PSST -- We Survived! Hurricane BGR, an Almost-Total Eclipse, and the First Week of Fall Semester 201
We want to reassure you we are all safe and survived the onslaught of another new semester! We may not have had a major hurricane strike West Lafayette, Indiana, but it felt like a constant storm of new students passed through Wesley Foundation during Hurricane BGR- Boiler Gold Rush week and the start of classes this past week.
We co-hosted a welcome dinner at First UMC for over two-hundred international students. We co-hosted lunches with the Found and at Wesley for several hundred more grad students and freshmen. Overall, we had seven meals with five of them outside, and it didn't rain!
This was a relief since our basement is still under reconstruction, and rain was possible several days. It is also ironic, because the Get Involved Fair was held in the Co-Rec for the first time because it got rained out twice last year. It was very crowded in the Co-Rec.
Finally, our BGR week ended with feeding about 450 new and returning students at Wesley's Midnight Pancakes, the first time in our much smaller yard (after the Great State Street Expansion of 2017). Guess what-- it didn't rain!
Last Sunday (8/20/17) was a big Welcome Back Sunday at both First UMC (with PMO) and Wesley Foundation. Both our Co-Directors, Revs. Lana and Glen Robyne, preached together at all these services on "Beautiful Things" and "Letting Your Authentic Light Shine" as they contemplated the physical and spiritual nature of eclipses of small things in our lives that can temporarily block out the true light. It had been a rough week with depressing news eclipsing good news...like about white supremacist protests and counter-protests in Virginia, terrorist attacks in Barcelona, mudslides in West Africa, and, for those of us connected to the DRC/Congo, cholera outbreaks and landslides there. But there is always the promise that God, who made us and loves us all, will not let such evil and tragedy have the final word. The light of Christ always shines in the darkness.
Many new students came for our welcome with root beer floats before the first Wesley worship of the semester. Most of the students were able to stay and socialize over our delicious home-cooked dinner of pulled pork and turkey with "party potatoes" and homegrown tomatoes, prepared by several friends from West Point UMC. That was our last outdoor meal planned for a week, and again, it didn't rain!
We had not planned an eclipse party for Monday (8/21/17), since we were not in the total eclipse zone. Yet, the next day, we had quite a spontaneous gathering in front of Wesley. Several professors cancelled classes because they wanted to watch it! Then it appeared it was going to be too cloudy. At the last minute, though, the sun and moon broke through! So, it was quiet the unexpected joy to have so many Wesley students gathering and sharing eclipse glasses among friends. Then, noticing all the people walking past without glasses, we started offering to share all the glasses we had with total strangers who had not planned to look up at the eclipse. Now that is an unusual kind of evangelism! Thankfully, the clouds were not too obtrusive, and it didn't rain!
Students already seemed pretty stressed out, even the day before classes started with assignments. Two students already had pretty emotional meltdowns this week. So, we celebrated surviving the first week of classes with a fun weekend. Students on our fellowship committee put together a fun photo scavenger hunt for Friday night (8/25/17). Everyone ended up on their last clue at the Baptist Student Foundation "The Found" for a coffee house. The team that decided to take one photo of themselves on a couch at Wesley and photoshopped themselves into all the sites got no points but lots of laughter.
Yesterday/Saturday (8/26/17) we gathered at First UMC for Pastor Glen's famous French Toast before splitting up into a hiking group and a cycling group. Both enjoyed getting outside for fresh air and sunshine on a beautiful day without rain.
Overall, it is just awesome to have this storm of new and old students back. The summer construction on State Street and fences around us kept most students away from us. Plus, the construction noises are slowly moving further West. The "breezeway" at Wesley has been full of students and their chatter all week! Welcome HOME!
This Sunday (8/27/17) we are blessed by a visit by Melissa Young, International Co-Director of the Imagine Missions. This is the Haiti project for an orphanage and school we support with mission trips almost every year lately. (Note: Glen and Lana don't have any definite plans yet for a trip to Haiti this school year, but some students who went last Spring Break really want to go back. As with all mission trips, if at least ten students agree to go, one of the Robynes will try to go with them. We will support their fund-raising efforts and help them make plans regardless.)