Tuesday, January 8, 2013

hello & goodbye

One emotional aspect of running the academy is saying goodbye to the boys who graduate each year.  Its one of those things that you know is coming but is impossible to prepare for.

Imagine spending almost every day with someone for several years - in class, devotions, lunch, practices, games - all the road trips, excursions, movie nights, bbq’s and random impromptu moments.  In all of that, you get to know these kids, who are now around 18 years old, at a deep, family-like, father-son-like level.

Then you say goodbye. 

Sure, we’ll continue to see them here and there.  But not everyday, not the way we used to. 

That’s the point though.  We founded the academy for this very purpose.  An attempt to build young boys into godly men.

We’ve had ample time to prepare them.  We’ve discussed in depth the issues.  Living with integrity.  Loving your neighbor.  Sex, drugs, alcohol.  Marriage and family.  Character, responsibility, and work ethic.  Following Jesus and living for others. 

In theory, they should be ready.

We made it through “graduation night” pretty well, keeping emotions in check.  But the following Monday, when the boys came to clean out their lockers for the last time, the moment seemed to overwhelm us.

There, in front of their coaches and teammates, everyone said their goodbyes.  The boys who were leaving shared.  Axel stopped for complete 1 minute-breaks to compose himself.  As he talked about what the academy meant to him, he broke.  He described the moment he made the team as the “moment that changed his life forever.”  We all fought back tears.

The following weekend, 25 boys tried out for 5 open spots.  Today, those five 10-11 year olds sat in front of us with excited and nervous faces.  They are the future of Buena Vista. 

Because we are a new academy, we only had a couple years with Axel.  With them, God willing, we’ll have 6 or 7.  I cant imagine how hard it will be to say goodbye after 6-7 years of everyday together.

But I think about how prepared they will be.  Young men, stepping into their community equipped to break the chains of poverty, absence, abuse, and addiction that has plagued their village for generations.

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