I met with Chaplain Jon Weiser in Barnes & Noble on Monday afternoon of my visit to Texas A&M, enjoying a caffeine kick in the form of a grande coffee from the bookstore’s Starbucks. Jon and I started off by catching up on life, as I do with all of my one-on-ones with officers. We had the privilege of spending two weeks together this summer during the COR Leadership Retreat, so there was a lot to catch up on. So much, in fact, that I realized there was only five minutes left in our meeting before I thought to start addressing the intricacies of his job as chaplain.
In a lot of ways, that is how the whole trip went. One of my favorite aspects of my job is that it is hugely relational. I have friendships with brothers all over the country that I would not have if it weren’t for this job. There is nowhere that makes this blessing more evident than at the Texas A&M Chapter.
On top of the generally strong, transparent friendships with the members, I have also had the advantage of getting to know two brothers more closely through COR, and will get to work with two other brothers when they join the staff in December. Consequently, I had more fun in Aggieland than any non-Aggie should ever have. And it was a business trip.
After an afternoon of one-on-ones with the officers, I joined the brothers for chapter meeting in All Faiths Chapel for election night. Before chapter, a brother showed me a picture of my Aggie doppelganger, who he spotted at an A&M football game. I was confused by how closely we resembled each other. I also made an appearance in their Star Wars-themed announcement slides, wielding a lightsaber.
While the votes were tallied up, I had the privilege of again addressing the brothers of the Gamma Chapter, which numbers about 210 men including pledges. It was a stark difference from speaking to the 35 brothers at UNT the week before.
After a few run-offs and a couple extra worship songs, President Tyler Owens announced the 2014 officer team. The timing of my visit was quite opportune because I was able to spend time with the newly-elected officers and build rapport with them prior to National Officer Training.
For the last few years, I have wondered how we would replace the previous officer teams at the Gamma Chapter, and then the next group picks up where the previous left off. The Gamma Chapter replicates leadership with relative ease, and I’m sure this time around will be no different.
Like any good Texan college students looking for food late at night, the officers decided we should grab a bite and hangout at Whataburger. We shared some laughs and chatted a little bit about what to expect at National Officer Training. I really enjoyed getting to know the new guys. We set some appointments for the next day, where I got to see the drive these men have to continue growing their already strong chapter and the humility with which they approach these new roles.
I met with the entire 2013 officer team at Lupe Tortilla after a day of one-on-ones Tuesday evening. Some of the officers opted to just pay for tortillas and downed enough complimentary chips and queso to force the restaurant to reconsider their happy hour policies. It was a beautiful display of gluttony.
After repenting for the damage we had done to our bodies, Tyler and I got a chance to catch up a little more and chat about his new responsibilities as a national advisor. Tyler will join the staff in December and serve nine chapters in the spring before starting law school in the fall. I’m excited to see the impact he and Pledge Captain Jayson Fisher have on their chapters once they get rolling on staff.
Before closing the book on my trip, Tyler and I joined some brothers at Breakaway. Breakaway is a huge college ministry held every Tuesday in the university’s basketball arena. I was simultaneously kicked between the legs and restored by Ben Stuart’s teaching on Exodus and loved the worship music, led by the Jeff Johnson Band.
Each of my seven trips to the Gamma Chapter seems to have gotten progressively better. The brothers always warmly welcome me, and the officers come hungry to learn and invest in me in our meetings. I’m continually blessed by the time I get with the brothers at the Gamma Chapter.