By Doug Hartline
About a month before I turned twenty-three I left home for the first time and moved twelve hours from home to Lafayette to begin graduate school. Though this is not typical for a person of my age, growing up in a family where my parents only ever lived 2 hours from home, to say this was an adjustment is an understatement. I lived in a small two room apartment roughly two and a half miles from campus. I moved out without a car, sparse amounts of belongings, and just under $5,000 to my name. I didn’t know anyone in town but I knew that this was going to be a great experience for me.
About a week after I moved out here I got a text message from a girl named Talia whom I had met a few days before while working our way through a practice recitation guide. The message read simply, “You seemed nice we are going to Sargent Preston’s tonight do you want to come?” Not knowing many people in town or what to expect I sent back just “Yes, but I will need a ride,” to which the response was, “Someone will come get you when it is time.” As promised about 7 pm my phone rang. It was another stranger who said her name was Olivia and she was outside my apartment to take me to Sargent Preston’s. Around our table sat six including myself; they were Mark, Ashlin, Olivia, Talia, and Colby – none of whom I had known prior to that night aside from their faces (with the exception of Talia). Our time was a spirited one with lots of discussion of all topics from home life to research. As the night drew to a close and we drank our last sips of beer and paid our tabs I felt a small smile cross my face. I said goodnight closing with “tonight I met my Purdue Family” a comment which was met with laughter but somehow I still knew was true.
So what happened to my Purdue family? Mark and Ashlin started dating and left the group soon after. I see them from time to time and know that they are happy. Colby would go on to join the same lab as me, and despite a rough start we would become very close. Through conversations with Colby about our faith I was encouraged to seek a deeper relationship with God. Olivia, who is present for most of our adventures, helped me find the apartment that I am living in now and even came along to help with the purchase of my first car. Talia also went on to join my lab. She commonly would give me a ride home if it was raining or I missed my bus before I had a car. Talia was also known for her words of encouragement and attending nearly all of our adventures as well.
Since those early days the family has gotten a little bigger, we still joke around, fight, make-up, and love each other. My father always said when we were growing up “family is the most important thing” and I think that this is true. Family is a bond that goes well beyond blood and circumstance and is not limited by our shared DNA but rather by the sharing of hearts and lives and caring for one another.
Read Pastor Tracey's sermon, "Hearts and Minds That Come Together," here.