The semester is back in full swing. Above is a photo of our most recent Thursday night service. The campus is very particular about when we can reserve rooms, so we booked our student's favorite coffee shop. I'm not sure if this photo does justice of how packed the room was. I felt incredibly cool and trendy as I sat on a bar stool. I'm not sure how the pregnant lady ended up on the bar stool...
Our semester started with a bang! We had our annual winter retreat in January. Over 500 students attended and we had a wonderful seminary professor come and speak. I wanted to share a couple of my personal highlights of this camp. Of course, the speaker was amazing. From the conversations I've had with students, many were impacted by a sermon he did about taking your emotions to God. Many of the students who shared this with me have gone through something traumatic or devastating in the past years. They felt like God would be disappointed if they shared the emotions they had about their own struggles. I am encouraged by the new fervor of praying in our students because of this sermon.
Above is a photo of our first night of worship at camp. There's been a new tradition brewing up. The past couple of years we have had one night at winter retreat where a choir supported the worship team. Well, now this choir has morphed into a gospel choir. Through watching the choir transform over the years, I have watched our ministry heat up the value of representation. This night of worship was honoring to our students of color who have grown up with a much different worship style than what we typically do. What touches me is that this choir practiced a lot before camp happened. The choir was diverse and gave everyone the opportunity to participate.
On this topic, the next thing I want to highlight was another night of worship. There was an open call one morning to read verses from the Bible in different languages for our evening service. It gave students time to practice if their other language was a bit rusty. This special worship activity was a part of our service where we took communion. The verse students read was Mark 14:24-25 which says:
“This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. “Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
It was meaningful to have students read. Many were reading in their native tongues that we English speakers don't get to hear. To just name a few, students read that verse in Spanish, Yoruba, Mandarin, Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean, American Sign Language and Portuguese. It was worshipful to hear so many languages reading this promise from Jesus. This is what unites us, not the language we speak, but the Jesus we call Lord.
Lastly, I shared last month that I am pregnant. While there are many unknowns about this new season we are entering in, I am excited for the special moments I get to share with students and my child. There were three staff women who had children this past year. I missed the baby boom just slightly. They have been navigating motherhood and ministry. I have seen them at our staff meeting with a small baby asleep in their arms. At winter retreat, many of them were present and they brought their baby along. This photo sums up the joy I have noticed as these women have continued doing ministry while being moms. I saw my friend dancing with her kid, and got a glimpse of what my life will look like, hopefully. She was doing the Cha Cha Slide with a sleeping baby on the last night of camp.
Thank you so much for the ministry you help me do. Thank you for your consistent prayers. Pray for us as we try to disciple and love the students God has placed in our care. Pray for faith that will last way past our students' four years in college ministry.
Here's some another photos from the month:
This is a chaotic photo. I know it's blurry. This is one of our students from UTA. He was not in the choir originally, but got called on stage to dance with the gospel choir with his tambourine. It gave me so much joy to see him do that.
I have an uncle who is stationed in Japan. He sent me a giant box of Japanese treats. We shared them with various students.
Graham and his friend Maurico (the man above) lead a group in our apartment. Many nights, I am hanging out in our room till the guys leave. Someone has been bringing their Oculus and they have been playing a VR horror game. I came out of my hiding place to see the commotion. They were yelling and screaming from all the jump scares.
Above is one of our students getting baptized after church!