Read an Excerpt
Soul Surfer Series
By Rick Bundschuh, Bethany Hamilton
ZONDERVANCopyright © 2007 Bethany Hamilton
All rights reserved.
Bethany felt like she had stepped into another world—or something like that.
Still groggy from the plane trip from Australia, she blinked a couple of times and pulled her iPod headset down around her neck as she glanced around the busy little airport. Samoa didn't seem like the Treasure Island that her mom was so into talking about lately—but it did kind of feel like another world.
A world of giants.
Giants that wore knee-length wraparound skirts—or lavalavas as her mom called them. She watched the group of men as they passed her by with their suitcases and grinned to herself. Bet no one would mistake them for girls! She glanced at Noah as he fell into step beside her.
"Big people, huh?"
"I wouldn't want to play rugby against any of these guys," Noah admitted.
"You wouldn't last playing rugby against any of the girls!" Tim said, eyeing Noah's thin frame with a sly grin.
"I don't know—the girls are really pretty," Bethany laughed. "Might be worth the pain." Her attention was suddenly drawn to the group ahead of them. Had to be surfers, she thought, eyeing the three young guys with their sun-bleached hair and trademark broad shoulders. The youngest turned and said something to one of the older boys. Bethany guessed him to be close to her age. He had long wavy hair and his nose and cheeks were speckled from constant peeling. The bright red shirt he was wearing had the logo of a California surfboard company on it.
Surfers—I knew it! Bethany thought smugly.
"At least I'm not crazy enough to get a tattoo," Noah said as he shifted the board bag to his other shoulder. Bethany glanced back at him, momentarily confused.
"Tattoo?" She looked between her brothers and frowned. That's what she got for sleeping on the plane; she always missed the good stuff.
"Samoan tattoo," Tim nodded excitedly. "They're awesome; a lot of geometric design. Really tribal."
Bethany made a face. "Only thing I want on my skin is some sun."
"You're not getting anything tattooed, Tim," Bethany's dad said dryly from somewhere behind them as their mom laughed.
Tim grinned. "Or how about a Maori tattoo—you know, the big ones that cover your face?"
"Might be an improvement, Dad," Noah interjected.
"Don't give him any ideas," Bethany's mom said exasperatedly, and they all laughed as they headed for customs.
Other than the surfboards, the Hamiltons traveled light; each had a carry-on with shorts, bathing suits, T-shirts, and one set of "going to dinner clothes." They moved quickly through the line and into the night.
Outside, the warm humid air blew around Bethany, reminding her of home. She turned her face toward the star-spattered sky. Actually it was home, having her family with her. Even though it was almost midnight, she felt the excitement of being in a new place and couldn't help wondering what kind of waves she would catch this trip.
When she looked down again, she noticed a huge, dark-skinned man leaning against the van parked at the curb. He was wearing a flowered aloha shirt, a lavalava, and a pair of well-worn rubber slippers.
She saw his eyes take in their surfboard bags, and he began to wave wildly, charging over to grab the heavier of the loads.
"Talafoa! My name is Tagiilima," he said, extending a large palm to Tom, Bethany's dad. "You Hamiltons?"
Bethany's dad nodded, and Tagiilima vigorously shook his hand—along with the rest of his body. Bethany's mom looked at her, and they both tried not to laugh.
"I am driver for the surf camp," Tagiilima announced with a wide smile to everyone as he began to relieve them of their boards and bags.
Then the Samoan caught site of Bethany.
He paused in his labors and stared at the tall, young blonde girl with a surfboard bag in her right hand and a knot in the T-shirt where her left arm should have been. A thoughtful look crossed his face as he took Bethany's board bag and secured it on the roof of the van with the others.
"I see you in magazine," he said softly. "Brave, strong girl."
Bethany smiled back shyly. It embarrassed her a little when people mentioned seeing her on TV or in magazines. She braced herself for the usual questions; "How big was the shark? Weren't you scared to surf again?" But the questions never came. Instead, the Samoan just smiled at her. There was something so honest and open about his face, she thought, almost like he was a kid in the body of a giant.
She liked him immediately.
The family piled into the van as Tagiilima finished cinching the surfboards on the roof rack. They were soon weaving their way down the amber-lit road that led from the airport to the town of Apia.
"Surf camp not far, but takes long time," Tagiilima announced, tuning to a Samoan radio station. "You can rest, sleep."
Bethany sat back and listened along to the strange mix of Western pop, Samoan, and Christian worship tunes as she tried to catch a glimpse of the dark island that raced past her window.
It was hard to see anything except for brief flashes here and there when a dim light shone from the porch or window of a building and, even then, the most she could make out was palm trees. Bethany sighed; it was hard to be patient when your whole body was itching to surf.
What was that her mom always liked to say about patience? She drew a blank and almost laughed out loud. Guess I'm too wound up to remember!
She glanced back at her family. Tim had commandeered the backseat and was sound asleep. Noah was wedged uncomfortably next to Bethany but had managed to doze off with the help of his ever-present iPod. Her dad nodded like a subway sleeper in the front seat while Tagiilima tapped his fingers to the beat from the scratchy van speakers.
Then she spotted her mom on the other side of Noah, impatiently straining her eyes toward the road as she tried to catch some passing scenery. Bethany couldn't help grinning.
An hour later, they were both leaning forward as the van passed the small sign that read Salani Village and within minutes was crunching down a gravel road to the Salani Surf Camp.
A short, blond man who spoke with a kiwi, or New Zealand, accent appeared out of the dark as Tagiilima unloaded the luggage and surfboards. He wore a wrinkled and faded aloha shirt and a lavalava. Hiding shyly at his side was a small young girl with a tangled mop of curly light brown hair who was wearing an oversized T-shirt. Bethany guessed that she'd climbed out of bed to check out the new guests.
"Talafoa! Welcome, welcome! I'm Clint, your host. This is my daughter Maggie. Let me show you to your fales."
Bethany glanced at her mom.
"Like a house," her mom, Cheri, whispered.
Clint guided the family to several large bungalows perched ten feet in the air.
"You can leave your boards underneath. They are perfectly safe. Hardly any Samoans surf, so they would be of no interest to a thief," Clint explained. Then he added with a crooked smile, "'Sides, if the village chief caught anyone stealing from a guest at this camp, he would smack the living daylights out of them."
"Nice," Bethany whispered to Tim, and he shot her a grin.
"The fales don't have bathrooms," Clint continued. "We have a large bathhouse with toilets and showers. All meals are served in our dining room. I know you came in late, so we will serve breakfast until nine thirty. Oh, and I am afraid that there will be no surfing tomorrow. It's Sunday, and local village custom says we can't operate our boats or encourage surfing on Sundays."
What?! Bethany glanced at her brothers who appeared to be having as hard a time understanding Clint's words as she was. Their parents had taught them to honor God—that he came first above everything else—but going surfing after church was the norm for three kids that had grown up in Hawaii. And surfing, after all, wasn't anything like working.
"Actually, we were hoping to go to church in the morning," Bethany's dad said, unfazed by Clint's words as he stored his board underneath one of the fales. "Is there one we can visit nearby?"
"Sure," Clint said with such a look of surprise that it made Bethany wonder if it was the first time he'd been asked that question by visiting surfers. Or maybe it was the fact that none of them were freaking out over the bomb he had just dropped on them. Bet those surfers I saw at the airport wouldn't take the news so well, she thought with a sniff.
She noticed Tagiilima smiling her way with that big open grin of his and grinned back in spite of herself.
Clint caught the exchange. "Ah, such a smile! And she hasn't even heard the good news yet, has she Maggie?"
Bethany was given her own fale to stay in, being the "unmarried girl" of their party. Samoan tradition, Clint told them.
Cool tradition, she thought with a huge grin as she threw her bag on one of the beds and glanced around her new little house. Even kind of Treasure Island-ish with its thatched roof, small desk, and two chairs. The floor was covered with a thick, woven mat and from the ceiling a rusty fan wobbled violently. It was perfect!
The screen door slapped behind her as she hurried out to the balcony. It was too dark to see anything, but she could hear the sound of the winds raking the palm branches. She closed her eyes and listened for the ocean, but for some reason the three surfers popped into her mind out of the blue. Then a funny thing happened. She suddenly felt urged to pray. Bethany took a deep breath, glanced up into the night sky, and prayed:
I don't know what this is all about, but I feel like I should say let this trip be about your plans—not mine, God.
All things work together for good for those who serve the Lord. She didn't know a lot about God's plans, but she was beginning to learn that much.
Bethany remembered a time when she had dodged God's urging and had almost missed having her pal Jenna in her life because of it. A wry smile tugged at the corner of her lips as she quickly added, And please remind me that I prayed this—I've been known to forget everything when there's an awesome wave calling my name.
Under the same Samoan sky Liam MacLeod studied the blanket of stars in the sky with little interest and definitely no intention of praying. He had made sure that their surfboard bags were safe before he settled down on the curb in front of the airport. But that was all he was going to do. Tucking his hands behind his head as he leaned against his backpack, he wondered how long it would take his cousins to straighten out the mess they'd gotten him into.
It was their fault, after all, he thought, allowing his anger to rush through him like a tidal wave. Getting angry seemed to be the only thing he was good at these days. Besides surfing, of course.CHAPTER 2
Bethany startled awake to her brother Tim banging on the door of the fale.
"Get up! Breakfast time! And Mom said to hurry!" he hollered, and she heard the heavy clomp of his feet as he crossed the deck and ran back down the stairs.
So much for privacy. She groaned, slipped into her shorts and T-shirt, and stumbled outside to the balcony.
In the light of morning, she could see in vivid color what had been muted in darkness last night. The surf camp sat on an outcropping of land with a small river flowing into the sea on one side and a deep saltwater lagoon on the other. She smiled as she finally spotted the ocean with its trail of white water breaking along a reef in the distance. Man, I wish it was Monday! She wanted to check out the waves so bad she could taste it.
The crunch of gravel and the sound of the camp van pulling into the courtyard broke into her thoughts. She turned to check out the new guests.
"No way," she whispered incredulously as three surfers slid out of the van—the same three she had seen at the airport and that had come to mind before she prayed. Too weird. Bethany watched Clint greet them and point the way to their fale, then she saw the youngest of the three stop dead in his tracks.
"Whaddya mean no surfing on Sunday?" he yelled, his voice breaking the stillness over the camp. Bethany cringed. Okay, this guy's gonna be trouble. Clint appeared to be explaining why they couldn't surf, when the young surfer made another comment she couldn't hear.
"Knock it off, Liam!" one of the older boys yelled. Liam gave them a look, abruptly grabbed his board and backpack from Tagiilima, and stomped off. Tagiilima stood stock still, as if stunned. The two older boys spoke with Clint for a few moments and then headed for their fale as well.
What a way to start the morning, Bethany thought, a weird sinking feeling creeping over her as she headed off toward the dining area to find her family. Oh, man. She frowned worriedly. Everyone's been so excited about this trip. Just don't let him cause us any trouble, God.
The dining area had a huge, thatched, palm-frond roof and a bar section where a TV set played nonstop surf movies. Above the bar the surf camp had items such as T-shirts, stickers, and postcards for sale. Smells from the kitchen greeted Bethany as she made a beeline to where her family was sitting, then stopped dead in her tracks.
There sitting at the table with Noah was a young brown-haired girl wearing dark blue shorts and a powder blue T-shirt. It was Malia, one of Bethany's best friends and surfing buddies.
Tim, who was standing at the buffet with a large piece of toast in his mouth, grinned at her.
"Surprise!" Cheri sang out from behind her, and Bethany glanced at her mom then back to her friend with a stunned look on her face.
"Malia?" Bethany sputtered as Malia grinned a big, Cheshire cat kind of grin.
"We thought we would surprise you," Cheri laughed. "Malia has been planning to join us since we first came up with the idea to surf Samoa."
Bethany was blown away. Having a good friend to share the adventures of a new place with was more than a wonderful surprise. It rocked! She gave her mom and dad a quick hug, then ran over and hugged Malia.
"Your mom wasn't freaked out about you traveling all this way alone?" Bethany asked as they sat down next to each other.
"Well, a little," Malia admitted with a grin. "At first she said she didn't think I could do it. But she finally caved when I told her that it was a nonstop flight and there would be someone from the surf camp to meet me when I got off the plane. I mean, I'm fourteen—that's old enough to handle a little plane flight by myself!"
Bethany grinned. That's why she liked Malia so much. She had always been the kind of girl that threw herself into a challenge—especially if someone suggested that she might not succeed. Two peas, one pod was how her mom described them.
"I can't wait to show you around this place!"
"Let's eat first. I'm starving!" Malia laughed. "Then maybe we can do some surfing?"
"Uh, I guess no one told you—there's no surfing here on Sunday."
Malia gave Bethany a quit-pulling-my-leg stare.
"It's true! It's part of their culture, but maybe we can go exploring after church?"
"That's cool," Malia agreed easily, just happy to be with her friend. Bethany grinned.
"But right now we can explore some food!"
It was about twenty minutes later that Liam and his cousins strolled into the dining area—just as Bethany and Malia were leaving. The girls noticed Liam pause for a second, his eyes resting on the empty, knotted sleeve of Bethany's shirt for a long moment before he glanced over at Malia. He sneered, then brushed past them with an air of superiority ... and something else that Bethany couldn't quite put her finger on.
"Not the friendliest person, is he?" Malia said once they were out in the courtyard, crunching down the gravel walkway toward her fale.
"Not exactly," Bethany agreed slowly, still stinging from the way he had looked at her. She wasn't used to mean, spiteful looks like that, but she tried to shake it off, determined not to let it spoil her trip — or Malia's. He's someone else's problem, she told herself, not ours. She managed to smile then and hooked her arm in Malia's.
Excerpted from Burned by Rick Bundschuh, Bethany Hamilton. Copyright © 2007 Bethany Hamilton. Excerpted by permission of ZONDERVAN.
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