Before coming to Wildwood, my social life was less vibrant. I often worked or prioritized other endeavors. God has been teaching me the value of human connections, and that He has created us to be social. While I always enjoy reading a book or spending some time alone, I have also learned that a balanced social life is needed to not only grow spiritually, but to also have optimal mental health. This means that we need people. Just like we need family, we need solid friendship groups (eventually your friends become your family too).
When asking God to lead me to the missionary school He had in mind for me, I asked Him to lead me to one that would cater to all aspects of my health, including social. Since being at Wildwood I have found that my social life has improved. From eating breakfast or lunch with fellow students and workers, to Sabbath fellowships; there are different opportunities to bond. Seeing the same people every day becomes the norm, so challenging yourself to reach out to somebody you don’t know that well yet can be a blessing. This is also called ‘inreach’, a means of ministering to one another within the Seventh-day Adventist community. What I have learned is that being social at Wildwood means finding ways to minister to others by going out of your comfort zone. This pays off every time, although it does not come naturally to me because I am more on the shy side.
Social life at Wildwood can include going for walks together or exercising. For somebody that loves nature, I frequently go on hikes with friends. Campus and nearby Signal Mountain and Lookout Mountain have many areas you can explore.
A much anticipated event for students every semester is campout. We recently traveled to the Smoky Mountains National Park, and spent a few days surrounded by beautiful scenery. We ate some great food, and got to know each other better while being away from busy missionary life. Those who really like to get in touch with nature got to enjoy a swim or bath in the river too. For some it was a leisure, for others a hygienic necessity, or both.
Wildwood’s location means it’s close to downtown Chattanooga where students travel to shop, eat, or do outreach. All of these activities bring people together. My friends and I recently discussed that relationships have a purpose. Whether it’s to evangelize or just get pizza (there are plenty of vegan options), the underlying purpose is to meet the God-given need for human contact. You do it for others and they do it for you. God has definitively been meeting that need for me here and I believe that He will do it for everybody who comes and chooses to embrace others for who they are.