Two Beauties

Within 48 hours I was immersed in these two views:

The top of the Swiss alps

And the top of a hill next to Riomaggiore

There is a stark contrast in the beauties presented by Switzerland and Riomaggiore, but they are both remarkable and truly difficult to process. It was almost a challenge to make myself fully aware of the wonder around me, as it was so much to take in. Photos don’t do a justice; In Riomaggiore (where the second picture was taken), you couldn’t see where the sea ended and the sky began, and both were a deep, calm blue. The diverse array of colors in the flowers around us presented a rich landscape that is usually found only in paintings. The valleys of interlaken were also rich in their colors, but the white mountain tops presented a more rugged, dangerous beauty. One showed God’s power, and the other showed God’s peace.

The top of the Alps was breathtaking. Everything around us was white with snow, and everything beneath us was a warm summer green. The mountain air was brisk and fresh – so brisk that we were able to bust out the micro d fleeces. I never would have thought I’d be able to have a snowball fight in May with 15 of the most amazing people on Earth, but here we are. I also think it’s worth mentioning that we had an amazing meal at the top of this mountain. We ate at an all-you-can-eat, American style buffet and we Americans went crazy with the croissants. Few things in life last forever, but those mountains are going to be there for a while, and so will the memory of sharing a magical meal on top of them with the familia.

As I mentioned in a blog post before, a stereotype of Americans is that we are extremely loud and obnoxious, so we usually have to be extra cautious with how loud we laugh at dinner, constantly shush each other, and look over our shoulders to make sure no one is giving us an evil look. However, when we were at the top of this mountain, we could talk as loud as we wanted and no one would bat an eye. We needed that desperately.

Here are some more pictures from that day to put a smile on your face!

48 hours after being at the top of Europe, we found ourselves sitting on top of a hill next to Riomaggiore taking in the sight of the sea. There were vineyards surrounding us, flowers blooming all over, a gentle breeze, a hot Mediterranean sun beating down on us, and a beautiful city at our feet. I sat there for a while and journaled some. In my journal, I jotted down notes about the beauty we get to experience here on Earth. The crazy thing is in both Switzerland and in Riomaggiore I thought to myself, “this could be what heaven looks like,” but the reality is that I believe that heaven will blow those locations away with its beauty. I wrestled with that though for a while and felt a rush of joy and appreciation for the majesty of life and the plan of the Lord.

Here are some more pictures of what we saw, but just know that they don’t even come close to doing a justice.

We all felt like we could just sit by the church at the top forever, except for the fact that we got hungry. It took a hike and a half to get to the restaurant Dr. P wanted us to experience, but it was so worth it. The seafood was so fresh, and the view didn’t cease to overwhelm us. The whole rest of the day was filled with taking in the sights and enjoying the peaceful cinque terre, or five lands (we only saw like 2 of them though).

While this post isn’t the most insightful one on this site, I think that was part of the point. We spend so much time looking for deeper meanings in everything all the time, which is good, but sometimes you just have to enjoy the gift of the world that’s around us. There’s so much to appreciate in the world, and all of it is unique. But the most profound thing in all of this is that God created all of those mountains, valleys, hills, and the sea, and then He deemed Man the pinnacle of creation. How loved we are is unimaginable, and I think that these locations are evidence of that.

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What A Day

So Marat woke me up this morning exactly 2 seconds before my alarm went off to head downstairs to do a quick morning worship sesh. After spending sometime in 1 Peter, I realized time had flown by and I didn’t have much time to eat breakfast. So I hurried to the breakfast table and was blown away by what was there.

They had real Nutella.

I know right? How could this day possibly get better? Well it did. I scarfed down my breakfast, checked out a beach towel – these hostels don’t like customers taking their shower towels on their adventures. A van picked our group up, and we headed to our first adventure of the day. We put on our wetsuits, grabbed some sketchy water shoes without ankle support, and a helmet with a funny name on it. Of course I went for the Frodo helmet, since we’re about the same height.

The end result looked like this:

Yeah. We’re tough.

What could we possibly be doing in all this gear you might ask? Well… I don’t really know how to explain it. It’s called canyoning. You kinda have to experience it to understand, or watch a video on YouTube or something. The best description I’ve heard is “white water rafting without the raft.” We slide down several chutes in a river, rappelled down a big rock, flew like Superman into the current below us, and almost slipped serval times. But most of all, we had a great time. The entire group was grinning ear to ear (except for Taylor because she cut her finger). We had three guides: Stef (a Swiss native), Nina (from Germany), and Matt (from New Zealand). I’m pretty sure Matt secretly hated Indigo and me for constantly saying “amazing” in an Australian accent, but we weren’t going to have it any other way.

Once we made it to the bottom and got back to the base, I had some coffee – the caffeine was needed for the rest of the day -, took a hot shower, and got suckered into paying for a highlight video from the trip. Ah Who am I kidding? There was never a shadow of a doubt in my mind that I was going to buy the video.

Don’t worry the day didn’t end there.

The next activity consisted of getting a kebab just down the street. If you think that sounds boring, that’s because you just read about canyoning. The kebab was a fantastic experience. It was food, and in the words of Dr. Pitcock, “this is the hungriest CR yet.”

But wait! There’s more!!

After some down time, 11 of us met in the lobby to go to the land of Myth known as “drop zone.” We were all extremely excited and ready to go, but the van picking us up got stuck in traffic, so the hype was kinda lulled. Don’t worry though. We didn’t even know what hype was until we were almost at the end of the activity. I debated ending the post there to keep you in suspense, but then I realized that other people are probably going to post about it anyways.

So we got to the runway, took some sweet pics (see below), and tried to contain our excitement for what was about to happen. Here are some of the pictures of us before we got on the plane.

(Sorry, Mom. I didn’t position myself correctly in the jumping picture so you can’t really see me, but I promise I’m in it)

What followed was an unforgettable experience. I free fell from 13,000 feet out of an airplane, did a barrel roll and a back flip, and then fell through the cloud of a storm that came out of nowhere. I don’t know how many people reading this have been to Interlaken, but it truly is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen, and the beauty from that high up as you plummet towards it is impossible to explain. Also I definitely screamed like a pre-pubescent teenage boy when I jumped. Unfortunately, I won’t have the pictures for a few days, but when I do, they’ll be all over the Insta and I’ll update this blog post! I know the blog has been pretty heavy lately, and we’ve definitely been feeling that weight as well. Today was a much needed break from the emotional limits we’ve been pushing on this experience, and I hope you can see that from the smiles on our faces (and from the irony of the “serious” pictures).

Team Alpha

By now, you have probably heard about our wonderful adventures at powerful locations such as Treptower Park, the East Side Gallery, Checkpoint Charlie, or the Soviet Memorial. With all of these amazing cites, the question “What was your favorite part of the experience so far?” can be very difficult to answer. However, after talking with several other people about the differences in our daily journeys, I have seen a difference in what I have gotten out of the historically rich city of Berlin. Ryal, Emma, and I went to Frog Camp Berlin last summer, and we all agreed that it was a very special opportunity to have been able to see the city twice on two totally different experiences. Of course, all of the memorials of both tragedy and redemption were extremely moving and emotional, but I wanted to focus on the interactions between the people that make up the newest additions to the Familia.

I was a member of the A Team (aka team Alpha aka the type A type A’s aka the Alpha Dogs), which was composed of Emma, Nishu, Brooke, OC (Olivia Chambers), and myself. Each day we were given a word like “connect” or “patience” or “starburst” that we should make the theme of the day. The great thing about team Alpha was we never had to try to implement any of those themes. The first day we all connected with our passionate hearts about the tragedy of the Holocaust, the second day we naturally communicated our feelings to each other that made patience come as second nature, and starbursting was something we’d been doing from the word “go” the very first day.

My favorite part of the experience thus far has definitely been growing closer to Team Alpha. We may not have had a theme song or secret handshake, but we all dug deep to get to know each other. I felt like Dr. P trying to take notes on each person because they were all so fascinating. It’s amazing to see how our differences can bring us closer together than some similarities can. For example, our bonding did not come from us having the same Meyer’s Briggs personality types, it came from our differing perspectives on what we looked for in significant others, what we want to do with our lives, how we interact with our families back at home, what makes us all tick, etc.

So I thought I’d make this blog post to show the things I love about them with the hope that you will have the opportunity to know and love them too.

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Pictured above Is Nishu; he’s a total stud. He is extremely passionate about medicine and his biggest goal in life is to leave a permanent impact on the world of either neurosurgery, heart disease, or cancer research. He enjoys the classic “music and medicine” school of thought and loves to explore all parts of his brain; he’s in the jazz band at TCU and can make sick beats on his computer. His producer name is “The Nerd,” and he is unable to touch his toes in mid air (see above). Nishu is from Chicago, but his mother preaches at a church in Wisconsin while his father is an engineer in Indiana. It was incredible to hear about the unique position he had to travel to all three of those places and build connections in them. He was raised in a house that celebrated both Christianity and Hinduism, which is extremely unique and allows him to have a very different outlook on life. He truly cares for everyone and believes in equality of all cultures and people. We brought this up several times, and it was an extremely fitting topic of discussion in a city of Berlin; the former capital of oppression and systematic racism. I loved hearing Nishu talk about how a doctor saved his father’s life, and how he wants to give back to the field however he can. Not to mention, this guy is definitely one of the smartest people I’ve ever met. He was so observant that he explained to us that a slightly chilly day could be described as “slightly colder than warm.”

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Okay, honestly I have no idea what my life would be like without Emma. She has become one of my closest friends over the last year and has made such an incredible impact on me that ranges from something as small writing encouraging notes and leaving them on my Bible in my room back in Milton Daniel to something as large as reminding that my self worth is something so strong that not even I can screw it up. But in the course of this week, I have loved watching her grow and learn more about herself. She discovered that her personality was a little bit different than any Meyer’s Briggs test could ever tell her. And she discovered (though probably already knew) that she is amazing at reading maps in German. Emma is a very independent person, but is incredible at supporting others and letting other people support her. Sometimes I feel like she already has a lot of the answers and asks questions to make other people realize they might have some of them too. Emma comes from a family that absolutely loves Jesus. She can’t pick a favorite family member because they all inspire her in different ways, but she has a heart for law and justice, and wants to pursue law just like her father. She just cannot do criminal law; she never wants to be in a position to defend someone who she knows is in the wrong and have to fight for something she doesn’t believe in.

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Above is Brooke Boisvert. I also finally discovered how to pronounce her last name this week: it’s like boy-ver. I think. Honestly who knows. Anyways, Brooke is truly amazing. I started the starbursting moment off strong with the classic, “So Brooke, tell me about your family.” It’s amazing how much you can learn about a person just from that one statement. I learned about her amazing parents who have been excellent role models for her, her two brothers who are way cooler than she is. Living with two younger brothers has been an incredible experience for her; she’s gotten to watch them grow and mature in ways that are different from her own experiences. Brooke was a killer navigator in Berlin and was probably the sole reason we were able to figure out the S-Bahn/U-Bahn system. Her sense of humor is pretty much the same as mine, so we got along very well. While we only had a few heart-to-heart talks throughout the time in Berlin, we were comfortable with walking in silent contemplation next to each other, which says a lot more about a relationship than the ability to make small talk. Brooke is just one of those people that can be the both the funniest and deepest person you’ve ever met at the same time. I love how this combination allows her to utilize empathy for everyone around her and know how to react to whatever situation with the exact right words or actions.

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Last but certainly not least is Olivia Chambers (aka OC). OC is, as Shrek would put it, like an onion because she has layers. And I’m not talking about the layered look that California’s usually pull off. I took a class with her in the fall and got to hear her perspective on many subjects as it was a seminar-style honors class, but she never brought up stuff like the fact that she was a professional musical theatre actress back in the day. This blew our minds when she finally revealed that to us, and it really speaks to her humility. One of the questions that our group brought up was “what qualities do you look for in a significant other?” And I absolutely loved her answer. She said she doesn’t feel like she should be going through life with a list of expectations to check off; she’ll just be disappointed by not getting exactly what she wants. OC is comfortable with taking her hands off the wheel and letting the Lord make the plan. Olivia truly goes through life viewing everything and everyone as a gift to be appreciated and she always manages to find the light in the darkest places.

The words above could never come close to fully conveying how incredible the people with whom I got to explore Berlin were, but I thought I should give them some credit in their ability to carry out one of most important things we set out to do: build a familia.

IT’S NOT TIME TO JUMP OUT OF AN AIRPLANE, INDIGO!

Final Blog Post PRE-CR10

Holy moly… We’re so close–literally three days away from being in BERLIN–and it is truly hitting me now. A couple weeks ago, with finals and theatre juries staring me in the face, I didn’t have a whole lot of time (or the mental capacity) to fully grasp that CR was actually about to happen. Well, now I’m sitting in my home in Georgia, thinking about all that I need to pack and how else to prepare for this adventure. IT’S HAPPENING.

Honestly, I think my greatest anxiety about CR10 at this point is about packing. I’m pretty sure everyone knows that person who packs 50 t-shirts but forgets toothpaste… That would most definitely be me. Thus, to avoid as much unnecessary packing trouble as possible, I am making sure to sit down with my parents and go through each item I’m brining. I am also using the recommended packing list we were given at one of the CR10 meetings, so I should be good to go. I know I’ll probably forget something, we’re just hoping that something is not my passport or the sorts.

I’m also a little bit anxious about Interlaken… I must say, I am quite the thrill seeker when it comes to outdoorsy things/jumping off of tall things, but the prospect of skydiving or hang-gliding is intimidating me. I have never experienced anything of this kind, and I’m so so SO pumped–especially after consulting some past CRers about this–but the thought of potentially jumping out of an AIRPLANE is giving me butterflies.

A goal for myself for CR10 is to live in the moment. To press into the ups and downs of the PRESENT MOMENT, because I believe that’s the best route to growth. I tend to mentally plan ahead for the “next big thing,” so I’m hoping to learn to let that go and enjoy the beauty of the “now.” Regarding this particular experience, I hope to be present in each city and not anticipate what is to come so much that I am not fully enjoying where I’m at. With that in mind, NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO WORRY ABOUT JUMPING OUT OF AN AIRPLANE. Dr. P, if I start talking about that, you have permission to chastise me. But seriously, I want to enjoy and learn from people and places one city at a time!

I am also hoping CR10 teaches me how to be alert and intuitive, even in the face of uncertainty and unfamiliarity. As we walk about these new cities and experience an abundance of new things and people, I hope to be able to acknowledge my emotional and mental states enough to give myself grace and then let go of myself, in order to fully experience all that is around me. With an open and perceptive mind, I aim to fully immerse myself into each culture regardless with how unfamiliar I may be with my surroundings.

This is gonna be good!!! Here’s to pressing into the now and making sure all of the essentials end up in my suitcase!

-Indigo