I woke up early and texted Jason a wake up call. He was already up though.
We were glad we stayed up and loaded the van the night before, so we didn’t have to do it at 6:30am.
Everyone loaded up dressed in sweaters. It was a cold and windy day for Florida (50s progressing toward a high of 72 in the afternoon).
We got to the beach that was only 5 minutes away and unloaded the kids and equipment.
I helped set up the tent and weighed it down with buckets of sand because of how windy it was. It turned out to be a good thing we did it too. Later in the day another group with a tent that hadn’t weighed theirs down went flying down the beach.
After we got everything set up, all the surf boards down to the tent, and found out Elijah’s heat in the Christian Surf contest, we waited and by waited I mean chugged coffee and ate tons of Krispy Kreme Donuts (another sponsor of the contest).
I met some interesting people and fellow travelers. This one guy Jedediah was a big time hiker. We talked gear, travel tactics, and other cool places to check out.
Then Elijah’s heat was announced. After getting his colored jersey to help the judges identify and score him, we all headed back to the beach.
Jason gave Elijah advice on how to approach the waves and I told him to have fun out there.
Elijah caught some great waves and came in 2nd place in the first heat and moved on to the second heat.
Everyone congratulated Elijah. Then we returned to the waiting game for Elijah’s next heat to be called.
I laughed when I saw that Jojo was still sleeping curled up in the blanket on the sand. She’d been sleeping since we got to the beach.
Then Elijah’s next heat was called and we rushed back to the white water that looked like it would be better for rafting than for surfing. The wind blew and everyone not in a wet suit had their arms crossed for warmth.
The horn sounded and the kids flew into the water. Jason and I paced Elijah, who due to the wind and current, drifted fast.
When he got to a certain point like all the other kids competing, we would wave him in and they would race back up the beach to get back in the line of site of the judges.
Elijah went at it like a champ and gave it his all and got 3rd place in his second heat, which qualified him for the finals.
Everyone was ecstatic and congratulated Elijah.
“Way to go buddy!” I said
“You shredded it,” Jason said.
“Man, I didn’t even think I’d make it past my first heat,” Elijah said smiling.
“Made it to the finals your first time competing. Awesome job bud!” I said.
Later while I was eating lunch next to Elijah, a kid that lost came up to him and said:
“You know some kids are calling you out. Saying that they’re better than you.”
“I don’t care,” Elijah said.
“Yeah, my bro doesn’t care about what people think. He’s here to have fun!” I said and the kid left.
And awhile later the raffles went off and Elijah said:
“Man, that was a waste of money.”
“What was?” I asked.
“I spent 4 dollars on raffle tickets and didn’t win anything,” he said.
“Can’t win’em all,” I said.
“Unless it’s a competition,’ Elijah said smiling and I laughed.
I then made like Jojo and napped for a few hours.
I woke feeling sunburnt and glad I left my shirt on. A few minutes later Elijah’s final heat was announced.
We paced him down the beach and cheered him on when he had to come in and run back up for the judges to see him.
The horn sounded and the contest was over.
Elijah placed 6th overall in his first time competing.
“I want you to look at that trophy and think of all the hard work you’ve put into the past few days. Popi is very proud of you,” Jason said.
We arrived back at the house and everyone had one thing on their mind…a nap.
Later that night, Jason invited me in for dinner and cake (little Chay Chays birthday).
We all talked about how the week flew by and we played some games with the kids.
I said goodnight and went to sleep with another great day of memories.
I slept in and then packed up my gear.
Jojo came out and told me:
“I’m going to miss you.”
“Aww, I’m gonna miss you too sweetie.”
Michelle came out with a bowl of cantaloupe and said:
“We’re gonna have breakfast out here. It’s so nice out!”
She made us waffles with bananas and honey and we all sat down at the picnic table to have breakfast as a family.
When we were cleaning up Jason said:
“I think everyone is going to miss you. You are like the older bigger brother that went to college and came back to visit.”
“I’m going to miss you guys too. It’s like I’m leaving my family again.”
Jojo then came up to me and gave me a drawing she had folded into a card. Inside it said “I love you.”
These are the treasures I look for in life.
We then headed to UBIC Holly Hill Church.
I met some great people and learned a new quote that I love because I know it’s true:
“When God shows up, God shows off.” ~ Pastor Chuck
The sermon was great. It was about David and Goliath and therefore, faith in God.
When we went to give the offering, I nearly panicked because I had no cash on me, but then I unzipped my wallet and grabbed all the change I could and placed it in. The reason should be obvious to all those who have read my stories. Good things happen when you pay your tithes. God blesses you like you wouldn’t believe.
We then drove to the state park I was headed to when I first met Jason.
Everyone got out and I hugged and spun all of the kids. Michelle and Jason I just hugged.
With it being a beautiful day, they decided to hike with me for a while.
It was hard to say goodbye to my Daytona family and they felt the same about me.
We stopped, held hands, Jason prayed for me thanking God for the time we had together and to keep me safe on my journey, then Michelle prayed and blessed me and thanked God that I got to be part of their lives, I then in turn prayed a blessing over them and thanked God for leading me to such good and wonderful people.
We then said Amen and I gave all the kids high-five and Michelle and Jason one last hug.
As I walked away, I saw Michelle taking a few last shots of me and I waved a final time and turned the corner.
I hiked for the rest of the day and reflected on all of the good times I had with my Daytona family.
My life goal is to become a millionaire in memories…and I’m on my way.
Love you Linkinhokers,
Forever your friend,