Nick Holovaty: Praise God! Our last sharing comes from Jen Torma. Jen was one of the first members of the Dinkytown campus division, and now she’s the women’s leader there.
Jen Torma: I’m going to try to summarize my life in three minutes or less! I spent my childhood in the Muncie branch and have a lot of memories there. Every Monday night my family would have three single brothers and sisters over. That was just a part of the culture of our family. We would celebrate Lord’s Days together with other families, and we’d vacation in northern Michigan with Pete and Beth Walters and their family, and so I had a really rich childhood.
I’m the oldest of five, and when I was in eighth grade my family moved to South Bend. I went to Trinity and then went on to study chemistry at Saint Mary’s College. It was during college that I decided to join the People of Praise. I tried out college life for about a semester and just realized that I could be a good Christian girl by myself, but there had to be more. I saw the more in our life together in the People of Praise, so I wanted to join that.
So, when I was in college, the big question for me was, “What do I do after college?” I was thinking, basically, of being a doctor or a nurse. At that time Medicare had put a pretty significant cap on spending for physical therapy, so jobs were scarce. My line of thinking was, Well, I know there will always be doctors and there will always be nurses, so I’m going to choose one of those. I’m interested in both.
So the summer before my senior year of college I did some research for a foot and ankle surgeon in the Indianapolis branch, Dave Porter. One day during that summer, I got to shadow Genevieve DeCelles, now Genevieve Barrett. She’s a physical therapist and she was working for his clinic. I really loved what I saw her doing, so I thought maybe I should put that onto the options list. So I headed into my senior year and I decided to apply to one physical therapy school and one medical school. What I was really hoping for was that I would get into one and not the other, so that the decision would be really easy. That’s kind of a reflection of what my relationship with the Lord was like at the time. His good, faithful daughter would do anything that he wanted, but I wanted him to tell me, send neon signs. That’s not what happened. I ended up getting into both schools the same month. As I experienced that, I was realizing that the Lord wanted to know how I wanted to build his kingdom.
So, I went ahead and pursued physical therapy school, and I did that in Indianapolis. I lived in the Indianapolis branch during most of that time, lived in household with a family there, and as I was nearing the end of physical therapy school I was again faced with decision-making time. What did I want to do?
At the time, Allendale was about two years old and Dinkytown was just getting off the ground. I visited both places, and by April of my last semester I had gotten to a point where I really thought I could be happy and useful for the Lord in either spot, so both locations had particular draws.
So three weeks before I finished physical therapy school I came back from a clinical I was doing in South Bend. I was in Indianapolis and I had gotten to town a little before the rest of my physical therapy class, so I was kind of looking at free Friday and Saturday evenings, and I really liked to do things with people on those evenings. I particularly loved the Lord’s Day, so I thought, What am I going to do this evening? So I invited two high-school-age women over and we made pizza together and celebrated the Lord’s Day together. Then, as I kept thinking and praying in the days that followed, I realized that my heart had been moved to living and working with college-age women. So I called Genevieve up and asked her where to buy a parka!
Since moving here to Minnesota, my desire to live with college-age women has been blessed a hundredfold. I’ve lived with at least 35 women, and weekly I get to celebrate the Lord’s Day with them and hear about what the Lord has been doing during the week. So currently I’m learning about French diction, public health, pediatric nursing, the Google Art Project, pottery, the WolframAlpha search engine—all these things, because of how we share life and what we’re studying in our household in the campus division.
I’ve also experienced really being able to be a part of our brothers’ and sisters’ lives who have moved on from Dinkytown. One example of this is, recently I was in Allendale for Marie Elise Barrett’s baptism, and at one point we were standing around celebrating the day and thanking the Lord for that, and as I looked around the room I saw Laura Brummer, Colleen Murray and Genevieve Barrett–all sisters I’ve lived with in Dinkytown–and Chris Vieck was there, who was a huge help in getting Dinkytown off the ground, and Ellen Reed, who is a missionary in Evansville now (she taught me calculus at Trinity), so I am just so grateful to the Lord for these relationships and for what he is doing with all of us.