Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christian Challenge Christmas Update

Hello Family & Friends,

It’s hard to believe the first semester is over.  God has gone above and beyond what we could have asked or imagined!

The semester started off with moving in many freshmen and holding a huge BBQ on campus that allowed us to meet 300 students. We met thirty of the international students right away as well. It started off big and we were overwhelmed by how many students God brought our direction, and in awe of God’s big plans.

Having had four people on staff, we were able to meet with more students one-on-one.  Students’ lives are changing by the power of the Holy Spirit! God is crushing Satan’s footholds. The Lord is renewing!

Psalm 89:1--I will sing of the Lord's great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations.

Merry Christmas,
Mike and Rachel

• For Josh Story & his family as he recovers from heart surgery.
• For our support: We are at 60% of what we need to live in Durango. This is not including taxes, health insurance, or ministry funds. This next semester, we will be running the ministry alone as Josh recovers. Pray for support to come in while we are unable to travel around and meet with people.
• For the student-athletes: We have had several breakthroughs recently but mostly, we are still building trust. We meet a new athlete almost every week at FCA. 

• Help cook on a Tuesday night anytime Jan-April for 20 or so students. Let us know if this interests you.
• We have weekend events planned this semester: Come join us and help out. We can send you a list of future events.
• English classes with the Japanesse: Come hang out and help them work on conversational English.
• Were you an athlete? Come speak on a Monday Night at Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Christian Challenge Ugly Sweater Dance-off 2012!

Our Christmas party for our awesome students!  We all had an great time...and ate lots of sugar!  This video was just part of the night which included candlelight caroling, the Christmas story shared through scripture, and gingerbread house building!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Christian Challenge First Semester Video!

Here is a video of all we have done in our first semester.  Josh did a great job of condensing it all down into a video just under two minutes.

Nov. Update 2012!

Hello team!  We hope everyone is doing awesome and having a great Thanksgiving season!  Rachel and I certainly have much to be thankful for even though the past month or so have been pretty trying.

Not too long ago, God opened the doors for us to move into a place much better suited for ministry.  (Our new address can be found in the lower right corner of this page.)  We packed up in less than a week, moved everything only to find our new place was infested with mice.  Mouse droppings everywhere and on almost everything.  They ate through our clothes and our couch...and brought the very real danger of hantavirus, a deadly virus that made the news earlier this summer in Yosemite.

To add to the stress, my mother’s dog which we had had for over eleven years was very ill and we eventually had to put her down.  It was a rough time.  This all went down with our ministry partners out of town for a little over a week.  But we made it through it, praise God!  We did a lot of praying
and can also say we have not seen any evidence of mice in over two weeks.

Lot's of news across campus to update you on.  With it having been presidential election season, Fort Lewis became a hot spot for the campaigns.  Michelle Obama and Paul Ryan both came to campus and made speeches.  The campus cancelled classes so that students could go see Michelle Obama but refused to cancel classes so that students could listen to what Paul Ryan had to say.  Both speeches were still packed out but needless to say, the demographics at each one were much different.

Colorado also saw voters pass the marijuana initiative.  Though still illegal federally, marijuana is now legal on the state level in Colorado.  All reports as of now state that the drug will still be a banned substance on campus.  It passing doesn't really change much.  The state will get money from its sales.  But in the end, those who want to smoke it were already smoking it.  Laws that are extremely rarely enforced do nothing to scare people away abusing the substance.  Marijuana and many other drugs have always been easy and cheap for the students to obtain in this area.  Our best bet is to pray a lot and get to students first before they get pulled into the drug scene of the area.

The ministry side of things has been going great.  God is doing amazing things.  Our FCA and Dinner and Discussion’s have been going strong.

One of the nights, we watched the somewhat controversial movie, Blue like Jazz.  It takes place on a very anti-Christian campus just like Fort Lewis and has a main character who realizes by the end of the movie that in his quest to have people like him, he has misrepresented Christ to those around him.  The students really connected to the movie and it provided great spiritual discussion and conversation.  Students were still talking about it days later and it allowed the Gospel to be shared with a lot of students.  To quote Hiro, one of our Japanese students, as I explained the Gospel to him a day after we watched the movie, “Wow, that is so beautiful!”  Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Our adventure highlight was our trip to Telluride for snow, free gondola rides and dinner in one of the most beautiful ski towns in America.  We had around twenty come with us on the adventure where we had great conversations during our travels and were able to share Christ during our time with the students.

We look forward to the next month knowing Christ is working in the lives of our students and across our campus!

Prayer Requests:
• For "Y", "N", "H", "V", and "R" as Gospel seeds have been planted with them and they are very open and interested as we share with them.  They are not there quite yet but pray for fertile soil, and against rocky soil, that the Holy Spirit would water the seeds planted.
• Pray for our ministry partner, Josh, and his family, as he has his aorta replaced December 13th.  His recovering will last 2-3 months.
• For open hearts, for many to join us prayerfully and financially to bring the Gospel to Fort Lewis.
• That God would continue growing us closer to Him and help us not neglect our first ministry; our

Thank you for joining with us to reach Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO!
-Cheers and God Bless, Mike & Rachel

Contact Information:
Mike & Rachel Wall
1255 C.R. 207 Unit #4
Durango, CO 81301

Christian Challenge Telluride Trip Oct. 2012

We had an awesome trip to Telluride.  It was certainly full of adventure.  We had around 20 folks show for the trip in total which was great and more than we expected.

The biggest descission starting out was which route to take to Telluride.  We had three options.  Our first choice was Ophir Pass, a fun 4WD pass just outside of Silverton connecting to the small mountain town of Ophir.  The Ophir community is a beautiful small town up in the mountains between a couple of huge avalanche chutes.  It's truly an amazing and picturesque place.  The question mark with this route was if we would find snow up on the pass.  It's certainly not a pass you want to find snow on.

If the Ophir route was to fail us, our back up plan was to drop back down to Silverton, take Highway 550 north over Red Mountain Pass, which was a bit lower in elevation, and actually maintained in winter conditions.  The pass is one of the most beautiful drives in Colorado...though also very scary if you don't like heights and big drop-offs with no guardrails.

Our last resort was to head west out of Durango through Mancos and Dolores.  This is a great way to go if you are short on time and don't want to deal with as much snow but certainly not as pretty as the other ways.

Before leaving Rachel's and my apartment, I did one last check of the live road cams online.  Red Mountain looked clear so we could at least take that route if Ophir didn't pan out.  Getting up to campus, the students all gathered ready for the adventure.  We loaded up the vehicles and headed out.  All but one of our vehicles drove north.  Jennifer and her kids headed towards Dolores.  They would meet us in Telluride after taking the shorter route.

Soon, our group arrived in Silverton.  We pulled off at the gas station so that we could all regroup, use the restroom, and get snacks for the drive ahead of us.  During our time there, the gas station attendant told us that Ophir was a bit slick but that people had made it over safely.  Sounded good to me.  We at least could give it a try and if we had to turn back, that was perfectly okay also.  The road sounded good but a lot can change in short periods of time up there.

As we turned off the highway on Ophir Pass, we could see the clouds starting to settle on the mountains above us.

That was where we were heading.  The higher we got, the more snow we started seeing on the side of the road.

We were quickly in the clouds, ourselves, in blowing snow.

Toward the top, the road became fully covered in snow.  Still, the traction was really good.  We proceeded a bit further to the top of the pass.  There, it was time to make a decision.  Going up is always the easy part.  Gravity makes going down a bit more tricky in the snow.

We had a few minutes to decide as students took pictures and played in the snow at around 11,800 feet above sea-level.


With good traction coming up the pass, I decided to push on.  It wouldn't take us long to drop below the snow-level, I thought.  Well, we didn't make it far before the conditions drastically changed and quickly took a turn for the worst.

We were actually still pretty much on top.  We had driven less than 100 yards when I felt the slightest hint of slippage.  With that, I didn't want to take any chances and turned the convoy around.

I think I was more bummed than the students.  They were just happy to have been able to play in the snow.  As bummed as I was to not make it over the pass, I knew we still had beautiful Telluride to look forward to.  It would just take us a little bit longer to get there.  We made it back down the pass with no problems.

Then, it was over the scenic Red Mountain Pass turning at Ridgway, driving past Mt. Sneffels, a 14,000 foot peak covered in clouds and snow, all the way to Telluride just as the sun was starting to set.  The mountains were blanketed in snow with pink, purple and orange clouds as their backdrop.

Absolutely stunning.  The students were in awe of the beauty they saw on the drive.  So was I.  It never gets old.

Pulling into the parking garage in Mountain Village, students took more pictures and we then made our way to the free gondola.  The gondola was a cool experience for the students.

While on the gondola, we got a call from Jennifer saying that she reserved a table of 20 for us at a local restaurant, Brown Dog Pizza.  She was just waiting for us to get there.  It was a lot of space to save on a Saturday night.

The restaurant was packed when we got there but we were able to go right to our seats thanks to Jennifer.  Our waitress did a great job considering that we had 20 people in our group, and for a good number of them, English is not their first language.  Dinner turned out to be fantastic.

Great conversations and laughter could be overheard throughout our group all night.

Before we knew it, it was time to head back to Durango.  We'd had a great time in Telluride.

We loaded up the vehicles and began our journey back.  In the the vehicle Rachel and I were in, the conversations continued from dinner.  Most of our trip back, we talked about sin nature and other Biblical truths with our students.  It was a fun conversation.

We arrived back safe, sound, and a bit tired late that Saturday night.  Overall, it was a great trip where I think a lot of Gospel seeds were planted!  Be praying that God would continue grow those seeds in our students!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Christian Challenge Girls Retreat Oct. 2012!

Hey, sorry we have been away from here for awhile.  Things have been crazy with our move and Rachel being sick over the last week.  We have a few updates for you all.

Here is a video of the Christian Challege Girls Retreat back in October Rachel helped lead up at Vallecito about 40 minutes from Durango.  The girls all had a great time!

Friday, October 12, 2012

October 2012 Update!

Hello team!  We hope everyone is doing awesome!  We have had an amazing first month.  I’ll try and hit on some of the highlights we haven’t mentioned in past updates so far.

FCA has been going well.  We have a strong core of  students that have been helping us plan it.  We have moved it from Thursday nights to Monday nights at the suggestion of some of the athletes and coaches.  This seemed to work better schedule wise for our athletes.  With the change, we had the biggest night of the semester.

Our Dinner and Discussion’s have been going great as well.  We have definitely grown greatly since last year.  One of the topics we discussed this past month was “What do we do when terrible things happen?” and what does the Bible say about it?  We had students write moments they have had with that in their life, things they still struggle with on a notecard without their name.  It was heartbreaking... rape, molestation, relationship unfaithfulness, waking up drunk and naked in the middle of the street lost, pulling a good friend out of a car wreck only to find him decapitated.  Those things are a lot to carry.  We don’t always have all the answers but I’m thankful that Rachel and I can be there for these students.

On a lighter note, we had a pretty awesome Silver Mountain Camp and Climb.  We hiked, camped, and hiked some more.  We even had a church service where the topic was “The great things you can do when Christ is your guide.”

You can find a full report on our website but I thought I’d leave you with the kind words of one of our students who commented without our asking on our Silver trip report.

“I was a student who went on this adventure and it was one of the best experiences I have had in Durango so far. Many of us pushed ourselves to a new limit that we have never experienced before. There were so many times during the hike when I thought ‘I am not sure that I can keep going without stopping’ but being surrounded in God's beautiful creation gave me the breath and the strength to keep going. At one point I got tears in my eyes because so many times this world puts limitations on us that weigh us down...but on this trip it was almost as if God gave me the wings to fly. Having these outdoor adventures really touch my heart because I tend to feel God's presence most in natural environments. I can't thank Mike and Rachel enough for all they have done in my life, let alone for leading these amazing adventure trips. So thank you to all of the supporters for making this possible and please know how much they change lives and bring students closer to God. It really is beautiful.”  -Kim Heald

Prayer Requests:

--For the students Rachel and I are meeting with one-on-one, that they would desire to know God more.
--Pray that God would soften students’ hearts for the Gospel and that the Holy Spirit would convict.
--For open hearts, for many to join us prayerfully and financially to bring the Gospel to Fort Lewis.
--That God would continue growing us closer to Him and help us not neglect our first ministry; our marriage.

Thank you for joining with us to reach Fort Lewis College in with the Gospel! -Cheers and God Bless, Mike & Rachel

"I'm a Christian...Judge me." Project

So not too long ago, we decided to do a project on campus. We sent our students out on campus equipped with a camcorder to ask people what they think of Christians. The video is a compilation of what they came back with. (Warning: Some of the language used may be offensive to some.)

We then showed the video at our Dinner and Discussion. We talked about the video for awhile bringing up points that were mentioned and then looked at what the Bible says about how a Christian should carry themselves by looking at the fruits of the Spirit. Needless to say, how Christians are viewed and perceived doesn't always line up with how the Bible calls us to live.  As Christians, we are Christ's ambassadors to this world.  Most of the time, people's views of Christ come from how they see Christians live.  How are we representing Christ to those around us?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Challenge Silver Mountain Camp and Climb Sept. 2012

Just wanted to give a quick or possibly and more likely long update on our camp and climb we did with the students not too long ago up Silver Mountain.  I'll actually include some pictures with this one as well...since our past posts have been lacking a bit in the picture department.

Anyway, the trip was pretty amazing.  We had a great group of American and international students.  It was a little stressful in the planning stages of things but in the end, it all worked out.

We started out the trip pre-planning.  We had a ton of people signed up and not nearly enough transportation for everyone.  Throughout the pre-planning period, we had people add and subtract multiple times.  It makes it very difficult when trying to plan for transportation and food.  I think we learned some good lessons for future trips though.  As time got closer for the trip, we had to be extremely flexible and change some of our plans.  Thankfully, our students were very flexible to accommodate the changes we needed to make.

We picked the students up at 3 p.m. Saturday from the bus stop on campus.  We loaded up the cars and headed west into the high country.  Within thirty minutes, we were on the dirt roads of La Plata Canyon.  It was a beauty many of the students had never seen.  Tall mountains all around, driving through amazing fall foliage, bright yellows, reds, and greens in every direction.  I've seen it many times and am always taken back by it.

After a lot of picture taking, we were soon at our parking spot.  This is where our hikers got out and got ready for a long 3.1 mile hike to base camp.  That doesn't seem too long until you realize that they would be gaining about 3,000 feet in elevation as well.

The plan was for Rachel to lead the students in the hike to base camp while Josh Story and I drove SUVs loaded with gear, food and water up to our camping spot on the side of the mountain.  Since we didn't have enough vehicles to drive everyone up to base camp, I decided to use the vehicles that we did have to transport everything up, set up tents and such, basically getting base camp set up before everyone else arrived by hiking.  I figured hiking tents, sleeping bags/pads, and all of our food up would have just been too much on the hikers.  Josh was going to take Vernon, one of our students, up with him to help us out set things up.  The other students would show up after hiking for two or three hours, and we'd have dinner waiting for them with camp already set up.

Josh, Vernon and I set off as the hikers followed behind.  We first crossed a river and then began our steep ascent...or at least should have began our steep ascent.  Moments into the journey, I looked in my rearview mirror to find Josh nowhere to be found.  I stopped, hopped out of my Xterra and ran back down the trail to find Josh with part of his luggage rack ripped off.  He had loaded full water jugs onto the top of his rack and their weight was too much for the rack to bare as he crossed the river.  I came back to find Josh and Vernon trying to fix his rack while the students all took pictures.

Within ten minutes, the problem was taken care of and we were on our way again.  The road was narrow and steep, riddled with extremely tight switchbacks and deep ruts.  My vehicle handled them fine until we came up to the biggest rut on the trail.  It was about two feet deep and a foot and a half wide.  The rut stretched across our path on a very steep switchback.  I decided to go right and cross the rut higher up.  It was a sound idea in theory.  It would assure me a safer way so that I wouldn't flip my Xterra.  The left side looked like a side that had a higher probability of flipping.

Well, in the end, my side wasn't any safer.  As I crossed the rut, it turned out to be a little too deep.  My vehicle was literally on two wheels.  My SUV was balancing on my driver's side front wheel and passenger's side back wheel.  Unfortunately, the tires I could get power from were off the ground.  As my Xterra teetered, I hopped out to try and get a better view to make a game plan with.  I was going to have to back it up a bit, fix my angle, and try not to flip it in the process.  Thankfully, I had Josh and Vernon scouting for me...and thankfully, on my second try, I made it safely.

Now, it was Josh's turn.  He decided to go left not wanting to negotiate the rut.  As he started up it, his Pathfinder stalled.  The trail was too steep, the air too thin.  His vehicle lacked the power to make it up the hill.  He backed it up three or four times trying to get enough momentum to make the steep hill.  Finally, Vernon and I jumped in to help push it up the last bit of the hill.  Thankfully, that would be the last major problem we would have with the trail.

Meanwhile, our hikers pushed upward...and upward.  It was certainly not an easy hike.  Unfortunately, they found no downhills on their ascent to base camp.

Soon, the vehicles arrived at base camp, between 11,000-11,500 feet on the literal side of a mountain.  We were probably an hour or so in front of the hikers.  We used the time to get base camp set up.  After we set up five or six tents, Vernon graciously volunteered to find firewood.  He quickly gathered a huge pile for us.  By the time the hikers made their way into base camp, tents were up, a fire was going, and hot dogs were ready to be roasted over the campfire.  The students were ecstatic to be in camp.  After a lot of picture taking of the coming sunset and amazing views, students sat down for hot dogs, brats, baked beans and hot chocolate.

It was shaping up to be a great night.  After dinner, we roasted marshmallows, had s'mores, and worshiped around the campfire.  I played my guitar while Ryan, one of our students, played his djimbe.  We played until my fingers became numb in the cold air and I couldn't hold my guitar pick anymore.

Soon after, people started making their way towards their tent for sleep.  Still, we had about five students who had a plan to make it to midnight.  As it turned out, it was one of our international student's birthday when midnight hit.  They all wanted to sing happy birthday to Rino when the clock struck 12 a.m.  Until then, they would kill time singing karaoke and Christmas carols around the campfire.  I know, Christmas carols in September are a bit early but I guess they're big in Japan all times of the year.

One of the coolest moments of the night was as there was a break in the kareoke, I was able to get into a deep spiritual conversation with Vernon where I got to share my testimony and share a lot about how God was working in my life.  It was awesome!  All that time, one of our international students, Tomoki, was sitting right next to me staring into the fire seemingly listening in.  Before we knew it, midnight was upon us.  We sang happy birthday to Rino and everyone quickly headed the way of bed.

The next morning, I awoke to the smell of campfire.  Rachel and some other students had already woken up and got the fire going.  We actually had two students, Kimberly and Alyssa get up early for the sunrise and then both fell back asleep as the sat in our camping chairs.  Rachel had a good laugh when she woke up to both of them sleeping in their sleeping bags sitting up in our camping chairs.  Soon, the rest of the group started getting up and we started getting breakfast going.

During breakfast, we held a short church service.  For many of our students, it was their first church service ever.  I spoke on the verses of Jesus and Peter walking on water and the great things you can do when Christ is your guide.  I related it to a television show about adventure racing.  One of the teams in the race had a team member who was and is still blind.  Without his guide, he couldn't do a whole lot in the race.  With his guide though, he was able to do some pretty amazing things from mountain climbing to kayaking to jumping off of 30-40 foot cliffs into the water below.  He put full trust in his guide and his guide pretty much never left his side.  Sure, there were times where the blind guy stumbled just as Peter did walking on water, but his guide was always there to catch him and pick him back up.  It was a cool modern day parable about our relationship with Christ.

After the church service, we packed up camp and loaded up my vehicle.  (At that point, we only had one vehicle as Josh had to head back down to lower elevations with his heart condition the night before.  It was not that he had any complications.  He just can't be at high elevations for long durations.  We had planned that he would come up and help set up, then head down with Bob, one of our other volunteer leaders, who had to dog sit at the last minute.)  As I looked to the sky, I noticed cumulus clouds starting to form.  I then gathered everyone together and prayed for safety and good weather.  Rain and snow was in the forecast which was not something we wanted to see until we were down safely.

With that, I had Rachel start leading the group up the mountain.  I had a few more things to take care of at base camp but wanted to get the group moving as we were already running a bit late.  I had planned to quickly catch up with the group.  I sent Rachel with a walkietalkie so that if she had any problems or emergencies, she could relay them to me.  I could also give updates as to where I was in the process of catching up with them.

After taking care of some final things at camp, I was ready to least I was ready until I realized my camera was missing.  I had left it with my backpack but my backpack had been moved and it was no longer with my backpack.  My biggest fear was that it had been packed away deep under everything in my Xterra.  So much for taking pictures of students as we went.  As I did a last check around camp for it, I found it on the ground.  I was relieved.  That relief was short-lived as I soon realized that in the process of moving my vehicle getting it ready to head down after the hike, I had run my camera over.  This was a direct hit.  My heart sank.  Thankfully, I bought the camera because it had been touted as an almost indestructible camera.  Well, it lived up to its billing.  It somehow still worked.  Sure, there were some dents and it may not be waterproof anymore but it at least could still take pictures.

After finding the camera, I began my ascent to rejoin the group.  It wasn't long before I had caught back up.  The group was spread out.  Rachel was near the front so I decided to hang out with the pack in back and encourage them.  Our first mountain to climb on the ridge was Deadwood.  We grabbed pictures and a rest and then continued on.  We had a taller mountain in our sites.  Our next long rest and stop would be the top of Silver Mountain, 12,338 feet in elevation, where we would have a late lunch.  We just had a long ridge and a steep final climb to go on our ascent.

Before we knew it, we were on the summit.  The views were incredible.  We could see Shiprock to the south all the way up to Engineer Mountain to the north.  We could also see the campus of Fort Lewis to our east.  Fall colors were below us in all directions at lower elevations.  The picture taking seemed to never cease even as we pulled out food for lunch.  The students all had big smiles on their faces as they enjoyed God's beautiful creation.

Towards the end of our time on the summit, Rachel had planned a surprise for our birthday girl.  She had baked a delicious birthday dessert for Rino.  We even tried to light some candles for her to blow out but unfortunately, the gusty wind took care of that for her.  We all gathered around and sang happy birthday to her and then distributed the tasty treat.  It was a great time and I think it meant a lot to our birthday girl.  What better place to celebrate your birthday then the top of a mountain?

Soon, it was time to get going again.  We broke into two groups.  We had some of our faster moving students who wanted to try and make it back for an evening church service.  We had our second group take it a bit slower.  In hanging out with our second group, it was awesome to watch the guys help the girls on the steeper parts, being right next to them giving them a hand whenever they needed it.  It made me think back to the sermon earlier in the morning.  It was nice seeing that chivalry is not dead with our students.

In no time it seemed, we had crossed the ridge and were already back on top of Deadwood Mountain with Silver in our rearview.  It was all downhill from there.  It wasn't long before we were back at base camp.  At that point, my hiking for the day was done but Rachel and the students still had 3.1 miles to go.

After making sure everyone had refilled on water, I prayed for a safe journey down and set out before our group with my Xterra literally packed to the roof with gear.  I just hoped that it wouldn't shift on top of me during the steep, bumpy descent.  Navigating the tricky trail down, some good worship music on the iPod kept my nerves at peace until I was at the valley bottom.

God, as always, came through big time.  Sure, there were some sketchy moments slipping and sliding coming down...especially at the big rut where I was in a full-on continuous slide throughout the whole section.  I just prayed the whole time that God would keep me out of the rut which would have flipped me.

In the end, I arrived safely down on the valley floor to Josh and my mother waiting for us.  The first group had passed through twenty minutes earlier.  I had lined it up for my mom to show up just in case we had any car problems.  There's no cell reception at the bottom of the valley so we had to line it up the day before.  Josh had the same idea in mind and decided to show up as well to our surprise.  Rachel and the rest of the students showed up about an hour later exhausted but stoked over the great adventure everyone had.

And truly, it was an amazing trip.  God answered our prayers granting us safety and great weather.  Though we could see rain and snow all around us, it held off on us until later that night when we were all safely home.  It was a testament to the power of God and prayer.  The trip was a great time of fellowship and relationship building.  Friendships were forged and deepened.  Creation was enjoyed.  God was glorified and the Gospel was shared.  According to our students, it was a trip they will never forget.

Thank you so much for all of you who pray for us, for our students, and for the adventures we take our students on!