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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Fulfillment (04/06/06)

TITLE: A Degree of Purpose
By Rachel Rudd


That day Amy woke up with a strange sensation from her deep slumber. Something was supposed to happen today, but in her still dreamy state she did not recollect it.

“I’d better get my shower so that I can get to class on time,” she thought. Then it hit her. “Oh, my. I’m supposed to graduate today!”

She sank back down on the bed to process the new discovery. “How could I have forgotten that?” she wondered. “My whole family flew in from Kansas just to be at the ceremony. That’s right. We are supposed to meet for brunch at 10 o’clock.” After glancing at her bedside clock that glared a bright red 9:45, she rushed to get dressed and out the door.

The beautiful spring day beckoned her to enjoy it, but she knew her hungry family awaited her at Café Roma. Just as she thought, her mom, her dad, and her brother sat at a red leather booth near the front of the small room.

“Good morning,” they all called cheerfully.

“Today’s the day,” her father stated, “the day you join the world of college graduates. Are you ready?”

“Yes, I think I am. My robe, cap, and tassel are back in the dorm room.”

“That’s not what I meant,” he clarified. “Are you ready to join the workforce and starting making your way in this world?”

“I don’t know, Dad. Do we have to talk about this now?”

“Well, I just want you to start making applications before all the other graduates beat you to it.”

“Yes, Dad,” she sighed.

After ordering their full plates of scrambled eggs, sausage, and biscuits, they fell into a casual conversation about summer plans. Frank surprised everyone by announcing his plans to go on a missions trip to Bolivia. His church back home in Kansas supported a missionary couple there, and he planned to assist them in building a new wing of their orphanage.

His father, an avid atheist, scoffed at his decision. “Don’t they have people down there who can help them with that? You need to concentrate on getting prepared for your last year of college.”

Frank glanced at Amy for help. Her silence annoyed him because she had decided to join him on the trip as well. They believed in the same God, but rarely did they discuss their faith, especially in front of their father.

Their mom, Barbara chimed in with her concerns for their welfare. “What about getting malaria? What about your asthma? Won’t the high altitude set off an attack?”

“Don’t worry about that mom. We are getting our vaccinations as soon as we get back to Kansas, and Frank plans to bring along his inhaler,” Amy finally volunteered.

“Did I just hear you say we? Do you plan on going there, too? How are you going to pay for it? Don’t expect me to finance your crazy excursions!” their Dad argued.

“We’ve saved up money from our part time jobs.” Frank informed him. “We’ve already bought the tickets. We’ll leave in two weeks along with two others from our church. It will only be a short trip of two weeks, but I think it’s going to be fantastic!”

“Well, I guess I can’t stop you. Just don’t expect me to come rescue you if you get into trouble.”

The conversation that followed was quite subdued and fragile since no one wanted to rehash the argument. They finished off their filling meal and the drive to Amy’s residence hall was silent. She ran in to grab her things and the short trip to the stadium was quick.

A long wait followed until she was standing in line to receive her Bachelor’s of Science degree. When it was her turn, she shook hands with the university president and took the rolled up paper from his outstretched hand. She knew that the paper was not the real degree she would receive framed in the mail later. Somehow, though, the feeling of having accomplished a goal filled her with a sense of satisfaction. Yet, when she sat down, the satisfying feeling had already left.

A month later, Amy sat on a small hill overlooking the concrete building that had been put together in the last two weeks. It had been hard work, but the reward of seeing the children’s delight soothed wearied muscles and tired bodies. Service for others gave her a contentment that she knew would last.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Ann Darcy04/13/06
Thanks for sharing your story. The dad, aside from being an atheist, was just like my dad in the application/money thing. :) I liked the story line, but I felt it needed a little more conflict...
Good message, thanks for sharing!
Jan Ackerson 04/13/06
I wonder if you could emphasize the contrast between the fleeting fulfillment of the graduation ceremony and the longer fulfillment of the missions trip by shortening the first part of this story and expanding on the trip. The last paragraph left me wanting more. A great main character and a realistic look at family conflict. Good job!
Helen Paynter04/13/06
Realistic dialogue here. One small comment, you introduced Frank rather abruptly - unless i missed something. GOod story but I agree with Jan's comment
Marilyn Schnepp 04/15/06
THe fulfillment of a job well done in the Mission Field was rather "blah"; it needed more "oomph" or impact to show how Really Fulfilling this project was. The excitement was left out...thus the reader felt let down. Just my humble opinion; otherwise, nicely done.