I know I haven't sent out an update in quite a while and to be honest it's because I'm just not sure what to say. I feel like so much is happening and yet at the same time as though nothing is happening. This semester has definitely been unordinary to say the least, with nothing looking the way it is supposed to look. We haven't been able to meet on campus for service like we usually do. Despite this, we have been meeting outdoors at a local park. Although we're outside and off campus we've still managed to average 140 people a week, which honestly blows us away by considering the circumstances. Before the semester began I was expecting to be thrilled if we even got 75 people there each week, but as always God took my expectations and threw them out the door. God is working even through all of the guidelines that are following.
Church service was easy enough to figure out (for now, pray for us when it gets cold), however, life groups have been and continue to be a little trickier. Per UC guidelines we can only meet in groups of 10 or less on campus and m0st of our life groups are between 15-20 people in size. This was a little bit harder to figure out, but through the grace of God we were able to find methods and locations that allow us to stay within the guidelines that UC has given us and ensure that we are keeping our students safe. Though the regulations can be irritating at times, we are thankful that we are still able to meet with our students and have the ability to continue to share the Gospel on and around UC's campus.
There is exciting news to deliver. We officially have three new staff members! Katherine, Aaron, and Ethan have all recently finished up support raising and are now a part of our team. Meet Aaron and his new wife (pictured on the left) who will be helping round out and support our evangelism-focused ministries, Ethan (pictured in the middle) who will be helping out with our worship band, and Katherine (pictured on the right) who has a huge heart for women and ministry, which is why she will be doing part-time H2O and part time at Life Forward. Life Forward is a Christian ministry that provides care for women who are pregnant. We are excited to have all of them joining our team and bringing the unique gifts God has given each them!
I would also like to introduce you to Sarah George. She is one of the sweetest and kindest people I know. She is always willing to care for others and put their needs above her own. Our friendship started last year when she decided to do the Well, our discipleship program. I got paired up with her to be her mentor. It started out as just that, a mentor/mentee relationship, but over time it turned into a beautiful friendship. I have loved getting to know Sarah and enjoy my newfound friendship with her. Her heart for people and God inspire me every time I'm with her. She once sent me $10.00 over Venmo that said "pizza fund" just because she knew that I loved pizza and needed a pic-me-up, and because that's just the kind of person she is. God has done some amazing things in her life over the past year and who's better to tell you about it than her?
" As was the case for many, my quarantine this past summer wasn’t exactly the most attractive experience. I was working remotely from my parent’s house and being separated from my church community started to take a negative toll on my mental health. I became less and less motivated to spend time in scripture and my prayer life started to suffer greatly as a result. I was frustrated with God for taking away my support network and having me deal with such emotional turmoil. As a way to help myself cope with my anxiety and depression, I started painting. One particular night, I remember searching for verses to paint on a canvas. I turned to the book of Psalms and that’s when I stumbled upon Psalm 119:105: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (ESV). A light to my path. At this moment, I was desperately searching for light in my darkness. The burdens of anxiety, depression, and everything with COVID-19 laid heavy on my heart. From then, I knew I must continue to seek the Lord in His Word, no matter how I felt, because He is the strongest support network I will ever have. The past few months have been some of the most challenging yet intimate times I’ve had with the Lord in my walk with Christ. God showed me that by putting me in an environment where I had to strongly lean and trust in Him, He is truly all that we need. The Lord started working in my heart in ways like I had never experienced before. He walked alongside me as I worked through neglected trauma from my past and started seeking additional help to cope with my mental health struggles. I recognized the importance of saturating ourselves with scripture, as it became a lifeline for me in the darkest moments. We may not be able to predict what may happen next in this season, but that doesn’t change God’s love for us. He is faithful and will always be faithful, and even though our lives may feel turned upside down, God’s presence is near and will be there with us every step of the way.
In other exciting news, two of my best friends got married this weekend and it was an honor for both Ben and I to get to stand by their sides as they stood before their friends, family, and most importantly God and made a covenant to love and cherish one another.
Lastly I want to take time to share a personal update. Covid living is weird, and I am certain all of you know that by now. The way I have worked over these last years suddenly changed, and I along with the other staff members had to scramble to find a new sense of normal. Thankfully I have found ways to connect with members of our church and community and continue to do my job to my best ability through this difficult and different time. It has provided me also with a good deal more free time, and I have tried to use that time to better myself. I have dedicated more time to reading books and trying to develop my skills as a missionary. I have been taking classes on photography and photo editing to improve my photography skills so I can better support H2O in that way. I have also been working on a certificate program that has helped me grow in my understanding of scripture and how to effectively study it. Also I have been taking more time to improve my physical health. Though I don't talk about it very often in these updates, my life has been plagued with various physical ailments and diseases. Thanks to my childhood bout with leukemia and the chemotherapy treatment I have always been a little weaker than most people; getting sick more often, having a very sensitive digestive system, and constantly being in pain. Now that my husband has been working as an engineer for a while and has good health insurance I have been able to more aggressively seek treatment for my various issues. I have been meeting with a rheumatologist, going through physical therapy, changing my diet, and am signed up for a couple much needed dental surgeries. All of this is leaving me more than a little exhausted at times, but I feel that it is important that I continue to pursue improving my health. One of the greatest challenges I have faced in developing in my job here at H2O has been the limitations of my body. I want to be able to do more and do it better, and in order to do that I need to learn, grow, and get healthier.
1) Pray for me as I continue to try to grow and get healthier, as I said, it can be exhausting and it takes a great deal of willpower and encouragement to continue down this path.
2) Pray for our church as we try to fulfill the Great Commission while also trying the navigate the Covid guidelines and attempt to do our best to keep our students healthy.
3) Pray for our new staff members as they begin to develop their own sphere of influence here in H2O, and that they would be diligent in their mission to help us fulfill the Great Commision.