2014: The Struggle Was Real

dreamlandemily

2014 was no cake walk. This was the hardest year of my adult life. Which may seem crazy because it was also a year of great success. But, it was my first time feeling like I wasn’t walking in abundant favor with every step I took, but instead feeling every emotion and struggle deeply. There were some really bad days this year, the kind where I didn’t even want to get out of bed. I juggled way more than I thought (and everyone around me thought) possible, and as the year comes to an end all I can think of is that it is all  OK.

I could choose to hide all of this and say that 2014 was an amazing year filled with laughter, love, joy, and abundance (because it was all of those things too), but there is something to be said about the struggle. I wear the battle scars of 2014 proudly as I walk into 2015 because those are the reminders of everything I’ve endured to get me to this point. It has not been easy, but you cannot run a marathon without enduring all the countless hours of training, lots of sweat, and probably some tears. Our culture teaches us to mask all of these struggles, when really we should be acknowledging and embracing them for what they were. It is OK to say your year wasn’t all sparkles and confetti. It is OK to be honest with yourself about where you are really at, and it is OK if things didn’t all go the way you planned. Everything you did this year, everything you felt, every good moment, and every bad moment is now an extension of who you are. This is not a rant, or a piece trying to get you to focus on the negative, but rather to allow you to feel the freedom that rushes in when you are honest with yourself. The struggle is not something to be ashamed of, it is your stepping stones, your hope, your endurance, and a huge part of who you are. Wear it proudly.

I walk into 2015 hopeful and excited for what is to come. I welcome all that is in store, and will continue to live in a posture surrendered to the King of Kings. 2014 was my year of endurance.

And I am so thankful for my community of Imagine and Pastors Kevin and Christine Sweeney who have spoken life into me and helped me accept all of this for what it is.

Now here are a bajillion photos of some of my favorite moments in 2014

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Cheers, Happy New Year Xx

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Favor of God (Bali)

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     Twelve days ago Davin Jaime and I left our homes on Oahu with the Hawaiian Island Creations surf team. After 18 hours of travel we arrived on the island of Bali in Indonesia. The HIC team won their regional event on Oahu so they were going on to compete in the national event against all the other regional winners in the United States! I decided to go with the team to support Davin.

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            When we arrived in Bali everything was taken care of for us. We stepped off the airplane, handed over our visa money and basically just had to walk to the car. It was the smoothest airport transition I had ever experienced in Bali. When we arrived at the hotel I was so amazed at how gorgeous it was! I wasn’t sure if I would get to stay with the team so I was trying not to get too excited, but when they said it was ok I was stoked! Normally in Bali, I rough it, sleeping on bamboo mats outside for $2 a day. For the next week I’d be living in luxury!

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   The week with the boys was so fun. We surfed, and surfed, and surfed, only really stopping to eat. We had a personal driver, YoYo, all week. He became one of our good friends. Joel Centeio (one of the team memebers) gave Yoyo a pair of Arnette sunglasses and his first question was, “Are these real? Not $3 ones?” When he found out they were real he literally jumped up and down, that one pair of sunglasses was worth just about the same as what he makes in a month. Balinese people are always excited to get a real pair of sunnys because their eyes are constantly getting worked by the sun, especially dirvers. We love Yoyo and Davin and I have made a promise to continue to see him and invite him and his family over for dinners when we get a house!

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    So we surfed a different wave every day. I got to see parts of Bali I had never been to before! Our team became like a little family. Unfortunately, they lost their heat in the Oakley Surf Shot Challenge so when that was over, everyone entered into vacation mode! We all had VIP wristbands for the Oakley Pro so we posted up there for a few days to watch the contest. We even got invited back to the Quiksilver villas because Joel was good friends with Fred Patachia. The quicksilver villas were unreal. We got to meet Kelly Slater and watch all the boys verse him in pool. I just sat back and took it all in!

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            The last night the boys were in Bali the Oakley reps for all of Hawai’i invited our team over for a BBQ. They had rented out a huge private villa overlooking the ocean with their own pool. Of course we said yes. They even invited Davin and I to stay with them for the last two days they were in Bali because they had three extra rooms. We were so excited! We went from staying for free at a luxury hotel, to now staying for free at a sick private villa with personal chefs, staff and drivers. We were so thankful! Then to top it all off when the HIC team left, then the Oakely team left, Davin and I were packing to leave the villas as well, when the owners of the villas invited us to just come stay with them in their “King Villa”. Before we were only staying in the queen so we were basically getting upgraded!  Davin and I were in pure shock at the hospitality and favor we were receiving. It has been almost two weeks and we have not paid to stay anywhere yet and we are now staying at a place that cost $1000 a night. What makes it even better is the family we are staying with is absolutely amazing. They are teaching Davin and I so much. They own a factory here in Bali and showing me all the places to buy wholesale, and tricks of the trade. Their kids are so amazing, Davin and I have had so much fun making up late night raps, jumping into the pool, and exploring new places in Bali. We had a grom ministry in Hawai’i and now it is continuing in Bali.

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            I am in complete awe of God’s favor. From staying at a luxury hotel, then five star villas, VIP Oakley Pro passes, personal drivers, hanging out with all the Quiksilver pros, and all the little blessings in between for free, plus all of the new relationships we’ve formed I am so thankful. I prayed for him to go before us on this trip, but I would have never expected the five star treatment. I am so humbled and thankful for everyone I met that has shown so much generosity towards us. This is our last night in the villas with the family, then we will be headed down to Bingin and the rest of our team shows up in two days. So excited to continue on this adventure. ALOHA!

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Check out http://www.RoyaltyVillasBali.com if you are coming to Bali and want to stay at the sickest villas I’ve ever seen! Best for groups of 6 or more.

Going Big; Indo 2013

Footage from my 2012 trip to Indonesia, and my heart for this next 6 months.

Last July I was sitting on top of Bingin Village with my best friend and travel sister Suzanne. We escaped away from our group to talk privately because we both had something we wanted to share. I’m not sure who spoke first, or what exactly was said, but I remember crying as I shared how alive I felt in Indonesia, not just in my spirit but in my body and mind. I shared how much I loved the people in this country and how I felt like God was calling me to stay in Indonesia for a longer amount of time. Suzanne was crying too, because God had been speaking the same visions to her as well. So we sat there, all teary eyed, laughing by this point and wondered how in the world that would happen.

For the past year I have been praying fervently into this vision and have seen God slowly bring it to life. The vision started with just Suzanne and I wanting to move to Bali to learn the language and grow deeper in our relationships. Now, God has stratigically brought us three other team members (Davin Jaime, Kino Cajigal, and Randy McGee) and we are being sent out and trained through Big Island Faith Community. All I had to do was be obedient to say, “Yes I will go” and God brought all the rest.

We are entering Indonesia as humble students eager to learn the culture through locals perspectives. Our goal is to start a faith community where we develop weekly rhythms that allow us to immerse ourselves into the culture. We will be present in the line up, diving, in the markets, hosting prayer nights, community dinners and anything else we can think of. But mostly just developing relationships as we learn the language. Our goal is not to invade but to learn and love.

Davin and I depart June 13 because he will be competing in a surf contest. Suzanne, Randy and Kino join us June 26. I am so ready for this adventure! I will be writing more descriptive updates here at least once a month so feel free to sign up with your e-mail. However, if you would like to see little daily updates, inspirations, and photos you can follow me on Instagram @EmilyValdez and check out our facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/balifaithcommunity/ we also have a website describing our background and vision a little more in depth. It also has information on how you can support us financially if you feel led to become a part of this vision.That can be viewed here: http://aloha.bigislandfaith.com/missional-faith-communities/bali-faith-community/

Lastly, I have been making jewelry and tank tops to creatively pay for my trip! It’s a way to support a mission and get something in return. They are only available for the next few days so check it out at YIREHawaii.etsy.com

ALOOOHA!!