The ADN Conference: Upon This Rock

Last week was the ADN conference, which, as I mentioned in my last post, was all about our identity as the Church of Christ. The theme was “Sobre Esta Roca,” or “Upon This Rock,” from the passage Matthew 16:13-18 – Peter’s Confession of Christ. We had guest speakers and guest worship leaders, introduced a new mission statement and new songs, and built on the unity we have in Christ as a church, as a congregation. It was only three days long, but it was amazing.

Check out the promo video from my personal page (shared from Jesiah Hansen‘s page):

Translation:
Twelve disciples. One question.
“What do people say about me?”
“Some say that you are John the Baptist.
Others say you are Elijah.
Others say Jeremiah.”
“And you, who do you say that I Am?”
And Peter responded: “You are the Messiah.” And Jesus said
“Upon this rock
I will build
My Church.”

And then some information about the event…

Yes, La Fuente makes excellent videos. Also, the main girl in the video was my old roommate, Andrea!

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“Comienza a declarar quien es Él y Él va a declarar quien eres tú.”
“Start declaring who He is, and He will declare who you are.”
                                      – Pastor Dwight “Diego” Hansen: Sobre Esta Roca (Upon This Rock)

We spent Tuesday and Wednesday morning setting up for the event – cleaning, setting up decorations, making sure everything was in place, and going over schedules so everyone was on the same page to make the week go as smoothly as possible.

Our two guest speakers were Mike Connaway (preached in English) and Andrew Spyker (preached in Spanish). They were both awesome, but to keep things short and sweet, I’ll focus on my favourite teaching, which just so happened to be the only English service (it’s just a coincidence, I promise – I’ve gotten really good at understanding Spanish, so much so that it’s become nearly second nature with a few regular speakers). Pastor Mike Connaway taught an inspiring lesson on Matthew 13:12, “For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

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“A miracle, you receive in an instant, a promise you inherit for eternity.”
                                                                                                                              – Pastor Andrés Spyker

He explained that to the world and those who don’t understand how God’s word works, this verse is the most “un-Christian” verse in the whole Bible, on account for how unfair it seems. But Jesus spoke not of two different people, but of the same person. The verse is all about mindset – if you think you have nothing and speak so over yourself, you’ll find that God won’t bless that attitude, and eventually, you’ll find that you will always have less and “not enough.” But if you speak blessing over yourself and thank God for what you have, and you count your blessings so to speak, you’ll find that God does, in fact, bless this, and you’ll end up with much more than you have now.

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Pastor Mike Connaway teaching on Matthew 13:12.

This was something I really needed to be reminded of due to my current circumstances: God is my Provider who won’t let me lack in anything, and as long as I live by this truth, He will honour my faith.

So what, on the surface, reads like the most unfair verse in the Bible, actually turns out to be one of the most empowering verses. Just a reminder: your words have power.

This is the first conference during which I was on the worship team, and those of you who have been here know first-hand that La Fuente takes worship very seriously. In a fun way, of course, but we spend hours on a Saturday as a whole team (meaning all singers and all musicians) perfecting any new song we add to our roster so that when we introduce the song (that Sunday), we can have fun and truly worship with it – no stands, no anything. And God is obviously working with and through these individuals, because they kill it every week. I am so blessed to have an opportunity to worship with them.

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Kelly Spyker (Pastor Andrés Spyker’s wife) joining us Thursday night for worship, leading the song “What a Beautiful Name” by Hillsong.

We love to introduce new songs, and last week we introduced two new ones: Come Right Now by Planetshakers, and Open Heaven (River Wild) by Hillsong. I’m hoping to introduce these (and a couple more) when I’m back in Chicago.

And finally – La Fuente is a church that values and strives for growth. On Thursday morning, Pastor Tony Simon (who will be joining Church in the Word for their Thanksgiving service, by the way, and he’s very excited about that) introduced their revised mission statement:

“Existimos para alcanzar y guiar a todos a Jesús, ensañandoles a crecer y servir en su iglesia.”

“We exist to reach and guide all to Jesus, teaching them to grow and serve in their church.”

And I realised why I came here, and why I need to come back. I needed to learn this myself so I could pour into others in an efficient and loving way. When I come back, I’ll also be setting an example of how to grow and serve outside of church, where people least expect it, and I can’t wait.


Thank you all so much for the support and hanging with me during this season of internal growth. Though it’s hard to really showcase the progress I’ve made, just rest assured that it’s all leading up to something a lot bigger down the road. Please don’t forget to like and share, and as always, prayers and donations are much appreciated! If you have any questions, please feel free to ask away.

Love you guys!!

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A Season in Reverse

I’m nearly finished with my year here in Mexico, meaning I’m almost done with Vanguard. It’s been quite a year, and it’s kind of crazy that I’m ending it where everyone else began. But somehow, it’s fitting.

I have been told more than once that it’s pretty obvious that I’m not here for the Vanguard curriculum – the most recent example being the young woman who grades my homework pulling me aside one day and telling me that based off of my participation in class and the work I turn in on homework and tests, I’m not here to gain knowledge (which isn’t to say that I haven’t learned a lot in my time here, because I definitely have). I have a pretty solid grasp on biblical concepts, and I have an understanding of how to apply those concepts to my everyday life. She told me that while she’s pretty sure I’m here for something else, she isn’t quite sure what that thing is.

I, myself, have known this since I enrolled in Vanguard – I didn’t come here with school in mind. I had always known that it would be more of a underlying thing. It seems to be setting the groundwork for what I’m supposed to be here doing. Some of you may remember, if you asked me about the school, that I had the mindset that I’m here for missions work, but the school was for me to keep grounded in the Word and to have the grounds to form my personal beliefs, beliefs that I hold conviction for, rather than the beliefs of someone else that I can merely regurgitate.

While it may seem like I’m discrediting my time in Vanguard, this was all to say the complete opposite: my time in Vanguard was/is critical for this season.

I realise that I haven’t done much that would count as mission work, and this is why: in the same way that I started Vanguard where everyone else finished, I’m preparing/being prepared for my own ministry in a conventionally backwards way. You often hear that people are called to other countries to be missionaries, not the other way around. But I came to another country to discover and develop my calling. And as backwards as it may seem, this season, being a season of pruning and refinement, was more for me and my development than it was for me to pour out and give.

But that’s going to change when I’m ready to come back.

I feel like I’ve been going forwards walking backwards this year – it explains why things have been hard (especially at first), why things have, at times, been unnervingly awkward for me up until recently, and why I have had such a hard time seeing where I am going to end up in the future. But I realise now, that even though I’ve been walking backwards, the Holy Spirit has been walking right beside me, guiding me. While I’m walking backwards, He’s facing forwards, and as long as I keep my eyes on Him, I’m okay. He helps me through the twists and turns, the winding of the road, the bumpy, broken places. Only He knows where we’re going and what’s ahead, and recently, He’s allowed me to glance back now and again, but He’s been pretty clear with me on one thing: I’m not going to be able to turn around until after I come back to America. While I’m here, I can see all the things I can do to help (the mission work I came here for), but only after I’ve walked past the opportunity. And yes, it hurts me, and I want to be able to come here and tell you all that I’m doing so much missions work, but it’s not that time yet.

Now that isn’t to say that I haven’t done anything missions related. I’ve helped in the church; I’ve helped in a few of the extensions; I went and evangelised downtown; I participated in the mission trip/crusade hosted by Vanguard – I’ve done mission work. But it wasn’t what I expected, and I’m sure it wasn’t what you all expected either. I thought I would come home after a year here and have crazy stories documented on this blog, that I could retell to my friends, and use as anecdotes for devotionals, and I would make myself and everyone I care about proud. I had expectations. I’m sure everyone did.

But God specialises in a lot of things, and breaking and exceeding expectations is one of those things. This year didn’t happen the way I thought it would, but that doesn’t mean it happened wrong. I’m more than pleased with this outcome, because there is more potential for growth now than I ever could have dreamt of on my own.

And I couldn’t have done it without Vanguard – I learned a lot, saw and experienced a lot (like what happens when people practice what they preach and follow what they learn in Vanguard), and met/formed connections very important people that will be part of my ministry in the future. Not to mention I was put in an environment where I needed to at least understand Spanish to succeed.

I’m excited to come back to Chicago, not only because I miss you guys, but also because I know that I’ll be finishing this season and starting a new one back in America, and I can’t wait to see how God will exceed my expectations when the next season comes around.

Five Things I Learned in Tlajomulco

Saludos!

It’s been a while, and a lot has happened. I want to thank everyone who has been following along despite the fact that I’m not as good as I should be at keeping you updated. That being said, I’ll continue with the update.

As you know (if you read my last post), last month I went on a mission trip to Tlajomulco, a city near Guadalajara. Even though I knew I would enjoy it more than I thought I would (so my expectations were high from the start), I didn’t think I would be as affected by it as I was. I evangelised, fed people, prayed for strangers, sang for worship, acted for skits, etc… and in doing so, I learned these things:

1. Don’t over think. Just be.

I don’t have it in me to do and be everything perfectly, no matter how hard I try or how determined I am or how well-prepared I may be. And that’s okay. I’m not here to make myself or my team or my school look good. I’m here to glorify the only One worthy of praise, and if I keep my focus on Him, then my slip-ups won’t matter in the grand scheme of things, and my mistakes are opportunities for the magnification of Christ, just as much as the things I do right. I learned that God made me the way He wanted, and whatever I don’t appreciate, I either developed in rebellion (anything that goes against God’s Word/ anything I’ve done apart from Him), or I have yet to trust Him with. The best I can do is to seek Him and be in His presence, to focus on His glory and planning. It’s okay to let go and just… be. Be in His presence. Be who He is calling me to be. Be a little uncomfortable sometimes. Be awkward, silly, useful, unsure, emotional – alive. In every moment, be alive, and aware that you’re here for a purpose, and be grateful for those very reasons – sometimes, I think they’re all that separates me from the dead and dying.

2. Make an effort. Really.

Gosh, how I wish I had put the same effort into the first week that I had put into the last week. I wish I had put more effort into the trip as a whole. I didn’t really understand the extent of the regret I would feel until after we were on our way home and I saw the “TEPIC” sign greeting us, and I forced myself to hold back tears of “have I really left that place? Is it really over?” I wish I had put more effort into my work, my Spanish skills, my worship, my leadership (goodness, my leadership), and my interactions with people. Those I’ll probably never properly meet, and those I should have invested in long before the crusade began. But because I can’t go back and change what I did or didn’t do, the best I can do now is to use it as a learning experience and try my best to carry it with me.

3. Short term =/= Insignificant.

Sometimes, short term relationships (referring to platonic friendships) are just as meaningful as the long term. I’ve always had an insatiable yearning for connection, and as a result, I often find myself avoiding certain people due to the feeling I get which tells me: this isn’t going to last. Of course, coming here to Mexico took every relationship I could potentially form and turned them into one huge boulder that barely fit in the pit of my stomach, and it was hard to swallow. The feeling of “this isn’t going to last” was inescapable. Unless I planned on staying here long-term, none of these people would be in my life longer than a year, and that put me on edge and made me feel a little empty inside. It scared me. I’m still trying to get over the fear, in all honesty. But in Tlajomulco, I met some new people, and I met some old ones as well – my classmates. For months, I kept to myself, endured awkward small talk, and stayed nestled in that nook whose slippery edges I had become familiar with – welcome, but out of place. For months, I did this to make sure I wouldn’t get too attached. But as I worked with them, ate with them, and worshipped with them, they crawled out of the boxes I placed them in, neatly labeled for my convenience, “extras/short-term acquaintances,” and planted themselves somewhere warmer and closer. It was slow enough not to feel fabricated, but quick enough to feel as if it caused me a kind of mild trauma. But I wouldn’t take it back, because they helped me grow, gently urged me out of my shell, and made me feel like I was home. Like I belonged. I forgot I was over 1,000 miles away from home, in a different country. It felt familiar. But saddening at the same time, because as they were all crying over the bittersweetness of leaving one another, I once again felt out of place, because I still wasn’t nearly as close to them as they were each other. But once again, I know now, and I’m investing in the people who are still here – still scared, but not weighed down anymore.

4. Put yourself out there.

For those who know me personally, you know I am not exactly what you would call a confident person. I hesitate. I doubt. I get scared sometimes. But if I don’t put myself out there, I’m not very likely to grow. I can have the best theories, sound theology, and pure intentions, but if I keep it in my head, and not in my heart and hands and on my sleeve, what good is it? If I don’t allow those things to manifest in my character, do they carry the same weight? What better way to prompt that manifestation than to extend my thoughts, love, and actions into the outside world by speaking, evangelising, and serving? For the unsure, this isn’t easy. And it doesn’t always turn out to be fun. Sometimes, you say or do the wrong thing, and sometimes people don’t want what you’re offering. You don’t always see results and you don’t always feel good about it, or accomplished. But God rewards the faithful.It’s not always fun, no. But it’s worth it, I promise.

5. Tejuino is the worst beverage man has ever concocted. Ever.

Seriously. Everyone here thinks it’s the ichor of the heavens, but it tastes horrible. I don’t know what exactly I was expecting from a drink composed mainly of fermented corn, ice, and lime juice, but I attempted to try something new and it backfired horrendously. Tejuino? More like tejuiNO.

Tlajomulco was amazing. I may be missing my last year at Love Packages, but as I predicted, God more than made up for it. In fact, He went beyond my expectations (they can never be high enough). I’m in awe – really. I just hope I can make it back there one day, knowing now what I didn’t know then.


That’s it for now! Next will be what I learned in Vanguard this semester – a list of a few of my favourite classes.

And just a heads up: I’ll be home June 27th, and I’m set to leave for Mexico again on July 11th. That’s two weeks of Miko in America. It’s been amazing down here, but of course, I’m excited to visit home for a couple of weeks to see my family and friends.

Ed:
Thank you so much for the ongoing love and support! It is greatly, greatly appreciated. I will definitely be making time to talk with you when I get back, sir! No doubt.
**(P.S – A big THANK YOU to you and your wife for letting your daughter come down here with Lex to bring me back home! I was giddy when I saw her name on the ticket receipts…)

Don’t forget to like, share, and comment, please! It means a lot to hear from you guys!