There was the longest, most interminable bus ride in the history of the universe to start off the trip. Someone suggested we try a night ride to have more time at the beach so we started the trip at midnight, hauling two asleep kids out of bed into full excitement. There was a miscount and we rode a bus that seats 45 with 47 people. Nate spent half the night sleeping on the floor. Eden didn't sleep but she respectfully held herself back from speaking to Bryan who was dead asleep beside her. There was no a/c on the bus for the first half and everyone was sweating at 2am. There was a police check that sent us scrambling to hide two people while they walked up and down the bus. 7.5 hours on that bus for what takes our family 4.5 hours.

But then we were at the beach and you can't complain about that. Three days to intentionally rest, enjoy each other, say goodbye and prepare the students to transition back home. There were spikeball tournaments, a few earthquakes, a whiffle ball game where I accidentally jumped on top of a student out of my excitement to have scored a run. There was Bernabe's everyday for lunch for blistering hot patacones sprinkled with salt and lime and fresh fish grilled, fried and in coconut sauce. There were sand mermaids and holes that kids got buried into. The kids cleared their full size plates every meal, pot-bellied and drowsy by the end from so much wave splashing. There was a soccer game in the sand with the boys from Bernabe's and waves and boogie boarding for hours. I barely saw my kids during the day but it was beautiful to watch the students engage them, immerse themselves in make believe worlds in the waves and pool and create special memories for Canaan and Eden. There was one meal where we couldn't find Eden and had to hope she'd walked ahead to the restaurant with Tamra, one of her favorite students (she had but there was definitely a lecture about telling us where she is going when we found her!) There was Dutch Blitz at night when the breeze died and the sweating started and one night there was an attempt to waterboard EBB and I and we ended up sopping wet on the floor. Also an early morning run with Noe and Tanner down to the end of the beach and back. There was some stress about a student's safety that kept me and a few others on high alert. Mostly there was just time. Time to enjoy the relationships that had been created. Time to reflect and get perspective on the months of change. Time to just sit on a beach towel next to someone and speak truth into their lives. Time for me with my Spiritual Director to talk about the ways Jesus is moving in my heart.

There were morning devotions with worship before solo time activities to help students talk to God and reflect on their experience. After dinner there was group time where the students learned about reverse culture shock and re-entry tools such as how to tell their story. And after group time was always dessert. We do DESSERT in Living & Learning. The last night was Affirmation Night where students have a chance to affirm anyone in the room. I was surprised to have a number of students speak publically about the therapy work they had engaged in with me. In a profession where we rarely receive recognition because everything is private it was really meaningful to me that they spoke those words aloud. And then there were fireworks and sparklers on the beach to celebrate.

Our last morning there was a baptism service in the waves where Justin and Lauren and two students publically talked about their commitment to Jesus.

 

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