Dear Bob, here are some photos of my life here on the campus of Concordia Seminary. I love kids, working with the grounds crew, swimming, playing with my dog friends, and especially my own family people.
The past two days have been busy with out of the ordinary stuff. Thursday night was the seminary's annual St. Baldrick's head shaving event to benefit research into childhood cancer. Dale has done this each year and this time a 12 year old boy with inoperable brain cancer helped shave his hair. But first Ferdie got into the act.
Yesterday I took two women who are visiting the campus up to the roof of Luther Tower. Julie is here to be a mentor in resident this week to the campus women and Gabriele from Brazil is spending part of her summer break with her fiance who is a student here.
The issue with having real trees in the house during the Christmas season means having to get rid of them in January. Many local cities have tree drop off places where they are recycled into mulch. Here on the campus we now do our own tree chipping and mulching but there was a time when the Christmas trees were picked up by our grounds staff and trucked over to the city of St. Louis' drop off spot in Forest Park. Here's a picture from 2012 when Ferdie and I got in the truck and went along to help with the drop off. This was a crazy day. Aaron was in the back, Gayle was driving with Ferdie and I squeezed into the front.
This is really impressive. Pappy's Smokehouse in Soulard, probably the most well known and loved place for ribs in St. Louis, was just honored by the Food Network as the number 1 BBQ in America. No small thing coming from the Food Network. The program counting down the top five will be rerun on Saturday January 23 at 5:30 pm on the Food Network.
As an aside to this story, our students who work part time on grounds here at the seminary have for several years been bringing Pappy's wood from trees which have been taken down. They split the wood, let it season a bit and then truck it over to Pappy's. Cherry wood is the most appreciated and Pappy then feeds all the guys. It's a win win.
On January 5 two years ago this is what we faced. I remember this so well, how cold and windy it was and snow falling all day long.
While walking through the campus in the afternoon to see how things looked we came across some students who were heading off to sled and they asked if we had another sled they could borrow. We did and we certainly weren't going to use it.
The seminary has so many people from all over the country who care about our students and are extremely generous. But this generosity kicks into high gear at this time of year. Our students aren't well off financially, they have seminary tuition/living expenses in addition to whatever undergraduate debt they arrive with. Many have little kids and babies to provide for as well. So what we've experienced this year has been so gratifying and wondrous.
On Monday Dale and I walked into one of the campus buildings and came across a room filled with wrapped presents. These gifts were all tagged with the names of students, their spouses and children if they had them. Each year scores of Lutheran churches from around the country participate in buying gifts, wrapping them, and sending them here.
Yesterday I went through the hallway in the basement of the dining hall and saw boxes and boxes of fruit which was brought by a man who volunteers throughout the year. So much fruit, everyone will be able to have as much as they want.
One of our former students wrote, "We were always overwhelmed with the amazing generosity of people. I hope to pay it forward one day soon and have our church be a donor church. That first Christmas you always feel so strange because you don't have a cent to your name, but as usual God takes care of every little detail."
Someone else wrote: " I was so amazed at how thoughtfully they are and they go above and beyond."
Others graduate and remember these gifts as such a blessing that they encourage their new congregations to be a part of this.
Generosity accepted, generosity returned. This is why I love the seminary so.