Tuesday, May 28, 2013

river views and sweet buns

Our last location on our January Internship outreach was Linkoping, Sweden, a city about an hour and a half away from Stockholm. We were invited to visit by our friends, Anders and Sarah, and since they've blessed us by visiting us with a team this year, we traveled to their base for a week.

Linkoping is a university town, so our first project was to give a concert at the university. The concert was planned by the Christian group on campus, a group that has only 20 members. For a university with several thousand students, that is a bit discouraging. However, I was really impressed by the amount of work the students put into meeting new students. Their passion for Christ is evident, and not only did they host a concert that included a free lunch, but they also joined us for a talk on intercessory prayer later in the week. They are up against a lot at the University of Linkoping, which is the most humanistic university in Sweden. It takes a lot of energy and strength to fight in that kind of environment, and the students are fighting for souls as well as attempting to keep up with their degrees. Their dedication was quite impressive.

While in Sweden, we also had the opportunity to work with several youth groups. I gave my testimony a few times, and afterwards, I got to talk to Swedish teenagers about what it meant for me to surrender my gifts back to God. It's not something that I think about a lot, but really, surrendering theatre, music, and photography to God is one of the best things that I've ever done. God took back the gifts that He gave me, and He called me into this life. I could have held on tightly to my talents and used them for my own fame, but where would I be then? I'd be struggling alone in New York City, poor and desperate. But now I'm living in a family in London, working with other Christians to use our arts to speak to people's hearts about God. It's incredible.

My favourite part of our trip to Sweden was the Jesus Bus. It's an actual bus that has been converted into a cafe, and every Friday and Saturday night, a group of senior citizens drive it to a central square in Linkoping and hand out cinnamon buns and coffee to the people coming out of pubs and clubs. They stay out there for hours, even in the cold, and talk to the young people. I was amazed at their dedication to the youth in their city; even when younger people went home, they stayed. We joined them with our music, stilts, and painting, and it gave all of us the chance to talk to people. I accompanied one of the girls on stilts, and when people stopped to ask her why she was on stilts, we got to tell them that we were in Sweden to show them God's love for them. Swedish people are surprisingly open to talking about their faith, and several times people let us pray for them or asked us how salvation worked.

The most encouraging thing about Linkoping was how it is able to be grasped. Taboo is faced with a daunting task here in London: to influence a city of millions. But Linkoping is much smaller, and with a few more people on their team, the YWAM Linkoping team has a fighting chance for taking that city for God. While we were there, Christian, our team leader, met with the vice mayor. They have connections at the University, as well, and with prayer and resources, the city of Linkoping could be won for God's Kingdom. We should pray for the team there, that God provides them more workers and connections. They were so hospitable to us, and I would love to see them blessed with resources to make their fight a bit more manageable.

 The concert at the university

 Talking to university students

The Jesus Bus

Daniela on stilts by the Jesus Bus

Sunday, May 12, 2013


For the second phase of Taboo Arts' outreach, we traveled to Lyon, France. The trip to Lyon was terribly stressful, with a delayed train leading to a missed train and an unexpected night in Brussels, Belgium. But when we arrived in Lyon, we were greeted with blessings. It was sunny, and the team at YWAM Lyon took us to the park for the afternoon. We got to leave our jackets behind for the first time this spring. They also prepared amazing French food for us every day.

For the week that we were in Lyon, we taught our arts to the DTS teams that are leaving on outreach. Patricio, Micah, and I taught theatre to six of the students who are going to Asia. We spent the first few days doing workshops in which we taught them some warm ups and acting techniques, and we also taught them several dramas that they can do on the streets in Asia. It was a blessing for me to be able to teach dramas that I have actually performed on outreach, and I am always surprised at the new ways that God speaks to me through the dramas.

At the end of the week, we went into the center of Lyon to do evangelism. As the director of the dramas, I got to stand in the audience during the performances instead of performing. Several times, I got to talk to people about the meanings behind the dramas - about how God can save them from the lives that they are living now, and about how His death on the cross is relevant to our lives right now. One of the men that stopped next to me asked me if God could really save him the way that the man playing Jesus was saving the girl in the drama from the demons of her life. His friends kept calling him away, but he stayed for the whole drama, and at the end I explained what a life with God means - being healed of the things that are killing us and walking with the Creator that loves us.

I think the coolest part of the day was when I actually spoke to people about God in French. It was clear that the Holy Spirit was with me, because I took two years of French in high school, and I did not remember very much of it before we set foot in France.

My birthday also took place while we were in France. I share my birthday with my roommate, Marta, and in the evening, our team threw us a surprise party that included a delicious cake and ended with Marta teaching me how to break dance. I was also sung to in five languages: English, Spanish, French, German, and Portuguese.

What surprised me most about Lyon was the openness of people to discuss God and their lives with a random American girl. People opened up to me about their lives and struggles, and they gave me glimpses into their hearts. Sometimes I'm amazed by the privilege that I am given to see into people's hearts and to get to tell them about the God who saved my life. I often forget the urgency of what I'm doing, but in the streets of Lyon, as the team performed the dramas that we'd taught them, I remembered.

Teaching dramas in the beautiful weather.

The DTS team performing the drama "Everything" in the center of Lyon's old town.

With some of my family here (from L to R): Heather (England), Juliette (Holland), Marta (Portugal), Sebastian (Argentina), Melody (Puerto Rico, but she's growing up here in London), and me in front of them all.
Marta and me with our birthday cake.