Cameron Cooper, 18

I went through the list one more time, mentally checking off each item to make sure I was ready. Then I zipped up my duffel bag and pulled it down the stairs. My mom was waiting for me. As we packed my bags into the car, I became nervous. I hadn’t been on many trips without my family and never one with a church group. As we pulled into the church parking lot, I saw all of the other choir members with their bags ready to go. As I tugged my duffel to the bus, it felt heavy with the weight of clothes stuffed inside. Little did I know that I was taking another bag with me, to be filled with new experiences and friendships, as well as renewed love for God.

matins-nursing home 2

I’m part of a group called the Matins, a youth choir that has been a part of my church for generations. Every year, the group goes on “tour” to sing at churches and retirement homes. We also go on excursions in the cities we visit. Most of the kids who go on the trip have been part of the group since their freshman year; but I joined Matins late, so I was going on my first tour as a sophomore. Joining all of these fairly new friends on a weeklong trip seemed like a daunting task. However, once the trip was underway, I realized that I was going to have an amazing and life-changing adventure.


Matins Choir2 DSC_0048I had never been around a group of people so comfortable with one another. They loved one another, and they shared a passion for spreading God’s love through song. Whenever we stopped at a retirement home to sing a concert for the residents, we would all line up together in front of the crowd and sing songs of hope, sadness, and God’s love. Watching the faces of the residents light up with the music and seeing my friends’ excitement about singing for them made me realize that God was with us and shared with us each moment that we were together.


Singing 2 DSCN1440 copyTouring with the Matins was one of the greatest experiences of my life. Before the trip, I had been friends with most of the kids in the choir; but our relationships were mostly on the surface. On the tour, I got to know them better and I opened up to them. I learned the importance of finding God in all my relationships. I began to see God at work in the laughs and in the more meaningful moments I shared with the group and in our music. I returned home with the same bag as before, now filled with dirty clothes. But my bag was also brimming with excitement and anticipation for my future with the Matins and with God. I had made new friends in faith and deepened my love for God, who brought us together. I had discovered the true spirit of friendship found in God’s presence.



Matins Fun 2 DSC_0126 copyAlmost everyone is in a group of some kind. We all interact with other people. Some are new acquaintances; some are old friends. Whenever people come together, God is with them. Take some time to think about how God works within and through the groups of which you are a part. The next time you get together with other people, look for God in action. Notice all the incredible ways God works to bring people together in spiritual friendship.

Cameron Cooper, 18 , of West Des Moines, Iowa, will be a high school senior this fall. In addition to being in the Matins choir and a member of its leadership team, he is also a swim captain and an editor of his school’s literary magazine.

—from devozine (January/February 2014). Copyright © 2013 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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