You guys… it’s almost been 10 YEARS since I made my way up through Florida, Georgia and most of South Carolina in minivan with all my stuff to go to North Greenville University. That was one of the scariest, most exciting times of my life; going away to college. I knew I needed out of Miami for a time to get a grip on life and learn new things, but leaving everything I knew was so terrifying.
Thankfully, it ended up being one of the best and funniest years of my life. I couldn’t tell you a thing I learned that year in class, and yes I ABSOLUTELY failed chapel for second semester (because I thought it was dumb), but the experience of getting out of what I knew and meeting new people was really good, and it was a year that opened up my eyes to a lot of my issues. Gah- so many issues.
If there was one thing that I loved most about going to school at NGU, it was the cafeteria, or as we called it, The Caf. At first, it was crazy intimidating because I knew no one and had no idea where to sit or who to hang out with. But as I made friends of different kinds and from different circles, it became a place that represented unity, fellowship and play time. And I mean play time in the literal sense- we played around all of the time.
Documented above was your classic orange eating contest. Ben, Randall and Sam are three of the funniest guys I’ve ever met (along with Max, everyone from DTS, Andrew, Adam, etc), and watching their shenanigans was good for the soul. I think this was also the day someone did Peter Answers on me and I screamed bloody murder IN THE CAF.
Look at these little kids.
These two- I can’t even know. They were the best (and weirdest) of brothers and friends. They used to yell each others names really loud in the caf, and it always made me laugh.
Someone was ALWAYS on the floor.
The food in the Caf really wasn’t that bad. I didn’t mind it, and even on a night where I was not about to eat whatever was being served, there was always Lucky Charms and a pudding of some kind. And endless soda- it was a 19 year old’s dream.
One of my favorite things about The Caf was that I always started sitting with one person or a group of people, and ended up sitting with another group of people. It’s the place where I came to know and love all of the friends I still have now, even though we are states away. I wish I had my old motorola phone, because the pictures on that thing are HILARIOUS. I’ll just describe some of the events that were captured on film:
1) One day, everyone at our double table was wearing a solid color from the rainbow, and when I realized it I made everyone get up and stand in the order of ROYGBIV so that I could document the rare occurrence.
2) The one of two times I ever made it to breakfast, Ben Patat sat with me and that was the day I realized he wasn’t scary and one of the nicest guys I know to this day. I don’t remember why or how we had a pop up book of Cinderella at the table, but it was a fun morning.
3) I met Randall in The Caf on my first day at NGU. The rest is history…
4) Towards the end of the school year, the homeless impact team tried to raise funds so that we could have a pizza party with our homeless friends. No one wanted to chip in, so Josiah started stealing people’s phones and sunglasses from the tables and offering to sell it back to them for a fair price. It actually worked with one person.
5) I met Bethany in The Caf on my first Sunday there, after realizing I had to dress up like I went to church just to eat lunch in the cafeteria. She saved my life, and became one of my best buds.
As a Christian who’s trying to follow Jesus in every area of my life, there’s a lot of sanctification days and seasons; my heart has so much garbage in it. Really hard times that you know are good for you and changing you for the better, but they are hard nonetheless. Years like my year at NGU, times like I had in The Caf… those were times of abundant silliness, laughter and wholeness- nothing more and nothing less. The season before I went there was a time of great suffering for my family and I, and I just really appreciate the relief that place brought me. It didn’t negate or erase what was going on in my family or what was about to be revealed to me of my own sin over the next several years, but it simply reminded me that life can be so sweet.