Over the past year I have begun to ponder the imagination. Can one simply develop their own imagination or does it at some primary level have to be taught to a child?

My little sister turns 21 today. Unbelievable. Being two years older than her I have known her for as long as I can remember and our childhood was full of the imagination. From playing house with Playmobile or American Girl Dolls, to building forts and playing rock band it seemed we were always using our imagination. I have also always loved to write. I remember writing a story when I was probably around six about a girl that was sucked down her bathtub as it emptied and landed on a pirate ship. Around nine I began to read the Harry Potter series which quickly became an obsession of mine. I remember sitting in the drawing room for hours reading the newest books and desperately waiting for the next book to come out! In high school my use of imagination and writing was somewhat stifled. But in college my love for writing and using my imagination came alive again with creative writing and Shakespeare classes. Throughout my childhood I always had parents that supported and pushed me into using my imagination. My parents would help me build forts, buy me toys to play with and help me with my English assignments. The imagination was something that was encouraged and rewarded.

But something that I noticed with the children I have worked with over the past few years is their lack of imagination. They like to play, and are often found riding bikes and playing with balls, but what their playing has in energy it lacks in imagination. They don't play house or animals, they don't have many toys to play with and their parents are not very involved with their playing. I have seen this lead to such a lack of imagination within the children. They can't even imagine their futures, or what they would like to be when they grow up. That breaks my heart.

Yesterday we took 8 of the elementary aged children from our street to the Hawaiian Discovery Center a small science and discovery center in Honolulu. The first half hour of our visit they demonstrated their lack of both fear (bordering on bullying other children) and attention span. They ran from station to station literally knocking down anyone in their way spending just a few moments pulling on levers and looking at lights before they ran off to the next station. About 45 minutes in I sat exhausted watching them pull on and rip off costumes in the small mock theatre. Still there seemed to be no imagination, no taking on the persona of the character their costumes portrayed just spastic running around the stage screaming for more attention then myself or my two other staff girls could give them. But after the theatre station we broke into groups, mine consisting of 4 year old Miracle and 5 year old Toddrick. We made our way over to the mock kitchen where they donned chef coats and hats and began to play around with plastic food and pots. 

All of a sudden I saw the imagination begin to break through. Carefully they placed the food into the pots, turned the dials and wait for the food to "heat up". Then they brought the food to me, carefully to wear their mittens and poured the "hot" food onto my plate. They busied themselves around the kitchen for almost 20 minutes putting things in and out of the oven, stove, fridge and plate. Finally I made them move on to the next station so a scared but adorable little girl with pink glasses could have a turn. We continued on to play doctor and they checked my heart and took x-rays for another 20 minutes. 

It was a beautiful thing to watch their imaginations come alive. I love the Albert Einstein quote "If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” Yesterday watching the beauty of imagination and the way it bred learning within the kids stirred me to continue to read them fairy tales, build forts  and encourage their imaginations. I am so thankful to have had a family who was committed to taking the time to give life to my imagination and I hope to be someone who encourages the imagination of kids wherever I go.

"Go Big"

24 days.

I can hardly believe I have only been home for 24 days, in some ways it feels like I never left.

I traveled to the mainland with a very thorough and well-planned schedule. Yet almost every day turned out to look different than I expected. Thank goodness all the glory in my life goes to God rather than myself because His plans for my trip home were much mightier than my own. Some highlights from my trip were: visiting my grandparents in Washington, visiting my aunt, uncle, cousins and sister in California, spending amazing time with my family snowed in over Christmas, sharing about my life in missions and raising monthly support and visiting family and friends in Illinois.

It is amazing how many people I got to see and visit with despite the frigid temperatures and heaps of snow! I am so thankful!

But it is also great to be home in Hawaii! I could not have had a sweeter homecoming than having the kids waiting for me at home ready for hugs and love after a long six weeks away. At Surfing The Nations our motto for the year of 2014 is “Go Big!” and I am excited to go big in both the work and personal sense over the remaining 11 months of this year! The last 24 days have already proved to be very adventurous. Some highlights have been trying new Hawaiian food, singing kareoke for the first time, going late night bowling at a very “local” Hawaiian bowling alley and spend EIGHT HOURS at a Marshallese Church service!

There are many more adventures to come and today I would like to share about three!

First: I have been invited to help lead the Internship Program’s inter-island 10 day trip to Maui. I am so honored and excited to be invited to lead, and to return to Maui which is the island where I did my Internship Trip. I will be responsible for all finances and church connections on the trip and am excited to be stretched and grow in both areas! I will also be helping lead outreaches, organize food and housing and planning day to day activities. It will be an exhausting but fun 10 day adventure and I am sure I will return home with many stories to share.

Second: In April I will be heading to the beautiful and broken nation of Bangladesh on a three week missions trip. This is a trip I have hoped to go on for two years now and could not be more excited about if I tried. In Bangladesh we will be connecting with the local surf clubs, experiencing and learning the culture and giving back to the people in any way we can. My personal goals while there are to show God’s love to the very oppressed women of this nation, empower and encourage the girls to surf and enjoy the ocean and teach swim lessons to the young children. It is really exciting to basically take all the things I do here in Hawaii and do them in a very different and challenging culture. In order to go on the trip I need to raise $3500 in funds. Raising funds is one of the most terrifying and thrilling things I have ever experienced! It is so encouraging to have someone invest in you with their personal finances but it is terrifying to ask!

Third: My hope and desire is to be able to buy a car this year. I really believe that I am called to be here in Hawaii and I am committing to investing into my life here. In order to live sustainable and have the opportunity to travel and bless the children and women of my community in a greater way I need to invest in a vehicle. I am so excited to see how God pulls this one off. I believe it is God’s heart for me to have transportation here in Hawaii, but in my mind it seems like such a great expense it seems impossible! But I serve a God who works in the impossible and miracles are everyday occurrences in His kingdom, so I can’t wait for he day I write a blog all about how God blessed me with a safe and reliable vehicle.

I have no ability to “Go Big” on my own, but God is a big God, beyond our understanding even! So join with me in going BIG in 2014 and praying BIG and bold prayers!