We kicked off our new school year in August and are now in full swing here in Cincinnati. It's crazy that we are already in mid-September, time just flies by nowadays. So far this semester has been amazing, and God has been moving in big ways and has grown H2O in numbers but more importantly in faith. We have more people involved in our church than ever before! I'll take you quickly through some of our star of the school year events and what God has done through them.
We always kick off the year with a retreat for our leaders. It's just a fun way to start the year and get to see our friends that we might missed during the summer. It's also a great way to get our heads in the right state of mind as we prepare for one of the biggest times of the year. We start the retreat with team building games and the life group teams have a fun time competing against each other.
This year we had them act out putt-putt using just their bodies as one of the challenges which is what you're seeing in the picture above. We finish out our leadership retreat with a focus and planning time for the many events we have in our first couple weeks of the school year where we go through a great deal of effort to engage students.
The Student Organization Fair is one such way for us to meet new students. It's an opportunity for students (especially new students) to learn about the many student groups at UC. We set up fun and easy games for people to play and to win candy. We met tons of students here, and although it's not a place for deep conversations and connections, we were able to get our name out there and meet many new students in a short period of time. As you can see from the picture above, we had a lot of students stop by our stand at the fair.
Another event we do during the start of the school year is late night pancakes, which, unlike the student org fair, allows for more conversations and connections with new students. This was the first year that my husband Ben and I took over running the pancake events where we serve pancakes from 10pm to midnight Friday and Saturday. One of our colleagues and fellow workers in the Gospel Ken Dillard retired this year. Late night pancakes has always been his event so Ben and I stepped up to serve and see that this event went smoothly. We were very excited to serve the church and students
in this way. It's one of our favorite events and Ben has been helping make the pancakes since he was a sophomore at UC back in 2015. He's had many years of practice and was ready to be head chef. The picture above shows our incredible turnout, where we served over 800 people in one night. On top of serving pancakes our leaders were there sharing the gospel with the students who came to enjoy the free food.
Last year our dodgeball day was just a mess. Nothing went the way it was supposed to and it ended up getting rained out. However, this year it went the absolute best it has ever gone. It was a true blessing just how smooth the event went and we even had great weather for it. This is one of the last big events we have before our first service, so it was a huge blessing that it went so well!
We had a record breaking year for our first service! We had 340 people come to our first service, where last year we didn't even break 250. We always serve a free meal after our first Sunday service, but this year we had too many people and we quickly had to order more food. What an amazing problem to have! We have continued to see 200 plus students come every week which is more than we have had in the past!
We had record breaking numbers for Friday night pancakes and our first service and we owe that to our amazing leaders who went out everyday and loved the students well. More importantly we owe that to God and him answering our prayers. We didn't just want more numbers but we wanted more people to be on fire for Him and to be reaching the lost more and more, which we saw our leaders and other students involved in our church doing every day during welcome week and they are continuing to do it now.
Other Ministry Updates:
Our children's ministry is growing! I am now watching Anya and her brother Titus. (As you can see she's such a good big sister.) On top of them as you all know my daughter is due in December, but we also have several other couples in our church excepting!
There's a baby due in November, December, January, February, and now March! It's so exciting to see our church start to grow into a more multigenerational church.
Jane Elisabeth Howard is growing great! We are every excited for our little girl to come in December! She is already so very loved.
I am currently only at 90% of my support goal. In order to be 100% funded I need to raise $230 a month. Please pray about joining my team, increasing your gift, or giving me the contact information of anyone you know who may be interested in partnering with me and my ministry.
Fall Getaway is just right around the corner. This is one of our biggest events of the semester and we are praying that God would get at least 200 students to come for the weekend. These weekends can be so pivotal in a student's walk with the Lord. It's a weekend that can change your life forever. Be praying for this event. Pray for the speakers' messages, the students who come, and even the students who don't come.
Pray for our leaders here in H2O, and that we would be able to continue to disciple and encourage everyone in our church body even as it has grown so much this year.
Pray for my continued health and the continued health of our baby. We have been blessed with no complications or abnormalities during my pregnancy and I pray it continues that way.