Well, Hello friends of ours (who read our blog)!! We have an exciting and very cool announcement for you!!! Brandon and I will be going to YWAM Richmond in Virginia to lead a DTS for their base for 5 months. (No we are not leaving staff with YWAM Pismo… just going to lead this school and then come back here).

Last week, the base director from YWAM Richmond, Chris, called our base with a huge request: His DTS leader for the upcoming school had to return home to Korea due to a family medical problem, leaving the school without a leader… would our base help?

He had been on his knees before God on what to do, cancel the school, lead it himself, or find another leader? God told him to wait, and promised He would provide. That is when a friend of YWAM Pismo (and DTS speaker), Daniel Susenbach, ran across Chris, and after hearing the need for a leader, Daniel recommended our base as having run very good, quality DTS’s.

With humility and many nerves, Brandon & I contacted Chris over at Richmond, and we prayed together about filling the need. In the end, we felt willing, and our base is fully behind us going, and the Richmond base has been asking God to bring a young, American leader… so, WE ARE GOING! As a couple we prayed and really felt God’s hand guiding us to go, and that we could really serve their base by helping fill this position. Our only hesitation was how young we are… but then, they’ve been praying for a young leader, so I guess we fit that description! As newlyweds, we are looking forward to the natural bonding and closeness that leading a school results in… and their base is excited to support our new marriage. Also both Brandon and I have family in that area.

The school runs from September 21 through the new year and ends February 26. We’ll be packing up at the end of this month (whew, so soon!) and traveling to their base in order to spend several weeks acclimating to the area, the base, their staff, and to have the time to do some school prep work. What an exciting opportunity!!! We absolutely love DTS, and it has been Brandon’s passion to disciple as many people as God brings him, so we are joyed to be given this chance to run a school at another base.

As far as we know, there are currently 15 students, and 3 other staff…. and apparently 2 of the staff are Brazilians!!! Yay! The Richmond base will be very different than ours, and we hope to glean wisdom and experience while we are there, and then bring it back to Pismo. We don’t have official details to share about the outreach phase… or if we’ll even be going on outreach… but we’ll know soon enough. Richmond allows a long Thanksgiving holiday, as well as a break for Christmas in between the lecture phase and the outreach phase in which the students can go home, and Brandon and I can go visit family.

We are just super thrilled to lead this DTS!!! It means a lot of change, and hard work, but we love both, and have a fire for trusting God with new and different things!!!

Please pray for us…. we have about 3 weeks to finish up some necessary work here in Pismo. Also we are in need of increasing our monthly support by $300. Then just be praying for our travel arrangements there, God’s wisdom, and the such.

Check out our fun lil’ video… the joys of having a mac.

As always… we love having a way for people to read what is going on in our lives… so keep checking back with us as we post more! (hopefully I can get some wedding photos up soon)

Kirsten (and Brandon)
August 12, 2009 - 2:33 am

Hannah - That is awesome news!!!! You guys have to come down on a weekend and stay with us and go to the beach!!!!
I’m stoked you’ll be so close – cant wait to meet you Kirsten – do you have family in VA?

August 12, 2009 - 2:55 am

Jessica - cool!

August 12, 2009 - 6:28 am

Brandon and Kirsten Ekstrom - It is awesome! We are super excited! And we know these next few weeks will FLY by… soon we’ll be there. Yea, I do have fam in Richmond. My grandma, and 2 aunts. Brandon and I can’t wait to visit ya’ll. I can’t wait to meet your adorable little ladies! We gush over them when ya’ll post up family pics.

August 17, 2009 - 9:01 pm

Hannah - aw, thats great that you have family in Richmond! how cool.
You guys definitely have to come down and visit us, we will look forward to it, for sure!!!

November 24, 2009 - 2:58 pm

leviticus - Hey Brandon and Kirsten!
It’s been ages since I’ve seen you ( Brandon ) but I stumbled upon your blog and I wanted to wish you a very belated congratulations on your marriage this past summer – Kirsten, I’ve heard about you from DTS student Andy, whom I met in Canada this summer, and I know Brandons been blessed with someone wonderful! I think often and very fondly of our DTS in 2007 that you and Cindy led…may you both continue to bless and be blessed, and may God continue to lead you on into your glorious destiny 🙂

Much love
Katrina Gascho ( Oakey )

Okay…we can start blogging again!

Hey everyone, sorry it has been a while since we last wrote a blog. We have been so busy getting married and honeymooning and stuff, the usual. So anyway, first things first…

We finished our Discipleship Training School in June and had 6 of our students graduate. It was a fun graduation that included presentations, speeches, and of course, the certificates. It was sad to see all of our students leave to go home. When you live in community, hang out, minister, pray, and basically just live with a handful of students for months, you end up fast becoming friends. Andrew, Philip, Lisa, Eric, Alex, Logan, Brian, and Justin – we miss you guys! We hope and pray you guys are doing well!

A week after the graduation was our wedding! That kept us so busy having so many things at once, but the wedding turned out so beautifully. Kirsten will post a blog about that with pictures later…

Our honeymoon was beautiful as well, our parents blessed us with a beautiful hotel in San Jose Del Cabo in Mexico. We were down there for ten days soaking up the dry sun…I think Kirsten will write about that later, too.

Well, now we are back home with YWAM getting started for the next season. Planning, planning, and more planning! I just recently became the assistant Base Representative, which basically means I represent the base as a whole whenever needed. At YWAM Pismo we have a flat line leadership (kinda like the knights at the round table), but when we need a leader to represent the whole group, we have two Base Representatives to fill the role of leadership.

Also, Kirsten has just become the facilitator of our Fundraising/Advertising department, as well as our Hospitality department. So she is keeping busy with those things, but she is such a natural with both so I am sure it will be a breeze with her.

Kirsten and I have both just started a new ministry for Pismo Beach. It is called Surfers For Missions International (SFMI) and I will talk about that later in another blog, since that will probably take up too much space… 🙂 Just look for it in a few weeks, I’ll write about it later.

Plus, we have our next DTS (Discipleship Training School) to think about. We have a lot of planning ahead of us for the DTS. We are so excited to be leading that side by side with each other! We are so blessed to be able to work together.

So we’ve got quite a bit on our plates for the next few months. We are very excited for the challenges that lie ahead, all for the glory of God! Thank you everyone for your prayers and support, we love you all! We will write more soon…

Brandon (and Kirsten)

Nicaragua Outreach!

Hola!  Buenos!

What a fun-filled, touching, and humbling 2 week outreach!  First of all, it must not go unsaid: Nicaragua is a BEAUTIFUL country!  It goes unnoticed many times on travelers minds because of past civil war, extreme poverty, and little developed tourism.  However, its a beautiful place to visit, and it has all the natural beauty of say… Costa Rica (maybe even more).

Brandon and I joined the team already there in Nicaragua at a house in the town called Ticuantepe.  Its a rural, smaller town outside of the capital, Managua.  The contact we had for Nicaragua has a home where teams can comfortably be hosted.  And it really was comfortable!  Its hot there, VERY HOT, but compared to how most of the locals live, we were practically in a 5 star hotel.  It was humbling to have to focus our hearts on ministering to people with tin houses when we were in a gated home with running water and electricity.  Brandon and I were both uncomfortable living in such a nice house, it just didn’t feel right.  

But, due to other contacts falling through, we actually did not work in La Chureca the way I thought we would… instead we spent most of our days walking around Ticuantepe and praying for families.  We quickly noticed how HORRIBLE our broken spanish was, and Brandon and on of the students, Andrew, decided to ask God to send us a translator.  After praying for a while, they felt like the Lord was telling them to “follow the wind”, so as silly as it seemed, they did.  After about an hour of walking with the wind, and asking everyone if they spoke english, still no translator had been found.  Then finally a woman ran up to them and told them to come with her, they did, and she led them to a young, 18 year old girl named Veleska.  Veleska had taught herself english, and was not only able to translate, but when Brandon explained who we were and why we needed help, she was excited and willing to help!  Praise the Lord!   His provision for translation was more proof for us all of how much we can trust God to provide what we need.

Veleska went with us every day, translating our conversations with locals, and also our prayers.  She was a huge blessing to us, and we were able to really minister to her and encourage her too.  Our prayers for the families of Ticuantepe were centered around making sure they knew who Jesus Christ is, and that they would believe that He does love them and care about their needs.  We prayed for healing of sickness and injuries, and also for God’s provision for the families.
For us, one of the most touching encounters was with a family of a grandmother, two moms, and two little girls.  The older of the two (8 years), walked with a terrible limp.  After visiting with them a couple of times, we learned that she was born this way, and wasn’t given but a few days to live.  They doctor tried convincing the mother to give up and go home, but her mother had faith to trust that her daughter would live, and after a month of being in the hospital, she was finally cleared to go home.  The little girl had a smile like the sunshine, and although she struggles to walk, she had more joy than any of us did.  It was very touching to realize that simple things, like walking, can mean so much to someone like her.  We had a chance to pray together with the little girl, and her whole family, holding hands, and we asked Jesus to protect her joy, and heal her body.  She had said that she really wanted to be able to run and keep up with her little sister, and we had faith to believe that one day she will.  Before we departed, we gave them clothing, coloring books, and toys.  My heart still longs to see God heal her… and I am still praying for her even now.
I personally had a tough time, for 2 reasons: 1. I got REALLY sick for about 3 days and 2. I learned that I have a prejudice towards spanish (the language).   The sickness beat me down quite hard, probably a flu.  I had a very high fever, body aches, and more… but, as with most flus, 3 days, and it was gone.  But as for the prejudice, THAT was something I struggled with a lot while there.  God had to keep teaching me and revealing to me my bad attitude, and grow within me a love and appreciation for the culture.  

We did go to La Chureca for 1 day, to help out at a school on the dump for a few hours.  We didn’t go very far into the dump, but the part I did see, was heartbreaking…  Families, living in trash, eating trash, wearing trash.  It was a very disgusting and hard thing to see.  It reminded me of the verse, James 2:5 “Has God not chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he has promised those who love him?”  The people of La Chureca may seem to be the poorest of the poor in Nicaragua, but many of them know Jesus, and love him, then they are more rich than a king! I wish we would have had more time there, because there is so much love to be given to La Chureca.

The last 3 days of our trip, Brandon and I (and staffer, Cat), left the team, to scout for future surf ministry opportunities.  We first traveled with a friend we met randomly in Managua one day, to San Juan del Sur.  We stayed at a rugged and tiny little surf hostel.  And there was a local surf contest being hosted just north of the town, in Maderas, so we took a van ride up to it.  It was very “off the beaten path” and for Brandon and I, it couldn’t have been more perfect.  As much as we loved the populated city/town ministry, we were dying to get back to the ocean, and back to the less-traveled roads.  The contest was amazing, Nicaragua has some stellar surf breaks, and even better surfers.  We foresaw a chance to bring a team down the the future to help host the contest, and instead of bikini contests for entertainment, we would give a gospel presentation!  Brandon had the chance to surf Maderas, and caught a much needed “warm water stoke”!  
The next day we traveled 3 hours on a dirt road in a school bus to Las Salinas, or better known as Popoyo.  The bus dropped us off at a 3 way stop, with no one in sight… a local told us he’d go up the road and try to find us a ride… so while we waited, we figured, might as well start walking.  

To our relief, JJ Yemma picked us up (we had almost walked the WHOLE way, haha).  He runs the famous Popoyo Surf Lodge in Nicaragua.  And he moved down when he was 18 years old, got married, became a believer, and now he not only runs a successful and unique surf camp, but he is constantly ministering to the locals.  We were welcomed with love by his wife Kim, and two friends, Dawn, and Mike.  Shortly after arriving, Dawn and Mike showed us the break, and Brandon paddled out with them.  Even on a choppy and bad day, it was some of the best surf I’ve seen in a while.  Cat and I took the longboard out and had a blast.  Before walking back up to the houses, JJ met us on the beach, and we all circled up to pray and thank God for bringing us YWAMers together with them.  Mike let us stay at his guest house, and Dawn cooked for us.  We didn’t stay but that one day and night, but it was they most amazing time of meeting a group of people with the EXACT same vision and passion as Brandon and I.  We were able to briefly discuss sending more teams down to partner with them.  They have the ability to build homes for the locals, hand out rice, teach english, run bible classes, and work at nearby orphanages.  Combine that with the world-class surfing, and lets just say, Brandon and my little missionary mouths were frothing at the chance to return to Popoyo and bring teams with us.  
The last day of our scout-trip was spent traveling back to Managua and debriefing our outreach.  God opened a lot of doors in those last 2 days, and Brandon and I are over-excited to begin stepping forward into them!  This fall might hold some surprises!!!  We’ll keep you posted!!!

Leaving for Nicaragua Outreach!

Today we leave to drive down to LAX (thank you fellow staffer, Lauren!!!) to sleep overnight at the airport YAY!  We fly out tomorrow morning… Nicaragua here we come!

We are very excited about this 2 week outreach… our hearts miss going away for months at a time to reach the poor and needy in other nations, but with the wedding planning, 2 weeks is all that God allowed us.  The trip will serve to not only minister to the people living on the dump in La Chureca, but we will be relieving Tyler (who is leading DTS outreach currently in Nicaragua), and giving him a day or two off.  Brandon has been to Nicaragua once before, but for Kirsten, this is the first time.  And actually will be the first time ever working on top of a trash dump.  Our hearts are already breaking for the people living there, especially all the young children.  We can’t wait to partner with  Rise Up International and minister to the youth there.  They run schools and feeding programs… and the people there are hungry for more than just food.  We can’t wait to share God’s love with Nicaragua, and share just how powerful His name is!

We look forward to posting pictures and sharing about all that God does… when we get back!

(oh, and Kirsten has a praise… our flights to Nicaragua gave us a 3 hour layover in Miami… so she’ll get a chance to see some good friends in between flights 🙂 !!! )

-Brandon & Kirsten

So is everything ready?

With the wedding approaching, Brandon & I are always being asked “So is everything ready?”

Well… Is everything ready???  AHHHH, not exactly!  But we have gotten a lot of things taken care of… Brandon has been amazing at helping me out.  But I am realizing just how difficult it is to plan a wedding by myself, without help from family (due to the fact that we live so far away from ours)… its a lot on our plates!  But God has been providing so much!

First, we have seen the Lord provide so much of our finances needed for the wedding… we are working off a very small budget, and we almost have all that we need.  So thank you to all of you who supported us!

Well, lets see, what IS ready….  we’ve locked in the locations for the ceremony and reception, with a backup plan or two in case of weather or other unforeseen circumstances.  I have my beautiful dress, but am still in crisis about how and where to get my alterations done without going over budget.  I found my shoes, FINALLY!  We had a stellar wine tasting party to pick our reception wines, yum!  And I am almost done making all of my jewelry, YAY!  By the way, for all you ladies… if you have the ability, d.i.y. stuff really makes the wedding preparations FUN!  I made/am making all the invites by hand, the seating cards, the programs, the center pieces, the bouquets, decorations, my jewelry, favors, and all the food too!  Well, that last part will most definitely be a combined effort of friends mostly, not myself, but you get the point…. by doing all these things by hand, I feel like we are making our wedding more personal (as it should be), and saving A LOT of money. 🙂 

There is still so much to be done… so after returning home from our April 28- May 12 outreach to Nicaragua… my main focus will be to complete everything!   I know that the last month will just fly by… so be praying that we can finish everything in time!  We both would like to relax as much as possible the week of our wedding…

But you can be praying for…
-I still haven’t found flowers or figured out how to get them wholesale for a great deal….
-Alterations for my dress… it only needs a couple inches hemmed up, and a small tuck in the back, but I know that prices can run high for these type of things…
-Logistics of the day…. we are still trying to figure out how to get the ceremony set up, then torn down, and transport things to the reception…
-Music!!!… we are taking any suggestions… we’ll be doing an ipod dj, so if you have any favorites, let us know 🙂
-Our ceremony location may be changing…
-Some very important people can’t come (my niece and nephew, who are suppose to be IN the wedding) due to finances… so pray that God buys them tickets out here!
-We need to raise our monthly support so that we can cover the rent increase of living together…
-Lastly, but most difficult to ask for ya’ll to pray for… I am at a loss of my hair, makeup, and other beauty prep… we didn’t budget for these personal care things… I can do without, but there are a few things I’d like to do the week before our big day.

And lastly… I’ll leave you with some pictures… ENJOY!

The ceremony and reception locations…

Making the invites…

The wine tasting party…

Groomsmen’s ties…

My lovely shoes…


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April 26, 2009 - 10:23 pm

Tyler Dean - HoOrAy!! 🙂
I’m stoked!!
The wine party looked fun!
Which tie is Ty’s? 😀

April 27, 2009 - 5:21 am

Brandon Ekstrom and Kirsten Baskett - The wine party was so fun… and it totally helped us pick a white and red wine out!

As for Ty’s tie… you’ll have to wait and see….!!!!