God's Golden Nuggets in Sonora: A Year of Blessings at Discover Life Church
In the heart of its community, Discover Life Church in Sonora embarked on quite a journey over the past year, leaving a trail of God's golden nuggets that will continue to shimmer with divine grace for years. From a powerful community-wide revival service to a heartwarming Veteran's Day tribute and beyond, every event has been a testament to the church's unwavering commitment to spiritual growth, community service, and the celebration of God's love. If all the volunteers were mentioned for the events listed, it would take pages and pages of names of people dedicated to serving their church and community.
"The God Beyond Your Wildest Dreams," from February 9 to 17, in some ways, might be considered the introductory event for the year. This community-wide revival service had a profound spiritual impact that extended far beyond the church walls. Characterized by fervent prayers, uplifting worship, and inspiring messages by Senior Pastor Jim Berglund, it invited the community to partake in a collective renewal of faith.
While serving as a review for some church members, others found it to be either a fresh perspective or even new truths. Notably, 35 guests participated in one or more meetings. Pastor Berglund explained, "As part of God's community, our mission is to guide individuals in taking their next step toward Jesus. This could involve hearing a message that provides a different understanding of God. Though immediate action may not occur, we trust that God will use the shared message, and the Holy Spirit will work to draw them closer to Him. Our calling is to collaborate with God in the journey of bringing His people back to Him. Our heartfelt prayer is that God will minister to them and use us as instruments in His transformative work!"
Mother Lode Adventist Junior Academy (MLAJA) March Auction on March 5 saw the spirit of generosity take center stage with the 15th annual school fundraising auction. Under the leadership of Carey McCulloch for the seventh consecutive year, along with her outstanding team of dedicated volunteers, the gymnasium underwent a magical transformation into the enchanting theme of "It's Always Tea Time, Mad Hatter MLAJA Auction." Gratitude extends to the school, church, local community, business sponsors, and everyone who braved the chaotic snowy weather to attend. This collective effort resulted in an impressive fundraising total exceeding $90,500. Continuing the tradition of generous support from previous years, these funds will be directed toward student scholarships and enhancements for the school.
The empowerment and celebration of women took center stage at two significant events: the Ladies Tea in April and a subsequent retreat in August under the leadership of the Women’s Ministry Director, Carolyn Smith, and her dedicated volunteers. These occasions provided a sacred space for women to deepen their connection with Jesus, fostering sisterhood bonds and facilitating spiritual growth.
In April, the "Tea Time" unfolded across ten homes that women signed up to attend. Each hostess crafted a special occasion with a delectable menu and creative opportunities for meaningful socialization. A participant at one location shared her experience, saying, "It was lovely. The food was delicious, and we had a nice time getting acquainted. I’m so glad I came. I didn’t think I would have anything in common with anyone here, but I did. It was so fun to share our stories."
In August, the retreat held in the gymnasium included three sessions spanning Friday evening to a Sabbath morning worship service. Cathy Egleston, the speaker from Sunnyside Adventist Church, dramatized in costume the story of Ruth and Naomi in a series of talks entitled "The Fruit of Love, Through a Story of Tragedy and Triumph." As the women attending gained fresh insights and spiritual lessons from this ancient biblical tale, the gymnasium buzzed with women fellowshipping and sharing together. The event included a Friday evening soup and salad supper, a Sabbath morning brunch, scripture study at each table, songs of praise, communion, and gift drawings.
On May 31, the MLAJA Graduation marked the culmination of the school year with a particularly meaningful ceremony honoring its seven eighth graders. Notably, five of these students had been part of MLAJA for all eight years, with the majority planning to continue their educational journey into the ninth grade.
The class's chosen aim, "Life is a step-by-step process," resonated with the thoughtful approach these students took in their academic journey. Their motto, "One step at a time," and the guiding verse, "Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans" (Proverbs 16:3), encapsulated the essencenof their academic and spiritual growth under the leadershipnof Principal Amy Miller. The graduation ceremony filled theirnteachers, parents, friends, and church members with gratitudenand pride as they witnessed the dedication and achievements ofnthese exceptional students.
From June 26 to 30, the lively sounds of children and youth resonated with joy as they celebrated God's love during the Vacation Bible School-themed "Jesus Loves Miners." A dedicated team of almost 60 volunteers, predominantly teenagers, under the leadership of Associate Pastor Tyson Kahler, crafted engaging activities, meaningful lessons, and a vibrant atmosphere that created an environment that ignited children's hearts with the warmth of divine love.
During the Sabbath morning worship service, church members witnessed a demonstration of the children's enthusiasm and joy. The success of the Vacation Bible School not only left lasting impressions on the young participants but showcased the spirit of service and dedication within the church community.
Life Hope Clinic on September 16 and 17 was a testament to the spirit of compassion and service of the Discover Life Church when it opened its doors to the community through this free health clinic. As already highlighted in the November issue of the Pacific Union Recorder, this initiative, with much of the equipment provided by the Central California Conference, offered free essential services, embodying the church's commitment to holistic well-being. As noted in the local newspaper, The Union Democrat, by reporter Guy McCarthy, “More than 200 volunteers – including dental, vision, medical, massage therapy, and haircare professionals – provided about $221,000 in free services and labor for 259 patients.” The church also partnered with Adventist Health Sonora, the Blue Zones Project, and the Public Health Department from Tuolumne County. This event was a massive success as it sought to minister to its local community.
From October 7 to 13, the week-long youth-led seminar, "Mysteries of God," unfolded with remarkable engagement and spiritual depth. Six students, selected from grades six to nine at MLAJA, took center stage as speakers, delving into the "mysteries" of salvation, evil, Sabbath, forgiveness, devotion, and the eagerly anticipated return of Christ.
These young orators were allowed time during their school day to collaborate with the pastors to meticulously craft their talks. In addition to their contributions, other youth actively led the various segments of the service that included a welcome, music, and a time to reflect on the topic. The two pastors ended with a gift drawing for those who attended. Each evening, the supportive and grateful congregation of church members and guests helped to foster a time for spiritual growth of both young and old.
Reflecting on this unique experience, Pastor Berglund expressed appreciation, stating, "It was a wonderful opportunity for us to witness the vitality and spiritual passion of our young people. We often overlook the significant roles of youth in both the Bible and history. This event served as a reminder never to underestimate the profound impact young people can have on our faith community."
The MLAJA Fall Festival on October 19 was an annual event with a delightful assortment of activities and a mouthwatering array of food. Turning a section of the parking lot into inventive booths (the “box maze” was back!) required teamwork, cooperation, and unity. Beyond the financial success when over $4,700 was raised, the true measure of triumph was reflected in the laughter, smiles, and sheer delight on the faces of those who attended. This overwhelmingly positive response underscored the community's robust support and deep appreciation for its school.
The God's Closet Ministry on October 22 showcased a commitment to supporting families in need, with numerous volunteers led by Penny Wang and Orene Thorn. In the gymnasium, the subsequent 107 community families could select gently used clothing for free from well-organized tables. While the event offered needed and practical assistance, it went beyond the material aspect. Thirty-three people expressed interest in children's programming, eleven sought Bible studies, and eight desired prayer. In essence, this ministry embodied the church's unwavering dedication to doing compassionate outreach.
At the Veteran's Day Tribute on November 11, the church paused that holiday Sabbath afternoon Sabbath with a special meal and afternoon program to honor those who have and continue to serve their country. After a delicious potluck with the Pathfinders passing out desserts, the program included the Colors posted by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3154 Honor Guard and special recognition by several speakers that included a special medal given to veterans and their families. Another highlight was the The Star Spangled Banner rendition by the MLAJA band under the direction of Melody Trauthwein. The Veteran's Day tribute was a heartfelt expression of gratitude and respect.
December activities not only included the customary and special Christmas programs by both church and school, especially the exceptional presentation of MLAJA’s fifth and sixth graders at the church service on December 16, this month embraced some special fundraisers for the upcoming mission trip in March and a special welcome for the soon to arrive new associate pastor, Jonathan Derma Salazar, and his family. More information on some of these events will be forthcoming later.
As the Discover Life Church in Sonora reflects on this transformative and eventful year, the golden nuggets of God's grace scattered throughout each event stand as a testament to the power of faith, community, and love. The journey continues, and the church remains steadfast in its mission to be a beacon of light, hope, and service for all. God would say to His people, “The Almighty will have first place in your life, and He will be your gold and choicest silver.” (Job 22:25 CW). All our “gold nuggets” this past year are to His praise and honor.
By Deloris Trujillo