Saturday, February 15, 2014

George Fox Visit

The last time I wrote about Dominic's college journey, he had just been accepted to George Fox and Whitworth.
Since then, he was also accepted to his other 2 schools of choice...Northwest and Seattle Pacific.
All offered him Presidential Scholarships of 1/2, if not almost 1/2 of his annual tuition every year for the full 4 years.
George Fox and Whitworth invited him to participate in their scholarship competitions held in February and March, competing for additional departmental scholarships. We had known about these scholarship competitions for quite some time. We chose to save money and wait to visit the schools during this time.

This particular weekend, February 6-9, we were headed to George Fox. Dominic had conversed many times with their admissions advisor and was really excited to visit!
The plan:
Thursday morning Dominic was to fly up and take a school shuttle from the airport to school, where he would stay till Saturday afternoon. The students were to begin their weekend with a seminar given by a guest speaker and followed by a gala to get the weekend rolling.

On the home front, it took lots of coordinating, and quite frankly-headache, to get The Littles and dogs taken care of while Jeff and I were to take an early flight Friday morning to join Dominic at the school. There was a whole parents' program planned for the weekend while the students were competing. In addition, Dr. Clair, the dean of the Honor's Program, which Dominic had been invited to join, had invited our family, as well as others, for a casual pizza dinner at his home. All three of us had planned to stay Saturday night at our hotel and return home on Sunday, Dominic's 18th birthday!

Here's what really happened:
Thursday morning we woke to the worst storm we had faced all winter! The freeways were backed up with flooding, roads buckling, and accidents. Flooding and accidents were found on many side streets as well.
I was already nervous about the weekend. So many details. So much coordinating.
So much riding on this very weekend!
So I said a prayer and Dom and I headed for the airport.
The rain had subsided enough to give me some encouragement that everything was going to work out. I was feeling better on my way home from the airport after dropping him off, until the phone rang. It was Dominic.  He was standing in front of the check-in counter at the airport. They had advised him not to fly.  There was a serious storm advisory in the Portland area and there was a good chance that his flight would be re-routed. Since he was under age they wouldn't be able to put him up in a hotel if that occurred.

"What should I do Mom?"

Ummm....I don't know!!!
Put my son on this plane with the chance of him being stuck for hours, maybe days, in a random airport by himself?
Is it safe?
What if I tell him not to go and the plane lands safely in its intended destination?
I would feel so bad!
Could I risk him not being in this competition?!
He said he still wanted to try to go when my momma instincts kicked in...
I told him to see if there was room on our flight the next morning. This would give time for the storm to pass. After all, the competition didn't actually start till the next day. He would miss one of the three competitions he was in but it was better than not going at all.
There was, in fact, room on our flight and I prepared to head back to the airport to pick him up.
Until he called again.
Almost everyone had boarded the plane.
A man had heard Dominic talking to the lady at the counter, came over to him, told him that he was sending his own teenage sons on the plane. He had spoken with the pilot, who assured him that he would be able to land the plane in Portland as planned.

"Mom, I want to go! I have to hurry, they're closing the gate!"

This is a moment in a mom's life when she has to let go and understand that this is God's way of saying, "He needs to do this. On his own."

And as scary as that was, my response was, "CALL ME THE SECOND YOU LAND!"

And praise God! He did. It was a scary flight but they made it. However, the school had cancelled all the shuttles (driven by older students) to the airport due to dangerous road conditions. Seriously?! 
 Oh but wait...Dr. Clair, DEAN OF THE HONORS COLLEGE (and interviewer for honor's competitions,) was headed to the airport to pick up that evening's speaker, and would pick Dominic up as well!
So yes, he spent 2 1/2 hours in the car with these two gentlemen, getting to know them,
and visa-versa.  

Next it was our turn. At home the storm had subsided.
We were yet again...encouraged.
But when Jeff and I landed in Portland...
not so much!
We were so nervous! To many, driving in the snow is no big deal.
To Jeff and Laura Schwab...terrifying!
We rented our car, with maximum insurance, and slowly, very slowly, made the what normally is a 45 minute drive from Portland to Newburg.
Seriously! Portland gets snow but not snow like this! Every local that we came in contact with explained how this was the worst storm they had had in over 5 years!
Finally our car slid into the parking lot of the school!
And a very handsome young man was there, in between lunch and his afternoon competition,
to greet us!
To see his smiling face made everything worth it!
(Ha! In one competition a professor commented on Dominic's choice of colors.
He had NO idea!)

The school was a winter wonderland!
And as bummed as we were to not get to see the campus in its usual conditions, it was beautiful!
We spent the day walking slipping from hall to hall for this presentation and that.
(Did you know that Uggs don't have much traction?!) Thank God for my hubby who saved me from eating sh** SO many times!
I cannot tell you how "warm" and inviting everyone was!
And the staff all knew Dominic by name. Of course!

Here is where I need to remind you that Dominic ONLY applied to private Christian universities.
Most of his high school years he begged to transfer to a Christian high school. He longed to be part of a learning community who shared in his beliefs. He was tired of fighting the secular teachings of his school, to which we always responded, "Grow where you're planted." and "Be a light to others no matter where you are."
But that was high school.
This is college.
God blessed him with an incredible intellect, one that has opened many doors wide open for him.
And private schools with amazing scholarships was one of those doors.
This was his opportunity to be a part of a community of believers.
The Honor's Program at George Fox offers a replacement of General Ed with an enriched program of studying great works with a Biblical foundation, in addition to all classes being taught by believers.
Perfect for Dominic! 

In every speech or presentation over the weekend the underlying message was,
"We want to help your student become all that God has intended."
(Even if that means attending another school.)
It was genuine.
It felt like home.
For us.
And for Dominic.
So many times Jeff and I glanced at each other with the look that said,
"This is his home."

The day's activities were wrapping up and plans were developing for heading to Dr. Clair's house for dinner.
On a hill.
Snow still steadily falling.
(It hadn't stopped all day!)
And it was now dark.

The kids were able to get a ride but clearly we would be on our own for transportation.
No way. We were DONE!

We said good-night to Dominic and found a little pizza place on the way back to our hotel.
"Abby's Pizza."
Not only was the pizza delicious and the ambiance warm and inviting, but we were quickly coming to the realization that this community was SO different from home!
Everyone was friendly!
People we didn't know actually smiled and looked us in the eye as they walked by!
Life in this small town centered around the university.

Shortly after finding seats around the fire pit at Abby's, another couple sat down next to us with their 2-year-old-son. We began talking with this couple, only to find that he was an alumni and they, as a couple, mentor new students. They gave us their information and told us to have Dominic call them if he needed ANYTHING. They were a wealth of information about the school and the community.

Jeff and I left Abby's Friday night with full bellies AND hearts filled with love for this place and the people.
Saturday brought more competitions...
Political Science and the Multicultural Competition.
Dominic was the ONLY "competitor" for the Political Science scholarship!
(SO many students did not show up due to the weather.)

And finally after competitions were over we toured the dorms.
The group of families we toured with were awesome! Such great people, mostly from Washington and Oregon.
And I wasn't the only one slipping all over the place!
Dominic was in dress shoes and as I type I still giggle picturing him slip every 5 or 6 steps!
I think he only fell twice over the whole weekend though:)
Everything at school wrapped up by late Saturday afternoon and everyone was advised to get home before dark due to the freeze that was expected that night. GREAT!

We tried to find a place to eat dinner only to find almost the whole town had closed up.
We did finally find somewhere. At dinner Dominic was sad. He didn't want to leave this community. He explained how everything just felt right and he didn't want to wait seven plus months to return. 
We had to get Dom out of his funk and certainly weren't going to do that sitting in a hotel room for the rest of the evening. I was able to talk Jeff into trying to find the closest movie theatre.
Thanks to the wonderful Google Map on my phone, we ended up in a neighborhood, a court in fact.
No theatre.
Hmmm....NOT a happy hubby!
We drove past car after car crashed into snow banks alongside the rode on our way back to the hotel.
Once there, Jeff refused to drive again till the next morning when we would venture back to the airport. I don't blame him! It was scary!

But after some research on our phones, we found another movie theatre!
Within walking distance!
A quarter mile.
Not too far in the snow.
I literally had ice crystals in my hair!
We were freezing.
And NEVER found that theatre either.
But we had so much fun on that walk!
We joked and laughed and were silly.
And we were drenched by the time we arrived back to the hotel!
It didn't matter though, we were making memories.
The next morning we decided to make a go of it.
We scraped.
And scraped.
And scraped the car.
Jeff white-knuckled it all the way back to the airport.
It was way worse than the trip on Friday.
We got to the airport in plenty of time.
Enjoyed one last meal together just the 3 of us.
And flew home.
Happy Birthday Dominic!

A couple weeks later we found out that he won both the Honor's Scholarship and the Political Science Scholarship, the maximum amount possible. Yay Dominic!

I think back to the days when it was just you and I in our apartment in Sacramento when I was in college and am so grateful for how far we've come!

I love you and am so proud of you!
No matter where you "end up" you'll be a blessing to everyone around you.