Dad’s work takes him and the family overseas to Bangkok, Thailand. Dad surprises Gavin by asking if he would like to go to go to Far Eastern Academy, though Gavin is already registered for high school! God miraculously opens the way. Now with only two days before the academy students leave, will Gavin be able to book a ticket on the same airlines so he can travel with them?
Mom stood in the door of Gavin’s room where he was laying his clothes in the suitcase.
“Well, you fly out with the kids on Wednesday morning,” Mom grinned.
Gavin stared at her for a moment. “You’re kidding!” He shook his head. “Amazing,” he spoke almost reverently.
Early Wednesday morning, the family loaded Gavin’s suitcase into the car.
“You didn’t forget your teddy, did you?” Lindsey teased as she got into the backseat.
Gavin couldn’t even think of a comeback. He was too pumped to care. Taking out a paper sack, Lindsey held it out to Gavin.
“What’s this?” Gavin peered into the sack. “Peanut butter cookies!” He leaned over and pulled Lindsey into a hug. “You’re super!”
“And don’t you forget it,” Lindsey quickly brushed away a tear.
At the airport, as he walked down the long hallway toward the gate, Gavin turned to wave for the last time. He boarded the airplane, and settled into his seat beside Rick.
After all the announcements, Rick pulled out his FEA annual. They spent theentire two-and-a-half hour flight browsing through the pages. By the time they touched down at the Singapore Changi International Airport, Gavin felt like he knew all the students at Far Eastern Academy. He couldn’t wait!
Dean Eggers was there to greet the Bangkok students at the airport. After a drive through the Singapore traffic, the white school bus steamed up the long curving driveway of the campus.
“This will be home, sweet home,” Dean Eggers announced smiling into the rearview mirror. Gavin stared out the window. Green trim lawns, clean white buildings, brightly blooming flowers. Everything was so neat.
“Let me show Gavin to his room,” Rick offered once Dean Eggers gave them their room assignments in the boys’ dorm.
The hallways and rooms were as busy as the airport terminal had been. Darin, Jake, Steve, Bill—how would he ever learn all their names? One week, he thought, remembering Rick’s claim.
After registration lines, filling out forms, and buying books on Monday, classes began Tuesday.
“So everything is vegetarian?” Gavin asked the girl serving in the cafeteria lunch line. She nodded.
That would be different, Gavin thought. But he liked everything he had eaten at Richard’s house, so it couldn’t be too bad. He shrugged. He had been interested in becoming a vegetarian ever since Richard had reminded him that this was the diet God had originally given Adam in the Garden of Eden. He lifted the fork of Special K loaf and eyed it. He brought it to his mouth.
Mmmmmm, he savored it. Not bad, he thought.
After lunch, Gavin was heading to the ad building. “Do you have Bible next period?” Glenn asked running up beside him.
“Yeah,” Gavin said glancing at his schedule.
“So do I,” Glenn said. “I’ll show you where it’s at.”
Sometimes Gavin felt like he needed to pinch himself. Was this real? Helpful classmates, morning worships, good food. And who ever heard of having prayer before class—every class, not just Bible! It was a new world for him and he liked it.
“We’re going to study the Old Testament prophets this year, starting with Isaiah,” Elder Harris sat on the edge of his desk.
Gavin immediately felt at ease with Elder Harris’ comfortable manner. During “Revelation Opened” meetings, he’d realized how little he knew about the Bible, and now he was hungry to know more. The thought of exploring the unknown territory of the Old Testament was inviting.
There was a hush as he walked into chapel for Friday evening meeting. A guy was at the piano playing a peaceful arrangement. After he sat down, Gavin craned his neck to watch. He recognized the tall dark-haired junior he’d met on the basketball court
during rec a few afternoons ago.
“Hi, I’m Greg,” he’d stuck out his hand. Now Greg was improvising at the piano without any music. Gavin soaked up the flowing melodies.
After Vespers that night voices and bursts of laughter came from the guys’ rooms as he walked down the hall in the dorm. Just as he was passing one room, he heard a soft melody of strings. Pausing at the door where the music was coming from, he knocked. It
was Greg that answered!
“Do you play that, too?” Gavin gawked at the guitar in Greg’s hand.
Greg laughed. “Yes, I plunk a tune or two. Come on in,” he invited. For the next half hour, Gavin watched Greg play classical style hymns. Gavin was lost in the music and asking questions until the lights blinked signaling “lights out”.
“I’ve got to get a guitar!” Gavin said as he left the room. “Would you help me learn how to play?” he asked Greg.
“Sure! If I can learn, anyone can,” Greg replied. Gavin wasn’t so sure about that, but he knew he was inspired to try now.
In the library during studyhall on Monday, Gavin bent over his geometry book. He flipped back over the chapter. How do I prove this theorem? Dad’s tutoring during hissixth grade year had helped build his skill and confidence in math. But geometry was a different animal. Besides, he knew if he didn’t pull excellent grades, his new experience in a Christian school would be short-lived.
div>Suddenly he had an idea. He jumped up and went across the lobby to the math room. Pushing the door open, he looked inside the classroom. “Mr. Greve?” Gavin spoke to the man at the desk. “Could you answer a question for me. I’m stumped.”
“Sure,” Mr. Greve waved him in. “I’ll get you unstumped,” he smiled.
It took only a few minutes for his teacher to unscramble the mystery. Gavin thanked him and headed back to the library to finish his assignment.
That afternoon Gavin walked into the steamy laundry room to report to his new work assignment. The ceiling fan was pushing the sticky air around the room with great effort.
“So Gavin, how would you like to man the ironing board?” Mrs. Gouge asked.
“That would be the day, to see a guy who could iron!” Susie playfully teased.
“Hey,” Gavin said indignantly, “I’m not afraid of work.” And he wasn’t. With Mrs. Gouge’s patience, he learned to iron more wrinkles out than in to the pants and shirts.
One night Gavin crawled into his bed completely exhausted. His thighs ached from the wall sits they had done in P.E. that day. He turned over. It was a good kind of tired, though. His roommate, Steve was the late-night monitor, so he was lost in his own thoughts as he drifted off.
“God,” he found himself praying, “You have been so wonderful to me. This all seems too good to be true!” A lump began to rise in his throat. As he thought back over the years, his life seemed like a rags-of-his-own-blunders to the riches-of-God’s-grace- fairy tale. He could never have planned such a life for himself. He smiled in the darkness. If it was this good now, what would tomorrow’s adventures be like?
Yep, he began to slip into the oblivion of sleep. As long as God was doing the planning, he knew he wouldn’t want to miss the trip!
Epilogue: Gavin has now spent over thirty years teaching and learning as a Seventh-day Adventist educator. As a young man, the doctor who had treated him for Legg Perthes Disease advised him to consider taking a desk job since he would most likely be in a wheelchair by forty years of age. Instead God has blessed him with energy and zest for snowboarding, hiking, swimming, mountain-biking as well as going door-to-door with good literature, giving Bible studies, and playing the guitar at nursing homes with youth groups. For Gavin, the adventures of his Christian life have just gotten better!