We're back baby!
Hello donors, August has been a WHIRLWIND! So much has happened that it was difficult to summarize. Needless to say, there will be many photos this month. Thank you to each of you, I have thought of you frequently and thanked God for you. Let’s dive in!
On August 1st, we had a ceremony for those who have joined or recommitted to the FOCUS team, and I got to participate! Throughout the month, I have been reflecting on these powerful commitments and have thought to share just a few of them with you!
Will you be committed to prayer, to listening to Scripture, to a deep personal life with the Lord, and to leading our community in these disciplines? (James 4:8, Colossians 1:28)
Will you strive to live self-controlled, upright and Godly lives, reflecting Christ in your relationships with others? (Titus 2:12-13)
Will you have a humble heart that is open to correction and willing to be made more like Christ?
Will you commit to be a lifelong learner?
The first week of August, we went on a staff retreat to center our hearts on God before we started the school year. One night, we split up into our campus teams and shared what God has been teaching us. Something I shared is that I struggle as the only Hispanic on the UTD team with feeling out of place at times. Immediately afterward, my friend Emily (who had not heard me share this) told me she would really love to go to San Antonio and meet my family. That Saturday, she and her husband Graham came over and we all had dinner together. Afterward, we sang worship songs in Spanish, and it was a really special moment to share with all of them. I believe God heard me and reminded me that my experiences are valuable and that my friends want to know my Hispanic side too!
The second week of August, we held a conference at a camp in west Texas where we invited over 150 students from the different FOCUS campuses to equip them with ministry skills to go out and make disciples! It was incredible to see so many students passionate and ready to go on their campuses and love students. I remember being a little worried about having less students who would be willing to lead this next year, especially with COVID serving as a barrier. However, God showed up once again and gave us students whose hearts are willing to serve and care for the students on these campuses. At UTD specifically, we have 30 girls and 21 guys who are leading cores, hallelujah! I have already heard so many cool stories from them about how God has been moving in the people they are meeting.
For two weeks at the beginning of the semester, we had many events to welcome the students to campus! We played board games at the residence halls, we helped students find their classes, had field nights, among many others. We also threw three ethnic-specific events to welcome Asian-American, Black, and Latino students. As a Latina, I was able to help lead our Latino event, and we partnered with three other Latino organizations to throw a Trivia/Loteria night full of games, prizes, and time for the students to get to know one another. I loved being a part of a room where students were speaking and joking in Spanish, relating to one another’s experiences, and all sharing that Hispanic bond. Even after the event ended, many of the students stayed over half an hour later to keep chatting! A handful of them came up to me after the event and thanked me for putting the event together, saying that they felt welcomed and they were able to make several Hispanic friends!
Our cores (small groups) have officially kicked off! This year I am leading with my friend Zoe, who is a graduate student at UTD studying to be a Speech Pathologist. We held our first core last week and had 14 girls come! As I looked around our core, I saw so many skin tones and an array of personalities that I can’t wait to get to know throughout the year. Please pray for Zoe and me as God leads us through this year, that our girls would build deep friendships with one another.
Some other prayer requests:
The other cores! Please pray that God would help our student leaders in befriending and discipling their students this year.
Fall Camp is coming up! Every September we take the students to a camp where they get to spend time with one another and worship together as a body. Please pray that we are able to go this year with minimal complications due to COVID.
Continued outreach! Our scheduled welcome week events have slowed, but we want to continue reaching out to new students. Please pray that our students’ zeal for loving their classmates and peers would continue to grow!
I leave you with the student testimony this month, thank you so much to each of you for reading! Please let me know how I can be praying for you!