My First Month In Iowa

Last month, I revealed the big news that I was moving to Iowa. I accepted a new position as the Student Ministry Director for Westwind Church and promised that once a month, at the least, I would update my friends and family and anyone else who wants to tag along this journey with me.

I have been in Iowa for almost a month now, I have learned a few things:

It’s Cold

It’s also windy. Friends, I am half Puerto Rican and I was born in Florida, to say I am not bred for cold weather is an understatement. So when I tell you that it was a brisk welcome, flying into Iowa on January 1st at negative sixteen degrees Fahrenheit, (Yes I wrote that right, -16,) You can know that it felt like -100 degrees to me.

I also learned real quick that my tires were not properly prepared for this mid-western winter adventure. Because as I drove into work for the first time, my car pulled a Need For Speed and drifted across the intersection. It was both exciting because I felt like I was in a high-speed pursuit for about a nanosecond, but it was also terrifying because I almost got in 3 car accidents simply driving 10 minutes to work! Every time I walked out of my car I felt like I was supposed to be riding a Tauntaun into the frozen tundra.

Also, the worst part was when it would be forty degrees outside, absolutely wonderful and sunny. Then when I go into a movie theater and come outside, there’s like three feet of snow on the ground and a snowstorm has come to say hello! On the bright side, people still have their Christmas lights out, so it’s nice that when it’s all white and snowy outside at night, there are some pretty lights to go with it.

People are nice.

Like really nice. Now, I am a nice person but, these Iowans… Iowanites? Iowanese? I’ll think of a good one eventually… Anyways, these people I have met so far make me look like a cynical Ebenezer Scrooge McDuck who hates puppies.

 

I was at this food place called Jethros getting wings. The waitress there remembered my name from the first time I visited! Super friendly, asking all about how the church I work at was going, asked about Atlanta, blew my mind! I thought I had to step up my game in friendliness if I am going to compete with the niceness here ha-ha! All of the students in my ministry are super fun, I play video games with a couple of them. I am looking forward to building relationships here, and there are several students who have potential to being great leaders and I know God is going to use them in great ways!

The leaders in the student ministry are so much fun, I have been making some great friends who have helped establish a great community for me. It’s definitely helpful that people are so nice because it has been super easy meeting friends! They all have a passion to see students love Jesus, which leads me to the next thing I have learned:

So much potential for movement!

One of the things that most excites me about Iowa is the potential for movement here. Given the religious background, the culture, and the presence of God, this place can easily cultivate a revival for Jesus and it makes me very excited for the coming years. Right now, you may have looked at Iowa and thought “Iowa? What’s in Iowa??” But I tell you what, in a few years this state will be the big news because of how God is raising a movement of Christians who are all about celebration. Celebrating the love of God, celebrating life change, celebrating when God uses people to bring Him glory. I especially see this in students, and also adults, both have a desire to know God and are so ready to be empowered to lead and disciple others.

When I was walking to my apartment, I noticed there was a cell phone in the snow! I quickly grabbed it because it would be so tragic if it had died. Thankfully there was not a lock on the phone so I applied my inner Sherlock Holmes and investigated whose phone it was. Eventually, I was able to discover that the phone belonged to a woman who was visiting a friend who lived in my apartment complex, so I delivered the phone to the owner’s friend who lived right below me. Two days later, I was trying to add some patches to my jean jacket, (I have a jean jacket that I deck out in patches and pins, primarily Disney.) But I realized I did not have an iron to glue the patches to the jacket with. Then I remembered my new friend! So I went downstairs, she let me borrow her iron and it was a great day!

Here are the patches I added to the jacket!
Here is the front part of the jacket, ain’t she a beaut?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I figured that would be the end of it, we would see each other occasionally in passing and say hello. But then the other night something so cool happened! As I was heading upstairs to my apartment, the same lady was just getting back from walking her dog. She saw me and remembered I had mentioned that I am a reverend, that I work as a student pastor and asked about what church I went to. She talked about her past and how she had overcome an addiction to drugs and was looking for a community to get involved with. I invited her to come to Westwind, and that we would get her plugged into a life group. A group of people who will love her and want to be her friends as they grow closer in their relationships to God.

That would have never happened, had I simply left a cell phone in the snow and went about my business. Had I not been prompted by God, determined to find out whose phone it was so that I could return it to them.

ministry can happen anywhere

Never underestimate even the smallest of good deeds. The difference between a life without purpose, meaning, a life that is self-seeking and a life of a world changer, a leader, a person who can introduce others to Jesus to have their life find true love could be something as simple as picking up a cell phone in the snow. When you see someone who may need help with their groceries, when you see that cell phone on the ground or when you see that person sitting alone who you can offer kindness to, take that opportunity to be good to them and show them the love that God shows you every day.

You don’t need to be a superhero to change the world. You don’t need to be a Pastor, a Priest, a Reverend, a theologian, a philosopher, or a Saint to make a difference in the world, you simply need to be willing to step out of your comfort zone and be good to others. I don’t need all the knowledge in the world, I don’t need a job or money to make a difference, all I need to do is simply love Jesus and God will do the rest through me. Something as simple as picking up a lost cell phone was what led to someone’s interest in going to church, to be connected to people who will care about them. Imagine what you could do if you intentionally did one good thing a day for a stranger?

Is that not what Jesus spoke about with the story of the good Samaritan?

Luke 10:30-37 “Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him.”

Don’t underestimate what one good deed can do, it could be the one thing that saves someone else’s life.

 

 

 

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