Hey y’all! Greetings from the great state of Texas!! I arrived home this past Saturday (August 9) and have been back at my home away from home in Fort Worth, hard at work with my sorority for spirit week in preparation for Panhellenic Formal Recruitment next week. But let’s back up a little bit…I wanted to write one last post about my time in California this summer! I hope you’ll experience with me the string of emotions that are attached to such a crazy transitional time of wrapping up summer project.
The last time I wrote, we were preparing for our Christmas in July theme party, which we invited our co-workers to for a great time of dinner, Christmas karaoke, cookie/gingerbread house decorating, and wearing tacky Christmas outfits! It was so much fun to have them come to our motel and just be goofy with us. Two weeks after that party, as one of our last events as a project, we hosted our final theme party, “Taste of the South”. This one was a little more laid-back as more of a farewell to our co-workers (sad!). We had a great Southern meal, karaoke, and as always, dancing! We always love to spend time with our amazing Boardwalk co-workers! Here are a few photos from the parties:
“Awkward family photo”
Action Group at Christmas in July
Tahlia & I with our co-worker friend Chelsi at Taste of the South!
Tyler and I – sorority girls!
Another significant event that happened in the last few weeks of project was God allowing me to lead my co-worker friend, Madison, to Christ! My relationship with Madison began towards the end of June, when I worked with her at Whiting’s one day, and I invited her to join us for dinner later that week on the night that I would be sharing my testimony in front of everyone! She was eager to come and get to know others from our group. After that, she went out to lunch and shopping downtown with several of the other project girls that also worked for Whiting’s, and she continued to come to meals whenever she got the chance and get to know us. One day, she and I took a walk down to the lighthouse on the West Cliff by the beach. It’s a beautiful view and we got into a great conversation about our spiritual backgrounds, and I had the chance to go more in depth with her about my story of how I came to know Christ! I then felt the Lord leading me to share the gospel with her, but alas, we were distracted by some kids who were cliff-jumping into the water! We watched them for a few minutes and then Madison seemed ready to turn around and walk back. I was disappointed, because I felt that the depth of our conversation may not be able to continue, and I didn’t know if I would be able to share the gospel as directly as I had wanted to. However, as the Lord in His sovereignty would have it, as I was hopping the short metal fence that you have to go over in order to get back to the main part of the sidewalk, my foot got caught between the bars and I twisted my ankle as I was coming down the other side of the fence! It hurt really badly and I almost started to black out…Yikes. Thankfully there was a bench nearby, so Madison quickly helped me get over to it to sit down and recover. After a few minutes of recovering and my pain easing a little bit (though my ankle did begin to swell up – don’t worry, it healed after a couple of days!), the Lord allowed me to transition smoothly back into the conversation she and I had been in! I asked her if I could share more in detail what we (Cru summer project) believe, and she said yes! I pulled out the Knowing God Personally booklet and began to share with her that God loves us very much, but because we are all sinners, we deserve eternal separation from God and His love for us. However, because God desires to know us personally, He provided His one and only Son as the provision for our sins to die on the cross, the punishment that we deserved, and rise again 3 days later. Because of this, when we place our trust in Christ, we can be forgiven for all of our sins and begin a relationship with the one true God! I could tell that as I was sharing this, Madison was understanding what I was saying, and it seemed to have personal meaning to her. Long story short, when I asked her if she would like to pray to receive Christ, she was hesitant at first, but after understanding more about God’s grace and mercy towards her, she decided that she did want to pray for a relationship with Jesus Christ! I am extremely thankful that God blessed me with such an amazing opportunity in this conversation with eternal significance, even if it did mean twisting my ankle so that we could sit back down 🙂 This was definitely the highlight experience of my time in Santa Cruz!!
Here is a photo of me with my sweet friend and new sister in Christ, Madison:
As part of wrapping up our time in Santa Cruz, we had to say goodbye to the children’s ministries at each of the churches that we served at during the length of our stay this summer! I was so blessed by my experience serving in the 4th and 5th grade class at Santa Cruz Bible Church, with one of my project friends, Daniel. Here is a photo of us with all the kids on our last day at the church:
SCBC children’s ministry
Next came wrapping up our time working at the Boardwalk. Unfortunately I never got a picture while wearing my work uniform (not sure why I never took one!), but here is a photo of the infamous “Boardwalk” entrance sign lit up at night. This place will always, always hold a special place in my heart:
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
One of my favorite things I got to do this summer was saved for the tail end of my time in California. Yosemite National Park is probably the most beautiful sight I have ever laid eyes on and I had the pleasure of hiking there for 6+ hours with several project friends! I didn’t feel up for taking on the challenge of Half Dome like so many other project people did, but I was challenged nonetheless on my 8-mile hike up to Nevada Falls! Here are some shots from the day – they really don’t do the beauty of it all any justice, but they give you an idea:
Rebeca, Rebekah, and Rebecca 🙂
Reppin’ that ADPi
The last week of project, after returning from Yosemite, was filled with saying goodbye to co-workers and our favorite places in Santa Cruz, breaking down everything we had set up in our motel, replacing the normal motel beds and such, packing up our personal things, and hardest of all, saying goodbye to each other. Let’s just say that tears were flowing. One of my favorite things from that week was our Appreciation Banquet for all of our employers/supervisors from the summer! It was really nice to get all dressed up, eat a fancy meal, and hear from several speakers about how this summer has impacted us and how much we appreciate our employers. Here is a photo of me with two of my supervisors at Whiting’s, who I so enjoyed working with!
Soad & Alyssa
My sweet action group lovelies at banquet
Okay, I’m not normally much of a cryer unless it’s in private (pity party of one?), so I was able to keep it together pretty much any time other people were sad and crying about having to say goodbye. However, on my last full morning in Santa Cruz, I went for my last run on my usual route down the wharf and back. When I reached the end of the wharf, I looked out at the beach, the boardwalk, and the city I’ve learned to love, and that’s when it really hit me how much I am going to miss that place. Again, pictures don’t do it justice, especially not in the morning when the fog is still in the air, but I wanted to hold onto the view for one last time. I can’t describe how heartbreaking that moment was for me, but I pray that I will return one day and continue to see the Lord’s hand on the people of such a spiritually dark place.
Santa Cruz beach in the morning fog
I could write an entire other post solely dedicated to what God taught me this summer, but thankfully I’ve been able to process a lot of this in my journaling and prayers. One thing I will share with you that God really laid on my heart this summer is how important it is to choose community over isolation – I tend to use my introverted nature as an excuse to avoid going deeper with people or going out of my comfort zone in order to make new friends, and He’s revealed to me how unhealthy that habit really is. He blessed me with such sweet community this summer – from the 60 other college students I lived with, to the 23 amazing, Christ-following staff members, to my co-workers on the Boardwalk, to any other brother or sister in Christ I met on the street, He’s shown me that I don’t have to be afraid to be myself and let others see me for who I am. I hope to take that and so much more that I learned this summer back to my sorority, my classes, and Cru at my campus!
Thank you to anyone who actually read this; I hope you enjoyed hearing about the adventure of my lifetime on SCSP 14.