Last fall, we were living on the North Shore of Oahu preparing for our upcoming travels through Oceania. The day before our flight to New Zealand, we happened upon the Jaseboards store while waiting for a show at the Polynesian Cultural Center.
The kids were in love with the welcoming shop and on a first-name basis with the young man working within minutes. Brandon let them try boards, gave them tips, showed them the custom art process, and left them longing for Jaseboards by just being himself.
Since we travel with only carry-on bags, we joked that the boys would have to give up their clothing in exchange for a new board. When we noticed our kids actually pondering the choice we all burst out laughing but left empty-handed.
The experience stuck with us and I wrote to the company early last December with a turn around time only Santa Claus could meet. Christmas morning, the boys opened the box, and could not believe they received Jaseboards Minnows with their names engraved on them, along with sunglasses, skateboard backpacks, and t-shirts!
From Wellington, Nelson, and Queenstown, New Zealand to Bondi Beach, Australia they skated. They skated to school and to meet friends. They skated with fishing gear and groceries. Their boards became a part of them and symbolized an independent form of transportation that was a rite of passage of sorts.
When we prepared to board a budget airline to South East Asia from Australia, the cabin crew tried to take these prized possessions that were now more like an appendage. We had not had any trouble with them up to this point but with two boys on the verge of tears and the flight clock ticking, this airline was not going to budge on their new policy that included a cabin ban on all sporting equipment with wheels! The boys both drained their bank accounts and paid $50 USD each to have the boards wrapped and checked versus confiscated. What they didn’t know is that they would give them away, without hesitation, at our very next destination.
Shortly after arriving at the Ananda Kurjana Ashram and Children’s Home the boys’ skateboards became the number one attraction. With no paved roads for miles, the orphans had never spent any time on skateboards. The boards brought everyone together on the one strip of pavement with enough slope to get going, but not too quickly. The boards were something to gather around, where our kids could teach and learn without sharing any of the same languages with their 30 new friends. It was an effortless cultural exchange that revolved around the novelty of these new wheels.
When we packed to leave, the boys stayed behind in our hut for a while. We had no chairs in our hut just sleeping mats, so their boards had also become their seats during our time at the orphanage. They gently rolled back and forth talking when we walked out to pack the car.
When they said their good-byes and we pulled away, we realized they had left their boards in our hut for the kids to discover in their own time. There was no pageantry, no ceremonial handing off, just a moment I dreamed of when we left on this journey. That moment when the life-changing experience and the people it connects becomes more important than the object.
I was flooded with emotion. I knew what the boards meant to our boys who have only what fits in their carry-ons in terms of physical belongings. They had talked repeatedly about giving their first real skateboards to their own kids someday and sharing the stories that came with the scratches and dents.
We never really talked about it but there was an heir of confidence in them after that day. They had a wisdom that comes from knowing that in an authentic act of giving one becomes the receiver of divine grace.
There is no word for Jaseboards in Indonesian, but luckily this “gift exchange” didn’t require a shared language. This Christmas we are grateful for past experiences and the people that have shown us that having a gracious spirit is the key to a true offering. That knowledge is the best gift I have ever received.
If you would like to give the gift of an experience this holiday, consider purchasing a Daily Livit Subscription for yourself or as a gift. 50% of all the profit will be donated to the orphans at the Ananda Kurjana Ashram and Children’s Home.
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