For me the Trip doesn’t start until I hear the audible “ding” sounding from the ticket scanning machine, acknowledging approval to pass by the gate attendant and locate my seat on the airplane. Up until that point it's all speculation made up of flight confirmation emails, time off requests and the conversations attempting to explain why I am going. I quickly snap my seat belt together, strapping in for a journey in which I know I won’t return the same.
I have never been content with my ability to explain why. I have never felt that I was able to thoroughly convey my reasoning and the emotional pull as why I feel called on these service trips. Don’t get me wrong I wanted to go and Surf. Surfing is a reason but not the purpose: the purpose is greater; it’s bigger than me. The purpose is to create change, the change I want to see in this world and the change within myself. My purpose is to go beyond my comfort zone to share my knowledge and build lasting friendships. Friendships being the foundation of life that all experiences, learning and growth are all built upon. Something special happens when you go forward with selfless intentions.
This trip offered many experiences...
This trip offered the experience of; being scared on a new level. This one was completely my fault, as is stated to my friend Jeff “This trip I want to surf conditions that make me scared”. When this was spouted from my mouth not all considerations were taken. I have a skewed scale to measure fear upon. I grew up around racing motocross, jumping out of perfectly good airplanes, and dropping backcountry chutes that could have had dire consequences. It takes quite a bit. I can swim fairly well and in California worst case is coming out of the water with a board ding. I got what I wished for; I was greeted one morning by freight training barrels, current stronger than I had ever seen and reef so shallow it allowed zero margins for error.
This trip offered the experience of; teaching some kids who might have felt forgotten about that they are in fact loved. We partnered with Bali Life Foundation, whose goal is to give hope, purpose and dignity to unprivileged people. We took out some kids to Dreamland to surf for the first time and to session with some of the guys and gals at a fun little beach break. I have yet to discover something in this world that brings me greater joy than seeing the excitement on a child’s face when catch their first wave. We were able to see a few of the kids get up for the first time and others catch some good ones to create lasting memories of one great day. I might have had more fun snapping pictures than the kids in the pictures.
This trip offered the experience of; being able to teach. Being the only guy in the group born in the 80’s it made me feel old, but age has also offered me the time to gather knowledge through experiences that allows me to offer perspective on life, its challenges and undeserving grace.
There is a popular story about a kid named Timothy. It’s an old story, so old no one knows of Timothy’s exact age at the time the story begins but scholars have estimated him to be somewhere in his mid-teenage years. There was this great leader named Paul, he saw the potential in this kid and took him under his wing and helped to develop him into a great leader. I have always considered it my duty to do everything I can do to raise up those coming behind me, by helping them they in turn help me become better. This trip allowed me countless opportunities to do life and help guide my friends to the answers and perspective they are searching for. In doing so it allowed me the realization that my experiences and knowledge are more valuable that at most times I consider. Spending time helping lead made me realize how important it is to me to invest into teaching others.
This trip offered the experience of; being able to realize that I stand in the exact spot I want to be. We spent a few hours the night before saying our goodbyes, packing up all our gear and cleaning out our bungalows. We had spent a few amazing days in the village of Desert Point but it was time for us to leave. I enjoyed every minute of time I spent there but with the anticipation of our boat arriving to take us on the next leg of adventure... I was ready to go. I had been sitting atop our mountain of luggage for a few hours past our anticipated vessel arrival time when I was notified the boat had headed back to port due to weather I over anticipated its arrival and allowed myself to get upset with the situation. These things happen no big deal. Shortly after someone offered up the option to go surf the other side of the island and asked for willing participants to go on an adventure. I never say no to an adventure, so I committed before I could get my hand into the air. A few of us grabbed boards and hoped into the back of a pick up. It wasn't until sitting in bed of the truck rock crawling up the jeep trail until I fully realized what I had committed myself to. The island is not small and there are no straight roads: nor seats, radio or room to extend your legs.
We bounced around in that pick up for approximately 6 hours, through curvy rough roads before we arrived at our destination. We were informed we had a short window before the tides changed and we had to get out quick. From the shore the wave did not have the best shape and had a little wind chop on the face. I Picked off 4 or 5 killer rides not knowing at the time they would become my favorite of the entire trip. But it wasn't those rides that made them so special. The tides changed and we all ended up back at the beach rehydrating with fresh coconut water signifying the session coming to a close. As we loaded back up the reality of the 6 hour return trip hit me. Suddenly I thought about how cramped my legs were going to get and how the loud the wind whistling by was going to be.
As we bounced down the road the sun began to set and I was washed over by a flood of mind focusing direction. As the red and orange streaked sky erupted around us, all my previous thoughts were halted. I took inventory of where I was and who I was surrounded by. I laughed out loud thinking...I love this...this is life and it's meant to be lived. I traveled days, paused my career to follow a calling that brought me right here to this specific moment. In that moment this is the exact place I had been dreaming about while sitting in Southern California traffic and at my desk for months. I finally realized this was the exact place I wanted to be. There is no other place I would rather be than surrounded in his love and with the people that have given so much more to also be jam packed in a pickup with cramped legs laughing continuously along with me.
This trip offered the experience of; Learning the meaning of the word “Ginosko’. I had never heard of this of this word until moments before my flight but it is a word that has been given to me as a gift. The word means to know, learn and realize... especially through experiential knowledge and firsthand experience. This word set my focus for the trip and encouraged me to be more aware of the opportunities to learn through vulnerable knowing.
In spending close intimate time with people you inevitable form a sense of family. I don't think there is a quicker way to truly get to know someone other than to travel with them. Life long friendships can be established in such a short period of time and lasting lessons can become vivid unforgettable memories. Once such instance came unexpectedly when I was introduced to this guy named Keolie, I met him the previous day and he was a shaper originally from Hawaii he had set roots in the village of Desert Point and started a family. He had overheard a vulnerable testimony and asked if he could share a story of his own with the group. He ran and fetched his young child so we could all hear a story that was close to his heart.
I haven’t been able to shake this story. It could not be more applicable to this situation and all situations. There is no difference... we all are.
This trip offered the experience of; Learning the lasting potential of Love. It’s my calling in life... to love. I know with my heart of hearts that I was placed on this earth to show love to the forgotten and bring hope to those who have never been told of their true value. Long term missions and Short term each have their own place and purpose. At this point in my life Short Term mission work is allowing me to develop my long term calling. I don't think I will change this world but I have confidence that I will be gifted the ability and the opportunity to help encourage and lift up the one that does.
I try to always keep a story I once heard on the forefront of my mind.