Friday, May 15, 2009

30til30: day 18, noah's ark

i have 30 days until i celebrate my 30th year of life. i thought i would share with you 30 people, events and situations that have shaped my life and who i want to be. it has been very challenging to come up with 30…i hope it inspires you as it has me. this part of the list is in no particular order.

day 18: noah’s ark

as a sophomore in college, i was an r.a. in the freshmen women’s dorm. though i lived across campus from the majority of my friends, i loved the energy and enthusiasm of the women who lived on my floor. that year, three of the women had attended high school together. when they arrived on campus, they were still excited about the senior trip they had taken that summer to noah’s ark, an outdoor adventure company in colorado.

it wasn’t the first time i’d hear of noah’s ark. my roommate had friends who’d worked there and her mother had recommended i look into working there as well. at the time, i wasn’t interested. but as i heard more from lori, rachael and leanne, i decided it was something i wanted to do.

when i arrived at noah’s ark at the end of may, i had never before been whitewater rafting. the first time i rode in a canoe at age five, i cried throughout the entire trip, much to my parents’ chagrin. and here i was, thinking i could brave the rapids every day to safely deliver risk-seekers to their destinations. i remember standing by the river for the first time, looking out across the expanse of water, wondering, what was i thinking?

i had a lot of fun at noah’s. rafting was hard work – i used muscles i didn’t know i had. it was also humbling for me. as guides, we had to train for at least 60 hours on the river (noah’s guides trained for closer to 100 hours) and pass a “solo” guide test before we were allowed to take regular paying passengers. i was the last of our class to pass my solo guide.

but by God’s grace, i learned to conquer my apprehensions and fears and have fun on the river. i mastered some of the hardest rapids we ran and had a lot of fun pushing myself. and, there’s nothing like suffering hypothermia and facing death with someone to knit you closely together. our guide class had a blast challenging each other and learning together.

in addition to rafting, we also backpacked and rock climbed. leading groups of teenagers, without cellphones, computers or watches, into the colorado backcountry was thrilling to me each time i went. climbing 14-thousdand foot mountains and sliding down glaciers was exciting. spending five day stretches playing in God’s creation gave this mid-western kid a love for the beauty of the earth i’d not developed.

at noah’s, i learned the difference between being a thrill seeker and an adventure taker. i am the latter. i love adventure, but do not seek out thrill, like many of my coworkers did. i continued to grow as a leader as i made choices that affected people who relied on me for safety and security. and i had fun experiencing God in the depth of the colorado rockies.

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