This week we hear from Alex on our Hawaii and Western Program. While our Programs make some of the best memories they are also a learning tool for our Students.
As I sat at a wooden picnic table inside a quaint Hawaiian hostel with my left foot in a bowl of Coca Cola and surrounded by 13 people I considered strangers three weeks ago, I was forced to ponder where I had gone wrong in life to put myself in this situation. A year ago, if I could have seen myself that day I would have been extremely concerned for my future mental sanity. Laughing at the ridiculousness of the situation I was in, my current day self was also a little concerned for my mental sanity. But I also couldn’t help but feel broken down and worn out, accompanied with a confusing excitement. In that one moment I was faced with many challenges, but through the travels and experiences Pacific Discovery had put me through up to that point I couldn’t help but see the beauty in those challenges.
On February 24th, alongside the Hawaii Western group A, I began a three day surf camp. The first day was amazing, as everybody started the day praying they could at least survive the waves and finished it surfing all the way to the shore. On the second day, as the group and I sat in the water waiting for waves, I discovered that I could do a headstand on a surfboard. Immediately I was challenged to do that while riding a wave, and obviously I accepted. So, with the aid of our surf instructor Lihiki, I caught a wave and propelled my feet above my head. Hearing cheers as I rode towards the shore, I threw myself off the board in excitement. Yet the ocean wasn’t as excited for me. When my foot hit the bottom I immediately felt a sharp pain in my toe. I didn’t think much of it, so I paddled back to the group hoping to catch a wave on the next swell that was coming. But when I pulled my foot above the water, Lihiki screamed “Wana” and pointed at my big toe. Eight needles were coming out of my toe and I realized I had stepped on a venomous sea urchin.
Fast forward about 4 hours, I sat with my toe in Coca Cola because the surf instructors had told me that it worked extremely well to disintegrate the spines in my toe. I had the time of my life surfing, but that joy had flipped and resulted in a fairly serious pain in my foot. Down on my luck, I couldn’t help but feel broken down. Every step I took hurt and to make matters worse the group was hoping to walk through the town of Kona that afternoon. The rest of the day was not looking to bright for me. I thought I would have to deal with the pain on my own and just suck it up. However, I could not have been more wrong. The rest of the day, everyone in the group had taken my challenge as their own. Some people spent time researching how to ease the pain as others helped me to find new ways to get the spines out. I also relied on what my instructors had already taught me about facing hardships and took the pain head on. And later that day as I walked through Kona with the group, everyone was periodically checking on me to make sure I was alright. The broken down feeling I was faced with earlier that day had blissfully faded away. The help of my group, alongside the lessons about dealing with challenges that Pacific Discovery had already taught me and shown me, allowed the weight of my challenge to tumble off my shoulders. That night my toe was still in lots of pain, but that didn’t matter to me. I knew if it got really bad I had the tools around me to deal with it. The venom in my toe was no longer a challenge, but simply a bump in the road that was our 70 day trip. The next day, feeling refreshed and excited, I was back on the board doing a headstand.