Saturday, August 14, 2010

believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact.

How do I put everything that has happened in the past five days into words? Neither words nor pictures will do one single moment justice. That’s how you know which memories are the best. The ones that touch you so deep inside that there’s no way you can ever shake the feelings they gave you. Years and years from now, I will look back on August 9-13, 2010 and I can promise you that joy will immediately fill my heart. I love it when lives are shaped by different experiences, and mine was definitely changed by this week. Elaboration? Well, I’d be happy to! :)

I woke up at 3:30 a.m. on Monday morning, got to the office at 4:45 a.m., and we headed to Long Beach, CA for the long-awaited 16th annual Land Meets Sea Sports Camp. YAY! I spent most of my time working on things for camp, so this was a HUGE part of my duties! I had water training all day long (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) with the folks from USARC, which basically turned me into a special ops office. I learned how to stabilize a sit-down ski from behind (which I referred to as wrestling a shark) and even got to ride in one for the first time. I did way better than I thought I would…I even jumped the wake a couple of times. So much fun! After training, we had our very first staff meeting of the week at the Sailing Center. I roomed with Kim, Anne’s older sister, and she was an absolute HOOT all week!

Thennnnnnnnnn Tuesday finally came and…THE CAMPERS ARRIVED! YAY! We had 75 registered participants for the week, but had two extra add-ons as the week progressed. I was stationed at water sports the first day, and the included being shore help and going kayaking. I was originally signed up to be a starter (aka wrestle a shark), but I switched with Mike Moniak because kayaking is my favorite and I wasn’t going to have another chance to do it anymore for the rest of the week (I call everyone by their first and last name because I knew every single person’s entire name there…that’s what making a hundred phone calls a day does to ya!). On Tuesday night, we had our debrief in Anne and Jen’s room. Lucky for us, the marvelous Melroys cooked us tri-tip, one of southern California’s best menu items! YUM!

Wednesday was an EPIC day for me. I got up at 4:30 a.m., met Jen downstairs at 5:15 a.m., and we made our way back to the beach…only this time, it was for something super spectacular. HOT. AIR. BALLOONING. AHHH! Not only did I get to go up in the balloon for the first time EVER (which has ALWAYS been one of my MOST desired activities!), but I got to shoot the propane up into it to make it rise. I can promise you that I didn’t stop smiling ALL DAY after that. I was in hog heaven, FO SHO! After ballooning wrapped up, I spent the rest of the day with Anne and Ewick (Scented Air Fweshenuh) at Kid’s Kamp! We had six kids (Brandon, Roxie, Manuel, Steven, Angelo, and Andre) signed up, and we did an obstacle course/maze with them, made plaster figures, and went sailing. Can I just say that I seriously thought about stealing Steven and never giving him back. It only took him about 14 seconds to completely steal my heart—and he’s still got it! Kamp ended around 4:30 p.m., we packed up all our stuff back into the Uhaul, and made our way back to the hotel.
I got to fly the hot air balloon! and I was freaking out with excitement!
sweet Steven. this little guy stole my heart way to easily!
So you know how I said that Wednesday was epic? Well, I left out one part of the day. Jen, Anne, and Kim wrestled at palm-sized knot/growth/brillo pad out of my hair. Yes, I said wrestled. And yes, I meant it. Two hours, an inch of hair spontaneously trimmed from my head, and ultimate bonding time with three out-of-this-world ladies. The good news is the knot is gone. Note to self: never use hotel shampoo and conditioner ever again. EVER. Two and a half years of growing my hair out almost went right down the drain, and it totally would have happened if my boss ladies weren’t so AWESOME. Trying to get the knot out by myself: fail. Big fail. Thank you, Jesus, for blessing me with a tough head. And that’s the abbreviated story of the time I forgot my shampoo and conditioner when I went to Long Beach for a week.

Nowwwww onto Thursday! I was outrigger canoeing all day, and I would like to start out by saying this: canoeing is hardcore business and I thought I was going to die. I went out four different times, all of which added up to being about 10 miles. I thought for sure I wouldn’t be able to move today (Friday) after all that strenuous activity, but my body surprised me yet again. Who needs steroids? I even paddle boarded for the first time. AND I didn’t even fall into the water. Daddy will be proud to hear that my balance and clumsiness has improved over the past few months. He’ll be even prouder when he sees how graceful I have become. Okay, maybe not exactly graceful…but better, nonetheless! After spending the day on the water, it was time for the famous LMSSC luau. Everyone dressed up in their best Hawaiian attire, and we even had entertainment by a band and legit hula dancers. SO COOL! How they make their hips move like that is beyond me. I got called up to the front as a “volunteer” (also known as “you’re the intern, so get your booty up there!”) to dance with them. I almost died when they tried to get me to shake it like a Polaroid picture in front of everyone! Two left feet and no beat doesn’t work too well, especially when all eyes are on you. Haha, CLASSIC! I had to start my goodbyes Thursday night, too. Awful. You never know how much someone means to you until you’re telling them bye for what may be the last time.
paddle boarding for the very first time!
Jen, Anne, and me at the luau. lucky me, I was wedged between two of the most incredible ladies!
And then there was Friday (the 13th, might I add). The last day of camp and also my last day as the summer 2010 intern for Outdoor Adventures. It was a perfect day all around, but I had to keep reminding myself (all flippin’ day) not to cry and to smile harder than ever. Otherwise, all professionalism would fly right out the door. I was sailing/harbor cruising all day, and one of the boats I rode on even saw a seal in the canal. Saweeeet! It was just like being at Sea World…only FREE! Haha, those are the best shows! Come 5 o’clock, we were all packed up and headed back to Casa. Jen and I had some extremely awesome conversations (as we always do) while we sat through rush hour traffic. Once we got back to the hospital, it only took us a little over an hour to unpack all of our gear. Unfortunately, it looks like a bomb exploded in the office even with us organizing as we went along. I didn’t have to say any goodbyes yet (thank goodness) because I’m going to cook up a good ole’ southern home-cooked meal for them on Monday. I hope they’re ready for some good FRIED food. That’s my specialty. You’d think I was from the south or something, huh? :o)
we named our little friend "Wally" and boy was he CUTE!
I stopped by In-N-Out on the way back to the apartment (gotta get all I can these last couple of days!) and then planned my day with my roomies tomorrow. We’re going to go back to Long Beach and do a little kayaking and paddle boarding all afternoon. Side note: I wish I lived at the beach. The day I become a millionaire is the day I pick up my life and move it to Naples Island, CA. That place is spectacular and I am obsessed! I wish Teeesh was still out here so he could fall in love with it like I have. There’s just something about this place that keeps drawing me further and further in. One of those feelings you just can’t put into words, kind of like all of my experiences for the past three months. I love it.

Speaking of people I wish were here with me, I think now is an appropriate time to acknowledge another epic component of this week: Cait Cait is in LA! Finally! I won’t see her until Sunday because of conflicting plans (booo!) but you can bet your hard-earned dollar that we are going to have two incredible days together out here. She and her friend Sarah are going to Hurricane Harbor with Dave and I on Sunday, which will be SO much FUN! I can’t waitttttt! That will complete my California bucket list. Yepp, that’s right…southern California was OWNED by this girl all summer long. I am proud of all the traveling and tourist-ing I’ve done while I’ve been here. Makes me want to just be a gypsy and hop from place to place, never settling down. Except then I think about how miserable I would be without sharing it with all the people I love and it doesn’t seem so appealing. Anyone interested in exploring the globe with me? Hey Teeesh, I’ve got an idea—let’s be a gypsy COUPLE! Go where the wind takes us. Fly by the seat of our pants. Whatcha say? Oh wait, I already know: “Anna, you are crazy.” I’m still going to keep trying though. Maybe one day you’ll come around, snookums! I’ll keep prayin’ until ya do! Dreamers never stop dreaming. At least this one doesn’t. :)

This week was filled with ups and downs, but most of all, it was filled with the Holy Spirit. Completely anointed. I have to share one last story: one of the new participants named Klaus acquired a spinal cord injury about six months ago. He came to camp, met all of these ridiculously joyful people, and asked questions about it. What happened next? Well this is how the conversation went between him and a couple of the other participants: the guys told him that they had found hope beyond their physical and cognitive limitations. They said they knew that they would never be whole on earth again, but that they wouldn’t be like this forever. Jesus was the focal point of the entire conversation, and Klaus ended up giving his life to Christ that same day. Incredible. Tear-jerking. Heart-wrenching. Good news. That’s what it’s all about. Giving people life beyond their limitations. Showing people what they’re capable of when they feel worthless. Encouraging people to look at all they’ve got rather than all they’ve lost. People’s lives have the potential to radically change, and in Klaus’ case, he got a brand new life in a split second. Tell me something that even comes close to comparing to that.

I am a recent graduate of Clemson University. I am the former therapeutic recreation intern at Outdoor Adventures. I am just one person. I make mistakes and I rarely do things exactly the way they’re supposed to be done. But I will make a difference in this world. Not by my own strength, but by the power of Jesus working in me. Every day is a gift, and I want the whole world to believe in that simple truth. Life is too sweet to just let it slip through your fingers. Make a change. Be the change. There is no power in being good, only in doing good. Help. Encourage. Support. Love. Laugh until you cry. Smile. See the glass as half full. Live your life.

If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” -Mother Teresa

There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” –Albert Einstein

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