Monday, September 6, 2010

When Camera Crews Swarm

I have to admit, after last week, I've become rather wary of my doorbell... mainly because I never really know what I'll be opening my door up to… This morning I was awakened by the buzzing of my doorbell for the third time since moving into my apartment a month ago…

I immediately check my cell phone to see what ungodly hour of the morning it might be. Rather than the time, my cell phone displays a notification that I have a new text message. I open and read, “hey katrina its becca! since school is closed today want me to just go to your room and give you the phone?”

Ah yes, the emergency duty phone. I work with college students, specifically in Residence Life, which means I live among students and am often on call to respond to anything and everything. Becca’s text came as somewhat of a surprise because I didn’t realize I was scheduled to hold the phone for the day (and actually, I learned later on - I wasn’t.)

Gaining consciousness, I roll out of bed and go to answer my door. I expect to see Becca with the phone, but rather it is Liz, one of my other stellar student leaders (who just so happens to be dating a guy named Gia Paul pronounced John Paul who at one time played for the LA Clippers, and now occasionally leads the team devotional and prayer time for the New York Giants.) Liz is holding out a Starbucks travel mug and speaks only two words, “Fruit smoothie?”

“Are you serious?” I reply.
“Yeah, I was just making smoothies in my apartment and I thought you might like some.”

I smile and accept the Starbucks mug, “Thank you!” I take a sip of the delicious morning treat. “Funny, I was expecting to see Becca with the phone – this is way better than the duty phone.”

So that was this morning, at a rather reasonable hour – 9:30. However, last week the wake up “calls” came at a much earlier hour of the day.

Thursday morning my doorbell awakens me from my deep slumber - my cell phone tells me that it is 6:45, and my body tells me to stay in bed and ignore the door. But I can’t, so I crawl out of bed and when I answer the door I find two peppy girls (obviously morning people) dressed in work-out clothes. One of them enthusiastically inquires, “Hey! Want to go running with us?!”

“Actually, I think I’m going to sleep some more, but thanks for the offer.”

“Okay, have a great a day.” And they are off, and I shut the door, head back to my bedroom, and slide under my covers to get some more shut eye.

The very next day my doorbell buzzes at almost exactly the same time, and once again, my body fights, not wanting to get out of bed. But this time my mind quickly sides with my body as flashbacks of a recent conversation with a student surfaces. I recall the words, “Oh, you live right down the hall from us. That’s awesome. That means we can mess with you and play pranks on you.” I reason, that it is probably the same girls going out for a run, sending me a little “love” on their way.

I almost determine that I’ll ignore the doorbell and continue on with my sleep, but something inside won’t let me. And so I get up, answer the door, and a girl who I had not yet met, is standing there in tears. She explains, “I’m so sorry to bother you. But I didn’t know where else to go. The cops just showed up at our apartment, and evidently a girl fell out the window from the 25th floor and landed right outside of our window, and I just can’t be in our apartment right now.”

“Oh sweetie,” I hug the girl. “Please do come in.” I do my best to console her, as the question races in my mind, is it one of my girls whose body is lying on the rooftop of the second floor?

Our university leases a select number of apartments from large apartment building, and so only a small percentage of the tenants are my students. I call the front desk inquiring if they know whether or not it is one of my students who fell. They inform me that they don’t know, but for some reason right after that call I am prompted to open my apartment door. I see a policeman walking down our hall and he is able to confirm for me that it isn’t one my students. Although still a horrific and tragic situation, I am slightly relieved to learn that it isn’t one of my girls.

Moments later the other two roommates from the same apartment join me in mine. They further explain that cops and investigators are utilizing their apartment to access the rooftop area where the girl landed to her death. I spent the morning with the girls – just being there for them and providing a safe place for them away from the chaotic activity occurring in and right outside of their apartment.

On their way out, one of the girls thanked me and insisted, “You are a Godsend.” Her words stuck with me, because it’s only the second time in my life that someone has said those words to me. The other time was in July, when I was in New York for my interview. It was in our final wrap up conversation of the day, that my now colleague Stacey said, “Our team is really excited about you. We have no reservations and we would like to move forward in offering you the position. You are a Godsend.”

The more I ponder that phrase, the more I realize how true it is. And that’s not to sound arrogant or conceited, but rather it is the reality that God has sent me here – to New York City, to The King’s College, and as one of my colleagues Ms. Hamilton recently prayer over me, “For such a time as this.” (See Bible, book of Esther).

Camera crews swarmed our apartment building all day, and by noon I had learned that it was a 17 year old girl – daughter of the US ambassador to Thailand – who had fallen to her death. She had simply had too much to drink and fell out of a window. She was about to start college, had the world ahead of her… only for her life to end tragically and prematurely. I can’t help but wonder if this girl’s story might have been different if I would have had the opportunity to interact with her, and perhaps inspire her to a better way of life, that would have stirred within her the desire to make better choices, and to perhaps embrace the greater life and story that God intended for her to live.

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