Originally published in the Quarterly Explorer, Fall 2013 edition.

Whenever you try something new, there is always an air of skepticism surrounding it. This was my first Passport. I had been to PASSPORTkids, but they certainly aren’t the same. My grandfather, Chester Phelps, told me for weeks about past Passports and how I wouldn’t want to leave once we got to Wingate University (where this year’s Passport was held). Nevertheless, I was still skeptical about how much fun I would have. I usually like to stay around the same group of friends; I don’t typically branch out and meet new people. I can say now that I surprised myself.

Passport at Wingate consisted of a number of youth groups from along the East Coast. This was a version of Passport called Choices, which meant that everybody got to choose what they wanted to be involved with. The most popular choice was Missions, but I chose something called Grace Notes. Grace Notes revolved around music and how we use it to connect with God. Over the course of the week, we wrote, discussed, and performed music. Carter, the leader of Grace Notes, became one of my best friends, and I hope to see him sometime in the future. The one thing I liked most about Grace Notes was how it dealt with different genres of music. Not only did we discuss traditional hymns, we also discussed Christian Rock, Gospel, and more. It helped me learn that we can show our love for God in more ways than just one.

Overall, Passport was one of the best experiences of my life. I learned how music can be used to express our love for God. I jumped out of my comfort zone and made friends from other churches. But, most importantly, I became closer with the people in our youth group, and I’m very thankful that I got to spend this week with all of them.