me as a valuable blessing to their community. This was the encouragement I needed to expand my YWAM training in order to use my experience in counseling ministry to bless YWAMers.
In April of 2015, I attended a secondary school in Kona, Hawaii: Foundations of Counseling Ministry. This has opened further doors for me to use my master’s degree in YWAM. I completed three months of outreach over the fall and winter, ministering in Scandinavia and campuses in my home state of Wisconsin. Paul and I traveled to Mazatlan, Mexico, again where I taught, ministered, counseled and participated in local outreach. He assisted with campus projects and helped build a house with Homes of Hope. In future months, I will continue teaching, counseling and ministering to those who long to expand the kingdom but are hindered by the pain and wounds of life.
This is what I have learned since my adventure with YWAM began:
- Although the Y in YWAM stands for youth, the younger generation is hungry for the wisdom and experience that my generation has to give. Having lacked a God-like love as children, many still crave the care and nurture of those older than themselves; spiritual mothers and fathers to accept, mentor and cheer. God is a God of the generations. He desires to join the generations together in bonds of love and unity. Yes, they really want us, need us, and we are still part of the story!
- There is a real community available to us; a big family that loves us as we are and welcomes the chance to do life with us. There is a belonging that is unique to the Body of Christ, where we are able to transcend differences in cultures, colors, languages, age and gender. Yes, there is a community where we can belong!
- God is challenging my generation to surrender the selfishness of a retirement focused on pleasure; to use the blessings of our age and resources to benefit the kingdom. Yes, we really have much more to give than we realize!
- It is never too late to heal, find purpose, dream dreams, discover what else is inside of us. God has never stopped dreaming dreams for us and he has not forgotten the things he has whispered into our hearts, the promises he has made. Yes, he is faithful to finish what he started in each of us (Philippians 1:6)!
- God knows us. He knows exactly what we bring to his kingdom and the best place to set us. He knows every detail of our joys, talents, knowledge, and if we follow, he will place us exactly where we can most brightly shine for him. That may be behind a bulldozer, in a kitchen, playing with orphans, painting a sign or praying with the brokenhearted. He alone knows where we fit and the time of our arrival. Yes, we can trust him!
Be encouraged today! The Father is not finished with me or you. Perhaps, like myself, you can find YOUR place with YWAM and MBI. Perhaps you, too, will begin with a Crossroads Discipleship Training School. God may have another road for you to travel. But I am certain that however the Father chooses to do it, there is still meaningful purpose and growth awaiting you. Change and adventure are both exhilarating and terrifying at times. But to me, the alternative is even more frightening. God is good, trustworthy and faithful. Lean into ALL that he has for you.
When Pat and Thelma Lewis of Wenatchee, WA, arrived in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, they were surprised and delighted to learn the only way to get to their village destination involved United Nations transport. It was one more remarkable experience to add to their four-month mission building adventure. Shoulder to shoulder with Pakistani peacekeeping soldiers, the Lewises arrived in Minembwe by helicopter to assist missionary friends for two weeks at the village’s primary school and fledgling University of Eben’ezer.
Nearly 300 students attend the two schools, many of them walking an hour or more one way for the privilege. Pat spoke to the students about MBI’s role as a Christian volunteer agency, and together, using a curriculum designed in part by the university’s teachers, he and Thelma taught English classes to “very bright” children in the primary school. Thelma also instructed college students in basics of dental hygiene and created diagrams for use in future classes. “Older village women,” she noted, “reveal a thin, black line of gum tissue when they smile—the result of brushing with coal.”
The Lewises also helped with local projects. “God really used these opportunities to give back to communities wherever we went,” they said. “People in the Congo have nothing. Their provision is whatever they can raise, and their dependence on God is much greater than we could even comprehend. As Americans, our norm far exceeds their wildest dreams. Congolese men talk about survival, not retirement. So Westerners coming to give of themselves and help was the biggest gift these villagers could imagine.”
Even the Pakistani soldiers responded to the Lewis’s good will volunteerism. “They took us in like their own,” Pat says. “We worked hard right alongside them and they alongside us to help in Minembwe.”
While their time was short due to transport schedules, Pat and Thelma know they contributed in significant ways to transformation in the Congo.
All over the world, there are possibilities for helping to change lives just as the Lewises have done—one act of service at a time.
Visit us at www.missionbuilders.org and find your unique opportunity.
Click here to apply online