Many things can go wrong on a long journey from the interior of Alaska to the concrete jungle of Southern California. But as Debi Rubera told me in an interview in Stony River, "this trip has been blessed from the beginning."
The blessings continued as all of us and our belongings arrived safely in Los Angeles at approximately 3:00pm. By the time we rounded up our luggage and transportation it was closer to 4:30 and rush hour traffic loomed ahead on the 405.
Somehow the traffic waited long enough for the convoy to make it to Pacific Coast Highway and wind our way along the coast to Carpinteria, where a huge group of pen pals and well wishers welcomed the group with a pot luck feast. The outpouring of love and support from the Santa Barbara community has been a constant the entire time here.
I imagine the kids were a bit overwhelmed at first, but the setting sun and warm waves of the Pacific Ocean invited them to play and relax. Shortly after their arrival at the beach a group of dolphins appeared in the surf to encourage the kids into the waves.
An out of town tourist from New Mexico was so moved by group of families and kids playing in the water that she inquired how she could help. She wound up purchasing some beaded jewelry from one of the girls, and making a substantial donation toward whatever opportunity the trip might afford in the near future.
And so it has gone for the last week here in Santa Barbara. The kids have done more activities, and been more places, and seen more things than I can describe here at this time. But I continue to be amazed at how the story of these kids, and this teacher, and this community have come together to make this a "dream trip come true."
It is amazing the impact that each of us can have on those around us, when we follow our heart and do what we can do to help others.