Q&A with Winter Revival Speaker Aren Rennacker

By Becky St. Clair

Aren Rennacker is currently the youth and college pastor at the Calimesa Seventh-day Adventist Church. After graduating in 2007 from Sacramento Adventist Academy, Aren went on to earn his bachelor’s degree in PR and journalism from PUC in 2011, then his master’s in theological studies from La Sierra University in 2017.

One of four kids, Aren has myriad stories from his childhood, during which he dreamed of winning a spot on an NBA team.

He will be speaking during PUC’s Winter Revival, Jan. 22-25, and his theme is “Authentic.” We caught up with Aren so we could all get to know him a little better (how did he go from basketball star to youth pastor?) as we prepare to receive his insights on authenticity and God next week.

Why did you choose “Authentic” as your theme?

It’s such a unique time to be alive right now, and particularly to be in college. Students are forming their identities in the midst of a lot of distrust, competition, pressure, and confusion. These can all contribute to misunderstandings about oneself and what it means to be human. My hope is for one week, we can practically examine the journey of growing as a child of God, and how that actually is meant to allow for more authenticity in our lives, not less. I truly hope our time together is engaging, practical, and genuine to the students’ experiences.

What was your experience with church and worship as a college student, and how has that affected your life today?

Friday night vespers at PUC were always a highlight. I spent most Sabbaths with Kidz Reach, a group that mentored at-risk youth in Napa. Also, the religion classes were outstanding. Truly, the entire spiritual environment at PUC helped me grow in a lot of ways and led me into pursuing ministry. I remain grateful to this day for the teachers and leaders I had as guides during those years.

What’s something that challenged you as a young adult, and how did you handle it?

At the end of my freshman year, I was asked to take a year off to serve as the youth leader at a local church. At that time I still wanted to be a sports journalist and had no desire to be a pastor; however, I felt saying “no” would upset God.

I met with a mentor of mine to process the decision, and he helped me see God was not for me or against me based on my decision, but both “yes” and “no” could be the right or wrong answer based upon how I chose to spend the next year. That took a lot of the pressure off and helped me see God in a healthier way.

I decided to return to PUC that year recommitted to serving God on campus. And, what do you know, by the end of that year I decided I wanted to pursue a career as a youth pastor instead of as a journalist.

What were you like as a kid?

I was the youngest of four and I’m sure I acted like it. Fortunately, my mom and siblings were patient and helped create a great childhood for me. Sports were my passion, and I always wanted to be watching, playing, or reading about them. Reading the sports page in the newspaper every day helped cultivate my love for writing, and obsessing over the Sacramento Kings helped me acclimate to taking losses. Despite that, I was a generally happy kid who enjoyed school and loved my family.

What is your favorite food to eat?

My favorite food category is ice cream. (Is that a category?) Seriously, though, if I were to have one plate of anything, it would be my mom’s French toast. She’s the only one in the world who can make it her way.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I still enjoy playing basketball, and I’m hoping to play some while I’m up at PUC. I’m currently in the middle of several good books, including Under the Overpass, an account of two guys who chose to become homeless for five months to better understand what others experience. But my favorite free time activity is spending time with my girlfriend, Paige, which usually means a game of Uno, an episode of The Office, or a bowl of acai. Better yet: all three.

What are some items on your bucket list?

This is a timely question because I turn 30 this summer, meaning I should probably do some life reflecting. Some of the things I’ve done are travel the U.S., work at a job I love, and see the Giants win the World Series (three times). I’d still love to run a half marathon, write a book, and star on Broadway. Dream big.

What would you say is your main goal for Winter Revival?

My ultimate goal for the week would be for those listening to be willing to process or wrestle with at least one new idea or perspective they hear. Living within a faith community can often numb us to yet another message (myself included), so if any student or staff actually feel something they hear is worth consuming and thinking over, perhaps even discussing with a friend, I’d be honored and grateful. I simply long to be a small part in the journey of growth for anybody who will allow me to be.

If, in the course of said discussions or ponderings, a student has questions or just wants to connect with you about things, how can they reach you?

I would love to talk in person while I’m on the hill, or they can reach me at asrennacker@gmail.com.

Get to Know Pastor Rufo, PUC’s New Chaplain

Joining Pastor Rufo in ministry to the PUC community is wife Anna, daughter Madison, and son Jadon.

By Becky St. Clair

Pastor Kent Rufo has accepted the call to be PUC’s new chaplain. He will be moving his family from Illinois over Christmas break and will begin serving the campus in January. During his 13 years of experience as a pastor, Rufo has served as lead, youth, and associate pastor, chaplain, Bible teacher, collegiate ministries director, and missionary. He received his bachelor’s degree in biology from Southern Adventist University in 2000 and then completed his MDiv at Andrews University in 2004. Rufo has experience leading prayer and Bible study groups, visitation, counseling, and outreach, among other ministry activities. He is currently serving as lead pastor at Downers Grove Adventist Church in Illinois, where he has been since January 2017.

We caught up with him as he begins figuring out the logistics of their cross-country move and says goodbye to his current church family, and now introduce to you: PUC chaplain Kent Rufo!

Tell us about your childhood. Where did you grow up, and what was life like there?

I grew up in northwest Ohio, in suburbs south of Toledo. My father is from the Philippines, yet the town we moved to was predominantly white. Originally the neighbors weren’t so sure about having an Asian next door, but as the years went by we made some really good friends in that neighborhood. So I’m excited to be moving to a place known for its friendly community and look forward to getting to know our new neighbors.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was a kid I wanted to be an NBA player. Being that my father is 5’6” and my mother is 5’4” my odds of becoming a professional basketball player were small. Growing up it was assumed I would go into the medical field, preferably a doctor of medicine. I had thoughts of medicine until college.

When did you first feel the call to become a pastor?

I don’t know if I really “felt” the call to ministry at first. I knew I wasn’t going to medical school but wasn’t sure what was next. I prayed for a “fleece” and 3 people said I should go to the Seminary … all in the same day. I went. I never interviewed with a conference yet one person from Mountain View Conference called me to ask if I’d like to teach and preach. They were looking for a bi-vocational pastor who could teach full time and minister part-time in a college town. Until this day, I have no clue how he got my name. Since I accepted that call, the Lord has clearly opened up ministries for me and my family.

You served as a missionary in Korea for two years; what was something significant you learned during that experience?

Easy question: The importance of studying the Word! My Korean counterpart had just graduated from the Seminary and shared Bible study tools. I will forever be grateful. I also had the chance to read the Great Controversy and the Desire of Ages (twice). It transformed my life. I also learned about the power of prayer.

So how much Korean did you learn?

“Chogum.” That means ‘a little.’ Every day I remember less. I was never fluent but I could get around.

Your passion in ministry seems to be young people. What inspired that?

Actually, I feel the way God created me was with “strengths” in relationships. I’m not a big-show personality and I believe in authentic relationships. I think I’ve just felt I can be honest with young people and that seems to connect. This drives me. I also believe we have not challenged our young people enough. When I was growing up it was enough to just “keep our kids Adventist.” Obviously, that wasn’t enough. I have a passion to see a group of young people study the Word, pray with huge results, and change their worlds.

Speaking of keeping young people in the church, tell us how you plan to be a part of that effort by working with the young people at PUC.

Jesus was not about keeping people in the church. In John 6 he actually says something he knew would make many leave his side: He wants to challenge people, young and old, to commit to his cause. It means sacrifice, but it also means to expect God to do powerful things through them. I’d really love to see how students take hold of a vision and run with it. If the Spirit is leading, it CANNOT fail.

What made you decide to accept this position and come out here to California?

My wife is still asking me this question. She said she would NEVER move to California. Seriously, though, it is the calling to minister to collegiate-age students. Empowering students to start impacting their community now, rather than after graduation, is one of my main passions.

What are some methods you use to stay in tune with what young people need and want in their spiritual lives, even as times change?

Listening. That’s really it. I can’t keep up with everything new: methods, pop culture, media. The principles of scripture transcend time and changes. Most of what I can do is listen. Oh, I do like to read about ministry models, too, but they are not my “gospel.”

What is one of your favorite spiritual quotes and why is it meaningful to you?

One of my favorite Bible verses is John 16:33 which states, “I have told you these things so that in me you might have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” I love this verse because it reminds me that no matter what my world looks like he’s already won!

Outside of scripture, one of my favorite authors is Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. He states, “God is either of no importance, or of supreme importance.” I think the world is looking for authentic Christians. The reason people are turned off by Christianity is that there is a lot of hypocrisy and mediocrity.

What are some books you recommend to young people?

Outside of the Bible, I’m a believer in “The Desire of Ages.” I love that view of Jesus. As for the power of prayer, I recommend “The Circle Maker” by Mark Batterson.

Tell us about an important spiritual mentor you had as a young person, and how their mentorship has influenced your own.

To be honest, when I first became a Christian, my biggest spiritual mentors were other college students: Chris Bullock and Teofilo Matos. They prayed for me. They showed me how to walk with Jesus. This all stemmed from our friendship and desire to change the world around us. I think that is why my heart is in Christian community and challenging the status quo.

How can the community you serve (that’s us!) support you and your family as you strive to support our students?

Gift certificates for a local massage therapist. Ha! Just kidding.

I think my family is just looking to be part of the community. Oh, both my wife and I worked as baristas at a coffee shop so we do like some good coffee every once in a while. (Hint, hint!)

Tell us more about your family!

My wife, Anna, is originally from Grand Rapids, Michigan. She graduated with an elementary education degree but doesn’t feel full-time teaching as her calling. She’s been a teacher, teacher’s aide, administrative assistant, assistant community service coordinator, and a rockin’ wife. It’s important to her to be involved, but only behind the scenes.

My daughter, Madison, is 10; she loves people and wants to be around them at all time. My son, Jadon, is seven; his shell is a little harder to crack, but once he opens up—especially about superheroes—he slowly warms up to people. My wife is like my son.

What are some of your hobbies and interests? What will we find on the walls of your new office on campus?

I’m not really the biggest decorator, but I love being Filipino so you might find a Filipino flag. I do like sports and to work out. I am a Cleveland Browns fan, too. Go Cleveland! (Hey, a Cleveland fan is a loyal one, though we don’t win too often.)

The Twelve: PUC’s Student-Run Church Service

By Sarah Tanner

For over a year, PUC students have spearheaded a personalized, student-focused Sabbath worship service called The Twelve. Their mission is simple. Summarized by lead coordinator and junior English major, Leah Dopp, “Our goal is to develop an open spirit driven community that reflects the life and teaching of Jesus through discipleship.”

And, after five quarters of student-led worship services, it is clear their mission is a huge success.

Dopp, along with two of The Twelve’s veterans, heads a team of student leaders that meet weekly to create Saturday services for PUC’s student population. In a conversation with Leah over pad thai, she explained what makes The Twelve so special.

To tackle a project of this size, Dopp found it useful to delegate tasks, breaking down The Twelve into nine departments. Her team of student leaders includes coordinators for the various aspects of the service. Welcome and greetings are headed by Valerie Barraza and Hazel Labaco, respectively. Music is organized by Lydia Zebedeus. Nephta Marin heads PowerPoint slides during the service, and sound is coordinated by Nick Borchik. PR and treasury are organized by Stefaan Dick. Emily Castellanos is in charge of prayer, while Jayla Cruse directs stage management. And last, but definitely not least is the ever popular coffee ministry run by Audrey Uyemura, Kelly Kimura, and Jamie Nelson.

“Table meetings are held twice during the quarter to discuss big picture things, like speakers and any changes we want to make to the program,” Leah says. “We organize a list of students, faculty, alumni, and others who we feel would convey interesting messages during the service. Then, each student leader organizes contacts for their corresponding department and teams are formed. For example, music teams choose their songs based on the speaker’s topics so we can create continuity for the whole service.”

A typical Twelve service is fairly simple. Held at noon in Winning Hall’s Dauphinee Chapel every Saturday during the school year, visitors are greeted with coffee at the door and are then welcome to make their way to a seat. The service opens with a song followed by a brief welcome message. The worship team then performs two more songs which lead into a prayer or prayer activity that relates to the sermon. Following the message, welcome coordinators give announcements and the service is concluded.

“Our schedule is always open to changes; we want to keep things moving so we don’t get too sedentary,” says Dopp. “Right now we are playing with the idea of including a discussion time so people can reflect on the message of the service together.”

The Twelve’s name is meant to evoke a spirit of discipleship, as it calls forth the image of Jesus’ original followers. And this spirit of mentorship is present in virtually all facets of the service.

“In addition to the idea of student leaders acting as disciples through their running of the program, we also want to make sure that it is a lasting part of PUC’s legacy,” Dopp explained. “All leaders are constantly mentoring people to fill their position so that there is always someone able to step in and fill that role if needed.” She continues, “We are trying to get lots of people involved to carry on that spirit of mentorship. It doesn’t matter if they don’t have any experience; we’re here to teach.”

As The Twelve is student-run, it is also dependent on student feedback for the program’s growth and development. On this topic, Dopp made it clear, “We are always open to feedback. The Twelve is here to give the students what they want in a worship service, and to do that we need input; we strive to be an event that PUC wants to attend.”

Students looking to share ideas are encouraged to speak to any of the leaders mentioned above and can reach out via email to Leah directly at lmdopp@puc.edu or thetwelvepuc@gmail.com. The Twelve’s team is constantly looking for new speakers, contributors, and students to be involved in all aspects of the service.

“We’re really excited to see where this program will go. Our team’s dedication to creating a meaningful service is incredible.”

Dopp is right; The Twelve is something to be proud of, and it stands as a testament to the ability of students to make a meaningful impact on campus life.

Five Reasons to Apply to PUC Right Now

The fall season is prime time for high school seniors. If you haven’t already started looking at potential schools to attend next year, now’s the time—and why not start with Pacific Union College! Here are five reasons why you should consider applying to PUC today.

Make Friends for a Lifetime

One of the best things about attending PUC is living in one of our seven residence halls. About 75 percent of students live on-campus, which fosters a very close-knit community atmosphere. Students live together, study together, socialize, and worship together, which gives our campus a unique sense of unity. Besides being home for almost 10 months out of the year, the residence halls also provide students with activities like Dorm Olympics, weekly hall worships, and a chance to get to know other students outside the classroom.

Check out the Life at PUC page on our website to learn more about the true Pioneers experience.

Get Involved & Make a Difference

You don’t need to wait until you graduate to start helping with problems around the world. PUC students are already making a difference. With internships, missionary opportunities, service-learning projects, and on-campus ministry groups, you can be part of making change, today.

  • 75 percent of PUC students complete an internship by graduation
  • 10+ mission trip opportunities per year
  • 20,000+ hours PUC students have spent on service-learning projects
  • 10 campus ministry groups

Read about Lauren’s experience as a student missionary in our “How Uganda Love It?” blog post.

Have a Mentor in Your Corner

With a 12:1 student-teacher ratio, your professors will know you. They’re invested in helping you succeed. The one-on-one attention you receive in and out of the classroom will help make you a much more successful student. On top of professors’ regular office hours, students at PUC have many unique opportunities to strengthen relationships with their professors, including intramurals, pre-vespers, and community service projects. As you work towards your career goals, you will find your professors become more—they become your mentors who can help you along your journey, and ones you can still get advice from years after graduation.

 

Great Financial Aid Opportunities

Since 1882, PUC has been charged with an important mission: providing an excellent Seventh-day Adventist education that prepares students for successful careers and service to both God and others. We are committed to working together with you and your family to make a high-quality Adventist college experience possible.

Did you know:

  • Last year, the college awarded over $30 million in financial aid to 1,250 students
  • The average financial aid award per student is approximately $22,483
  • 100 percent of students qualify for financial aid
  • Most PUC scholarships renew for four years

Learn more about scholarships and other financial aid opportunities at puc.edu/scholarships.

Enjoy NorCal Life

One of the best things about life at PUC is our amazing location. Nestled in the mountains above the beautiful Napa Valley, students are #blessed to wake up each morning to gorgeous views of a perfect mixture of forest and vineyards. Surrounded by over 30 miles of picturesque hiking and biking trails with incredible destinations, allow for some of the most exquisite sunsets over the charming town of Angwin, perfect to get that Instagram-worthy photo. And just a car ride to San Francisco away holds all the culture you can dream of with galleries, concert halls, museums, theaters, sports stadiums, and plenty of shopping. With so many unique sites and attractions, you’ll always have somewhere to explore.

As you’ve seen, there are many advantages to attending PUC and we would be thrilled to welcome you into the Pioneers family! The online application is quick, easy to complete, and always free. Reach out to the Admissions office with any questions you might have by calling (800) 862-7080, option 2 or emailing admissions@puc.edu.

Don’t wait—apply to PUC now!

A Conversation with Fall Revival Speaker Josue Hernandez

By Becky St. Clair

Josue Hernandez is in the middle of his third year of ministry as associate pastor at the Modesto Central Seventh-day Adventist Church. He graduated from Pacific Union College in 2015 with a degree in theology and will begin MDiv classes in January. “I wanted to be a pastor to ensure the voices of young people are heard in the life of the church,” Josue says.

Beginning Oct. 8, Pastor Josue will be sharing some spiritual insights and food for thought during Fall Revival at PUC. Join us every evening Oct. 8-12 at 8:00 in Dauphinee Chapel in Winning Hall, and at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 11, in the PUC sanctuary for Colloquy, to hear him speak on PUC’s Student Association’s theme of “Beyond.” Pastor Josue adds, “This theme really resonates with what I believe to be part of life’s most rewarding elements: Our ability to grow, step out of our comfort zone, and embrace the stress and tension that growth thrives on.”

We chatted a bit with Josue to get an idea of the kind of guy he is, and the verdict is he’s pretty great. We look forward to hearing what he has to say for Fall Revival.

You’re still experiencing the “new” of your career; what has surprised you about being a pastor?

In my experience, churches can be very open to new ideas when they line up with a fresh, well-communicated vision of what the church could be. For example, instead of having an extended evangelistic series we offered a one-weekend presentation on the power of hope to our community, wrapped up by a Sunday morning project where we partnered with Rise Against Hunger to package thousands of meals for families who needed them in the Philippines. Seeing the full spectrum of ages, including a few non-Adventist community members, working together toward the same goal was inspiring.

I’ve also led out in a 2-month sermon series called “Messy Church” while preaching in jeans and a t-shirt, purchased a drum set for our church, redesigned our youth room, and launched a teen leadership program. All new projects our church has fully embraced as part of our new identity. This has been a refreshing revelation because it shows churches are willing to step out of their comfort zone to share the Good News.

Tell us about your college years. What was your experience as a PUC student?

I thoroughly enjoyed the three years I spent at PUC. I was involved with SOL Club, joined the soccer team my senior year, and loved being a part of intramurals. My favorite class was beginning Greek (shoutout to Dr. Winkle for making that class such a positive learning experience) because I’ve always been drawn to different languages. I changed my major once from mechanical engineering to theology when I transferred to PUC, but If I had spent a little more time at PUC I would’ve picked up a second major in communications or business.

I had several roommates at PUC. Each one of them very different. I never really had any issue getting used to having a roommate but for some reason, they never stayed the whole year, not sure if it was them or me, except for Timmy Baze who I roomed with my first year—what a brave soul. PUC embraced me as family, so being away from home was probably tougher on my parents than on me. I missed the homemade food the most. My favorite meal in the cafeteria is still Friday morning bliss—biscuits and gravy! To get away from campus, I’d take trips down the hill to In-N-Out, Giugni’s, Sherpa … my mouth waters just thinking about those places! And of course, the back 40! Great place for a hike or a run to Inspiration Point with friends to burn off the calories from the cafeteria food.

What job did you have in college?

My first and only job at PUC (aside from Religious VP for the Student Association) was working for the alumni and advancement office as a student caller to our alumni, keeping them in touch with the latest on life at PUC and assisting with any other projects the office had, including the Maxwell Golf Tournament and Homecoming events.

Life didn’t start in college, though. Where did you grow up, and what were you like as a kid?

I was born and raised in Los Angeles. I played a lot of sports; soccer and basketball were my favorites. I also took a couple of years of piano lessons and began playing guitar.

How many siblings do you have?

Many people are surprised when I mention I have a sister, Dalia, who was at PUC during my last two years there. She graduated from PUC with a degree in biology this summer and I’m super proud of her!

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I honestly don’t really remember! But I enjoyed playing with fire trucks and legos, so maybe a firefighter or architect.

What was your experience with church and worship as a kid?

I rarely missed a weekend at church growing up. My parents were intentional about ensuring we had a positive experience getting involved with a variety of church activities such as camping trips, family events, social gatherings, etc. Church is actually where I began to develop a joy for service and fellowship. Worship has been a source of great inspiration for me through all these years and has helped me tap into a clearer picture of God’s vision for my life.

We all have defining moments in our lives—moments we can’t forget and have shaped in a significant way the person we are today. What are two of your defining moments?

The first was definitely transferring to PUC from UC Davis. A lot was happening during my freshman year at UC Davis I had to deal with personally. I was beginning to grapple with who I really wanted to be in life, questioning whether or not I belonged at UC Davis, and dealing with high school relationship baggage. There were times where I felt I didn’t have what it would take to be a successful person on such a competitive campus. If you’ve heard of Impostor Syndrome you understand there are times when we second-guess our accomplishments. We feel if we accomplished something it was because the bar was set lower for us or for any other reason other than our own effort, especially as a Latino.

Transferring to PUC was a breath of fresh air. It reminded me I did belong. My achievements were meaningful and the community on this campus helped cement my identity. I ran for and served as RVP from 2014-15 which turned out to be one of the most positive learning experiences I’ve had in life. I am the first in my family to graduate with a college degree here in the United States and PUC will always have a special place in my heart for helping me get there.

And the second: Accepting the call to be a pastor in Modesto. Taking the next step after college is never an easy thing to do. After spending three years at PUC I fell in love with Northern California. I really wanted to stay close to campus because of all the friends that still remained there. It was a Friday evening before Vespers that I accepted the offer to serve as the associate pastor at Modesto Central. I thought I’d be at peace but I wasn’t. A couple weeks later the leadership team of the Southeastern California Conference reached out to me for a second round of interviews to meet the rest of the team. I began to wonder if I had made the right decision. Fast-forward three years, and looking back I am glad I made the choice to come to Modesto.

The fall after I graduated from PUC was the toughest because I missed the PUC community, friends, Vespers, classes—everything but the homework, ha!—and everyone seemed to be posting about moving back in for the start of the new year while I was in a new place with only a couple of people I knew well, I was thankful to be doing meaningful work with lots of potential. I spent one year out of the three I’ve worked here serving as the interim lead pastor when our senior pastor at the time took a call to a different church. I’ve been challenged to grow in so many areas and the people in this community have been so supportive and generous with me. I’ve made many meaningful relationships with the young people here including several who are now PUC students. I’ve discovered God works out all things for good. Learning to trust the process has given me a new awareness about my own boundaries God wants me to go beyond.

Being a pastor is a 24/7 job, essentially, but when you do find a few moments of free time, what do you enjoy doing?

I put a team together to play in a community co-ed soccer league that plays all year ‘round, and it’s been a blast! I also enjoy a good workout in the gym while listening to podcasts ranging from Revisionist History to the Bible Project, and reading anything by Malcolm Gladwell. And let’s be honest: Netflix after a long day is just icing on the cake.

Where is your favorite place in the world and why?

Anywhere with friends. This year I’ve spent some time in Spain, France, Bolivia, Israel, and Mexico. On all these trips, I’ve gone with different groups of friends and family. Each of these trips has had their challenges but the time spent being present and savoring the moment in front of us while sharing it with people we care about has been priceless. No matter where you go, you are surrounded by extraordinary people. Sometimes it just takes a readjusting of our attitude toward the world to see the opportunities to make meaningful memories around us. Then we pause to realize we are only just scratching the surface and dive deeper into the present.

If you could dream up the best possible outcome of this year’s Fall Revival at PUC, what would it be?

My goal is to remind the students of truths they know deep inside, truths they may have lost sight of along the way, and to challenge us all to go beyond surface level living into the depths of life that await us. The best possible outcome, from my perspective, would be for students to walk away with a better understanding of what it means to be human.

Why do you think events like this are important for college campuses?

I think they really help to recalibrate our purpose and vision in life. They inspire us to be the best version of ourselves and remind us of truths about ourselves and our relationship with the Divine we often forget with all the things vying for our attention.

If you’re interested in chatting with Pastor Josue about his talks or just about life in general, feel free to catch him after the Revival meetings or even stop him along the sidewalk. He’s on-campus all week and happy to chat with anyone who’s interested.

Welcome Back to PUC!

The summer months can be fun, relaxing, productive even; however, once September comes, we really start to miss having students running around campus. New Student Orientation was a blast and we have had so much fun spending the first week of the school year getting to know each other during classes and tons of fun activities.

The #RockDoc PUC president Dr. Bob Cushman and his rock. This is a fun new place to snap a quick pic and keep your eye out for new rock-designs throughout the year.

The Student Association team praying for the new school year during family orientation.

Off to the Alumni dinner!

The class of 2022 playing games and getting to know each other their first night at PUC.

Pancakes with your professors! A fun way to get to know the people who will teach your classes over a yummy breakfast.

PUC’s student-led praise team spreading God’s word through song.

The welcome back party was a great time to get to know each other and to find which clubs you want to be a part of!

We just want to say a huge WELCOME BACK to all our students and wish everyone a fantastic school year.

Service: A Lifestyle

By Megan Weems

Editor’s note: In July, over 200 college students and recent graduates, including many from Pacific Union College, traveled to Brazil to participate in a new volunteer program from the Adventist Development and Relief Agency to help build the Adventist Technical School of Massauari (ETAM). Below, recent PUC graduate Megan Weems shares her experience on the life-changing trip.

This summer, I was fortunate to embark on a journey along the Amazon River to a small village called Nova Jerusalem. On this boat, in the midst of nowhere, I was reminded of the attributes of service. This was not a solo mission but one that included 200 plus other college students or recent graduates, like myself, who decided to use two weeks of their summer to do something out of the norm. We were on our way to help finish building a K-9 technical school that needed a little extra tender loving care. The work included: cutting and putting up siding, laying and grouting tiles, painting, varnishing, and cleaning up the classrooms, library, and student dormitories.

I have served as a long-term missionary as a fifth and sixth-grade teacher in Fiji and also volunteered on other mission trips. On this particular excursion, I came with a sense of urgency and persistence to get the building project done. Having witnessed on countless occasions that if the project was left incomplete, it may never get done, and the children would be the ones who suffered. It was quite reassuring knowing that ADRA Brazil and ADRA Connections, a new volunteer program operated by the Adventist Development and Relief Agency, had produced a flawless plan keeping everyone involved and working through the entire trip. The huge group of North Americans and Brazilians worked effectively and cohesively to do exactly what we came to do in the Amazon: provide an infrastructure for education that would offer technical skills, and most importantly educating children with eternity in mind.

Every morning, volunteers greeted each other with the phrase, “bom dia,” or good morning in Portuguese, and yelled from boat to boat that worship was starting. We’d awake from our rested slumber in our hammocks, which swung in unison on the boat’s top deck during the cool, breezy nights. Our workdays began when the sun rose and set, and later that evening, we’d end the day with worship. The work was hard, sweat was plenty, there were a few complaints about the heat, but regardless, there was nothing but smiles, singing, and laughter.

What makes me nervous with mission trips is that people are coming from many different backgrounds, which sometimes means learning to adjust to a new work ethic and understanding of the work we are required to do. However, my worries were put at ease as each boat was assigned boat leaders and interpreters who stayed with their boats from start to finish of the mission. On our boat, we were blessed to be led by an amazing couple, Julianna and Diego, who had finished their missionary work from another village in the Amazon as a nurse and boat technician. Both spoke very little English yet the interpreters from the University of Sao Paulo were so helpful to explain what they said. Even though we didn’t speak the same language, Julianna and Diego set a clear example for our group that whatever the task is, whether big or small, we do it with the love of God.

What I saw in Julianna and Diego’s leadership is the type of leadership I pray that God instills within me. They were great at recognizing the strengths of the group, while they delegated, set expectations, and exemplified hard work. I didn’t need to speak the same language to recognize a person who gives 100 percent to every task, but I was very humbled and inspired by Julianna and Diego, and the service they showed.

Another couple left an indelible impression on my heart that I will remember forever, Don and Elaine Halenz. Don and Elaine actually accompanied my group from Pacific Union College, but it would be my first time meeting them. This couple, both age 83, and married for 60 years, decided to come on this trip, very aware of the trip’s extreme destination. They have been intermittent missionaries throughout their lives and here they were with all of us 20-somethings in the field again, working hard and never asking for any modifications. Never once did I hear them utter a complaint! I was incredibly humbled and inspired by Don and Elaine because they stand for everything I hope to be and live for when I am their age. Both of these couples, however, embodied what I believe true service is.

In essence, service to me is not a single action, but a lifestyle. It is a daily choice that leads up to multiple times making an intentional decision to be the best version of yourself in order to improve someone else’s existence. It is in everything we do, whether we are in the comforts of our homes or in a land far away from anything familiar. It is intentional modeling of Christ-like love continuously and consistently from moment to moment. I was incredibly blessed by my short-term experience on the ADRA Connections trip, and was reminded of the service I hope to exemplify all the days of my life.

Read more about the Amazon trip on Adventist Today.