Arriving on a Journey: A Life and Ministry Update from the Sotos

In Jamie Wright’s book, “The Very Worst Missionary,” she expresses her struggle with this phrase: “Do the next right thing.” As a former missionary in Costa Rica she has experienced what it is like to, “’Do the next right thing,” and then have her plans completely change, her life flipped upside down, and bad circumstances happen all while trying seek God’s guidance for that next right thing. She would rather go by the phrase, “Do the next most practical thing after careful exploration of the facts, so that even if it turns out to be the wrong thing, at least you can say you made a solid decision based on sound research, and if after a period of evaluation you find out it wasn’t the right thing, then you can try something else. God will handle the rest.’”

It lacks brevity and catchiness, but I couldn’t agree with her more.

This past March Lauro resigned from his position of Creative Arts Pastor at Thrive Church. It definitely was not an easy decision for him to make and was something that both him and I had wrestled with for several months prior. As much as he loved his job and what he got to do with Thrive, he did not feel like he would be the best fit for Thrive’s long-term vision. Thrive needs and deserves someone who will serve out of 100% of their giftedness, and we did not foresee Lauro fitting in that environment while serving to his greatest potential. After months of prayer and seeking wisdom and advice from mentors in our lives, Lauro made the decision to step away from the position.

It’s difficult for me to give this season of our lives a pretty presentation for you that is conclusive and has a happy ending and a feel-good lesson learned at the end. We have been wrestling hard with God about His “calling” for us (and what a buzzword that term has become in Christian culture). I’ve personally had to sort through a lot of my beliefs about God and how he works, realizing that I had a lot of expectations of God that were false beliefs. I’ve never been angrier at God than I have been during these past few months, and I’ve also never realized how much I needed God during these past few months. It has been a crappy and confusing place to be.

We have been reminded that we are not in control of our lives, as much as we try to be (and believe me, Lauro and I have definitely tried). We have been reminded that having an “arrival mindset,” a perspective of getting to a place and that place being IT, that place being where you will plant your roots and where you will stay forever, can (and will) change and prove you wrong. Ministry is tough unlike any other job is tough because it touches every part of your life: your employment, your finances, your friends, your faith, and your extra activities throughout the week are all wrapped up in ministry. It’s something that makes being a part of it so wonderful, but also so, so difficult.

As of now we are planning on staying in Lake Nona, an area full of culture and people we have grown to love. Lauro is taking a break from working while exploring other job opportunities in the area (and getting ready to graduate this month! Whoo!). I still plan on keeping my blog updated, so you can stay connected with any future changes in our lives here. We’ll also be, “Do[ing] the next most practical thing after careful exploration of the facts…” You get the idea.

We want to sincerely thank you all for the ways that you have supported us in prayer and financially. These past ten months have been a huge growing and learning experience for the both of us. Your emotional and monetary investments have in no way been a waste; the things that we have learned about ourselves, ministry, and Christ’s bride, the Church, are priceless to us and will continue to mature us and draw us closer to Jesus for years to come.

We were never promised a perfect and easy journey walking with Jesus. Now more than ever we can confirm that that is true. Lauro and I thank you for walking with us on this narrow road and always reminding us of how loved we are.


Phase-Two: An Update of Thrive Church

At the end of last month our church had its second Grand Opening at our new location here in Lake Nona. This phase-two launch served as another big push to establish Thrive Church’s presence in our community and to publicly open our new location at a local middle school. Months and months of prayer, planning, and hard work all came to fruition and we were able to welcome about 180 people to Thrive that morning! It was a beautiful sight to see this place of public education transformed into a place of spiritual learning. The band room, choir room, and regular classrooms were crafted into environments for infants all the way up through middle schoolers to learn about Jesus. Within a matter of hours the cafetorium (cafeteria + auditorium) became a worship center where we had our main service. The coolest part is that God provided ALL of this!

Before Setup
Before Thrive’s service set-up
After Setup
After Thrive’s service set-up

Kids' HallwayWe are so excited about all the new opportunities that are to come in this school! Just the fact that we have so much more space is a huge blessing, because more space means room for more people and their kids to comfortably come and be in a warm, spiritual, learning environment. We cannot thank our Jesus and the leadership and administrators at the school enough for making this space available to us.



Our hearts are full and we are celebrating our new space, but not for the sake of the space itself. Our celebration isn’t because we have a brand new building to meet in with shiny floors and classrooms that hadn’t been touched until a couple of months ago. Our celebration isn’t because we have an actual stage from which to lead worship with a full band and to give sermons. It isn’t because we have an entire multi-purpose room to use for our services and now we can break out our pipe-and-drape and make use of our stage lighting. Our celebration is not because we’re that much closer to meeting aesthetic expectations and living up to the modern-church culture.

Our hearts are full and we are celebrating because this larger space allows us to welcome more people to join our church family as we all pursue God together. We’re celebrating because we have more space for babies and children and middle school students to be introduced to Jesus and His love for them. We’re celebrating because we have more resources to reach people where they are at spiritually and to teach people of all ages in the way that they learn most effectively. We’re celebrating because we can welcome and provide enough space for mamas with strollers, the disabled with service dogs, and the elderly with wheelchairs into our main service. We’re celebrating because the ability to include more gives us the opportunity to serve more, and therefore the opportunity to love more.

This is not so much a defense of our new space as it is a reminder. For me. For my church. For the Church. May this remind us and encourage us to keep Jesus at our innermost core as we minister to our communities in ways that are culturally relevant. What is so beautiful about the Church is that churches will look different in the ways that they minister and teach. In fact, they must look different in some aspects in order to effectively reach the cultures and people groups of their community. What unites us all is Jesus as our center, offering the hope of salvation and extending grace so rich that it seems foolish to the human mind and love so great that we can’t even begin to measure it.

We are grateful to have been able to see how God has provided for Thrive and are so humbled that we get to be a part of His work in our community. May His name be praised through it all!


Will you pray for us as we continue serving and working in our church and community?

  • Pray that Thrive will continue to grow and be a gathering place for people of every generation, culture, and background to come experience Jesus.
  • Pray for the many groups within our church that will start or continue to meet on a regular basis, like our community groups and the middle/high school groups. Lauro and I are currently leading the high school group and are working on starting a college-age/young adult community group in the near future, and we’re very excited about both!
  • Pray for perseverance and rest for our family as this season of our life is definitely requiring a lot of work physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Thank you so very much for your prayers and support! Are there ways that we can be praying for you in this season of your life? If so, please let us know and we would love to pray for you as well!

Baby Palm Trees

How does one find and secure a sense of place? A sense of home? A sense of belonging?

These are questions my conscience has been begging for answers to for quite some time, and the most frustrating part about that is the answer is simple: time. It takes time for a place to feel like home in your mind and heart. It takes time to take ownership of unfamiliar geography, claiming it as your own space of relaxation and returning.

It takes time, and time during which we can wait around, watching time drag its feet and when it reaches a destination that is the acceptable, man-made finish line that we declare to be the end of our struggle with waiting for our sense of home, we are exasperated and exclaim, “Finally!”

Or, we can walk alongside time and watch and learn and grow our sense of place and home little by little, encouraging our hearts and reminding them that yes, this is home and this is right. This is our new place of belonging and where our hearts are settling in and embracing the geography, the culture, and the people. This is where God has guided us and for which he has provided beyond what we need, and where He will continue to provide for us, His children.

Too often I find myself in the shoes of the first, in constant anticipation of the day I will finally call Orlando home and default to that answer when people ask me where I’m from. Right now that answer goes something like, “Well I lived in Missouri for two years for school, but I was born and raised in Kansas,” to which I get an unenthused, “Oh, okay…” Sorry, Midwest. Don’t get me wrong, my heart will always have a special love for the Midwest; I spent the first 21 years of my life there! All the while, though, I find myself waiting for that supposed breakthrough moment where one morning I will wake up and joyfully declare that this is my home, and I feel it and know it and believe it with every part of my being. This anticipated moment probably isn’t even a thing, kind of like having that one epiphany, that one realization, that one moment when you just know that your significant other is “the one” and that you want to spend the rest of your life with them. (Yup. Spoiler alert: that’s not always the case. Another lesson learned through the slow and intentional walking with time.)

But we are here and we know we’re staying. Our actions reflect those of a family who is settling in and putting down roots in a place they will call home. Though it hasn’t been easy, it seems that now we have our lives in order logistically: we have a place to live, we both have jobs, and we have a place to serve. We’ve been a part of the events our church has put on leading up to our second grand opening on September 24, one of which was a Sunday morning service at the beach! Not only was it amazing to have church at one of my favorite places in nature, it was such a beautiful celebration as well because we got to celebrate four people from our church family being baptized! We had a short service and then simply walked right down from the pavilion straight to the water, witnessing our brothers and sisters declaring their faith and dedicating their lives to serving and loving Jesus.Baptisms

Lauro has been quite busy making preparations in the area of worship for our grand opening next month. His main focus has been on assembling a worship team from scratch, and can I just say that this man was made for a job like this? I am so proud of how hard he has worked to build relationships with people inside and outside of our church, and through those relationships invited people to join our brand new worship team and be a part of our church family. I’m so amazed at how easy it is for him to network and connect with people of all backgrounds, truly out of love for them, and invite them to be a part of something amazing with us. God has definitely gifted him in that area, and even though there are days that he comes home exhausted from a day full of meetings and in the middle of a coffee crash, he knows that the work he’s doing is his niche and his passion, and that it’s results can and will be eternal.

MarriottThis past Sunday we had our last service at the beloved hotel conference room that served as Thrive’s very first meeting place, and beginning in September we’ll be at our new home in Lake Nona’s newest middle school that just opened this school year. Prior to that we’re having a back-to-school bash in one of the parks here in Lake Nona, complete with worship, food, community, and bounce houses for the kiddos.

As for the month of September, the first three weeks will serve as practice services where we will settle into our new meeting place and get the feel for things before we invite entire communities to join us for our second grand opening next month. So much preparation and behind-the-scenes work has been (and is still being) done by the church staff and many volunteers to make this launch possible. As much as we loved the intimacy of our space at the hotel, we are excited to get the chance to stretch our limbs and open our doors to host even more people on Sunday mornings. As we expand into our new space our prayer is that our influence in the community will also expand and broaden as we invite people to live their lives under the love of Jesus and experience the truth and the wholeness that is found in Him.

As our first summer as Florida residents is coming to a close we are amazed at how much God has been teaching us just over that past couple of months. If you were to ask me what those things are, I’d probably chuckle a little and say something like, “Well, let me count the ways…” The learning curve has been HIGH, my friends, and I don’t see that decreasing any time soon. We have loved our community and being a part of this church plant. We are still trying to settle our souls and our hearts into this place, as if they need convincing that, “Yes, this is home now. You can own it, plant down your roots, embrace the depth of the cool soil and let the water that falls from the sky hydrate you and give you life.” It hasn’t always been easy, but we know that it will take time for us to embrace this city as our home. (Simultaneously, Orlando is one of the largest vacation destinations in the country, and look! Everyone here is on vacation so we must be on vacation too, right?) As our roots are slowly being planted we so desire to keep our friends and loved ones in the Midwest close to our hearts and part of our lives, because without them we would not even be where and who we are today. They are just as much a part of this story in Lake Nona as we are, and we’ll always be so thankful for them.

So for now we are like baby trees, slowly and steadily deepening our roots and growing in our environment while being constantly supported by solid beams that are our family, our friends, and our church families of the past and the present.

Or rather, we are like baby palm trees.

Baby Palm Trees
Baby palms just outside of our apartment building

Will you join us as we saturate our phase-two launch in prayer? The power of our God is limitless and his influence knows no bounds. Our deepest desire is that we will be faithful servants as he launches HIS church and continues to live out his vision for the community of Lake Nona through us. We praise him in advance and thank you all for your irreplaceable love and support.

Hello, Orlando!

We made it. We made it. We made it.

As I write this I’m sitting in our sun patio, watching cars drive by on the road in front of our apartment in the cool yet humid air as a light rain falls. At 72 degrees it’s the coolest it has been in the afternoon since we arrived. When we got here we were greeted by temperatures in the high eighties and low nineties (and not to mention the Florida humidity!), and it has rained every day since. Welcome to Florida!

Florida State Line
Crossing the Florida State Line

It took us a total of two days, about 22 hours of travel time, four people, two cars, and one moving truck to get here. We left Joplin mid-morning about three weeks ago on a Monday and arrived in Lake Nona on Tuesday in the late afternoon. It seems so typical to describe the drive as “long” when people ask me how it was, but that’s truly the best way to describe it. As someone who hates driving, this trip was LONG. And I didn’t even drive the entire time like some of our driving crew did! Without a lot of things to break up the monotony of the drive, I was thankful when we got to pass through big cities that I had never been to before, like Nashville and Atlanta. When we passed through Nashville it was right as the sun was setting, and seeing the sun and sky reflect off of all the downtown buildings was absolutely beautiful. I was driving at that point, so I didn’t get to take it all in at once like I wanted to, but luckily Lauro was in the passenger seat and he got some great photos for me.


We finally made it to Lake Nona and our apartment complex, and after a quick check in and some final paperwork we were able to begin moving in to our new home! We were so blessed by the people who came from the church to help us unload our stuff and start unpacking. By that night we had the master and guest beds assembled and the kitchen all unpacked and put away—a big accomplishment! Especially when you’re doing all of that without air conditioning. Yes, that’ right. Our air conditioner was broken the minute we walked in the door. The filter was completely frozen over, so there wasn’t any amount of cool air being produced to relieve us from the Florida heat. It wasn’t until about a week later that it was finally fixed after two attempts by apartment maintenance and one by an outside A/C company. (There’s always got to be something that goes wrong, right? I honestly would have been worried if there wouldn’t have been any problems at all when we moved in. At that point in the moving process we just expected road bumps and inconveniences and learned to go with the flow.)

The Sotos
Pre-move photo of our little family

So here we are, starting our new life in Orlando, Florida. We had our first Sunday with Thrive Church on the 4th of this month and it made us so excited for the growth the church is experiencing now and how it will grow in the future. We’re starting to build more connections and relationships with people and deepen the relationships we had when we got here. Just thinking about how this church is going to expand and impact the community and reach people and teach and disciple and worship and love, all for the glory of God? I feel like a giddy little kid just thinking about it! Jesus is just so good, so, so good, and I want everyone to know and experience that goodness.

What is so amazing about serving our good God is that you get to be part of a body full of His people who are striving for the same thing: to live like Jesus. There is no way we would have been able to make it to Florida without the help of our friends and family, our brothers and sisters in Christ. Without them, we could have just forgotten about packing up our house in Joplin and loading up the moving truck. Driving our two cars and the truck to Florida would have been impossible. And even if we would have made it that far, I can guarantee that Lauro and I would have been absolutely MISERABLE travelling for a combined 22 hours without any help. It would’ve taken many hours to unload all of our stuff into our new apartment and get it all unpacked. Just imagining how our move would’ve gone if we had to do it all alone frightens me! I don’t think I can ever thank our people enough for how much they helped us. On both ends of the move we had so many people helping us, encouraging us, and giving us advice (and as young, married college students whose biggest move was a six-hour drive hauling our stuff in a borrowed horse trailer, we needed all the advice we could get!). People have packed, loaded, driven countless hours, unloaded, unpacked, suffered in the heat, offered us a place to stay with air conditioning, and provided household goods, food, and meals, all for us! I feel so undeserving, but that’s what following Jesus is all about, right? Giving to and loving those who don’t deserve it? That’s what Jesus did for us all, right?

I will always be so thankful for God’s people. He created us for community and to do life alongside other believers, and this move has shown me just how vital that is. By design we were made to be together, living and loving and serving others and each other. We were made to help shoulder one another’s burdens and to rejoice alongside each other’s victories. As the family of God we need each other to encourage and build one another up, not for our benefit, but so that we are able to go out and show people the love of Jesus with a full and encouraged heart sustained by the limitless love of our God and the support of our fellow believers.

Will you continue praying for us as we settle in to our new life in Orlando?

  • I am still looking for a full-time job here. Pray that I will trust in God and be patient, knowing that He will provide one at just the right time.
  • Pray for the Creative Arts ministry at Thrive Church. Lauro has started planning and organizing all the different aspects of this ministry, and soon we will be inviting people to join us in serving in those different areas. Pray that as the foundations for this are laid that Christ would remain as the center focus.
  • Please continue to pray for our financial support. We have been in absolute awe of how much God has provided for us already. We couldn’t be more grateful! As this is a three-year process, we ask that you will keep praying for the support we have to raise as we continue to trust our Provider.

Already, but Not Yet

If you have ever been in a season of transition in your life of any sort, you probably understand the feeling when the change is already here, but still not yet at the same time. Transitioning can be, well, awkward until the transition actually happens. There is tension between the anticipation and the importance of living for today and enjoying the journey and being present. We are living in that season right now as we’re preparing for our move, and I for one am glad that it’s just that: a season.

We are already moving to Florida.

Last month we flew to Orlando to spend Easter weekend in Lake Nona and lead worship for Thrive’s Easter services. The church invited us to come that weekend as kind of a preview for the congregation of what is to come in the area of worship. On Saturday Lake Nona had their annual “Pig Run,” which is a 5k fun run/walk with the coolest twist ever: there are stations set throughout the race route with DOUGHNUTS. For every doughnut you eat, you knock fifteen seconds off of your race time. Funds raised from the run went towards helping children with cancer. We spent Saturday morning at the run with the Cruzes and the Thrive truck cheering on the runners and playing pump-up music for them.

Pig Run

Another thing we got to do on Saturday was apartment hunt. We spent the entire afternoon going to as many apartments and getting as much information as we could, because that was the last weekend we’d be in Lake Nona before actually moving there. We found a community that we fell in love with and have nailed down an apartment that we’ll call home in May!

Easter morning was wonderful. We got to see several familiar faces at the church and meet new people as well. New and newer relationships are being built, and I was reminded of the love of Jesus through the overflowing graciousness and generosity of those people towards Lauro and myself. I have no doubt that there will be help for us when we need it through the people at Thrive, and I praise Jesus for that.

Thrive had the cutest photo booth set up for Easter, so of course we had to snag a picture!

We are not yet moving to Florida.

We’re still living in Joplin, working our jobs, and Lauro’s still taking classes. We see our church family twice a week and are soaking up serving alongside them as much as we can. It’s been business as usual, except there is the whole added factor that we will move across the country in less than a month, adding a very large to-do list to our schedules. We have had to slowly start saying goodbye to people we know we won’t see before the move, and we know that it’s only the beginning.

Despite the awkward tension we’ve been living in, God has absolutely been working and moving and providing in our season of waiting. He’s provided us with an awesome place to live in Lake Nona. Fundraising efforts are starting to come together. Even the incredible support of our family and friends is a huge blessing from God. Yes, there have been times when things haven’t lined up exactly how we wanted them to, or happened too fast, too slow, or not at all. It’s then that we find peace in our God who has a greater plan and purpose than our plans and desires. We are confident that He who has called us to this place will not abandon us because that’s just not who He is.

So here we are, neither here nor there it sometimes seems. Waiting and anticipating. Ready, but not ready. Ecstatic, but saddened. Already, but not yet.

Will you continue to pray for us as we live in this season?

  • I’m still searching for a full time job in Lake Nona. Pray that I will be obedient to serving in whatever job God provides for me.
  • Pray for our move that will begin on the 29th of this month. It will be a two day, eighteen hour drive from Joplin to Lake Nona. Prayers for our safety and our sanity are greatly appreciated.
  • Pray for our churches as we transition out of one and into the other. The relationships in each one mean so much to us, and we will always be thankful for the love they’ve shown us.
  • Pray for our fundraising. This month we have a few fundraising efforts happening that will be a huge part of raising our $6,000 by May 28. Pray that we will continue to trust in our God as the ultimate provider.

Support letters have been sent out! If you would like to know more about the vision of Thrive Church, the community of Lake Nona, or how you can partner with us, please contact me and I will get one of these letters to you! If you are interested in supporting us financially, please see the “Giving” tab at the top menu or visit our donation page through Orchard Group here.

Doors: A Life and Ministry Update from the Sotos

ABP Photo

My husband, Lauro, and I are planners. Like, big time. We love schedules and order, visions and goals. We find value in the details. After taking the DISC personality test (which is about behavioral preferences in peoples’ natural and adaptive states), we found out that we both have a high “C” score: we prefer procedures, standards, and protocols. Neither of us were surprised by that. We are all about quality control, always striving for excellence. These preferences play themselves out in every area of our lives, especially in school, work, and our ministry. In short, we love being in control and knowing what’s going to happen, and oh what a blessing and a curse that can be.

I’m pretty sure God has been chuckling at us and our schedules and life plans, especially in the past several months.

This past December we were made aware of a job opportunity for Lauro at a church plant called Thrive Church as the Worship Arts Pastor. Our dear friends, Julio and Krystal Cruz, are a part of this church plant, Julio being the Associate Pastor and Krystal a part of the hospitality team. This family has been a huge part of our lives! Julio has been mentoring Lauro since he was an eighth grader, he was our former youth minister back in our hometown of Dodge City, and he officiated our wedding ceremony. I can’t even begin to try and count how many times they have opened up their homes to us. That being said, when their church’s next step to take in order to keep growing was to hire a worship minister, Lauro got a phone call from Julio saying they were wanting to hire someone as soon as possible, and that he was a very likely candidate for the job.

My jaw hit the floor when Lauro shared that with me, and it stayed there for a while.  Why would God move us from our comfortable little corner of Southwest Missouri this early? Why would we leave when Lauro still has one more year of school left before he graduates? We have experienced a lot of stability living in Joplin. The cost of living is extremely affordable, we live less than five minutes away from Ozark, and we both have very secure jobs that take really good care of us. Travelling home to Dodge City is a six hour drive, which, in the grand scheme of things, isn’t that bad. Even more, we thought why would God lead us to another church when our ministry and relationships at our loving and gracious church in which we currently serve have really turned a corner, and we have recently been seeing more growth than ever before?

You see, in our minds a job opportunity like this wouldn’t come up until after Lauro finished college, because that’s how it’s “supposed” to go. When you graduate high school, you go to college for four years, maybe go to grad school or seminary, and then go out into the world and start your career. In our minds, we could see ourselves in worship ministry at a church plant alongside the Cruzes further on in the future. It’s been a dream of Lauro’s to serve in this way, but of course it wouldn’t happen until after he graduated college. There we were, though, sitting in our living room after that phone call and thinking, “This is really happening. This is really happening right now.”

Our schedules and life plans were very quickly and very obviously being knocked off course, and our planning personalities went into overdrive.

January came along and we arranged a weekend to go visit the church plant and go through the interview process for this position. We hopped on a plane and upon our arrival, walked outside to a sunny and 80 degree day in the middle of January (this Kansas girl’s DREAM). After several conversations with the church leadership, meeting some wonderful people from the church, and leading worship for their Sunday morning services, we came out of that weekend with a job offer for Lauro to be the Worship Arts Pastor at Thrive Church in Lake Nona, Florida.

“THIS IS REALLY HAPPENING. THIS IS REALLY HAPPENING RIGHT NOW.” It seemed like no other thoughts could occupy my brain except those for several days after the trip (and sometimes even to this day). And so we came back home and continued to saturate this opportunity in prayer. We prayed for wisdom, for clarity, and for direction. Our days were filled with LOTS of thinking and LOTS of prayer. We knew that either way we chose that God would be glorified and his Kingdom work would continue, but we still had to choose: would we stay or would we go?

By no means was it an easy decision. I could write pages and pages about all the details of this situation; the pros and cons seemed to be endless and the stakes miles high. Thankfully, we don’t have to rely on our own reasoning to make big decisions like these in our lives. Through our praying and our seeking God was opening our eyes to see how this has been a part of His plan for not only several months, but several years. It was because of the mentorship that Lauro received from Julio that he decided to go into worship ministry when he was a sophomore in high school, and eventually study worship ministry at Ozark Christian College. Through meeting Lauro in high school, transferring to Ozark, and getting married and becoming a minister’s wife, God gave me a heart for ministry. Little by little, God was opening door after door for us to walk through, leading us along to where we are today. Looking back it makes sense and is truly a beautiful journey, but in those moments we had no idea that those milestones, hardships, and yes even the small moments in our lives were all going to be a part of God’s plan for us in ministry. Gradually God opened one door after another, and one step at a time we walked through them, saying, “Yes, Lord,” and followed His leading.

Several weeks ago we were standing in front of a wide open door to worship ministry in Florida, and it was one of the hardest choices we’ve had to make. Unlike the previous doors in our lives, this door was bigger, riskier, and scarier than ever, but it was also the most exciting, rewarding, and life-giving door. And so we decided to say “Yes, Lord,” once again, submitting to HIS plan and not ours, and Lauro accepted the position of Worship Arts Pastor at Thrive Church!

We are SO excited to be a part of this new church plant and on board with their vision to spread the Gospel message to Lake Nona and the surrounding area. We believe that God has called us to this church to use our gifts and talents to build up the Thrive congregation, and to do His Kingdom work in the community so that we can show people the immense love and fullness of life that is found in Jesus. We know that church planting is extremely hard work and that this move to Florida is not going to be all sunshine-y and vacation-y and a life lived in paradise. This will be a difficult move for many reasons (financially, moving further from our families, leaving our amazing New Life Church family and Joplin friends, etc.). At the same time, we also know that God is our faithful provider and source of strength. As we follow the scripture from Matthew 28 when Jesus tells his disciples to “go and make disciples of all nations,” we have confidence that as we are going God will provide everything that we may need and continue to lead and guide us as we serve Him.

The next couple of months for us are going to be BUSY, to say the least! We are scheduled to move to Lake Nona in the middle/end of May after Lauro finishes this semester of school and I walk at graduation for my Associate’s Degree in Christian Ministry. On top of everything going on normally (work, school, church) we will have to prepare to move across the country and complete some fundraising. Because Thrive Church is such a new church plant, we will have to raise financial support for a portion of Lauro’s salary. There is a short-term goal that we must meet before moving and a long-term goal to raise over the next 3 years.

Will you be in prayer for us as we prepare for this huge transition in our lives? Below is a list of prayer requests that we would love to pray for alongside you:

  • Pray for the preparation of our hearts as we transition into a brand new ministry and community. There will be so many changes relationally, financially, culturally, and emotionally. We praise God that He will be constant through it all.
  • Pray for a smooth moving process in May. We still need to find a place to live, as well as a full-time job for myself.
  • Pray over our future ministry at Thrive Church. Pray that we will allow God to work in us and through us as we move from working in an established church to a church plant. Our desire is that God will be glorified in everything that we do, no matter how big or small.
  • Pray for our support financially. We are determined to raise as much as we can prior to our move, along with additional funds over the next 3 years. We believe that through God working through generous donors that this will be provided! Pray that we will have faith and trust in our God in this area that can cause so much worry.

If you are interested in donating towards our short-term and/or long terms goals for financial support, please click here or visit the “Giving” tab on the menu at the top of this page. We need to raise $12,000 a year for the next three years and must have $6,000 of that already raised when we arrive in Florida. When you follow the link to our donation page, please select “Lauro Soto” under the designation drop-down menu.

We would love to talk with you in person, over the phone, or even via FaceTime or Skype to answer any questions you might have and to share more about our vision with Thrive church and how you can be a part of it! In the meantime, we will take all the prayer we can get! Prayer is so powerful and we believe that it works. I cannot wait to see how God answers these prayers in the upcoming weeks, months, and years.


Thank you so much for visiting this blog post and my new blog! (Whooo!) My goal with this blog is to regularly update it to share our journey from Missouri to Florida and keep you all up to date with our lives before and after we move. I know that along with the physical journey, our spiritual journey is also going to be eventful with lots of mountaintops, valleys, and GROWTH. I am excited to see how God works in us and through us over the next few months and years, and to share these experiences with you so that His name will be glorified.

If you would like to subscribe to my blog and receive an email each time I make a new post, you can click here or visit the “Contact” tab at the top menu and click on “Subscribe.” Thanks!