bringing 2008 to a close…

In retrospect, 2008 has been a pretty good year despite its ups and downs.

January brought the start to a new semester after spending Christmas with my entire immediate family. It was the first time I had seen my nephew since my high school graduation. J-term was enjoyable, as I was able to take a class with many of my friends. Despite a sprained ankle the first week, an unfortunate encounter between my finger and a steel rod the second week, and bronchitis the final week, January was still fun.

The highlight of February was going on a retreat with Bittner/Mellinger staff to the Bob White Hunting Cabin. It was a great time to get away from campus and homework. We spent a lot of quality time together, getting to know each other even better, watching Surf’s Up, and sharing lots of laughs. We also had the opportunity to reflect on the previous semester and the year ahead as most of us were preparing to re-apply for another year in residence life. The semester was off to a difficult start, academically, so the retreat came as a welcome distraction.

Spring Break in March meant a road trip to St. Augustine, FL, where I camped on the beach with friends. I also got to celebrate Easter with aunts, uncles, and cousins, and my immediate family while in Florida. It was another chance to see my nephew, and I found it exciting that he remembered me from Christmas. March was also defined by dramatic ups and downs. My sister received word that she had raised 100% of her financial support, which would allow her to leave for the Philippines as a missionary for Wycliffe Bible Translators. This was great news, and news we had been waiting for. We were excited that she would finally be able to head for the Philippines. Plans changed, though, when word came the very next day of my mom’s leukemia diagnosis. It was obviously difficult news to hear, but I am absolutely thankful for my friends at Messiah who supported and comforted me in the following weeks.

April was an overall great month. Some of my friends in residence life and I participated in Relay for Life, a 12-hour walk that raises money for cancer research. It was an encouraging event that let me see my friends’ continued support for my family and their commitment to prayer.

May brought the end of the semester and the end of the school year. It was an end different than most, because I was not moving out but staying on campus for the summer. The beginning days of work were very boring, but I was really glad to have friends on campus who made everything much more enjoyable. June and July were mostly the same as May. The end of May and half of June was spent in Philly for my cross-cultural. I was able to take in many activities in the city and serve in a community garden almost every day. The conversations I had with the neighborhood youth were really interesting and eye-opening, as I got to hear about their parents’ struggles as refugees from the Vietnam War. The required class, or rather the instructor, was frustrating. An uncomfortable experience toward the end of the course left me frustrated and a bit angry, but opened me up to addressing issues of race and identity throughout the fall semester.

August brought the long-awaited week of Residence Life training, meeting old and new staff members, bonding with and facing the uncertainty of an all-female staff, etc. A great time of excitement, the unknown, laughter, and learning. All the fear and anxiety of that time has since gone away, as my staff has proven time and time again that there is nothing to fear.

September was the beginning of a new school year: time to face senior courses and other classes I wasn’t particularly looking forward to. This past semester was difficult for many people in many ways, but many people also agree that the difficulties taught us a lot. For me, the difficulty of the fall has allowed me to look forward to the spring semester and the end of college. At the beginning of the year, I was very reluctant for the end of the year and for graduation, but now I think I’m more accepting and maybe even excited for graduation.

October and November continued to bring difficulty with classes and life in general. I was able to take some time away with my new staff for a retreat in late October. Together we relaxed, laughed, reflected, and prayed. Thanksgiving was spent with the immediate family in Florida. Though the traveling was exhausting and we only spent two whole days there, the time together was great.

December brought a welcome end to the semester, and holiday time with family. I was very thankful for time without homework filled with movies and meeting up with friends – an occurrence I haven’t seen in a long time.

I’m really looking forward to 2009. The courses ahead of me this semester will be a lot of fun, and even more fun are the people taking the classes with me. Of course, there’s also graduation and whatever is in store afterward. 2009 will bring a lot of change and many new experiences. Though it’s certainly unnerving not knowing what lies ahead, it will surely be an exciting time. I’m planning on capturing all the milestones (and the little events too) through photos by jumping on the photo-a-day bandwagon for 2009. There’s a new camera in the mail (expected to arrive on Friday!) that will make this endeavor a bit easier and make me that much more eager to follow through with this intention.

I hope 2008 has treated you well, or at least has taught you many things. Happy 2009!

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