This month has flown by, jammed packed with blessings and all the people! I got to go to Tennessee to visit my family for Christmas and New Years and got back to hit the ground running. On the 2nd, The interns were up at the church reading through the New Testament and on the 3rd all the staff loaded up to head down to Burnet Texas, for our Staff retreat.
Some of the interns during our reading/study time at the retreat.
Interns playing spoons.
I don't think I have had such a blessing filled time in a while. This Staff retreat looked a little different than last semester's, the interns were put in a cabin with Ronnie, the pastor of NorthEast Church and teacher of one of our classes, while the Sr. staff was in a separate cabin down the road. We spent time having class and just getting to hang out with each other and Ronnie throughout the day and then joined the Sr. staff for games and dinner in the evening. I just so appreciate the times that God really forces me to slow down and know that he is God. We went through Acts during the retreat, so it wasn't all just playing, but it definitely was a great way to get my heart and mind in the right place before the semester started. I love getting time with our staff, I don't think I've ever had such a great pleasure to work with people that I could call my best friends. The Intern cabin was surprisingly quieter than the Sr. Staff cabin, a lot of us are a bit more introverted and enjoyed time resting while the Sr. Staff enjoyed playing pretty loud. It was cool to see the different dynamics and how we all still work together as a team. I think one of my favorite parts of this retreat was on the 2nd night the Ronnie had us prepare for a devotional.
Out hiking around the cabins
Ronnie told us he wasn't going to be leading it, but he wanted everyone to come with something to share with the group to bless, encourage or admonish them. I've never been more moved and humbled by the hearts of the other interns I get the privilege to work with this year. One of the interns, Katelyn led us in a song as we all stood on the patio and looked up at the stars.
Another fun memory was “home run derby.” I don't really expect you to be familiar with what that is, but it is a baseball-like game. Basically, there is a boundary you have to have to hit the ball past to get a point, but if someone on the opposite team catches it in the air then you're out. There are no bases to run, only home runs to hit. This picture below kind of shows the outfield, it was Sr. staff against the interns. If the person with the pool net caught the ball it was the end of the inning. I'm not usually one for sports but I eventually joined in a had a lot of fun, got us, at least, one point! God has really been teaching me a lot about the importance of playing and resting.
Winter Camp is one of our biggest events of the school year! I might have mentioned Winter Camp before, but it is an event where all of our Focus campuses get together, we even had some visitors from Midwestern University in Wichita Falls! This year God blessed Richland tremendously! The school partnered with Focus to pay for each of our students to go to Winter Camp (costs $150 per students) and provided us with two vans in which to transport our students!
The Richland vans driving in front of us.
We had about sixteen students from Richland Focus go to Winter Camp this year, which is the biggest group we have had thus far. Some of our students were pretty skeptical about coming to Winter Camp but afterwords they were all such closer friends, they learned a lot and were overall much more excited to be together. Please pray that the enthusiasm from Winter Camp continues and bleeds into the rest of the campus.
We got the cool opportunity to have Professor Rikk Watts, from Regent College in Canada, come down to speak to our students at Winter Camp. He is a theology professor and specializes in how the Old Testament relates to the New Testament. Some of the most impactful things he said for me were “it is not about trying harder, it's about letting the Spirit work. This really spoke to me because I often find myself doing things for God, but kind of leaving God out of it, doing things on my own strength rather than relying on God and trusting the Spirit to work through me. Another small quote: ” Sometimes Christians get so worked up over goodness and forget this is about love.” Lastly a quote from Professor Watts that was mind blowing to me “Give to Ceasar what is Ceasar's, give to God what is God's. Who's image are you made in?” Gosh, that story about the Pharisees and Jesus with the coin, for some reason I always thought it was about tithing or something to that effect. Professor Watts put a whole new spin on the story for me with that one simple line. Like the coin bears Ceasar's image, we bear God's image and should thus give our lives which belong to God, back to him. Professor Watts spoke a lot about Jesus, who He was, is, how He has affected history, culture and how He should affect us. It was so cool to see students give up the last weekend of break (or first weekend of school for UTD) to spend time in fellowship with one another and listening to lectures on theology.
How you can be involved:
This semester has only just started and already I catch myself feeling tired or discouraged at times. I love this job, ministry, Richland, and UTD, but campus ministry can be fast paced and hard. Several people recently have asked me how the Internship is going. My response lately has been that I feel like this Internship is like a workout, it can be painful and challenging at times but I know that I am growing stronger in Christ every day and will benefit from the growth I'm experiencing now for years to come. At the same time, I am SO excited about what God has already done at Richland this semester and what he'll continue to do.
Please be praying for:
-Me, that I can do a better job of listening to God and letting him work through me, that I would do my best for God and let him handle the rest.
-The students at Richland. It feels a little like we have to start over with the girls core this semester, please be praying that goes well and grows strong.
-Praise that Focus reached it's $45,000 fundraising goal for the keep Focus Going and Growing Initiative! Becuase we reached our goal we (the UTD/Richland staff) all did the polar plunge. Brrr! Coldest I've ever been in my life! Feel free to watch below!
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