The spring semester is the semester where we just get to do the things that we do best. Missionaries have usually found their 'sea legs' by now, and we've really settled into the groove of the school year. This is great, because the spring semester is also usually pretty chaotic and very full. Even through all of the chaos, the Lord, in His usual fashion, supplies the grace and the energy that we need to continue building His Kingdom.
Fan Into Flame
A key part of the ministry of Saint Paul's Outreach is our Fan Into Flame retreat. Every chapter puts on this yearly retreat in an effort to invite students into a deeper relationship with Christ, particularly with the Holy Spirit, and to introduce them to a joyful community of other students running after the Lord. This is my fifth Fan Into Flame retreat (3 as a student + 2 as a missionary), so I have years of proof that this retreat works. I have seen student after student be impacted by this weekend and I have seen so many lives actually change, and it is one of my favorite parts of this mission.
This year, we handed most of the leadership roles over to our students: they gave the talks, handled registration and other administrative tasks, led small groups, served on the music team, and made sure we had plenty of snacks to go around. I have bragged time and time again of our students and their dedication and service to this mission, and I will do it again: OUR STUDENTS ARE THE BEST. It was humbling to realize that our team of 19 missionaries (our team + the University of St. Thomas team) can only do so much to put on a retreat for a little over 200 college students. The service of our student leaders was an immeasurable gift and this retreat simply wouldn't have happened without them. I also got to take some pictures throughout the weekend when I wasn't supervising small groups; enjoy the gallery below!
Minnesota Benefit Banquet
These are some of the senior women I've been walking with for the past two years: Jazlyn, Grace, and Ali. I am so grateful for them!
After Fan Into Flame, we had a pretty quick turnaround. The Tuesday immediately following the weekend was Mardi Gras, which always means one thing in SPO Minnesota: the annual benefit banquet! We essentially bribed our Household and Formation students with a free dinner and their very own SPO polo (a "SPOlo," if you will) to mingle with donors and be a standing witness of the impact of Saint Paul's Outreach. Once again, I will take this time to brag about our amazing student leaders. Even after spending all weekend serving on Fan Into Flame, our students were willing and ready to give even more of themselves to serve at the banquet.
The majority of our students only see a small facet of what SPO does: they see the Mission Leaders on their campus; in Minnesota, they see students from other chapters at events like Fan Into Flame or the Formation retreat; sometimes they make it out to the School of the New Evangelization and get to see a broader picture of SPO. Rarely, however, do the students get to be face-to-face with those who have really made their experiences possible: the donors and benefactors. The banquet is a great opportunity for these encounters to happen. During cocktail hour, our students were dispersed in pairs or groups of threes, meeting and mingling with guests as they arrived. During dinner, they were spread out among tables of guests, sharing a meal together and answering any questions about Saint Paul's Outreach. At the end of the night, all of the students and Mission Leaders in our grey and blue SPOlos were invited onstage while closing remarks were made. While some of us may have felt awkward standing up there for all 600 guests to see, we have heard time and again that this simple act was one of the most impactful parts of the banquet for a lot of the guests.
Overall, the banquet was a great experience. I was not the photographer like I was last year, so I was able to enter in a little more fully and really take everything in. I was once again reminded of how grateful I am for Saint Paul's Outreach, and that there are so many people that are willing to give generously to support what I do.
And so the wonderful adventure continues!
In Jesus through Mary,
My name is Rebecca. This blog is a documentation of my life as a missionary with Saint Paul's Outreach - in Minnesota, Florida, and everywhere in-between. Thanks for stopping by!