Northern New Mexico mountains. I consider them my home waters and in some cases, just a short hour long drive from my house, I can be knee deep in crystal clear cold water fishing for trout. During the summer months, many of the streams can be...
I have written often of my love for fishing our Northern New Mexico mountains. I consider them my home waters and in some cases, just a short hour long drive from my house, I can be knee deep in crystal clear cold water fishing for trout.
During the summer months, many of the streams can be busy places and why not? The proximity to Texas and more warmer climates to the south, make them a refuge for many visitors weary of the heat down below.
Although I will cast a fly in some of the more popular streams in Northern New Mexico, I often frequent the wilderness.
"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging."
It is in the wilderness I find peace, solitude and communion with God. And although I usually hit the wilderness waters a dozen times a year, it is only on rare occasion that I have seen another fisherman.
As I make my way down to the river, I hear its voice speaking to me from below as it’s waters tumble down the mountain. Other than the voice of the river, there isn’t another sound in the canyon. A group of mule deer browse quietly and they are mostly unaware or unconcerned with my presence.
As I get to the river, I look for the best holding water and slip quietly into the cold water. It’s summertime and temperatures are somewhere in the low 70’s in this high mountain country. It represents a perfect scenario for fly fishing for trout in the Southern Rockies.
With the orange stimulator and bead header dropper, my enticing combination is cast into the water. Instantly, a hungry brown trout attacks the fly. As I pull the trout in to my net, I am not surprised. It is never big on this small stream, yet it is wild and an intimate part of God’s creation. It is perfection on earth.
With the exception of the river tumbling over the rocks down the canyon, it is completely silent in the wilderness. There are no human voices, cars or other sounds to disturb this perfect version of God’s creation. But the river is still there. It is a deafening silence that is only broken by the sound of the river.
Our lives are at times like that, especially in those moments when we are unclear if God is speaking to us or even listening. But the reality is, God is always there and hears our prayers. We may only hear deafening silence as we go to Him in prayer. However, like the river, God is always there offering refuge to us in our time of need.
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. – Psalm 46:1-3
Think back to your first day at college. For some of us it may be longer than we want to admit. It was a time of big changes in your life. You were no longer the “big” person on campus. There was a whole new schedule and vibe to college. And, to make matters worse, they expected you to study. For those that went off to college, you had the added challenge of a new city to navigate and no mother to cook your meals or do your laundry. Now consider what it would be like if you were studying in a different country...
Think back to your first day at college. For some of us it may be longer than we want to admit. It was a time of big changes in your life. You were no longer the “big” person on campus. There was a whole new schedule and vibe to college. And, to make matters worse, they expected you to study. For those that went off to college, you had the added challenge of a new city to navigate and no mother to cook your meals or do your laundry.
Now consider what it would be like if you were studying in a different country. You would have the extra challenges of having to adjust to a whole new culture, new foods and a new language. All of this with your support group thousands of miles away. You are particularly reminded of this as you step off the plane, sleep deprived, needing to find the campus and a place to live.
This is why International Students Inc. (ISI) exists—to share Christ's love with international college students during a time when they need it most.
Since 1953, ISI has been training Americans to meet international students' needs. These Americans befriend international students and help them adjust to American culture. ISI staff and volunteers are working on 677 campuses across the country, including the University of New Mexico, to orient and acquaint international students to their new home and cultural experience.
In fact, many universities encourage students in their acceptance letter to reach out to ISI for assistance in acclimating.
In 2018 alone, the UNM ISI Team:
- Served 1,600 lunches,
- Picked up 120 students from the airport,
- Hosted 105 students for temporary homestays,
- Helped 65 students find housing,
- Helped 190 students get furniture for their apartments, and
- Hosted almost 300 students at the Welcome center.
ISI is touching the lives of countless students, helping them to settle into life in Albuquerque. But ISI’s reach does not stop there. Seventy students participated in hiking and sightseeing groups. Over 125 students were paired with Friendship Partners who meet at least monthly with the student to have fun and assist with life’s little challenges. Additionally, twenty-five students participated in Bible Studies, fifty students attended Home Groups and four made a profession of faith.
The impact of this work is multiplied when these students return home to share their faith, literally all over the world.
Maybe the coolest part of it all is that God lets us be a part of what he is doing. There are so many opportunities to get engaged, all with the opportunity to have some fun, meet some really interesting and energetic students, and to do something eternally meaningful. In fact, ISI will be looking for help in a number of ways, including:
- Picking students up at the airport,
- Hosting short-term home stays (2-5 nights) where you simply need to get the student to the Welcome Center each morning and pick them up a the end of the day,
- Assist student’s in finding an apartment,
- Picking up and delivering furniture,
- Organizing and leading hiking and sight-seeing trips,
- Become a Friendship Partner (monthly activities with the same student throughout their stay at UNM)
- Assisting with English classes,
- Donate meals or furniture, and
- Most importantly, you can pray.
All of this is starting now! Stan Schug and I get constant requests for volunteers. If you can help just let us know your interest and when you are available, we will help get you connected. If your not sure bring your questions to us, or better yet, join us on an ISI event—you won’t regret it.
I’m not much good at asking for help. Never have been. It’s not that I don’t need or don’t want it, it’s just a flaw in my character. A flaw that afflicts my human relations, as well as my relationship with God. I was taught self-reliance at an early age. I was required to help provide for the family with a hunting rifle, a shotgun, fur traps, or a fishing pole from about age 8. In the mountains...
I’m not much good at asking for help. Never have been. It’s not that I don’t need or don’t want it, it’s just a flaw in my character. A flaw that afflicts my human relations, as well as my relationship with God. I was taught self-reliance at an early age. I was required to help provide for the family with a hunting rifle, a shotgun, fur traps, or a fishing pole from about age 8. In the mountains, Dad made me carry an emergency fire kit, flint and steel exclusively, for two years before I was allowed to carry matches or a lighter.
Independence was not just encouraged, it was ingrained. Later in life, I adopted a career requiring healthy doses of unconventional individualism, personal courage, service to others, and self-sufficiency. “Keep it simple, Kenney. Go here, do that, come home alive.”
Needless to say, I grew up and have lived my life with the understanding that it was largely up to me. Even after becoming a Christian, I occasionally experienced difficulty in asking God for help. Afterall, I reasoned, He built me with all the tools I needed to survive – it was up to me to use them correctly and ON me if I didn’t.
But that’s not what God says at all. In 2 Corinthians 3:5 Paul writes, “Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God…”
at this point in my life,
God is teaching me His way. "
I’ve spent much of the last year learning that my complete self-reliance can conflict with God’s plan. Physically, emotionally, and spiritually I have been brought to my knees with realization after realization that I do need help, from time to time. Sometimes it is professional help in the form of doctors and lawyers and such. Sometimes it is friends and buddies who refuse to take no for an answer, especially when I am being stubborn and somewhat of a jackalope. Often it has been recognizing the role of my family supporting me vice my supporting them. All of which, I see the hand of God manifest in.
In Corinthians 12:9, Paul again writes that Christ’s grace is sufficient and that His power is perfected in our weakness. Rarely have I seen those words be truer than in the past month.
Most recently, in recovering from hip surgery, every little thing that seemingly could go wrong has. Vehicle repairs with both of our rigs that threatened to leave us stranded. Mysterious, unidentified warning alarms incessantly toning from the bowels of our house at completely random times. Swamp cooler issues with no way to fix and no way to replace (imagine one man, two crutches, and a thirty-foot ladder).
What has amazed me during in this short snap-shot of life, is how blessed we are to live where and how we do. God has placed in our lives people who are generous of their time, knowledge, and resources. He has made me unable to do the things I normally would. The Lord has made me ask for help.
Picking up the phone and starting a conversation with “Listen, brother, I hate to ask this, but. . .” is a skill not practiced and therefore, not perfected. It is, however, something I am getting better at. And the Lord has provided His reinforcement of my humility. Whether it is those individuals who offer expert help in automotive adventures, or those who come over in the middle of the night at the drop-of-a-hat to find the low-voltage transformer screaming in a wall cavity, or whether it is those friends who spend their Independence Day with a screwdriver and a crane to fly a new swamp cooler to our roof and have it running in minutes.
None of these great, common people asked for a reward or for compensation. They just did. Indeed, several may not even be Christians as you and I would recognize them to be. However, each knew their role and each gave unselfishly of themselves. In so doing, they taught me lessons about myself, God’s provision, and the trustworthiness of my friends and neighbors.
Even now, at this point in my life, God is teaching me His way. In short, a little more humility and a little less bullheaded pride, goes a long way. Even for me.
Vacation Bible School… definitely sounds like something for the kids, but let me tell you, I grow so much from my experiences with it every year I get to participate. The theme is Power Up: Raise Your Game. It’s cool that we get to tie God’s word to something most kids are seeing or doing every single day...
Vacation Bible School… definitely sounds like something for the kids, but let me tell you, I grow so much from my experiences with it every year I get to participate. The theme is Power Up: Raise Your Game. It’s cool that we get to tie God’s word to something most kids are seeing or doing every single day.
While video games are being played after VBS by these awesome kiddos we’ve had here, I am praying that they remember the spoken truths that we talked about with them.
I was blessed to get to be the storyteller this year at VBS. You know, get up, give the big picture, and hopefully make the kids laugh a bit in the process.
I love telling stories, so this was definitely up my alley; I’ve discovered over the years that I’m a bit of a perfectionist in certain areas and that perfectionist really came out in me yesterday. I had worked hard to memorize all the lines so I could fully engage the kids and not be distracted from reading off a paper.
I was nervous but was doing my best to remember that God was still in control and I couldn’t mess this up- not really, anyway. Well, I got up there, started telling the story…and totally messed it up. I skipped lines all over the place, had to get back on track multiple times, etc. By the time I stepped off stage, I was really disappointed in myself. I couldn’t believe that I had messed up after all that practice!
Did the kids even learn anything? Did any of it make sense? How could I have done this? I went back up to the office to get some work done and while I sat in the quiet, I started praying. Pretty sure it was mostly a pity party prayer, not gonna lie. But God was so gracious and He spoke to me in my frustration. Kind of felt like He was basically saying, “Sarah, you do remember what you just told the kids right? You just told them where our real power comes from. Yet here you are, trying to be powerful on your own without me.” Ouch. That hit hard, but it was a truth I needed to hear. I had gotten up to encourage those kids to turn to God for their power all while I was relying on my OWN strength to get me through the story telling.
It’s neat that we can take a week to really focus on God. We’re answering questions from the kids, making sure we’re giving an example, but we’re also trying to be really honest with these guys. They’re incredibly receptive and are eager to soak up whatever they can. So what is a better way to encourage them than to admit that we still mess up and still need God’s strength to get us through? I’ve gotten to see several adults doing that with the kids already and it encourages me to do the same.
To let go of the pride and let God be glorified through my mess.
Of course, since that’s the last thing the Enemy wants me to do, he is going to be trying his hardest to distract me from the truth, to tempt me to put my eyes back on myself instead of God, and get those seeds of doubt planted in my heart. The awesome thing, though, is that I know he’s going to be doing this. So now I know how to prepare myself for that battle: by stepping back and remembering where my true power comes and letting God be the strength inside me.
Definitely easier said than done, but, just as we’ve been teaching the kids here at VBS, “God’s power gives us everything we need to lead a Godly life.” 2 Peter 1:3a (NIRV)
If there has been a book (besides the bible) that has been more influential on my Christian walk I don’t know what it is. I encourage you to add a level of gravity to your summer by taking on this book. Let God show you that He is everything. In Corrie’s words, “You can never learn that Christ is all you need, until Christ is all you have...”
Ah summer! Finally, a break from the responsibility and monotony of school and extracurriculars. A chance to hang out with your friends, relax, maybe go swimming… and read a book about the holocaust.
As odd as it sounds, I knew when thinking about books I would have every student read that this one is at the top of the list. The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom is the non-fiction story of Corrie and her family living in the Netherlands during World War 2. What starts out as a description of an idyllic childhood growing up in a dilapidated house where each day is bookended by scripture reading, quickly morphs into a spy novel as the Ten Booms and their home become the center for a major anti-Nazi operation, and then morphs again as horror comes to their doorstep and whisks them away.
My first experience with this book was when I was seven years old. My mom read it aloud to me before bed, and even then I recognized that this story showcased something special. It’s the story of a family whose dedication to God is completely unwavering through circumstances that are the stuff of nightmares. I knew I couldn’t live without that hope.
It was after one of these nights of weeping with my mom about what God allowed to happen to Corrie and her sister and how faithful He was in all of it, that I asked Jesus to forgive my sins and become my savior. If there has been a book (besides the bible) that has been more influential on my Christian walk I don’t know what it is. I encourage you to add a level of gravity to your summer by taking on this book. Let God show you that He is everything. In Corrie’s words, “You can never learn that Christ is all you need, until Christ is all you have.”
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Sister’s in Stitches is hosting a Mystery YOYO Craft Workshop on Wednesday, July 10 from 1:00pm-4:00pm in the Fellowship Hall. For this workshop, they will be taking a break from using sewing machines and exploring ways to use scrap fabric! Contact Davra Clayton to save your spot!
The Collective is MCC's new High School Ministry! They meet in the Fellowship Hall Fridays from 7:00-9:00pm beginning July 12th! Contact Sami Gutierrez to learn more.
The MCC Elders and Connectors will be hosting a Starting Point Lunch Sunday, July 14th after second service. The luncheon is a great way to learn more about MCC, ask questions and meet new people! No RSVP required.Want to learn more about MCC? Contact Sarah to get our weekly newsletter in your in-box every Friday!