Saturday, January 7, 2017

Consistency

Happy new year!
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this post; they're all for you guys to feel looped in to the Kingdom work God is doing through your support and to encourage you in your day to day!

Having on more layer of clothes now than I did just about a week ago, I'm reminded of the natural inconsistency of our own lives. Growing up, I used to love change and being able to have some sort of say in that. Unlike most people, I went to four elementary schools, two middle schools, and three high schools. Although some of those were natural (Jr. High to Sr. High) others of them were by choice (4th grade to 5th grade). I hardly had consistent friendships or activity based involvements. This past year I've gone from leading a small group every week to meeting with a handful of guys that do instead, from feeling like it was all on me to hold myself together to knowing that there's a reason why God gave each of us His Spirit and real friendships to experience Him through, to facing the reality of His ability to love me with all my inadequacies and lack of trust. Those things and more have only been used to greater highlight God's consistency; His faithfulness, relentless mercy, and liberating grace. I can never thank you enough for your support and how it's been used to enable me to know God in more intimate ways!! Here's some insight into our last month:


Staff retreat
During the break, at some point in my conversations, the students I spent time with would ask me "so, when do you technically go back to work again?" I always laughed saying, "well, technically, January 2 but we're going on a four day retreat so it won't really feel like it!" I've never spent as much day in and day out time with the same people for as long as I have our Collin staff this school year. Although some may get tired or want new faces around, I wouldn't trade any of our times together for the world. This retreat was neat for a couple reasons; 1)I got to hangout with staff from the other campuses that I normally wouldn't get to. Matt and Aaron, my past peer team leaders as well as Cody, my past roommate, were especially great to kick back with. We spent a couple sessions going over a book we'd been reading over the break for the retreat called "The Signature of Jesus" by Brennan Manning (definitely worth adding to your list this year!) One of the quotes that really stood out to me was that "my Abba is no threat to me." As I face more the gravity of my sinfulness, I am relieved to be reminded that all the change He brings about and that He invites me to is for my own good, because He is good. Another is an excerpt from the book that I encourage you to take to God in prayer.
"The opposite of conversion is aversion. The other side of metanoia is paranoia. Paranoia is usually understood in its psychological terms. It is characterized by fear, suspicion, and flight from reality. Paranoia usually results in elaborate illusions and self deception. In the biblical context paranoia implies more than emotional or mental imbalance. It refers to an attitude of being, a stance of the heart. Spiritual paranoia is a flight from God and from our true selves. It's an attempt to escape from personal responsibility. It is the tendency to avoid the cost of discipleship and to seek out an escape route from the demands of the gospel. Paranoia of the spirit is an attempt to deny the reality of Jesus in such a way that we rationalize our behavior and choose our own way. Each time we let go of the past to embrace the future we relive the paschal journey of Jesus in our flesh. Each time we allow our fears or selfishness to die, we break through to new life. Each time we open ourselves to the Spirit so that He can break down the walls of suspicion and bitterness, we come home to ourselves, the community, and the Lord. "I die daily," Paul wrote. He might have added, "and daily I am raised up to new life." To write the letter of our lives above the signature of Jesus is to recognize his dying and rising as they are traced in our actions and carved in our hearts. In such a context, death will not be a new experience for us, nor will resurrection!"

This is all of the apprentices and I at a Secret Santa party.
NOLA
The week leading up to Christmas I got to go to New Orleans, for the third year, to serve a local ministry out there (Jesus Project Ministries). I love so many things about that week but my favorite this time was getting to bless the Honduran individuals who have mostly been there for anywhere from a couple months to three years. We held a dinner for them where about 8 of us who speak Spanish got to further interact with them and their kids and share some of our testimonies. I got to piggy back off of my friend Adriana, who is Mexican like me and goes to TWU, by encouraging the parents that their efforts at providing a better future for their kids was not without effect. Adriana and I both came to the United States when we were little and both truly encountered Jesus during our college years and the community in FOCUS. We reminded them of how blessed they were to have JPM there for their kids to grow up truly knowing Jesus. Thank you for the prayers for that trip, please continue praying for the work God will keep doing out there through the women leading that ministry!

Cassandra, Lorena, Adriana, Alex, me, Eddie, and JR with a couple of the kids at the dinner!
A couple of us holding the receipt after having bout about 700 gifts for the Christmas drive!
Lorena and I with three of the new kids from Honduras 
The whole 2016 NOLA team
Shayla and Hannah got to join us in NOLA for the first time! Ryan is the only Collin apprentice missing.

KFG- Keep FOCUS Growing!
I mentioned this fund that we're trying to build up last month but want to remind you in case it slipped your mind through the holidays! Thanks in advance for your continued generosity! I look forward to telling you guys about how we met our goal of $55,000!

I'm so thankful for these friends I made during my time at Collin!
3/4 of my roommates! Matt, me, Jeremy, and Stephen 
Christmas party
At the beginning of the month we threw an end of the semester Christmas party, to spend time with a majority of our students and be reminded of the joy that came in Christ's birth. We had them go on an instagram scavenger hunt, where they got to let loose with a randomly paired group, and post their videos- you can see those here. This is one of those events that the students always look back on and remember, this year probably because of how silly we dressed as a staff!

A lot of our Preston Ridge students and us! Some of these students had never even gone to our weekly fellowship services during the semester.

Your awkward Collin staff. You can read Garrett's blog here!
These are the five guys that I spend weekly time with that lead their own small groups
Matt C, Matt P, Caleb, Jason, and Michael

Prayer requests
Please join us as we pray for...

Winter camp next weekend (the 13th-16th)
This is where I truly got a vision for the work God is doing on the college campuses; few things shed light on the Kingdom more than having hundreds of students come together to deepen their friendships and understanding & experience of God! Ask the Lord to make the students hearts receptive to encountering Him and further reopening themselves up to His ways!
SICM (Student Institute of Campus Ministry)
This is a 10 day long campus ministry training trip to Washington state with a campus ministry out there called CCF. Every year we invite students who we think have caught the vision for campus ministry and are willing to take part in understanding it more and becoming better ambassadors. Ask the Lord to guide us as a staff as we invite students to experience this opportunity in May!
Spring semester
Just that our corefas will build off the momentum they created in their small groups and 1:1 relationships last semester as well as for our students to embrace representing Jesus day in and day out!

Yours on the campus,
Pedro

1 comment:

  1. Hey Pedro!
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts from staff retreat and The Signature of Jesus. That book will definitely be on my mind for a while. I am also so encouraged by the stories from New Orleans. It's neat to see how you and so many of our students are serving the kids of that community. Keep it up!

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