As the Baylor Class of 2020 arrived on campus last week and began settling in for their first week of class, I knew I could write about many things.
I could write about the phenomenal Move-In Day experience, where there were no fewer than 2,000 students, faculty, staff and administration on campus, greeting new students, with 200 of the 2,000 at our daughter’s dorm, waiting on the sidewalk as we drove up, surrounding our car and unloading everything (and I do mean everything – I carried up a lampshade), taking every box up to Catherine’s room, all the while saying, “Welcome to Baylor!”.
I could write about the countless sorority young women who volunteered their time, stopping by my daughter’s room and every other room on the hall at two to three minute intervals, asking if there was an empty box they could carry away for us (there were about 40 in our room alone!) and then happily carting them away only to return a few minutes later for a quick picture with Catherine and then taking down another load. We didn’t carry a single box up or down a single flight of stairs.
I could write about the way top administrators stopped by our daughter’s room (and the rooms of many others) just to say “Welcome to Baylor” and hug our daughter’s neck, asking if Catherine needed anything, genuinely grateful she was there.
I could write about the third generation Collins Hall freshman who made cookies for the girls in my daughter’s dorm, wrapped them beautifully, put her room number and name on the cookies and said, “Be sure and come visit!” Those cookies said to me, “I’m at home here and I want you to feel at home, too!” And yes, the cookies were delivered by all three generations!
I could write about my new friends Nana and Afia, a mom and her Baylor freshman daughter, stranded at the DFW airport with no way to campus from Dallas except via a Greyhound bus, as every single car at the airport was rented! The mom saw my Baylor Parents Network bag on my shoulder and asked if I was going to Baylor. Yes! And suddenly I had new friends in Baylor Nation and we had a delightful ride to Waco!
I could write about the ice cream social at the Fountain and the food trucks and the music and banners and signs printed for students and family to hold up in pictures – “First Day of College” and “Sic’em!” and the hundreds of freshmen meeting new friends, taking pictures, NC Baylor Nation gathering for a Fountain Photo, and the joy that was permeating the air and the rain that stayed away.
I could write about a big sister, just graduated in May from Baylor, who drove down from Dallas after work, just to stand beside her freshman little sister and say, “Welcome Home to OUR campus!” and then turn right around and head back to Dallas in the driving rain. Or that she had asked her six best friends, also Baylor graduates, to give one piece of advice to her little sister and then took the time to come back to campus two days later and take her little sis out for coffee and read the advice, and then hang the requisite twinkle lights in little sis’s dorm room…
Yes. I could write about all of those things and more but the most outstanding memory I had that brought the biggest tears of joy came when I returned home – 1,200 miles away – as I read a text on Sunday afternoon from our freshman daughter, Catherine. You see, on Sunday evening just before classes began on Monday, the freshman class gathered in the Ferrell Center for a final “Welcome Week Worship Service.” Catherine had texted off and on about events of the weekend and the new friends she was meeting at every turn. I hoped all was well but you know, you can’t really read emotions in texts but this one came through loud and clear:
“I love my family and am so grateful for your support and prayers and now I am so pumped for the service tonight. I might call you sometime later….”
Those words and the happy emotion came through loud and clear, saying to me, “Mom, I’m grateful and Mom, I’m ready and Mom, this place is now my home and a place where I will easily encounter Jesus coming and going in the lives of my friends and the faculty at Baylor.”
How do I know this to be true? Because I saw it at the airport when I met a new member of Baylor Nation in need. I saw it on Move-In Day with countless students and staff showing us something very unique and wonderful in their welcome. I saw it in my alumna daughter who took the time to be with her little sister and remind her that she chose well and Baylor will be the most wonderful home for her too.
As I flew home and read my devotion from The Daily Light, there was a sense of calm and “right” about leaving our youngest at Baylor. I looked out the window at 30,000 feet and saw the vast expanse before me and then I read this: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love him.”
An amazing, vast, and unfathomable experience beyond what we can imagine awaits our Baylor students in the days, weeks, and four years to come. How great is our God? How blessed we are to have Baylor being woven into the lives of our students.
So, for all of those reasons and a million more to come, that is the Baylor difference. Welcome Baylor Class of 2020. It’s going to be (another) amazing year.