Cause Fitness — Thailand Retreat Reflections: Part 1
Now that I’m back home from leading my first international “Cause Fitness : Retreat” in Koh Samui, Thailand, it’s time to get readjusted to Los Angeles life. Easier said than done, apparently.
I had very good intentions of writing and posting this immediately after landing at LAX. Little did I know that such a surreal trip on the other side of the world (where one of my biggest dreams to-date came true and manifested in real-time in front of my eyes) would not only require some extreme jet lag, but would also induce (in equal parts) feelings of intense gratitude and mourning or grief, which would then provoke a foggy, almost escapist mindset for the entire rest of the week(s) following my return. More on that later.
Don’t get me wrong, I have love for Los Angeles, but excuses and explanations out of the way, I have to sit here for a minute or 10 and decide where to even begin, because this retreat was, in a word, epic!
…Ok, I think I’m ready.
Let me start by asking you a question:
Have you ever had the feeling that you were exactly where you were supposed to be, at exactly the right time, doing exactly what you were meant to be doing, without even really trying to?
Disclaimer: I’m probably always gonna be more transparent than most “businesses” usually are, but that’s just how I roll, because if I make things look better than they are it leaves no room for God to show off! He does amazing stuff in my imperfection, and I don’t wanna miss that, or the opportunity to tell you about it! So this is raw. This is real. Real talk with Rachel…(videos/periscope coming soon).
It’s all started way before Thailand.
Well, actually, it did all start in Thailand, but it wasn’t this trip. It was 2008. I was on a mission trip with a group from my church in Seattle at the time and we had two weeks planned. The first week and a half we stayed in Northern Thailand in Udon Thani, and the last couple of days there we enjoyed a little R&R on Riley Beach in Krabi. While in Udon Thani, we were serving at a little girl’s orphanage. This wasn’t an ordinary orphanage though. It was a government run, high security orphanage, which made it extremely hard to adopt any of the children kept there. This meant that most of the girls wouldn’t be adopted and would instead spend their lives, many from infancy to 18, calling this place home. Why did they make it so hard to adopt them? Because many times orphans are adopted so that their adoptive “parents” can then traffic them into the sex trade. When I found this out it was my last day there (don’t ask me why I didn’t know this earlier) and it broke my heart. The children and the people and the culture of Thailand were forever imprinted on my heart. That first trip changed my life and I knew for whatever reason, I had to go back to Thailand someday, and eventually, do something to help in a bigger way.
Fast forward to this time last year, May 2015.
I’d been dreaming of what Cause Fitness LLC could offer, what it could be, and how I could share life and real life-changing experiences with you, for years. Hosting a retreat has always been one of my biggest dreams, but I thought it was years down the road, you know, when I had a team of people working for/with me, or when I had a large or even just a more consistent income. I imagined it being like summer camp but for us grown up kids. It would be somewhere beautiful and exotic, and it would be a combination of fitness, nutrition and life-coaching with a side of compassion and lots of grace. I wanted it to be someplace where I could really reach people on a deeper level. But that wasn’t going to happen for a long time…or so I thought.
One day, I had just logged on to check my Facebook page when a sponsored post for a travel company caught my attention. They were looking for fitness professionals to lead retreats at partner resorts all over the world. Intrigued, I checked it out. Turned out they would let me brand the trip as my own, I’d have control over the itinerary (agreeing to lead a minimum of one class a day, of course), and they’d pay me to lead it. The catch? Tell people about it and reach a minimum number of bookings by a December deadline. Elated, I looked at the location options available, and there it was: 6-days and 5-nights in Koh Samui, Thailand, for less than $1000 per person, day trip included! I put down my deposit and scheduled the launch.
I had a couple of bookings immediately…then a few more! Soon I had seven signed up shortly after launch and with my December deadline months away, I was confident that not only would I reach the 10 minimum, but I would sell out my trip with 20 bookings! I made plans to bring a co-leader, moving my minimum up to 15. At the time it was my boyfriend. He was going lead a seminar and help with devotionals. When we broke up last June, I asked one of his sisters to come as my photographer (she is so talented!) and help with devotionals, and she agreed!
Then came the cancellations.
By the time December rolled around I didn’t have all the bookings I needed to make the trip actually happen. I had five and I needed five more by the 15th to officially make the trip a “go.” I pushed and worked and hustled, but no one else was booking and time was getting away from me. Suddenly it was December 14th, the last day, and I still needed five to book. So I did something I had originally done, but had forgotten to continue doing when I got caught up in the anxiety of deadlines…I surrendered it to God. If He wanted the trip to happen it would. There wasn’t anything I could do to change it for better or for worse.
That same day, just hours after, a group of five friends signed up together right before the deadline.
The following months a couple more booked and had a solid 12, with a few more ‘promised.’ I was sure the 15 minimum would be hit so my co-leader could come. I mean, if God brought me five last-minute bookings for the first deadline, three more in the three months left before the final deadline wasn’t too much to ask, right?
It’s not, but that’s not what happened.
Of the 12 booked, I had nine cancellations in the next three months. First it was just two, then the group of five who booked together cancelled together on the last day to pay-in-full. Then after the final Saturday deadline, I found out that two more weren’t coming even though it meant they’d be forfeiting the entire paid-in-full cost of the trip without refund. I was down to five paid but only three going, and extremely discouraged and admittedly anxious, assuming a major financial loss, but again, I let go and surrendered it to God (a little quicker this time). ;)
“Lord, this trip is yours. Whatever happens, your will be done.”
I knew that the trip would now have to happen no matter what, and I would probably lose a ton of money doing it instead of making money as I had hoped, but I trusted that God would provide for my needs. I let it go again and rested in God’s promises and faithfulness. I emailed my trip organizer to ask him what would happen, ready to accept any verdict or cost.
Monday morning I woke up to an email reply saying there had been an exception made for my trip, and not only would I not owe them anything, but I would still be getting paid for the five (even though two of them weren’t going to be physically present). I hadn’t asked for an exception to be made, but I definitely didn’t ask questions!
I don’t know what you’re thinking about all of this, but getting that email was the most incredible blessing because it made it so evident to me that it wasn’t me making this trip happen, it was all God. It was all in His hands.
I can’t quite explain the sense of freedom this gave me, but I can say that it wasn’t until I was two flights and 8,292 miles into my trip with 298 miles to go, sitting in the airport lounge in Bangkok that it all hit me. I was en route to witnessing a dream come true and it wasn’t happening because I made it happen, but because God allowed it to. He was carrying me there.
He was providing every single tiny step of the way, and better than I ever could. It took the anxiety I was carrying about doing everything perfectly and making th best impression, and left me with pure excitement and anticipation! I had nothing but GREAT expectations from that moment on. I just knew that God was about to do some amazing things!
It was the feeling of knowing that I was exactly where I was supposed to be at exactly the right time doing exactly what I was meant to be doing without even really trying to.
…to be continued…
“Listen to me…
…you whom I have upheld since your birth,
and have carried since you were born.
Even to your old age and gray hairs
I am he, I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you;
I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”