Thursday, June 28, 2012

Rock this World

I have found where I belong.

The One Year Adventure Novel Summer Workshops is home to me. I attended last year and had an amazing time. This year, it was like coming home.

The speakers were amazing, especially the sessions by the key speakers: Mr. S., Jeff Gerke, and Mark Wilson. My wrist grew tired and my neck grew stiff from the plethora of notes I took. I couldn’t stop scribbling away and nearly filled up my tablet of paper.

The critique sessions were wonderful. My group, the Waddle of Penguins, had a great dynamic. We hit it off well, and I think we learned a lot from each other.  I was also able to reunite with my group from last year, affectionately known OYAN-wide as the Platypi. After a year of keeping in contact through various forms of communication, we picked up right where we left off.  I believe it was a God-Thing that we all clicked so well.

Getting a mentoring session with Amanda Luedeke was so encouraging and inspiring! I really enjoyed talking to her. She was very helpful, and expressed interested in my manuscript—enough interest that she’d like to read it. Wow! My reaction made me feel a little like a dork. I blinked and said, in a high voice, “Really?” It’s all good, though.

The free time spent simply hanging out with my fellow students was plain and simply awesome. From sitting in the grass talking to giving photography tips to filming crazy videos in the dark and spur-of-the-moment skits at the supper table, to midnight snacks, I have come home with a heart overflowing with memories. The bruises from sword-fighting  and the fading Sharpie tattoo I am sporting are special. As is my hat, platypus, binder, knife, notebook, collection of books by my fellow students, and photo mat filled with your signatures. The mere thought of glitter or of Sharpies makes me smile.
I miss you all so much. I’d give almost anything to spend one more night roaming the MNU campus with Matthew and Eli, hoping over to the 7/11 for a snack and laughing over Eli’s “true love”—gasoline, or to have one more meal with the Platypi, or to simply hang out in the Lounge of Tipping, vacillating between my swords and the red leather couch.
I’ll never forget when Matt, Eli, and I were relaxing on the grass Friday night after our 7/11 run, chatting about this and that, and we found out that a mutual friend and OYANer had been saved. I freaked out and started bouncing and squealing. I had been praying for years for this friend, and during the last sessions where the focus was on finding God’s vision for you and your writing, I had been wondering what my friend was thinking, wondering if God was going to use those sessions to do something amazing. The impending sadness on this, the last night, was pushed back by an overwhelming flood of joy. Some friends and I waited for him at the gazebo, a happy ambush. I tackle-hugged him. There was a moment of, “Oh gosh, did I really just do that?” when I realized I had almost knocked him over. That’s not normally me. The normal me is much more reserved. But like I told him, I couldn’t help it. I was so, so excited, and I still am.
Goodbyes were hard. After spending almost a week with most of my closest friends, I really didn’t want to leave. I didn’t want them to leave. Many of us cried. I almost did. I know the tears will come eventually. Probably tonight as I write this. But you know what? That’s okay. Because the good things will sometimes make you cry.

OYAN is truly a family. We are united, not just by our love of writing, but by our love for God. The sense of community and of love is simply amazing. We can and will change the world, and we can and will do that because we are united in our Savior and in our purpose.

The Schwabuers’ didn’t envision this when Mr. S. sat down to write the OYAN curriculum; I asked him. But oh, goodness, God’s hand is, beyond a doubt, upon this couple and upon OYAN. I’ve seen it and experienced it firsthand.

Mr. and Mrs. S. themselves are living testimonies to just how powerful and dynamic a husband and wife can be when they are working together for one goal. They didn’t just turn us loose with a box of curriculum. They have spent—and are spending—their time and effort investing in the lives of their students. A friend of mine attended the 2010 Workshop, skipped 2011’s, and returned this year. Mrs. S. remembered her by name.  There are several hundred active students on the Forums and she cares enough that she remembers the name of one person.

My fellow students, you are all wonderful. Your talent never ceases to amaze me.  I love spending time with you, bouncing ideas back and forth, sharing our writings, doing crazy things, and worshiping together. Honestly, you are some of the most awesome people I have met or ever will meet. I love you all.

Keep writing, keep seeking God’s vision for you and pursuing “useless” good knowledge, using the passions God has placed in your heart as a springboard.
Together, under Christ, we can rock this world.
Rak Chazak Amats!

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