My trip back was a whirlwind. A good one. I did some big photo jobs while back in California which provided me with some income while at the same time filling part of my creative void.
I spent a lot of time with the Thai congregation in Long Beach. I have a few really good friends serving in that congregation (including my old roommate and good bud Andrew). I joined many of their meetings and also went out in service. Surprisingly, since I started learning Thai once I moved out here, it was my first Thai meeting and first time preaching in the States. Two years later I found myself in the middle of Long Beach speaking Thai haha. I remember the first door, it was such a weird feeling using a language I really only associate with this country, in my home town. It was so cool!
I spent a lot of quality time with my parents and got in a good bit of running on my favorite mountain trail. It was also really nice seeing and reconnecting with those from my old congregation, Valley Vista.
Some friends that are currently serving in Phuket decided to come out to California and do a road trip to NY while I was there. We spent a day in the city, a few days up at the cabin and finished it off with 6 Flags. They then started their road trip and I met them a week later in Chicago.
Chicago is filled with amazing friends. Since Geoff and Gina’s original hall is from there, they basically set us up with host families and had many activities planned. We did a “Taste of Chicago” where we spent the whole day tasting different foods all around the city.
During that day we also had to get our Visa’s. It seemed like everything was working against us, which is to be expected. In the middle of the day we came back and found one of our cars with a block on it. There was no visible sign warning us. It was basically a trap for this guy to try and steal money from us. We arrived literally at the perfect time in order for him to legally remove it. By this time, its going to be tight for us to make it in time. Lauz somehow gets a bank statement she needs last second from a nearby 7/11 that had a supposedly broken ATM. We made it.
The next couple of days were spend with some newer friends that I made in Thailand 3 months earlier. Sam and Steph. They played around in the city and took a lot of photos and video. I also had an amazing time with my awesome host family, the Zepedas. These guys literally knew nothing about me beforehand but fixed up their basement so that I could stay with them. I flew the drone and played basketball with the young boys and joined their family for family worship and service. Their zeal and ability in the ministry really impressed me. I will forever be grateful to them for opening their home to me and looking after me.
Eventually there were some issues that arose from me forgetting to pick up some passports and a robbery but we won’t dwell on that haha. We were able to get the passports and we were all safe so we continued our trip to Niagara Falls in Canada. It was stunning. It was actually my first time in Canada.
We then made out way to NY and met up with the broskies. We were nonstop, visiting all the branches in NY. It was filled with laughter, gatherings, old friends, new friends and a lot of inside jokes.
Above all, this trip really emphasized the love that comes from being close to Jehovah. You really see how close you can become with those that aren’t really family and how willing and eager people are to be there for you. The love in this organization is unmatched and it should be. Love should be our identifying factor and it truly is.
Before the trip I was incredibly busy and honesty stressed with things that arose here in our new congregation, and this trip was needed in order for me to take some time off and be with friends and family. I thoroughly appreciate everyone one made this trip what is was. Hope to do something similar next year.