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What a party...a pandemic...and 9/11 taught me about dealing with the unknown.

What a party! Thursday we celebrated our annual Carnival. The Carnival fundraiser supports our teens in service for families in-need abroad. In fact, Carnival ensures teens who cannot afford to travel will travel. Our fundraising efforts create possibilities through scholarships, build our teen teams, and prepare them for service. Most importantly, Carnival helps sustain Teens Inc to continue to provide a safe space for teens to gather, serve the community, and empower the next generation to become global citizens.

And what a party it was! Just before the pandemic reared it's ugly head. Just before schools closed and public gatherings were no more. As early as noon on Thursday, text were coming in asking if Carnival was still a go. Other texts apologized for canceling. Then, as the afternoon slipped into the evening and the preparations were well on their way, it was clear the drummers were canceling along with about a third to half of our guest. Yet, we partied. Auction items were brought and bid on. The capoeira group played, cartwheeled, and spun on the dance floor. Tickets were sold, delicious dishes delivered, and raffles swirled around the room as teens explained the rules of 50/50 and measured arms lengths of tickets. We raised money too.

I took the stage and addressed the guest. I was humbled by the support and grateful for the attendance and commitment of our chaperones and parents, teens and friends. "Thank you so much for joining us tonight on this important night for Teens Inc and the teens. This is our most important fundraiser and you are here. You are here despite the craziness that challenges us right now. If there is one thing traveling teaches us, it's how to pivot. Traveling is full of unknowns, changing schedules, more wait time then Americans are used to, and usually the best-laid plans go out the window and you have to pivot. Two years ago, El Fuego volcano blew in Guatemala and we pivoted. Yet, some students and chaperones still went to Guatemala because they needed us more than ever before. That pivot meant a small group that built three houses and served 83 victims of the volcano. Pivoting is necessary to adapting and moving on."

When I left the stage I realized, it's not just the pivot that is important in navigating the unknown, it's also the intention and the goal that one must realign to. Stay the course is part of the pivot. Keep the goal in mind. Let your intentions be your North Star.

It was 9/11, yes the 9/11, when my wife and I were in Indonesia and we faced a crisis. Twenty-four hours after the Towers had fallen, we were able to call home.

"Come home now! We are under attack. You are not safe!" our parents urged. Worry and fear pulled at us through the phone and the following emails.

"No. Not a good idea. We are very safe," we responded defiantly.

People were amazing all around us. They were our safety nets. Tourists from all over the world and our hosts on Bunaken Island rallied and reassured us we were safe. We stayed. We stayed the course. We took deep breaths and continued to travel despite our families fearing the worst. We were greeted with open arms, hearts, and minds wherever we went. We stayed the course. Though things had changed, and oh boy did they change from that moment on, we stayed focused on our intention to see the (good in the) world.

When dealing with the unknown, when traveling, when making your plans, know you will have to pivot. Be ready to pivot, and don't forget to realign with your North Star. Know the goal without expecting it to look exactly how you planned, because if you can let go of expectations, your intentions and open mind will be met with open arms.

Once we can travel again (my family was going to go to Japan for spring break), we are going to travel, serve others, build homes, look into people's eyes, break bread with strangers, speak Spanglish and made up sign language, pivot, wait, and enjoy the journey. Because the journey is where and when we learn about ourselves, our ability to pivot and navigate the unknown. Hopefully, you will pivot and realign during this pandemic remembering what you really want in the first place. When it is all over, come with me to the far reaches of the unknown, lead with love and humility, and you will reach your goals, shining brighter than you expected.

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