How I Spent My Summer — “Vacation With A Purpose”

Nan Rinella and Dave Powell, great-grandson of DL Moody

I went back to college. Not to the University of Colorado or UCLA, like in the sixties, or even to West Texas A&M in the nineties to study for a second career. This was back on campus for a vacation of sorts, if you call a ten-day sabbatical working at giving an abandoned campus a facelift in preparation for its rebirth, a vacation?

It was a sweaty but satisfying endeavor. Five years have passed since the former school vacated. Plaster has cracked; wallpaper peeled, pipes burst, dirt amassed, and cobweb invaded. Graffiti screamed from the walls of the basements, books cried for attention, and cabinets and closets begged to be emptied. Into this chaos marched the volunteers. But first there were dorms to be cleaned, beds to be made, bathrooms to be scrubbed, and food to be prepared.

Reminiscent of the “Vacation With A Purpose” that resurrected The Kilns, volunteers came from all over in order to roll up their sleeves to clean, organize, categorize books, diagram floor plans, and other elbow-greasing chores to beautify the buildings on this magnificent campus. These pilgrims were joined by a battalion of locals, who are so delighted with the new future of their beloved campus they enlisted in the grand effort, and in no small way.

I arrived for the wrap-up third week of “VWAP.” We shared the days with a bevy of praying college kids with Campus America there at Northfield for their summer gathering. These exceptional young people are answering a call for a connected, unbroken Year of Prayer in 2010 on every college and university in the U.S. Learn about them at We joined them in worship, prayer and lessons, heeding the call to pray that our country will not become a kingdom of darkness from Dr. Vishal Mangalwadi, described by Christianity Today as “India’s foremost Christian Intellectual.” He is an international lecturer, social reformer, author, and dear friend of foundation president Stan Mattson. We also heard the whole miraculous story of the C.S. Lewis College being led to the Northfield campus, and the years of prayer for the college grounds by the local residents—how the mosaic plan of God came together.

Noel Paul Stookey and Stan Mattson

Fellowship with these devoted and enthusiastic kids was inspiring and encouraging. We enjoyed delicious meals with them served by a cheerful crew and prepared by a lovely young chef with a heart for healthy food. Have you ever tasted “massaged kale?” Rubbed in vinegar, this relative of cabbage is yummy. The young people joined us in the afternoon to paint and clean. Especially fulfilling was the sunset worship times on “Round Top” where lies the graves of D.L. Moody and his wife.

The time was not all work and no play, and as with every CSLF event, there was exceptional entertainment and Bag End open-mike performances, sharing, and readings, and a fun time of CSL “trivial pursuit” via an Iphone app. Friday evening concluded the three-week VWAP with a concert by Noel Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul, & Mary fame. He and Dr. Mattson sang a duet. If you missed this performance, you’ve another opportunity.

Noel Paul Stookey at the C.S. Lewis College Concert

Noel will be singing at the Camp Allen Southwest Regional Retreat Oct. 29-31. Imagine Bag End with Noel & Malcolm Guite of the Cambridge rock band, Mystery Train. Malcom and Louis Marcos will reflect on Lewis’s The Weight of Glory, joined by Randy Alcorn, author of Heaven, and our distinguished faculty. Check out the retreat and writers workshop info here!

Nan Rinella

Conference Coordinator Southwest Regional Retreat & Writers Workshop