Kicking Back with the Kooistras

This past weekend, I was reminded of a great Erskine quality that I so often overlook. On the day that I moved back into my dorm for J-term, I spent the evening with President Kooistra and his wife, sipping refreshingly delicious white tea and eating homemade apple pie. Together, we marveled at God’s mysterious work in our lives, confessed that our tendency to drive over the speed limit sometimes, and even bonded over our befuddlement with directions. In short, I had quite a delightful time with the Kooistras.

The thing that struck me the most about the evening is that Dr. Kooistra and his wife find joy in simply spending time with me. They could have preferred to have a solitary and relaxed final evening of Christmas break, but instead, they genuinely wanted to spend their evening with me. To the rest of the world, I am just an average sophomore Joe who is awkwardly figuring out life one day at a time. Yet, at Erskine, the president of the college sees me as someone worth investing his time and energy in, and this is additionally true for every student at Erskine. How absolutely, delightfully humbling and encouraging.

Obviously, I am not asserting that Erskine is the only college whose president opens his doors and welcomes students in. I am positive that many presidents are warm and inviting. I simply want to share another chapter from my story here at Erskine, because this school truly is a wonderful, blessed place.

A New View of Orientation

This past weekend, I had the privilege of experiencing Erskine’s Orientation through the eyes of a group leader instead of as a freshman. I was chosen to be an Orientation leader in April, so I spent all summer imagining what my time as a leader would be like and what Orientation would be like as a whole. Needless to say, quite a few expectations accumulated in my mind by the end of the summer. But in order to share my expectations, I first need to tell you the reasons behind my desire to work on the Orientation staff. My reasons were threefold: to make Orientation fun for freshmen, to get a head start on making new friends, and to get more involved at Erskine, because I honestly just love my college. My motives behind Orientation became my expectations for Orientation. Thus, I envisioned a whole new group of friends, the feeling of satisfaction from executing a successful Orientation, and the gradual acclimation to a busy school year at Erskine.

I moved into Erskine a week before the freshmen moved in and immediately began training and preparing for the busiest week of the school year (in my opinion). Everyone on O Staff was exhausted by the Monday before Move In Day, but we pushed through our fatigue and mustered an amazing amount of energy to get everything squared away before Thursday, when the freshmen arrived. Our fearless leader, Kaley Lindquist, the most detail-oriented person that I have ever met, coordinated every part of the weekend. Orientation would not have been the success that it was if it had not been for her dedication and passion for her job.

Orientation staff and volunteers gathered around Erskine's flagpole on Move In Day morning to pray for Orientation.

Orientation staff and volunteers gathered around Erskine’s flagpole on Move In Day morning to pray for Orientation.

All of the freshmen were split into 12 different groups led by various upperclassmen. My friend Ashley and I were in charge of Group 9; and let me just say that our group was the coolest group ever. Our freshmen had such great attitudes about every activity that we did even though they were just as worn out as we were. For example, the groups competed against each other to get the most Spirit Points by the end of Orientation. Our group ran around the Erskine campus, performing different activities to get thousands of Spirit Points. We bought 40+ cokes for Kaley, gave more than 20 sets of flowers to the sweet lady who scans our cards in the cafeteria, and even chased around various staff members for selfies (I hadn’t ever posted so many pictures on Instagram in four days). Unfortunately, we did not win first place; but, we got second place, which was the closest to first place that a group can get! We did so many activities in the span of 4 days, including, but not limited to, sessions, skits, contests, games, community service, and soiree. I would like to share all of the memories that were created from Orientation, but you would have to read pages of content, which would likely become tedious after a while. Not to mention, Orientation flew by so quickly that it is a bit of a blurred memory now.

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Tug of War at Freshman Frenzy

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Dancing the night away at soiree

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I love All My Neighbors

But, all good things must come to an end, and so Orientation had to as well. As I reflect on the fruits that were produced from Orientation, I find myself pleasantly surprised. I was pushed to be more confident, more friendly, more sacrificing, more patient, more loving…the list can go on and on. I became friendlier as I got to know not only a whole bunch of really awesome freshmen, but also, as I grew closer to my Orientation coworkers. They were my family for a week. I changed from only being good friends with a handful of the upperclassmen to growing closer to each person in different ways. Despite being surrounded by strangers again and feeling exhausted from attending the various events, this year was still much more comfortable and fun! I definitely enjoyed Orientation better as a leader than as a freshman. This year’s Orientation did not just meet all of my expectations; it surpassed them. I would encourage anyone who is considering being a part of Orientation to go for it! Orientation gives students a chance to make an impact on people’s lives and to be impacted by others, which I consider to be a really cool life experience.

The O Staff Family

The O Staff family


Once again I’ve underestimated just how much actually goes on at Erskine because as you know, I haven’t blogged all semester!

Between trying to figure out the best way to revive a student newspaper, 21 hours of classes (yes, 21 because music stuff counts too!!), working on a business project, attending concerts, visiting friends, etc, I haven’t taken the time to sit down and write about it all. Which is a shame, considering the fact that I’ve done so much since I’ve been here. But, I’m back now (whether you’ve missed me or not) to fill you all in on my Erskine experience.

Today let me share with you some random thoughts as I sit in my room on this rather chilly Tuesday afternoon…

I am blessed.

Now, before you just stop reading and say to yourself, “Here she goes getting all spiritual!” I encourage you to pause right now wherever you are and think about how blessed you are.

***insert long pause here in which you reflect on the facts:

1. you most likely have on clothes now

2. you obtained those clothes with money

3. to make money you probably have a job

4. in order to work efficiently and effectively you must be healthy

5. if you’re healthy that means you’re getting nutrition from food

6. you probably have more than one option for what kind of meal you want to have

7. most people can eat at a dining table

8. which is in a house

9. that you live in with your family

…well, the list could continue on & on but I think you are getting the picture.

So, hopefully by now you’ve reflected on all these things and aren’t you thankful for everything you’re blessed with?! I know its Novemeber (already?!) but just because this is the season of thanksgiving don’t become apathetic about it. In this life, it’s so easy to take everything we have for granted but do me a favor and please try (I will be trying myself) to just thank God for ONE simple blessing every morning when you wake up.

There’s nothing wrong with reflection. In fact I think reflecting allows you to just be still and think about life in general. Maybe its just cause it finally hit me that I’m a Junior in college (yikes!) and that I still have no idea what step to take after this…

Grad school? Pursue music? Work for a news station? Or even (dun dun dun…) come back to Erskine to work? (I call it one of the Christian College Problems…where the alumni try to come back to work there if all else fails, though there’s nothing wrong with that…ha)

There’s nothing wrong with not knowing.  I think its just hard for us to truly be okay with uncertainty. And isn’t that unfortunate when we know that Christ already has it all figured out?  All we have to do is take the time to seek out His will and actually OBEY it.

I don’t know what you may be going through right now, but I pray that you realize just how blessed you truly are. Its so easy to gravitate toward all the wrongs in our lives but know that just like Joseph in the Bible, God can take all of your wrongs and turn them into good!

Instead of focusing on how things could have been, focus on making things the way they aught to be.

O Light Everlasting

First night in Prague and we’ve already had quite the day as you can see from the previous pictures.

But the highlight of my day was hands down singing for a group of mentally disabled people staying at our hotel.

The Lord knows the exact time and place for ministry. He uses those special spontaneous moments to bless those around you and to bless yourselves. After dinner that first night, I was truly touched. The people we sang for had such a joy and love for people  and music. They sang along with us and even performed some of their own songs for us after we were through. The passion on their faces as they sang truly touched my heart. That is quality music –  when you get so lost in the words and you feel what the people performing the song are feeling. That is true ministry.

We all walked in ready to sing and minister to them and in turn I think they ended up showing us a thing or two about true, passionate, music ministry.