Sunday, February 1, 2015

Starting off strong!

Hello, again! 

 Like every month, January has been a blur of activity! I'll give you a quick run down on all the cool things!

We, the FOCUS staff, started back to work January 2nd with us interns taking two days to read through the entire New Testament. We had taken about 10 days back in August to read the Old Testament all the way through, so it was pretty cool to finish that up. One of the things that was so cool to me was to see quite vividly how the books of the Bible interact with each other and the amazing story that they weave from Genesis to Revelation and how we are still part of that story today! Even though reading all of this in a matter of two weeks total is rather impractical for most everyone else, I would strongly encourage you to read all the way through some day, if you haven't already! Discover the whole story!

That first weekend in January, we had our winter staff retreat! We went to a huge log cabin retreat
Pie Happy Hour!
house near Burnet and Marble Falls, Texas and had a blast. This retreat was a lot less intimidating to me than the one in August, since I knew the staff better and felt more comfortable around all of them. It was a sweet time of refreshment and gearing up for the next semester. A lot of times through the year, we just have monthly meetings with agendas for what needs to be talked about and it's a lot more business and less getting to know people. This retreat allowed for both and I got to spend some time with people I really admire, but haven't gotten to know very well yet!

I had so much fun, I only had my phone out for this one picture ---->
But pie happy hour is a great bonding experience! ;)

The other BIG DEAL that happened in January was Winter Camp!

My first Winter Camp in 2010
I love Love LOVE Winter Camp! Each year, all of the different FOCUS campuses get together for this one retreat and each year it has been so impactful. Some of the things that amaze me each year are:
- how different each campus is, yet students can make friends and relate to each other because of their common ground in Jesus.
- how God moves through special events and speaks truth through other people. 
- how much it grows each year! We had 500 students this year!
-how God grows community and closeness through kids spending a weekend with each other.

All six ministries together!

UNT's ministry
One of my favorite things from this year was our speaker, Dr. Iain Provan, from Regent College in Vancouver, Canada. All semester long, the interns have been listening to Iain's (we're on first name basis now, we've spent so much time together) lectures over the Old Testament. That's at least two, maybe three hours of listening to this disembodied voice for a whole semester. It was so wonderful to meet him and to have a chance to express what his lectures have meant to us. Hearing him at Winter Camp was particularly meaningful because the lectures had been so difficult for me all semester. Graduate level theology classes over the Old Testament aren't a walk in the park! But there was so much more that I was able to get out of his sermons that weekend, because I had a base in what he is extremely passionate about and really enjoyed the whole weekend.

<---- This is a special picture! These are all alumni from FOCUS who still play some part in the ministry. Some of them are ministers, some are  supporters, some just love Winter Camp and came out for the day. There are starting to be some babies now, too! I love thinking about the family foundations we are laying during the college years!   
My Twin, Melissa! And a bear.
Worship the last morning.
Corporate Worship

 So now the rest of the semester begins! 

Updates and Prayer Requests

Schedule: We're beginning our third week of school at UNT and I'm starting to fall back into a normal schedule. I would ask for your prayers in that, as it's been a harder adjustment this semester! Most of my things are during the morning and day now, so homework for my classes has to happen at night...with a husband and a dog that I would muuuuch rather spend time with, that's been hard to prioritize.

Our puppy, Camilla! She likes outreach on campus!
 Next Year: I have accepted a full time staff position with FOCUS to work at UNT! I'm very excited for this change next year. I will get to stay on the campus I love with more flexibility and time to concentrate on building up the international aspect of FOCUS at UNT. Austin is now on staff with our church, Denton North, as their worship pastor, so we will get to continue helping that plant grow. It's shaping up to be an exciting next couple of years for us!

#FOCUS140: This was the fundraising initiative back in November to help jump-start the new ministries being planted at UT Arlington and NCTC. The grand total from that was $31,000!! Thank you for your participation and prayers for that initiative.   

UTA & NCTC: Please be praying for these new ministries that will be started in the fall! UNT's own sweet Sarah King will be heading up UTA with another staff member to lead that out. Please pray for smooth moving transitions for all of them, including the students who are choosing to do school at UTA specifically to help start this ministry. We're very excited about the potential it has, as only THREE PERCENT of it's entire student population are involved with any kind of ministry.   

WHEW! That was a lot. Thank you for your constant support and prayers. None of this would be possible without YOU and I am keenly aware of that fact!

Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. - Philippians 1:3

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Miriam! I love to see all the pictures of you, the students, and of course the cute dog :)

    Having Dr. Provan at Winter Camp was such a special treat not only for all of us on staff, but for our students, too. Many of them have heard his disembodied voice in their summer School of Ministry classes, and even for those who didn't know who he was before this camp, his teaching was great! It was an excellent way for us to get to know how the Old Testament presents the character of God and think through our own assumptions about Him.

    I also think that alumni photo is so special. College ministry isn't just about keeping young people "out of trouble" while they are tempted to party away four years of school. We are really helping them build a foundation in Christ that will carry them through their adult lives. And I love seeing those babies! Future FOCUS members!

    Thanks for the great post, Miriam! Love you!