- About Us
The Alumni Newsletter is a publication that is sent out a couple times during a semester.
Hi! My name is Ellie Giles and this is my first year in UCO. I've known about UCO since I was young, but I was definitely a little apprehensive about being a part of it this year. Growing up in community, I thought that after high school I would put community on the back burner, but God had different plans for me. Shortly after I started coming to UCO this year, I began to feel very much at home. I was able to join a womens group with really wonderful girls and have also been able to spend time getting to know the UCO womens household. After joining UCO I began to feel God calling me to a new relationship with him.
This January I attended the UCO (Kairos) Winter Conference for the first time. I only expected it to be a larger version of the YES! Retreat (an annual retreat for high school students), and I didn't go in with any expectations. When I was at the retreat, however, God's presence was so much more alive to me and so much more powerful than anything I had ever experienced before. The theme of the weekend was Hope, one that couldn't have been better chosen. With all the challenges our country has been facing lately, there has been reason to doubt and fear, but God made it clear over this weekend that his promises to us never fail. In one ofJohn Keating's talks he mentioned the verse to us,"Hope that is seen is not Hope" and it was particularly provoking for me. Hope is something I have always struggled with because I often let myself to get bogged down in things and very easily lose sight of the Lord's promises. At this retreat I realized how many times everyday I place my hope and trust in things that have no meaning, and I realized how much I try to rely on my own talents to pull me through. God showed me that his promises are not always easy to understand, but that he will always come through for us.
Throughout the weekend I also felt a strong sense that God has great plans for our generation. The power of prayer that was present during our prayer meetings was incredible and very inspiring. I know God's plans for me are not yet clear, but I also have hope in the promise that he has a future for me. "For I know the plans for you says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." During the prayer meeting Saturday night, I experienced a very special time with the Lord. The Holy Spirit was so present there, and unlike some of the past retreats I've been on, I was able to place all other thoughts out of my head and really focus on Jesus. I was reminded of how often I just go through the motions of being a Christian without really letting the Lord have my life. During the retreat, I felt a real yearning to experience the Lord in a new way. I was able to seek the Lord with all my heart and I found him. I took a new step in my relationship with Jesus during the Winter Conference. The hope the Lord gave me for the future and for my generation was very important for me. I know that the road will not always be easy, but God is faithful. He will fulfill his promises to us and one day take us unto himself.
Students at the Winter Conference Students praying at the Winter Conference
UCO Ann Arbor guys from the Man Trip - Jan. 18
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