You turn graves into gardens!
Thanks for coming back to my blog. I have some pretty exciting news to share with you all this month, but you’ll have to read through my blog to find it! :)
At the beginning of every year, the FOCUS staff goes on a retreat to build deeper relationships with one another and get excited for the year ahead. During the retreat, I got to hear how God used FOCUS to bring each staff member closer to God. It was amazing to see how the Lord works when we are obedient in inviting and befriending people. After retreat, I was excited to come back to campus and reach out to students and extend my friendship to them.
Before classes began, we held a 24 hour prayer chain to pray for UTD, its students, and our ministry. Students, staff members, student leaders, and donors each signed up for an hour shift. I personally signed up for a shift at 3 in the morning (I’m crazy, I know), and it was such a sweet experience! There is something about talking to God for a whole hour in the middle of the night that was so comforting, and to know that others had already prayed or were going to pray later in the day was encouraging. I am beyond eager to see how God will answer our prayers throughout the semester!
I asked the students to send in photos during their prayer time!
Classes at UTD began a couple of weeks ago. Due to classes mostly being online, there are less students on campus than there were last semester. Even so, we have been doing small-scale outreach events near the resident halls! With lots of help from students, we put together a giant Codenames set to play socially distanced. This game has been a big eye catcher to people passing by, and thankfully, we have met some students by inviting them to play with us! We hope to continue doing these events on campus for the rest of the semester!
Here’s the giant codenames set we made!
Please join me in praying for the UTD students. From what I have noticed and heard from others, the students are getting harder and harder to reach. With the fear of COVID looming over everyone, most students on campus have been stuck in their rooms, and it is difficult to convince them to come to any social gathering (whether in person or online). It breaks my heart to think that their first year of college may be stamped with loneliness and fear. Please pray that the Lord softens our students to be more open to the hope and joy that He brings, and that our efforts to reach them are not in vain!
|Trying Peruvian food with my core girls!|
As a part of one of our classes, the apprentices have begun practicing the spiritual discipline of examen prayer. This type of prayer is done at the beginning or end of each day, and it is to notice where God shows up throughout our day--in our interactions with others, in our daily tasks, in our time alone, etc. I am not a reflective person, so this has been challenging for me. However, it has helped me see God moving in what I consider the ordinary. When I’m washing my hands, I thank God for clean water. When I’m getting dressed, I thank God for comfort through clothing. When I’m talking to a roommate or a student, I thank God for our minds and vocabulary to allow us to communicate. When I’m driving somewhere, I thank God for safety on the road. I would highly challenge YOU to practice some examen prayer. Here are some questions to ponder (from A. Calhoun’s Spiritual Disciplines Handbook):
For what moment today am I most grateful? Least grateful?
When did I give and receive the most love today? The least love?
What was the most life-giving part of my day? What was the most life-thwarting part of my day?
When today did I have the deepest sense of connection with God, others and myself? When today did I have the least sense of connection?
I helped announce community time at our weekly livestream! The confetti seemed fitting for my announcement below:
Okay, okay, that’s enough waiting. Here’s the big news that I’m SOOOO excited to share with you: I have been asked to stay on the UTD FOCUS staff team for the 2021-2022 academic year, and I have joyously accepted! I know there is so much more to learn about ministry, and I’m eager to see how God will continue to mold me and use me for his kingdom through campus ministry! Staying on staff means that I will begin fundraising for next year. I am BEYOND thankful to each of you for deciding to generously support me this far. If you are excited to keep supporting campus ministry, I would be forever grateful to have you continue supporting me in this journey!
Please pray for those students who have been affected personally or who know someone who has been affected by COVID. Even with the vaccine slowly rolling out, we still have to be extra careful!
Pray that ministries across campus do not grow weary of doing good! It can be easy to get discouraged, but pray that God continues to remind us of how privileged we are to work alongside Him.