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What to Pack for DTS

Packing List for coming to DTS:

What to bring, and what to leave!

Packing for DTS can be overwhelming! Not only are you going to live for 3 months in a new country, but you are going to live for 2 additional months in another different country! How do you plan for that?

I have been living out of a hiking backpack for the last 14 months in 4 different countries; I have made some good packing decisions and also some pretty bad ones. With the hope that you can avoid packing regrets, I want to share what I’ve learned with you!

1) Pack a variety of clothing

Consider what you will be doing during the DTS. You will want to have something appropriate for church as well as something you can get paint on, etc. DTS in San Jose has 3 different sections in which you will have different needs.

a) Lecture Phase – you will mostly be in a classroom and hanging out around the base. Other kitchen/cleaning duty, you don’t have many occasions where you will get dirty.

b) Outreach – what you need for your outreach will depend on the country your team goes to. For example, you would need different clothes for a Muslim culture than a Caribbean culture. Be prepared for cold and hot climates by packing clothes that can be layered. Bring versatile low maintenance clothing.

Consider each of the things you want to bring. Test it with these 5 questions (each piece should satisfy at least 3 of these):
-Comfortable for walking around but can be dressed up for an event
-Is appropriate for warm or cool weather
-Can be folded up small/doesn’t wrinkle easily
-Coordinates well with everything else you’re bringing
-Can be washed in a regular washing machine

2) What season is it in the country you are traveling to?

Temperatures in San Jose, Costa Rica are usually between 18-28C or 65-82F. Here in Costa Rica there are 2 seasons: rainy and dry. The rainy season is generally from May to November. During those months in San Jose, it will likely be sunny and warm in the morning and then cool off and rain in the afternoon. The dry season is generally between December to April. The weather will be nice and sunny most days!

3) How much should you bring?

Keep it to what you can carry! You can bring everything you need in one checked bag and one carry-on. Seriously. I usually travel with a hiking backpack (that I check), a day pack that I carry on, and a purse. If the thought of living off of so little for 5 months gives you anxiety, pray and ask God to show you what He wants to teach you during this time! In the past 2 years, He has showed me a lot about living more simply. I experienced some serious liberation when I downsized my belongings.

4) Tips for saving space:

Our campus in San Jose is right in the city. It is easy to go and buy more supplies. Keep in mind things might be a little more expensive in Costa Rica than at home. When packing, I recommend you save the things you could buy here until last. If they fit, great! If they don’t, you can purchase those things here. An example of something you can buy here if you run out of space is personal hygiene products (shampoo & conditioner, laundry soap, feminine products, etc.). A sleeping bag is also something that can take up very little space OR half of your backpack depending on the type you have. If you have trouble fitting everything into your bag, looking for a compact sleeping bag might be a good option. Neatness totally counts when packing! If you fold or roll your clothes nicely, you can fit twice as much as if you just throw everything into your bag. Also, I love items that can perform a double-duty. For example, I have a sarong that I use for all kinds of things: towel, swimsuit cover-up, pillow, sheet, privacy curtain for a bunk-bed, picnic blanket, scarf, etc… Packing items like this helps me save space!

5) What’s appropriate?

Consider the culture you are coming into as well as the cultures you could be visiting during outreach. There will likely be times where all you can where are long-sleeves and/or long pants and long skirts. For certain times of ministry or visiting local churches in conservative cultures, you’ll want to have these types of articles of clothing on hand. Otherwise, just pack the type of casual, every day clothes you’d wear at home!

I hope this helps! I wish you the best with your preparation to come for your DTS! We are very excited to meet you and to see God move in your life! If you have any more questions about packing, send them to dts@ywamsj.org!

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How DTS gave me purpose.

Every year a few million people turn 18 years old, and from my experience, most of them feel very uncertain about what to do once they hit that milestone and become an adult. For most, society has already dictated their future for them based on their school grades, family situation, and social class.

This January, an 18-year old from Quebec, Canada, chose to embark on the 6-month journey of the Groundbreakers DTS (along with eleven other students ranging from 18-49 years old), in search of God. Last weekend, he graduated from the DTS as a completely changed person, and today we have the pleasure of sharing his transformation story with you.


Before DTS, Fred lived a life without joy, and he felt like he was going nowhere with his life, “Nothing had flavor. Just go to school because you have to. It felt worthless. I was addicted to certain things and didn’t know how to get out of them. Back then it didn’t even feel like addiction because it was such a normal part of my life. I was trying to find God in the midst of everything but didn’t know how to do it.”

He didn’t know much about DTS before coming, but his mom suggested it to him and he applied a couple months before the start date. When asked why he came, he responded, “I was sick of college and felt like everything I was studying was of no interest to me. So I told my mom, and she told me about this program called DTS. It seemed like the right moment, to get out of that hole [I was living in], and be forced to rely on God. Back home it was so easy because I had a job, I had money, I had friends, and I didn’t need God. So I came here to rely on Him. I didn’t know anything about Costa Rica, I didn’t know much about God or living in community. It was a last call to God.”

When Fred arrived for DTS, God truly answered that cry for help. He experienced God like he never had before, “Before I came here, I don’t think I really believed that God speaks to us. I believed the Bible, but not that it was really still accurate – like God doing miracles and speaking to us. Then I came, and I experienced how God is real. I know now that God is reaching out to us. He wants to be with me, He wants to speak with me. On the first night, Giacomo (the campus director) spoke about simple obedience. That’s something that stuck with me during the whole DTS. Every time I felt God was asking something of me that seemed too big, I would think about simple obedience. I’m taking that home with me, the feeling that I want to be obedient. It’s a decision I make every morning.”


Because of his decision to live a life of obedience to God, Fred completely transformed. His face changed, and he became so joyful all the time, “I look at myself in the mirror and I don’t even feel like it’s me anymore. I hear conversations I have with people and it doesn’t even sound like me. I think God just put a huge amount of joy in me, and a desire to know Him. It’s like God looked at every aspect of my life, every part of my personality, and He puts part of Himself in each part of me, so I feel like I’m changing every day a little bit more.”

One of the best parts about DTS is that you have a safe place to talk about, process, and begin living out your dreams and goals. The teachings and the community environment help you grow and challenge you to think about what you really want in life, “A huge dream that was put in my heart is to become super intimate with God – to feel like I’m in a constant, never-ending conversation [with God]. I no longer want to please only myself – have a little house, a wife and kids, and a dog. I feel like my goals have changed and that whatever God asks of me, I want to do that. It’s funny because my biggest dream now is to have a role to play, in which God asks me to sacrifice things, [to receive something greater that He has for me.]”

When Fred came, he was coming from a life without joy, far from God. At the end of DTS, this is what he’s taking with him, “…a huge thirst for God’s Word, a feeling that I want to dig in more, to understand everything that’s between the lines. I’m taking home a new love for my parents and my friends, a new perspective of work, and my relationships with my colleagues and bosses. I feel like I’m not alone when I go back home, but God is with me and I’m bringing Him along. I hope to be a light in my family and my group of friends.”

As Fred returns to Quebec, he goes home a changed man, with greater joy, new dreams and goals, and direction in his life, “One of the reasons college was so tiring for me was because I felt like I had no purpose. I was studying something that gave me no joy. Coming here, it made me realize it makes sense that I don’t want to just do one thing for my whole life. I want to be a missionary. I’m going back to study carpentry, and I believe God will use it for the advancement of the Kingdom.”

As YWAM San José, our vision is to raise up relevant leaders who will transform society, and we couldn’t be more grateful with how God has transformed so many lives like that of Fred, through our DTS program. If you’re looking for greater purpose in life, we invite you to apply for one of our Discipleship Training Schools. You can learn more about DTS here.