Andrew's Farewell letter

December 01, 2015

November 15 was Andrew Esqueda's last Sunday. He shared these beautiful words with the students. We love you Andrew! Many blessings on your new venture!

Dear ryeX,
Wow, what a ride it has been! Whoever thought that a guy from ‪#‎socal‬would end up moving across the country with his family in order to be the youth minister to a bunch of high school and college students in Roswell, GA? I sure as heck didn’t. I’ll tell you what though, I sure am glad that we did. The last three years of my life, here with you, have been incredible. Yeah, of course there have been ups and downs, professional and personal struggles, but it has been a time of immense growth for me, and hopefully for you too. Megan and I came here not having any family, and in a matter of three short years have gained a massive one. Yes, you are my youth students, but the truth is that you and your families and all that make up RPC are family to us. Not because we are blood related, but because you welcomed us, and made us feel at home; when we longed for our families you were right there. Through the hard times you supported us and through the joyous times.
There have been a lot of joyous times! The amount of fun I have had with y’all is crazy! I have even had crazy amounts of fun in car rides, and no one really wants to ride in a car for 7 hours unless your final destination is Cape San Blas. From the awesomeness that was spring break last year, to schralping some gnar at Cataloochee, to late night conversations about who knows what, to crazy times traveling through the jungle of the Yucatan, to breaking up a student made courtroom and penitential system at the WELL, to eating far too much queso at taco mac, to playing crazy games and watching Meghan Brophy eat a jar of mayonnaise at Extreme retreat, and all the awesomeness and ridiculousness that is Rutledge! It’s been so fun! And, I guarantee it couldn’t have been as fun with any other group of people! That’s how special you are! It’s been incredible, and I know that we all have so many memories, memories that we could recount. And, I’m sure one day we’ll recount memories that we forgot we even had. Thankfully we have social media to remind us of most of those. 
Yes, it’s been so much fun! But it’s also been valuable. Valuable for me, and I hope for you. Alongside all of that fun, we’ve had a lot of great conversations about life and faith, and not just the easy stuff, the stuff that brings pain and tears; we’ve talked about family issues, friend issues, drugs, alcohol, and yes, even sex. And, we’ve been real and honest about the issues and struggles that life brings us. We’ve also been real and honest about the incredible grace, love, justice, and forgiveness that we are given by Jesus. I hope that I helped make this a safe place where we could actually talk about those things without any ounce of judgment, but rather a spirit of grace. I may have not told you what you wanted to hear, and that’s because it’s part of my job, but know how grateful I am that we have had so many conversations that require vulnerability. That means the world to me; you trusted me and for that I am so grateful! I am grateful to have walked alongside you and your families over the years, and that is something I will cherish for the rest of my life. I hope over this time that I have made a lasting impact on your lives, and that your faith is stronger, but I want you to know the impact that you have made on my life and the life of my family! You have helped shape me in so many ways, ways that will impact me for the rest of my life. You are a very special group of people to me, and you will continue to be! 
So, as I leave today as your youth minister, I don’t leave as your friend! And, as I leave today, I have 10 things that I want you to remember!
1. No one will come and fill my shoes; they will bring a new pair like I did. Give them the love and respect that you gave me.
2. I don’t make ryeX—you do! This community is what makes this place
3. Jesus and the welcoming community of Rutledge is more important than its traditions. Jesus is constantly creating and re-creating; that’s ok at Rut too
4. Don’t let anything or anyone be an idol. Jesus trumps all things, and the community of Christ is way more powerful than any person or system
5. Keep having those open and honest conversations, it’ll make you a stronger person and follower of Christ.
6. Love everyone and do your best to love them well
7. If there is any one truth I taught you, remember that there was never a time in the history of the life of God where Jesus was not intending to be your Lord and Savior. God has always been thinking of you
8. Questioning is ok, doubt is ok, quitting the fight is not. This is the one safe place, for most of you, where you can ask hard questions about life and faith; take the opportunity and do it.
9. Always, always, remember that I know what you do on Friday and Saturday nights.
10. And, finally, remember how much you are loved by God, by this church, and by me. And, remember I’ll always be “dad”.

I can’t express my love and gratitude for you and this place! God has great things in store for both of us!

With much love,

Andrew Esqueda