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My winter break was three weeks long. My school’s break has traditionally been about a month long, but this year they changed the academic calendar so that the semester started in the first week of January, effectively shortening the amount of break. Three weeks is a decent amount of time, but sadly break felt way to short.

After thinking back on why break felt so short, I’ve come up with two reasons. First reason: Travel. I did a fair amount of travel. I made two trips to Ann Arbor (to preach at my old church, attend a graduation, and to hang with friends) and one to Houston (to attend GYC). After cutting away the travel, I spent only a week and a half at home (with family and more friends). This leads to the second reason: Living far away. Since I live completely across the country away from home, I rarely get to visit. I wasn’t ready to leave when it was time to leave. I look forward to staying at home during the summer.

My trip reminded me how much I miss my family and my friends. I’ve made some good friends since I’ve moved to Arizona, but the group of friends I had when I was in Michigan was something special and I continue to miss the good times we had together. My friends there have been some of the best friends I’ve ever had.

I won’t go into detail about the pleasure I had speaking at my church, meeting the new students and missionaries, playing white elephant, celebrating graduations, listening to the band at UofM, and playing games, but needless to say, I enjoyed it all (excluding plans to meet with former classmates that fell through).

So, to share a piece of it, here is the link to the sermon I preached at the Campus HOPE church that weekend. Ever wondered how you could have more faith? That’s a good question, the disciples asked that, too. This is whole reason I created this post! Forgive me for getting sidetracked.

Lord, Increase Our Faith (credit to Adventist Students for Christ at the University of Michigan).

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Finally, the report from our trip is finished! I hope you enjoyed reading about our trip to New Jersey.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

We tried to get the van packed by 6 a.m., but we didn’t and left a little bit after that. The trip was uneventful for the most part. Rocky drove at the beginning and Taku finished it. Almost everyone was sleeping at the beginning.

We decided to eat lunch at Panera. The GPS told us that there was no exit near the Panera, so we got off the highway at an early exit and took back roads to get there, only to eventually realize that the Panera was at a rest area and that we didn’t need to get off the highway. That cost us a lot of time.

I have a tradition of celebrating whenever I cross a state border. I roll down the window, wave, and honk as I’m driving past a state sign. Taku and Leanne agreed to that and we got good footage of our celebration when crossing into Ohio and Michigan.

We made it home somewhere around 6 or 7 p.m. Just before we began to unload we took our first group photo of the week that had all 10 of us in the picture. Some of us went to Sushi.com for dinner.

We loved our New Jersey group. We loved the trip. We loved the Rutgers group and the church. We found that ministry is not only a blessing, but it can be fun as well. We pray that our experience on this trip will continue in our spiritual lives after this and in our ministry here at Michigan.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

This morning was the only morning all we didn’t have group worship. After morning prayer (can’t miss that!) we had our personal devotions and then we got ready for church. This was a blessed Sabbath, as not only did we get to participate in the church service, but students from around the region came to spend Sabbath with us as well (as part of ANEW). We taught four Sabbath school classes. Eunice M. and I taught one, Gary and Bamiji taught one, and I’m not sure who taught the other two. Our lesson study was on self-control, one of the fruits of the Spirit.

After Sabbath, in a small section between Sabbath School and the Worship service, I interviewed Jacqui about what we did this week. It was a testimony but in an interview format. After the interview Eunice S. presented our Thank You’s and gifts to the church. We presented the English church with a photo collage of the different things we did during the week. We’re so happy to have come to this church. We wish could stay here.

During the worship service, a number of us had different roles (song leaders, special music, Scripture Reading, intercessory prayer). Taku presented the sermon. He spoke about 2 Corinthians 5:14 and how our motivation in everything we do should be the love of Christ. At the end he called for a decision for us to choose the love of God as our motivation, and then he called for people to come forward who wanted to devote some time in the next year to full-time ministry. I went forward, as I’ve been convicted that God wants me to canvass this summer. I will apply for the Michigan Conference/CAMPUS ExCEL program this week.

After the service and after lunch, we set up for our afternoon seminars. Eunice S. presented her seminar on the master plan of evangelism and small groups that she had presented earlier in the week, Taku and Isabella presented on Muslim ministry, Rocky presented on creation, evolution, and the credibility of Scripture (I think), and I presented on how to give Bible studies. We finished our session by having a Q&A session with us presenters on the panel.

In the evening we had a concert/testimony session. The pastor started by telling us the story of how Jacqui came to him to ask for support for the campus ministry and how they gave their full support and wanted to do everything they could for it. He said he wished that 25 of us had come from Michigan, but was happy even for the 10 of us.  After the Pastor thanked the church members for their support of our group, Jazlyn and Malcom, two Rutgers students, gave their testimonies. Eunice M. and Bamiji were the two students from Michigan that gave their testimonies. Four other students from the surrounding states gave testimonies about what God is doing on their campus. Because of the length of the program, we cut out some of the songs and only had the men’s group from the church sing two songs. Eunice S. gave a short devotional to end our program.

The church then provided us with our last meal. We enjoyed spending time with the church, Rutgers students, and ANEW students and didn’t want the night to end because it was our last moments with them. Before we left, the men’s group sang “Open my heart” for us. It was the song they sang for us at vespers the first night we arrived, and it was a blessing to hear it one more time before we left. We’ll miss them!

We then left to go to the Pastor’s house where we played Wa! until we had to go back to the hotel. We said our goodbyes and climbed in the van to leave. We got back around 11 and those who needed to sleep did. Taku, Eunice S., Leanne, and I met with a couple of the Rutgers students and some of the ANEW students in Princeton where we had bubble tea or frozen yogurt. We stayed there until midnight, enjoying fellowship and playing Wa! and other group games right there inside the yogurt place. We said our last goodbyes and headed back to the hotel.

We’ll miss this group. It’s been an intense blessing to do full-time ministry for a week, to see them be blessed, and to be with our brothers and sisters in Christ. They’re family to us now and we’ll miss them.

We hope to leave somewhere around 6a.m. tomorrow so we can get back to Michigan in the afternoon. Unfortunately, this trip has to end sometime and reality will set back in. I pray that our spiritual experience this week will carry over with us when we go back to school in Michigan.

Friday, March 5, 2010

We had a pretty light schedule today compared to the other days this week. After morning prayer, devotions, and group worship we headed to the church as usual. After breakfast we went to Rutgers where, instead of our normal training, we held a question and answer session with the students. Some of us were on the panel and the rest were doing follow-up with contacts from Wednesday’s outreach. We were able to pray together before we left and then we headed back to the church for lunch.

After lunch, we had time at the church for Sabbath preparation. Eunice S. and Taku worked on their sermons, I worked on tomorrow’s ANEW program run-sheet, Eunice M. and I practiced music together, and I’m not sure what everybody else did.

In the evening we went to a lady’s house for fellowship and to open the Sabbath. We ate some good food and played some group games and then went to the New Brunswick Spanish church for Vespers. The whole program was presented in English and then translated into Spanish. Eunice M. and I played an arrangement of Holy, Holy, Holy. Eunice then spoke about campus ministry reading from the story of Gideon and the defeat of the Midianites in Judges 6 and 7. We stayed late talking with members and visitors and got home pretty late again.

I stayed up for some time working on the slide show that we will be presenting during tomorrow evening’s concert/testimony service. It was hard to pick only 125 of 1,000+ photos. I picked all the photos and will let iPhoto do the rest. I wish I had time to make a really nice presentation, but that will have to come later. Rocky was up working on a new presentation that he’ll do tomorrow afternoon. I think Bo Young spent time working on a photo collage that we’ll present to the New Brunswick English church as a thank you gift to them.

It’s hard to believe we’ve been here for over a week already. Tomorrow we will lead the NB English Church service and will lead out in the afternoon programs. It should be a great day!

I fell behind writing the updates for this trip. Even though this Thursday report looks like it was written Thursday night, it wasn’t. I did this for some of the other days, too.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Because we got home so late last night we held our debriefing session this morning after breakfast. Besides our plans for our NYC trip, we really didn’t have much to talk about. After breakfast and debriefing we headed to campus to pick up Juan before starting our trip to NYC. I tried messaging and calling Thorn so we could meet up with him, but he never responded and didn’t come. Leanne was our navigator for the trip. She studied the map on the way to NYC and we never got lost once!

We got to NYC around 11 and had trouble finding parking. It seemed that most parking garages had a clearance too low for our van to go into. We drove around for a few minutes and eventually came across a cheap enough parking garage with high enough clearance. We walked out and found that we were half a block from Times Square. We could easily see it from the parking place. We walked to Times Square and took pictures and videos. I’ve never been to NYC before and it was amazing to me just how many billboards and lit up advertisements that there are all over the place. Having grown up in the country I felt just slightly uncomfortable in such a large city with large buildings and pavement/concrete everywhere. It’s nice be out in the open.

After being in Times Square we took the subway to see Ground Zero. There’s construction going on there. It doesn’t look like they’ve done very much, but I don’t know much about the construction and what their plans are for building the Freedom Tower. After we saw Ground Zero, we walked down the end of the building we were in (a walkway over the road) and there was a pianist playing Chopin. It was so beautiful! I also saw a marble stairway, just perfect for a group photo. We then walked to the edge of the island and took some cool photos. We spelled out CAMPUS and got some cool setups for more group photos. We finished our visit to that part of the city by going near Wall St. and taking our picture next to the bull. Behind the bull was a small park called Bowling Green, with information about peregrine falcons on the back of the park sign. Of all places!! I would have never thought that having grown up in Bowling Green, Ohio and having the falcon for our mascot, that I would go to NYC and find Bowling Green and information about falcons. Anyway, I thought it was cool.

We headed back to Times Square and then departed to go find a place to eat. We tried using a GPS to find a good Mediterranean or Thai place (I don’t remember which one), but we weren’t finding something close by. We decided to just start walking and we stumbled across an all-you-can-eat Indian buffet for $10. We entered, went down the stairs to the place underground and found a great restaurant. It was great food and we definitely filled up! The place felt like it was a little oasis. It was hard to imagine this little place being right inside a huge busy city.

After eating we decided that we had about an hour left before we needed to leave for home, so we went through Times Square and went to the M&M factory. Anything you can imagine related to M&Ms was there and the place smelled like chocolate! It was quite an interesting place. We then stopped by Jamba Juice (can’t pass that up) before getting back to our van.

We thought we had run out of GLOW earlier this week, but Gary (I think) had a small stash of GLOW saved that we passed out during our day in NYC. It wasn’t as much as we wanted to do, but we did what we could and were glad that we could still be a witness on our trip.

We got back to the hotel by far the earliest of any day this week. Eunice M, Leanne, and I exercised in the exercise room. I then talked with Jacqui (who came to hang out) and Eunice S. about the ANEW Sabbath, and we pretty much finalized our plans for what we wanted to do in our Sabbath afternoon program. We will present some workshops that we did during the week for the church and students from ANEW and then in the evening we will have a testimony/concert session. Leanne and I finished the night by swimming. The water was warm and it was so comfortable and relaxing to glide around in the pool. I wish we had more time to do that this week, but I don’t think we’ll get another opportunity. If only they had a hot tub…

I’m starting to put pictures of our trip on Facebook now. This is a very busy week for me with my recital coming up and an exam tomorrow, so I’m still behind on writing my articles and taking care of all the pictures. All the summaries and pictures will go up eventually. Thanks for your patience. It’s taking a lot longer than I though to sort through all the pictures and put them online. Maybe I shouldn’t have taken so many (1,300).

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

This morning we got up at 5:30 as usual to pray as a group. I think a lot of our divine appointments have been because of our group prayer. I wish I could pray with this group every morning all year around. Taku’s worship was based on 2 Peter 1:4. He talked about Bible promises and encouraged us to be thinking about Scripture throughout the day.

Eunice and I chose the songs we might play for special songs this week. I don’t know how many we’ll be playing, but we chose four songs just in case we do that many. After breakfast, we headed to the Spanish church and debriefed about the previous day. Normally we debrief at night, but we chose not to last night because we had gotten back so late. After debriefing, Rocky presented training on follow-up.

For our outreach in the afternoon, Eunice S., Juan (we wanted one Rutgers student to participate), and myself went over all the surveys from yesterday and e-mailed the students inviting them to our meetings on Tuesdays, our meetings this weekend, and asking them if they wanted personal one-on-one Bible studies to answer their questions. Everybody else (including Jacqui and Darlenys) gave surveys outside across from the student center. It was colder and windier than yesterday, but it went well and they were able to talk to a lot of people again. We found one more Adventist student and had a number of more divine appointments. I didn’t talk to everyone about their testimonies, but Jacqui said that she talked to a Muslim girl and she was able to share how much we have in common with Muslims. The girl agreed that it would be neat to meet up and talk about more of those similarities.

We made it on time to our seminar this time. Eunice presented an excellent seminar on Jesus’ master plan of evangelism and small groups. Eunice was worrying that her seminar would go long, but it went exactly an hour and Leanne’s small group testimony went fifteen minutes, thus ending the entire seminar fifteen minutes early. Both do an excellent job at speaking up front.

We stayed afterwards to mingle with those that had come. Thorn came again, and he wanted to talk to me about the antichrist that he believes is a certain rapper. I didn’t want to listen to his music, as it’s not positive music, but I agreed that I would be willing to look at some lyrics. Normally Is helps me in talking with Thorn, but she was home at the hotel sick with Bo. Leanne, Juan, and Rocky came up and helped in the conversation with Thorn. The conversation moved from rap, to music, to the origin of evil. We began a Bible study on the Great Controversy focusing on the origin of evil. It will take time, but Thorn is one of the reasons for why we’re here in New Jersey. We’re praying for him. He should be coming along with us on our fun day tomorrow.

We got back really late again. We decided to do our debriefing in the morning over breakfast. Eunice and I are beginning to plan for Sabbath afternoon’s program. Students who are a part of ANEW will be joining us for Sabbath. It will be a great day.

Tomorrow we have a fun day and will be visiting New York City. We hope to see Times Square, Ground Zero, Wall St., and the Statue of Liberty.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Today (I’m writing this on Wednesday night) we began with our normal 5:30 prayer, 6:00 devotions, and 7:10 group worship. Eunice led out in group worship, talking about Genesis 6. After breakfast we were told that we would be staying at the English church for our training instead of going to the Spanish church. Eunice M. and I practiced sacred arrangements for possible special musics that we’ll be playing this coming weekend.

For our workshop, Eunice and Taku showed us how to do surveys and what to do and what not to do when talking to people. They did several demonstrations that gave examples of ways to approach and how to communicate with the people that we would be talking to. The survey was very simple.

1. What year are you?
2. What religious background do you have?
3. Do you believe God exists? Why or why not?
4. If you could ask God one question, what would it be?
5. Would you like to study the Bible to find the answer to that question?

We were hoping to go all over campus to meet people and survey them, but were told by one of the university staff that we could only be across the road from the student center where we were the day before. Fortunately, that’s one of the main traffic areas in the university, and we had plenty of people to talk to. I gave 12 surveys in an hour and a half and 6 of them were possible Bible studies. I’ve never had such a great time doing surveys before! The Rutgers students are generally very approachable and easy to talk to. It’s amazing! This was totally way easier than any Bible work that I did in Portland or any door-to-door I’ve ever done. A number of people I talked to were very interested in coming to the Bible study to get their questions answered, but had classes. So we’ll e-mail them on Wednesday and asked if they would be willing to meet some other time for us to go over the answer in the Bible. About half of all the questions had to do with why there is human suffering and evil in the world. It’s so amazing that the Bible has the complete and perfect answer and that it gives the answer for all human needs.

After dinner we had our workshop. Rocky and Gary presented on friendship evangelism and afterwards we had our Tuesday midweek Bible study that we had invited people to. There were four or five non-Adventists. One or two people that I had met, including a girl doing the Great Controversy Challenge, said they would come to the Bible study but didn’t. I pray that our follow-up will find them. Is presented on the worth of a soul; how Jesus would leave the 99 and go find the one lost sheep. Value is determined by what someone is willing to pay, and Jesus was the price for us. Therefore God considers us to be of infinite value. Josephine made it to the study tonight. She studies at Princeton, which isn’t too far from here. It was good to see her again.

This guy named Thorn came to our meetings for the second time. He has a lot of questions and has been interesting to talk to. Fortunately, Is has been really helpful in talking with him. John, a fourth grade teacher from the church, also connected with him tonight. We’re praying for Thorn.

We got back really late because of the mingling we did after the Bible study. We put off debriefing until tomorrow and had a short worship before bed.

Tomorrow we’ll be doing follow-up on today’s surveys and do more surveys. We can’t really GLOW anymore because we passed out almost all the GLOW we had today. A couple students are hanging onto just one piece of GLOW for one person they might meet the rest of the week.

Monday, March 1, 2010

This morning we began again with 5:30 prayer, morning devotions, and group worship. Gary led out and talked about the love Moses had for the children of Israel and Paul had for the souls he was working for. Moses was willing to be blotted out of the book of life so that Israel wouldn’t be. Paul was willing to spend and be spent, not knowing what would happen to him when he traveled, because wanted to bring others to salvation. I don’t understand how someone can get to that point except that God changes them.

After breakfast we headed to the New Brunswick Spanish Adventist church to have our study time and prepare for outreach in the afternoon. I was able to get a good hour of trumpet practice in. Taku and Bamiji prepared for the mock trial that we would have at 10:45. Some of the rest of the students prepared signs for outreach that read “The Great Controversy,” “What is the true day of worship?” and “Can I pray for you?”

The mock trial was fun. Taku and Bamiji acted as prosecutors and tried to show us places in the Bible that can be misinterpreted to show that keeping the Sabbath on Saturday is not necessary. We were able to defend our beliefs and if we needed help we could “phone a friend” (which turned into anyone sharing if they wanted to). When this was done we went back to the English church for lunch and then headed to campus for outreach.

Jacqui, Bamiji, and I went to pick up tables and set them across the street from the student center. We met up with the rest of the group that had the books and signs that we would use on our outreach. Some of the students prayed with people, some held signs, and some of us engaged people by asking them to take the “Great Controversy Challenge,” which was to ask them to show any place in the Bible where the Sabbath was changed to Sunday. No one could do it because the Bible doesn’t say that, but we were able to have some really good conversations with people. Everyone at some point was able to get engaged in a conversation. Jacqui, Juan, and Sandra (a lady from the church) were all actively engaged in our activity. It’s been a blessing to have the students here actively participating and reaching out to their campus with us.

I met a girl that was Catholic who wasn’t able to find any texts about the Sabbath, so I showed her what we had found. When she saw Luke 23-24 where the Bible shows that Sabbath (Saturday) is the day before the resurrection (Sunday), she was amazed and commented how she had been told different all her life. She was real interested and said she would come to tomorrow’s midweek Bible study that we have! I was very happy to hear that and meeting her made the whole outreach worth it for me. Just before we started a guy named Oliver approached us stating that his life was messed up and that he wanted help. We prayed with him and I am really praying that he will come to our Bible study tomorrow night.

After outreach, we went to the Student Center to eat. None of us were really hunger, but Taku and Leanne split a foot-long sub. Eunice^2 went to get bubble tea/smoothies. I had them get one for me. My flavor was white grape and grape fruit. It was really good.

At 6:00 we had our evening seminar. Is and I presented on how to give a Bible study. Talk to somebody else about how that went. People said they liked it. That’s good. I hope that people are more active with giving Bible studies as a result. We made it back safely to the hotel, debriefed, and ended our nights with separate worships.

Tomorrow we will be doing surveys on campus. I wasn’t looking forward to today’s outreach, but had such a blessing. Reaching out to people and talking to them is something I don’t do well naturally, but we were asking each other to pray for each other, and that helped. The people we met were definitely an answer to prayer. I’m not necessarily looking forward to tomorrow either, but based on the last two days I know it will be a blessing and so I’m sure it will go well. I’m glad we’re in a group, too, because it really helps to have support from friends doing this stuff. I’m sure that’s the reason Jesus sent His disciples out by twos.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

This morning we began our day with our regular 5:30 prayer session and 6:00 devotions. At 7:15, Leanne led out in group worship, sharing what the Bible has to say about boldness and showing examples of that boldness in the woman at the well and in Paul. We then left promptly for church for another great breakfast provided by the church. The biscuits were wonderful! We’re still very grateful for the hospitality provided by the church.

After breakfast we had a couple hours of free time to go to the store or do homework. I went through my normal warm-up routine but didn’t have time to practice any of my recital music. Is and I worked on our seminar for tomorrow afternoon where we will share how to give a Bible study. We have a couple finishing touches to do (slide transitions, what we might do incorrect in our Bible study demonstration). When we came back up we found Leanne, Bo, Eunice M., and Bamiji asleep in the sanctuary and Taku reading the book of John out loud. We ate lunch and then headed to campus for our GLOW scavenger hunt.

I’ve never had so much fun doing any sort of outreach before! We were given clues to go find glow packets near the entrances of different buildings on campus, and once we found them we had to distribute them in different ways. We were in groups of three of four (with some of the Rutgers students) and had such a blessed time. My group couldn’t find a couple of our clues and Taku came along and found them for us. Taku! Next time we’ll try to be faster. I’m going to set up a GLOW scavenger hunt for UofM when we go back. I had an extra stack of GLOW in my coat that we would hand out after we had run out of the few that we would find in each spot. By the end of our outreach my extra stash of about 30-40 GLOW was completely gone.

After we finished GLOWing Bo and Eunice led out in a time-management and seminar. I need to work on that. The most convicting passage for me is in 4T p. 411-412 where Ellen White talks about those who waste an hour in bed in the morning. That’s me. We were meeting in a lounge in the Student Center and were told halfway through to leave because we couldn’t hold a meeting without reserving a room. We left and found a classroom in another building and finished our meeting.

Then students then treated us to dinner by guest swiping us into one of the cafeterias. We spent good time talking with the students and getting to know them better. Both Eunices and Malcom (a Rutgers student) left our group and started eating and talking with other students that were eating. Eunice M. was trying to find a way to get to spiritual conversation and when she went to get ice cream Malcom jumped in and invited the student to come to our group’s events and got his contact information. So cool!

We got home last night later than we expected to, so after we had finished our debriefing and different worships we went to bed at 11 (in my room) instead of 10:30. That extra half hour of staying awake won’t help tomorrow, but I pray that God will sustain us in His strength (Philippians 4:13).

Sorry. It’s hard to find time to put pictures up. No promises on more pictures =(

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