Hawaii ’12 & Wedding In Review

Alright… Hawaii. I got back a few days ago and I must say, it was a great get away! Five days away from everything…five days of vacationing with friends, how awesome is that?? Well, let me tell you about some of the highlights of the trip, and as a bonus I will even include a few pictures!

Boarding in Seattle

Wednesday: I was up super early and it was off to the airport. I flew a morning flight from Seattle to Honolulu. Once there, I had a three hour layover so I spent time sitting in the sun, exploring the airport and eating a tasty lunch. From Honolulu it was just a quick flight (made better by making a new friend on the flight!) to Kona. I grabbed a shuttle and it was off to the hotel. Now, I have been to Hawaii many times but never to the big island so I took it all in on the drive. It was much more rural than other parts of the state, but still beautiful.

lava flow = yum!

I met up with Jon, one of the other groomsmen for the upcoming wedding and a friend from college, at the hotel and our vacation started in full. We explored tide pools around the hotel and enjoyed the quietness of the hotel. We took the concierge’s advice and walked to a nearby restaurant (well, by nearby I mean up a long, steep hill) and enjoyed a very delightful dinner.  Honestly, it was probably one the best dinners I have had in a while…soup, salad, macadamia nut chicken, and a couple cocktails later I was relaxed and in vacation mode to the fullest.

rough day

such a great bar with local brews

Thursday:  Jon and I woke up early and grabbed a big breakfast, courtesy of the hotel. From there it was a nonstop trip to the beach where we rented snorkel gear and spent the morning swimming, diving and exploring the bay next the hotel. We may have gotten in a tight spot, when the water fell away and we found ourselves trying to snorkel in less than a foot of water over lava rock…yikes! After snorkeling and nap in the hammocks, we boarded a trolley headed for a local place for lunch. We cruised around during the afternoon, trying local brews, shopping and seeing what Kona had to offer. Then it was back to the hotel where we met up with Jake, another groomsman, and went snorkeling again. Shortly thereafter, everyone showed up (including the bride and groom to be!) Once Aaron, the groom, was ready, the four of us guys took off away from the hotel. We walked around for a while and ended up a local pizza place for dinner. It was a fun evening and was great just being able to hang out with the guys.

Four way Settlers!

Friday: Friday was a fairly simple day. Since it was the day before the wedding, we had a rehearsal set for later that day. Until then, we went snorkeling, grabbed some lunch, played Settlers of Catan and took it easy. I hope by now you are starting to see the trend: eat, snorkel, eat, snorkel, games, eat, relax…or something like that. The rehearsal went really well, and so did dinner afterwards. It was the first time the entire wedding party had really seen each other and it was nice to see everyone and enjoy each other’s company. After dinner we worked on a few wedding-related details with the crew before stealing Aaron away for the rest of the night. We relaxed in the room, playing Settlers and drinking local brew.

lovely outdoor ceremony

Saturday: Well, the big day was finally here: wedding day. The day Aaron and Cherith would join together in marriage and prepare to spend the rest of their lives together. So, being the responsible groomsmen, we went snorkeling for the morning. I mean, it was still vacation…but since the ceremony was not until 3:00, we had some time to kill. Time flew by and almost before we knew it, we were changing into our suits and getting ready. As best man, I must have checked ten times to make sure I had the rings.

First dance!

It was a beautiful ceremony, right on the lawn of the hotel and overlooking the ocean. Only downside: it was hot and humid…oh well! Aaron and Cherith shared their vows (they wrote their own!), took communion together and exchanged rings. After the ceremony we took pictures all across hotel property then went to finish setting up the reception (thankfully inside). The reception was lots of fun, Aaron and Cherith had asked me to MC it and I had a great time. Everyone was in a good mood, the food tasted great and the staff were super helpful. Christina, Cherith’s maid of honor, and I toasted the newly-weds, they danced their first dance, the wedding party served cake to the guests and they tossed the bouquet/garter, which I caught…ladies. 😉 Then we decided to turn up some music and just have fun. It ended up being a late night, but so wonderful and totally worth the trip. Jon, Jake and I returned to our room…minus Aaron…and shortly thereafter we were sound asleep.

Sunday: Unfortunately the day to head home had arrived. Everyone was leaving at different times, so the morning was a bit unusual. We had already returned our snorkel gear, so it was down to breakfast for the guys. Then I packed up and headed for the airport. After a short flight to and a quick layover in Kahului, Maui, I found myself coasting over the Pacific Ocean towards Seattle. I landed and my friend John picked me up. I got home and in bed at 12:45 AM, totally exhausted but also completely refreshed and relaxed from my time away.

So that’s the week in a snapshot. My time in Hawaii was filled with great times that I will not soon forget. I am so happy for Aaron and Cherith, and truly honored to have been in their wedding, especially as best man. I am also extremely thankful for the opportunity to make new friends and strengthen friendships I already had (thanks for the great times, Jon!). All in all, a great trip, completely worth it, sorely needed, and deeply missed already.

Aaron (the groom) and I…he was my college roommate and is one of my best friends, such a stud

Looking forward to my next vacation already…time to start saving!

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Thoughts from the Lake…

Everywhere I look…memories

Everything I touch…memories

Every smell and taste…memories

Every sound in the air…memories

Every inch of this hallowed ground…memories

The memories are everywhere

This place is sacred and special…and so are the memories

The memories I will always hold to

A few thoughts from my time this evening at Island Lake…a place near and dear to me. And, as you can see, a place that is full of memories in my mind and heart.

I strung these few lines together while walking the camp grounds, I wrote them down while on the ferry home and now I post them to be seen.

So many memories from Camp.

Memorable Memorial Weekend

So this past weekend is definitely one for the books. I had the privilege to be a leader with my church’s high school youth group. They had planned a Memorial Day Weekend trip to eastern Washington for white water rafting and camping. And let me tell you, it was quite the weekend to be sure! I figured I would outline the weekend, so you can better get an idea of everything that we did.

Saturday Am: Our group, consisting of approximately 40 students and leaders, met at the church at 8:30 AM. Miraculously, everyone was fairly on time, and how often does that happen? We packed up cars and trucks with tents, backs, coolers and other camping paraphernalia. After some quick instructions and prayer, it was time to hit the open road. I was one of the drivers, and my friend Kasey (also one of the youth group leaders with me) rode shotgun. We had a very enjoyable drive and spent the time talking about all sorts of different things and people. From Bothell it was straight to US 2 and up an over Steven’s Pass. We had a brief stop in Leavenworth for lunch (unfortunately no brats on this trip) before continuing our trip through Wenatchee and north to our destination: Alta Lake Camp Ground.

Saturday Afternoon: Everyone rolled into the camp group around 1:00 and we started setting up camp. With so many people helping out, it did not take long at all to get all our tents up and mock-kitchen area established. Then we were all off to enjoy the afternoon. We spent some time talking about the weekend ahead, but we all really just wanted to enjoy the sunshine and warm weather…did I mention it was 75°? A group of us went down to the lake and had a good time just relaxing on the beach. Several people went swimming, and I opted for a nap on the beach. It was such a relaxing afternoon, and definitely needed. I knew it was the start of something great and refreshing. I spent some time praying over the weekend, hoping God would move in the hearts and minds of all of us, especially the students.

Saturday Evening:  A couple of us volunteered to make dinner on Saturday, and it was lots of fun. We all worked hard to prepare a taco dinner for 40 people, and I must say that it turned out great!

Serving up dinner!

so much food!

We sat around the campsite, eating and enjoying getting to hang out with new friends. After dinner we had a great devotional time with words from our youth pastor, Dawn. She is such a great leader and speaker, and I always enjoy hearing her give a good word. After she spoke, Dawn gave us an hour for personal devotional time. This was such a key component of the weekend, and one that I had been looking forward to. A couple of us went back to the beach and enjoyed the time in God’s Word while watching the sunset and nighttime fall around us. We all reconvened at the campsite and spent time sharing and praying with each other. After that, it was time to relax around camp and just enjoy camping. Several people stayed up late around the campfire, and I spent some more quiet time at the beach…it was great to be away from distractions and have a couple hours to think, pray and write.

Lovely time on the water

Sunday Morning:  I woke up to a beautiful morning on Sunday, perfect to spend a little time with Jesus and enjoy the peaceful morning. We had a great breakfast and a devotional time focused on learning about what it means to be a disciple. After a personal devotional, it was time to get ready for the central activity of the weekend: white water rafting!! 

Braving the River:  After changing into swim wear and gathering together, we drove to meet up with the rafting company at the nearby river. They were all great and helped us get the rest of our gear together before pilling us onto a bus and heading north. Once we were at the launch site, we divided up into the different boats. My team, which just happened to be the best, consisted of myself, Caroline, Elizabeth, Dane, Kevin and Andrew and was led by our guide, Michelle. Our boat was the front runner, we launched from the beach and were soon far ahead of everyone else. From there it was 13 miles of fun. From going in huge holes, getting splashed and soaked, to just having a great time with each other. The scenery was absolutely beautiful and there was always something new to see. We worked extremely well as a team and I was so proud of each of the students. At one point, I intentionally jumped in the river and floated along the raft for a bit…while the water was super cold, it was also very refreshing…Caroline managed to pull me up, back out of the water! We had fun drifting and laughing and I know we all wished it would have kept going. When we were back in sight of our cars, I jumped out again and spent the remainder of the time floating, and sometimes walking on the bottom, from boat to boat. What a grand adventure!

Sunday Evening:  By the time we got back to camp, we were too tired to do much of anything. I went down to the lake with some of the students and enjoyed getting to hang out with them and relive various parts of the rafting trip…there were so many great stories! We had a yummy dinner once again and spent the remainder of the evening having devotional time, listening to the wise words of Pat, sharing about our lives, praying for each other, and of course eating s’mores. I slept so well that night.

Monday: We were all much slower to wake up on Monday, but we all managed it and worked together to make another great meal. After I shared the morning devotional (I talked about the importance of taking retreats and showing that even Jesus did during His ministry time) we again had individual devotional time. We worked together to clean up camp, and a group of people went for a late morning hike. I opted to relax back at camp and just enjoy the last little bit of peace and quiet. Once everyone was back we had a huge lunch, consisting of everything left over, and finished packing. My car was full once again, and Kasey and I jumped in and hit the road for home. We again talked about so many different things, mainly about the weekend and different things that had happened in both of our lives over the past three days. We hit traffic but were not worried about it, aside from the desire to visit a restroom. We met up with everyone at a pizza place in Monroe and enjoyed one last meal together. Then it was the final push to the church and ultimately to home.

 

back at church!

Now that I am back to “real life” I know I will be reflecting on my time at Alta Lake. Here are a couple personal takes-a-ways from my time on a much needed retreat:

  • Retreats are not necessarily a break from what is going on in life. Rather, it is a break from the noise of life, and an opportunity to focus on God and His plan for our lives. Retreats are a great place to turn over issues and situations to God and seek out His help and guidance.
  • People of all ages have something worth saying, just take a moment to listen and do not just discount them on account of their age. While high schoolers seem inattentive or disinterested at times, give them time to think through things and formulate thoughts, the results may just surprise you! The high schoolers on this trip were just great all around.   
  • Whitewater rafting is great.

What a trip…what a weekend…one naught to be forgot.