Thursday, November 21, 2019

Good News


I hope you're doing well! I can't believe it's almost Thanksgiving. This semester has felt a bit of a whirlwind. A small update on myself, Laurence and I finally moved into our house a few weeks ago. We had spent a lot of time working on it and trying to get it move in ready. That made the first part of this semester really exhausting, but now that we're moved in, our lives have normalized. We're feeling less exhausted and ready to finish out this semester strong!

Sadly this blog doesn't have any photos. The camera on my phone broke, but I should have photos in the next one! But I do have two good news stories I'd like to share with you.

Storie #1 - Katie

The first one is a little longer and for this girls privacy I'm going to change her name to Katie. Anyway, Katie came to UTD thinking that she was a Christian. She had kind of grown up one, but was living a party life style. When she came to UTD, she continued in the party scene and started rushing for a sorority. A cool part of this story is she actually got plugged in with another ministry on campus called Campus Outreach (CO). In that ministry she learned that she actually hadn't been living as a Christian and decided that she wanted to start living for God. Around this same time, one of our corefas, who was in the same sorority, invited Katie to their core. She came! And that weekend she came to Fall Camp! It was after this that I met Katie. She had agreed to do a one-on-one Bible study. We met up the last week of September, and two things became super clear.

1. I don't think this girl realizes how difficult changing her life is going to turn out to be
2. She needs community!

Let me elaborate. I'm sure all of you have tried to change some big habits, maybe for some of you it was just your diet or something like that. Regardless of what it is, it requires huge changes. You have to stop buying old foods, start buying better ones. I remember in college I actually had to change grocery stores because it was just too hard to not impulsively buy junk food at the one I was currently going to. Anyway, Katie had said she wanted to follow Jesus, but thought that God would just take away all her desires for alcohol or some of the other bad activities she used to do. She thought she could still go to all the parties and wouldn't have those struggles.

As you may have guessed, that didn't work. I mean it did for a few weeks, but after a while she started drinking with all her friends. Which leads me to my second realization. While Katie was participating in a lot of Christian activities, she wasn't really building a Christian community. Really she didn't feel like she had any friends at all. She was sad, and the first time I met her she was talking about how she just wanted friends who really cared about her. She was going to all these things, but didn't feel like she was really finding friends to hang out with at any of them. Now I do want to say I think her corefas did a great job trying to invite her in. But corefas only have so much time! Leading core is basically a part time job, and they're in school full time, plus some of them have jobs as well. So the corefas were inviting her in, but couldn't really be her only people. And the core this girl in doesn't really have other people who are already plugged into FOCUS and could help connect this girl to our larger ministry. Their core was filled with newer people who were trying to figure out what it means to really live for God.

Anyway, when Katie realized that God wasn't going to magically take away all her feelings, she started backsliding. She believed "Well I'm always going to be a sinner. I just take the super slow path to trying to change. And God must be ok with that because he knows I'm a sinner." She started getting more plugged in with her sorority, and her and her boyfriend started spending the night together. This was actually a super scary time. She was such a new Christian, and I thought she was about to reject God because things were just too hard. And I realized her problem. Again, if you've ever tried to make a huge change, you know that you can't just stop doing things. You have to replace old habits with new ones. She had tried to change, but she was still continuing to do all these old habits. And when she didn't go to those parties or hangout with those friends, she would just feel sad and alone in her room. She hadn't found new friends or new activities to replace those old ones.

Since then I've been trying to get her plugged in with more people in our community. And the good news is I think it's working! She's been coming to more things, and I'm really hoping that this helps her make some good Christian friends. The other day she told me that she isn't sure she wants to do her sorority next semester because she isn't having fun. Please, please keep this girl in your prayers. I can see God moving in her life, and I just pray that she chooses him and chooses to leave her past self behind!

Storie #2 - Allison

This story is a lot shorter. Darby Cleveland, another staff person, had been doing a one-on-one Bible study with Allison over the summer. Darby moved to Denton, though, so she couldn't finish. It took a bit of time to get the study picked back up again. Our corefas didn't have time, so I started meeting with her. This girl has a similar story to Katie, where she also has a party background, but she wants to change it; and she's been making active steps to try to change that! I started meeting up with her, and we just went over a lesson on baptism. She wants to get baptized!!!! We're currently working on when this is going to happen, but I'm really excited. She specifically wants to make a commitment to live for God and wants other people to know she's made that commitment. God has just been doing some neat things in our community this year, and I'm really excited about it. 

Thank You's and KFG

Thank you so much for all your prayers and for being passionate about campus ministry! I really have seen this impact so many lives, including my own, and FOCUS couldn't exist without such generous people supporting in and helping it to continue. 

On that note, I wanted to share about a new opportunity coming up. Every year we have a big fundraiser called, Keep FOCUS Growing or KFG. While each of our staff raise support, it takes more than that to keep us doing ministry! We need outreach activities/materials, administrative support, health/retirement benefits, and have visions for planting on new campuses in the DFW area. This fundraiser is about being around for the long haul and meeting needs that aren't just staff salaries. 

This year some of our generous donors have banded together and agreed to match up to $36,00 in total donations during this campaign. So if we receive $36,000 in total contributions, they will kick in a SECOND $36,000! Your first chance to give will be on December 3rd! We're mainly going to be pushing this through Facebook because they don't charge any credit card fees. So if you have Facebook, be looking out for that. If you don't have Facebook, no worries! You can also give via check or through our website at

I know you guys have already been so generous, but I encourage you to think about whether you'd like to give to this at all.

Student Testimony

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Welcome Week Update

Hello friends,

Thank you for all your prayers for the new school year! Welcome week went unbelievably well. Our students met so many people, but the coolest thing was watching people they met continue to return and get plugged in.

I wanted to share some cool new things we tried this year. This welcome week we really wanted to focus on casting our nets wide. God has such an amazing vision of all the nations being included in his kingdom, so we wanted to do some specific events to reach diverse people groups. We had two events that were specific to international students (Big Howdy & Furniture Giveaway), one event trying to reach Latin American students (Latin Xplosion), and one event trying to reach Asian American students (Worship and Boba). I'd like to share about two of those four events!

Big Howdy

 This event was so cool! A bunch of different Christian ministries come together to throw a huge party to welcome international students to UTD. All the different ministries have booths set up for students to learn more about them, there is free food, live music, dancing, and giveaways. There were about 1200 students who attended this outdoor party.

I helped to organize student volunteers to meet people during this event, and I probably had about 40 people come to help work our one booth. At first everyone thought I was a little crazy for having that many people, but by the end of the night, they realized we probably could
have had even more people helping us! 

At the booth, we basically just tell international students who we are, how they can get involved, and invite them to our upcoming welcome week events. As the event got into full swing, we had waves upon waves of students coming to talk to us. At different times I would look around and saw that all my volunteers were talking to people. We got almost 400 core cards from that one event! It was the craziest and coolest welcome week event I've ever had the pleasure to be a part of!

Latin Xplosion

Left to right: Sandra, Adriana, Maria, Josh

So myself, Sandra Salvedor, Maria Lefki, Joshua Soto, and Adriana Gonzales helped to put on this event. As a staff we really wanted to make a space to invite people to join in being a part of creating a diverse culture. As someone who really is mostly a part of the majority, it's incredibly difficult for me to understand what it's like to walk into a place and realize that no one looks like me, no one speaks the language I prefer/my family uses, no one understands my culture or how I grew up. When you're the minority, you can crave to be a part of something that feels comfortable and safe when everything around you is so different. Lots of students will just plug into an organization or group who look like themselves, and I totally get it. But we can never achieve diversity if people don't join in with something that is different than what they're used to. 

We weren't really sure how many students would turn up, but that night we had quite a surprising turnout! We probably have 80 students come! We did a Mexican styled bingo game and had some get to know you things sprinkled throughout. This was designed to be a come and go event, but the coolest thing was that the vast majority of students stayed the whole time!

Maria, Sandra, and Josh also shared their experience coming into a ministry that was predominantly white and shared about why they decided to stayed, then they made a case for why these students should join something that was diverse. It was pretty powerful hearing their stories, and I've already seen some pretty neat fruit come from this event. And we received a lot of feedback from students who came that they were so thankful to have an event like this. They said it meant a lot to them. 


Over and over again I just realize how good God is. I remember coming to college and God bringing me into community. That was just such a powerful moment that radically changed my life. And it's so cool to get to be a part of creating spaces for God to do the same thing for all these students. I hope through this welcome week we were able to show people that God cares about everyone! It's so easy to go through life and only really reach out to people who look like you or think like you, but Jesus didn't go to people who looked like himself or thought like himself. Instead he asked to dine with sinners. He talked with foreigners and those who were despised. This was just such a great reminder to be more purposeful in reaching out to people who are different from myself. 

Anyway thanks for reading all this. I hope in encouraged you!

Student Testimony

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Summer Update


I hope your summer is going well. This past week we had an opportunity for our students to come to our church in Garland and read through the New Testament, watch some videos that explain some of what is going on in the books, and discuss what they're learning. So far it's been an amazing experience. This morning we read through 1 and 2 Thessalonians and 1 and 2 Corinthians, and I'm always blown away by how Paul starts off his letters. He is always so thankful and prayerful in his letter. There is a passage in 1 Thessalonians 3: 12-13 that I'd like to pray over you.

"May the Lord make your love increase and over flow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones."

That prayer just really stood out to me, and I hope it's meaningful to you as well.

I also just wanted to update you on a few things. We are wrapping up our corefa selection (our Bible study leaders), and I am incredibly excited for our leader team this year. I've been blown away by how excited people are to serve the community. Being a core facilitator (or corefa) is pretty time consuming. People commit to spending about 10-15 hours per week for leadership meetings, building community, and planning their groups. It can often be a daunting task, but we have had some incredibly awesome people step up and be excited to pour that much into community and trying to lead their peers more and more towards Jesus!!!!

The other thing I wanted to update you on was fundraising. I have about another $400/month left to fundraise. If you can keep that in your prayers, I would really appreciate that. Or if you know of anyone who would like to give to a campus missionary, I would really appreciate you helping me get into contact with them!

Thank you so much for all you do and for all your prayers. I'm really am so grateful to have such an awesome group on my support team, praying for this school, the students in our ministry and the ones we'll go out and meet this year, and our staff. It means a lot!

Student Testimony

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Prayer Requests


I hope your summer has been going well and the crazy weather hasn't affected your life too bad! I know some places got hit worse than others and there has been lots of power outages.

Update - I wrote about my dog a little bit ago and asked for prayers, and I just wanted to let you know that he seems like he's made a full recovery! God is so good:)

I just wanted to thank you for being so faithful in reading this, praying for me, and being an overall support! I've really loved getting to partner with you all and share about the ministry that is going on at UTD and TWU Dallas. I just finished my FIFTH year on staff! Which seems absolutely insane, and I'm incredibly grateful to have gotten to do campus ministry for that long and that would NOT be possible without you! This summer I'm renewing my contract with FOCUS for another three years, and I'm so excited. I'll be staying at UTD, but TWU Dallas will be taken over by our Dallas team ( Laurence, Sirak, Sandra, and Amber). We would love prayers for this transition and for this campus. It just needs more staff support than I could give, and I'm so excited for this change. I think it will be good having staff people who can be on the campus more and meet with more students.

On the note of summer, it's the time of year again where our whole staff is fundraising and in the process of choosing new leaders for this upcoming school year! I would absolutely love your prayers for both of these. Fundraising has been very challenging and emotional for me over the years, and this summer I'm really praying that God helps me learn to LOVE it which feels like a very bold and extreme prayer for me. Along with that prayer, I would love some prayers on my actual fundraising goals. I have about $600/month that I need to fundraise this summer. If you know of any people who would be interested in supporting campus ministry, let me know!

And our leader teams are coming along. The more people I talk to, the more excited I get for the Fall. I really think we're going to have some neat people this year, but I probably feel like that every year. We still want to make sure that we invite the people on our team that God wants on our team, and we just need the Spirit guiding these decisions. There are one or two people that we especially need His discernment and prayers for. They are people we would love to let lead because we believe being a corefa and having a higher level of accountability is good for people, but at the same time, we question whether that choice is going to be good for their relationship with God and with others.

Anyway, thank you again! Let me know if there is anything I can be praying for you about.

Student Testimony


Friday, April 26, 2019

Drawing to a Close


I hope your April has been going well!

Life Update

Goliath happily sunbathing
The past few weeks have been absolutely crazy for Laurence and I with a lot of ups and downs. I know a lot of you I'm not able to talk to regularly, so I thought this would be a great way to update you on our lives. During Spring Break we found out our dog, who is a dachshund named Goliath, has a degenerative disk disease. We think because of the disease he fell down a flight of concrete stairs. We ended up taking him to 3 different vets. The first two had very discouraging prognosis'. They basically told us that most likely he wouldn't heal on his own; the only way to fix the problem was through surgery and that would be around $4000. We didn't think we could do that, and they told us that the condition was pretty painful. So we thought we were going to have to put him down. It was a really emotional decision.

Luckily, we had a bunch of dog loving friends who encouraged us to just try to get a third opinion. He originally got hurt in Lubbock, TX, so we took him to his vet in Richardson. I am so incredibly thankful we did! She had a much more positive prognosis and believed that he actually could do a full recovery if given enough time to heal and recover. So she suggested we put him on strict kennel rest for two weeks, and we could evaluate what to do after that time. He has been recovering so well and is having no problem walking on his own. He also is in no pain and seems mostly normal (he just walks a little funny).

On top of all the dog craziness, we've been in the process of trying to buy a house for the first time! That process has been crazy, frustrating, and slowly working out in such a neat way. I'm so excited to say we will be closing on our house this upcoming Tuesday!

I realize that is kind of a long update, but I just wanted to take a moment to praise God. This has been such a crazy, stressful month, and I feel like he has been incredibly faithful and present through this whole time!

Ministry Update/Prayer Requests

I normally try to keep these blogs kind of short, but before I go, I also wanted to briefly share this neat ministry story. Last year I had been mentoring a few different students who were reaching out to this girl who had grown up Hindu. She was interested in learning about other religions and was/is going to a couple different religious groups to try to figure out what they all believed, and ultimately to figure out what she believes. They had invited her to do a one on one Bible study, and she refused. That was just a little bit too much for her, and she wasn't trying to convert. 

All 3 of the students who had been reaching out to her graduated last spring, and I personally didn't keep tabs on whether this girl came back to our ministry this year. Crazy cool God deal happened, though, and she ended up getting involved in another core this year. The new corefas asked her if she wanted to do a one and one Bible study, and she again refused. Then around November, she came back and asked if that offer was still available!!! 

I had time to pick up another study, so I started meeting with her. She still doesn't want to be converted and doesn't want to change her life based on what the Bible says, so we aren't quite doing a one on one Bible study yet. We just talk a lot about who God is and how do you decide/know there is a God. This is by far one of my favorite meetings a week, and it's been so encouraging getting to talk about how neat God is and how he has moved in my life. I'm so excited to see how God continues moving in this girls life.

I just wanted to ask you all to keep her (and myself) in your prayers. More than anything I really want to lead her to Jesus, and with every person that looks differently. I need wisdom and the Spirit to continue guiding me in this process and for God to continue softening her heart and revealing himself to her. 

We're also in the process of wrapping up the year, and we (myself, the rest of the staff, and our students) could really use prayer requests about ending the year well. 

Thank you so much for reading through the blog! I know it was a longer one, but I feel like so many neat things have been happening. Hopefully you're encouraged! 

Student Testimony

Thursday, March 7, 2019

March Update


I hope you're doing well and have enjoyed some of the warmer, sunnier days that have happened!

I had heard people say that as you grow older, time seems to go by faster. I didn't believe them when I was younger, but now I find myself shocked, over and over again by how fast time is flying. I can't believe that we are already in March. We just accepted our apprentices for next year and finalized who will be going to SICM in May! It just seems like this school year shouldn't be ending so quickly!

Anyway, please be in prayer for those two things! We're about to enter into fundraising season for both SICM and the apprenticeship again, so we'll need lots of prayers for boldness, discipline, and trust! As well as prayers for God to reveal himself powerfully to those stepping out on a limb for him and generosity from God's community:)

Pizza Theology

I wanted to update you on how this event went if you weren't able to attend! As always it was extremely good. I remember going through the Exodus Pizza Theology as a student, and it was just as powerful now as it was as a student! 

If you'd like to listen to it, we have the recording on our website.

Student Testimony

Monday, February 4, 2019

February Update

Hello everyone,

I hope you're all doing well! We've had some dreary weather lately, and if you're like me, your mood is tide to the sun. Today is a beautifully sunny, warm day, and I'm feeling great! It just seems like such a gift from God that we have such a beautiful day in February, and I'm going to try to make sure I can spend some time outside later today, and you should definitely try to do the same!

Another reason I'm excited that it's February is that my 2 year anniversary is coming up on the 11th. I seriously can't believe that we've been married for two years. On one hand that seems like such a short time (and it is), but on the other hand it seems like so long. It has been such a journey learning how to be married, adjust expectations, communicate better, etc. A lot of that has felt very rough and bumpy, but right now I feel like we're in the best place relationally we've ever been (praise God)! I'm excited to see how God keeps growing us: not just in how we relate to each other, but also how we relate to Him and others as a couple.

Winter Camp

Thank you to everyone who prayed for Winter Camp! I think it went so well, and everyone arrived to and from camp safely. Quick update, I mostly work at UTD, but I also work at TWU Dallas and have helped some girls launch a graduate school ministry at UTD Callier for woman getting their masters in Speech Pathology. Right now both of these ministries are small, but it's been so incredibly neat seeing how God is working in both places. 

TWU this year, we basically had to build the ministry all over again from scratch. Everyone who wasn't a corefa graduated last spring, so we just weren't sure how this year was going to go. The neat thing is though, that the ministry is actually the biggest it's ever been, and we have also had our first guys join. Sadly not as many people could come to camp, but we did have a few people come. I just can't tell you how incredible it is that anybody came from TWU. Those students seem overloaded all the time; so stressed out about clinicals, classes, and some of them even have to work. This is also the first year were we've had only students leading core. We've needed alumni to step in the past few years because we didn't have students who were interested in leading. I really think we'll be able to have a completely student run ministry again next year, and we'll be invited a few people to SICM. I'm just so excited to see how God continues working at this campus!

UTD Callier
The woman in the Callier ministry are all people who went through the UTD ministry. The two woman in the middle are the corefa's who are leading this experimental ministry. They are really the ones who saw a need for something at the Callier campus (which is across the street from TWU Dallas, all the way down town. That's the reason we felt the need to do something different, instead of keeping them in the UTD ministry.) It's always so neat to me when students have something laid on their hearts and are willing to go out and try to make that happen for God. I'm not really sure what the long term will look like for this campus, but it's been awesome seeing how God has been impacting people that normally couldn't have/wouldn't have made the drive to go to core all the way in Richardson.

Please keep praying for these ministries! Thanks so much for investing in these students and what God is doing on these campuses. Definitely none of this would be possible without you!

Student Testimony

Monday, January 14, 2019



I hope you all had a great Christmas and New Years! This was probably one of the best Christmas breaks; not for any particular reason or because anything big happened. It was just the right amount of busy and restful. Laurence and I were able to work on a few projects, got to hang out with both of our families, and also have down time. It's left me feeling very recharged, and I am so ready to be back!

Big Howdy

So I'll go ahead and jump right in! This past Friday, we had an event at UTD called the Big Howdy. This is a welcome party some organizations come together to throw for the international students on campus. We do it in the Fall as well! We had around 400 new international students come to UTD this Spring!! 

This was such a fun event, and we had a pretty awesome turn out! There are so many things that go on throughout the event. For starters, there is free food which definitely draws students. There is dancing, and actually Abbie Malone, one of our FOCUS apprentices, taught some line dances to the students throughout the event. I walked into the room as she was teaching Thriller, and EVERYONE was on the dance floor. It was really neat to see so many smiling faces. Another neat thing about this party is that organizations have tables set up, so the international students can hear about what that particular group is doing on campus or how they can get involved more. We give the students these bingo cards as they register that have all the organization tables on it as well as some goals that will help them meet new people. They then turn those cards in to get added into this drawing for prizes, so needless to say, students definitely go to the organization tables. So we met lots of new people, and we actually got several students sign up to get more information! Be praying that those students actually show up and that we can really bless the international students on our campus!

Spring Welcome Week

This week we are going to do a Spring Welcome Week at UTD. We have three events that we are putting on to help meet new people on campus. We haven't done this in a few years, so we aren't super sure how it will go. Our hope is that the students in our ministry can use these events to help meet people in their classes, and it gives them something to invite people they're meeting to. 

We would really appreciate it if you could be in prayer for these events!

Student Testimony