I remember Costa Rica as a launching platform for what God had in store. So many times people come out of high school into college trying to figure out who they really want to be. There can be many different motives from different areas of life if it be family, friends or even a lifestyle.

It was a 180 degree turn for me in 2009 when I decided to step into the world of ministry. I was on a mission trip in the middle of downtown Atlanta Georgia, feeding the homeless and I just knew that this is what God had for me: a life in ministry.

I traveled with YWAM (Youth With A Mission), a mission organization that is all around the world. I was attending a DTS (disciple training school) in Lakeside, Montana in 2009. This was a three month lecture phase school including a two month outreach. The lecture phase was an eye-opener to who God was in the life of the young man that I was.

In that time all that really was on my mind was skateboarding, girls, and having fun. It was during DTS when I actually decided to lay down a lot of what I wanted and ask God for the first time, “How can I serve you with in this world?”

That is where the adventure really started. I soon found out that with our team of 36 students including two families within the group and our leaders, we were going to Costa Rica.

This was the first time I have ever been overseas,  and I was not ready for what was in store on this trip.

It was as if I became a whole new Payton when we would walk through the streets of San Jose, Costa Rica. It opened up my eyes to realizing that there is a much larger world out there. My favorite memory from Costa Rica was being able to skateboard in different parks with people on the streets. I was able to build relationships with friends I just met that I was  not fully able to speak their language. Quickly through sign language, translators, and picking up Spanish again from the 4 years of high school Spanish classes we were skating and having a good time.

Through these relationships I was able to share the love of Jesus. I shared with new friends how Jesus had change my life within the few months in DTS. It was a testimony in itself to see friends really think about what it means to follow Jesus Christ.

Costa Rica opened my eyes to see that through my passions such as skateboarding I could share the love of Jesus simply by being who He called me to be, Payton Taylor Oakes.

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