Carly Wheeler | Contributor
The storm had finally passed. It was a new day.
Around 10:30 a.m., the normal routine commenced: chairs were brought out to the beach and set in a circle. Residents from the Ocean View group home eventually joined. Locals and tourists walked and set up chairs and umbrellas.
The sun was bright and warm, and junior Heidi Krauss thought to herself: "This looks like it's going to be a perfect day."
Krauss had arrived in Daytona, Florida, a few days earlier with a group of 26 others from Taylor. They prayed for the Lord to use them as they spent spring break starting conversations and hearing the stories of the people on the beach, and the Lord was already moving.
Krauss thought back to the thunderstorms encountered the day before. Their plans were altered - they couldn't accomplish everything they'd hoped and discouragement tapped at the team's hearts. But when Krauss saw the clear sky, she knew she couldn't let yesterday's failure set the tone for rest of the week.
This day's beautiful weather made it seem like it was going to be like any other day at the beach. So, Krauss sat in a lawn chair and talked to a resident from Ocean View.
"There were a lot of us on the beach that day," Krauss said. "We were all hanging out and talking and really enjoying our time together on this beach in Daytona."
In the midst of her conversation, she was drawn away by the sound of yelling. She looked toward the direction of the noise and saw a group from the Taylor team with two men from Ocean View, a group home for people with mental and physical handicaps. They were building sandcastles and then knocking them down, screaming and laughing while they did.
Then Krauss noticed everything else happening on the beach. People from Taylor were swimming in the ocean or sitting around and having conversations. All of the interactions were full of childlike fun and excitement - an unexpected sight given the group of people.
"It was the most interesting group," Krauss said. "College students (were) hanging out with these people who don't usually hang out with visitors or tourists. They usually just stay to themselves. It was just all these different kinds of people you wouldn't imagine would ever be together."
There were people of all ages. Some were other college students. Some had mental or physical handicaps; others were homeless.
The moment brought a sense of fellowship and purpose to Krauss as she concluded that this was why they were there: to love people whom they wouldn't normally love.
Micah 6:8 asks: "What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" Krauss clung to this truth as she observed the beautiful scene that God had revealed to her. They were loving kindness and walking with God when they loved those around them.
"It was one my favorite moments," Krauss said. "Just stepping back and seeing all of these different kinds of people who wouldn't normally be there hanging out and laughing and drinking sodas and enjoying the sun - it felt a little bit like heaven."
Q: Where do you see the value in sharing stories?
I think that the value of sharing a story is to help you to see a person and their perspectives and their experiences, and everyone has a different experience. And in order to have relationship with others and to really know other people, you have to know their story. It also helps in knowing you're not alone in a lot of things, like, everyone has brokenness and everyone wants love. And knowing someone else's story humanizes them and makes you realize that everybody wants that and needs that and even though we all have gone through different things, with all of our experiences, we need each other. - Heidi Krauss