My First Time

Let me start by saying that life is full of firsts. Our first love or our first kiss. The first time we rode a bike or went roller-skating. For the more daring ones of us, the first time we bungee-jumped or went skydiving from 12,500 feet. We will always remember the first time we went cliff-diving or jumped off the high-dive. 

I remember my first great steak, and can almost still taste it. I remember the first time I surfed and the first time I went deep-sea fishing. My first time overseas. My first time in Haiti, the DR, China, Africa. Friend, I could go on all night like this. Everything we have done, or are currently doing, had its’ very first time. 

When I was 10 years old, my family moved to Haiti (for the first time). Upon arriving in-country, I rode in the back of Terry Bennett’s truck from the Port-au-Prince airport to the port-city of St. Marc. A few years later we drove from Port-au-Prince, Haiti to Barahona, Dominican Republic. I can only describe it as “love at first sight”. The people, the food, the beach, the rivers —again, I could go on and on. From that time until now, I have loved this place. I remember surfing and swimming, walking and talking, eating chimi’s on the street corner… 

But the thing is— in all of these memories, I wasn’t the only one in the picture. There was one person who was beside me for all of these “firsts”. Today I again had several first-time moments. I walked into the ocean for a swim, and it flooded over me that this, too, was a first. This is my first time back to the DR, my first time preaching at Oceanside, my first time seeing the ocean and swimming in the ocean without my Dad. For those who know me well, you understand how deep this is to me. It will be the first time Tony is here with me and we surf without him. His guiding hand was there for so many of my firsts. 

His words ring in my mind, “Son, I’m not trying to tell you how to surf, but if you put your feet closer together, you’ll go faster.” 

“Yeah, Dad. I got it.” 

“Son, I’m not trying to tell you how to preach, but if you say…. umm, less.. it will be better.”

“Yeah, Dad. I got it.” 

“Son, always bring four things when you travel: cash, credit, passport and a swimsuit— ‘cause you never know.” 

“Yeah, Dad. I got it.”

Again, my friend, I could go on and on— but alas, this is merely a blog, and the book is not yet written. So, Cliffdale, Renaissance, Oceanside, GTO, from China to Africa, India to Thailand and from North Carolina to the Dominican Republic, the point is this:

“Yeah, Dad. I got it.”

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