Pumpkins and Pizza

H2O Centennial Pumpkins and Pizza

I’m going to be honest with you: I did not have a good attitude going into our H2O Centennial “Pumpkins and Pizza” event this evening. I didn’t want to go to all the trouble of hosting a group: cleaning the deck… setting up tables and chairs… setting out supplies for painting and/or carving pumpkins… stocking up on apple cider… ordering pizza… and cleaning up afterwards. Especially not on the eve of our annual Fall Retreat, which always takes a lot of energy to execute.

H2O Centennial Pumpkins and Pizza

It didn’t help when the first two voices that I heard at the appointed time were a couple of the Life Group leaders complaining about my decision to set up on the deck, outside, instead of inside the house — which, admittedly, would have provided better lighting and less smoke but also more intensive decorating precautions on the front end and more intensive clean-up on the back end. Hopefully, my grumpiness wasn’t evident to everyone else, as the rest of the group arrived, but I feel like I have to admit that I started out the evening in a rough spot, emotionally.

H2O Centennial Pumpkins and Pizza

Fortunately, everyone else seemed to be highly enthusiastic to get off-campus, eat some junk food, and exercise some creativity in their decoration of pumpkins purchased at a discount grocery store in town. My glass-is-half-empty perspective led me to believe that nobody else was going to show up, even after all the preparations I put into hosting — but the proverbial glass turned out to be more than half-full, as we had most of our regular Thursday night attenders plus some others who haven’t been around for a couple of weeks.

H2O Centennial Pumpkins and Pizza

The others even brought extra snacks and extra pumpkins to share. And they dove into their pumpkin-decorating with happy hearts.

H2O Centennial Pumpkins and Pizza

I found it hard to stay grumpy when everyone else was clearly having such a good time.

H2O Centennial Pumpkins and Pizza

We talked about how each student’s semester has been going. We consulted with each other on design choices for the pumpkins. And we even had some spirited debate about whether Helen Keller was a real person and if Michael Jackson actually died in 2009.

H2O Centennial Pumpkins and Pizza

By the end of the evening, I was really glad that we went forward with our plans for “Pumpkins and Pizza.” It just reminded me that there’s something beneficial about a change in scenery, when it comes to building community and switching up the pace of conversation.

H2O Centennial Pumpkins and Pizza

H2O’s Centennial Life Group has always been a little bit quirky: established right before the COVID-19 Pandemic altered the landscape in significant ways… home to more upperclassmen with more-established relationships in Kent… favored by people who tend to be less socially-engaged (because of the architecture of the residence halls themselves and because of the type of people for whom a more private living arrangement is preferred). Still, I feel like we gain a little more traction every year.

H2O Centennial Pumpkins and Pizza

I love the work that God has done, is doing, and will continue to do among this Life Group. I love spending time with them (even when I start out with a bad attitude). And I hope that our evening of Pumpkins and Pizza will serve as a springboard for even more opportunities to do life together and see what happens as the rest of this school year unfolds.

H2O Centennial Pumpkins and Pizza
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