On Passion and Service S01E01

The first quarter of 2019 is near its end and here I am thinking of the things that I’ve accomplished for this year. To summarize: It was me travelling from Laguna – QC a lot.

I wrote this because while checking out memories on Facebook, I saw how God worked in my life for the past year. This time last year, I was cherishing the first time I went to Davao and in a few days another Congress will happen. A lot has happened. A lot has changed but it still is the same passion that I have after I visited Davao last year. My dream for my country has not changed.

I realized that more than doing something myself and starting changing ourselves, we should influence people. We should be with people who has the same passion and ideals as ours. Sometimes, we might also need people who has contradicting ideas so that our thinking would not stagnate in such a way that we are boxed or blinded by what we just know.

There are a lot of events that I am part of that will, and I would love to, influence people and possibly change their perspective on things. I’m not paid for these things, I don’t get recognized, sometimes, my family cannot even understand what am I doing but I still do it – For God and country.

I am grateful that my foundation has been a community that shares how great God is in our lives and a community where being a leader is not just a head of something but it gave me the sense of being a servant leader. This foundation gave me a boost as I serve outside the community. As I do things for the country, and be crazy enough to think that I can change the world, I bring with me the stories, learning, and experiences that YFL and SFL gave me.

This is me having this crazy dream not just for myself but for the rest of the world. Jeremiah 29:11 it is.

“A genuine leader does not need reasons to serve, he just does it because he desires and needs it”

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Why I will vote this May and why you should too.

I write this on the anniversary of EDSA People Power revolution to reflect on what happened back then and to see what can happen soon.

I was not born when Martial Law was declared and when the revolution started and concluded, maybe just like everyone else who is in the social media right now, I’ve just seen documentaries, YouTube videos, interviews, and write-ups about EDSA Revolution but that does not mean we don’t have the right to celebrate it. But that’s not the whole reason why I’m writing this, not to talk about EDSA but to talk about how we could use as youth, the victories of EDSA.

In months time it will be election day and come June there will be a new set of officials senator down to local councilors. They will be elected by us. Yes, us. We have the privilege of choosing our leaders and not like back then, for more than 20 years, they were stuck with the same one. Now, we’re not. We should not be stuck with the same one. If by any chance you’re living in a city or municipality that is being led by the same person or family for a long time, isn’t it the time to think on what are the things that changed? Isn’t this the right time to have a change? Ironically, this is the slogan of our current president: “Change is Coming” when he ran, and true enough, there are a lot of changes that happened for the past 3 years. We cannot say that it’s all negative because we should always give credit where credit is due but as the election season is at high we should tackle every issue possible as we elect legislators.

As I discuss politics with friends, it became more clear to me that voting is not just a right rather it is our obligation as a citizen. We should not have that thinking that it will always be the same people and always the same dirty politics that we are used to because we have the power to change the narrative. We should change the narrative now. The thirst of Filipinos for change were seen last elections and it is high-time for us to be thirsty even more for that change. This is for us. Let us all discuss, talk within our circle about the candidates, and research about them. We want change? We vote. Let us all vote intelligently, because now is the time to care. Now is the time to take a stand because in years time, we will all have a child and we would not want that child to fight the fight that we have lost. We can win this time, and this time we will sustain that win with taking the discussions higher and not just before and during the elections.

EDSA is a win years ago, and probably we have failed the essence of EDSA, but then again we can win this time. EDSA is not the victory of one color or one family name, it is a victory of the Filipino people and we have the chance to have that victory again as a nation if we don’t just sit down this coming elections. We vote and we vote for people who can give that essence of revolution that our parents and grandparents won back then. We will win again.

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File photo by Rolex dela Peña/EPA through Rappler

 

Ready? Let’s Go.

No photos, no images, just words. One reason would be I lost my phone late this year and also that would be one theme a lot of us learned this year: losing. From A Quiet Place to Bird Box, we have seen that losing a part of us is so hard that we need to rely on what we have, what we only have.

This year was a challenging year for me. Not to discredit other people’s experiences and other years but literally it was a challenge, just surviving this year. A lot of breakdowns, anxiety attacks, and wrong choices. One takeaway would be our choices lead to different conclusions. There are a lot of takeaways this year, one would be the one I just mentioned but another is that letting go is letting ourselves grow.

Letting go of experiences, opportunities, some relationships, and even things, gives us the opportunity to learn and grow as person. We learn to appreciate more, to be more grateful, and to connect even more. Ironically, when we lose, we gain a lot more.

More than all those negative emotions and experiences, I lived. I lived this year. It might be the most eventful year of my life, from travelling alone to letting my white shoes get dirty in mud. I lived and I am grateful to the people who have lived with me, and I write this for them.

Thank you. Thank you for just being there, for not giving up on me even though there are a lot of time you can give up. Thank you to the people who checked up on me. I can’t thank you one by one, but Thank you. This 2019, this will be for you. For all of you who believed in me, for all of you who told me I was wrong and yet loved me, for all of you who have been there, for all of you who pushed me, for all of you, this is for you. I will make you all proud this 2019.

There will be a lot more in store for us this coming year but by looking on what happened to me this year, I am excited. I am ready to conquer the years to come with grace. That would be my last two takeaways for 2018, being grateful and being ready for everything.

I am going and welcoming this 2019 with those. For you who is reading this, this post maybe kind of all around the place but every chaos that I create, I find things. I find people like you who appreciate and I am going to 2019 with people like you. Ready? I am. Let’s Go 2019.

The 12:00 appointment

This weekend, I attended my first Committed Servants Weekend for the CFC – Singles for Family and Life. I’ve been in the community for more than 10 years, serving in the youth ministry and I’ve heard a lot of talks, done a lot of workshops, went on different missions, but this time, it was different. I remember my very first time attending the World Youth Congress as the only delegate of our cluster that time and just like this weekend, I am the only delegate of our chapter. In a mere coincidence (or not), that WYC is where I fully said my Yes to the Lord as we went on the stage, raise our hands, and sing “Fearless”.

This weekend is different in the sense that it is a more mature me hearing all those sessions, different in the sense where everyone in the session area are new faces to me, different in the sense where I have been discerning for something. I did not expect anything, what I just look forward before the event is that I will have another Jesus Christ experience, and indeed it was an experience like no other.

I attended a birthday celebration Friday evening and went to sleep over since it was an overnight event, with little sleep, I went ahead and had breakfast with them and did some errands and went on to my journey to Tagaytay. I did not know how to go to the venue, no one is replying to my messages and it seems that the information available online do not have any how to’s on going to the venue. I prayed. As I walked towards the terminal I asked the men who are in charge of the van terminal to Tagaytay, they said that there was a line for that and seeing it was a long line, I said to myself that I will definitely be late and perhaps miss the first session and be there before dinner. As I walk towards the end of the line, a brother shouted my name and shook my hand and said “Oh, Ranze, kanina ka pa namin inaantay”, my worry of not hearing the first session was gone, there in that moment I knew God is up to something. After a few minutes of waiting, we were inside the van and in a few hours, we were already at the venue.

A familiar face was in front out of all the faces I’m seeing that moment, the session had already started, but the good thing is, we were just in time to hear it. As I listen to Kuya Dylan, it was then that I realized that I grew so much in this community, as my first SHOUT master to that moment when I’m listening to the story of the Samaritan woman, it was like God giving me flashbacks of my very first intimate encounter with Him; and yes the title of the first session was The Encounter, and as I look into the program, right after the talk would be the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. I am always in awe of how peaceful and fulfilling it is whenever there would be a Eucharistic exposition, and just like any other exposition, it was a great encounter with the Lord where I am reminded that we will always go back to loving and to a quote from a previous WYC: “Saints are saints because they are radically in love with the Lord”.

Fast forward to the second day, my heart is already fulfilled with the two sessions on the first day, I asked God, “what more?”, my previous household servant prayed over me, I listened to a talk about how God is pursuing me, what more; and there He is again surprising me. People who were with me during conferences, know that when we pray the Holy Rosary,  there are times that I feel drowsy, and having to pray the rosary while walking would not make me feel that way and that’s what we did! I pray the rosary, it’s just that because of lack of sleep, and the silence whenever we are in a conference makes me feel drowsy, but that activity reminded me of praying the rosary even more, praying actively not passively.

As we end the weekend, and listen to the session, I was reminded of all the things that God did in my life, from the struggles, victories, and everything in between. As I raise my hands in worship, tears fall out of joy as I answer yet another call from God in serving Him even more.

There are, for me, three takeaways from the CSW. One, our stories, our Christ stories is not yet ending, there is a lot more in stored for us. Second is that, God will meet us despite our sinful nature, shamefulness, God will meet us in our most convenient time. He will be there. Last is that, we just need to recognize God. Knowing that there is God might be different than recognizing God’s presence in our lives. Yes, we know that God exist but we still choose to do what the world tells us to do. Now, we need to recognize God. We need to recognize Him as He meets us in our failures, struggles, and sinfulness. As we recognize the Lord, we now are ready to tell everyone and be a witness to God’s greatness.

My story of my first encounter with the Lord may already be years ago, but my story with the Lord is not yet done. He is not done yet. As I go home, ride a bus, and relive the experience this weekend, I am excited and overjoyed on what else God is preparing me to do. I am ready, because He made me ready to let everyone else encounter Him through me.

 

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On going back and coming home

September 2, 2018, South Luzon Youthfest at the Strike Gymnasium, Bacoor, Cavite.

A typical early morning routine for a YFL going to an event would be waking up, pray, get out of bed, take a bath, eat breakfast, go to the meeting place, either have some nap or have some chitchat, then arrive at the event venue.

Ours last Sunday? A bit different. We had an overnight stay to one of our YFL members as we prepare for the event, had some early morning preparation for lunch, then went to the meet-up place. As we pick up our members to their own respective meet-up place, excitement rises, and at the very last pick up point, we had this realization that we forgot to bring an important part of the event, the reason why we had an overnight in the first place was forgotten. WE HAD TO GO BACK.

Without hesitation, we were already off the bus and walking towards the line of jeepney to ride and go back to San Pablo. Since I do not have any sleep at all, I took the opportunity to get some sleep. Surprisingly, I was not worried that I we are going to be late for the event, we will miss some parts of it, or anything, I was just calm and just want us to get those necklaces that we forgot.

As we arrive to the house where we forgot those necklaces, I remembered that those are crucifixes, it was Jesus, himself, that we forgot and went all the trouble to get back immediately without hesitation. As we are on our way to Cavite to attend the event, it just struck me that I traveled back and forth to the areas that God entrusted me before (even up until now) and it made me realize how God truly is a promise keeper. It’s like those crucifixes that we forgot, that even if we prepare intensely for God’s plan, we sometimes still forgot it along the way, the good thing is, he gives us all the time in the world to get off the bus quickly and go back to Him.

For me, experiencing GOD’S GLORY is experiencing all those failures, heartaches, pains, because in all of those things, God is there. We just need to recognize Him. As I look at our chapter during the praisefest, all I was uttering was: “Ang dami na nila” as tears fall. As I listen to the brother that I discerned and pray to be the next servant leader as he share his testimony, I just can’t help but smile. All those hardships before, all those detours, are all ways of experiencing God’s glory; and as the youthfest come to an end, I can’t help but say that this life, this community, this service, this people, THIS IS HOME, where I will fail, have my ups and downs, and have my victory stories. Going back to Christ is coming back home.

“I might stumble, I might fall, but it’s in my weakness, that I am strong.”

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Why I’d like to run for SK but didn’t

To answer simply the question on why I didn’t run even though I like to is as simple as because I just like it. Not because we like something is we immediately do it without planning or discerning, it is not as easy as deciding on what to eat for lunch or what next video to watch in YouTube.

Ever since there was a debate whether Sangguniang Kabataan should push through or not and when the SK Reform Law was passed, I immediately told my father that I am interested in running. Months pass by and with the knowledge that the elections will push through this May, the idea of it is not just firm to me. I am writing this not to brag about my intentions or my decision but to let everyone know that the job of an SK Councilor or Chairperson is not an easy task, as a youth servant leader for almost 8 years and serving in the CFC – Youth for Family and Life, I learned that service entails a lot of sacrifice and by running and hoping to win for the position will mean letting go of a lot of things. Also, while thinking and discerning on whether to pursue running or not, I realized that there is more to SK in terms of serving the country.

The last thing I realized is that SK is not an avenue for me in service, it is a joy in serving in my own community but I’ll leave the political side of it to them. I would still love to be involve in activities which involves social issues and political issues to immerse myself in those fields. I will continue serving my community by doing the same exact things like conducting Youth Camps, Live Pure forums, Open Mic nights, and a lot more and using my connections outside the CFC-YFL community to help other communities not just in here to grow in love for their self, family, nation, and God.

To my fellow youth who will run for SK this year, I pray that you may put service before self. Magmahal sa bayan, para sa bayan at para lang sa bayan. Padayon!

P.S.

To help you, this is the SK Operations Manual grabbed from NYC: https://drive.google.com/file/d/137Lvprgxmq7gzvTVYk1vgnZFNMxkMrZ3/view

 

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The day I started to dream MORE for the country.

FYI, before I write this I was dreaming for the country, to make it a better place to live in where people live in harmony then suddenly the fire nation… (wrong). Kidding aside, I was dreaming for our country; went to different forums and also engaged myself in different volunteer work.

Last weekend, I went to Davao City to attend the World Singles Congress of CFC – Singles for Family and Life. My experience there was amazing through all the sessions, worship, and all the realizations.

Why I started dreaming MORE for the country?

Staying in Davao for 5 days made me see what our president can do to our country but I start asking how and when then I answered my own question in a matter of walking to the streets of Davao. The president needs us. Yes, President Duterte had the longest term as a mayor of Davao for 22 years and I know that he did not made Davao the city it is now, the people made Davao, Davao. Their discipline and love for their city is immeasurable, for me. Ride a taxi, even a 2 peso change will be given to you. Cross the street when there is an overpass, you won’t see people not using the overpass. Stoplights are indeed stoplights. Smoking ban where you won’t see anyone smoking in public places. Duterte did not made Davao great, the people made it one of the best cities in the world.

They value so much their history and culture and their diversity. We can learn from the Davaoeños from these traits. I hope that someday we learn to embrace our culture and history because probably we are forgetting how our culture is and how great our history is. I hope that someday we learn to accept our differences and accept that we have different beliefs, just like Davao as they celebrate their diversity with Christians, Muslims, and Lumads living together.

Experiencing Davao made me want Philippines to have that kind of discipline. The leader that we have may have questionable decisions but we are not him. We can have our own ways of being better. Yes, Davao will not be perfect and so is the Philippines. Davao is a city and Philippines is a country but we can learn a thing or two on how Davao became the city it is now. People may give this recognition to their leader but I give this recognition to them, the people. Our state is as strong as the strength of its people, we proved that whenever we conduct rallies and history is on our side on this one, let us all start showing our strength once again. Cross the streets on pedestrian crossings, throw trash in trash bins, do not smoke at public places. The coming of change may be a slogan for election but it all starts within us. May we dream and hope more for our country for it is when we truly grow as a nation.

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#BestLifeLikeNoOther

I’m writing this while I’m waiting for my flight to Davao.

Not more than 10 years ago, I stood up as the speaker ask us if we are ready to accept the gifts of the Holy Spirit, also not more than 10 years ago, I was a young teenage boy who said yes in going to Cavite and experience my first ever World Youth Congress. After so many years, God has brought me to different places, made me experience the highs and lows of life, meet different people that became not just friends but brothers and sisters. As I sit today, waiting, I find myself smiling and getting excited to knowing what God has in stored for us this weekend, my first World Singles Congress.

A typical mindset would be God will amaze me and give me an experience like never before just like the past WYCs I experienced. Lots of learning and 3 days of Jesus Christ experience; but looking back to those years of Youth Camps, Missions, Conferences, I find myself asking what more and with a sudden realization that, yes, there is more.

I grew up in a family that is active in the community, leaders in the community, and as young as I am, I was exposed to different prayer meetings, worship songs, events that only made sense when I attended my youth camp. Little did I know that the young boy who is excited in going to prayer meetings just to eat bread and sopas is going to conduct the same households for a long time. My innocence as a child then thought me now that there is always more.

Yes, I have attended different conferences and even gave a talk to one and become part of service teams of different missions and events but my eagerness to learn and thirst for Christ should not fall off. I realized that God made me ready for this moment, as I trusted Him for years, I am chosen to be part of a nation bound to let the world know how great God is.

From iTrust, iAm, Lakas ng Diyos, Live, Wildfire, Radikal, Cross Encounter, Relentless, Undefeated, and now Chosen. God made me experience all of these to be ready. As I experience my first WSC this weekend, pray for me, pray that I will be open and my heart will thirst more for God. I will not strip away and let go of what I know now because I know this weekend will be not the same as before. This weekend will be a different one. This weekend I will experience God in a different way. Only one things is for sure. I will experience God and I can’t wait to share that experience after.

This is for me, the Best Life like no other.

Give life to life

People say that movies are just movies. We cannot experience those movie like experiences because that is just a work of fiction and imagination.

As I was watching “Meet me at St. Gallen”, this thought ran through my mind again. How come two strangers all of a sudden clicked just because of coffee and similarities and what if that same moment happen in real life. What if at some point in our lives we bumped into a stranger then at that very moment, we have a spontaneous conversation and because we don’t want to ruin that moment, we let it pass by our lives as memories to tell our grandchildren and write it in our journals.

The movie made me ask these things but more importantly a question in the past was answered. Yes it was not a happy ending (spoiler) but it was a good ending. Maybe, just maybe, people come into our lives just to make us happier, in that moment and we need to cherish that moment because those people will not be in our lives forever. That some certain stranger will come, become friends, fall in love, fight for that love, but in the end because of some certain reasons you don’t end up being together. Right person, wrong reason. Right reason, wrong timing. Right time, wrong person. We don’t end up with that person because they’re not the right one, because of reason, and time. We just thought that they were but they’re not. They came because they give life to our lives, to let us realize how awesome it is to be alive and ready ourselves to be the right person when the right person, right time, and right reason comes along.

We all have to find a way to live with ourselves.

Am I late to write this? Guess not.

I don’t have enough time to write my 2017 in review, or my 2017 realization in the first weeks of 2018 or at the end part of 2017. So I am assuming I am late for this but I thought maybe not.

I am writing this not only for myself but for all people who failed, succeed, and hoped last 2017. First of all, we will all fail again, succeed again, and hope again this year, so do not look down at yourself and see yourself as a disappointment last year because you are not the only one who fell short of your expectations.

2017 has been a year of plot-twists for me; it has been, so far, the most exciting year in my life. It was the year where I learned to be by myself and to be dependent on others. Ironic? Yes, because it was 2017 when I learned fully well that everyday we are to make choices of our own but at the end of the day we think of others first before we make those choices.

March 2017, I received a chat if I was available to go to Mindoro. Mindoro always have a special place in my heart as it is where I first went on mission without anyone from Laguna with me, without hesitation, I said yes. I met new friends and got to catch up with old ones, more than that I loved even more. The Mindoro mission made me realize to serve without hesitation and doubts, even if some people might not understand what you are doing, even if it is your family as long as it is for God, do not make this as a hindrance in serving the Lord.

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April 2017, World Youth Congress. One of the highlights of this Congress, for me, is when we looked back to the previous Congresses. Seeing all people around me, old and new, made me grateful on how great God is in my life. Hearing one of the participants in a youth camp where I talked about Faith, sharing his own Jesus Christ story in front of the community was a great way to end my years of serving as a cluster servant.

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May 2017, Christian Life Retreat and last SHOUT. It was this year when I transitioned to YFL to SFL and attended my last SHOUT. The discernment of this two events was so exciting, it was when I talked to one of my brothers in the community that he will be now be the cluster (chapter) servant of our area, sharing my vision to him and what the Lord has done for the past 6-7 years and letting him now be the “kuya” was a blessing. He was a blessing, and still is. I am proud that God led me to him and to his partner in letting them guide now the area God has entrusted to us.

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June 2017, Triumphant. The title of this youth camp tells the story of how great God is in fulfilling His promise to us. I said yes in being a cluster servant way back 2011, back then I thought that all the members will stay and it was just about gathering them and conducting youth camps to be bigger, I was wrong. It was a struggle in gathering everyone else, all the nights of crying, praying, going from house to house, ended 2015 when we conducted the youth camp that God promised us on those prayers, and looking at that youth camp and this youth camp, the servant leaders now are the participants of the youth camp we conducted last 2015. It was indeed a victory that God planned all along.

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July 2017, Nehemiah Leadership Weekend. Just like the youth camp, this weekend was an affirmation for me. There were a lot of Nehemiah Leadership weekends I attended when I was still part of the Laguna core, and this was not different from all of them, other than there are a lot of new faces and new realizations. For me, it was an affirmation that God is indeed a promise keeper.

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August 2017, WAGI. This was the first Area Youth Conference that I was not part of the service team but God is not done with me yet, as I was the one who went to Bicol to accompany five YFL from Camarines Sur to attend the AYC. It was a long ride, got ill in the middle of the night in the bus yet God was a God of surprises. There was this shop near the terminal where we are that has a sign that says: “Chosen Few”, that morning God told me that He called me by name. That morning He affirmed me of saying yes to Him every time.

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September 2017, You Matter Live Pure Conference. Every Live Pure Conference, there is a realization for me and it was no different this time. Where we are right now is where we are supposed to be. Today is your point A and where you want to be, your purpose in life, is your point B. This was when I remembered the line from my favorite anime, Hunter x Hunter, “You should enjoy the little detours. To the fullest. Because that’s where you’ll find the things more important than what you want.Our point A is where we are right now and as we journey to our purpose, our point B, we enjoy the little things in our journey, the people we meet, the views we see, the experiences, because it will make our point B more meaningful.

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October 2017, Another CLR. This time, I was a speaker. I never imagined myself giving a talk in a CLR within 2017 as I just finished my own CLR last May of the same year but God has other plans. It was fulfilling and it was like the first time I gave a talk, the chills, the doubts, but God never failed me. I doubted myself yes but I never doubted God.

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November 2017 (and all other months of 2017), Basketball. I always love basketball, I watch it live in TV, watch reviews in the internet, read articles, and I even write one too and started it 2016. My love for basketball grew to not just enjoy it as a player and know it as a fan but to learn it even more. This was the month that I said to myself that I will watch more live basketball, in the venue itself. One of the highlights of watching live basketball was watching the last game of the UAAP Mens Basketball eliminations, Ateneo versus La Salle. I am no stranger to live college basketball because I watch NCAA live, but this was different, I always thought it was different but watching it live was on another level. The trashtalk, the rivalry, the story, the fans, the intensity of the game, was all different. I’m glad I shared this with two of my great basketball friends.

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December 2017, the greatest plot-twist of the year and affirmations. As I was browsing through Facebook late November, I found an application to be part of an organizing committee of a big event. I applied and GOT IN! December was the first meeting, little did I know there was a lot of us who applied for that post and only six were accepted, I was overjoyed inside as I learned about the process and knowing that I am part of it is a blessing as I end the year.

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Christmas parties, Year-end parties, and family gatherings were always part of our December. I was affirmed that all of these things happened in just a span of one year! As I was writing this, I even looked again the dates of the events because I though some happened 2016. I may have missed some details, some pictures, some realizations, but that does not mean that you were not part of my 2017 or it was not a highlight, this was just a gist of what happened, imagine if it was more detailed.

(More of 2017: SBC League, 2030 Youth Force PH, Praefatio Youth Camp, CFC-FFL Anniversary, Night Outs with Brent, Aldwin, Mok, It’s Time Assembly, Worship Workshop for SFL, first SFL Mission in Lucena, Grateful Christmas/Year-End Party, Kalaw-Burgos Reunion, Team Joanna Bataan Escapade, DTV Family, FC Manila, Team Pipay, and a lot more!)

I always see people sharing online that 2017 was just a trial and 2018 will be the real one, I smirked and told myself the same but if it was indeed a trial, 2017 was and is the best trial run ever happened but it was not. It was not a trial rather it was a year of being Undefeated and choosing God. As I open the 2018, not being a cluster servant anymore and looking forward to experience new things and serving God even more. This is the year that we are to be MORE UNDEFEATED, MORE VIBRANT, MORE LOVING.

As we journey this 2018, we look back at what God promised us and we remember that God is a promise keeper. That even if that promise may not be fulfilled this year, this year will be great. This year we are all great because we are destined to be one. God made this year great for us for we are destined for greatness. On to 2018! Let’s Go!