Danielle's September Update

 Hello friends and ministry partners! It has been many months since my last update, and since then I've had a baby, had a wonderful maternity leave, and am now back doing ministry part time! I have missed communicating with you via this blog, but I am grateful to have had the time to focus on the birth of my daughter. Eliana Guadalupe Clark is now four months old and we are loving life with her in it! 

Navigating the start of the school year in the midst of COVID has certainly been interesting but we continue to find new and creative ways to engage with students on campus. Last week was the first week of classes and there are SO many neat stories of God bringing people together! Here are some highlights for you:

-We prepared our student leaders to fulfill the mission on campus and online while maintaining safety with their peers. We are social distancing, wearing masks, and advising students to meet outdoors whenever possible. 

-A story from a fellow staff member: "I had a really neat conversation with a girl last night who happened upon one of our "informal hangs." She was very candid with me about wanting girlfriends and struggling with mental health. She had planned on joining a sorority because that's the only way she knew she could make girlfriends. She asked what I was a part of and said it never occurred to her to join anything religious to make friends. She didn't grow up in church but in light of depression and anxiety she experienced for the first time a few months ago, she has been contemplating spirituality and her purpose. I hope she will decide to get connected!"

-Another story from our staff team: "Last week I had my first core. On Wednesday during outreach I met a girl named Natalie. She is from a small town in Louisiana. I would say Natalie is not a Christian--she had a negative experience within the church and has stopped pursuing God because of it. When I stumbled upon her on campus she mentioned how this year she was looking forward to making friends. She came to our core and shared that although she had a negative experience with the church, she wanted to give FOCUS a chance."

-A story from a student: "I was in my first day of my Life Science class and I had just hopped onto the MicrosoftStream call and everybody except the professor had their microphone and camera off. As I was sitting there I remembered something one of the [FOCUS] staff had said, 'Set the tone for the year,' so I turned on my camera and microphone and started talking with the professor. One by one people started turning their cameras and microphones on and by the end of the class everyone had their cameras on and we ended up making our own group chat and we're now getting to know each other."

-One more neat story: "I met a girl while passing out waters Sunday morning on campus. I asked her if she wanted to make some new friends, and she could join us later that night for some socially distanced games. She ended up sitting down at a bench next to us and talked to us the entire time we were handing out the waters. She shared a lot about herself and how, even though she's a junior, she hadn't experienced friendship on campus before. She even asked, 'Is it sad that I'm a junior and I haven't made any friends yet?' She has been coming to our hangouts every night and says this is the most she's gone to events since she started college. She's even watching the online stream tonight, which is super cool given she doesn't have a Christian background (she grew up Jewish)."

The mission remains and the harvest continues to be plentiful despite the pandemic, praise God! Thank you for all your prayers and support which make it possible for us to continue reaching the lost and lonely on our campuses. God is good!

Much love, 
Danielle <3


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