A banquet, finals, and a mission trip, all rolled into one month. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s go back to the beginning…
It’s all such a blur now. So much has taken place. Near the start of the month I went with my roommate to his father’s housewarming. It was okay, the food was good, and I met an interesting girl that I was supposed to find on facebook, but I still can’t find her. Ah well. Perhaps one day I’ll see her again. But I digress.
Now the circumstances surrounding the banquet were interesting. I actually had a whole thing planned out for this one girl so as to ask her in a unique manner. Basically, one of my bros gave her a note after she got out of class that said: “Roses are red, Violets are blue. This may be cheesy, but it’s meant for you. Follow the flowers and see where they lead, you’ll find the prize if you simply read…” I ended up creating 3 other poems like this (which I won’t post; they were basically simple rhyming riddles that told her where to go. Message me and I might consider sending it to you). At each clue she found 1 flower and some chocolate kisses (1 kiss at the first, 2 at the second, and 3 at the third). To ensure she made it, my bro watched her at the first/second clues, while I inconspicuously placed myself at the 3rd clue (I was studying differential equations).
It was funny, because when she made it to where I was, she picked up the clue while laughing and walking in circles basically (I could tell she was nervous/anxious, but it was kinda funny). I attempted to act normal and asked her if anything was wrong, at which point she showed me the clue. I “thought” about it for a moment, and then gave her a hint which got her going to the last clue. I should tell you right now that at the last clue the note basically said “sorry, better luck next time”. The idea was that she would then lower her expectations and maybe be a little sad. Anyway, once she went to the room where the last note was located, I waited a little bit and walked in with a flower with a note attached. I told her: “some guy told me to give this to you”, and then handed her the flowers. Naturally, the note said: “will you go to the banquet with me?”
Weeell, the answer was no. I was just a few days late, and another guy had already asked her. So my intricate plan ended up being for naught. She really felt bad and started coming up with some random ideas on how to resolve the situation, but to be honest, it wasn’t her fault. I should’ve asked sooner and made sure before. I wasn’t about to screw another guy over who already asked her either (because that’s just messed up). So I told her it was fine and that I had a friend I could go with. Well, I asked my friend, and she said yes just hours later. This was Tuesday. The banquet was on Saturday.
Fast forward to Friday of the same week, and around noon this same friend told me she was coming back from something late on Saturday and wouldn’t be able to make it. “Natch ><”. Thoroughly defeated at this point, I resolved that I just wouldn’t go. That is, until I went to vespers with my only roommate who was actually planning to go to the banquet at this point. Long story short, another girl that was a mutual friend of ours (mine and my roommates) asked me that night if I would consider going out with one of her friends that didn’t have a date and if I could find someone else to go with a 2nd dateless friend of hers. I said yes, and got my 2nd roommate to go with the 2nd girl (he had actually just won free tickets; oh and I live with 3 flatmates by the way).
Anyway, I went to the banquet the next day with someone I had never met. It was interesting. Perhaps even a little awkward. Kinda got to know her though I guess. The banquet itself was nothing special. My highschool banquets actually had better food than this college one. It was however in a museum (cool), there was a [good] drama play while we ate, and one guy even proposed to his girlfriend. At the end when everyone was just taking pictures, my 2nd roommate (the one with the free tickets) took the two girls we had just met to a crazy party. I don’t drink, so I didn’t go. So there I was at the end, dateless again. It was fine though, I went with my friends who were there for some late night snacks and then chilled with them for an hour or so at the dormitory (1 or 2am at this point). So the whole banquet thing this time was a little discouraging, but it was educational, and my friends made it significantly better.
Finals were pretty chill actually. The only reason I mention them is because they were smack dab in the middle of the other stuff I was doing. All my finals were basically on different days, but I procrastinated too much and invested too much time on things that should have been finished earlier. I also had like 18 hours of work that week, but that’s not a huge deal. One of my teachers actually gave me a significant amount of mercy regarding my last test, but that was mainly because I aced all their other tests.
I did okay this quarter, but I could have done better. My math grade wasn’t ideal, but it was definitely more than I was expecting given the errors I made during the quarter. The main thing that bothers me is Organic Chemistry. First of all, I somehow got a B+ in the lab course when all of my lab reports received good grades. I know I didn’t do the best on the quizzes, but I think I did better on them this quarter than last, and yet somehow I’m getting a worse grade. I’m actually pretty sure everyone did badly on those quizzes. They’re so random. For the lecture portion of the course, it was really my fault. I spent all my time doing lab reports and learning about one area of OChem instead of memorizing synthesis problems. I just hate those problems. They’re so pointless. You don’t learn why anything happens or how, you just memorize a process that may not always work in the real world, a process you will forget in the future. It would be so much better if we actually were able to learn why these things work the way they do and then apply those concepts. But I guess that’s why I like general chemistry so much more than organic chemistry. But yea, Overall, finals went… o-kay. I know I can do better.
The high point of the month, the Mission Trip was amazing. It was completely student run trip that goes under the name “Project Pueblo”. I signed up for this trip a month or so before, after inadvertently being convinced by my roommate to go. I honestly had no idea what to expect. I even thought I was going to Arizona up unto the day of the trip. We went to a mission in New Mexico that was on a Navajo Indian reservation. I ended up signing on as a driver and brought 3 people with me. These 3 people happened to all be girls (funny, I know). The trip itself on the way there was relatively uneventful. We took way too long at our breaks and reached our destination at 2 or 3 am, but that’s okay. We had fun. Frozen yogurt costs a lot in Arizona though; I spent $7 on a cup of it.
Our conditions were actually a lot better than I had thought they would be. We had 3 warm (usually) showers for all 26 of us, and I got to use a mattress (they were limited in number). On Saturday we held a church service for the people at the mission. The service was a little funny for two reasons: first, we were bigger than our audience, so when almost all of us went to do song service, there were more people up front than in the pews. Second, the guy doing the sermon had his belt like half buckled for half of his sermon. It was just kind of hanging out in front of him, and everyone except him noticed but didn’t want to say anything. Thankfully, he finally asked a question, and one awesome guy mentioned it to him while answering the question (crisis averted).
We went hiking later that day and saw some Anasazi Indian ruins (first & third picture), a lizard, and some Indian drawings on a rock (also cool). Saw some cows and a guy herding his flock of sheep on the way there too. The rest of that day was relatively uneventful, we ate, we had worship, we played board games, we got to know each other. It was wholesome.
For the remainder of the trip, everyone worked for the majority of the day with meal breaks in-between. I went up to the roof to nail shingles on it (hard work). I actually feel pretty good with a hammer now, and I did get to use the nail gun (it’s powered by air pressure). On one of the days we were working, the wind really picked up, so we got off the roof and I did some painting for a while. Painting is alright, but not nearly as fun as being on a roof nailing in shingles. The guys we worked with that showed us what to do were really cool, and were always patient despite the mistakes we occasionally made.
I should mention that every morning and every night we had a devotional and a worship. These worships were extremely apt and I could tell that they touched a lot of hearts. During one of our “vespers” times, we had one our leaders give his personal testimony. It hit some people hard, and after he spoke there was a little crying and many of the people there stayed an hour longer. Normally after worship we played sports and games, but this time we stayed too late, so we just went back. The whole thing was very spiritual.
Another night during vespers (or the same night, I forget) I started just messing around on the piano while we were waiting for everyone to make it to the church, so I just played one of my usual improvised riffs. To be honest, I don’t think it’s that good, and it’s extremely simple, but after playing for 30 seconds, I stopped playing, but as I started to leave so that we could start with our little vespers thing, someone said “encore” and a bunch of people joined in. So internally I was like: “okay, I’ll give it a go”.
I have never heard a room go quiet on my account so quickly before. I just started playing and playing (in A minor), making it all up as I went. It was similar to some stuff I have half-composed (half because I haven’t finished it after a year now), but it was definitely not the same notes as before. After a good minute or so, I noticed everyone was got quiet, so I started getting a little nervous, yet at the same time, I felt comfortable enough with everyone that I felt like it didn’t matter if I made mistakes. Usually I can’t just play in front of a bunch of people without a bit of planning. But this was different.
When I was starting to wrap up my “song”, I had no idea what to do, so I just slowed down, finished the whole thing with a few arpeggios and presses of my tonic (A) keys…And then everyone clapped. It was one of the most encouraging moments I have had in a while. I practically ran back to my seat after this, as I am not normally one to bask in the limelight and usually prefer to be humble in the background. Sure, people have clapped during my past recitals (a long time ago), but something was different. I think it was just the fact that it was completely unplanned. Everyone
could should have just continued talking about whatever and let the music be ambiance. In recitals clapping is expected, perhaps even socially required, but this was less structured, and more spontaneous. It was actually…fun.
What really made this amazing trip though was the closeness our group shared. Perhaps it’s the combination of working, selflessly serving, and having regular worships, but through the entire trip, everyone was positive and kind. The summation of all the little things people did for us and we did for each other formed something beautiful. Even when we played mafia one night for the first time, no feelings were hurt-even when girlfriends “killed” their boyfriends. Even when the head leader forgot my middle name and kept saying my first and last name for the millionth time, I was cool with it. Which reminds me; by the end of the trip, just about every single person in our group of 26 was saying all 3 of my names (RMS, RMS, RMS) whenever they talked to me or about me. I’m not exactly sure how it happened, but I basically became a celebrity, or a meme, or something. I have even surpassed Chuck Norris apparently. Regardless of whatever praise I received, I do truly love each and every person that was on the trip, and I am glad I was able to meet such amazing people.
This post is basically a collection of short stories now, but let me add just one more. On the last night (Wednesday), we had something called a “reflection time” where everyone talked about how they felt about the trip and such. Naturally, many of the girls cried, and many of the men said serious things. Everything was heartfelt and real during this time. Right after we had reflection time (and it took like an hour or two), we basically had a musical contest. 4 of the people in the group had earlier in the day decided and planned on their own to compete. There were two teams with two main people each (and some support people). The first team had a rap, which cleverly included just about every single person in our group. It was awesome. The second team had a guitar song (which was quite good actually) that had one guy playing guitar, another rapping and then a group of us singing the chorus. I actually joined the second group for the chorus and used a jar of sprinkles as an improvised shaker at key points in the song-its’s funny, because we gobbled up a bunch of sprinkles right before our “battle” so we could get a good sound out of the “instrument”. Follow a few moments of preparation, we performed the song, and while the words were a little cheesy, the whole thing was of a relatively high caliber. I’m glad they got everything on video. Anyway, after our musical battle, the contestants went to another room while the rest voted on the winner…
And it was a close one. After telling us to come out and learn who won, this is what happened: (leader1) “we thought about it, and i’m sorry, but group A just wasn’t up to the challenge.” At this point group B was starting to get excited. (leader1): “unfortunately, neither were you group B…The real winner here, through a unanimous vote isss….R. MICHAEL S.!!!!” (everyone cheering loudly)
(me thinking) What the. I didn’t even enter the contest.
At this point I was literally picked up and hoisted into the air. I decided to just go with it and put my fist into the air to join in the jubilation. After everyone calmed down, a few people started asking for a speech. “It was all thanks to the sprinkles” I said. As everyone laughed I attempted to bestow this jar of sprinkles upon the main leader, but he said “I am not worthy.” Ahh my goodness, good times. As to how the vote actually happened, I wasn’t in the room during the vote, but from what I hear it basically went down like this: (leader1)”Does everyone agree that R.M.S. wins?” (everyone) “yes.”
There is so much more that happened besides this, and I fear I would have to write a short book to accurately describe this single week. So much awesomeness happened in such a short time. I failed to mention this earlier, but almost all of the supplies we brought with us, we gave to the mission. On Wednesday at noon we gave all the children at the school there some toys. During our last group picture, a local dog joined us. On our drive back we stopped at a meteor crash site. We ate Thai food in Flagstaff, AZ too.
I feel as though I did more in this one last week than in the entire month. God was working with us and through us, and I think we all tasted what is like to truly love one another. A lot of what happened is still running around in my head, being processed, thought about, and analyzed. This has given me a lot to think about, both in the future and the present. I’m not worried about the future though, I believe I’m headed in the right direction.
(note that all photos here were taken on this same trip).