Called to serve

Two of my biggest passions are summertime and missions. This summer I get to experience missions in a way I have never before, and I could not be more excited to spend my favorite season doing something I love.

 This photo was taken on a previous mission trip to Haiti.

This photo was taken on a previous mission trip to Haiti.

Starting June 3, I will be serving at Robin’s Nest, a children’s home in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Robin’s Nest typically houses 36 children and provides them with a safe, nurturing home where they can grow physically, mentally and spiritually. Robin’s Nest is a very cool ministry because they strive to show Christ’s love to each child and help them grow in their faith.

I am able work with Robin’s Nest because of a program at Northwestern called Summer of Service, or SOS. The SOS program has been such a blessing to be a part of throughout this whole process. Last fall, I received an email from an SOS student coordinator saying I had been recommended by someone as a good candidate for the 2018 SOS team, and I was so excited. First of all, someone thought of me for this process? That gave me a lot of confidence and assurance to just put in my application and trust God with the rest. Secondly, this program sounded amazing. God works through our desires to travel and serve him where we are called.

So I applied, interviewed and got accepted to go to Jamaica with one other Northwestern student. (It is important to note, though, that the whole SOS team is made up of 17 students going to sites all over the world.)

While in Jamaica, I’ll be serving in a variety of ways as the Lord reveals where help is most needed. Some of my everyday tasks include meal prep and cleanup, helping with homework and entertaining the kids. Each Sunday at Robin’s Nest, the interns prepare a “Children’s Church” message for the kids, and I will be helping with that as well.

What am I most excited for?

God works through our desires to travel and serve him where we are called.

I am so pumped to meet the children and begin building relationships with them. I cannot wait to get to know the children individually and see them grow and develop during my seven weeks in Jamaica.

What do I need prayer for?

While I could not be more excited to go, I am aware that this is a totally new experience for me. I am leaving behind family, friends and everything that is familiar for the summer. I would love prayer for a calm heart and open eyes to see how God wants to use me this summer.

Kelsey Lang, an Orange City native, is pursuing two majors: public relations and political science, with hopes of possibly attending law school after graduation. Kelsey is a junior this year, and in addition to studying, she’s a member of the Red Raider track and cross country teams. She has enjoyed working with the freshman class as a speech fellow and works in the library on campus.

A Raider reflection

It is finally hitting me that the school year is ending. It feels unreal – it has gone by so quickly! I am a bit sad about leaving, but as I have been packing up the things in my dorm room, I have been reflecting on this past year and all the things I am to be thankful for.

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I have made so many new friends this year who have been such amazing blessings in my life. Whether I met them on my dorm wing, in a class, or through mutual friends, I know that God placed each of them in my life for a reason. Some of them are teaching me to like coffee (it’s a work in progress) and others are teaching me to be more adventurous (in a good way), but all of them have made me realize how lucky I was to meet them on this campus. The relationships you form at Northwestern are unlike any other. You make great friends for life here. These friends help you grow, listen to you when you’re down, and are willing to help you when you need it. I am going to miss these friends over the summer.

Another huge blessing this past year was my dorm wing. I had the opportunity to live among such an amazing group of gals. From day one they were all so kind, welcoming, and helpful. The other day many girls from my wing willingly helped me complete a large project for one of my classes the morning it was due. I was overwhelmed by their kindness and took a moment to thank God for the amazing, godly wing family he made me a part of. I will miss them, our Tuesday night wing dinners, late night talks in the hallway, and the endless laughing this summer.

This past year, I had so many different chances to try new things. I took an internship position with a woman in town alongside two other Northwestern students. I learned so many new skills related to my major through this internship and was able to apply my abilities to help real clients. Outside of academics, I stepped out of my comfort zone and danced and lip synced alongside my Airband group during Northwestern’s annual competition. These were just a few of the many new things I tried this year, but maybe two of the most exciting for me. I am so thankful that I was able to try these things through Northwestern and I hope to try many more next year!

My NWC experience by the numbers

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I still have LOTS of work to do in the next two weeks before I get my diploma: applying for jobs, finishing up my student teaching paperwork and lesson planning. And though I can’t just spread out a blanket on the green to avoid my homework in the middle of the afternoon anymore, I felt the need to procrastinate at least a little bit. You know, for old times’ sake. So I counted up some things.

Academically speaking…

  • Semesters at Northwestern: 8
    • Seven of those were on campus! I spent my final semester student teaching in West Des Moines and Waukee.
  • Days spent in class: 505
    • I can’t remember if I counted the four snow days NWC had while I was a student so maybe it’s only 501.
  • Weeks of student teaching: 15
    • 8 weeks in high school, 7 in middle school. In retrospect I should have also thought to record the number of times I was mistaken for a student.
  • Hours logged in the tutoring center: 205.78
    • Reading papers for Macroeconomics, Christian Perspective on Physical Fitness, Lit Contexts, and more. And there are probably tutors who’ve logged more hours than me.
  • Summer classes: 3
  • Pages written in word documents: over 171 in just the last two semesters…
    • Don’t even ask me how long this took to calculate. After counting up this year’s paper trail, I wasn’t even going to bother doing the math for the other 3 years.

Extracurricularly…

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  • Orientations attended: 4
    • My own freshman orientation, plus three years on O-Staff!
  • Spring Service Partnerships (SSPs): 1
    • My sophomore year I went to Opelousas, Louisiana to work with the organization Hope for Opelousas. They do after-school tutoring with kids 4th-12th grade. I liked it enough to go back for a summer job as a teaching intern last May!
  • Times I participated in AIRBAND: 1
    • A huge group of us did a lip-synced medley from the musical Hamilton and it was SO FUN even though we only got second place. I wish I’d done more!
  • Theatre Productions performed in: 4
    • "The Power and the Glory," "Godspell," "Rabbit Hole," and "Museum." I also stage managed several productions and worked on many more crews.
  • Days spent on tour with Drama Ministries Ensemble: 27
    • With DME I got to travel around Illinois and Michigan, the Calvin Worship Symposium, and Albania and Greece. We performed stories like Abraham and Isaac, the Good Samaritan, and The Passion from the Gospel of Luke.
  • Years lived in Fern Smith Hall: 3.5
    • I have so many memories of late night dance parties, very competitive board games, and random trips for ice cream with the girls that I lived with in Fern.

And some completely random statistics…

  • Times I left the country while enrolled at NWC: 3
  • Parking tickets: at least 3
  • Summer jobs: 2
  • Seasons of Criminal Minds watched in a single semester: All 12.
  • Winter Formal dances I probably got whiplash at: 2
  • Indoor plants/succulents purchased: 5

It’s crazy to think how much one person can do in 4 years! The cliché lines “How do you measure, measure a year? In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee” from the song “Seasons of Love” comes to mind. And while I’ve rendered my college experiences into a set of numbers, the memories and stories that stem from those are too numerous to tell here.

What will your statistics look like when you leave NWC?Early morning workouts in the RSC? Band and choir concerts? Finals-week scrambles? When your 2,102,400 minutes at NWC finish up, what will you remember?

The Northwestern effect

Earlier this month, Northwestern was blessed to host 2000 alum Michael Greller, caddie to professional golfer Jordan Spieth, who spoke in chapel and in Juffer Athletic Field House to support AllNDay.  

Being a golfer myself, I was very excited to hear him speak, and not only because it was two days after Masters Sunday. I know the importance of a caddie on a player’s mental state and overall golf game, so I figured he must be pretty legendary if he carries Speith’s bag.

His Q&A session in chapel was very encouraging, and it reaffirmed in me something that I already knew to be true: the long-term effect of Northwestern on a student. Greller repeatedly referenced how Northwestern were some of the most transformative years in his life, and I can affirm that to be true in my own life, too.

He mentioned how being at Northwestern taught him how to live in community and how after traveling the world, Orange City is still one of his favorite places. Greller mentioned how his professors cared so much about him, even outside of the classroom.

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Without ever thinking about it, I realized there will be so many things I will take away from Northwestern, too. While everyone’s experience is different, I imagine most graduates leave feeling like they had the perfect launching pad for real life after spending a few years here.

What made these years transformative is the community that surrounds each student and strengthens faith for the hard times to come in college and after. It prompts respect for others and excellence in all endeavors, something confirmed by people who hire Northwestern grads.

I know that Northwestern is not only helping me get a great degree, but providing me with all the tools I need after college to be a kind, thoughtful, and hard-working person who is rooted in faith and ready for whatever life throws at me.  

Experiencing other cultures

A unique experience Northwestern offers is the Summer Study Abroad (SSA) program. For a few weeks out of the summer, students can travel with a group to explore a different country and its culture while earning class credit at the same time. Although I’m only a freshman, I got accepted into the Great Britain SSA, and I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity.

For the past few months, our team has been preparing for this trip as we not only fill out the needed documents, but also learn about the different interactions we could have when crossing the ocean. We’ve been reading through “Brit-Think, Ameri-Think” by Jane Walmsley to help us dip our toes into the culture we should expect while in Great Britain. We’ve gone over packing essentials, and our chaperones have even shown us pictures from previous trips in order to spike our interest about our upcoming experiences. Our chaperones are making sure we’re completely prepared for not only the travel aspects of the trip, but also for our opportunities to learn lessons from our sister across the pond.

This specific trip to Great Britain is focused mainly on the arts. After spending five days in Worcester in the countryside with our homestays, we’ll spend two weeks in London. During the afternoons, we’ll explore different museums or art galleries as a way of understanding their perspective of art. Most nights will be spent in a theater attending well-known plays. And of course, there will be time for additional sight-seeing as well. We’ll have a few free days to explore in the areas we wish.

Through the college, students have many opportunities to go on trips throughout the world. With the SSA program, we’re able to visit not just big cities, but experience the true life of the civilization through homestays, where we spend nights with citizens of the country. We can also create new relationships through our fellow travelers and the new people we meet. Whether it’s a service trip or an educational one, Northwestern still makes it a unique experience with their dedication to getting the students truly ingrained in other cultures.