Bethel’s motto of “Seek, serve, grow” is lived out by its students every day, but every spring we set out one day to focus on the middle of that motto. On Service Day, daytime classes are cancelled so that students, faculty and staff can participate in a variety of service projects.
The projects range from on-campus service to working at Newton area agencies and traditionally a group also goes out to Camp Mennoscah, a Mennonite church camp about an hour away.
The projects are organized so that students can spend anywhere from one hour to the whole day on a project. The Camp Mennoscah group lasts until late afternoon, while many on campus projects are finished by lunch. This year projects included painting an equipment shed, cleaning windows, painting other things on campus, working at the homeless shelter and women’s shelter, and many others.
While service is not required of students, the community atmosphere highly encourages it. It’s hard to not join in when all of your friends are out giving back to the community!
Well, it’s been a while since I’ve blogged, and a lot has happened. Spring was right on the horizon back already at the end of February and now it’s in full swing. Spring break has come and gone and we are officially on the downhill side of the semester.
This would seem like a good thing, but it actually means that the honeymoon period of each class is over and the time for projects, term papers and cumulative tests is approaching. The library has a growing population each day, and Mojo’s Coffee Bar is gaining customers as some students are realizing the benefits of caffeine when studying for a test.
Seniors are presenting seminars after months of stress, so gradually the campus is becoming a calmer place to be for a week or two before final exams begin. The end is in sight!
This past Friday, sophomore Wes Goodrich hosted a Passover seder for a small group of students. Wes is one of the few Jewish individuals on campus, and he was interested in bringing together a variety of religions and denominations for discussion and a meal. When I arrived, the table had already been set, and food presentation was just starting. The fact that the table was already set (with a tablecloth AND cloth napkins!) was a bit startling for a student who eats nearly every meal buffet-style in the Cafeteria. Once everyone had been seated, Wes recited a Hebrew blessing and lit the candles on the table. We then passed around a plate of matzoh crackers (flat crackers symbolizing the unleaved bread baked by Hebrew slaves as they fled Egypt), green bean pate to spread on the matzoh, gefilte fish and horseradish, a relish plate, couscous, baked chicken, and some incredibly delicious asparagus. There was also matzoh ball soup, apples and cheese, and a chocolate cake for dessert. During the meal, we caught up on each other’s lives, discussed our classes, issues on campus, and just had a good time in general. This meal was a prime example of the kind of community that occurs at Bethel – students preparing and eating a meal together in a mutually respectful space, recognizing differences and commonalities, and enjoying each other’s company. Read More
Bethel’s Spring Break was last week. It was a really nice break from studying and the semester, and students were definitely ready for it. Midterms had been occurring for the week prior to break, and many seniors were working hard on their seminar project. Everyone was pretty stressed out, so it was good to get off campus and away from homework (mostly) for a week.
I and three friends left on Friday evening for a 30 hour drive to Fresno, California. Our friend Seth had lived there, and they were going to see his family. I was planning to take the Amtrak train on up to San Francisco to see my boyfriend, Ben. We drove through Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona to get there. Aside from a flat tire in Albuquerque, our trip was relatively uneventful. We got to see the stars in the middle of New Mexico at 3am, sunrise over Albuquerque, a snowstorm, a sandstorm, and a lot of beautiful scenery. Once we arrived in Fresno, we hung out with Seth’s family and visited their church. My friends stayed with them for the remainder of the week while I hopped on a train to San Francisco on Sunday afternoon.
Spring break was a much needed break. A week away from homework, papers, practice, etc.
Coming back is a completely different thing. We have about 8 weeks left and it is slowly sinking in that all of our big projects are coming up. In the coming weeks I have a big book report due, a monologue performance, a 10 page paper, 2 big presentations. I am thankful that I only have one class this semester that is requiring a actual test final. But all these projects can also be stressful.
So coming back from break one of the first things I have found I have to do is get organized. If I am not organized these things will get stressful.
Coming to Bethel had a lot of implications for me. For starters, it meant that I would be two state lines away from home. It meant that I would have to fight my own battles without the reliance of my parents. It meant I would have to be responsible. *gasp*
It also meant that I would be accomplishing a lifelong dream, and as far as I was concerned, this dream was the reason for my existence. I got the opportunity to play college basketball.
Aside from my jersey and lack of face paint not much differentiated me during my first two years from the guys in student section spectating and longing to be on court. This season, however, I was in a significant position to contribute. I started nearly every game, averaged a healthy 8 points a game, scored career highs, and was generally an integral part of the team.
Wednesday was our free day in Minneapolis. It was fun to have a break from concerts and be able to explore the city. We stayed in a hotel that was within walking distance of lots of shops and restaurants downtown. People split up into groups and did all kinds of different things during the day. Some went to an art gallery, some explored the riverfront, and one group even said they walked about thirty miles throughout the whole day. Our group visited a huge library, with a 25-cent book sale and very impressive bookshelves that moved with the touch of a button. The day before, the whole choir had a chance to check out the Mall of America for a few hours. It was packed with not only countless stores, but also an indoor roller coaster! Dale calculated that almost half of the choir members left the mall with a shopping bag in hand.
Lately, my life has been filled with Holy moments. These sacred moments shape my life as a person of faith, and remind me of my desired to seek, serve, and grow in my faith. A couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to serve communion at my home church in Wichita. This particular Sunday, communion was taken by intinction (partly dipping the bread into the “wine”), so I had the job of holding the cup. On my side of the sanctuary, the pastor held the bread, and people took from that before coming to me. The whole thing was such a humbling experience! Here I was, standing beside the pastor serving this community of faith that has watched me grow from a newborn into this young woman of faith who is considering a call to pastoral ministry. It was such a humbling experience to serve communion to the adults I think of as my “other mothers and fathers.” These are the adults who I have I looked up to and greatly respected for my entire life. Now I was serving them, on Holy ground.
Monday night we sang at Bethel Mennonite Church in Mountain Lake, Minnesota. I had always wanted to visit Mountain Lake, seeing as it is one of what I might call the “Mennonite Meccas”. My high school church mentor, Robert Regier, is from Mountain Lake and and I am certainly looking forward to sharing my experiences with him. Also, my fellow choir member and friend Dmitri Bucklin is from this town. It was fun to see the place he grew up in. From the start we were greeted with hospitality. Even though the choir concert had to be shortened due to a local H.S. band/choir concert the crowd was warm and welcoming. One instance stands out to me: as the choir performed the processional, “This Little Light of Mine,” a man with Down’s Syndrome gave each singer a thumbs up. For me, this was a tremendous confidence boost. It was great to know our presence was appreciated.
Later on, our allotted time was coming to a close. Pastor Galen Kauffman stood up in the audience and insisted that we sing at least one more song. The audience unanimously agreed when Bill put it to a congregational vote. It was wonderful to see such support and it was just another example of the extremely gracious Mountain Lake Community. I will remember these experiences long after the tour is over.
Monday, March 19
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Over the noon hour, the Concert Choir spent our time enjoying the interior beauty of St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Sioux Falls. St. Joseph’s was recently remodeled and looks immaculate. The walls of the Cathedral are lined with stained glass windows depicting various saints and there are many large, marble pillars. In the front of the church, there was a beautiful alter covered by a canopy. Our time at the Cathedral was a very treasured time for many of us, a time where we could relax, pray, think, reflect, or do whatever else we needed to do. After a while, Woven sang “Os Justi,” and the sounds of their song were extremely powerful. The choir then came together and we sang two of our selections, “O Magnum Mysterium” and “Ave Maria.”As we sang, we had the opportunity to step out of the choir and listen to the songs that were being sung in the incredible acoustical space. Sitting there, I couldn’t help but sob. The sounds were simply breathtaking. Open Road sang a song, “Lux Aurumque.” Finally, we closed our time at the Cathedral by lining the outer walls of the Cathedral and holding hands. We blessed the Cathedral by singing, “The Lord Bless You and Keep You.”
Since we were in Sioux Falls, we obviously had to stop at the actual falls. We only had 15 minutes to explore, but it was fun to climb around on the rocks and enjoy the falls, both the little flowing waterfalls and the huge vertical waterfall.
All in all, it was a very powerful afternoon and we all enjoyed our little break from the formal concerts.