It has been 2 weeks since the retreat, and I am back into barely having time to eat, sleep or pee. I am very excited to graduate soon and restore order that factors in being able to simply BE with God. When 3 classes, 3 practicum theatre credits, a senior project, two jobs, and a substantial social life leave me gasping for air trying to find time to breathe, I find myself chanting 2 MORE MONTHS internally. Part of me wishes I had the will to slow down and spread out the last year of my college experience another semester, but most of me is desperate and excited to be done. Pretty much every aspect of my life is going to be up in the air after I graduate. I am not sure where I’ll live, what I’ll do, if my relationship will carry on through the transitions…what I do know is that I have a lot of options which is something to be grateful for. I am waiting to hear back about a job as a flight attendant, and if I do not receive that job I will move to L.A. to continue acting and modeling, hopefully on a larger scale. If I DO get the Delta Airlines job, I might be based in a Spanish-speaking country, but I would begin in January with 2 months of training in Atlanta. For now I am focusing on completing my degree and enjoying my blessings. The retreat reminded me that moments of peace turn out to be the best moments of life. Many people describe their goals as “I want to do this…” “I want to go here…” “I want to buy this…” My goal is to reach a point of stability where I can sit. I want to sit. That’s all. Idleness allows me to eagerly respond to and embrace opportunities that come my way. Today was a beautiful day–t shirt weather if you’re out moving in the world. My boyfriend Sam, my dog Tigger, and I walked down by the river, and then we (the 3) went to a sushi place. Remembering Sabbath and taking rest rejuvenated me and I feel ready, although not eager, for another busy week. Little things help me persevere through this crazy schedule and daunting amount of responsibility of completing my degree. The Holy Spirit taps me on the shoulder during rushing bicycle rides to say, “Hey! Look at the trees. Aren’t the changing colors magnificent? Isn’t God’s glorious creation wonderful?” A thoughtful friend sends me a funny picture to bring me down to earth from the constant feeling that I am fighting my own battle. Random communications from family and friends remind my that although my story has a lot to it right now, I am not alone, and everyone else has their own story too. This sensation of realizing how tiny you are, and how all the tiny details that apply to your life; Every other person of the billions has that many tiny details wrapped up inside them as well: that’s called sonder. The feeling of sonder overwhelms me as I am remembering all these times I have to be many places to do many things and I see so many people around me on this bustling campus with the same robotic agenda. I think about how unnatural it is to be expected to be at the same place, at the same time, every other day for weeks. Not exactly a huge burden or obstacle to triumph over, no. But considering how fluid our minds and moods and bodies are, and how they are constantly responding to infinite changes in the world around us…isn’t it pretty wacky how we all have such strictly mapped calendars? I gotta say, I don’t think God planned for humanity to behave in this way. He made sun-up and sundown, and we’ve over evaluated those guidelines and calculated them down to the markers known as seconds. I remember a time I planned out going to this dance at school in high school. I had a set group of girls, I knew what I was going to wear, etc. When the dance was approaching, I thought to myself, “I don’t really FEEL like going to a dance right now.” I followed that instinct and stayed home and played keyboard by myself in my basement. It might sound silly that I chose that activity that I can really do anytime when I have free time over going to a dance that would only happen once, but I don’t really regret it. I did what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it. Seems like the natural order to me. Our bodies and brains can be mediums for God to use to speak to us. If we are feeling tired, God is saying, “Get some rest.” If we get a cold, God is saying, “You are over-expending yourself. Cut back.” If we feel stuffed, God is saying “You are being gluttonous.” If we feel ashamed, God is saying, “That was not the right thing to do.” The problem is most people have their life set on overdrive and don’t have the time, patience, or awareness to hear these calls from God. The retreat, and any time I can find a sense of retreat within my life are the times when I can get reconnected with hearing God’s voice. http://vimeo.com/user7278324/sonder
I’m away from the LCM community this semester, taking my adventures abroad to Hong Kong! I’m really enjoying my time here and I’m learning a lot about myself and what it’s like to be a Christian here. One of my highest priorities coming here was to find a Christian community that will help me grow in my relationship with God. Surprisingly, finding a Christian community is not the hard part- finding one in English is! There are at least 4 Christian groups at the university I am studying at, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST). One Catholic, one for Mainland students in Mandarin, one for locals in Cantonese, and Campus Crusade for Christ (known as CCC here, Cru in the U.S.) which is mostly in Cantonese but has a 3-yr-old English sub-division called Agape. So I joined Agape! Agape has about half local students, half international students, many of whom are exchange students from the U.S.
The most striking thing about Christians here is their commitment to their faith. They are very willing to share their faith with others, which is much needed at HKUST. Students at HKUST often get caught up pursuing grades and GPA and success at whatever cost. Many base their lives around their ability to perform on tests. This manifests itself in a high suicide rate which just breaks my heart. Students here are so smart and have so many wonderful opportunites, but aren’t given the support that they need due to the culture that places so much weight on certain ideas of success. I aim to learn from my friends in Agape how to spread God’s love at HKUST and to inspire others to work for a higher purpose.
I also joined a fellowship group (not related to HKUST) for undergraduates and recently-graduated young adults. Last night, the topic of our discussion was the Occupy Central and Student Protests that have been taking place over the last 2 weeks. The movement started with student boycott of classes at the major universities in HK to protest a recent ruling by the CCP regarding the election process of HK’s chief executive. My university participated in the boycott, but had lower participation rates than other universities. Last Friday, protests escalated when police used pepper spray to try to dissolve a protest. In response, the Occupy Central pro-democracy group and many other citizens joined the students. The protests continued for a few more days, but have since lessened with the promise of talks between HK’s current chief executive, CY Leung, and the student groups. Until last night, when it re-escalated as pro-Beijing citizens, fed up with the pro-democracy protests, violently attacked protesters still assembled at one of the sites. Now, I’m avoiding those areas and waiting for what is next.
Our discussion was about whether it is right, as Christians, to participate in the protests and Occupy Central movement. It was an interesting discussion, as the fellowship members were a diverse group all with varying backgrounds: local students, international students, exchange students and expats here for work. Some supported the pro-democracy protests, some didn’t, and some (like me) felt they didn’t have a say in the matter. But what we concluded was that we must proceed by what we feel is right. As Christians, we are supposed to obey the laws, except in cases of injustice (Isaiah 1:17). If HKers feel the law is unjust, and many do, then it is okay to participate in peaceful protest. One thing we all absolutely agreed on was that the protest must remain peaceful. We concluded by praying for all parties involved and that a peaceful solution can be found.
Finally, I just wanted to let you all know that I am safe and far away from the affected areas. Hong Kong is usually a very safe and peaceful place and it makes me sad to see violence here. I feel like this is my second (third? fourth? I’ve lost track) home!
I will be blogging 2x a month for Lutheran Campus Ministries!I will start out by sharing a little bit about myself. This is my first year as a student leader at Grace, and I am really enjoying it! I have gotten more involved with the sharing of music this year by singing and also playing the washboard when we do bluegrass! I have become more comfortable with the other student leaders, and I have been enjoying welcoming new people into the church. I’m from Minnesota and I was raised Lutheran. I started out at Prince of Peace, then we switched to Shepherd of the Valley, and now I go to Grace! After this semester, I will likely move to California and have to search again for a church I enjoy. I have always been very strong in my faith. Here’s a story from my childhood that my mom told me: When I was three, I once spent a whole day in my bedroom. My mom came in and I was sitting on my bed, talking. She asked who I was talking to, and I said “Jesus!” She was astounded and a bit scared, because she wasn’t quite sure how we had met. I honestly feel a very personal connection with Jesus. His voice is very present and I maintain a pretty constant stream of conversation with my Lord. I am not free of sin by any means, and I often get sidetracked or wrapped up in my own story instead of reaching solely to be a part of His story, which is my idealistic goal as a Christian. I have been through many tough times. These are moments in which my fellow Christians have admitted they have questioned God, His love for us, and His intentions. For me, I would not have made it through some times with that mentality. Instead I viewed the challenges that God has presented me as gifts. God knows my strength and ability to be resilient through adversity, and I take that as the highest of compliments. I have learned so much by trusting in God and persevering in tough times. I try to stay positive in spirits, buy I am a hard-edged Realist when it gets down to it. My most recent test from God happened less than a week ago. My little sister’s ex-boyfriend who I had met on several occasions committed suicide. He had broken up with her quite harshly and said many very cruel things to my dear sister. She trudged through the break-up process, and even got asked to homecoming by a new beau. After she went to Homecoming, Adam asked to see her. They hung out a couple days in a row, because he confided in her that he really missed her, he was terribly lonely, and had only dumped her because his Dad didn’t like the two of them together. My sister Megan forgave him but did not want to further a romantic relationship with him, although they were still close friends. The day after that conversation he took his life using his father’s gun. I am not a very emotional person. I am mostly comprised of logical speculation. This situation makes me sad and angry. I feel sad that Adam did not have the faith or strength to know that he could get through that time. He would have entered a new chapter in his life shortly after graduating high school. He had a stable family situation and financial contributions from his parents. A lot he didn’t have to worry about, but I don’t think he realized that or he would have been more grateful of his situation. This is the point at which I get angry. It’s unfair to those that had given him so much and now they have to suffer. I also feel impassioned to push for stricter gun education and regulations when it comes to distribution, licensing, and safe storage. Unfortunately, this is America, guns are sold at Wal-Mart, and the right to bear arms is in the Constitution. With my decently solid knowledge of history, I would estimate it’s going to be a minimum of 100 years before that changes. The thing is, I don’t get mad at God for these frustrating and saddening items and occurrences. I know He’s not happy about them either. I don’t view God as a puppeteer, but more as a partner and all-knowing overseer. That’s how knowing God helps me through tough times.
Welcome back to all of our current students and a special welcome to our incoming freshmen! It’s hard to believe that the start of another great school year is just around the corner. I hope you’ve had an enjoyable and restful summer and are ready to start off the 2014-2015 school year!
Freshmen, you are just days away from the start of the next chapter of your life. Some of you may be traveling from miles and miles away, while others of you will only be a few minutes from home. Before you know it you will be moving into your dorms, meeting your roommate and the others on your floor, getting acquainted with campus, and starting your first college classes. Whether this anticipation brings you a sense of excitement, nervousness, or a bit of both, we are excited to welcome you all to campus, and hope that you all find Lutheran Campus Ministry to be the welcoming community that we all have experienced.
As a freshman last year, I found my first few weeks on campus to be more of a change than I had expected. I was living away from home for the first time, meeting more people than I could keep track of, trying to figure out what all I was going to be involved in, and figuring out how to keep all of my class syllabi straight. After a busy welcome week and first couple days of classes, I was so relieved to attend the Wednesday night Pause service at Grace Lutheran Church. I immediately found myself surrounded by several very friendly and welcoming college students and it already felt as if I were right at home.
Lutheran Campus Ministry is a community of hospitality. We are excited to welcome in new faces, get to know people individually, be curious, ask questions, discuss openly, and grow both individually and as a community. We worship together at Pause almost every Wednesday night at 9 pm at Grace Lutheran Church, beginning the first week of school. I would love to see you all there!
Good luck with the start of your freshman year and know that you’re always welcome at Lutheran Campus Ministry. I look forward to meeting you all this coming year!
If you would like more information on how to get involved with Lutheran Campus Ministry – Twin Cities please contact email@example.com
Pastor Kate Reuer Welton recently attended the Lutheran Campus Ministry National Staff Gathering in Nebraska held by Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. It was a wonderful event to celebrate our ministry and connect with fellow students, faculty and staff on college and university campuses across the country.
At the closing banquet, Pastor Kate Reuer Welton was named the recipient of the 2014 Philip N. Knutson Award. This award recognizes those who have demonstrated special creativity and/or risk-taking in their campus ministry work.
Pastor Kate was recognized by her colleagues and the people she serves as a gifted, passionate, and vibrant campus ministry professional. An excerpt from her nomination provides a glimpse of her creative and risk-taking approach to ministry:
“When Kate started at the University of Minnesota four years ago, she did so with just a handful of students. Working together with them to dream about a church that they would want to be part of, the ministry grew quickly, in both depth of formation and outreach to students. Kate has challenged and nurtured students into deeper faith and a more open understanding of God’s work in the world. She has also led them in creative justice and immersion work, for example, taking a trip to Chiapas (a state in southern Mexico) to learn and serve with the community there, and to New York City on an interfaith service trip with students from Al Madinah, the Muslim group on campus. Because of her willingness to be a gracious and loving presence in the face of hatred, her creative immersion and interfaith work, and her deep and easy love of students, I am honored to nominate Kate Reuer Welton for the 2014 Philip N. Knutson award.”
When my roommate and I stumbled across LCM at the end of our freshman year I didn’t realize how important this group would become to me. Since then I’ve become more and more invested in LCM and watched it grow from a community of fifteen to fifty. When I spent a semester abroad in Rome, every Wednesday night I would get a little down because I knew I was missing Pause. I missed the community and the friends I had found here. All of us who come to Lutheran Campus Ministries are in one way or another looking for an open and supporting faith community. What we’ve found and what makes LCM so special is that along with a faith community, it’s also a place where you can be unapologetically yourself. We hug each other in greeting, crack each other up at the most inopportune times, and clean up the dishes together while singing show tunes and Disney. We’re a bit of a motley bunch and that’s a part of what makes LCM, LCM. We come from a variety of backgrounds with different experiences and view points yet we find a way to come together, laughing and praying and loving and living. Though a handful of us are graduating and going off to explore our own paths, we will carry these memories, lessons, and friendships with us. Like LCMer’s before us we’ll never be too far from the home that LCM has given us.
I.am.indignant! It has been my word of the semester. This semester I have been taking a break from design school to participate in a program through the Higher Education Consortium of Affairs (HECUA) focusing on inequality in America. The curriculum focuses on a variety of topics from wage discrepancies, housing, race and class issues, and politics. During the course of the semester I have learned so much, but I have also become so very, very angry.
Take housing for example. Most of our housing issues today stem from legislation and practices from the 1950s. After WWII there was a housing crisis that prompted suburban sprawl. During this time banks and realtors would “red line” certain areas, marking where they would give loans based on race or class. Realtors would “steer” certain families into certain neighborhoods, increasing segregation. Exclusionary zoning limited who could live where based upon their ethnicity, creating pockets of race around the city. Over time these pockets have been allotted different resources creating inequality between them. Some areas were destroyed during the era of urban renewal, removing affordable housing all together.
Now you may think that these practices have been outlawed by now, and most of them have, yet they still affect us. We still making zoning laws that limit residents based on their income. Richer sectors require 3 car garages and certain lot sizes ensuring that only those who can afford such luxuries live in their community. Communities given different resources in the past still don’t have equal access. Many of our communities are still segregated. So here I am, indignant. How are such unfair practices from 60 years ago STILL impacting us? How are we still unwilling to live near the people we work with or shop with or worship with? Why can’t we strive for a more equitable distribution of resources? I hope that this makes you a little uncomfortable too; uncomfortable or angry enough to educate yourself, or your family, or friends, or faith community. After all, we are called to care and love those around us, to change the systems that foster despair, hate, and poverty. I hope that you too are indignant enough to want to make a change, to live in an equitable community with those around us.
The last semester of senior year is, to no one’s surprise, a stressful time. Not only are you juggling school, work and clubs, but also trying to figure out your next steps in life. Finding a job, figuring out your place in the world, it is all very stressful stuff! As I am currently in the midst of sending out applications and putting my next year into focus, I have found the beauty of tea breaks.
Having taken a number of tea breaks in my time abroad, I have tried to maintain that moment of breathing. There is something wonderful about realizing you are tired and doing something about it. My days have become long and busy, but realizing that I can and should take 15 minutes to just sip a cup of tea has been a joy. God has a way of making us realize our own limits and God also has a way of giving us small joys in times of chaos. So even when I feel like life full and my “to do” list is too long, I have found joy in my moments of pause. I truly know that God is with us through everything but it can be hard to notice God’s presence if we don’t take a moment to stop. To stop and breath. To stop and sit, To stop and drink a hot cup of tea.