Don't let Lauren Ngan's grace in the water fool you– she used to hate surfing. Forced into the water by her mom at age 14, Lauren is now a Bing and Etnies team rider, but we're more impressed by what she can do out of the water. We caught up with the 23-year-old– who recently spent a month in Bali fighting poverty at a surf house ministry– to discuss her early surf days and teaching for Young Life.
You've lived a few different places. Where did you learn to surf?
I was born in Fountain Valley, lived in Huntington Beach for two years then moved to Japan for two years. After that I moved to Washington for a year and then to Agoura waiting for our house to be built in San Clemente. We finally settled down in San Clemente for about eight years and I now live in Dana Point. I first learned how to surf when I was 14 at Doheny– the water was kind of gross.
Did surfing come naturally to you?
Nope, I would start crying in the water. My mom would force me to surf. It was bittersweet. I love it now, but before it was dreadful. I hated not being good at something right away.
How old are the girls you teach at your ministry, and what do you teach them?
The girls that I mentor are 16-year-old girls at San Clemente High School. I have been with them for almost a year and half. It has been amazing, they are like my little sisters! I wouldn't necessarily say I teach them things– I just love them for who they are and I meet them where they are at in life. Young Life is a pretty rad ministry. The heart of Young Life is meeting kids where they're at and earning the right to be heard. I throw a bible study once a week for them and it's a really cool time for the girls to just talk. I sometimes switch it up and take them hiking or for dessert!
When you aren't surfing or working at the ministry, what are you up to?
What am I not doing should be the question! When I'm not surfing or working I'm running or hiking. I just recently started doing yoga, which is really relaxing! Other than that I am with friends or studying at JC Bean.
Why is surfing important to you?
Surfing is important to me because it is me time. It's a time for me to relax and get away from school, work–whatever it may be.
What's your best advice for a beginner surfer?
If water just all of a sudden comes out of your nose, don't fret– it's normal.
What challenge would you like to overcome next?
I would love to travel more and serve other countries, specifically Japan.