After months of planning and fundraising you are going to DTS!

Some people spend their entire lives in the same town, but YOU will leave home for a new adventure. Yes, it’s scary, but you are not letting that stop you. You are bold and courageous!

In the 21 years since my DTS I’ve met a lot of DTS students. I’ve watched and wondered what exactly makes a great DTS so great. There are many things to consider, and there’s no magic formula, but I would like to suggest the following pointers to make your DTS all it can be:

1. Let your curiosity go wild: For five or six months you will be surrounded by some of the most interesting people you have ever met. How often can you say, “My roommate’s from Austria, my classmate is Russian, and my small group leader grew up in Brazil”? The assortment of cultures, languages, and life experiences represented at your DTS is huge – so let your curiosity go wild. Ask your classmates to show you pictures from home. Find out how birthdays are celebrated around the world. Learn to say “Hello”, “Good Morning,” and “Thank you” in as many languages as you can. Be curious, ask questions, and listen well. There is so much you can learn.

2. Get to know your roommate(s): God brought you and your very cool roommate(s) together for this season. If you are willing He will use you in each other’s lives in significant ways. You didn’t choose your roommates, but as you see each other at your best and at your worst you can learn a lot about what it means to love and appreciate others.

Consider your roommate assignment as a God-arranged connection and an opportunity to make friendships that last decades.

3. Intentionally unplug: You are at DTS, separated from the people you know and love. Some days you will miss your family and friends intensely. It’s not easy to be so far from those you love. But, since you are here now you have a decision to make: Will you spend every free minute catching up on status updates and speed texting, or will you take the opportunity to unplug and connect with the people in front of you?

Consider taking a break from your smartphone/laptop/tablet. Spend your relationship energy and your attention on the people you are with right now. All new friendships start with awkward chit-chat and goofy icebreakers, but can move to deep conversations, genuine laughter, and memorable activities if you are willing to let go of your phone and pay attention to the people around you.

Let your phone chill out in your backpack (or dorm room) for awhile and listen to what God and others would have to say.

4. Stop playing the comparison game: You, your DTS classmates, and staff have come to DTS to grow closer to God and to learn about missions. What a privilege to be around others who want the same things as you! Amazing growth can happen in a place where it’s safe to be known for who you really are.

Some things that hinder spiritual growth are comparison, judgment, and competition. For some of us (like me when I went to DTS) these attitudes and habits are so normal we hardly notice them. My life had been a relentless competition to prove I was cooler or smarter than everyone else. I remember being shocked by the positive environment of my DTS. I wasn’t sure how to change the way I viewed the world, but I wanted to be free from the curse of comparison and judgment. So, in case you’re anything like me, here are some ideas:

• Take a break from judging and comparing everything and everyone – including yourself.

• Decide to like everyone you meet.

• Notice (and talk about) positives before negatives.

• Speak more compliments than sarcastic comments.

• Practice listening to others without interrupting.

• Limit comments about “my church/ my country/ my youth group…” to once a day.

As you let go of judging and comparing you will find it easier to relax in the love and acceptance God has for you. Then you will be freer to give that same lovin’ to others.

5. Live like a local: You have come to a city or country or neighborhood that’s new to you. When else will you get the chance to live in New Zealand/ Cape Town/ Colorado/ Russia/ Thailand/ Vancouver?

Since you’ve come this far you might as well get the whole experience! Unpack your suitcase and enjoy your new hometown. For three months live like a local. Immerse yourself in this part of the globe. Ride the bus. Try all the new food. Listen to local music. Open your heart and soak up your new home. Enjoy the place God has you for now. You never know how long you might call it “home”.

You came to DTS because you wanted to be transformed, right? Transformation is hard work, but God is with you and much change can happen in five months.
Jump in to all that DTS is because it will be over sooner than you imagine.

Take each day as a gift. Be present to the people around you. Open up your heart and let God change you from the inside out! You are in the midst of a great adventure!

Written by Tanya Lyons