“Congratulations on your acceptance to Herbert W. Armstrong College!”
It has been almost seven years since I first read those words, but the visceral and anxious feeling comes back whenever I reminisce on this experience. The decision to pursue this path meant that I would have to leave my family, university and country. Little did I know that this one decision would dramatically change my life.
I have to admit, the thought of moving terrified me a bit. I would be at headquarters for at least two years. That meant I would most likely not see my family or step foot in my country for two years, and I would never finish my degree. Two years seemed like it was going to be an eternity! But guess what: I have been here for over six years, and it feels like I have only been here for a few.
Life has become a lot more productive, abundant and exciting since arriving at headquarters and getting acquainted with the AC program. The pressure cooker environment at AC encourages the growth of the whole man, not just the intellect. One of my busiest yet most memorable days at college was when the Russian National Ballet performed at Armstrong Auditorium. The college doesn’t stop whenever there’s a concert, so we still went to classes that day, worked our regular jobs, and then worked our Armstrong International Cultural Foundation jobs. My foundation job involved preparing the food for the performers, setting up their dinner, snacks and beverages, serving their meal, and cleaning up afterwards. It was a long day, but it didn’t end there! Once I got back to the dorm, I still had some homework to finish and a quiz to study for.
Not completing university concerned me back when I was accepted to AC, but I soon realized how incomparable the AC education is. By the end of our senior year, we had thoroughly studied almost the entire Bible. This education shaped our minds and became the foundation of our lives, the basis of our decisions, and our way of life.
I had the opportunity to work in the kitchen my freshman year, in the editorial department after that, and as an excavator at the Ophel archaeological dig in Jerusalem my senior year. I was also able to watch God’s house being built, completed and dedicated. This gave me and others the chance to help out with the work parties at the auditorium and serve at the concerts. Besides these jobs, we were also involved in Philadelphia Youth Camp as counselors or sports instructors.
We were given a lot of open doors that helped us develop the skills that would be useful for our future jobs, the character and maturity needed for our future roles, and the faith to let God lead us in our lives.
Our lives changed again after graduating. Some were hired on by the Work, some got married, some moved back home, and some, like me, found jobs in the world.
I was later hired for a position managing the graphics and photos for an electronics distributor in Edmond. The experience God gave me in the student work program at college helped me get this job. I didn’t have a degree in graphic design, but the portfolio of past projects that had been published spoke for me.
The job I had with that company eventually became easier as I got used to it. I would often finish the work I had for the week by Wednesday, and this gave me the opportunity to be cross-trained as a graphic designer.
I received a job offer from the kitchen at headquarters after 14 months. The day after I got that job offer, my supervisor offered me a promotion as a graphic designer. I was once again on the verge of making a decision that could change my life.
Since working in the world, my desire to be directly involved again with the Work grew. However, I had also just spent 14 months working toward this promotion. Similar to my experience in applying for college, I didn’t think this would be a tough decision to make, but it was. A few days after that unexpected fork in the road, I decided to take the job at headquarters.
Once again, I had no qualifications for this position except for the 10 months I had worked in the kitchen my freshman year. I was familiar with how the kitchen worked but had to quickly learn what my job as an assistant chef entailed.
Working in the world was the experience I needed to help me appreciate this opportunity more. I have learned a lot about planning meals and preparing food, but the greatest lesson I have learned so far is how to work with and connect with people.
Although I was always surrounded by people at college, I often worked alone or in smaller groups. I also tended to keep to myself when I was in the dorm. However, we constantly work with people and for people in the kitchen. This is more than just a job, and as my supervisor has repeatedly emphasized to me, we are feeding God’s Family. I soon realized how much love, concern and thought is put into every meal. This was something I did not appreciate as much as I should have when I was a student.
I expected this job to be physically demanding, but it didn’t fully sink in until I saw how hard my supervisors and co-workers worked. Their example is definitely inspiring and motivating for me as a younger person to push myself to work harder. This has also helped me appreciate and admire the men and women who volunteer three weeks of their time to feed 144 campers at pyc.
We also try to make the most of what we have in the kitchen. This was something I didn’t fully appreciate until I assisted my supervisor with shopping for food. What we eat—and everything else we have on campus—can be easily taken for granted, but all of this was made possible by brethren giving their tithes and offerings.
Living close to and working at headquarters is a huge blessing! The doors God opens for us remind us of this incredible privilege. The years I have spent here have helped me understand that God is in charge. He will give us the opportunities we need, and He will always prepare us for the next decision that could change our lives.