Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Northwestern College – revisited. (Dewitt Learning Commons)

On our road trip to Chicago for Pre-departure Orientation (PDO), we spent a weekend in Orange City, IA – home of Northwestern College, our alma mater. I lived there for five years, and Kameron for three. It is the town where we got married. Where we grew up. Where had the best & worst of times. Where we questioned & strengthened our faith. Where we learned the importance of getting uncomfortable for the glory of God. Where we lived in community for better or worse. Where we began to strive for something new.

It was great to be back.

We hadn’t been there for about 2.5 years, since our road trip to New Jersey back in summer 2012, right after our graduation. & you wouldn’t think much has changed in that small amount of time… but you’d be surprised!

We only spent an hour on campus giving ourselves a self-guided tour, but it was enough time to learn that it was a completely different place than when we had lived there only a few years before.

There was one new building. One dorm completely vanished. Another completely redesigned for another purpose. The cafeteria was remodeled. The student work-out gym was improved beyond any comparison. Plans were displayed for a new sports complex.

For most of my years at NWC, there was talk, preparations, & a lot of “hype” for the Dewitt Learning Commons. It would take the place of the library, tutor center, learning center, and some classrooms. It would have a coffee shop, plenty of study spaces, and be aesthetically pleasing. By the time we graduated, the Learning Commons was nothing but a big bit in the middle of campus.

*insert any Middle Earth/Mordor/Ork birthplace joke here*

But, oh my! What a building it is. Makes me a bit jealous that I am not a student using the space.

On the other hand.
The Learning Commons attracts a different kind of student than I or my classmates. It is fancy. We were not. It is clean. We were not. It is shiny. We were not. It is modern. We were not. – The drab aesthetic of the Ramaker Library fit the class of 2011 (& 2012) in a way that the Learning Commons does. I think we would have had the same reaction as we did with the RSC, the student center.

But it would be fun to send our kids there one day.

& come back for reunions and time of reminiscing.

And no trip back to NWC would be complete without a picture in front of Fern Fountain.

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Old Factory Coffee Shop – Orange City, IA

While in Orange City last weekend, we only spent one hour on campus. All the other hours were basically spent, where else but----

at the Old Factory Coffee Shop.

What a place.
This coffee shop was started while I was attending Northwestern. Transformed from a historic wooden shoe factory, store, and museum, this eclectic coffee shop was more of a student center than we had on campus, by far. People would walk the three blocks to the Old Factory with their book bags & stacks of text books and study all morning, then pull out a deck of cards and hang with friends and chat well into the evening.
I probably would not have passed nursing school with out the cozy atmosphere of the Old Factory encouraging me to study. I would have fallen asleep way before all those clinical reflections were typed up without the caffeinated goodness provided by the baristas who owned the building. 

At the Old Factory relationships were deepened, faith was strengthened, questions were asked, brides were showered, poems were slammed, coffee was poured over, eyes were filled with tears of joy and with tears of sorrow, and dreams were discovered.

After we graduated, the Old Factory was bought by some young alumni who were a bit older than us, and no one really knew what the place would become…

& soon it was obvious that the place only became greater. It became more of what it is supposed to be.
Coffee.
Breakfast specials.
Poetry slams.
Child art classes.
Garage band concerts.
Community discussions.
Butterbeer.
Childhood diary readings.
A building filled with people from open to close.
Because we live a whole state away, we could only peak in on the Old Factory via Instagram, Facebook, and their website. And all that social media left my mouth salivating.

It would be lying to say the Old Factory wasn’t a big factor in why we spent a whole weekend in Orange City before heading to Chicago for pre-departure orientation. We had to get in on all that goodness.

& boy did we get in on it.
Saturday we spent 6+ hours at the Old Factory drinking coffee and having many conversations with many people. We had some “appointments” with friends, or supporters, or friends who are supporters scheduled, but we also randomly met up with other people who also spent the whole day at the coffee shop. Friday night our friends played a concert in their band called Zeke the Kodiak. I even got to meet up with a fellow NWC alumnus blogger friend, Laura Jean. 
Good times.
Do any of you have a place like the Old Factory where you could spend ALL day? A place like the Old Factory that you would take a detour on your road trip to spend a whole day sitting? Please share your stories in the comments.


Friday, February 13, 2015

Coffee Tasting in PDO

While in PDO this week we had a fancy coffee tasting event. A couple that are going to be missionaries in the Philippines are also really into coffee. They may even open a coffee shop while doing ministry there. To help connect with their supporters they set up these coffee tastings so their supporters get a sense of their expertise. These missionaries set up a coffee tasting for use too!
They had a unique process of getting the coffee ready for us to try. They had six different kinds of coffee beans. Ground the beans with a hand-cranked coffee grinder. Weighed out the correct amount of coffee grounds. In a french press, they added a splash of boiling water and let it sit for a few minutes, then filled the french press with more boiling water; and at the right time plunged the french press. Then we sampled. It was all a really scientific event!

We sampled all the six different brewed coffees, described the flavors we tasted, rated them on a scale of 1-10, and guessed which coffee brands/types went with each brew. I did not do very well on identifying the correct types of coffee, but at times I had some interesting descriptions to the flavors I tasted.
Unfortunately Kameron was sick this night, so he did not get to taste the coffee with me. This would have been his cup of tea (-er I mean coffee). He's the one that got me into liking coffee in the first place.

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