Hi! I'm Lauren Payne and I'm from Knoxville, Tennessee. The Lord has so graciously blessed me to be able to come to Oakhurst, California to Mission Build at YWAM Yosemite. I am going to be volunteering here for about 7 weeks. I had never heard anything about YWAM until my brother attended this base for his DTS in September. His life was drastically changed from his experience at YWAM Yosemite; he became a completely different person, which impacted my family in a whole new way. Ever since that experience changed his life, I have wanted to see and understand the heart behind the place that had such a great impact on my family.
I never thought I would actually receive a chance to come all the way to California, I had never before traveled out of the Southeast Region of the United States. However, the Lord showed me that I could and He provided for me to come all the way out here. Before arriving to YWAM Yosemite, I knew the Lord was calling me to live uncomfortably by leaving the familiarity of the South in order to depend on Him and grow. I also had many wounds that needed to be healed but had been ignoring them for years, pushing them under the rug. However, once I knew I was going to YWAM Yosemite to volunteer, the Lord repeatedly told me there was going to be healing and restoration for me here. Needless to say, I was so excited for this adventure to begin!
I arrived to the base and my room was welcoming and cozy. The first morning after arriving, I felt so welcomed by the staff during their prayer time. They kept expressing that I was not just a volunteer but that I was one of them and they kept telling me how thankful they were that I was here. This made the distance away from home so much easier. While my new home and staff members were both amazing and beyond welcoming, I was still had a hard time. For the first five days, the enemy attacked me and tried to convince me that being back home would be much easier. This homesickness got to a point where I told my mom to look up a plane ticket and get me home early; I was ready to leave. I could not understand this feeling because I knew I was supposed to be here since the Lord had provided and confirmed that already. I was also confused by these emotions because the environment of this place was so comforting and encouraging; everyone here wanted to know me on a personal level. They wanted to know about me, which made me feel so great. Since I felt so attacked spiritually, I was constantly in prayer and asking for the Lord to comfort me and make it extremely clear as to why I was here.
Then, the following Monday, The Lord started to blow my mind with how He spoke to me. We were worshiping and singing a song that said "You are higher than any mountain that I will face." I just kept saying those words over and over. I then finally cried out and told the Lord "I give up". I was crying for help and completely surrendering myself to Him, but I felt a wall in between me and Him and I became so frustrated. I just kept saying "Lord, say something. I just want to be near to you." Right at that time, Shea (an amazing staff member) walked over and laid her hands on me and started saying exactly what the Lord wanted me to hear. She said that she saw me in a room with chains around my wrists and ankles. I was screaming and striving so hard to try to break free from the chains but nothing worked. She said that my muscles were sore, I was exhausted, and that I was crying out for help. Then Jesus entered into the room and finally I let Him hold me even with the chains still clasped around my wrists and ankles. Shea continued to described how when Jesus held me in his arms and I finally stopped striving to escape from the chains, they all started to break and let go of me. Finally I was freed from those chains and was left being held in Jesus' arms. After Shea explained this word that she had received, I experienced a feeling that I had not felt in many years: I felt relieved. I finally felt like I could take a deep breath and relax in Jesus' arms. I physically felt like there was a burden lifted. The anxious and homesick feeling that I was experiencing in the first few days of being here was completely gone.
From then on I have been again excited to be here and have felt genuine joy. I am incredibly excited to continue to see the Lord heal me and grow me into a more intimate relationship with Him. I am beyond thankful for the staff at this base!! They are all on fire for the Lord and what He has planned for them. They are constantly seeking what the Lord is telling them and they receive His words and share them with others; it is such a powerful environment.
Now, as I write out all the Lord has done in me while being here, I realize it has only been one week since I arrived. How crazy that our God cares so much about us! He brings us out of our comfort zones in order to show us who He truly is– a loving, caring Father.
My prayer today is full of thanksgiving! What is your prayer to the Father?