Only a couple more days left until Halloween. It has been getting much cooler lately, and the leaves on the trees have begun to change colors. My friend, Matt, invited me to carve pumpkins in the Pembroke lobby. It was a lot of fun; they had a table set up that had tools for scooping the seeds out of the pumpkin and several knives to sculpt their faces. The best part about the activity was that it was FREE. It was nice carving the pumpkins because I used to back in Missouri every year before I came to Belmont. The warmth I have experienced from other students, faculty, and the environment makes Belmont feel like home.
Grilled chicken served over a bed of mixed greens, tossed in an Asian-sesame vinaigrette, and topped with fresh cilantro, toasted almonds, and crispy wonton strips. Sound like somthing you would expect to find in a dining hall? Probably not. To be honest, I didn’t expect to enjoy anything like this in the cafeteria when I went there to eat a late lunch last Thursday – but as it turned out they had this wonderful salad and several other delicious options on the menu for SodexHo’s Food Vendor Expo. And, the best part was that it was all free!!!
Upon walking into the dining hall, or the “caf” as most Belmont students refer to it, I noticed that there were several stations set up, each offering samples of a different type of cuisine. There were shrimp empanadas, bruschetta, black bean quesadillas, three different types of pasta, couscous, turkey roll-ups, macaroni and cheese, vegan chicken caesar wraps, a mashed potato bar…and for dessert…chocolate cheesecake, oreo-peanut butter brownie bars, miniature cupcakes with chocolate and vanilla ganaché, bread pudding, Reeses peanut butter pie ice cream bars (these were AMAZING!), and a few other yummy treats! It was literally the best lunch that I have ever had. After eating, I voted for the items that I liked the best AND – here’s the best part – Belmont is going to add the most popular items to our cafeteria. How exciting! They have already served the chocolate cheesecake…now I’m looking forward to enjoying that salad sometime in the near future…
I enjoy the fall days.
The cool, crisp weather.
The red, orange, and yellow leaves.
So, probably the biggest blessing this year has been getting to know the people involved in Belmont’s Service Year for 2008-09. Learning to live inside of a community of people with a big heart for changing themselves in order to change the world is really awesome. The sweetness of accountability and fellowship has been life changing. Plus, they are some of the funniest people I’ve ever met. We’re keeping a running tally of who can say community the most in sentences (hence, the title). The winner gets weapons in the war against street magic. Obviously the war against street magic is not real, but the laughs are. I’m definitely excited and looking forward to being a part of the organization next year, hopefully. I’ve got my application and everything.
I’m also going to have dinner with one of the speakers coming to campus tomorrow. Dr. Barbara Skinner is coming to talk about “Who Would Jesus Vote For?” Its looking to be an awesome convocation. I love being a part of University Ministries and getting invites to meet some really great speakers. Its a really neat part of the ministry.
As cliche as that sounds, it really is true. Sometimes life seems so perfectly mapped out and manageable, but sometimes, out of the blue, our plans shatter to pieces due to decisions or experiences beyond our control.
One of the community service programs that RUF just kicked off this year is tutoring kids at a local elementary school. I was so excited when I found out about this! First of all, I love working with kids. In the future – no matter which profession I choose to pursue – I have a feeling that I will find a way to work with them in some way. Also, I was excited to tutor because I really enjoy teaching. I entered Belmont as an Education major, and I still have a passion for it, even though I don’t plan on pursuing that career as of now. Most importantly, I wanted to be a part of this outreach program because I enjoy connecting with people and being able to make their lives easier in any way that I can. It can be so simple! In fact, sometimes what makes the biggest impact is just your presence.
Most of the kids were from lower-income families, so it offered me a different perspective than what I’m normally used to. Although these kids live just a few miles away from Belmont, their lives seem to be worlds away. It’s almost embarrassing to think about just how big the gap between us is, but at the same time it’s encouraging to remember that every step we take to reach out helps to bridge the gap. During the two hours that we were there, I worked with a darling 1st grade boy named Caleb. He was working on his English homework, practicing punctuation and writing complete sentences. It took some motivation, but we eventually finished the worksheet and challenged each other to a game of air hockey…I won! I can’t wait to go back again to meet other kids and to enjoy fellowship with them.
Something else that is awesome about these kids, is that last year they were able to help design a new playground for their school/community! Click here to read more about it.
One of my favorite classes this semester is Christian Ethics. It’s taught by Dr. Andy Watts and focuses on how Christians are to live and respond to moral dillemmas and situations. One of the books we’ve been reading in the class is Stanley Hauerwas’ “The Peaceable Kingdom: A Primer in Christian Ethics.” While Hauerwas is not the easiest person to understand (He has a really confusing style of writing) he brings up a lot of interesting points–nuggets in the midst of incomprehensible tangents– that really make me rethink what it looks like to be a Christian. What is really cool about Hauerwas, though, is that he came to our school and spoke. A lot of what he said was similar to what Shane Claiborne (except in really academic speech) writes in Jesus for President. I really love all the great speakers we’ve had this year to discuss Christianity and Politics. It’s been quite fascinating
Yesterday my friend Jesse and I decided to knock out a couple of convocation credits. Freshmen need about 60 credit hours in order to graduate, so whenever I get some free time I like to go to a convo. I love how Belmont has so many different convos to choose from. There are several different categories, such as personal growth, Christian development, and culture of the arts. For each category you need 10 credit hours. They are fairly easy to get because there are over 1000 opportunities to receive convo credit. The people that Belmont brings in to speak are experts at their field, and many of them actually graduated from Belmont. It is fascinating to listen to the speakers because they really know what they are talking about and the stories they share are thrilling and lively.
There is nothing like enjoying the most simple moments in life.
Here are a few that I have experienced in the past few days:
1. Walking outside in the pouring rain, embracing God’s amazing grace.
(There is nothing like it. You should try it sometime.)
2. Receiving a phone call from mom and dad, at just the right time.
(Especially when I am stressed out from school.)
3. Shooting hoops wth my rock-awesome bud, KB.
(I am not very good, but I am still working on that jump shot.)
Wow! I can truly say that I have never had an experience quite like I had last night! I was one of the lucky few who received a ticket to the Presidential 2008 Town Hall Debate at Belmont!