The Beauty of Orlando

Imagine going to a complete strange city not knowing anyone, and has to live with a group of strangers for a whole summer, this would sound awkward, right?

But in fact, this is probably one of the best memories during my 2.5 years experience on this foreign land.

For two months, 21 of us lived in the same community, having weekly main meeting together, doing outreach together, volunteering at Orlando Children’s Church as a team. There is no reason not to know everyone’s name, this Christ-centered community is just so priceless.

After coming back from Orlando, the back-to-school transition was definitely not the easiest, but looking back these weeks in Orlando, I had to say, “the City Beautiful”, Orlando deserves it. Orlando has so much more to offer other than the world famous Disney. And here are my top 10 list.

1. Wildlife.
Among the 16 states I have visited so far, there is no other states that are so rich in unique wildlife when in comparison to Orlando, for two months, I have been greeted by alligators (not just in the preserved area, also outside the window by my desk), sand hill cranes, countless lizards, egrets, deer, and so much more. They are not something that only exists through news, but living in the everyday life.

2. Dining.
Toasted, Chipotle, 4 Rivers, Chick-fil-A, Qdoba, Tijuana Flats, Mike’s Italian Ice, Chuy’s,  and so much more, from family business to chain restaurant, it was such a blessing to be at a place where has so much to offer regarding to food (Oh yeah, not mentioning the fact that I got some dragon fruits while in Orlando )

3. Home-style weather/climate.
After being in WV for almost two years, I’m adjusted to the cold, but I definitely miss the warm weather, for some, Orlando summer might be hot, but to me, that gives me the feeling of “home away from home”, the similarity on climate also makes it possible to see some unique plants that only grow in tropical climate. And it excites me when seeing all these plants that I used to see when I were at home.

4. Central Florida Zoo.
Ziplining at Central Florida Zoo was a blast. Don’t think flat Florida would have place for zipling? Central Florida Zoo is one of these “go to” places.

5. Orlando Pride.
I have never been a fan for football, but it was a blast watching Orlando Pride, it was my first time watching a women’s soccer game and the fact of sitting near the cheering zone just add some unique experience to it.

6. Jesus Film Headquarter.
It was my second time touring Jesus Film headquarters, and it was inspiring to see how Jesus Film has changed people’s life, and the technology improvement through the years. Few years ago, I saw Jesus Film for the very first time on a TV screen back home, now I got to meet with the behind-the-scene people and the technique they use, how cool is this!

7. Jungle Adventure Park.
There is a place named Christmas in Florida, and there is a Jungle Adventure Park at Christmas. Alligators are such giants, and it’s terrifying when getting too close to them. But it was exciting seeing these giant wild creatures during a boat tour and having the chance to hold a baby alligator.

8. Florida U-turn & Florida red lights.
After being in Wheeling for so long, I almost forgot about the existence of traffic lights and public traffic. But Orlando reminds me that these things do exist even in America. It might be annoying when hit red lights every single time, but to me, this is normal, and this reminds me of home.

9. Palm trees.
These palm trees in Orlando are just so unique, although they are not as tall as those in southern California, but they just add such a unique scene to the city of Orlando. I enjoyed watching sunset through palm trees, and enjoyed having a palm tree at the backyard, and now I miss seeing palm trees in this mountain state.

10. Community.
This might be the last on my “top 10” list, but this is really the most significant memories I have about Orlando. I’m grateful for the summer mission community, also grateful for the FSG community that I got to work with from day to day. The energy, the love, the unity, these are things I don’t feel as much when on campus, everyone seems to work on their own thing, sometimes didn’t even hear my voice. But in Orlando, I’m so moved that even the smallest voice can get the attention and being heard. These are the communities that makes me feel at home even at a strange place, these are the communities that makes me feel safe to share my story. These are the communities that make me want to come back.

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