A snapshot of God’s love for our students.
I was the driver who picked up Garry Morgan and his wife at the airport following their eight week ICS trip this past semester. I settled into a chair while I waited for the team to arrive. As I waited I noticed other people beginning to gather and wait. These must be several sets of parents waiting for the team. Eyes are looking over at the gate where the students will be returning. When will they arrive at the luggage return? At this point no one knows anyone. By the time the team returns this will all change.
The first students are in sight. Then shouts of Mom! Dad! Can be heard. Several sets of parents are met by racing students who embrace their moms followed by their fathers. Joy stems from the faces of the students. The embraces last forever. There is relief seen on the faces of parents. Their student is back! Safe! Conversations begin to unroll from each group of parents and students. Then one by one the parents are introduced to Garry Morgan. While all the time Garry is snatching up the journals which the students have written and putting them away in his backpack.
No one has noticed me yet. I am experiencing the pure joy of reunions. Wait! There comes a scream from behind us. Running full speed comes roommates of one of the girl. Hugs all the way around. Not a moment of silence. The chatter between friends is in full force.
Two months of separation has turned into non-stop talking between the girls. The happiness of the meeting can be seen in all of those involved. By this point all the luggage has been removed from the carousel but no one is leaving. Now parents are being introduced to other parents. Best friends now meet extended families. A sister there or brother here is brought into the conversations. This is the Northwestern family. There is Gary picking off a few more journals, meeting another set of parents.
To my right sits what appears to be grandparents. Little did I know they belonged to one of the students. Grandmother and grandfather are met by a beaming grandson. He greets his younger brother who is with. It has been a good trip he says.
The initial wave of euphoria is over. Now there must be seven to eight groups talking. Still parents meet the friends who were on the trip with their child. No one is in a hurry to leave. There is so much to catch up on. What was the hi ghlight? What did you learn? Here is my new best friend. One can see by the actions of the returning students that this indeed was a special time. A life-changing experience. The bond between the whole group is so strong.
Finally the last parents arrive. Met with the same enthusiasm as earlier students, by their loved one who has travelled the world. At last a group or two begin to break up. Goodbyes are said. Embraces of team members with each other begins. I hear the many comments of “ I will never be the same.” “ You have helped change me.” God has been so good to us. The first groups begin to drift off. The roommates sweep their friend into her farewell moments. A pause with Garry. A look that says thank-you. You have made a difference in my life. The girls disappear.
Now half of the people have departed. Garry sees me. He looks very pleased. He walks over to greet me. I watch his luggage as he continues to say his farewells to the students. The eight weeks has been long but very , very, good.
The whole scene has been a God moment. The blessing of the Lord has lingered on this place. The contentment portrayed by our world travelers has been displayed in many different ways. It’s over but it is not over. It will never be over. Locked in their memories forever are the experiences they have shared as 17 who have travelled together. God had used them. Changed them and cared for them. For a lifetime their memories will keep the experience fresh. Yes it was a life-changer. You could see it written over all the kids.
Finally the last group leaves. Farewell for now. See you in school. Have a great Christmas.
The welcome home was marvelous to witness. Never have I seen true genuine love for parents displayed with such mature emotions. God had locked into the lives of the 17 in a very special way. I was blessed to see the first moments of the group back home. It will be forever etched in my mind. How sweet it was to witness the life changing events shared by the students. The first moments of reunion were so special. No one will ever be able to measure the impact God had on the group and I had the first glance of his mighty power transforming our students lives. I will always cherish those moments by the luggage carousel in the airport.