The Rainfall

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It was around 6:00 on a Sunday evening. I was on my way to school to take care of a few things before classes started for the week. This was my first teaching job right out of college and I was living in Hawaii. I landed a dream destination job right off the bat. I couldn’t ask for a better location, especially one with ideal weather conditions year round. I had been teaching for a few months now, so I was familiar with the school and the surrounding areas, especially the local beaches. On my way into work, it had started to get cloudy, looking like we were in for a little rain. We were nearing the winter months, which actually was the rainy season.

Fortunately, the past few months rain was seldom on my side of the island where I lived and taught. All that separated the west side from the east side of the island of Oahu was a mountain range smack dab in the middle.  The east side was always wet, and had very lush vegetation. When it rained hard, it rained extremely hard, sometimes up to ten inches of rain at a time.

On the west wise, where I lived, it was rather dry. I was yet to experience a severe heavy downpour….until that night. I lived only two minutes from the school. Most days I would usually walk or rollerblade. However, I pretty much stopped rollerblading, as I had a nasty spill on my way to work one day while going down a steep decline.

Just minutes after I walked into the building, it started to sprinkle. I didn’t think much of it. Like always, it would stop as fast as it started. But on this night, the rain kept coming down harder and harder. I was sitting in my classroom working away when the soft sound of the rain hitting the roof got my attention. The noise continued to get louder and louder, almost to the point of not being able to concentrate. I looked outside and could hardly make out the houses across the street. I knew then that this downpour was not going to stop. We were in for some serious weather.

I had only planned on doing some work for about an hour. I lived on top of a high hill, so I know I didn’t have to worry about flooding. Before leaving, I checked each of the classrooms and moved the important items away from the doorways and put a few things up, just in case the rain would spill through the doors. Each classroom door exited outside, like a typical California or Florida school, and a hard rain could allow water to seep in  under the doors. Thankfully, there was a lanai with an overhang over each classroom and the walkways which would help the situation.

After I locked up, I rushed to my car and drove off. I lived on top of a hill about two minutes away. It was about a half mile accent to get to the house I rented. As I turned the corner to go up the street in the blinding rain, a wall of water hit my car. It seemed as if a river was running down the length of my street. The one and only word that came to my mind was “AWESOME.” I’ve never seen so much rain water at one time.

With the rain continuing to pour down, I slowly drove up the river, hoping I wouldn’t be swept away. I had an SUV at the time that sat high off the ground so I felt pretty safe. With my windshield wipers on full speed, I could just make out how fast the current was flowing on the side of the street. With the street at a slight angle, most of the water drifted to the sides. After observing this, with my adventurous and dare-devilish mind in full swing, I immediately said to myself, “It’s body board time!”

As soon as I pulled in to the garage, I jumped out instantly. I yelled to my roommate to get the camera and an umbrella, while I changed into my board shorts. He knew exactly what I was thinking without me telling him anything. All he could do was shake his head in disbelief and laugh. I ripped off my shirt and shoes, grabbed the body board, and made my way out into the torrential downpour. My roommate cautiously followed me. As I walked to the edge of the street, and stood in the current, I almost lost my balance as the eight inches of water almost pulled me off my feet. While under the umbrella, my roommate started snapping pictures. I belly flopped onto the body board and took off. My roommate tried his best to keep up with me, but I soon left him behind in just seconds. I literally felt I was on a Class 5 white water rafting trip. It was awesome!

Thankfully, there are no sewers in Hawaii, so I knew I would not be going down a man hole. To say the least, the speed I was going was breathtaking. As I neared the end of the street, with the current slowing down, I got off the body board, turned around and started making my way back up the street to the starting point. With a huge smile on my face, and my roommate laughing, I took a few more trips down the river before the rain started to taper off and the river became non-existent.

What a blast it was! With only a few scraped elbows and knees, it was definitely worth the rush. Sometimes life brings us things we never expect…..good and bad. When that happens, be prepared! Yes, plans have to be changed, but in order to get through, we must just do it! Body boarding on the streets in Hawaii!!!! If you ever get that chance, don’t pass up the opportunity. It’s a memory you’ll never forget. I know I won’t.

Scary Places

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I can still clearly remember the day I got arrested. It was a cold snowy day in Wisconsin, some 64 months ago. It is a day that will be engraved into my mind for the rest of my life. If the government could have used my arrest as a scare tactic to never commit a crime or violation again, it surely worked.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen that way, and jail and/or prison are the consequence of specific crimes. Walking into Racine County Jail with handcuffs on was the most scared I’ve ever been in my life. Without having known a single individual that has ever been to jail or prison before, I had no clue what to expect. All I knew was what I had seen on television.

After I was fingerprinted and filled out a few forms, I was escorted to a holding cell. “Here we go,” I thought to myself, “the scary part begins.” It was time to interact with the others that were arrested that day. Standing outside the twelve person holding tank that realistically only held eight people, 22 eyes were on me. I could only imagine what was going through their minds at this point. I’m “fresh meat” to them is all I could think of at the time.

As the door was unlocked and opened, I slowly made my way in. I looked around and noticed I was the only white guy among the other eleven, all supporting sleeves of tattoos up and down their bodies. Miraculously, another man scooted over and let me have a seat, while all eyes continued to stare at me in silence. I politely said thank you, sat down on the rock hard slab of concrete, and stared at the floor without making a sound.

It felt like hours before anyone said anything. Were the others planning an attack on me, I wondered. Finally, after only a few seconds of silence and observation, everyone continued talking again. I let out a sigh, closed my eyes, and prayed. I’m not sure what I prayed for right then and there, but I have a feeling it had to do with my safety.

A few questions were asked to me the first hour I was in there, but for the most part I kept to myself. The concrete bench definitely was not comfortable, and my butt kept falling asleep. My legs were cramping, too. All I wanted to do was stretch out, but there was no room, even to stand. So I just did my best to suck it up and pray I would be moved soon.

The conversations that took place hardly interested me, except one – the NBA. As I listened to the jibber-jabber, keeping to myself, I laughed silently at the comments I heard. But while staring at the ground in a daze, all of a sudden I head, “Hey, white boy! Who do like in the NBA this year?” It took a few seconds for it to register in my mind that they were actually talking to me. I looked up at the individual in a stare. He kind of chuckled but repeated the question. With me being a fantasy stat guru and because my love for basketball was pretty high, I answered his question with ease, backing it up with a few stats of my own. After answering, the cell was completely silent. Then at once they all started laughing. The man who asked me the question immediately says, “Man, white boy knows his stuff.” Of course, more explicit words were used. But with one small comment, I earned respect from everyone.

The tension was finally released after hours of wait time. I talked a little more after that. The others definitely valued my opinion, too. I survived the four hour ordeal in the holding tank before being moved into an individual cell.

At the time, I didn’t know how many more scary and uncomfortable moments like this I would have to endure. But as I write this, many more were in my future. Entering a prison or a jail is the hardest thing I’ll ever do. There are just too many unknowns, especially being surrounded by hardened, crazy, criminals that I do not know. And sometimes it can take awhile to earn that respect. With stories I’ve heard and things I’ve seen, anything…..ANYTHING…..can happen. It is just not a great situation for anyone to go through. One’s life is always at stake. Nervousness, worries, scariness, and uncomfortable are just a few emotions that go through me during those times. I have never prayed so much in my life. Time and time again, God has delivered me from danger, into His loving arms of safety.

What kind of uncomfortable and scary moments have you ever been through? Starting a new job, going off to war, sitting in front of a doctor waiting for bad news, or maybe even sharing God’s Word to an unbeliever? I know here in prison being a witness for God is a very hard thing to do. The unsuccessful rate of getting through to another inmate is very high. I can only imagine what missionaries must go through and endure in order to bring the Good News to remote areas of the world.

And  what I can’t imagine is how scared Jesus must have felt, knowing the pain and torture He would go through before His final breath as a man on earth. These days when I go through a situation that is scary and uncomfortable, I now think of the suffering that Jesus endured. And it was all for me. If He can do what He did for me, as a man, I know I can go through these tough, scary, and uncomfortable times in my life. And I know you can too, especially with God being by our side every step of the way.