We have tried to name each of the days this week. And this one was suppose to be the day of fun and relaxation. But it turned out so much different then we would ever have expected. In some ways it was the “Day of Tragedy”.
The plan was to go on snorkeling, have some beach time, have lunch and enjoy a day out as a group. Play some volleyball, swim in the ocean, and so much more. Let me give you some snap shots that I have etched in my mind today.
SNAPSHOT #1 -As we finally left headed across the sea many of the boys danced to some Dominican Music. They are quite the dancers. The smiles and fun on their faces was a picture of pure delight. They were creating another memory together and it was special.
SNAPSHOT #2 – Snorkeling – jumping into the water and seeing these amazing sights under the water. A few fish, the corral, and just a beautiful scene.
SNAPSHOT#3 – The boys jumping off the boat. Laughing, talking, and just enjoying the jump from the 2nd deck on the boat.
SNAPSHOT #4 – I am told that Mark hurt his ankle pretty bad. running down the stairs (actually sliding down the stairs) and seeing him with 6-8 people around him working on his ankle, bleeding swelling, and just looking nasty. Of course it was chaos because it seemed we had 4 languages, a doctor working on him but a doctor of who knows what – (She told him he was going to lose his leg if we didn’t get him to a doctor, something may have been lost in translation).
SNAPSHOT #5 – The tragedy… as we were finishing up Mark, all of a sudden there was an unforgettable sound and screaming and pointing. And I looked over there was a young girl – that Nick and Matt talked to and actually were swimming with for a time – screaming, and the water was pure red all around her – And body parts laying in the water. And a boat a few yards away. The boat had run over her with the propeller and basically cut her in pieces. She was put on the boat but was basically dead when she was out of the water.
It was a shocking tragedy that all of the boys experienced in some way – and it effected them. It was a shock to Mark, Scott and I as well. All sorts of things run through your mind when you see something like that. One is make sure everyone of the boys is on the boat. Second, is this can’t be real. Third is your heart breaking for her friends who were now on the boat. They were french and were doing what they could to manage their emotions.
It’s something I am not sure any of these boys or us as leaders will soon forget. In fact, it didn’t seem right to post any pictures today because of the death of this young, fun loving girl.
SNAPSHOT #6 – Tonight as we sat down to meet together as a group and download the day. And to talk through this tragedy. We talked about how fast one person’s decision can change a life. Talk through how that scene effected them. The kids were so open about what they experienced today and really what they experienced all week. It was something you would not expect of 16 or 17 year olds. But I will be honest with you, them sharing is going to be a memory I cherish for the rest of my life.
I can only tell you, that God was with us today. I can’t begin to describe to you the ways he showed up during and after that incident in spite of the tragedy. My heart still breaks for her family, her friends, and for those who are now dealing with this heartbreaking loss.
Two side notes…
I love these young men who we have taken with us this week. They have been incredible and I am proud of what they have done and experienced.
Second, I have been able to lead this trip next to two men I DEEPLY respect and care for. They handled this whole week but even this situation today with such wisdom. Scott McLaughlin and Mark Procopio are two men who love these kids and have been incredible on this trip.. They are special men who deserve a lot of thanks for all they have done this week.