Reflections on Rio

Serving others is a great opportunity to show the love of Christ. | PC: Angie Onyangore

Serving others is a great opportunity to show the love of Christ. | PC: Angie Onyangore

After a long 24-plus hour car ride we finally made it to the beautiful campus of Rio Lindo Adventist Academy.  

Pulling up next to the girl’s dorm, the nerves started kicking in. The reality of serving as a dean started to become real. When I arrived a couple girls were sitting at the front door. They immediately asked what they should call me. I panicked!

When I arrived to my room I noticed a welcome sign that said “Welcome Dean Onyangore.” I assured them they could call me Dean Onyangore, but as more students arrived and struggled to pronounce my last name, Dean Onyangore quickly became Dean O.

As girls started to arrive and settle in on registration day, I realized how terrible I am at learning names.

The girls would hang out with me while I was working or come to me with questions and I was still having trouble remembering their names. They would ask, “What’s my name Dean O? You promised you would remember it.”

I need to stop making promises I can’t keep.

What’s even worse is that though I eventually got staff names down (first names of course) the students would refer to them by last names and I would wonder, "Who is that? Yikes." I’m now proud to say after some intense memorization, I finally have all their names down.

There’s a lot more to being a dean than most people think. A lot goes on behind the scenes of a strong dorm program I never would have imagined. Being in this position makes me appreciate all the hard work my deans put in at academies and college.

As a task force dean, I usually work early mornings. I’m not a morning person. However, being embraced by good morning hugs, quick prayers and smiles in the morning makes everything worthwhile, even when I have to remind girls multiple times to change clothes (oh the good ol’ academy days). I’m also the dean who gets to decipher whether a girl is actually sick and should be put on sick list or whether they just want to sleep in. Good times I tell ya!

Getting to meet these girls has been such an experience! Each of them are unique and contribute a different spunk to the dorm.

Also, each girl has their own story. You wouldn’t believe some stories girls have told me about their lives, whether it be a tough upbringing or crazy talents.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from being a dean it’s that there isn’t one specific way to handle a situation. What works for one student may not work for the other. Sometimes you have to take a different approach and figure out what works best for students to thrive.  

These girls have stolen a huge chunk of my heart, with all the giggles we share and memories we create. Whether it’s jamming out to tunes on long car rides, cooking together, watching sports, camping and getting sick, playing basketball or worshiping, I’m blessed by this opportunity God opened up for me and wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Thank you Jesus!

Angie is an task force volunteer serving at Rio Lindo Academy in California.