I awoke with sunlight beaming down on my face. It is incredibly hot here in Las Vegas, Nevada (pronounced “Nēvaaaaaaydah”by the locals). As I blinked and looked around, I could feel the sweat that drenched the back of my t-shirt. I could feel the soreness in my body from having slept in an awkward position on the back seat of the bus. It was 7:30 am and we were back at Sam’s house, only thing is, everyone else was inside Sam’s house. I had not made it that far. I picked myself up, staggered out of the bus onto the sidewalk, and made my way to the side door of Sam’s apartment. As I stepped through the door I immediately felt the cool gust of air-conditioning, and quickly stepped in to keep the hot air out. I took a deep breath once I was fully surrounded by the AC in order to fully enjoy the ….. (well I couldn’t come up with a word that adequately communicated how I felt, and I have left this post and come back to writing it several times over the past few days so I think I just need to move on. The closest thing I can think of is the feeling you have when you truly release your will into the hands of the Lord and begin to pray instead of worry, or when you get back to studying your bible and worshiping God instead of just reading every now and then or not reading it at all.) Bodies were sprawled out all over the floor and on the couches; it was obvious the rest of the Roalt crew was just as exhausted as I was from staying up all night the night before. Through the cracks of vision under my heavy eyelids, I spotted a clear space of floor between Tim and Justin. Stepping over bodies and on what I hoped were just clumps of sleeping bag and not someone’s extremities, I collapsed into the 18 inches wide of space on the carpet and was out before you could say “Our God Reigns.”
The sound of sleeping bags being rolled up and people moving around was the next thing I remember. I opened my eyes and Justin was asking, “Hey bro, do you want a shower before we leave?”
I replied, “Na man, I’m good,” then darkness. I opened my eyes again an hour later and somehow I was halfway on one of the couches. Tim was shaking my knee telling me they were going to leave in soon. It was 1:00 pm and the Roalt boys were ready to see California. I packed and showered in just over 10 min and we rolled out soon after that. First stop, Death Valley.
Death Valley, incase you didn’t know, is one of the hottest places in the world, reaching temperatures as high as 134 degrees Fahrenheit. The day we got there, it was 115. We were told that only a few days before it had reached nearly 125 degrees. We stopped in a place called “bad water basin” to have a walk around. Bad water basin is essentially a flat area of just salt.
It was incredible being in Death Valley. I have never been in a place that was so hot. It felt like we were in front of a giant hair dryer, or like we had climbed into a pre-heated oven. There were a lot of really cool (or should I say hot) things to see, but I don’t think we have ever been so ready to get back on the bus after a stop. Just getting a drink of water was amazing, but turning on that big AC unit in the back of our bus (Thank you Liberty University!!) was really great. We literally might have died if we had bought a cheap “Junker Van” like we had originally planned and tried to drive it through Death Valley. The van would have probably over heated and cracked something, leaving us stranded. Even if it didn’t break down, without a big AC unit to handle the heat, we would have never made it.
As I write this, I realize how awesome it is that we serve a God who not only saves us once, but rejuvenates us constantly. We need him like we need water in Death Valley, and AC in Vegas. God is our true water, our Living Water, and He is the only one who has the power to quench our thirst and truly rejuvenate us.
On the last and most important day of the festival Jesus stood up and said in a loud voice, “Whoever is thirsty should come to me, and 38 whoever believes in me should drink. As the scripture says, ‘Streams of life-giving water will pour out from his side.’”