The summer months of 2006 went extremely quick. Except for being a junior camp counselor for a week, the rest of the time was spent saving up for the next year’s school bill. I worked at Discount Tire Co. in Lansing, Michigan from my junior year of high school up into the summer before my senior year of college. I appreciate all of the hours I put in there, and for the generous compensation I received which always provided for my needs. Towards the end of the summer, I began to get very excited for the next school year. Now looking back, I had no idea what all was going to happen in the ‘06/’07 school year.
I Shall Not Want
Like any new or returning student to Fairhaven, you enter into a whirlwind of activity—Stewardship Banquet, class registration, Fall Push, etc. My activity seemed to be a little more than normal. After a few relationship events in the first couple of days back, I found myself in one of those “down” times. Now, those who know me never really see me with much emotion, but it was there a little. I had never had a dating relationship of any kind up to that point, and I still had no clue what I was doing! Instead of trusting God, I was relying on myself to provide. I remember hearing for the first time an early American folk hymn called “My Shepherd Will Supply My Need”—which is a paraphrase of Psalm 23. Most think of that Psalm as only a comfort in a time of great heartache, but reading into it I found that it is for daily living. God will always lead me in the right path if I simply follow His leading. That was a life-changing moment in early September. I had no idea of what infinitely better things God had in store for me if I just relied on Him.
That fall was my first year being a room captain. I found that I would have a bit of a challenge on my hands. I really enjoyed one of my roommates, and the other: well… I learned a lot of good lessons that year in Room 22. Arriving back, I had found that my freshman class had dwindled to about half of what it was; mostly as a result of weakening standards and rebellion. The rest of us still in college bonded until our senior year. We became good friends. Now we were” big, bad sophomores”, and nothing was going to stop us (we thought)! We now had other freshman to put through the same treatment as we got the previous year. I found that the class below us was full of very good people. I think the classes of ’09 and ’10 have bonded pretty well over the last few years.
Fall Push at Fairhaven is their Sunday School bus campaign x10! It includes a ton of work, visiting hours, prayer, late Sunday afternoons, and a little “getting out of yourself.” A couple of memorable things happened during that year. First was the second Sunday of the Push: Zoo Day for our bus. To make a very long story short, we did not arrive back until 9:00pm due to a few bus malfunctions. The following Sunday, on Skate Day, I was able to lead a boy from our bus to Christ. He came faithfully for a few months, with good behavior, and a spirit that was willing to learn. However, he and his brother suddenly stopped coming to church one week, and we were never able to get back in contact with them. I would not find out exactly what happened until the very end of my senior year.
I knew as a freshman that my bus captain would eventually be leaving to plant a church from scratch in Chicago. Just before Christmas break, our bus was combined with a few other routes, and he began deputation to raise support for that church. I had learned a lot from him, and knew I would miss being on his bus. When I returned back from Christmas break, I was put underneath another veteran captain in Gary. God was good in putting me exactly where I would learn and be able to minister the most. I absorbed even more in the rest of my time at Fairhaven under my second captain.
The Christmas Lights activity is something that every practically every college student looks forward to in the fall semester. Some call it a “dating activity”, but I never had a date on the activity until my senior year—and it didn’t bother me either! I loved just walking around the city, with snow flying through the air, eating at some of the best restaurants in the world, and being with friends. My sophomore year I found myself with a few friends, which somehow grew into a group of 22 people. Have you ever tried to get 22 people seated in a Chicago restaurant? Don’t try! It wasn’t all that fun with half the college (exaggeration) tagging along! We did eat well…Portillo’s! We were able to Ice skate some at Millennium Park, which was definitely the highlight of the night.
Also towards the end of the fall semester of ’07, I developed a little crush towards that girl named Andrea Leslie—the one “recommended” to me a year or so before by my bus captain. Here I was, a little sophomore, liking a beautiful young lady that was taking graduate courses, grew up at Fairhaven, and was a daughter of long-time staff members. “She probably doesn’t even know who I am,” I said to myself. I thought there was no chance, but it was always on the back of my mind. Little did I know that she not only noticed me, but she liked me even before it was mutual. Things were developing there slowly but surely.
Volleyball Marathon is something that every Fairhaven Baptist College student has experience with. Volleyball: 24 hours a day for almost five straight days. All are required to either play or be in the gym for at least sixteen hours during the Marathon. It is usually in February or March, and lasts for 96 hours straight. Volleyball Marathon is a fundraising event that helps support the scholarship program of the college. My sophomore year was particularly fun for me: late nights, early mornings, and crazy people everywhere that are out of their minds a bit!
A prominent class that year was Intermediate Greek. It ended up being a profitable but immense workload. Twice a week, we had a vocabulary quiz over 40 or so words, as well as some grammar questions. The biggest thing in the class was the second semester project. We had to pick out a New Testament passage of 8-10 verses; then translate, parse and comment on them. All of us in the class ended up with over 35 full pages of work and a numb brain. I have to say, though, that the passage project was the hardest project I ever had in school, but the one I learned the most from—by far. I chose Philippians 4:1-9; and to this day, reading over that passage triggers my memory of all the truths that that passage taught: stand fast, be of the same mind in the Lord, help each other, rejoice in the Lord, let your moderation be known, be careful for nothing, think on these things, and do those things.
By the end of March, through many circumstances (which can be told in some future post), Andrea and I began dating. About a week after I had asked permission of her dad, Andrea was at a meeting for anyone interested in missions. There she was introduced to the idea of teaching for a year or two at Aguascalientes, Mexico. Things worked out that she would go, and I knew I would not see her for many months. She was to leave for Mexico in mid-July, and not return until the following June, except for Christmas. I thought, “If God wants us together, He will make it happen.” Follow His lead, just as Psalm 23 says.
The annual Preaching Conference at Fairhaven came in late April, and like always, finals came and went quickly. Our end of the year activity that year was a trip to the Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio. Other than a few buses breaking down on the way back, we all had a blast. Technically, I think that was mine and Andrea’s first date too.
Soon, I found myself at home working for Discount Tire again for the summer. Even more than the previous summer, I missed being at college. The big event of that summer was taking a trip back east with my dad for a history/baseball vacation. We went to an Indians game, a Pirates game, and a Nationals game; toured Gettysburg, Antietam, Bull Run, and Fredericksburg, spent a day in D.C., and took the world famous 100 mile Skyline Drive through Shenandoah National Park. I have to say that our vacation that summer was the best I can remember. I also went down to Chesterton to see Andrea off to Mexico in July. Looking back, it was a very good time with her, and Mr. and Mrs. Leslie.
I was already half way through college. In just two years, I had very much adapted to and grown to love everything about Fairhaven. The next year, my junior, was to be the most memorable and spiritually fulfilling for me.