James Cook will carry with him an urge to serve others as he goes on his third overseas mission trip next month.
James, a 15-year-old freshman at Evans High School, will go on an eight-week mission trip to the Amazon River Basin with a team from Teen Missions International. Before leaving, he will participate in a 10-day boot camp that will teach him skills he'll need while in the Amazon.
"I'll have to learn how to pour concrete and build stuff," James said of the boot camp in Merritt Island, Fla.
Both informational and skill-building, the boot camp will be just one component of the mission trip.
After the camp, James will travel to Panama City, Panama, where he will catch a connecting flight to Manaus, Brazil. In Brazil, the mission team will use puppets, music and drama to spread the word of God.
"It's a lifelong experience, because so many kids my age never get out of the United States," said James of his mission experiences. "I have the opportunity to live my dream and help people."
James will travel 1,000 miles up the Amazon, where the group will spend a week on the river, sleeping in hammocks on the boat and stopping at various villages along the way to evangelize to the locals.
"I'm a little nervous," said James, the son of Woody Cook of Evans and Tracie Sadler of Aiken "But, I've always wanted to go to the Amazon."
James has been on two other mission trips -- one to Belize in 2005 and the other to Australia in 2006. He calls the experiences a "dream" and is well aware of how fortunate he is.
"In America, we're spoiled and stubborn," he said, adding that the young children he meets on his mission trips are still happy, not having been introduced to an Americanized way of life.
James has shared his fortunes with a young man he befriended in 2001 at the age of 8. It was then that James' father contacted Miracle Making Ministries in Augusta in hopes of sponsoring an underprivileged child during the Christmas holidays.
The Cooks met Corvis, an 8-year-old with seven siblings.
"I wanted to teach him that kids are kids," said Woody Cook.
Through the years, the Cooks have had Corvis over for family functions and sleep-overs. In January, Woody Cook adopted Corvis, who is enrolled as a seventh-grader at Evans Middle School.
"James says Corvis is his 'brother from another mother,'" said Woody Cook.
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