Life has no blessing like a prudent friend.
I recently spent nearly 12 hours with some of the greatest young people in the world. Under the direction of Billy DeSanto, the 34-voice Valley Forge Christian College Concert Choir sang at a church in north Jersey and I was able to go along. The day went something like this.
6:15 a.m. - We all met in the choir room to prepare for our day with coffee and doughnuts.
6:45 a.m. - Mr. DeSanto gave final instructions and after a short prayer, we all boarded the three college vans. In spite of the early hour, excitement filled the crisp November air.
7:17 a.m. - Our convoy wound its way through the beautiful Valley Forge National Park. Rays of the morning sun were just beginning to shine through the gentle mist hanging over the trees. We could just make out the silhouette of an occasional white-tailed deer foraging for breakfast. Any photographer would have seen limitless possibilities.
7:36 a.m. - We picked up our ticket at the Pennsylvania Turnpike and headed east. I was riding in a van with about a dozen students and we started talking.
Molly and Alisha were grade-school classmates. Elizabeth traveled to Paris. Maryland was Brigham's home and Jordan hailed from Syracuse.
What a great time I had learning more about these great students. Where are you from? What is your major? How long have you been at VFCC? One by one I heard the hopes and dreams of the next generation. How quickly the miles flew by as we crossed the Delaware River.
Diane is majoring in Elementary Education and Laura is in her Senior year as a Theological Studies major. Sara and Brett are both Sophomores and very good friends.
9:06 a.m. - Before we realized it we arrived in Somerset, N.J., where we were greeted by our dear friend, the Rev. Zollie Smith, Senior Pastor of the Eternal Life Christian Center (ELCC). Pastor Smith is a distinguished-looking African-American church leader whose salt-and-pepper colored hair hints at his rich background, which includes being a decorated Vietnam veteran.
10 a.m. - As the Sunday morning service began I couldn't help noticing there were very few Caucasian congregants. I have been in many services with college choirs but never one where the visiting choir and host church family made such an amazing connection. They fell in love with our students and our students fell in love with them.
1 p.m. - After our farewells in the sanctuary, we were all invited into the educational facility where a huge, scrumptious meal was served to all of us.
2:28 p.m. - After hugs and NJ kisses to our hosts down the NJ Turnpike we went. Becky is from Seattle and Pam is from New Jersey. Melissa's parents work at VFCC and her engaged brother studies at Messiah College. Matt plays piano and Verlin's birthday is today. Jen, Rebecca, Jenni, Sarah and Jen are all Pennsylvanians. Angela wants to sing opera and Kerry has 11 siblings. Their questions mingled with mine as the miles flew by.
5:30 p.m. - We arrived back on campus after a long, busy day.
What did I learn from my day with the choir?
1. To hear them sing is to appreciate their commitment to excellence.
2. To talk to them is to appreciate that each of them has a story.
3. To know them is to realize they were not paid for this day, yet they willingly gave of themselves in altruistic service.
4. To observe them close up is to sense first-hand their multiple gifts which will definitely change our world.
The day began as any other day but after spending nearly 12 hours with some of the greatest young people in the world, it was a day I will not soon forget.
Think about it. (I know I will).
Editor's note: Dr. Meyer is president of Valley Forge Christian College, Phoenixville. Responses can be mailed to email@example.com