Daytona #5

Gathering for worship at Oceanview, a group home in Daytona, was a very special experience. Many different people with drastically different stories gathered in one place singing in unity. It gave us a glimpse of heaven. A place where people are together and joyful beyond measure. Members of Oceanview even began to join in our music playing drumsticks on the table and clapping. Love was so tangible and overwhelming in every moment. It is something our team will never forget. – Jake

Charlie is an older man who has lived in Oceanview for years. He is mentally ill, but that does not stop our team from loving him in his mental state. He often leaves the group to take a walk, and talks to himself in the process. Yesterday, I [Natalie] asked if I could join him on his walks. He would stop and stare blankly in the middle of the beach, and start waving his hands. People on the beach often stared… some laughed. I’ve learned that grabbing his hand or touching his shoulder usually gets him back into reality. Through my interactions with Charlie, I’ve grown to love him deeply. How much more does God love Charlie? Many people would notice Charlie and run away, God chooses to SEE him. I pray that our team and I would continue to search, love, and SEE who the world would say are “social outcasts.” – Natalie

My heart feels full in this place.  I also sit with this awareness that we can take what Daytona is – walking down a beach, around a city, amidst differences and barriers and darkness with the intention of listening and learning and loving – back to wherever we go.  It’s the last morning and we’re currently all gathered in the conference room.  There’s big windows on the far wall that we see the ocean through, always crashing on the shore, and there are blue skies today.  Everyone’s quiet journaling and Steve and Emily are packing lunches for the homeless park.  I guess I don’t want to lose this full hearted feeling – the Lord has filled me this week.  I’m full of this idea that taking attention off of myself and onto the many walks of life around me leaves me feeling much more alive.  I’m grateful for Daytona right now because it stands as an example of the heart of the Father and what is possible.  I think of all the people I have met this week and can only be amazed that we serve a God who crashes through barriers and loves us.   – Tali

Something about this place makes me feel alive.  Daytona is a place full of hurt and pain. Through this week we have been able to meet people in their brokenness, as well as share our own.  There is something beautiful about sitting with someone who is homeless on the boardwalk at 11 pm, tears welling up in your eyes with Vicky, this beautiful human being who is loved by Christ more than she could ever know, is sitting in front of you, sharing everything that she has lost in this life and losing hope for any redemption.  This trip always reminds me of how broken I am, how imperfect I am, but that God still loves me even though he has no reason to.  It is such a beautiful story, and through this week the Lord has used all of us here to bring him glory on the shores of Daytona.  This being my final year as a senior, today I feel kind of numb.  I look around this room as we worship and honestly I just want to cry.  I cannot imagine not coming back next year.  This place and these beautiful people have changed my life, and all that I can do is be thankful for the countless memories that the Lord has given me through my time here on the Daytona shores. – Mort


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