Thousands of New Students Flood Penn State's Campus!
You can’t very well tell from this picture (by the way all of them are taken from my camera phone… so I’m typically impressed that the quality is as high as it is!) but this was a student who was working the help desk at the HUB. His T-Shirt read: “I Need Some Loving.” I imagine that the shirt is intended as a joke, but the frankness of it really reminded me of what I was here to do this summer. We may not all walk around wearing shirts that scream out our needs, but people are broken, and even when people seem mostly happy, we do need a type of loving that none of us can really provide. Everyone wants to be understood. I'm on campus this summer to listen to people and point them towards the one who understands them best.
During the summer PSU has two “Sessions” of summer classes. 1st Session ended while we were at Staff Conference and the Second Session began the Sunday we got back. That Sunday we were given official PSU “Hall Hauler” t-shirts, breakfast, and hand carts when we volunteered to help move in the incoming Freshmen who are here to get a head start on their college careers.
It was a wild experience. One of the most difficult parts was because we looked so official with the T-Shirts many people asked me PSU specific questions that I simply had no answer for. The whole day was a great opportunity to really engage with people during a pivotal moment in their lives. We interacted with lots of nervous parents, excited students, brothers looking out for their sisters, Fathers overly concerned with moving fragile boxes, Mothers concerned about their child moving into a strange new world, scared students, and many other overwhelmed people. It was a great way to meet people, offer advice and a friend. We took two hours off for church, but were able to invite lots of them to eat lunch with us in the cafeteria, to play volleyball with us at 5pm, and to offer rides to Wal-Mart for forgotten items, etc. People have really expressed how grateful they have been for our initative in serving and loving them.
It's often very difficult for me to believe Matthew 9:37 "Then He [Jesus] said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few" but we have seen it play out here on campus! I usually believe that I need to work really hard, deliver the perfect message, say the right things, invite at the right times, and really convince people that they need the Lord/should come to Bible Study/worship God. However, I have seen people approach us and ask us how they can get involved. We have seen people walking up to Bible studies and asking if they can stay. I have been told that I was an answer to prayer by a grad student who had been on campus two days and was studying the Bible by himself when we happened to walk into the room just to see who was there. He thanked me so much for including him in my small group because he was so concerned about finding a group of believers who are committed to studying the scriptures. After our first Tuesday night study in John he said "that was great, but a little short, can't we go longer?" At some point I just want to ask where the hidden cameras are and who put him up to this. Believe it or not, there are students on this campus HUNGERY for the Word of God.
Everyone had been cautioning me, “Just wait till 2nd Session, this campus is really dead until then.” I was feeling slightly overwhelmed by all of the people I was meeting during the first session, but they all certainly were right… this campus has come alive! Here is an e-mail that one of the staff workers sent to the rest of staff to keep them updated:
-Between Haul Hallers (move-in), Outreach Tables and Large Group we have met 83 students to follow up with!
-On Tuesday night, 2 studies were started btw the guys and girls. Both
studies were held in a lounge in the Commons. Every seat in the room
-Last night we had our first large group meeting. Mandi counted 43 new
students (several more came in after her initial count)! Most of these
students are freshman and one girl is from Puerto Rico.
-The talk was on Hebrews 2 and I sat in one of the best small group
discussions. Here's some comments that I heard, answering Jason’s question: "What surprised you from the talk?"
"That we are called to be fanatical about Jesus and that's a good thing."
"Jesus is not ashamed of us, and we're sinners. I'm usually the one
who's ashamed of him."
"We are called to die to our desires."
"We actually have a better life when we choose to not be distracted by
-The students even preferred standing around talking to one another after the small groups over playing a video game on the projector!
It's quite easy for me to feel overwhelmed by all of this. I walked by the football stadium the other day and it's sheer size floored me! As a response to the number of students increasing and my responsiblities increasing I tend to completely ignore the way events affect my heart. I fail to take the time to process each day and one of the many negative results of that is that I ended up not taking any time to write down my thoughts here on this page. For that, I really am sorry. I have failed to continue to let you all into my life. In a sense I often feel as unaware of what is happening in my life (beyond the simple data of events) as I'm sure many of you feel unaware of how my summer is going. I hope to change this (it's part of my character growth goal!) and to continue to update this page for your sake and mine.
We have a big week ahead of us. Last week with the new Freshmen it was all about meeting new people. Now it's about following up with those who are responding and are searching for guidence in the Lord all the while continuing looking for new people as well.