Today's lesson is that on a mission trip you have to be prepared for a crisis to brew up at any time. Danger is not necessarily dictated by your location or your perception of security.

We left Tijuana after a tearful farewell with Eduardo, our Esperanza liason. We had already cleaned our rooms, the bathrooms, and the kitchen in expectation of the next group (60 people!!) arriving Saturday. I wish them the kind of experience we have had.

I was relieved when we crossed into San Diego and arrived at our hotel in safe, secure Coronado, where the students would be staying the last two days. My idea was to give them a rest before they returned to their grueling student schedules at Columbia University. I also wanted to give them the opportunity to view the border with Tijuana from the other side.

Justin, Brian and Susan opted to go to the beach. I left them playing frisbee and laughing. I was back at my apartment when Susan appeared, in tears. Brian had been tossed around by the Pacific and had almost drowned. He had been taken away in an ambulance. We got in the van and raced to hospital, only to be told that they had sent Brian to a bigger hospital in San Diego. Not a good sign.

At the emergency room in San Diego, we were told Brian was getting a MRI and a CAT scan. This is the moment that any group leader fears the most.

That night we held reflection around Brian's hospital bed. He was all right, but the doctors were keeping him overnight for observation. For Brian, his scrape with the ocean was another humbling experience to go with the insights he'd taken away from Esperanza. It made him again aware of the importance of the connections of his family, and in this case his friends, who today had saved his life.

They also rescued him from hospital food. The unruly group members had smuggled in mashed potatoes and gravy, and chocolate shake, which Brian downed happily, while reflection turned out to be about revelation--how we learn about the humanity in others and learn about ourselves. Justin told about going on a retreat in high school, where, he told us, hearing stories from people he didn't know made him recognize the commonality within us all. Cathy talked about the experience of writing in her journal. It was the one place she could reveal every part of who she is. Both of these stories show us more about who God is as well. These young people are describing God through and by their lives.

I thank God for each of their lives, and for their presence. Afterward, I drop the group off at the hotel and go down to the beach and stare out at the ocean. I breath a sigh of relief.

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