Monday, October 29, 2012

What's your perspective?

Half of the semester is behind us and the rest will be a memory in no time. It is amazing to me how so many days seem to last forever yet I can't believe this past year has gone by so fast. Our perspective changes everything.
It is easy in campus ministry to let things that happen, circumstances, get you down. Sometimes it gets you wishing the semester would hurry up and end so you can rest from it all. But if you take a step back, slow down and refocus...your perspective changes and excitement for what God is doing and will continue to do overcomes those negative feelings.
In life there are always those people who never seem to get it, whatever "it" might be. In ministry, that "it" is Jesus and the abundant life his life, death and resurrection freely gives to all who accept it. When  you watch students continually chose a lifestyle that leads them nowhere but destruction even though they hear and see something so much better week after week, your heart breaks and doubts creep in. You wonder if what you are doing is making a difference, if it is worth it, if you are good enough.
Our mission here at El Pozo is to love students, know Jesus and change the that really possible? Will our loving students and teaching them about Jesus week in and week out really change the world??
The truth is, there are students we invest in every week that just don't get it. Maybe one day they will, and we pray for that everyday, but right now they don't and it can be frustrating. It can get us down and make us wonder if we are doing things right. BUT then there are students who do get it. They have been loved, they have met Jesus and are changing the world, or at least heading in that direction. We see God working in them and living through them and excitement builds again. Our perspective shifts from lamenting the ones that "got away" to being excited for those who are getting it. Now of course that doesn't mean we just forget about all those who are choosing the world over Jesus. We continue to love and serve them in the name of Jesus, but our perspective is one that doesn't let those things that are out of our control slow us down or hold us back.

Here are a few students who are getting it...

Bego has been around for several years. She has grown in her faith and lives it out daily. Bego gets it...Today she sees my teammate Kami on campus and starts chatting with her while the friend she was with went inside to buy breakfast. After they have a little chat about Tuesday nights' En Vivo talk that Kami was putting some finishing touches on, Bego's friend returns. Bego then proceeds to ask Kami the exact same questions and repeat the exact same conversation they had just had so that her friend could hear it. That conversation brought up our monthly community service projects, our annual spring break mission trip, Thursday devotional lunches and several other activities we do at El Pozo. Bego was able to use that conversation as an opportunity to share with her friend about all that God is doing through El Pozo and invite him in a nonthreatening way to be a part of it. Bego is graduating in December and has the desire to go to Spain for a year as an intern with the Globascope campus ministry in Salamanca. Although most of her family is disappointed with her decision not to get a job that relates to her major, she would rather follow her God and disappoint her family than disappoint her God and follow her family. Bego gets it.

Bego with new band member Frank
Rebeca has been a friend of mine and El Pozo's for many years now. Apart from our weekly lunches to talk about life, she hasn't always been around or part of the ministry on a consistent basis until just recently. A year ago, Rebeca wouldn't have stood up in front of everyone and used the words "we" and "us" to talk about El Pozo but those are exactly the words she used last Thursday to make an announcement inviting the community to support her flag football team. It brought a smile to all of our faces to know that the years we have spent loving her and showing her Jesus has made a difference. She also recently has started to attend church regularly for the first time since I have known her and is taking steps to grow in her faith and make it a priority in her life. Rebeca is getting it and inviting her friends to be apart of it with her.

Rebeca with two friends she invited to En Vivo, Polo and Valles

Hugo is about to graduate in December as well, but will then start his Master's in January and so will probably be around for another two years. Hugo started playing in the band earlier this year and recently has really stepped up as a leader in big ways. He constantly is looking for ways to improve the band and other areas of the ministry so that those who come can have the best experience possible...not so that they will pat him on the back and say "good job", but so that each fellow student has the chance to meet the Jesus that he knows and follows. Hugo has not had the easiest life. He has been hurt more than most students at the university here, but in the pain of it all he met a God who loves him more than he could ever imagine. Hugo has talents and passions that God is using to bring glory to His name even in the midst of his doubts and insecurities. He lights up when he talks about how much he wants so and so to know Jesus and the need in this or that place for people to serve God. Hugo gets it and even when he lets doubts creep in, just a few reminders of who God is and who we are in Him, gets Hugo back on track and getting it again.

Hugo and other band member Charisse serving Thursday lunch
Thank you for all of your prayers and support. For helping these guys get "it" and being a part of what God is doing to change the world. Pray for Bego as she raises financial support to go to Spain and for strength to continue to follow God in spite of her family's opposition. Pray for Rebeca as she continues to take her faith more seriously, that it will be a priority in her life always. Pray for Hugo to recognize the talents and passions God has given him and not let anything get in the way of him using those to bring glory to God. Pray also for all the other students who get it and desire to serve God daily,  for those who are just starting down that road towards life and for those who seem so far away, that we will be able to show them God.

Monday, September 10, 2012

What would you say you do here??? We have been asking that a lot recently, about the ministry, El Pozo, as a whole and each individual that works here. With many changes taking place since this time last year, it has been a good chance to evaluate what we do here and the why behind it all. So after much discussion and prayer we came up with a simple but effective and truth filled mission statement that we will use to check everything we do.

We are a christian community that does this

Love students, Know Jesus Christ, Change the world

Our first three talks during our weekly events have been based on these principles and starting next week, we will start a four week series based on Family. It seems like so many of our students are struggling in some aspect with their families. From divorce and infidelity to over controlling parents our students are connected more than they know and we want to let them know that they are not alone. There are no perfect families out there, we all struggle in some way at some time with different issues, but the beauty of community and the church is that we have each other to lean on. Pray with us as we open our lives and share our stories in regards to our families in an effort to show our students they are not alone, we are all in this together, connected through Christ and part of a family so much bigger and deeper than blood or a last name.

Keeping with the family theme, we have revamped disciple/leadership and small groups this year. 7 of the 11 students we asked, accepted the opportunity and challenge to be a leader at El Pozo this year. These are students who are faithful in their walk with Christ, available and willing to invest their time and efforts into the ministry, teachable, and other focused will be challenged and poured into by each member of our staff in different ways to prepare and guide them as they take on a leadership role in El Pozo. Some of these students have been part of the ministry for years now and are about to graduate while others are just getting their feet wet and still have another 3-4 years of college left. There are all so different, coming from all over mexico and central america with distinct talents and gifts, yet connected through the love for their savior and desire to share him with others.
The leaders have been paired up and will start leading small groups next week. These small groups are called families because we see a need and desire for something more than just a weekly meeting to read the bible. Each student who walks though the doors of El Pozo has a desire to be loved and cared for during their time away from home in college. Some were so glad to leave because their homes were filled with more hate than love, while others have found an emptiness due to the lack daily love and encouragement that they used to get at home but now are separated from because of distance. Our leaders will be the parents of these families as they guide, teach and care for each member individually and as a whole. These families will study the bible together, pray together, serve together and just simply hangout and care for each other. The love of Christ will be the backbone of these families and the result will be changed lives and and a changed world, right now and forever.
Join us in praying for each leader individually and for the families they will be leading this year. My teammate Kami wrote a wonderful blog last week highlighting each leader that would be a great way to connect with them as you pray...

God is moving in the lives of our students, in Cholula and la UDLA and using El Pozo as a tool. Thank you for your continued support and please don't stop praying for us daily. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

All good things...

Do all good things have to end??? In campus ministry and in life many times, I think the best answer for that question is yes and no. Very profound I know. The reason I ask that question now is because we are in our last few weeks of events for the semester and students are getting ready for final exams. The great semester we were all just a part of is winding down, so yes good things will be ending soon. However, we have summer semester to look forward to and hope to keep building on the momentum we have right now with those that will be around during May and June. So much has happened over the last few months it is somewhat sad to see it end, but we know and trust that God has even greater things in store for all of us as we say good-bye to one chapter of our lives and begin a new one. From three baptisms in the early months to new students stepping up to take leadership roles and being part of three mission trips in these last few months, we have seen the hand of God using El Pozo to draw people from all over the world closer to him. That is why together we do what we do. Thank you for another great semester and check out the pictures below for a semester recap.

Very good friend, Male, and former El Pozo student marries a great guy...January

Tuesday night En Vivos start and I give my 5th talk ever...January

Thursday "Pozomida" lunches start back...January

Tania get baptized!!!  February

Valentine's Day En Vivo and visit from Phil (our boss) and wife Merran...February

Party with Basketball Teams...February
Yo Amo Cholula, monthly service day...March
Rada gets baptized!!! March

Spring Retreat...March
Mission Trip to build a house over spring break with Casas por Cristo...April

Group from Georgia comes during spring break to love on kids from local orphanage...April
Last En Vivo of semester, I give another talk and Julio shares how he found God  while being wrongly accused and put in prison for almost 6 months before a judge would take his case and his innocence be proven...April
Weekend trip to Oaxaca with students, (largest tree in Mexico)...April

Hierve el Agua en Oaxaca, God's country is B-E-A-utiful...April
Still to come in the next week...End of the Year Banquet tomorrow, 5 professional exams (think thesis presentations), a wedding and nightly Pancake Dinners for the students. Love you all. Thanks  

Monday, March 5, 2012

Spring is Here

Livin' in a moment to die for...I know I have said this before, but it just always hits me in the gut every time I think about I constantly living in a moment I would die for???
Tomorrow in En Vivo, we are starting a three week series called "Dangerous", dangerous book, people, and faith. I think Saul that later becomes Paul always lived in a moment he would die for after his encounter with God. He lived dangerously for God and it eventually got him killed, just like Jesus lived in moments he would die for, serving people he did die for, and calls us to do the same.
This past weekend we went on our spring retreat to Ixmiquilpan, Hildalgo. The place we stayed was great for a retreat from Puebla and "normal, crazy, busy" life. We heard three great talks from our dear friend Juanita Del Angel on walking intimately with God and living out our faith, spent most of Saturday at a water park laughing, soaking up the sun, and swing off ropes, played flamingo soccer where the guys have to hop on one foot, baptized Rada, and hung out at night like a big family.

Juanita during first talk
water park
Rope swing
I landed hurt
some people needed their rest
Flamingo soccer

the guys fell down a lot
but still were able to score and beat the girls in overtime
Tania, baptized a few weeks ago, Me, Kami, Rada and Juanita before the baptism

taking the plunge
Woohoo!!! I almost completely fell in as well
Group pic
 All in all it was a great weekend. Christian community lived out in a very real way. Moments you could die for...

I mentioned earlier in one of the captions about Tania being baptized a few weeks earlier. We actually baptized two people from the community that day. Tania and Carlos. After church one Sunday, over 30 of us piled in cars, drove 45 minutes to a nearby town where they sell trout at many restaurants that have a river flowing through them. We ate lunch together and then baptized Tania and Carlos right next to where we were eating. It was very cool and drew a crowd so much to where when students would go order quesadillas or something close but not at the restaurant, the people would say, "oh yeah, the tables where the baptisms are happening". It was a great way to celebrate the step of faith these two were taking.

There were rope swings at this place too!!!

Carlos getting baptized by Heath

Tania getting baptized

Sooo happy!!!
The really cool thing about this picture is that Beto got baptized last spring. Maybe some of you guys have heard me talk about him. I think I might have even done a blog post about him. When I first met him he told me to go invite his friends to the ministry because they needed God but he didn't want anything to do with that stuff...well not long later, he shows up with those friends he mentioned earlier and actually gets interested in God. Last spring he is baptized and this spring he is baptizing one of his friends he invited to the ministry. Tania and I started a bible study last semester, and then towards Christmas break she and this guy started going out. Some people in his family are Christians and some are even pastors, but it has not really meant much to him over the years. At Tania's baptism he asked if we could to a bible study too. Today the three of us had our first group bible study where we read some of Luke. It was the part of my day. You got to love how the river flows.
These are moments I would die for.

Monday, January 23, 2012

It was Beautiful!!!

Many times in life we are not around to see the results of our hard work. We work and work, pouring ourselves out into people and jobs only to sometimes never see the outcome. I think that's where faith comes in. Especially when pouring ourselves out following God, being a disciple of Christ. As we start a new semester here at El Pozo, I see new faces and meet new people, but can't help but wonder where so-and-so is or what so-and so is up to these days. Working with college students involves a lot of change and turn over. The students are here for 4 maybe 5 years if they found the ministry their first semester. That's not much time, and that is when the faith comes in... faith that what you do day in and day out is making a difference.
Other times, you actually do get to see results. You get to see people change and grow and find something they are passionate about and go on to the next stage in life and not lose sight of what is most important to them and really the only thing that matters when all is said and done.
Since the new year hit, it has been wedding central here in Puebla, with the first two weekends being filled with friends from El Pozo getting married. These two weddings were beautiful, but not because there was good food, or because the band made dancing fun, but because the four people who committed their lives to each other really love each other, and really love God. Both of these couples are going to serve God with their marriages and with their lives. I am confident that their families, friends, jobs, neighbors and whoever else they interact with daily will be better because of them.
Male (maa lay it is pronounced) and Jerry got married on the 7th. I got the honor of being one of 11 bridesmaids...I tried to talk my way out of it when I found out there were 11, but Male wouldn't let me. I had never been a bridesmaid for a Mexican wedding so it was interesting trying to figure out the dress and what I was supposed to do as a bridesmaid before the wedding and then the day of the wedding. I got my hair done professionally for the first time that I can remember in my life...($15 dollars is all it cost...another reason I love Mexico). Got my toes done, the dress made and ironed correctly, some friends helped with my I was feeling good.
We get to the place of the wedding early for pictures then they have the civil part of the wedding where just the family, wedding party and a few friends attend. So we are all standing around watching the bride, groom, parents, and witnesses sign lots of papers, when I noticed everyone was starting at me. I had been quietly talking with the pastor next to me, so I was really not paying much attention to what was going on. As it turned out, my friend Male had put me down as one of the witnesses without letting me know and they had called my name to sign the papers. So I hurried over there, signed some papers and the wedding continued. That was a close one.

Angeles (another friend from flag football), Male, Me

So anyways, back to why the wedding was so beautiful...I met Male playing flag football 5 years ago. She started coming to El Pozo, then we started reading the bible together and going to church. Several years ago I got the opportunity and honor of baptizing her, and since then she has not stopped growing and loving and serving Jesus.

Male, Me, and Jerry...I really love these two

Male met Jerry at the church we both go to. As she was getting more and more involved, had graduated from the university and making that church her new community instead of El Pozo, they met, started going out, fell in love and now are married. It was beautiful because I got to see fruits, results, an outcome to five years of friendship. Their stories together have just begun and they will go on to change the world around them, but for a few minutes during the wedding, when they were singing praise songs and exchanging vows, I just thanked God for El Pozo, for entrusting us with his work and for letting us see that our work is not done in vain. We only had a small part in it all, and there is still greater things that will happen in the lives of these two God-loving people, but I am thankful for that small part and for all those who send money so that El Pozo can exist, and for all of those who find us worthy of their prayers and time spent encouraging us. I am thankful for a God that believes in us all and loves us all and made a way for us to be with him.
The weddings were beautiful because God was there, alive and working.