The End of the Holiday Season

    I hope you all had a great winter holiday season! I had a great break where I got to refresh my energy and spend some time with family and friends over Christmas and New Years. Now, rewinding back to the beginning of December,... it felt so long ago!

    We had our annual Christmas party for the Denton FOCUS community where we continued the tradition of a fort building competition! It was a lot of fun, and we started a new tradition where each small group takes a polaroid photo and hangs it on the tree. Our staff collected the polaroids, and we'll bring them back out every future Christmas party, so eventually the tree will have tons of pictures of the community throughout the years. This was just a little party to let the students celebrate together and have something low pressure and fun to be at before their finals started and to end out the year. It was over 3 hours, but people were still wanting to hang out so a bunch of people went to places like IHOP afterward together to keep the party going!

    As we ended the semester, we sent the students home with some materials and had them make goals that they could do to stay in a healthy place spiritually, mentally, and physically. As I said bye to people, I was reflecting on this year. I'm so thankful for what God has been doing in Denton, I've seen the love of Christ so much in the way our student leaders invest in the lives of people around them, from giving rides to paying for meals; in visiting people at their performances to cheer them on but also their at their low points to comfort them; in studying the Bible together and encouraging each other towards living like a disciple.

    Another cool thing that happened at the end was our Apprentice sermons. Each year, in the 1st semester, every apprentice gives their "My Gospel" sermon, where we give a combination testimony-sermon talking about what about the Good News of Jesus means the most to them and why they follow the Lord. For a lot of us, including me, this was our first sermon! This is in front of the other apprentices, a few of the senior staff, Ronnie (the head pastor of the church that started FOCUS), and any students we wanted to invite. Everyone did such a good job, and it really grew us closer as we got to look into each others lives and see the way God has touched them.

    Ronnie Worsham was the person who started this My Gospel sermon years ago for the apprentices, and he's been such a blessing to all of us. We have a weekly class with him where he teaches us and we get to ask him questions on a various number of topics; it's seriously such a meaningful part of the apprenticeship. We went to get breakfast with him the Monday after those apprentice sermons at IHOP; I must've been in the restroom when this picture was taken, unfortunately, because I'm not in it :(

    I hope all of you are staying safe during this season, since there's been another surge of COVID cases. We're definitely praying and thinking through adjustments we have to make for this semester, especially at the start. We already moved our class for the student leaders online that's happening this weekend, and we postponed our staff retreat that was supposed to be this week. The big concern is for Winter Camp, which is our big event of the year right before school starts for them again where all our campuses get together for a weekend trip to kick start the new semester. It's a way the students get to have a lot of fun and spiritually + intellectually reinvigorate themselves, and we didn't do it last year because of the pandemic. Please be praying that we will still be able to have this camp, and pray for protection for our staff and students as we come back.

    Best wishes going into 2022; tell me the fun things you did over the holidays! Here's another student testimony, I love hearing about students who are excited to tell others about the amazing things our God can offer them.

Blessings from your friend,