On October 15, Eunice Lehmacher joined us for our weekly Wednesday night meal. As we finished up dinner, she began a discussion related to coping with stress, anxiety, and depression during the pandemic. From her years of experience in mental health counseling, Eunice shared with us three concepts that are helpful when approaching mental health: antennas, warning lights, and superpowers!
Right now, many of us have our “antennas” fully extended, and we seem to pick up on everyone else’s stress and emotions. Eunice reminded us that it’s an important part of self-care to retract our antennas and focus on our own feelings. During times where we may be dealing with negative emotions or qualities, it can be hard to see the positive parts of ourselves revealed in weakness. But the truth is that we all have superpowers! For example, someone who struggles with perfectionism could choose to view this as being gifted with attention to detail. Finally, we talked about how our bodies are a lot like cars. Before we break down, we have plenty of warning lights; we just have to learn to recognize and address them.
Everyone in the group had an experience to share or a contribution to make to the discussion. College students often struggle with their mental health, so discussions like these are helpful in keeping our spirits up through difficult circumstances.
One of the things we’ve struggled with this semester is falling into a sustainable rhythm. Yes, we have our usually Wednesday dinners and Sunday night worship opportunities. But it’s been difficult to find time for other activities. In the month of November, though, we wanted to focus on some service opportunities.
We put together a list of congregation members to which the students could write some letters. A few students and I took a Saturday afternoon to do some trash pick-up in Abernathy Park nearby. And this past Wednesday we celebrated Thanksgiving together with a turkey dinner and a project (pictured above) to help with families and children at Thornwell, a local non-profit Learn more about Thornwell here.
It’s been nice to break up our normal routines by doing something good for the world around us. After all, much of the spirit of gratitude that surrounds Thanksgiving is accompanied by a spirit of generosity as well. It’s humbling to see how generous these young adults can be.
Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM) is one of LCM’s favorite organizations in the greater Church. It is a program in which young adults are given the opportunity to spend about a year abroad, living with and serving a community somewhere far away. It is a bit of a legacy, here, that many LCM-Clemson alumni in the past have gone on to serve with YAGM when they graduate.
On a recent Sunday, we were joined by Olivia Slagle on Zoom. She offered a devotion during one of our outdoor worship services, and told us a bit about her time in Palestine a year ago. She has been telling her stories around the Southeast and East Coast (virtually) as a short-term recruiter for YAGM these past few months. A group of students huddled around a dark fire pit (unfortunately it was too windy to keep lit…), and heard what she had to say about finding a home in this place in which she was a stranger. She was a stranger, who was welcomed as if she were someone familiar. She was taken in by people who treated her like family. That seems to be the beauty of YAGM - finding out that real relationships and love are universal, and that they make a big difference in this world.
The application for the YAGM program for 2021-22 is now open. And applications are due January 15. You can find the application and more information here.
Most weeks, our Wednesday nights were focused on eating our meal and enjoying being together. To be extra cautious, we haven’t had many Wednesday night activities and programs. But in the spirit of spooky season, we all painted pumpkins before Halloween!
While each of us were able to take a pumpkin home, there were plenty of extras, and a few were painted and given to congregation members. As the semester wears on, it was nice to take a break and do something creative with friends.
The great thing about being a campus ministry that is sponsored by a congregation like University Lutheran Church is that we have the opportunity to worship together on Sunday mornings. Usually during the year, students fill the front 2-3 rows of pews at the 11:00 a.m. service throughout the year. This Fall, though, the congregation is still only worshipping virtually.
We thought it would be important to provide a worship opportunity for the students. And we thought it would be fun to get creative with it. We have so many students who have been or are still involved in camp ministry and are used to a casual, outdoor worship experience.
So we've tried to form something like that with some guitar music, time for prayer, and a weekly reflection. We enjoyed meeting on Bowman Field on campus, and we'll likely try a few other outdoor spots within walking distance from church. It's been a refreshing way to connect with God and with each other!
There are simply no words to describe the feeling of seeing loved ones after being apart for so incredibly long. Although we're still missing a few friends who have not yet returned to campus, we are all overjoyed that LCM carries on through the unthinkable. We have been spending Wednesday evenings outdoors to better aid in social distancing, enjoying prepackaged meals, and wearing masks when within 6 feet of each other.
Despite the awkward rituals of the new normal, there is still joy to be had, good food to be eaten, and friends to love. With the increased chaos of an online semester, our Wednesday nights continue to provide a much-needed pause in the middle of these hectic weeks.
- Amanda Taylor
Because it is safer and more comfortable to meet outdoors, we've been brainstorming ways that we can plan some of our usual happenings in new, open-air settings. Hiking is always a big draw, and we've been on a few local hikes in recent weeks. We're also hoping to explore some of the beautiful SC State Parks that are within an hour's drive from campus. Waterfalls and sunsets galore!
We're also hoping that we can put some social and service activities on the calendar, too. We're easing into the semester, but we hope to be able to have an outdoor art night (painting and/or sidewalk chalk). And we're in touch with some members of the congregation who might appreciate some timely yardwork or power washing.
It is so good to be together! And it's not a bad thing to be encouraged to appreciate God's creation a little along the way, too!
- P Josh
On a cool October weekend, a daring group of LCM students journeyed 300 miles northward to the campus of Virginia Tech, for the Campus Ministry Region 9 Retreat. There they met the LCM groups of many other schools around the region. They all participated in workshops that included a discussion on mental health and faith, service projects such as painting hope globes and making cards for veterans and seniors, and a talk on music in worship. The group also enjoyed boolin’ on Virginia Tech’s campus, playing sports, and exploring the nearby area. Worship services and meals with the entire LCM community of Region 9 were enjoyed by all as well.
Several times throughout the semester, the University Lutheran Church and Lutheran Campus Ministry gather together after the 11 am service to enjoy a delicious lunch and to listen to a special speaker. This semester we heard Reverend Thulie Beresford, Dr. Edwin Sabuhoro, and Dr. Richard Blob. Each one shared their lives’ professional and personal journeys along with how they continued to grow their faith. We look forward to next semester speakers!
As classes concluded at Clemson and the weather outside grew cold and gray, LCM students gathered at University Lutheran for holiday cheer. At the LCM Christmas party we shared snacks and made “stockings” to be filled at the congregation Christmas party. We also exchanged white elephant gifts and played musical chairs, crowning a new winner for the year. To wrap up the evening we made surgical caps as a service project while watching The Grinch. We all enjoyed the chance to unwind after a stressful week and to enjoy fellowship with each other while celebrating Christmas.