Thursday, February 13, 2014

Growing and GOING: Right Before My Eyes

As I write this, I'm imagining a delirious Cooper getting off an airplane after nearly 24 hours of total travel time ~ and all without an iPod, which is definitely some sort of world record.  I woke up this morning praying that he would be energized and strengthened, not missing any detail of the incredible adventure he is on for the next week. I really could not be more more excited for him.

And Tuesday, the day he left to meet up with his Quest 15 team, I couldn't have been more proud of him. The days leading up to Tuesday were full, as usual.  We're always scrambling to get ready for our Classical Conversations days, and this week those days were full of the extra tasks required prior to making your first international trip. Cooper had to complete a long biology module, write a short screenplay for a scene out of Alice in Wonderland ~ after reading ALL of Alice in Wonderland.  He had to write an essay on the classical period of music history, complete several algebra II lessons, 8 Spanish lessons, and to top it all off, be ready to compete in a public policy debate on climate change.

Oh ~ and pack, shop for travel necessities, make copies of his passport, and have it ALL ready to go at 7am on Tuesday morning BEFORE his big day of classes.

I was doubtful about the confidence with which he kept telling me, "I've got this, Mom."

But you know what?  He did "have it."  He had it all done.  ALL. OF. IT. And he didn't miss a beat.

When I got home that day and tallied up the debate scores, I read the comments about his hands in his pockets, and his casual approach, and I realized that his judges couldn't see all that I saw ~ a young man who is maturing rapidly and right before my eyes, and who has never been as confident and diligent and responsible as right. there. before. our. eyes. Never before had I seen him so prepared ~ all notes and quotes typed on a grid for easy access, tucked purposely into opposite pockets of a specially chosen folder ~ and ALL of his own doing. Oh, I checked in on his progress throughout the week, and kept getting the same semi-irritated, "Mom, I've got this." He truly did all of his homework, and all of his research, and all of his organization all by himself and according to his own careful plan.

He also got feedback on the score sheets regarding his casual outfit which was certainly not as formal as the opposing team, it's true.  But what I saw was a formal, logical, confident, compelling argument and presentation that stayed closer to the actual resolution than the other team. That other team ended up being the winner by about a point. A coat and tie may have pushed the technical win in his favor, but in my book it was a definite win for this middle son of mine who was leaving for a journey to South Africa in less than two hours and has always had difficulty managing his time and being diligent to do excellent work.

Did I mention that he (and therefore, I) had to dissect a large perch before the debate started? Yes, that, too.

It was a very proud mama moment.

And I don't blame the judges for their discerning feedback at all.  If anything, it helped me to rejoice in my own ability to see the incredible growth and developing character in my boy.  This has not always been the case, and Cooper would be the first to confirm it, unfortunately.
Getting Cross-Examined by Noah
Oh, that I could have the mind and eyes and heart of Christ with my own children ~ careful with my words, much, much slower in my anger, and more generous with grace.

Quest is a leadership development experience for high school juniors through our regional denominational youth ministry and fearless leader ~ Allyson Clark.  It entails nearly a year of Bible study, mentorship, and training, and culminates in a mission trip to one of three locations.  Some of you know that Kory already participated in this program and traveled to a major metropolitan city located in the 10/40 window two years ago.  Well, Cooper's trip is to Durban, South Africa.

Here are photos of the three mission teams ~  and teens/chaperones in the Quest program:

Top: Dominican Republic team.  Middle: "The City" team. Bottom: South Africa team!

I just Googled "distance from Boston to Durban," and discovered this:

That's a LONG WAY.

Cooper worked on this study every night before bed as part of his Quest requirements.
No prompting from Mom and Dad.

While there, Coop will have all sorts of stretching experiences.  He will share his testimony and Bible stories in public schools, which he has been practicing throughout the year with his team.  He will visit an AIDS trust and hospice, learning about the epidemic, and ministering among those suffering. He will play basketball in an outreach to school kids, give away a pair of his own precious high-tops, and share his faith there, too. He will visit rural areas, metropolitan areas, and last, but not least swim in the Indian ocean!

Can you see Durban?  It's in the purple section, right on the coast.
Cooper and all of the Quest participants were required to earn $500 of their own trip expenses.  (Total cost: $2200) Only after that could they reach out to their churches, families, friends, and community for support.  This was THE most challenging part for Cooper ~ working hard for all that cash, and then handing it over, not spending a dime on himself.  God blessed him so abundantly, though, through the families of our church hiring him for all sorts of jobs.  He really didn't think it was possible, but the Lord showed him otherwise!

The Official Quest backpack is most definitely a badge of honor!
And here's an Instagram video that Cooper made and posted to thank those who are supporting him financially and prayerfully.  I love it!

My goodness. I've been in tears off and on all throughout the writing of this.  It is so wonderfully difficult to be a parent.  I'm not sure who is benefiting from Quest more ~ my children or me. So grateful for the experience of watching children grow and for being reminded continually that though I and they don't usually "got this," God does.

Nothing but pure grace that allows for these continual, patient, and loving reminders.


Anonymous said...

We are excited to hear news of Cooper's adventure as it progresses and know that his heart will become ever more passionate. The Lord is growing him up! Love, K&J

sweetly broken said...

Wow. That's some serious preparation and time organization represented right there. Hats off to Cooper! I rejoice with you over all God's done in growing your kiddos! I pray my children will "rise to the occasion" whenever the Lord next brings opportunity.

Andrea Nelson said...

I, too, am a CC Challenge/Foundations mom in Suwanee, GA (a suburb of Atlanta) I am very interested in the Quest program that your son attended! It sounds wonderful! Could you please direct me to the website? Thank you so very much!

Melanie said...

Hi Andrea! Sorry for my delay in responding. I have been terrine at keeping up with my blog lately, but I finished tutoring last week and feel like I can breather a bit now ~ ha!

The Quest program is typically for Juniors in high school in Baptist Convention of New England churches. I'm not sure it would be feasible for any students outside of the region as they spend a year preparing through retreats, mentoring, summer camp, etc. It can't hurt to ask, though, so I would direct you to the Baptist Convention of New England website. Click on the youth tab and you'll see it listed there! Great program, and maybe your state offers something similar!?!