Never Lose Your Wonder…
Indonesia, is a rare and beautiful place. Many flock to it in search of perfect waves, serenity or beauty. But for the Braica brothers, their journey with STN through the islands of Bali, Lombok, Sumbawa, Gili Air and Nusa Lembongan led to unforgettable adventures and personal transformations sure to last beyond the mere three-week trip. Read how below!
By: Matthew Braica, STN Staff
September 17, 2002 was a day that the pages of history will certainly hold most dear, the day my baby brother, Connor, was born. My mind refuses to let go of the day my mom returned home from the hospital with new life in her arms, wrapped in blue, slumbering too. He was beautiful; the love and joy from my proud parents over their new son was far more noticeable than one’s breath amidst the dead of winter. I too was a proud older brother and continued to be as I witnessed him go through each stage of life. I loved to watch him and be a part of his journey through youth, but never seemed to ponder what he might do or be in his future.
Leaving ‘the nest’ first, I began to discover the hard way that there are many different roads you can take, some easy and some hard, but thankfully I did not get too lost before I found myself working and being a part of the amazing community at Surfing The Nations. Realizing I could play a role in helping my brother steady his own feet at an early age, I decided to take action. I pitched an idea to our mom that Connor, who is now twelve years old, should come with me on STN’s upcoming trip to Indonesia. The plan was simple: take Connor’s limited picture of the world and place him in a setting that would shatter it (in the best way) to pieces. I would liked to say I was surprised when she actually agreed – and borderline forced – to let me bring him along, but I could not have been more excited. I could hardly wait for my brother, this young boy, this person, to have an experience that would leave his heart hungry to do great things with his life.
When Connor arrived at Honolulu International Airport, he was more reserved, timid and shy than I remembered. I began to wonder, “Is my brother reaching ‘that stage’?” The stage too many go through in adolescence when they begin to lose their wonder and childlike joy. It was frightening. Fortunately, traveling is an amazing defibrillator that shocks us awake at times when we’ve fallen asleep. I watched as transformation began to happen before my eyes, externally and internally. Fears and reservations for the ocean quickly shifted as he jumped in the ocean to snorkel and surf, and by the end the term “Waterman” had a new definition, “Connor Braica.” However, his new-found bravery in the ocean was only surpassed by his bravery with people. Soon, his wittiness and sarcasm surfaced and even though grown men were not safe from his quick words, it added an endearing charm to him.
He also grew brave in one of the most frightening areas of all, loving others. At the start of the trip, showing him love and affection would return a reserved and uncomfortable reaction. But by the end of our mere three-week adventure through the islands of Indonesia, it was rare that a conversation didn’t end with him saying, “I love you”.
In the process of seeking to impact his life for the better, I myself was changed. The desire to help an individual surpass you had never occurred to me, until my baby brother. Many times I found myself watching him thinking, “That’s my boy.” Needless to say, I am a proud brother who cannot wait to see the reward of investing in him. Far too many people asked Connor what is he going to be when he grows up simply because he is bright, but he has more than just brains, he has character. I am incredibly thankful for the privilege to spend time with him and am astounded by how much transformation can happen in such a short time. I’ve heard it said, “It takes three months to learn a new habit,” but thanks to Connor, I now say, “It only takes is three weeks in Indonesia to be transformed.”