Celebrating the Past Year

Elevate Summer 2013 Cup

My daughter, Hannah, is almost 12 years old. She has grown to the point where some of clothing now needs to be in the juniors section. Not that she wants that; she says that she prefers the styles in the kids section. Thank goodness she is not rushing into adulthood!

Do you have children? No matter how old they are, can’t you still remember them as babies? I can still picture holding my daughter in the hospital room, cup feeding her formula. That memory, and many others, are cemented in my brain. I’m sure you have similar memories of your own, that you’ll never forget.

Since time travels quickly, and speeds up the further along we go, we must regularly take time to reflect on the joys and celebrations of the past. Joy is made more full by dwelling on it, and by sharing it with others.

The past two-and-a-half years in Allendale have flown by, and the past year even more quickly. For our own sake of remembering God’s blessings, and for the sake of the many people who have supported us financially and in prayer, let’s take a moment to celebrate the great things God has done since last summer.

Celebrating the Past Year

Although God has given us many things to celebrate over the past 12 months, here are the main ones:

  1. Coaching football. Without a doubt, one of the best decisions I made since I moved to Allendale was accepting Coach Ford’s offer to join his staff. I would never have imagined just how much relationships form and strengthen through coaching, with other coaches and with the players.
  2. My job at USC –Salkehatchie Leadership Institute. I began this in January 2013, and wrote about this job here. Besides getting paid to be involved with two things I love (youth and science), this was the first regular job I had since May 2012. From June to December, I only coached (for an end-of-the-season stipend) and did work for the school district as a community liaison and special needs shadow, but this was only occasional contract and part-time work.
  3. Financial support. Despite my lack of regular employment, we were never in need, thanks to the generosity of family, friends, and a church body.
  4. My wife’s growing involvement with the schools.  In January, Joanna started eating lunch with a 5th grade class, every Wednesday. She saw the level of intimacy and trust with the kids grow throughout the rest of the year. And this past summer, she volunteered to prepare, arts and crafts for summer school. She led this separate from any work I did.
  5. Elevate Spring Break Camp.  Even though we were not overly excited about it just before the camp started, we were thankful that we had this opportunity. Not only was it a camp where kids had fun and were engaged, but we saw how volunteers (especially from Grace Church) built meaningful relationships.

Celebrating the Summer

Besides what happened over the past 12 months, June and July were especially busy, with more things to be thankful for:

  1. We had fun connecting with a wider and more diverse group of kids, through different camps and activities, including those that focused on football, soccer, arts, science, and church.
  2. We were happy to get others more connected, including local and out-of-town churches, and a family that returned to Allendale for their second summer.
  3. Kids heard the gospel.  During Elevate Summer Camp (in 2012) at the school, we were restricted from preaching the gospel. We were understanding, but we were also glad to know that in the two weeks (this summer) of camp at a local church, kids were presented with the gospel and other Biblical truths.

Your Part

We want to give a HUGE “Thank you!” to everyone who has:

  • supported us financially,
  • prayed for us,
  • visited us,
  • encouraged us (verbally and with notes and emails),
  • pushed us and loved us when we were emotionally drained.

Without partners like you, we would have much less to celebrate. And even more, we give glory to God for all that He has done is continuing to do.

I would be most encouraged if you answered this question in the comments:  What has happened in the past year that you are celebrating? Tell us 1 or 2 (or 3, or 5) things.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.”  James 1:17

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2 responses to “Celebrating the Past Year”

  1. lyricallysuperior says :

    This past year, through my new job as an 8th grade teacher and through opportunities to reach out to students through things like the Elevate Soccer Camp back in the spring and summer camp in Allendale in July, God has shown me the true importance and impact that building relationships with students (especially students who do not know Jesus) can have. I have grown in my understanding of ministry and of what Jesus calls us to as His followers. My time with you guys (Joey and Joanna Espinosa) in Allendale has been a learning experience. Seeing how obedience to God’s call to go and reach others with the gospel has given me a renewed sense of God’s call in my own life. Thank you, Espinosas for being amazing hosts and for sharing what God has done in your lives and others. You’ve allowed others to experience God’s work in Allendale. I will be a better teacher and a better local missionary as I head into the upcoming school year. Praise God for His love that reaches beyond city limits, racial barriers difficult circumstances.

    • joeyespinosa says :

      I really appreciate your encouragement. And, as I wrote in this post, it is when folks like you guys come down and spend time with us and kids in Allendale, that is when we are REALLY encouraged.

      Thanks for sacrificing your time (and money) twice to come down to Allendale, this spring & summer. When I saw your picture on Furman Football’s Instagram and showed it to some of the guys you met, they loved it. In a short time, you made a meaningful connection. I can only imagine the depth of connection you will have with your students and your players.

      I look forward to staying connected with you, and hearing what God does through you this year.

      God bless.

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