By this point, if you are an incoming student this Fall the pressure is mounting as the countdown to move-in shrinks by the day.  Perhaps you are slowly packing and checking things off to be sure nothing gets left, or maybe you haven’t even started.  But one thing I can almost guarantee is that if you’re an avid social media user, you have exhausted all resources in trying to figure out who your roommate is.

Over my four years at APU I have had many moments where I “tried to figure it out.”  I built up expectations only to have them unmet and surpassed by something greater.  One of those moments led to the meeting of one of my dearest friends and at first the most random of roommates, Heather.  I would consider Heather to be one of the most authentic, caring and joy-filled friends I met at APU and I didn’t meet her right away.

Perhaps you are dreaming about meeting your roommate freshman year and being the best of friends.  If that’s you I will assure you that it does happen but it is ok and more likely that it won’t.  I didn’t meet Heather until thevery end of freshman year in the context that she could be my roommate.

Since then we have lived together sophomore through senior year.  I was blessed to live with her when she was a Resident Advisor, she visited me when I studied through APU’s L.A. Term program, we’ve had countless pillow talks, cooked way too much stir-fry, processed transitions together, and now I have the blessing of being in her bridal party when she gets married a month from now!

All this to say, Heather’s friendship and the reality of being her roommate for much of college was something I didn’t expect nor could I have ever predicted.  As many of you meet your roommates for the first time in a few short weeks I pray that you would lay aside expectations and walk boldly into friendships that will far surpass what you have tried to figure out!

- Emily S.

There is something about silence that always scares me. There are a number of reasons why: one of them being I am an extrovert. According to the Meyer Briggs assessment I am 100% extrovert. Basically, I. Love. People.  So, I guess for me silence equals the lack of conversation, which means, I’m alone. Alone, lonely, solitude all things that make me really uncomfortable.

However, here at APU I found out that I had a misunderstanding of solitude. Solitude is something that is healthy and needed. My first time having a time of solitude took place on Walkabout. If you read my last post you’d know Walkabout is a 10 day backpacking trip through Yosemite. During these 10 days I did solo time, where everyone on my team was separated and placed in their own areas for 2 days!The first time it was hard because I didn’t have an understanding of the purpose of solitude.

This summer I feel solo time would have been very beneficial. I am always in a rush, always on my way somewhere, always on the go.  This has affected every aspect of my life, and sometimes I feel it takes away time that could be spent reading my bible or praying. Time that I can be spending alone with God.

As you enter this season of excitement and newness, I really want to encourage you to remember to take that time out for solitude. Get in a quiet place where it is just you and God. A place where you can be in silence…where you can just listen. There is so much within this silence and contrary to what I believed, it is filled with love and peace. It is in these times the Lord speaks to us: in a quiet breeze, the trickle of water, our even the beating of a humming bird’s wings.

I’m so grateful for a God who is so powerful, but chooses to speak to us in the quietest of voices. Embrace it. Welcome it gladly. Plan it once a day, once a week…plan for that time when you can be alone with the King. At first it may feel weird, it did for me. I started with reading a scripture, to fill the time mostly. However, after a few times I just started to listen and it was in these moments I heard God speaking through the silence around me.

May you all learn what it means to be in solitude, and how to embrace it as a gift.

Blessings and Peace,

Kierstan H  

What kind of leader are you? Before APU I would roll my eyes when asked this question. I would answer with something snarky like-I like to follow, or I hate standing in the front of the line. I believed a lie that said I AM NOT A LEADER. I lacked confidence in my abilities, my gifts, and myself as a person.

All of this changed when my roommates dared me to apply for a leadership position on campus.  I had the opportunity to serve as a Resident Advisor (RA) for two years. In preparation for the upcoming year, all RAs are required to go on a 10 backpacking trip through Yosemite. I was lucky to have the opportunity to go on this trip twice. My first trip took place Aug 2011, and I was really excited to go to such a beautiful place, but at the same time I had my doubts. It would take a book to contain the stories about all the fun and adventurous things I did with my team, but I don’t have a book, so instead I will tell you about a life-shaping moment. It was our second day in the woods and I, along with my friend Jake, were chosen to be the leader of the day. So we woke up before our team, started the fire, and made breakfast. Then we set off to our next destination. Before we left our guide told us that we would be hiking the hardest trail of our entire trip, and that this meant carrying ourselves along with our 50lb packs up the side of a mountain. My heart was exploding out of my chest, but after two hours of struggling with nature, we finally made it to the peek, it was here that I found I am a powerful force to be reckoned with. This was the first step of a journey that would continue to shape the leader I was to become.

My second trip took place Aug 2012 and it was even better than the first. I learned what it meant to be vulnerable and how this vulnerability is a solid foundation to building amazing friendships. The second time around I found out what path I wanted to take after leaving APU. Getting involved with leadership has taught me so much and shaped who I am today.

I encourage all of you to consider doing a leadership position. Even if you have your doubts and concerns, I hope you will all find the gumption to go for it!

You are called to lead.

Best,

Kierstan H

"Welcome home! You made it!”
This is what you will be hearing from 150 amazing leaders as they greet all of you new incoming students into the next wonderful chapter of your life.

Orientation is only a month away and this is honestly one of the most energetic times of the year, not only for incoming students but for current students on campus as well. Truly, it is a time of excitement as the students love to welcome our new Cougars into the family. Plus, it is always cool to see your President Jon Wallace walking around saying hello to students and joining in on the fun.

I have had the privilege of serving as a leader in our Orientation office for the last two years and let me say that it couldn’t have been a more memorable experience. My transition into student life my freshman year was so smooth because of Orientation and the leaders involved, so I wanted to give back and be a part of it myself. These leaders are called “Alpha” Leaders and alpha in Greek means beginning. They will have a huge impact in your first impressions of APU as you begin your new chapter; and what better way to do so by jumping up and down, screaming “Welcome Home!”.

I encourage all of you to be prayerful about your transition into APU life and to come in with no expectations. Truly allow God to lead you in this next month as you prepare for a new season and enjoy the excitement that comes along with. Also, don’t be afraid to get involved on campus through leadership or organizations so you can truly embrace the home that APU has waiting for you!

Blessings to you all and see you on campus soon!

-Mike L

“God uses your giftings in ways you could never expect.  We are not given a blueprint for our lives, rather Biblical purposes to live out.” – Matthew Elofson

       How often in life are you given a choice?  If we truly sat and thought about the daily choices we make we could all become quickly overwhelmed.  One of the most overwhelming choices for me in my APU journey came at the end of my sophomore year when I decided to switch my major.  In that process I had a professor step into my life and guide me.  Little did I know that this professor would have an integral role in the rest of my college journey!

       This insightful, truth-seeking professor is Matt Elofson.  He has pushed me to be the best I could be, helped to shape my understanding of ministry and where God is calling me, he served as my academic advisor, I became his TA, and I was able to go on a life changing study abroad trip that he led to England, Kenya, and France.  Needless to say, he is one of the many professors that have poured into my life in countless ways, and I could not thank him enough. 

       I recently met up with Professor Elofson over lunch and was able to process through new transitions in my life with him.   In our conversation we talked a lot about giftings and how God can use them in so many different ways.  Perhaps you are like me and you have difficulty seeing the things you are good at and gifted in until someone is there, looking you in the eyes, and drawing them out of you.  Or maybe decisions are hard for you, period. 

       In my conversation with Professor Elofson he reminded me of when we went to the grocery store in Nairobi, Kenya.  He asked if I remembered the grocery aisle there, I responded with faint remembrance and he stated that it wasn’t an aisle at all.  There were maybe 4 boxes of cereal.  He mentioned that here if I have a craving for captain crunch and go to the grocery store I can find it.  But upon arriving I might find that I also want cinnamon toast crunch… It is in this moment, he says, that we become paralyzed by choice.

       Perhaps you are at a time in your life where choices are hard and it is difficult to see the Biblical purposes for your life.  I would encourage you to find a Matt Elofson in your life.  Someone that has been down the road before you and can open your eyes to the ways that God shows up through the giftings he has given you.  Then patiently wait.  God will show up in ways you could never expect.    

Blessings on the road ahead,

-Emily S 

There is something really exciting about the sunrise. Waking up early to catch that first light peeking through the window, taking in the crisp morning air. It signifies the beginning of a new day bringing with it new adventures, and new opportunities to grow. With every sunrise there’s newness that we are blessed to experience.

The beginning or the start of something new gives us the chance to explore new places, meet new people, and discover new things about ourselves.  However, for some, the start of something new brings with it feelings of anxiety and fear. Sometimes the change that comes with newness makes us uncomfortable to the point of us feeling that we are no longer ourselves.

I was very excited to see what God had in store for me at APU, but for the first few weeks that excitement was laced with feelings of uncertainty and my fear of disconnection. I quickly found that these fears were erased as I got to know my roommates. As a transfer student, I was placed in University Park 101A, where I was blessed with 3 beautiful roommates. One of these roommates, in a hopes of getting to know me better, or just to fulfill a general education requirement, took Introduction to Philosophy with me (MWF at 7:15AM, crazy right?!). Although neither of us knew it, our living together was God ordained.

Up until this point, I never used the term best friend. Of course I understood the word in theory, but there was no one in my life that held that title. My roommate of one semester became that for me. I’ve heard that the friends you make in college stick with you for life and now I believe that! God has blessed me with someone who understands me, someone who has the ability to encourage me, and someone who knows that hugs are the fastest way to my heart (even though she doesn’t care for them that much).

If you are coming in this fall assigned to random roommates, I understand the feelings of uncertainty that come with the word “random roommate”.  However, I would encourage you to approach your roommate assignment with openness and intentionality. Make time to get to know your roommates, whether that be through Donut Man runs or intentionally signing up for the same class, actively seek out moments to engage each other.

When I was assigned to UP 101A I knew that I would get along with my roommates, but I had no idea I would leave that semester finding my life twin, my best friend, and sister.

My prayer is that if you experience fear or anxiety, it is replaced with acceptance and love. May you be blessed with people who see you, your unique abilities and heart. 

Cheers,

Kierstan H.

Sundays are special in the village of Nkungi. Every Sunday we are invited to attend services at the local Christian church. Not every member of the village attends this church (Christianity only makes up fifty percent of the religion in Tanzania), but there were a great number of people we recognized from our work sites and meeting.

As many of you may have already assumed, there were a few stark differences between Tanzanian church and our American churches:

  1. Language: While many Tanzanians do speak English, the service was in their native Swahili. Since my team and I speak hardly any Swahili, we all brought our bibles and a journal so our time was fruitful despite the barrier.
  2. Worship: A typical American church usually has some type of worship band with the lyrics on a screen so the congregation can sing along. This church did worship much differently. A group of about 20 adult men and women made up the choir that sang and danced in front of the church accompanied by an electronic keyboard and a guitar. Although there weren’t any words on a screen, everyone in the congregation knew the words!
  3. Offering: This was my favorite part of the entire church experience. Every single person in the church goes up to give offering, including each member of my team. There are certain situations where members of the church cannot afford to give to the church, so they leave goods at the offering table. After church is over, these goods are auctioned off outside for other members of the church to buy. This money then goes back to the church. My team and I bought a chicken! I thought it was so beautiful that everyone gave to the church, whether it was money or the best that they had.

Certainly church is quite different in Tanzania than what I’m used to, but different is not synonymous with bad. I thoroughly enjoyed being welcomed into this church and appreciate seeing Christianity within the Tanzanian culture.

That’s all for now, I’ll see you real soon!

-Lucy F

Heigh ho, heigh ho, it’s off to work we go!

There is a great shortage of teachers, not only in the village of Nkungi, but in the entire country of Tanzania. At Nkungi Primary School specifically, the ratio of teachers to students is 1:50. In order to attract teachers, homes will be built to offer as an incentive. If a teacher comes out to the village to work at the school, they will receive free housing. It’s a pretty sweet deal, but the houses need to be built first. That’s where my team and I come in to help!

Honestly, I don’t know anything about building a house. I would assume you would buy bricks from Home Depot and stack them together, but apparently that wasn’t available to us. The primary school paired us up with a Fundi (phoon-dee), which is a master in their trade. Our Fundi was a brick Fundi. He taught us how to mix the cement, dirt, and water together and then how to pound that wet cement into a brick mold. It’s a long process that requires a decent amount of strength to carry out. Thankfully, we had enough people and muscle power on our team to make this process go by a little quicker.

Each bag of cement makes about 30 bricks. In one workday we mixed about four bags of cement… and the process will continue! We’re going to need a lot of bricks to make a house.

I’ll see you real soon!

-Lucy F

The Children’s Feeding Center

If you’ve been keeping up with my posts about APU’s mission team to Tanzania, we are in Singida!

Here in Singida we spent some time helping out at the children’s feeding center. The way this center started is to help the overwhelming amount of children who were living on the street. The center has worked with the government to come to an agreement that the center will help the children by giving them a meal and clean water everyday and in return, the government pays for the children’s books and school uniform.  Extra schooling is also provided at the center. The children’s relatives are more likely to take the kids in because food and school is already provided for. The children must attend school in order to receive these benefits. If the kids don’t attend school that day, they have to talk to Sister Sarah (the nun who is in charge of the center) and explain why they didn’t go. This type of accountability has made the center a great place for the children to thrive.
 

Helping out at the center was amazing. My team and I were able to help prepare the meal that they eat everyday, distribute the meals, and play with the kids afterwards out on the playground. I was so overwhelmed by the endless amount of love each one of these kids have. Their ability to love without any restriction was astounding. Also it was so surprising to me that the language barrier was not even a problem. I can show a little girl that I love her by holding her hand or smiling at her. Other team members showed their love by running around with some of the kids or turning into a human jungle gym. No way is better than the other because each child needs a different kind of love.

I will carry these beautiful faces in my heart forever. 

See you real soon!

-Lucy F

Fun Fact: APU held a food packaging event during the fall 2013 semester as a part of Global Vision Week. Those food packages are the EXACT meals that feed these children everyday! 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. — Proverbs 3:5-6

As senior year graduations are concluding and housing assignments are being received, I know the thought of being an APU student is becoming more of a reality than ever before. I want to take the time to encourage you all as this moment creeps closer but also celebrate the new season of life you are embarking on.

My senior year of college is sneaking up on me everyday and it has led me into a season of reminiscing about the blessings God has provided to me during my time at APU. When I look at myself now, I am constantly reminded about how foundational my freshman year was when I was surrounded by a bunch of Smith guys that soon became my brothers and when God truly intervened in my life to make my path straight. I entered into Azusa Pacific as a football walk-on and with a girlfriend of 3 years who was still back home; two things I truly defined myself in. First semester was a difficult transition for me as I attempted to balance being a Cougar athlete while traveling home to retain a relationship and trying to pass all 15 units of my classes. God really took a backseat in my heart during this time and I really lost sight of how important He is to me.

During this season, I decided to step off the football team along with my girlfriend and I breaking up; two things I defined myself in completely stripped away. When I was at my lowest, I vividly remember God telling me, “These were part of a past season in time, now I want you to walk along the new path I have set straight for you.” Our motto for Smith Hall that year was “Never Walk Alone”. Even though I was going through struggles and hardships, God was always reminding me that I was never alone as He was looking over me and as I was surrounded by a living area of supportive brothers.

I have the honor and privilege to say I will be serving as a Smith Resident Advisor for the same hall I lived on. I am excited to live life with many of you in the freshman dorms next year and to encourage you all in wherever God is leading during these transitions. I hope my story and the verse above give you encouragement as you begin to prepare for school this summer. Always know you will never be alone in whichever living area you find yourself in next year.

Blessings to you and the future season ahead of you!|

- Mike L

Off to Nkungi

 

After spending time in Singida at the children’s feeding center, my team headed about two hours North West to the rural village of Nkungi. I’m using past tense because in the village there is absolutely no wifi or a way for me to post this blog. This is where I had my first real culture shock.

I was in a remote village in the middle of Tanzania, Africa, thousands of miles away from home. You can’t even locate it on a map. There were no paved roads and carts pulled by ox transported people and things. Some houses were made out of mud bricks and some made out of cement. Only a few had electricity and even fewer had running water. Chickens and children roamed freely along the dirt paths. This is where I would be living for the next three weeks.

Isn’t that wild? There are still places that remain hardly touched the rest of this world. I cannot believe my own eyes were able to witness it.

When we first arrived, we visited different locations throughout the village and assessed the needs of the community. This helped determine which projects we would begin on first.

Stay tuned and I’ll see you real soon!

-Lucy F

We made it! In my previous posts, I have blogged about my preparations for my summer missions trip to Tanzania… and it’s finally here! It’s been quite the journey, but we are finally in Singida, Tanzania! Here’s a play by play of how it all went down: 

  • 16 hour plane ride from Los Angeles to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates
  • 16 hour layover in Dubai accompanied with a free hotel room and a trip into downtown to see the tallest tower in the world
  • 5 hour plane ride from Dubai to Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania
  • 3 night stay in Dar Es Salaam to recover from jet lag, do some grocery shopping and a quick trip to the beach
  • 12 hour bus ride from Dar Es Salaam to Singida with a great Tanzanian soap opera playing to make the time go by

Here in Singida we will be working with the children’s feeding center. We will also be traveling to the village of Nkungi to work with the primary school and focusing on community development. But for now, we are so happy we are safely here!

See you real soon!

-Lucy F

Seasons are a funny thing.  You wait with baited breath for their changing colors and suddenly brown leaves are crackling under your feet.  Perhaps this post is finding you on the brink of launching into your season of summer or perhaps you are like me and are shocked to find yourself already halfway through June!

I have been blessed by many seasons in my time at APU, and one of the most memorable is what I call my alpha season.  This “season” laced throughout three of my years as a student and molded me in ways I didn’t even know I was pliable.  As an alpha leader (sophomore year) I was amazed as my heart expanded and I was able to lead 9 incoming freshman through the chaos and excitement that was their first year in college.  Then as an alpha coordinator (junior year) I was awestruck as I mentored and watched 11 alpha leaders blossom in their leadership.   

Not only did I dress like a mime, learn a choreographed Hunger-games-esque dance, plan a camping trip in November, lead an urban-immersion service trip, and facilitate our largest event of the year (Freshman orientation), but I learned an exponential amount about myself and who God has called me to be.  I was enabled as a leader to lead out of a heart of service, I was shown the infinite love of Christ as I basked in the light of being called for His purpose, and I was encouraged by others in the strengths I have as I learned to depend on Christ through my weaknesses.   

But perhaps the most life-changing lesson I learned from this season is the beauty of authentic and transparent community.  The people that have been scattered throughout my alpha season have taught me how to be vulnerable, they have loved me right where I was at, and together we chose to be present in relationship though we knew the leaves would change and the season would end. 

Whatever your season, I pray you are met by the assurance that God goes before and behind you in the change.  Keep your eyes peeled for the ways He displays His beauty!

Blessings friends,

-Emily S.

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Hello Friends! My name is Kierstan Hall,  I’m from the capital city of Sacramento, CA. Here’s a fun fact for you- Sacramento is nicknamed the city of trees, because it has such a beautiful tree canopy. I am a recent APU graduate with my B.A. in Philosophy. I’m so blessed to be able to share my APU experience with you this summer! So, hang on to your seats it is going to be a fun ride.

 My story starts Spring of 2011 when I transferred to APU from a large state school up north. My previous college was great, and I loved it, but I found that I was losing myself there. I felt that my identity was being shaped by all the wrong things and that I was living my life for myself, not really considering God’s plan for my life.

I knew I wanted to find another school, but I had no idea what I was looking for, until I came to APU. I was on a college tour with my younger sister, who heard about APU through friends back home. As soon as I stepped foot on campus, I knew it was the place for me. After I applied, I prayed “God if this is the place for me, open the door for me and I will walk through it, no questions asked”. Within those next few weeks I told family, and  friends that I was moving to SoCal. Although, I was assured and confident in my decision to switch schools I ran into a number of friends, and even family members, who were skeptical of my choice.  

I will be honest, I love new things, but I am terrified of transitions! There is something very uncomfortable about transitions. I find that in the midst of transitioning it is hard to relax or settle because you know that you will be leaving that place shortly. At the same time, transitions can cause us to be apathetic or even afraid to make a decision. During this period of transitioning I was definitely more afraid, because I had given up control over my life and handed it over to God.

The decision to transfer to APU is one of the biggest God moments in my life thus far and it is a transition that altered my life. It lead me on a path where God has continually shown His grace, love, and  favor.    

My prayer and hope this summer is that if you take nothing else from my story, that you will see a glimpse of what can be, if you allow yourself to lose control, to let go, and to let God lead you.

Grace and peace to you all and may you find God in the midst of your transitioning to APU

-Kierstan H.

God calls us out to the nations to fulfill His great commission, not only to leave an impact but to leave impacted.
My name is Mike Lawson and I come from the stellar beaches of sunny San Diego. I am a Business Finance major who spends his free time either playing sports or adventuring in the outdoors and now, sadly, entering into my final year at APU. There is nothing like your Senior year that puts everything into perspective. So, I am so excited to be blogging to all of you who are reading as I reminisce upon the impact APU has made in my life along with getting excited for what my last year has to hold!
Just this last semester, I had the amazing opportunity to spend four life changing months in South Africa through one of APU’s study abroad programs. This was a semester full of freeing adventures, inspiring culture, and mind blowing views. I continually found myself surrounded by the most hospitable people and nature where all I saw was green for miles and miles. Over the course of the semester I was able to serve for a month in a local township, go on a safari where I saw my favorite animal (a lion!), bungee jump off the tallest bungee bridge in the world, and go shark cage diving along the cape coast. South Africa became so much more than just an experience where it was normal to see a zebra walking along the side of a trail, but a place where I can look back and call… HOME.

As I transition back into the United States, I find myself with a very bittersweet taste in my mouth. I can now use what I’ve learned with my time in South Africa to impact and inspire those around me while desperately missing the memories made in a place that now holds my heart. Ultimately, I am so thankful for the 49 other students that I was able to cherish these Christ-impacted moments with because I can carry on my life in America alongside these people who I now refer to as family. Over the semester, we all created a mission statement for our semester that I want you all to read:

We the vulnerable, prayerful, and Christ-centered Spring 2014 South Africa family - connected through intentional support and genuine love - find meaning in listening, giving hope, choosing joy, & embracing adventure as we represent the Father’s heart of compassion, conquer our fears, broaden our perspectives, and empower others through selfless humility as kingdom focused healers.

I want to encourage all of you to step out of your comfort zone and allow God to do something amazing with your life. To do something that might scare you down to your core because its different, but know that this is an area where fear can be conquered with God as your guide.

Blessings to you all and to the journey God will lead you on,

Mike L.