Monday, January 17, 2011

Adventure of a Lifetime

So I took a week off here because, well, I was in Jamaica. There are just a couple of thoughts that I came away with from the experience that I would like to talk about.

The first is that this vacation with my entire family was awesome! I met a handful of really cool people down there who were all pleasantly surprised when we told them that all six kids had come together with our parents. Unfortunately, a lot of the Jamaican natives were very surprised that we were all from the same two, happily married parents. Not to say that we have it right here as far as marriage goes, but broken families are an even bigger problem in Jamaica than they are here. One of the many blessings that I too often take for granted.

The next thing that was on my mind for the entire week was this: We were at a resort, nothing even close to the REAL Jamaica. I attribute my recognition of this to my service trip to Belize in the spring of 2010. I found it very difficult that literally right outside the walls of the resort (which were barb wire fences by the way) was the real, poverty-striken Jamaica. I imagine that this is a common realization for a lot of tourists who go to visit a resort, not just in Jamaica, but in any country whose main industry is tourism. There is a very positive result of this industry however, and that is the genuine kindness of the people. One thing that I took notice of was how complimentary the men were of all the women. That has always been a challenge of mine - letting the wonderful women around me know their true identity, that they are princesses of Christ, rather than the much more degrading image that society seems to have engrained into the minds of millions.

Now onto a list of some really cool stuff that I got to do down there: We went snorkeling, I learned how to sail, I played sand volleyball with some really intense Russians, I won two stage competitions during the nightly shows that they put on, and got to spend a lot of quality hours with my family. One of the coolest things that happened during our stay was how many people gave all of us compliments on how great of a family we have. I have never seen or heard both of my parents beam and speak with more pride in my life. I can't say enough how blessed I am to have grown up in a home that has stuck together. It has, by no means, been easy all of the time, but finding strength in God's help we have made it through those rough times and it is so worth it to all of us.

Moving on to the final event of my Christmas break, FOCUS Conference. Wow. What a way to end my final weekend before classes start back up. I have never felt more confident and excited about my faith, or at least for a while. I attribute all that I am to Him. What more can I say?

In short, I couldn't have asked for a better start to the new year. If the first two weeks remains a common theme throughout the remainder of the year, this will be a year filled with more blessings and abundance than ever before. One thing that I have really come to learn though over this break is that because His blessings are so abundant and overflowing, we must always have a giving heart. If we hoard our gifts, there will be no room for Him to continue to provide them. If we keep on giving them out and sharing them with others, they will continue to flow into our lives. This can be hard because it takes a lot of trust and we all like to have our sense of security, but it is an incredible life lesson and if everyone practiced this attitude (paying it forward in a sense), gosh, I just know that the results would be unspeakably incredible.

So...all of my pictures and videos are on my brother's computer so...I will get them as soon as I can so that you enjoy some of the visuals from the awesome times.

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