On Thursday I spent the afternoon at Union University. I’ve visited the campus a couple times since I graduated in December 2009, but it’s always been on a weekend, so I never got to spend significant time with people from my school days.
This trend almost continued. I went to the Alumni Services office where I worked for three years, and four of the three desks were empty. Offices surrounding the main area were full of people I didn’t know. Luckily Sally was still around, and we sat and talked for an hour about how all the other staff that I knew had left for one reason or another. It was pretty depressing, honestly, and I was sad to have missed the chance to see Katrina, Stephanie, and all the others.
Things turned up, however, when I went to the campus coffee shop, Barefoot Joe’s, to meet Dr. Guthrie. He was my favorite professor at Union, I worked for him as a grader, and I housesat for his family for two weeks one summer. When he walked into the coffee shop and saw me, he yelled, “Tricia McGarrrrrah” with rolled r’s and a thick Scottish accent. This is how he used to call on me in class, to my embarrassment and delight. It was even better now, considering he’d remembered after six years.
We talked for an hour about his mission opportunities and mine. It was a super encouraging conversation, talking with someone who said things like, “You will have so much fun living overseas.” I like convincing people of how cool my plans are, but I like even more the people who have been, who know, and who are excited to see someone else enjoy themselves. He walked me to the new library, which isn’t yet opened, then gave me a big hug and told me he was proud of me. My heart soared, because all I ever want in life is for authority figures to be proud of me.
On Friday, I reconnected with my college church. Kind of. I hadn’t participated beyond Sunday morning services for three of the years I was at school. It was extremely hard for me to jump into a church that wasn’t Woodland, but the summer before my senior year, I finally joined a Bible study. Despite the fact that I only spent a few months with those women, Kathey agreed to host a dinner for me while I was in Jackson!
Four women showed up, two that I knew and two that I didn’t. We ate and talked, and I got to share my journey to Athens. I love telling my story over and over, because it is an encouragement every time, realizing how God has directed my choices and interests. Ronda asked if they could pray for me before I left, and I felt so blessed by the specificity and accurateness of their prayers, even though we were only barely getting to know each other.
Much like my high school friends, I’ve tended to think, “I’ve changed so much – how could I possibly relate to people from my college years!?” But I’m realizing that’s super dumb. I have changed, but I’m also very much the same person, and I’ve always had good taste in befriending awesome people. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to reconnect with old coworkers, professors, and church friends. I hope I can do it again before another six years pass.