Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!
This year we have had a new experience of Christmas in the summer! After spending so many wonderful white Christmas’ in Colorado we had our first deep blue Christmas on the cost of the South Pacific Ocean in New Zealand. Family and friends were missed for sure but we were well taken care of by our new friends and family here. We spent a few days at a Amy’s parent’s sheep ranch celebrating Christmas with 18 other people. We experienced several new Christmas traditions, my favorite being a few new Christmas desserts we learned such as Pavlova with berries and cream! After Christmas dinner we all headed down to the beach to swim which was definitely a new and welcomed Christmas tradition for our whole family. Thank you so much to everyone here who loved us and made us feel welcome at Christmas time when we were half a world away from home!
Here are a few pictures from the weekend:
This past week I had the privilege of doing a week of tramping (Kiwi word for backpacking) near Lewis Pass on NZ’s south island. Five of us went out on the second annual Wide Open Spaces guide training trip. We had a ton of fun. We laughed, shared stories, swam in the crystal clear New Zealand rivers and hiked about 5o kilometers through some of the most diverse terrain that I have ever seen. Some days we slowly picked our way through dense storm torn forests and battled the high winds of the high alpine terrain Other days we rock hopped down narrow river beds and cruised through wide open fields and massive river beds.
This trip is pivotal for the Wide Open Spaces ministry. It is a chance for new guides and old guides to refresh on their mountaineering skills and continue to learn and improve on their counseling skills. Six days on the trail gives us a great chance to practice writing bible studies and other skills that point young people towards Christ in the wilderness. Not only was it a great time for improving our hard and soft skills, it was a fantastic time for community, team building and my personal favorite; spiritual formation. We took many hours to meditate and pray through different passages throughout the week. For me there really is nothing like taking a time to be totally alone with God in His creation. It reconnects me to my creator, my savior. The power and the majesty of God’s creation brought this verse to life for me:
The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid? When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh, when my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident. – Ps 27:1-3
Something that never ceases to amaze me on these trips is watching young guides “get it”. For the first time many understand the power of the wilderness and how God can uses that for heart transformation. They experience it in their own hearts and they see their friends go through it too. Not only is it the transformation that goes on in their hearts that amazes me but the leadership that is developed in every guide. They learn how to make decisions by making hard decisions in a real time environment. Sometimes they don’t make the right ones but that’s ok, that’s how we learn and that’s why we train. Every guide that came of this training was stoked and ready for the upcoming summer of guiding which in turn gets me stoked as well. I’m glad that they are excited for their immediate ministry but for me I get excited because of the long term potential they are developing. The spiritual formation, the leadership skills, the counseling skills, they will all be used long after they leave this summer. What a beautiful thing that that means for this lost and dark culture.
W.O.S team training
Jon, Macie and I have gone off to New Zealand for 7 weeks! I am feeling so blessed to be able to be along on this one with Jon. I am sure Macie is, too, but I don’t think she know we are so far away. She might not understand why it is not winter anymore, t
hough. Anyway, we are here working with a Kiwi based adventure camping ministry called Wide Open Spaces. They get to take week long backpacking (tramping here in New Zealand) trips with teenagers. Amy and Blair Steven have started it, and are now in there 2nd year. Jon and the Nexus crew came down here last year to help with guide training and we are here again, along with Kathleen, to do it a second year!
New Zealand has been great so far! We have gotten our selves just about settled in for our trip here. Last Friday (Thursday for you in the States) we arrived and headed straight to the batch (summer house) for Counseling and Content training for WOS guides. It was a fun filled/info filled weekend! Lots of story telling, discussing, laughing, learning and eating. We felt so blessed to be able to be a part of this time with the Kiwi guides. Not only were we able to impart our bits of wisdom of counseling skills and trail content to our new (and some old) friends, but we feel as though we are coming away with just as much new information as we were able to give.
Macie and Thomas
Since we have been back we have just been settling in at the Steven’s place. Macie is loving her new friend Thomas. We’ve gotten out and about around town here in Rolleston and a little bit in Christchurch. Today we went to the ocean beach. It has been a little bit cold so far. Hoping for summer weather to warm up soon. We have been
getting good rest, which is good for Jon since he is going on the trail tomorrow for trail training with the guides. Kathleen was planning on going, too but has come down with a nasty cough. Pray that she gets well and that trail training can still go off without anymore hitches. New Zealand can be pretty wet! But it is SO gorgeous here, so even thought the tramps can be pretty hard core God can do so much for those journeying through his wilderness. It will be great for the guides to get the experience this week together and be pumped and ready to take the journey with kids after Christmas!
Smores on the beach
hanging out on the beach
Stay tuned…more adventures to come
I’ve been to Nepal five times now…wow, I feel blessed to have such a great relationship with these folks that they welcome me back every time. This trip was special because we launched our inaugural trekking expedition through their new trekking company Nepal Outdoor Adventures (NOA). We’ve been talking and dreaming about this company for some time now, it is so cool that it is finally a reality! The vision is that for every 10 trekkers who use this company enough funds will be generated to employ one full time youth worker for a year. I believe that in five years a half a dozen youth worker will be on the ground working with young people in Nepal because of this company. What a difference that would make in Nepal!
2010 Trekking Crew
Somehow I was able to wrangle a few guys into taking this very first trek. I saw it as a “trial trek” because we’ve never done one like this before and I wasn’t sure what to expect. Even though it was a trial trek everything went great. It took us 7 days to get to Annapurna Base Camp and back. I’ll be honest and confess it was one of the hardest weeks of hiking I’ve ever done. Only our month on the Colorado Trail was harder. Annapurna Base Camp was one of the most beautiful places that I have ever been. The views were absolutely surreal. If someone were to ask my favorite moments here is what I would say:
- Eating Dal Baht with our hands like true Nepali’s
- Watching Brain dance like a girl after a leech crawled down his crack (haven’t laughed that hard in years)
- Sharing life stories at night
- Lots of cards over a hot cup of du chia
- Hitting 15,000ft for the first time
- Laughing and living with our Nepali guides for a week
- Indiana Jones bridges (ya know temple of doom style)
- And of course views like you’ve never seen before
Right now we are in the process of setting up a website and getting people excited for the next season. I’ll be posting that stuff as it becomes available. Thanks again for all your prayers and support!
Here are a few photos, enjoy!
2010 Trekking Crew
Thank you to all who participated in Project 54 this year! This was our second year doing this fundraiser and we could not be more pleased with how it turned out. We’ve raise just about $35,000! We had 48 teams climb 52 peaks and over 300 people involved! What an amazing experience this was.
Heather, Calvin, Erin, Baker and I climbed Uncompaghre peak in western Colorado. We camped at the trail head the night before and woke up at 4am for a sunrise summit attempt. We were about 500ft below the summit when the sun peaked over the horizon, spectacular views!
Click here to see the full project 54 site and here to visit the Project 54 blog to see all the summit teams.