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.”
Change is coming to Mission Builders International, bringing with it the excitement and challenges that accompany beginnings, endings, firsts, and lasts. As MBI grows and embraces change—welcoming new people and a fresh round of related ministries—we celebrate that change even as we continue doing what we’ve always done: recruiting and sending volunteers to help YWAM locations globally.
During this season of transition, we’ve come to a particular ending: MBI will no longer be partnering with YWAM Lakeside in hosting the Crossroads Discipleship Training School (but take heart—the CDTS will resume at YWAM Lakeside in 2020). To close this chapter, we’d like to share a handful stories from the graduates of the 2018 school. We love what God has done in and through them, and we know you will too!
“God is asking me to come on staff with the YWAM Puerto Vallarta team. I believe the CDTS has prepared me, because I am the most confident in who I am in Christ that I have been in my entire life. I know who He is, I know who I am in Him, and I want to make Him known. I’ve faced difficult things, I’ve worked with so many different people, I’ve moved into places where I knew no one, and I am ready and excited to take the next steps God is calling me to take.” ~ Jay J.
“My most significant experience was finding out that the voice I would hear or the prompting [I felt] really was the Holy Spirit speaking to me. That helped me greatly.” ~ Lynn C.
“The teaching on grace has changed my way of thinking, because I had lived so many years trying to please God in order to earn salvation.” ~ Mandi W.
“To my delight, I never felt unwelcomed by anyone because of my age. Both in the training and outreach stage, I felt very much welcomed and embraced, and that age was not at all significant to the ministry.” ~ Mike D.
“The first church we went to [in Puerto Vallarta] I asked the Lord, ‘What would you have me do?’ He said, ‘Sit down.’ I did, and He brought a five-year-old to me to sit on my lap. She was looking for a safe place. Thank you Lord! It was me!” ~ Laura W.
“At one of my low points in Mexico, when I was feeling inadequate about speaking with people, I was praying in the Catholic Church of the Square in Bucerias. I heard very distinctly: ‘I called you to be faithful, not successful.’ I left that place feeling God had met me in my time of need and that what I was doing was acceptable to Him.” ~ Kate D.
“I believe God is asking me to go further into missions with YWAM and has prepared me for what is next for me. I am putting my whole life in God’s hands; He has never failed me yet. My favorite verse is Isaiah 6:8: ‘And I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Here am I; send me.’ This is what I pray: Here are my feet Lord; I will go where you send me.” ~ Jules M.
This final CDTS produced fruit that will last, maturing into richer relationships with the Father and good works for his kingdom. What more could we ask for? Thank you Lord for new beginnings and happy endings!
“Volunesia (noun): that moment when you forget you’re volunteering to help change lives, because it’s changing yours.”
Mission Builders International’s assignment is to help harness one of the most powerful forces on earth—volunteers. We point do-gooders toward global service opportunities, and together, we see lives transformed. While volunteer service involves a sacrifice of time and finances, the rewards of reaching out with a helping hand are immeasurable!
Sometimes the amazing things volunteers accomplish are just accumulations of many small, well-done deeds. Tasks as ordinary as cooking meals, mowing lawns, cleaning toilets, or hammering nails become extraordinary in their collective effect.
A volunteer’s “job well done” may provide nutritious meals for orphans, or it may put a roof over a needy family. A job well done may insure a clean, vibrant classroom space for young children or needed housing for missionaries-in-training. Or a job well done may simply be helping steward one of the many worldwide YWAM facilities that are home to distinctive training schools and outreach ministries.
As missionary Pat E. reported:
“Our Mission Builders have served us in the kitchen, in the garden, in our preschool, in leading a daily devotion, in our worship team, being a hostess and decorator, and yes, installing electrical, framing walls, laying carpet and tile. Mission Builders International is the key to unlocking the most exciting investment of your life and opens the world of missions to you. You will always receive more than you give and that in itself is the blessing God has waiting for you.”
According to our friends at YWAM Gold Coast (Surfers Paradise, Australia): “Everything we do at YWAM Gold Coast is considered sacred and unto God, so we believe that whether one is in the kitchen preparing food for the troops or teaching on DTS, it’s all important to Jesus.” In other words, volunteer service is holy work.
Beyond just a job well done, those who volunteer are often overcome by volunesia, which is “that moment when you forget you’re volunteering to help change lives, because it’s changing yours.” If you would like the satisfaction of volunteering—making a difference in others’ lives as well as your own—MBI would like to extend an invitation to you to take your first step. The needs are real and the opportunities to meet them are plentiful.
In the words of missionary Michael L.:
“I have seen the great need for mission support through having supporters come physically alongside and get involved. The mission field can, at times, be lonely and daunting, but having witnessed how effective MBI is in helping relieve those stresses (not just by sending teams to help with projects, but also simply by having supporters help with day-to-day chores), I believe they have proved themselves to be a caring and professional ministry that is first amongst equals.”
All you need to do to step into a volunteer opportunity is: 1) Visit the Mission Builders website at www.missionbuilders.com. 2) Click on the ‘Where to Go’ tab to discover which location and what part of the world tugs at your heart. 3) Click ‘Contact Us’ to create your personal record and start filling out your quick-and-easy online application.
Go ahead! Do something extraordinary today!
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.
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!