Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Summer Happenings

So far our summer has been great! We have been extremely busy, which is the norm if you do youth ministry. Summer is our busiest time. Wes has been gone about 3 1/2 weeks since the beginning of the summer, and the girls and I have been gone 3 weeks.

We have been to Oklahoma Christian for both our high school camp (Zenith) and our middle school camp (Cornerstone). Both were wonderful! It was neat to go to the classes with our teens. Watching them get involved and being open to God's teaching brings me a lot of joy. Can you tell I am proud of them? At Zenith, Mitch Wilburn did an amazing job, as usual, speaking to us during the evening worship. There were about 20 students in all at the camp that got baptized or were getting baptized when they got home. Praise God! One of those baptisms was our own precious Jordan, so we were thrilled.

The girls love going to camp. As we were driving on to campus for the first week of camp Avery began chanting, "We all love camp! We all love camp!" They love to play with all the other youth minister's children and participate in many of the camp's activities. We stay in a suite in one of the newest dorms. Avery was really confused when our suite didn't look exactly like the suite last year. We were on a different hall and so the layout was a little different. She said, "Hey, they moved our rooms around!" I guess she thought they totally picked up the rooms to change them. Ha! We took Avery's bike with us and the umbrella stroller for Abby. Avery loved riding on all the sidewalks from building to building. Wes is one of the directors for Cornerstone so he gets a golf cart to drive that week. We always have a lot of fun riding on that together.

Wes and I also took our teens on Wilderness Trek up in the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Colorado while the girls went to Nana and Paw Paw's house. We had an awesome time on Trek! There is something about being in the mountains, being totally exhausted, and having to rely on each other that really helps the teens open up and unite with one another. You can really feel God's presence when all the distractions of this world are not around you. Wes and I saw our group share their struggles, offer encouragement, and be totally open to God in a way that we have not seen in quite some time. It was truly amazing! There is nothing like worshiping God around the campfire with snow capped mountains in the background.

This was a unique trip because Wes and I were the only ones who had ever gone before. We have tried to get a group to go every year since we have been here, but the last 3 years we haven't had enough interest. This was Wes' 9th year to go on Wilderness Trek. Wes went all through out high school. My first time to go was when I was interning with a youth group in college. The other two times were with the youth group here in Denison. This was my fourth Trek, and my first Trek since having kids. I was actually stronger this year than the other years. Working out has really paid off. Some of the boys reminded me that I am still in my prime. Ha! Anyways, it was special to introduce Trek to all the students as well as our other two adult sponsors. To see them do things for the first time and see things for the first time was priceless.

Here is a good description of Trek I found online:
Wilderness Trek is a rugged 6-day adventure in the majestic mountains of southern Colorado. Trek includes backpacking, hiking, rappelling, devotionals, solo times, and a climb to the summit of a 13,000 or 14,000-foot mountain. It is specifically designed to challenge young people to discover self-confidence, self-esteem, personal faith, and to learn their awesome potential for powerful Christian living. The goal of the week is to create an environment in which people can learn more about the everyday reality of God in their lives. By pursuing a selected spiritual theme, Wilderness Trek uses the events of a wilderness journey to teach spiritual applications. Trek uses the physical challenges of the Colorado Rocky Mountains to encourage spiritual growth. One of the biggest challenges is the actual physical activity of backpacking at high altitude. This means carrying a 40-60 pound pack up and down mountain trails at altitudes of 10,000 to 13,000 feet above sea level.

What Is A Typical Teen Trek Like?

Day One: The Beginning - Your group should arrive at the base campground at 2:00 p.m. The remainder of this first day is spent checking Registration Forms, dividing into crews, checking out equipment, packing packs, distributing food and other Trek preparation activities.

Day Two: Rappelling – You will rise early, eat a simple breakfast, load your pack and travel to a rappel site. Weather permitting; everyone in your group will get to experience the thrill of rappelling. After rappelling your group will travel to their first camp.

Day Three: Backpacking - This day is typically the longest hiking day. Camp is broken early and all the equipment and food is carried to high camp. It is a challenging day and you will be thankful to get to high camp.

Day Four: Solo - The fourth day is a special day on Trek. You will spend about three hours on "Solo". This is a time of prayer and meditation between you and God. The afternoon is spent relaxing, getting acclimatized to the altitude, bathing, and playing games with the group.

Day Five: The Climb - This day begins with an early wake up call and a quick breakfast. Your group will start on the summit trail before dawn. Only water, food, and warm clothes are carried in your day pack on the summit attempt.

Day Six: Back Down - Today you will break camp and leave the mountain. After a short drive you will arrive back at base camp. Showers, a banquet meal and a final devotional are the high points of this day.

We climbed Mt. Hope with an elevation of 13, 940 ft. Our low camp was a 2 mile hike and our high camp hike was a 10 mile hike, making it one of the top 3 hardest hikes that Trek does. In my past experience Trek is harder than having a baby. Keep in mind that I wasn't able to have an epidural while giving birth to Abby.

This is the 100 foot cliff we rappelled down. I chose to go down what they call "The Crack" which you can see just to the right of the tree on the ground.

Wes rappelling like a pro.

Can you tell I am nervous? Even though this was my 4th time I still got a little nervous. It is not normal to back off a cliff!

OK, I can do this. Watch out below!

Here we are ready to go, loaded up with all our gear. I carried our tent, fuel for the stove, one meal for our crew, my sleeping bag, a chair/bed mat, along with the rest of my necessities. Thanks again Jeff for letting me borrow your pack!

Here are our wonderful guides, Dustin and Melanie cooking the one meal they cook for us, pancakes and spam. You would be surprised how delicious this tastes!

Our tents set up at high camp. Thanks for posing, Jacob!

Here are my tent roomies for 5 nights. We were definitely squished, but we did stay warm.

A view of the summit of Mt. Hope from our high camp.

Taylor chose an awesome spot for his solo time. I don't think anyone else would have braved the ice cold water to get there.

We are almost to the summit. Our low camp was along the lake on the right.

We made it! I am so proud of you all!

Isn't the view amazing? (Of the mountains, not Wes - Ha!)
How could anyone see this and not believe there is a God?

Our teens comforting Josh, who lost his grandmother while we were on Trek. I couldn't resist taking a picture of this precious moment of them loving each other.

Jumping for joy! I taught these junior and senior girls when they were in the 4th grade. Yes, I am getting old!

On the left is my sweet friend Carrie who went as a sponsor with us. Our girls are great friends and I am glad I got to share this experience with her. In the middle is our wonderful female intern for the summer, Ny. Love you two!

I knew I had been talking about Trek too much around the girls when we were out and Abby needed to go to the bathroom. She asked me in a serious tone if she would have to go potty behind a tree like I did on Trek.

I also told them how a chipmunk came about 6 inches from my knee during my solo time. Abby asked if it said, "Bowchickawowwow". My girls crack me up!

Well, you can probably tell what my favorite thing this summer has been. If you ever get the chance to go on Trek, I would highly recommend it!

I did miss my girls so much while we were gone. We were apart for 10 days! After a lot of prayer I have decided not to leave them again for our mission trip to the orphanage in Mexico where our youth have been the last two summers. I figured it out and I would be gone for 20 out of 46 days from them. I just can't do it! I hope to take them both next year. I think they will be old enough then.


Julie said...

Sounds like Trek was a blast! It was great to see you guys at Cornerstone. Mia had so much fun with the girls. BTW--please keep Hershel in your prayers. We went to the doctor today for a followup on his ankle and found out he has a blood clot in his leg. He is on medication for that. It just seems like one more thing keeps happening with it. Catch ya later!

Miranda said...

I'm so impressed that you are such a trooper! It looks like you had a wonderful time.

The Clem Family said...

Wow! I am impressed with your wilderness abilities! Sounds like you guys are having a busy but fun summer. Hope to see you soon!

abbie said...

Okay, so I'm assuming that there are not two Ny's in the world who went on Trek this summer and are great and crazy with kids... is this my Ny Potter???? I love that girl! (she used to be my Spanish student!) How funny!!! Mira mi linda pina, Ny!

Susan said...

I read this the day you posted it, but I decided to come back & comment... I am very lazy about that.
I am so jealous! I can not wait until Ethan is old enough to go- so that I can go as a sponsor. I need to start working out now!! I only have 3 years!!! You look great in the pics!