Most people don't have 11 people over to stay whom they have never met before.
But, when you are doing college in an unconventional way, you have to do some unconventional things to hang out with your fellow classmates. Lissie, Joe and I are earning our Bachelor's degrees (in Humanities, Business with an Entrepreneurial Emphasis, and Music respectively) through CollegePlus!, an accelerated distance learning program. On the CollegePlus! forums we have made good friends across the country, from Alaska to Florida, with the same beliefs, goals and convictions. Who says college online comes without socialization?
However, our friendships have been confined to our computer screens. Over the July 4th weekend, we opened our home to facilitate a face-to-face meeting of our fellow CollegePlus! friends. Students came from Massachusetts, Tennessee, Minnesota, Kansas, Iowa and South Dakota.We enjoyed being "3D" with one another after having only experienced the "2D" version before this!
Back row, left to right: Tessa, Elizabeth, Annika, Amanda, Britt, India, Lissie
Front row, left to right: Samuel, Eric, Mac, Sam, Joe
We played Frisbee, Duck Duck Goose, Capture the Flag, Pig in the Middle (aka Eric in the Middle), the Knot game, Kum-Chai, Squealing Pigskins and Ninja. And that was just outside.
Inside we played Apple to Apples, Faces, and Phase Ten Twist. But we didn't just play games. We did a lot of talking and laughing--sometimes even falling to the floor holding our sides.
The very best part was the spiritual fellowship we found together. We watched the Louie Giglio DVDs Indescribable and How Great is Our God which gave us all a sense of awe for the Lord that had to be followed up by some intense prayer. How wonderful to pray together and feel as if we were in God's very presence! We also worshipped God through singing praise songs together.
Saturday morning we went to a park to have breakfast and take pictures. Two of the CollegePlus! students brought their siblings. We were blessed by their presence as well.
Unfortunately five of the students had to leave Saturday evening. We missed them when they were gone.
On Sunday morning the remaining students came with our family to church. We could sense that the Lord was with us during the weekend when the 17 of us in the house were ready for church 30 minutes early! Unheard of!!!
My six younger siblings enjoyed the weekend as much as the three of us who are CollegePlus! students. Our visitors were great about including them.
We spent the rest of the day laughing together--playing games and making music before we went to watch fireworks at the home of some friends in South Dakota. For some of the CP! students, this was the farthest west they'd ever been.
Here is a video that Britt made of the whole gathering:
Great fun was had by all and...
..."2D" friendships were strengthened as we spent "3D" time together.
Before they left, Eric and and his sister Kali shared a quote with us that fit our long weekend together perfectly:
"The physical presence of other Christians is a source of incomparable joy and strength to the believer...It is true, of course, that what is an unspeakable gift for the lonely individual is easily disregarded and trodden underfoot by those who have the gift every day...Among earnest Christians in the Church today is a growing desire to meet together with other Christians in the rest periods of their work for common life under the Word. Communal life is again being recognized by Christians today as the grace that it is, as the extraordinary, the 'roses and lilies' of the Christian life."
(Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together)