Part II

To read from the beginning, click here and scroll to "Part I."

Part II

My freshman year ended without much ado or fanfare, and summer was greeted with open arms. Flip flops were welcomed, and the curls in my hair grew tighter as the Missouri humidity grabbed hold. If I would have kept a planner, it would have been filling up with softball and basketball games, family trips, camps of many varieties, and a mission trip.

Church camp was early that summer, and I relished in that fact. Since I had been in fourth grade, camp had captured my heart, as had the people there. The first part of June was spent preparing for, and looking forward to this year's week at camp, and so the meetings to prepare for the mission trip were but a blip on my radar screen.

The previous summer had been my first mission trip with my church's association, and we had traveled to Branson, Missouri. It had apparently been a big hit to all involved, as this year's trip would again be to Branson. At our first meeting I felt the pain of unmet expectations. The year before our group had been incredible, and many of the friends I had made were not planning on making the trip this year.

Not only that, but there was also a new group that would be going with us from Union Star. I knew their youth leader, Matt, and although I liked him I was not happy with the way his group acted like such a clique. I knew a few of them from other encounters, as those from small towns have a way of becoming interlaced with others from nearby towns; like one big, messy patchwork quilt, you're not sure how the stitches end up where they do. There was Annie, who was related to a lot of people in my town and who I had played against in basketball for years. I actually played on a traveling softball team with her years before too. Then there was Holly, who I knew for the same reasons as Annie. And there were two of the guys, Derek and Brent, who looked vaguely familiar as I had met them at a church lock in in the 7th grade. My friend, Rebecca, had invited me and introduced me to Brent in the foyer of their church. I remembered awkwardly shaking his hand, him barely saying a word. I had bangs and a retainers then, and he had his hair parted down the middle. He left me standing there and played racquetball with his buddies the rest of the night, and never spoke another word to me. I looked for those buddies at the meeting, but didn't see any of them. It was probably better that way. Their group only spoke to one another, and they laughed at a lot of inside jokes, which I thought was an incredibly rude thing to do.

I was also slightly disappointed in these meetings for other reasons, though I would never admit this to anyone. The more I wrote my future husband, the more I felt certain I would "know" him when I saw or met him. Of course, the good Southern Baptist in me thought what better place to meet him than on a mission trip?! But as I sat in the small basement where we were meeting and hastily judged the crop around me, I was frustrated and defeated, my plans foiled.

On the way home I explained to my sister, Kali, who was also going on the trip, "I'm concerned about the intentions of some of the guys from Star. I just don't think they are going for the right reasons."

Like Kali always had a way of doing though, she responded, "Kels, just give them some time. Who knows, they may be awesome." And in a way that only older sisters can, she seemed to read my mind and added, "Besides some of them are kind of cute, right?"

I laughed, rolled my eyes at her, and thought, "Oh how I hope she's right..." because some of them were kind of very cute.

Church camp came and went in a flash of tank tops, water fights, worship services, and pranks. I took four rolls of film and filled up pages with addresses and emails. I was glad that some of my fellow mission trippers were there, happy to have a few solid connections and van buddies pre-selected for the trip. I left camp, finally feeling like I could adequately get excited about the trip before me.

Soon, the time came. I packed my suitcases, bought more film for my ever-ready camera, hugged my parents good-bye, promising them I would behave myself, and my sister and I headed out. All those going met in a parking lot, threw our bags in a trailer, and then circled up for a final prayer before setting off. As I listened to one of our leaders, my heart whispered a prayer of its own, "
Lord, may I not focus on boys; I'm here to do your work." And we all said "Amen."

We loaded all of our vans, filling them with the smells of sweat and sunscreen and whatever snacks we had packed for the five hour drive. I wasn't surprised when all of Star's youth group got in one van together. "Do you think they're going to be like this the whole trip?" I asked my friend and van-mate, Micah.

"Wouldn't surprise me. Want a fruit snack?"

Chewing on a cherry flavored smiley, I was mad that they wouldn't try harder to get to know others, but as I popped a grape smiley snack in my mouth, I knew I was mostly jealous that I wasn't in their van.

A couple of naps and license plate games later, we pulled into our hotel, and the chaotic process of unloading began. There were cramped legs and arms and pillows and trash pouring out of vans everywhere I looked. I headed over to the
trailer with the luggage, stretching my lazy travel-worn arms above my head. Several guys were taking charge of hauling the luggage onto the sidewalk, and that's when I spotted it. It was in a hardback case with shiny golden clasps sealing its contents. I stepped back, pretending to stretch my legs and arms a bit more, watching to see who would claim the guitar case. And then Brent, the one who had ignored me at the lock-in, casually loped by, grabbing the guitar in his left hand. In shorts and a cut off t-shirt, he disappeared around the corner of the building. As much as I wanted to fight it, this quiet guy who owned a guitar and no longer parted his hair down the middle intrigued me.

I spotted my suitcase and, stuffing my pillow under my arm, grabbed it and headed to my room, whispering once again under my breath, "
Lord, may I not focus on boys; I'm here to do your work. Amen." I flung my pillow on the flowery bed-spread, my body soon following, and waited for my roommates to show up.

1 comment:

Kali said...

I was always right about Brent. Thanks for finally acknowledging that :-)