“Ain't it funny how life changes? You wake up, ain't nothing the same.
You can't stop it, just hop on the train and you never know what's gonna happen.”
This song has been stuck in my head for the past some month. ISN’T IT CRAZY HOW LIFE CHANGES? Exactly four months ago I was certain that I am gonna spend the beginning of the year in Hawaii. I never doubted getting my visa renewal to stay in the states for just a little longer. Well, exactly that happened. Most of you guys already know that my visa got denied. I was in shock, I was sad, I was disappointed. Not being permitted to enter my second home, properly saying my goodbyes to my dear friends and not being able to have closure with this part of my life was hard! It took a few days to get over the fact that I now need to figure out what to do with my year and organize everything concerning Hawaii.
I am writing this post as an end of my time abroad working with a non-profit. But also as a new beginning. The four months that I have been back in Switzerland were filled with precious time hanging out with my nephew and niece, quality time with family & friends and figuring out my life. Easier said than done. A bunch of different thoughts have crossed my mind. From starting to study social work, to participating in a sail course in greece or to become a flight attendant. One of these things is what I am doing now. Which one could it be?
6 years ago I dreamed about it.
3 years ago I tried, but failed.
This year I tried again and succeeded.
After hours of preparation, an intense casting, medical check and applying I can now proudly say that I am cabin crew member for swiss! Well, in training :-). The next few weeks I will be spending in class learning about safety, firefighting, service, medical stuff etc. Then I will be doing short haul flights for a month until I will be trained on long haul flights. Everything is super exciting, new and also tiring. The job required me to move closer to the airport. That has also been a big adjustment. I now live 5 minutes away from the airport which is perfect, I have two awesome roomies and I am generally super happy how it all worked out. Today I had my first flight! My crew and I had a return flight to Milan. It was an incredible experience spent with super kind people, overlooking the alps in the cockpit. Being on the other side as a crew member for the first time was very interesting. I helped with welcoming the passengers, distributing our typical Swiss "schöggeli" and I even started an engine :D I can’t wait to actually start working!
Thanks to everyone that is reading this for being there and listening! I don’t know what’s gonna happen with my blog yet, if I will keep writing (maybe little insights on my job?!) or if it will be put on hold. I really enjoy writing and sharing my thoughts so I might do that once I settled a bit more into my new life.
I wanna leave you with this: We don‘t always understand the timing of things. If I would have been accepted for the job 3 years ago, I would have never gone to Hawaii. I would have missed a crucial part of my life. We don‘t always see the big picture if something doesn‘t work out, but God does. With that, don‘t give up on your desires and dreams just because they don‘t work out the first time. There might be something better coming your way or the timing might be better at another point in your life.
Right now, I am sitting in my parent’s apartment back home in Switzerland and I literally don’t know where this year went. Since living in Hawaii I feel like I have a different sense of time. Wow, what a journey it has been.
First of all, I want to thank every single one of you that supported me in this crazy adventure of quitting my job and committing 15 month of my life to volunteer with a non-profit. All that while not having a steady income, a lot of questions in my head and the urge to reconnect with my community in Wahiawa, Hawaii. Thanks to everyone that supported me financially, without you this year wouldn’t have been possible. Thank you for texting me, calling me, making sure I am okay on the other side of the world, while a hurricane came scary close ;) I want to say one special 'thank you' to my mom and dad: Thank you for trusting me and letting me go. You guys are the most supporting parents ever, never standing in the way of my dreams, always believing in me. All in all I am super thankful for you ALL!
As I said, I am currently in Switzerland. Getting my visa renewal is the main reason why I am here, as well as spending Christmas with my family, which is a HUGE blessing. Timing is great I have to say! The last season in Hawaii before heading home after almost a year (!!) was the best season I had so far at Surfing The Nations. It took me a long time, but I definitely arrived and I am super happy with where I am at.
>I still love working in Surfers Coffee, one of our business. It never gets boring in there and one of the most beautiful things about this place is, that the whole community comes together. Military, homeless. tourists, STN people. members of different churches, surfers. Everyone is welcome and accepted. Surfers Coffee helps supporting the non-profit and all the tips go towards improving Surfing the Nations. (Right now we are fundraising for floors to put in our future dance room. We will be having free dance classes for our Ulu Pono kids program.)
>Leading an interns connect group was super fun and it allowed me to get to know them on a deeper level. Elin, Kalani and Phoenix were the lovely ladies I got to lead. Seeing each one of them overcoming fears, growing in their identity and building beautiful friendships made me so proud!
> I got to stay in Junia and Isak's apartment twice for around two weeks each. A whole apartment to myself *YAY*! It was a huge blessing and I hosted some dinners, had amazing conversations and a sleepover. I love quality time with friends!
A huge thing that happened October 27 was that me and my roomies got to lead worship in Surfers Church alongside Danny. Leading worship is something that has been on my heart since I probably was 14 years old. I always loved singing but was too scared to actually do it. I finally overcame my fear of not being good enough. It was an evening to remember and that I got to share it with all my roomies made it even more special. Sometimes you just have to do what you are afraid of and KICK FEAR IN THE FACE. I can tell you, it is so worth it!
I am gonna hold this last newsletter for the year short. You guys are gonna find some pictures in the end to see what else I have been up to this fall. Before closing, you might be wondering what I am gonna do from now on. To bring some clarity: I am for sure gonna finish up my commitment in Hawaii, which ends in April (My return to Hawaii is in the hands of the embassy, since I am still waiting for my visa.) After that, I have different ideas but none of them are set in stone yet. It is for sure not gonna be boring I can tell you! The verse: 'For the Lord is bringing you into a good land, a land with brooks, streams and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills' is my assurance that I don’t need to have all the answers (even if I would take them. ALL OF THEM :D). Everything will fall into place in the right timing. And it will be good, as long as I trust and let go.
Now, I wish you a merry Christmas with a lot of joy and no stress. Life is too beautiful to be stressed and overlook all the little things. Enjoy the time with your family and friends, while you can. See you in the new year ! Love, Isa
Time is running. Exciting things are happening. It is the end of September, a new internship started and not too long from now I will be home. But before talking about the future and what I am excited for in this new season, I wanna take it back a little bit.
I AM A BARISTA
I started working as a barista in my favorite coffee shop ‘Surfers Coffee’!!! Since the first time entering this place 1.5 years ago, it was always a wish of mine to work in there. Now this dream became a reality! I get to work alongside amazing people 1-2 days a week. It is a true blessing and I am so thankful for all the opportunities I was given here in Hawaii so far. It is super fun to meet people outside of Surfing The Nations, learn new skills and .. get free coffee :D The other days of the week, I am serving in Campus Life, overseeing hospitality and housing. A big project that we have been working on the past two weeks was remodeling the guest room. Starting from a blank page and being able to use furniture and accessories from donation and our vintage store was a blast. You can find a before and after pictures down below. Junia’s parents are staying in there now for two weeks. I am happy with the outcome!
I LOVE MY FRIENDS
This community that I get to live in is a little piece of heaven. I am appreciating it more and more every day. Since I know that I won’t be in this place forever I try to soak in every second that I have with these people. The past two months I spent a lot of quality time with some of my favorite people. We visited the art museum, went camping, had a midnight dance party in the pouring rain, survived a hurricane and had cozy candle light dinners, ate the best cheesecake, were tourists and took pictures with a coconut, had picnics and spent hours talking about fish (This is one of Isak’s biggest passions). I fell in love with the idea of having a fish. So Mikael and me are now proud parents of a handsome Betta Fish :-)
EQUIP, BOND AND REFRESH
Between two internships we have a month called flex-month. August was one of these. In flex month we only have staff members and service teamers on property. A sense of calmness is in the air, staff are working hard to keep all the outreaches going and the property looking fresh. It is a time of rest and get filled up for the next season. We had a lot of staff bonding during flex-month. One week, we all we went costume bowling together. Then we had an intense workout and movie day the week after. Through an amazing staff conference which included great teachings, a cook-off, scavenger hunt we got equipped for what’s next...
36 NEW INTERNS! Everyone was hardcore preparing and getting ready for 36 new Interns from all over the world. How exciting. I love thinking back to my internship in spring 2017. It was for sure the best time of my life! I couldn’t wait to meet the new interns and see how their life gets rocked.
For this season I can’t wait to..
… Be a connect group and bible study leader in this internship. I have three girls in my group and I can’t wait to mentor them for the next three months, prepare them for their testimonies and cultivate a place where they can feel supported. All while having fun and bond together.
… Experience the ‘surf art and the surfer’ art show that Surfing The Nations puts on every fall
… Pick pumpkins in a pumpkin field
… Celebrate thanksgiving for the first time in my life
… Be fully trained as a barista in Surfers Coffee
… Build new relationships
… Get more into painting. That’s something I never did before but I really started enjoying it!
This season is gonna be all about growth in leadership, new relationships and the excitement of seeing all my loved ones back home in December!
Vanakam! Long time no see! It has almost been three months since I last posted here, sorry for that! In this blog post I would love to share my experiences in Sri Lanka with you, the highlights, the challenges and also what I learnt during these four weeks.
The adventure started July 4th, the independence day of USA. As some of you might know I love being on airplanes and I love airports, so traveling is very exciting for me. Me and three other members from our group flew out to Taipei first, then Bangkok where we stayed one night. Finally, on July 7th, we made it to Arugam Bay after a 7 hour bus ride and my first experience with a squatty potty (google it if you don’t know what this is :D). I was so excited to finally see Anthony and Meredith again (STN staff in Sri Lanka), dive into a new culture and serve Sri.
One of the reasons why I wanted to go to Sri Lanka was seeing how a STN-base looks like in another country. The base in Sri Lanka is focused on outreaches which I got a good taste of. Every Wednesday we had an amazing family night. In the afternoon, we prepared and cooked a meal for 70 - 80 people with the local women. After that we played Carrom, a South Asian board game, or volleyball with the kids, danced to Indian music, tried to walk on the slack line and just had a super fun time. Wednesdays were my favorite days. I completely fell in love with these local kids, how they trust you, are excited to see you and already scream your name from a distance. These kids don’t have a lot but are so filled with wonder and love.
Other outreaches that we had were ladies tea (bible study for women), movie night, swim and surf for the kids and teaching English in a muslim preschool. The days were filled with reaching out to people, building relationships, laughter, organizing activities for locals. It is a lot of pouring into others which is so rewarding and fulfilling, but can also be very tiring. Especially in this heat and humidity. My body didn’t do too well with that. The temperature was mostly around 38°C and never went below 26°C during the night. Between 12pm and 4pm it was too hot to even think, so we spent our afternoons napping or swimming in the ocean.
I want to tell you about a little boy named Vinu. On a Saturday we had surf and swim and I got assigned two boys which couldn’t swim. Both of them were very energized, always running in two different directions. Since they already had experienced kids drowning in the past I had a big responsibility! Vinu was the smaller kid, very sweet but he already went through a lot at his young age. He didn’t listen to me at all and I had a hard time keeping my eyes on both the boys. Disappointed that I couldn’t get his trust, we made our way back home. Four days later we were just done cooking curry for family night. Suddenly, someone grabs my hand. I didn’t realize who it was in the beginning. He pulled me towards a skateboard. It was Vinu that wanted to show me some tricks on the skateboard! I couldn’t believe that I finally got through to him. This was one of my favorite moments of the trip because it shows that investing time and love in kids is so rewarding, even if you don’t see the fruits immediately.
Another thing that I would like to share with you is how inspiring the Carothers and Anthony and Meredith were to me. The Carothers are a family with two kids that moved to Sri Lanka eight years ago. As full time staff of Surfing The Nations they have been tirelessly serving the community of Arugam Bay. Many sacrifices were made and they gave up a lot in there home country USA. Tiffany Carother shared in her testimony that she and her family want to spend the rest of her life in Sri Lanka, if God doesn’t call them elsewhere. This is commitment and obedience right there! Her and Cody, her husband, have heard the call and have been so committed to what they do ever since.
Sri Lanka is like nothing I have ever seen before! If you enter a new, unknown culture it is so important to honor it and bring awareness. I am so glad that I went to Sri Lanka with STN because the staff taught us a lot about the cultural differences and how to act in public. Us girls were always wearing clothes that covered our shoulders and our knees, if we were out on the streets or swimming in the ocean. This helped us a lot to connect with the local women, they really appreciated that we respect their culture. Especially as a foreign woman it is not easy to live in a country like Sri Lanka. All the girls had to go out in pairs and men can be very inappropriate. Luckily nothing ever happened to us but we heard stories about that.
Being in Sri Lanka made me appreciate the freedom that we have in western countries. Freedom of opinion, freedom of going out and explore, freedom of religion, freedom of dressing how you want- all these things are limited in Sri. The whole trip was a stretching experience. I had to learn how to keep a good attitude even if I’m uncomfortable, sweaty and have a headache. I had to learn how to keep my cool in stressful, unknown situations. I was co-leading this trip and in charge of the finances which was a challenge in itself. I am very thankful that I was given this opportunity because it taught me a lot.
This international trip pushed me outside of my comfort zone a lot- again. I feel like this never stops :P I had a lot of doubts in the beginning and I was questioning if it was the right decision to go. Honestly, sometimes I would just like to stay where I am and be comfortable. I could have chosen an easier path. Homesickness hit me there the first time ever. Why do I have to be so far away from home? So far away from the important people in my life? Do I even fit in? All these questions were spinning in my head. Growing is hard, change is a pain.
What I learned is that God is more interested in our character than in our comfort. For him it is all about transformation and he will never pass up on a chance to use life events to make us better. In these moments of struggle it helped me a lot to be thankful. Thankful for these relationships that I was able to build, that I can meet people from all over the world and learn from them, for the growth that is happening in me, that I get to live this crazy life and for YOU! Without you guys I wouldn’t have been able to go on this trip. Thanks to everyone who donated to me and supported me for this trip. You are not only impacting my life but the life of many others. Because of you we could feed many people every week, teach kids that live next to the ocean how to swim, teach preschoolers English which will benefit them a lot in their future, paint a house of a Sinhalese family, bless a local woman named Puspa and her daughter with some clothes, hand out toys to the local families. Most importantly, you made it possible for me to go and love on the people. Because in the end, all we want is to be loved.
For MORE pictures visit my gallery! :-)
WE MADE IT! On April 6. all of us eight students graduated from the leadership training program. Before I will tell you guys in which department I am working, I would like to rewind on the Wahiawa Community Festival to wrap this LTP season up.
Wahiawa Community Festival
The last weeks of our leadership training have been really exciting and fun. A big milestone that we had was the Wahiawa Community Festival. The goal of this event was to bring people to Wahiawa and to build relationships with each other in a fun environment. I already mentioned this event here. The event has been our ‘baby’ for three months. We worked hard, made a lot of phone calls, emails, painted, spent hours and hours on schedules. Our team organized bouncy houses, a lot of activities, wonderful food trucks, really talented musicians and more.
March 31 was the day. It was a day of laughter, great musicians, eating donuts in record time, people getting dunked and new friendships. Everything went smoothly and I wouldn't have picked another team to execute this project with. While organizing this festival I got so many opportunities to do things for the first time like going live on a radio station. WHAT? Yes, Kat and me got the chance to go on the radio station ‘the fish’. We had a blast with Tisha, the amazing radio host. Looking back, I am very thankful that this OSP (Ohana Service Project) was part of our leadership school. Many things that we learnt in the classroom we could put into practice.
MY NEW JOB
Every Saturday, we had department day. This gave us an opportunity to get an insight into the different departments that STN has. My top three departments that I would have liked to work in were global, marketing and surfers coffee. PLOT TWIST. I have to say that I was pretty shocked when they announced that I will be part of campus life. I totally didn’t have this department on my radar. It took me a while to acquire a taste for it.
I have to say, now after working in this department for a month, I am starting to like it. I am in charge of hospitality, so if guest come in I prepare their room, make welcome baskets for them, ensure the room gets cleaned after they left. I put people into apartments, make sure that one bed is not double booked and that all the apartments have what they need. I do cleaning checks in the apartments. I also do little random things like staff birthday cards, key fobs and I buy office supplies. Campus Life does a lot of diverse activities and it never gets boring. I have a lot of freedom in my job and I work individually most of the time. It is stretching and challenging. It is an attitude check. We will see how long I will work there, because it can change during this year. But for now, I am learning to work with different people, I learn to advocate for myself and I try to develop my own vision besides my job here.
Since I came out to Hawaii the first time, I allowed myself to dream. To have crazy dreams and visions. We limit ourselves so often. We tell ourselves way too early how impossible and unrealistic it is that our dreams will ever become a reality. But if you have a big passion for something, it will give you a boost of motivation. Take this motivation and try at least! You can’t lose anything, but you will regret it if you don’t even try. “Passion fuels you to press past your fear in order to fulfill the purpose that God called you to”.
Extract of my journal March 11: "I dream of living somewhere where I am really involved with the locals and their culture. Kids are running around, we play with them and teach them English. I want to have a place where people feel welcome, where we can worship and have bonfires together. I want to serve people and love on them. I am still dreaming about sailboats, about peace, ocean and good laughter. Imagine how that would be to have a sail ministry. #sailingthenations? Who knows? ;D"
“If your dreams don’t scare you, they are now big enough”, right?!
This brings me to a dream that I already had for years. I want to travel. I want to see and get involved into new cultures. I want to serve others internationally. I want to teach kids English. Surfing The Nations has an international trip to Sri Lanka this summer. It is a trip of serving the community of Arugam Bay. Sometimes it takes a while until you realize that you are supposed to do something. I realized that I have this deep desire to help Anthony and Meredith (the base leaders) with the new base and build relationships with the locals. I want to experience this. Taking suitcases full of clothes, toys, basic living supplies and give it to people in need. Bring surfboards and use surfing as a tool to get to know people and love on them. Show the kids that they are loved when no one else does it. I want to give back to people that are less privileged than we are. Shoot me a message. I would love to tell you more about it :-)
Well, LTP is officially over and a lot of new adventures are coming. I will keep you all updated! Until next time!
Salt is here! The sailing adventure trip was for sure the one thing I was looking forward to the most in our leadership training program. Five days living on a boat and sailing the ocean- it doesn’t get much better.
Normally, the leadership class sails to other islands like Molokai, Lanai and Maui. Since the conditions in the channel to Molokai were really bad, we were not able to leave Oahu. A little bummed, we made our way to the harbor in Honolulu. As soon as I saw our boat, a catamaran called Naia (Hawaiian for dolphin), I was extremely excited. I couldn’t believe that we are gonna spend our next days on this boat. Boats are actually one of my happy places - I love everything about it. The peaceful atmosphere, driving on the deep water, being free from all the worldly attachments and so close to many wonders. This is a once in a lifetime experience!
Once we went through some safety checks and filling up the water, we were ready to leave. The waves were pretty big and I already enjoyed every second of it. In the afternoon I had the chance to talk to our captain James. He has a big passion for the outdoors, problem solving and travelling. He then asked me, if I want to steer the boat. I felt honored, but also uncertain what I really needed to do. After a while, I understood how the ocean, our boat and the wind worked together and I had a lot of fun. Hours later, we arrived at our first night stop, way after the ‘whistling swan’ (that was the boat of the other group - a monohull). This night we were staying on the westside of Oahu. Jayde and me started making dinner - on today's menu was beef tortillas. As a whole Ohana we debriefed the day on our catamaran. We shared the goals that we have for this trip. My goals were a lot of spiritual time, being present and taking challenges with an open mindset. Thoughts: I am endlessly thankful to be able to live on a boat. I am totally in love and I honestly want to buy a boat one day.
Mornings on our boat looked like this: We woke up at 6am, were either on breakfast preparation or dish duty, had a quiet time and then a morning swim around our boats. At 9am we started sailing. It was the most peaceful some hours. Before lunch, we had the chance to go swimming in the middle of the ocean at a deep water buoy. I was happy to go into the water, because that was the first time I felt a little nauseous. Going to swim in the deep dark sea with a strong current- I had a lot of respect doing this. We ended up jumping from the sailboat with our snorkel gear on and it was insane! There was nothing but a big black hole underneath us. It was so deep, that you couldn’t see the bottom of the sea. I felt so small and every worry felt so unimportant. I can’t describe this experience with any words, you have to see it with your own eyes. Some more sailing, awesome conversations and relaxing awaited me in the afternoon. You can’t really do that much more on a sailboat :) It was around 3 when we reached our spot for the second night: Keawaula Beach on the westside. Captain James then drove us to shore with the Dinghy and we all went for a walk along the shore. The westside of Oahu is so beautiful and untouched. I enjoyed catching up with the people from the other boat and talking story. Before sunset, we made our way back to our boats. We had dinner and tea on ‘the hammock’ how I always called the front part of our boat. It was the most beautiful setting ever with the mountains in the background. Jayde and I decided to sleep outside and take it all in. Having the full moon brighten up the scenery around us and the stars dancing above our heads was just magical. It was so simple and yet one of my favorite moments of this trip. Thoughts: This night was unreal and I can’t believe that I get to experience moments like this. I don’t need a lot to be happy. I just need nature, a boat and Jesus.
The third day, our crew was peacefully eating breakfast. Suddenly, our catamaran was surrounded by a pod of dolphins. We dropped everything, put our snorkel gear on and jumped into the cold water. Not long after that, around 50-60 dolphins were swimming underneath us! This was such an unreal experience. Swimming with dolphins has been a dream of mine since I watched Full House at age six. I had to pinch myself to be able to grasp that this was truly happening. Todays journey lead us through the windy and messy sea direction north shore. We learnt a lot about sailing this day: How to make knots, how to change direction of the chipsail, different expressions etc. Arrived in Haleiwa (It was funny seeing Haleiwa from the other side, since we spend a lot of time there in our free time), we all went to an ice cream place together, which had the best ice cream flavours! To our surprise, Kat and me then run into a friend from last year, that was visiting Oahu for a week. Always the best encounters happen here! Later that night it was time for another game night. Because the LTP class was separated into two boats, moments like these were very special. We all had a lot of fun and got to know who has a good poker face and who doesn’t ;)
Instead of a morning swim, we had a workout at Ali’is beach that morning. I wasn’t feeling too good that morning, so doing activities made me even more nauseous. I honestly think that I got land sick that day. Who knew that something like this existed?! Back on the boat, I started feeling way better and it was one of the most relaxing days ever. I journaled, read the bible, napped and enjoyed the breeze. Electric beach was the last place we anchored after some hours of sailing. Jayde, Ani and me prepared dinner for everyone and then played some more card games. I was hoping for a beautiful sunset on the last evening. While eating dinner, the colors of the sky changed and we were blessed with one wonderful sunset. Capturing the beauty with a camera was just impossible. We tried anyways. As a wrap up of the last night, we wrote affirmations for everyone in our journals. It was awesome going through the past four days and thinking about all the little moments that we had together.
Right next to where we anchored, there is a pipe running out into the ocean. The water that comes out of this pipe is warmer than the ocean, what attracts a variety of sea life. This is why electric beach is such a good spot to go snorkeling. We spent our last morning snorkeling and seeing a lot of dolphins again. While sailing back to the harbor, the waves were messy and our boat was pretty shaky. Ani and me were talking about love and relationships. Deep in our conversation, we didn’t realize how big the waves were and that a wave was about to crush on our boat and fully soak us. Luckily, we could hold onto something but we got an unexpected shower anyways. After we understood what just has happened, we couldn’t do anything else other than bursting into laughter. What a good way to end this trip.
Salt was wonderful. I completely fell in love with sailing. I even fell more in love with the water than I already was. I found peace again. I recharged. It was such a special trip to me that I will treasure in my heart forever. Something that made this trip unforgettable, was getting to know everyone in a different setting. Each person comes alive in a different way. For some it is catching a big fish after hours of waiting, going swimming at a deep-sea buoy where there is seemingly nothing but a black hole, steering the sailboat (that was me) or playing card games until midnight.
Overall, the trip was a time to gather energy for the busy month ahead of us. It was a time of supporting each other when someone wasn’t feeling well and with lots of laughter, midnight talks while night watches and encouraging each other to overcome fears. It was an incredible experience.
This trip was already a while ago as some of you might now. It has actually been 1.5 months. But since SALT was so special to me, I wanted to share my experiences anyways. To wrap the three months of leadership training up, I will do a last blogpost with all the details of my graduation and my job! Get excited for that!
Read part one here!
… We had exactly eleven minutes to wake up, put running shoes on and be ready for boot camp (In my case I already spent 5 minutes putting in my contacts). The leaders paired us up into two teams - We named our team the ‘fiery four’. I was with Kat, Lucy and Andria. The whole day contained of challenges. From finding eggs in the forest for breakfast, to memorizing a rhyme that we are able to find ‘yellow diamonds’ (that stood for corn), making fire and keeping the fire going throughout the day, shooting cans, finding also our lunch buried somewhere in the woods, solving an equation. The list goes on and on.
As you might see, we had many physical activities but also solid brain-work. It was difficult to split our energy, because we never knew what the next challenge was and how many challenges awaited us in the end. Everyone on our team had their time of break-down and their time to shine; we balanced each other out and motivated each other to keep going. During the day, we prayed a lot for each other. Two people, including me, were sick. That made all the physical activities even more challenging. After the last challenge, which was putting together the mission statement of STN, we had a three hour (!!!) quiet time. Before I am going into this, I would like to share our mission statement with you. This will give you a better idea, what Surfing The Nations is all about:
“Surfing The Nations impacts local and international communities through the sport of surfing and selfless service by meeting needs and changing lives.”
Back to the quiet time. It was the first time on this trip, where we were the master of our time. The leaders blessed us with this time to reflect on the past days and process all the experiences and feelings. I spent this time walking around, trying to take in the beauty of this campground. Then, I sat down at a picnic table and journaled. All of a sudden, there were two little kids running around, without having any worries, just enjoying themselves and nature. These two captured my attention and I came to this realization: I want to have this for my kids one day. Being outside, having a connection to mother earth, rather playing with sticks and stones than with phones. I loved how they just came up to me and told me that the little boy is ‘living on a big hill’ and the girl is ‘living on a road’ - so precious, open minded and free.
After these three hours, the leaders had the best surprise ever for us: They prepared dinner for us. BURGERS AND WATERMELON *yum*. After days of little/canned/tasteless food, this was heaven! We enjoyed this meal to the fullest. The day ended at the bonfire with all of us answering some random questions like “if you could find true love or a suitcase with 1 million $, what would you choose?” or “what is your favorite ice cream”. It was a really fun evening being in everyone's presence. The last night went by and we started to break down camp the next morning. At 8 am we left the camping ground. Guess what? The next challenge awaited us. No surprise anymore. Everyone was blindfolded, except two people were deaf and one person was allowed to speak. We had to make our way down the mountain safely. Obviously, that wasn’t enough of a challenge and the leaders put some obstacles in our way what we either had to go around or through. Some hours and good conversations later, we made it down! I couldn’t believe it! To our surprise, the leaders took us to a beach nearby. I was extremely excited to jump into the ocean after four days of no shower. Floating in the ocean and laughing about the past few days was the best feeling ever. I felt free!
OUR LTP CLASS MADE IT! I am so proud of each and everyone of us for getting through these days. I am thankful for all the challenges, kick in the butts, stargazing, garlic salt, views, doing things for the first time and just an unforgettable experience. Looking back now, I am so glad that I went through all the challenges, it taught me a lot. After a lot of reflection on this trip, I tried to put all the things learnt on paper.
‘Things that I learnt on ROCK’:
That was my last part of the Radical Ohana Camping Kickoff. I know, it took me a while, I am sorry about that. The past few weeks have been crazy. Our LTP class in the midst of organizing a big event the ‘Wahiawa Community Festival’, we are studying hard and constantly getting more equipped to be officially on staff in three weeks. I honestly can’t believe, that this leadership is coming to an end so soon! Where did the time go? I am so excited for the next season and I can’t wait to share more experiences with you all. The next post will be about the sailing trip that we got to be part of. It was the best five day ever, I am just in awe of the beauty of this earth. Be ready! Love, Isabel
RADICAL OHANA CAMPING KICKOFF. From February 8 - 11 our LTP class embarked on our first adventure trip. The trip was honestly everything! More exhausting, exciting and educational that I could have ever imagined. But let’s start at the beginning.
One day before we were supposed to leave, I developed a fever out of nowhere. I was really upset about it, because I didn’t know how it would evolve. I rested the whole afternoon and luckily felt a bit better the morning of the trip. I didn’t have a fever anymore but my body felt weak and I was still coughing (I had this cough for a long time already. Apparently what could have made it worse again is the volcanic smog from the volcano on the big island.) Thanks to my two leaders that encouraged me to go on the trip and be part of this bonding experience.
Thursday 10 am, us eight students and two of our leaders left STN property. Sara, a staff member, drove us to the Dillingham airfield. After arriving there, the leaders told us to count how many steps it takes us to walk 100 meters. This helped us later on, to find geopaks on our hike. The first stage was 300 meters long and we were all tied together with a rope. For me, 100 meters were 140 steps, so I had to count to 420 steps. Our LTP class found the first geopak which consisted of our breakfast: Yummy Oatmeal! On our way up the mountain, we were supposed to find four geopaks, but only found two. After arriving at our camping spot for the night, we were divided into two teams. Our team was in charge of setting up the tents (Well, it was rather a tarp than anything else). The other one was collecting wood to start the fire. When we were done with setting everything up, our leaders told us what we get for dinner.
A little story beforehand: When we were packing for our trip, the leaders distributed the equipment to us eight students. Some of us had ropes, the tarps, a griddle, a water-pod. In a team of two each, we were given one bag of food which consisted of two apples, two potatoes, one can of chicken, some trail-mix (love it) and that was pretty much it. Also, the whole group only got one roll of toilet paper. The last thing that the leaders gave us were two chickens. Chickens that were alive! (More to that later on). In general, we had little to no information about anything. We didn't know if we are going to leave the island, we didn't know if we will be at the beach, in the woods. Basically we didn't know how these next four days will look like at all. The organized person in me had already to learn a lot here :-)
So, the first night, we were allowed to eat half a potato each person. I have to say that the potatoes are pretty big here ;) After a day of little food, we all were really happy about that potato. And the best part about it was, that we had seasoning- garlic salt and pepper *YUM*. The rest of the evening looked like this: Having a bonfire, a lot of laughter, two of the leaders sharing their testimony, stargazing and just awesome fellowship.
The next morning came around. A magical view awaited us, hills covered by green fluff, birds singing a beautiful melody. These are the things to be thankful for. I have to pinch myself often to realize that this is my life right now. We got to have quiet-time in God's wonderful creation. Breaking down camp, hiking till noon and finding another amazing view was how the next few hours looked like. At the lunch spot, I tried canned chicken for the first time in my life. To my surprise: It was very tasty! Being in awe of the view and lost in my daydream, the leaders informed us that we are already leaving for the next stage. We hiked for some more hours until we were given a new challenge: They told us a hypothetical story that Isak was paralyzed because of falling down a hill as I ran after him and broke my leg. Now, we had to come up with a solution on how we wanted to keep on going. Kevin carried Isak, Andria helped me walking and everyone else was carrying two big backpacks. We all were really exhausted and it was hard to stay motivated. I had to give up control over the situation and let Andria help me. We switched between her piggybacking me and me jumping on only one leg. It was extremely tiring. We were also given the instruction to stay together as a team the whole time. This exercise was really challenging and that we didn’t know how far we needed to go made it even harder. Long moments later we reached the goal. A campsite in the middle of the forest.
Real life kicked in in a split of a second: Our guest staff (Daniel), that was supposed to be at the campsite already, got stuck with his truck. This wasn’t a hypothetical story, but serious trouble. He took a wrong turn at some point and ended up on a really dangerous road. All the guys and Lucy found a guy with a car, drove to Daniels location and were able to find him with only a screenshot of his direction. To everyone's shock, two wheels were completely hanging off a cliff! The only thing that prevented the car from falling down the cliff was a tree! After some brainstorming they tied a slack-line and a rope to the car and slowly tried to drive the car back on the road. God’s protective hand was totally over this situation. “Adventure starts where everything goes wrong’, this was a quote that I remembered from one of our teachings. We saw this with our own eyes in this moment.
While all of this happened, we girls were setting up camp, started a bonfire and a special challenge was waiting for us. We still had two living chicken… Now you might know what is coming. And we knew that sooner or later we will need to do it. Sorry to all the animal-lovers, but it was part of our trip. So we went for it and killed the chicken named Henrietta and Bob (I leave the details out, if you want to know them I can share them with you :P), pulled the feathers out and took all the insides out. Then we cleaned, seasoned and cooked it. I am happy that I will never have to do this again (hopefully). Right when we were done with all of these tasks, the other half of our group including Daniel made it back safely. It was a crazy second day full of adventure (maybe a little too much? :D), challenges and bonding moments. We debriefed the day by having everyone share their happy and crappy moment of the day. This was always a highlight of my days: Sitting around the bonfire and talking stories. At this point, I didn’t know yet how hard the next day will be..
… To be continued. Part two will follow as soon as possible :-)
Weekends are for beach (good weather) and movies (bad weather)
The past few weeks, the weather has been crazy out here. We had storms, crazy amount of rain and wind. The nights are pretty cold and you should always have a backup plan for the day because of the rain. On the 4. of February, I went to the movies with Kat. Everyone at Surfing The Nations was talking about the new movie “the greatest showman”. So we thought, we would give it a try, even if I am not a huge musical fan. I have to say, the movie was aaawesome; I can totally recommend it to you! From the actors to the story and to the songs. Loved it! One highlight of this day was, that I bought a pink, fluffy bathrobe. Honestly, it is the coziest thing ever and it reminds me of home, since I have a similar one back home.
Monday came around and Junia, Isak and me wanted to work on our tan. Despite the rain, we went to the beach on the westside (the side with the least rain). After a 45 minute drive (that is a long drive when you’re living in Hawaii), we finally arrived at Mākaha Beach, one of the prettiest beaches around here. The afternoon consisted of naps, good conversations and running back and forth between the beach and the car to hide from the rain. When we came out of the water, we even saw a big turtle! That was awesome. We could relax and that was exactly what we needed. The relaxing atmosphere was over when they told me in the apple store that they couldn’t do anything for my laptop and my pictures. I either have to send it in for 500$ and get it fixed or buy a new one. Still brainstorming; advices and donations are highly appreciated ;)
Every Saturday, our LTP class has department days. On these days, we have the chance to get to know each department better. This gives us a taste of how our days will look like after our graduation. I already had an insight into the outreach departments Ulu Pono (kids program) and Feeding the Hungry as well as our businesses Surfers Coffee and the Vintage Store. One of my favorite days so far was in the businesses, especially the Surfers Coffee. We got to learn how to make acai bowls, use the checkout and make some drinks. I had a blast serving people coffee and telling them about Surfing The Nations. I love how people are so openminded here.
Old new friends
I have to tell you guys about two of my favorite encounters so far and how small Oahu is. One day we went shopping in Honolulu and I was looking through some clothes in Forever 21. Suddenly, I saw this woman. I instantly recognised her. Ty picked us up when me and two friends were hitchhiking last March. We chatted for a while and she invited me to ride horses with her, since she works on a horse farm. She lives really close to the beach on the north shore. This woman is awesome! Another encounter happened some days later. Something got rescheduled in our schedule on Friday. So I was sitting in our Coffee Bar one hour later than usually. I was focused writing my journal when I saw this woman that looked familiar to me. It was Carli, a woman that I met at a church on the North Shore last year as well. She is such a sweetheart and I can’t wait to get to know her better. Carli is a photographer and got married on Oahu last year. This is what I love about Hawaii: These kind of encounters, the openness of people and the opportunity to build new friendships with strangers better than anywhere else.
I feel so blessed to do all of this. Although it is harder than I ever thought it will be, I am endlessly thankful that I was given the opportunity to move across the globe. That I am constantly pushed. That I get challenged physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. That I can meet people from all over the world and have the best talks. That I can explore this beautiful island called Oahu. All of this would have never been possible without you guys reading these lines right now. Thank you for supporting me from the beginning on. Thank you for believing in what I am doing. Thank you for letting me do this, for all the love that you are constantly giving me, for checking on me while I am over 12’000km away. Thank you everyone for all the love, texts, calls, support (mentally and financially). I love you all so much and I miss you all so much! <3
SPOILER ALERT: Get excited guys! The next blog post will be about the first adventure trip that we had. I am working on it right now and I thought that this experience deserves a blog itself. There will be a lot of pictures and stories about these crazy four days in the wilderness with few food and a lot of challenges.
First, I want to share a little bit about the past few weeks here at STN. We already had the chance to be part of different outreaches. On the 18. of January, our LTP class went to Kalihi to serve at our food distribution program called “Feeding the Hungry” (FTH). We have different volunteers from all over the island that are helping out every week. Teamwork is so important on days like these. It makes the whole process faster. Because of that, we built chains to place all the food on the right spot. Kat, me and some other volunteers did the registration for over 500 people that came that day. Connecting with the locals was such a blessing. I had a lot of fun that day while handing out food.
Two days later, half of our LTP joined our kids program “Ulu Pono”. We prepared lunch and picked up the kids to go to the beach. It was a bit hectic. You definitely need to be flexible here at STN. The weather could change every moment, a car could break down or it might take you one hour to ask the parents of the kids if we can take them somewhere. Finally at the beach, I sprained my two fingers while playing rugby. At least I have a new nickname now: “Fat Finger” (A kid named Charlotte gave it to me, pretty funny actually :D). Hanging out with the kids was a blast and it is amazing to see how open and loving they are. Once they know your name, they always call your name and run up to you to hug you.
Weeekend and that means: a lot of homework *yey*! After working pretty much the whole Sunday on essays, we did our first hike on Monday morning. Leaving the house at 5am was so worth it to see this magical sunrise (picture down below). Junia, Isak, Debora and me did the Lanikai Pillbox hike. Also, I feel local now: I got an American phone number and we bought a car!!!! WHAT?! I am so glad that I can check that off from my to-do list.
In our LTP class we finally started planning our OSP (Ohana Service Project). This is an event that we get to organize the next two months. We came up with the name and idea of a WAHIAWA COMMUNITY FESTIVAL. Right now, we are in the process of figuring out our goals and making to-do lists. I am in charge of communication/marketing. It is really exciting to plan a big event and at the same time we are really challenged since nobody from our team ever did something like this before. I will keep you all updated about this :)
Wow, I could go on and on. Our days are full, thrilling and inspiring as you might be able to tell. Sometimes, I really don’t know where my head is. There is so much information that I need to process and so little time. I love people and I love building relationships. This is inevitable especially living in community. I see when people are not feeling well and I try to offer a helping hand wherever I go. But I also learnt, that it is really important for me to take time for myself and for God. I need to have this quiet time to recharge and be able to give back to others. Never give more to people than you have.
The new month started kind of rough for me. The 1. of February was totally not my day. It started while surfing, where I was trying to push my limits. What is a good thing, but I wanted more than my body and mostly my back could handle. I pressured myself, because I want to become better at surfing. However, my back isn’t really participating in this. I need to take baby steps. Sometimes you have to go a step back in order to be able to go even further. The whole day was messy and having my laptop breaking down in this season of organizing a big event didn’t really help (LOL). I think, these things just added to the fact that I couldn’t really process my thoughts and my brain was operating the whole time. Being open and honest about how I am feeling is something that I am learning right now. At home, I don’t really like to talk about feelings and what I am struggling with. It is easy to hide it there and I like to fix most things by myself. Living in community and being constantly surrounded by people makes it harder to hide. Luckily, I have awesome people around me that listen and support me. I feel so blessed to have them here.
I just wanted to share this to remind you: Having a bad day every once in a while is totally okay. It is okay to cry your eyes out - It is better than trying to keep it all together and then burst when everything becomes too much. The important thing is to see an end to it. Tomorrow is a new day and this day gives you a lot of new opportunities. Get yourself back up and make the best out of every situation. You just see the situation you are in right now, but Jesus sees the big picture. And I promise that better times are coming. You just have to be open to it and willing to let change happen in your life.
Text me for further details and questions!