After eating breakfast and loading the van of all our over-night necessities (I won’t judge, most of it is mine), we headed on over to my dad’s old school, Oral Roberts University, where I found out for the first time in nineteen years that the eagle sticker we’ve been using to seal the crack in my (family inherited) leather ottoman is, in fact, the ORU mascot.
For some reason I thought he was the eagle who taught us how to “STOP, LOOK, AND LISTEN” in kindergarten.
Anyway, my dad sent us on a mission to bring him back souvenirs from their bookstore, and we were not to return without accomplishing this task.
ORU is huge. I guess it makes sense for me to be floored, considering I’ve only been on the campus of a community college. But that community college had a great big murky lake in the middle, so I thought that was pretty big.
We didn’t even try to find the bookstore by ourselves. A poor guy sitting in an information box in the middle of the parking lot pulled out a paper map and highlighted the way for us in bright yellow marker.
We parked as close as we could then walked the rest of the way. It. Was. Cold. Not biting cold, like Texas had been, but blowing-through-your-bones cold. I wrapped a scarf around my neck and my hair was whipping around in my face.
I was shocked to see girls wearing little wispy dresses. Even a professor in a skirt, with no leggings for warmth. I knew I had to suck it up from then onward.
We found the bookstore easily, got my dad a few things, then browsed idly. I tried to imagine what it would be like for me if I went to this college. I’d probably never step foot in the bookstore unless I was buying scantrons, like in community college. But this time I looked through the books and checked out the prices of Combos and Starbucks coffee.
I guess that’s how I research if a college is truly right for me. I just have to ask how expensive their bookstore junk food is.
I need to rethink my future.
After the bookstore, we were back to freezing outdoors and staring up at this crazy looking building called the “Prayer Tower” that my mom wanted to check out.
It was cool for all of us, walking onto this campus my dad had walked so many years ago. Probably even cooler for my mother, who’s no doubt heard more stories about it than all of us and was now able to put images to the stories. The architecture of this place is amazing.
I was excited to get to the top of this thing. As if it wasn’t cool enough, there was a porch flaming at the very top. We stopped at our reflection for a quick pic.
Then we circled what we thought was the base and couldn’t find the entrance. We asked two guys, one with a Jamaican accent and one with a Southern accent, where the entrance was, and they totally pointed in opposite directions like they were tweedle-dee and tweedle-dumb — except they were serious. They eventually collaborated and showed us the way, where we hopped down some trippy (in both terms) diagonal stairs, to the real base of the prayer tower, sent my little brother to tug the door, and found we were formally locked out.
The prayer tower doesn’t open until twelve, I think. And we had to be on the road way before then. I’m stubborn like this, so I stepped forward and gave the door a few tugs of my own. Just to be sure.
That’s when I saw a guy stand from the desk and come towards us. I told my family to wait. He opened the door without any hesitation and let us in even though it was before the hours that were printed on the door. We were happy.
He spoke gently and had my mom exchange her drivers license for a lanyard, told us about upstairs, which was a place more for individual prayer, and asked if we’d seen the lower area, meant for group prayer. We said we’d never been there before, so he promised to show us around when we got back. Then up we went.
It’s hard to see myself at a college, but if I did go to this college, I’d be up there almost every day. There’s soft music playing, verses on the walls, and individual rooms with small prayer alters (I feel like this is the wrong word but don’t know what else to call it) with knee padding. There was also a sign in the elevator that said to keep the place quiet and cell phones off, since obviously, that’s not what people are there for. That’s when I understood that guy’s soft spoken manner when we first entered and felt embarrassed about the stupid “make it so, Number One,” comment I spouted before the elevators closed and we shot up there.
Thank goodness God forgives me. .
We came back down and he showed us the darkly lit lower room that reminds me of missionary week at my church, with the different flags and maps and colors. He said that at a certain time in the evening, this room would be packed with students, all praying. We walked to the front where there was a keyboard and mics set up. He said that at different hours different worship teams will lead.
I stared at the keyboard and the mic in front of it, picturing myself playing there. I would so be a part of it if I went to that school.
As you can tell, I was totally enthralled by the Prayer Tower. If you’ve never been, check it out. Just be quiet about it. Blabbing about your life to a friend is rude when you’re there to talk to Jesus.
We actually ended up talking longer outside with that guy who let us in. He was really cool. He told us how he’s graduating that year, studied in graphic design and advertising (I should’ve asked what he wanted to advertise), and — here’s the kicker — his name is John. My dad’s name is John. So. Because we were on a mission for John, we met John.
And don’t you say, Rebekah, John’s a REALLY common name, calm down. Because you’re not allowed to burst my bubble.
He even asked to follow the blog. So he might be reading this right now. So, hi there.
After the University, we drove to the Cherokee Nation in Tahlequah to try to find out more about my great grandparents, but sadly with no luck. Then our GPS freaked out and gave up, leaving us stranded. Using directions we jotted down from one of the computers at the Cherokee Nation office, combined with things the Cherokee Nation security guard told us on how to get back to the main road, combined with the remains of our directions that were frozen on my mom’s cell phone screen. . . we got ourselves lost. Then found. Then past our exit. Then lost. Then found and somehow, we’re here, now in Missouri, safe and sound at the hotel, with a WHOLE lot of plans for tomorrow.
And I am tired.
But oh! I forgot about yet ANOTHER run in we’ve had with the police. (Okay, not “another.” Yesterday, it wasn’t our fault.)
We got pulled over.
And like anytime that you get pulled over, your mind immediately flies through all the no-no’s you’ve done that day and tries to pin-point which of the biggest no-no’s you could possibly be getting pulled over for.
Earlier in the day, we paid a toll road then moved on. Then I started over thinking how many nickels I really gave to my mom to toss in. We joked that we couldn’t possibly be pulled over for owing a nickel to the toll road thing. Right??? I had laughed, “well if we get pulled over, just thrust the nickel at him and apologize.”
Then my mind flashed back to the present.
I’m sure my eyes were wide and I sat straight up in my seat when he walked over to my side of the car, and my mom rolled the window down.
He said we were swerving around in our lane a little bit, and since we were out of town, he wanted to make sure we weren’t falling asleep at the wheel. He then asked my mom to come sit in his car a bit so he could further explain the stop.
My mind spun. Stop? What stop?? We’re on the freeway!
. . Is it about the nickel?
My mom cautiously got out and followed him. The whole thing scared me, but I loved my mom when I saw her hesitantly pointing and asked if she was supposed to sit in the front or the back of the SUV. Then she got in the front.
I kept her in my sights in the side mirror and texted my dad what happened. Soon I saw her laughing and chatting it up and tried to calm down with the logic that we can’t be in too much trouble if she was laughing.
I was in the middle of another text when my mom jogged up to my open window and made me jump when she exclaimed, “hey Rebekah, wanna take a picture of me with the police car?!”
She said I looked at her blankly for a few seconds before finally responding with a big laugh and grabbing my camera.
I guess the “stop” he was referring to was why he “stopped” us. And the talk was about being careful not to fall asleep at the wheel, which my mom explained she wasn’t, she was just looking around at the countryside.
The whole ordeal officially freaked us out, though, and we breathed a consecutive sigh of relief as the three of us drove away again.
Never a dull moment on our trip that’s for sure.