Part 2: The First Meeting

I was about a week or so into my internship. While school didn’t start until later that month, I had begun to get to know the staff and my three fellow interns with this new Chi Alpha group. I had initially met my fellow interns earlier that summer at a training session in Springfield, Missouri – Nikki Blanks, Logan Staggs, and Dan Morrison. We seemed to get along well and I was excited to work with them.

Me and my fellow interns. From left: Nikki Blanks, Josh Manning, Logan Staggs, Dan Morrison.

Within the first couple days we had an orientation of sorts with the Chi Alpha staff. We reviewed several of the rules and expectations: always be on time, do all your assignments, don’t feed the mogwai after midnight, and, of special emphasis, never, ever, under any circumstances date any of the students now or forever.

Easy.

During the next couple of weeks, we interns began to get to know some of the other long-term staff and also a few of the students who lived in the area. There was Eric, who most of us already knew. He was the senior missionary on campus. Most of us had heard him speak at various conferences. He was the boss and the guy who set the direction for the rest of us. Also, there was Charles who would be primarily teaching our intern classes and, along with Zeke, mentored most of the male student leaders in the ministry. Amanda and April were the staff who primarily mentored the females student leaders. Amanda would also be teaching some intern classes, and April additionally ran the ancillary coffee shop that was run out of the ministry center. We also had a guy named E.L. Fridge, who was the “administrator” and was awesome.

Being from in-state, I actually had already knew a few of these guys from previous in-state events. Zeke and E.L. weren’t that much older than me and were relatively new to the staff. They had been students at U.L. while I was at Nicholls. In fact, Zeke was only a year ahead of me and had just completed his internship the previous year. It was his first year on staff. I also knew April, who ran the coffee shop, from her time in Thibodaux a couple years before and considered her a good friend. While she wasn’t a student at Nicholls, she came into our Chi Alpha orbit by her attendance at Thibodaux First Assembly and had eventually come to a few events.

I loved all of the staff and fellow interns with UL Chi Alpha, but the most important one of them for this story is Zeke. Zeke and I ended up being suite-mates. See, Chi Alpha owned its own dormitory with about 8 rooms that it rented out to students and staff members. While Dan and I shared the same dorm room, Zeke was in the adjacent room and shared our bathroom. Those first few weeks we learned a lot about Zeke and his apparently huge family. Zeke had one of the more interesting last names I had come across: D’Avy. Even among all the unique last names in Louisiana, this was one I hadn’t heard before and it struck me as unusual. Zeke told tons of stories about his siblings Dustin, Jacob, Kelly, Molly, and Sally, three of which would be on campus this next year as students and were involved with the ministry in some form.

A couple days before classes started, the students began to return to campus. We interns were told by Zeke that some of these returning students were going to the rec center to play volleyball, and that we should join them. We all loaded into a car and headed over to the rec center for the first of what would be many times.

At the rec center we divided teams. I did my best to both try and talk up with some of the students on my team and do an awesome job of not letting the ball hit the floor, both with mixed results. The fact that I hadn’t brought any athletic shoes with me to Lafayette and only had hiking boots probably didn’t help with either cause. However, thankfully I had lots of natural athletic ability and an astute ability to hold a conversation, so no problems on either account.

Volleyballing: same shoes, different day!

After the game was done, we began walking back to our vehicles to head back to the dormitory for the evening. While walking to the parking lot, I fatefully heard someone call to one of the players on the opposite team.

“Hey Molly D’Avy!”

This caught my attention.

I turned my head and saw her walking only a few steps behind me.

“Oh, Molly D’Avy, as in Zeke’s sister?” I asked.

“Yes,” I got with something of a resentful eye roll.

“Well, hi, I’m Josh.”

A nod as she continued on her walk.

Easy indeed.

Cont….

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