Hhhhaaaanditsbeenawhile - Nickelback
Sorry, had to.
It has been over two months since the last time I wrote a post and my time in Hawaii has come and gone… crazy. To all of you who helped me along this journey, wow. Thank you. I apologize for being so off the grid but I truly appreciate all of your support, y'all are the best. If I've talked with you via phone call or text in the last 90+ days I've probably said something along the lines of this sentence, "This experience has been interesting and I'm SUPER busy but it has been good." Which it has. It's difficult to explain what I've been up to in Oahu. It was definitely not what I expected but that’s how most of life goes right? Things happen that you don't really expect. I just read over my last blog post and noticed a lot of the things I flew across the Pacific with. I had a lot of thoughts floating through my head and even more questions on why exactly God was sending me there; why he had me wait for this specific time. Well, I wrote this all out while I was on the plane flying back to the "mainland". Side note, I love flying because it really gives me time to process where I'm coming from and to sort of prepare myself for where I'm headed. This flight was a mind trip because I've realized a lot about myself and a lot about how God works. It's as if God took me out of my point of view and stuck me in His. Our lives are like a giant puzzle and lately God has been giving me a snap shot of the past few years and how everything has fit together in a way that I could NEVER do even if I tried. Everything leading up to this exact moment is literally blowing my mind and all I can do is be overflowing with thankfulness and gladness. Sure there have been quite a few downs along this tropical journey, but there have also been some very good ups. I didn't realize how tired I was until I showed up in Hawaii. Not physically but mentally and spiritually. As I read over my last journal and my last post I can see myself in a place of struggle and uncertainty.
To tell you the truth, when I first showed up to Hawaii I wanted to bounce. The program I was in was sort of rubbing me the wrong way and it was super difficult for me, to be honest. It actually opened up more questions than what I had to start out with; which let me tell ya, I had a ton. There were a few points where I thought it would be way more chill to just run around North Shore for a few months instead of try to be apart of an organization. Then it hit me. Life isn't about me. Sure, I can do stuff that I want and I definitely believe God wants to give us the desires of our hearts but we first should be pursuing him. Just like this verse, "Take delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart." (Psalm m37:4) I also believe if we want to see change, we need to do something about it. I was humbled. There were a lot of things I wanted to change about the organization but more importantly God was reminded me why I was there - serve others and remember who He was. Over the past few months I've seen both of those things. I've been able to get to hear stories from homeless friends, spend afternoons skating with the local kids and meet people from all walks of life.
I have hundreds of stories I could share but this is one of my favorites:
There were a few kids who lived near us who definitely had more of an impact on me than I did on them. I'll never forget my favorite little one named Miracle. Her and her sisters lived right down the street from where we lived and they would come over daily to hang out with us. I had the cool opportunity to help teach a surf camp and she was one of my campers. On the last day we were surfing the water temperature was a bit cold for Hawaii and little Miracle didn't have any sort of wetsuit to wear. Right after we entered the water she began to shiver. We tried to catch a few waves but each time was a failed attempt. Every wave sent more goose bumps up her little legs and kept her teeth chattering but she continued to not only give it her all but to also cheer on her fellow campers. This girl has a heart of gold and she's one of the most generous five year olds I've ever met. We ended up getting out of the water because she was freezing. So we got her out and I wrapped her up in a little towel burrito and began to warm her up in my lap. We dreamed about a warm fire, hot chocolate and a big fuzzy blanket and before you knew it we had a decision to make. Go back out or call it quits… she turned to me and said, "ok Rylee, lets catch ONE more." I got so psyched and we leashed up and jumped back in the water. We tried one and messed up a bit but she wasn't giving up. Finally the wave was here, I turned her around and gently pushed her in. As I looked up I saw little Miracle standing on her board that was at least two times bigger than her; perfect stance and everything. I began to scream and shout for joy as everyone on the beach put their hands in the air and received her with praise. She rode that sucker ALL the way in! I've never seen a bigger smile or have had a better hug than in that moment. I got out of the water and she ran over screaming, "Rylee! Rylee! Did you see me?!" I was so proud. The rest of the day and even days leading up to me leaving we replayed that moment in our conversations. This is just one story of many from my time in Hawaii; so you can see how it can be kind of hard to explain a three month experience like that.
Before this winter I was having a tough time and in that period of empty thoughts my friend Emili called me up and said that she had a song that I really needed to listen to. Music has always had a huge effect on me and I really appreciate when lyrics ring true. So she sent me a song by United Pursuit called Seasons Change. These are the lyrics:
Though the music changes and the songs we sing
We still lift our praises to our loving God and King
Though the seasons change, your love remains
Lord you've been faithful to plant the seed
And you will be faithful to always send your rain
Though the seasons change, your love remains
When we were far apart, you came running with open arms
Dang. Right?? This song wrecked me because I knew my seasons were changing and will continue to change. Before I went to Hawaii I desperately wanted to be reminded of God's love for me and to connect my mind back to my heart. I needed it to rain in my life. Throughout these months I've been totally encouraged by friends - seeing true change in their lives. I've been apart of some incredible stories of redemption, forgiveness, love, and challenges. I've seen lives change in front of my eyes and though I moved out to Hawaii expecting God to work in certain aspects of my life; he did much more. Pride walls were wrecked and my heart feels happy once again. The thing is, I don't want to take the credit for "serving people" or for being part of a non-profit organization or anything like that because I honestly don't deserve any glory. Even though the program itself was tough for me, God still used the people there to really impact me. I was suppose to be out there in the Fall andI wasn't at peace about it so… I waited. This is one of those big puzzle pieces that has been revealed to me. The people I've met in this season were worth waiting for. I will call them friends forever and will always be humbled by the lessons I've learned through this. Here are a couple of good things that I've always lived for but needed a reminder of:
Intentional human interactions make everything right. Stereotypes are crushed, class rank is destroyed, your skin color doesn't matter and we just get to love each other. We are doing what we've been designed for. People are INCREDIBLE. So many stories are meant to be shared and so many of them don't get to be revealed. I love that the bible says we're all created in God's image. To me I interpret it this way: We are designed for greatness. We are created out of love; fearfully and wonderfully made. What if we saw every stranger on the street that way? As an equal, loved creation? To let them know they aren't just a face in the crowd or someone who doesn't deserve attention. And this; when we let go of control, God moves. When we love him and love others, he moves. When we abide despite the circumstance, he moves.
I am back in California now and life is totally different. I feel like my body is here but my mind is running super fast, trying to catch up. In the last five days of being in Hawaii a few of my close friends and I took a trip to Kauai to hike the Na'pali Coast hike. I'll definitely be telling that story in a post to come because it absolutely blew me away. As of now, I'll leave this as is. Thanks for reading and if you have any questions about this experience I'd be super open to talking about it OR if you just want to catch up on life, I'm back to reality so please feel free to reach out!
Peace 'n Blessings