I welcomed in the New Year of 2011 unsure about what laid in store for me while ringing my beloved Bulldogs on to a sounding triumph over the Wolverines in the 2011 Gator Bowl. After leaving Mississippi State University to intern at The Whitestone Country Inn, I felt like Bon Jovi just living on a prayer. I am, or should I say, was a Biomedical Engineer Major, but I have spent the past two semesters at college studying International Business with an emphasis in Mandarin Chinese. It was the search for direction that led me to make this decision, which Ralph Waldo Emerson so brilliantly put into words: Do not follow where the path may lead. Go, instead, where there is no path and leave a trail.
I can still see my sweet momma’ in my rearview, standing on the porch waving goodbye and holding the tears back just long enough for me to get out of the driveway. I tried not to think about her as I rolled out of Mississippi into Alabama and then on in to Tennessee. The six-hour drive gave me too much time to think about what I was leaving behind: a well mapped out plan for my future, a great pal and weight-lifting partner in Nate who was my roommate at the Garden Homes of Highland Plantation in Starkville, Mississippi, a tremendous boss, Mike, who eventually became a great friend and mentor while I worked for him on his construction site, my invaluable friends, especially Tay and Ferrell, but besides all of that, I just loved being a Mississippi State Bulldog. Then I began to think about my family back home in Corinth, Mississippi, and like the Mighty Mississippi, homesickness rushed in sinking my anticipation for my new journey. I remained hopeful though. I knew this journey I was embarking on promised a priceless experience, but the idea of not being with my family disheartened me. Little did I know though, the Whitestone family would quickly become my home away from home.
Stepping through the door of the Farmhouse, I did not know what to expect. I walked passed the cozy, rustic fireplace into the office to find Paul and Gabe conversing about what sounded like employee schedules. Paul greeted me with a jolly, “Hello.” Over breakfast Paul talked to me about what he expected from me, and then he asked me what I expected to learn from this internship. “To serve, I want to learn how to serve.” I did not have anything brilliant to say, so I said what I was feeling in my heart. Paul smiled. He then said, “Welcome to the Whitestone family.”
So now here I am, blogging about my new journey as an intern at Whitestone. How exciting it is, because I never know what to expect when I wake up in the Attic of the Lion in the Lab. Every day is an adventure. Just yesterday Gabe taught me how to handle a John Deere. The day before that Wendy was giving me pointers on marketing. Today Kevin has been helping me with editing video footage of the Christian Hospitality Getaway to Turkey, and just earlier, I had to the privilege of learning another one of Paul’s life lessons, which are priceless. I could not ask for better people to learn from or for a better environment to learn in. Waking up in the morning to the sunrise over the Watts Bar Lake is like a breath of fresh air. I love being here, and I cannot wait to experience what tomorrow holds for me here at Whitestone. I’ll keep you posted. aaron robert