Verity in Retrospect

         It was three weeks, yet now it seems like a dream. Three weeks of exposure to a completely different and yet very similar environment. Similar in that they upheld God, His word and doctrine. Different in that I had never seen such a diverse group hold God so high. In fact, diverse or not, I have never been in a group which maintained so healthy a balance of grace and truth. To be among them was truly inspiring.

         I learned a lot there, and few things when I go home as a result of being there. One of the greatest lessons I learned, was that I will never know all there is to know with regards to Theology, and that the prouder I am about the knowledge I do have, the less I actually posses.
       Not only that, but also that I am not above making mistakes in public. Strange that I should imagine that, but it's quite true. I had rather gotten to the point where I thought that I could get along in a conversation, looking good and encouraging others. Well, there were several times I said things, and then grimaced because in that saying I had revealed some of the pride and selfishness inside of me which I didn't want anyone to know was there.
       Then again, I had to realize that change must come from the inside out. Otherwise, all I was doing was being a white-washed tomb; a hypocrite for whom Jesus, when he walked the earth, reserved his harshest rebukes.
  At Verity, we were all encouraged to take of the masks, but at the same time to consider others more highly than ourselves, and to look to God for strength in each task. Everyone was real, but godly. A rare combination and it was attractive as well as catching.

   I'll share several pictures which include myself, my classmates, the senior students, (Since Verity is a two year program, we new students are call juniors and the second year students are called seniors. It's really nice because now I can go around telling everyone that I'm a junior in college and only eighteen!) and some staff members.

     The experience was fun as well as educational, and we all did some crazy things, but what can you expect from young, foolish college students?


My two lovely roommates.
  A couple of the sweetest girls I know. We had lovely times together.

Some of my classmates...

Christiana (The name was so close to mine, it was often a bit confusing)
Annie, one of the seniors, with Christine, a staff member. Both wonderful young ladies.

Joey and Jonathan.





The  Twins, Amanda and Meleah. They were so much fun.

   This is one of the seniors, Lauren. I'm further back in the blue ruffled blouse, there weren't too many pictures taken of me, oddly enough. This was during the conference which they held at the end of the first week. Rather like a prepared seminar, they showed us several videos of talks and a few local pastors and even a missionary, came in to speak. There were several sessions of sharing, during which students would stand up and give comments about how certain speeches had impacted them.

The college Cafe, run by the current seniors.

It often turned into a game room.

The senior coffee makers!

Then there was Symposium an excruciatingly formal event.

I loved it. It was so much fun to see everyone dressed up, and hearing two impromptu speeches.

   Symposium met every Tuesday afternoon and was basically a chance practice one's public speaking skills. At the end of the session, they divided us into groups and had us discuss a topic, come up with a thesis and appoint a spokesperson to present it in proper speech format. In the picture above, there are a few of my classmates lining up to present their group's conclusions. Unfortunately I am not in the picture, but I was spokesperson for my group and and am standing right to the left of the leftmost young man.  Amanda is at the podium, presenting for group no. 1. I was group no. 2 and am so disappointed they didn't get a picture of me at it.
     However, I think it was partly my fault. I was a bit of a "photophobic" during the entire three weeks, and I do believe I said some very cutting things about cameras and photography. I have learned my lesson though, as coming back I have realized how badly I wanted pictures to show my family. I hated to have my picture taken, because, however I might dodge the issue, I hated the way I looked in pictures. I still don't appreciate my photo identity, however, I have learned that such a view is self centered; it's not all about me and if I hadn't been so self conscious, my family might have gotten to see more pictures of me in action.
     What's done is done, and I am thankful to have the pictures I'm showing you, but I am bound and determined to work very hard not to mind the camera anymore!

  But, on to merrier matters.

 There was lot's of hymn singing, which was so much fun.
 And a lot of wonderful music.
 And a lot of wonderful sessions of playing with other musicians... the stairwell to make it sound better. I'm so thankful I brought my violin.

 Also lots of wonderful discussions...

 And classes...
        And more classes...
  They taught us things like how to write an essay, how to give a speech, how to read a book, and certain things like that. They also taught a class on each of the major modern worldviews, such as Marxist/Leninism, Cosmic Humanism, Postmodernism and Islam.

Ah yes, speaking of Islam, during that class, the senior students "played" a Verity tradition on us.
  We were sitting in the class, listening to Mr. Ingersoll speak on the different strange laws a Muslim was restricted to, such as "Gamblers and Drunkards are to be whipped," "A Muslim man can have up to four wives, and beat them occasionally," "A Thief will have his hands amputated," and such lovely precept like that, when an earsplitting shriek rent the peace of the classroom atmosphere and several Arab peoople, one young man wielding a long plastic scimitar, rushed down the isle and lined themselves up in front of the podium. After we recovered from the surprise, two more young men came striding down offering cookies as condolences for the fright they had given us. Their costumes were a little more eclectic, as you can see from the pictures but it served to give us a good laugh.
 They informed us that this was a tradition. Each senior class played it on the incoming juniors during the Islam worldview class.
It was such a success that several distance students from my class declared that they would return for next year's orientation just to participate in the Muslim class bombing. I sincerely wish I could do the same. It really was hilarious, and one of my fondest memories...class of 2018, beware!

   Of course it wasn't all study. We played volley ball almost every evening after dinner, and ultimate Frisbee as well. I wasn't a top player in either game, but everyone gave me a lot of encouragement and I really enjoyed it and got a little better too.

 Then there was this game. It was called 'ninja' don't ask me why, and it was a lot of fun from what I could tell. I was sorry those who knew about it didn't introduce us to it sooner. The rules of the game are a little complicated to explain on this document, however your goal was to hit other people's hands and not let them hit yours. In the picture above you can see how some of them looked when they started.
Towards the end, the game got a little more tricky, as Justin and Jonathan have just discovered.

 Then there were the random crazy things we did, such as making daisy chains and wearing them in our hair...
 Kidnapping a few girls for a surprise birthday party... (It happened that the birthdays of three girls fell on the same week!)
And the boys decided to hold 'Friday Flip' when they turned their shirts around and wore them backwards for the evening. It was quite a sight I can assure you; the picture doesn't do it justice!
   Of course we must not forget all the crazy rides we had in the back of someone's pickup truck,

   ....and a pile up the boys attempted one Friday evening. Unfortunately, as this picture shows, they only got up to three people before the tower met its demise.
       Dr. Mcray, the president of Verity, and his family often had the whole gang of us over to their beautiful place. They were so very kind and hospitable.

    Our time eventually came to an end, and we distance students flew home, but the friendships we made and the love and kindness which was impressed upon our hearts will never cease to be.

     To close, I want to mention how much I was impacted by the Love of God at Verity. If there was one thing thing they taught me there that I wish I could apply to my heart more deeply, it is that God's love is unconditional, and more vast than we can ever imagine. The people at Verity also modeled that for me in a large way. I said and did a lot of stupid and hurtful things, but they still loved me any how. No matter what I was, they were kind and gracious, and I can tell you it was catching. I found myself not just putting up with people I didn't care for, but going out of my way to do things for them. Kindness can be just as contagious as meanness.

     So for your musical enjoyment, allow me to present to you the hymn,
          "O Love That Will Not Let Me Go" by George Matheson.

    In closing, I want to thank a certain staff member for the pictures. Even though he'll probably never read this, I give my humble apologies for being a stick-in-the-mud about picture taking. Photography is a useful and necessary art, and I wish I could take back all those things I said about it during orientation...there, I have gotten that off my conscience!

   I hope you all enjoyed my trip synopsis. What about all of you? Have you ever struggled with the love of God? Have you ever felt that He didn't love you unless you did things for Him?

    May you be filled with the wonderment of God's love, my dear, faithful, long-suffering readers; and may you hide in the shadow of His wings.

   Until I Write Again,

      ~ Christianna

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Esther Olson said...

What a wonderful recap, Christianna! Thank you for writing it. :) I appreciate your candidness - just know that you weren't the only one who felt like you kept sticking your foot in your mouth. :P Being around such passionate Christians made me feel like a white-washed tomb also. But on the flip side, the people there were a huge encouragement to seek God more diligently, so that I might find Him as they had. All in all, it was an awesome and eye-opening time for me as well.
One of the many things that I learned at Verity was how to encourage other people better. Everyone there was so supportive, in words, deeds, and prayers, and it was such a blessing to me that I want to do the same for the people in my life - and now I know how.

"Everyone was real, but godly. A rare combination and it was attractive as well as catching." You hit the nail on the head.

"Then there was Symposium, an excruciatingly formal event. I loved it." Haha! I agree; it's so much fun to dress up and see others all fancied up. :D

Christianna Hellwig said...

Esther, I'm so glad you enjoyed my post. Thank you for assuring me I'm not alone, and what an excellent point about learning how to encourage people. They really know how to do that over there! :)