Welcome to a series of stories that basically make up my autobiography. It’s not entirely thorough, but I’ll do the best I can with the memories locked away inside my head. Could be therapeutic for me. Could be humorous for you. Either way, enjoy…
Previously on Life Story… It was time to start thinking about going to college and at some point, I made a decision about where I wanted to go.
Prior to beginning my freshman year at Bluefield College, I had an opportunity to visit the campus for a week in the summer. Last time, I wrote about participating in Impact Virginia with my youth group in Danville during the summer before my senior year of high school, which is sort of what led to my interest in Bluefield College.
My old youth group decided to get involved with Impact Virginia for a second year. Oh, yeah… my old youth group. I never told the story about how my family left the church I grew up in and started going somewhere else. It’s definitely a story. This is the problem with trying to tell my life story in chronological order, because I inevitably forget important details and then need to come back to them later. And then I can’t just go back and renumber the chapters, right? I’ll tell the church switch story. But let’s get this one done first, shall we?
Anyway, I probably would not have considered going on a mission trip with the youth group in a church I no longer attended had the trip not taken them to Bluefield. Because Impact Virginia had a work site in Bluefield, they were housing student volunteers in the dorms at Bluefield College. So the friends I still had at my old church convinced me that it would be a good experience to spend a week on campus before I began my career as a student.
And I didn’t disagree.
The experience in Bluefield was slightly different than the Danville trip. For one thing, it wasn’t quite as hot as it had been in Danville. I mean, it was August, so it was still hot. But Bluefield is referred to as Virginia’s air-conditioned city. Or maybe that’s the West Virginia side. I always get confused, because there is a Bluefield in Virginia and West Virginia.
To be clear, Bluefield College is on the Virginia side.
But, yeah, it was still hot. We used to say that Bluefield experienced two seasons each year: winter and August. An exaggeration, sure. But not too far off.
The house that my team worked on didn’t need a new roof like the house I was at in Danville. For the Bluefield house, we built an exterior staircase and painted the exterior of the house. We also, if memory serves, cleared away a lot of brush and overgrowth from around the house. I don’t remember it feeling like we had a ton of work to do. Pretty sure the experience in Danville was much more intensive.
I fell in love that week. Okay, not really. But my young 18-year-old heart did skip a beat or two upon meeting Petra. She was part of a team that had traveled to the U.S. from Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Looking back, I want to say she was from somewhere in Slovakia, but I can’t really remember. I’ll be honest, there was no real connection there. She spoke very little English. She was gorgeous and she had a really nice smile. That’s about all I really knew about her. Not really enough to build a lasting relationship. Especially when she would soon be returning to eastern Europe and I had no clue how to talk to a pretty girl when language wasn’t a barrier.
Overall, it was an interesting week. I got to sample the fine cuisine of the Bluefield College dining hall for the first time. Little did I know, they would be providing the majority of my meals for the next five years.