This is a few days late in coming, but I was a little busy flying home and stuff. But I wanted to tell about a few things from our beach day.
The beach day was pretty incredible. I’ve been to a few beaches on the Gulf coast and a few on the west coast, but I had never seen anything like this. Huge waves…huge…monstrous. The first 30 minutes or so of playing in the waves was a ton of fun. Then I started to get tired. Then I got stupid.
I had been body surfing the waves after they broke and been having a blast riding them in. I had drifted out a little ways and was jumping into the breakers and having fun doing that. Then for some reason, I decided to body surf a huge wave coming in that hadn’t broken yet. I hit it just right and started flying in…then I started riding up the wave as it started to break. The timing was terrible, as I hit the top of the wave (about a 8 or 9 foot wave) just as it rolled and it drove me straight down into the very shallow water in front of the wave. I’ll probably forever remember virtually every detail of the next 45 seconds or so. It was completely crazy.
I hit the sandy bottom with my face and chest first, but the wave slammed my feet forward and down, which caused the bottom of my feet to smack into the back of my head. I clearly remember thinking of all those times that I watched the TV show “Wipeout” and they would freeze frame with people in that position as they wiped out. Mercifully, my feet got sucked up as the wave passed and I flipped over a few times underwater. I remember at that point I felt one of my leather bracelets (I had four on) slipping off my wrist and being upset about that. I also remember thinking right after that how bad salt water tastes. And how my nose hurt.
When I stopped flipping, I didn’t know which was up (had the “good” sense to keep my eyes closed to salvage my contacts). I tried to swim, but my back and arms wouldn’t work right…I guess from being pretzel folded inside out. Just when I felt my arms slap the surface, I got plowed by another wave. This one either wasn’t as big or wasn’t as angry, but it did slam me back to the bottom (butt first), make me lose another bracelet and it blasted water up my nose at about 1000 p.s.i. I was able to recover from this one quicker and get back up to the surface pretty easily. I coughed out a bunch of water and thought, “Hey, that looks like blood.” Then I blew water and blood out my nose just before getting knocked down by another wave (I was just in knee deep water at this point, so it wasn’t terrible). As I sat there, I thought, “I can’t stand up by myself…these waves are going to kill me.”
I saw David Martin standing nearby and hollered at him three times before he heard me. When he turned to look at me, he just smiled like “Yeah, this is awesome, huh?” Then a wave hit me and knocked back again, losing a third bracelet…that one made me mad. I think at that point he realized that there was a problem. He came running over and helped me stand up and get to the beach. My back was stiff, but I was fine. I blew out my nose again and didn’t see any more blood, so I assumed it was just the sinus blast(s) that I took in the wavy washing machine (which was NOT on the delicate cycle). I hit the swimming pool at the club for a little while after that. I did actually get back in the ocean a little later, but with a very different perspective of its power.
So…that’s pretty much my fun little story of the beach day. Of course, that was nothing compared to watching about 20 kids get baptized in the ocean later that night. There were several of the kids that I had taught in Bible class when they were 7th graders or had in my cook group on the 8th grade Wilderness Trip. To see them go from being boys to young men pursuing Christ is so incredible.
While we were doing the baptisms, there were 7 local boys watching. I took advantage of the situation to go talk to them about what was going on. The conversation was something like this (translated version):
Me: Do you know what they’re doing?
Them: No idea.
Me: The kids are getting baptized.
Them: Didn’t they get baptized when they were babies?
Me: Some of them, yeah.
Them: Then why are they doing it again?
Me: What does baptism mean to you?
Them: It’s something you do when you’re a Christian.
Me: And a Christian is someone who follows Jesus, right?
Me: Were you all baptized?
Me: So, do you know (about) Jesus? (Using the Spanish verb that means “To know about something”)
Them: Yeah, of course.
Me: Ok, but do you know Him? (Using the Spanish verb that means “To know someone or something personally)
Me: Do you think you need to know Him personally before you can follow Him?
Me: So, let’s talk about how you can really know Him…
It went on from there. That was one of the highlights of the week for me, to be able to share the Gospel while sitting on the beach, while watching our kids get baptized. Full circle, and all that. None of the kids made a decision for Christ there on the beach. But as we told the kids all week, our job is obedience to share the Gospel, not putting a notch in our belt as if it were us that does anything at all. I fail way too often to even be obedient to be proud of the moments that I am…but I praise God that He is able to use me, despite my being me. And I pray that my being me happens less and less with each time that I do step out in faith to be obedient.