Thursday, August 29, 2013

Christian Challenge August 2013 Update!

Hey Team! Hope you’re doing well! Summer for us has quickly winded down. We have been hard at work preparing for the new semester during this past month.

We had our first official event of the semester with students the 28th. It was a meeting with our student leaders. It was a training on how to lead Bible studies. We already have students wanting to start Bible studies with their friends. It’s pretty awesome to see their excitement to study the Word.

Our next big thing is freshmen move-in on the 29th. Our plan was to be up on campus to help students move into their dorms. We did this last year and it was extremely successful. There were a lot of hoops the campus wanted us to jump through to make it happen but it was well worth it.

Unfortunately, due to parent complaints about other groups last year, we were just informed no one will be allowed to help students move their belongings in. We are extremely disappointed with this decision but know God will open other doors for us to reach the students. Though we are not allowed to help out with move-in, we will still be on campus that day.

On the 30th, we have a club fair where students and their families can stop by our table and get information about what we do. That night, we will team up with the International Club and have our International Dinner. Last year, almost all of the international students came. The dinner is always a great way to make contact with them. Thanks to our awesome students from last year, many of the incoming students have already contacted us after talking with our former students.

We are also having our campus barbeque again that coming Sunday. Last year, we had 300 students show up. This year, we fully expect God to bring us even more. We are so blessed to be able to do something like this on campus after so many groups have been told no for years.

Classes then start the 1st. Discipleship, FCA, Christian Challenge, and our conversational English classes will get rolling that week as well. Beyond that, we have tons of events over the next month as well. Pray that they are fruitful. We’re stoked to see what God is going to do this semester! Keep us and our students at FLC in your prayers!

Prayer Requests:

For Josh and Jennifer...Jennifer’s brother has been given less than a week to live. They will be in Oklahoma with the family for possibly these first two weeks. Rachel and I will be running things with the help of Randi, our new staff member, while the Story family is away. This will be during the two busiest weeks of the year. Pray also for us against burn out.

For the FLC students, that the Holy Spirit would be working on their hearts.
That God would continue growing us closer to Him and help us not neglect our first ministry; our marriage.

For open hearts, for many to join us prayerfully and financially, to bring the Gospel to Fort Lewis. If the Lord is leading you to give, please go to:

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

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Living Our Adventure

I stood on a mountain top with a brotherhood of men. We had worked together night and day for the past month. We had bonded closely over that time working in the woods of Colorado.

Our time was soon coming to an end though. Our boss wanted to make sure we had something to remember our time together. He wanted something that would tie us together for years to come after we parted ways.

He brought us the idea of taking 3 mm climbing rope, wrapping it around our wrist once and melting the ends together. Once melted together and the bond of the climbing rope sealed, we were not allowed to cut it off until our wedding night. It was a symbol of becoming a family together after the long month. When it would finally be cut off, it symbolized us joining a new family. To me looking back, the climbing rope symbolized the adventure that would lead up to meeting the woman I would eventually spend the rest of my life with...and the birth of a new adventure that she would bring into my life.

I grew up a flatlander amongst the sweet barbeque flavors of Kansas City. Though a flatlander, my heart yearned to be in the mountains. I pursued my adventure as well as I could growing up in the Midwest. Mountain biking, rock climbing, and ski racing from Wisconsin to Colorado. Still, I was chained to the Midwest. I felt caged and out of place. When I turned 18, I escaped as soon as I could. Looking back, I had finally escaped for good. My journey took me to Northern Colorado for awhile before finally settling in the San Juans of Southwest Colorado.

There, a new adventure would begin. I found myself not the adventurer I thought I was in my mind. In reality, I was still a naive flatlander. For the first time, I really tasted fear. I made mistakes...a lot of them. Many of which probably should have killed me. But I learned from each mistake and did my best not to repeat them. Skiing, whitewater rafting, mountain climbing, jumping off 40 foot waterfalls into 34 degree flood waters...just living the dream.

As I grew older and wiser, the fears still persisted as did the reasons to face them. Life was an adventure and I refused to be someone who only loved the idea of an adventure. It was part of me, running through my veins. Life was meant to be a great adventure and I refused to just take up space in God's country. I would not waste the creation I was blessed with living in.

She was born in Austria and a child of Chernobyl. She graced the playgrounds of a crumbling Yugoslavia. Serbia, Croatia, tanks, and land-mines. A life lived of adventure but she knew no different.

And then came America. It was a country who had influenced much of her life already in foreign policy decisions. Now, it would try and raise her as she now stood on American soil.

When she turned 18, she wanted adventures she could chart her own course for. She took control of her adventures. Skydiving, mountain climbing, taking time off from college and taking random dream jobs just for fun. She was breaking out. She was coming into her own. She was finding out who she really was. If life was going to be an adventure, it was going to be her adventure.

And that's when our passion for adventure finally crossed paths.  We both met while planning out a new adventure. It was an adventure we'd need a team for, the sport of adventure racing. Her team had just dropped her because she was a girl and they no longer wanted a girl on their team. I was just looking to find someone interested in teaming up. After meeting for the first time, it turned out that we made a pretty good team together. Soon, we'd become more than just an adventure racing team.

Starting out, we never knew our passion for adventure would take us as far as it would. One day, we found ourselves in a high mountain city overseas. It was early morning outside of our hostel. The fog was hugging the mountainsides surrounding the city. The city lights were still aglow from the night before as the sunlight began to sneak in and slowly wake the valley below. Above us stood an 18,000 foot glacier-covered peak. There are few places more beautiful in the world than that spot was at that moment.

Sadly, we were leaving. Our friends were all packed up and ready to go but I wanted one last moment with my love in such splendid beauty. I walked up to the vehicle and asked her to follow me. She came with a concerned look on her face as she thought I was probably sick and not feeling well. Though tired from the early morning, I felt okay. I had something else on my mind, a new adventure.

This was not the adventure we had seen earlier on our trip or even on previous trips. There were no road blocks put up to track us down. There weren't 16 machine guns pointed in our faces. No situations where you didn't know who you could trust. The sketchy climbing and hiking was behind us. We were past the dangers and in a safe zone. This wasn't life and death. This was life...till death do us part, a different kind of adventure.

There, I dropped to one knee and pulled out the 3 mm climbing rope that I once wore around my wrist. Due to wear and tear, it had finally fallen off after we first started dating those many years ago. When it fell off, I had a feeling that I should save it. I saw it as a sign. All those years, I held onto it for just the right time. Before our journey overseas, I crafted it into a ring. Though faded, it looked almost good as new...and it sure looked nice on her ring finger. The rest is somewhat like a blurry dream.

Three months later, we stood outside in another mountain range. This time, we were back in the States. We were back in the San Juans, our backyard. Just us...and a hundred guests.

As a nice wedding gift from the Southwest monsoons, we were married outside in lightning and thunder. Afterwards, we jumped waterfalls with our wedding party instead of having the typical dancing. We battled hypothermia as we kissed for the photographer at the last waterfall. The wedding day was full of adventure. It was a picture of our lives. We had lived adventure, apart and together, since the days of our youth. But for us at that moment, there was another great adventure just beginning.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

C4C Summer Trips 2013

So, normally I update our blog after each trip but this summer has been a bit busy so I thought I'd save it all for one post after we had completed all of the trips.  This summer, we had Kala Matzdorf interning with us.  We met Kala through one of our FCA students.  She was looking for an internship with an outdoors/adventure ministry over the summer for her college major.  Our FCA student, Mary referred her to us and the rest is history.  Kala's internship included going on the Philippines mission trip, attending all hikes, planning and giving devotionals for each trip, and writing trip reports.  I thought I'd post her trip reports here with a few pictures from the trips.

Ice Lakes:

On Saturday morning Michael, Rachel and I, Kala, met up and headed towards Silverton, Colorado. We picked up another college student, Mary, along the way and traveled for about an hour before reaching the trailhead for Ice Lakes. Before starting up the mountain, Michael offered up a prayer for all glory to be given to God as well as for our safety and fellowship.

Crossing a river which flowed over into a waterfall, we encountered the first obstacle of the day. A few splashes later and we were on our way up the gradual traverses. After about two hours of walking through forests, across rocks, and into a meadow we stopped for a quick snack break.

Having refueled and re-energized, we began our final ascent. An exhausting 30 minutes later, we finally approached the crystal blue lake. We explored the area and smaller surrounding lakes before taking a seat by the main lake where we ate lunch and enjoyed a bit of conversation.

We each had the opportunity to share with each other what God has been teaching us in our lives. As I sat on a mountain top, pondering the fact that I was by the most beautiful lake in the world because of a college internship, I was overwhelmed by all the different ways that the Lord is at work in this world and the opportunities that He has provided me with.

The descent to the car flew by and we were on our way back to Durango after just an hour and half. We stopped by Cascade, a place on the river where locals jump off of a series of rocks, but because of the high water level at this time of the season we were unable to jump. A group of college age students had gotten themselves stuck at a point in the river that they could not climb out of and Michael had to give them a hand to wade back up river to a place where they could get out safely. After our little rescue mission, we continued on to Durango where we said our goodbyes and parted ways. We are all looking forward to Prayer Peaks day on Saturday, June 29th, where we will have the opportunity to climb a mountain in Durango and worship together as well as pray for the city.

Hogsback Prayer Peaks Day:

Saturday, June 29 marked the 16th Annual Prayer Peaks Day, a day in which believers from all over the country joined in praying for the Christian church in America and around the world. Michael, Rachel, and I were joined by Fort Lewis College students Mary and Will for our climb up Hogsback Mountain. As only a short two mile hike, the climb was far from easy. Half a mile of the ascent was steep enough to force us to stop and catch our breath nearly every hundred feet. After finally slipping our way to the top on the loose dust, we were rewarded with a beautiful view of Durango, only slightly disrupted by the smoke from the nearby wildfires.

I had the privilege to give a short devotional on God’s provision through his taking away. God gave the Midian army into the hands of only 300 Israelite warriors so that the glory would be given to Him rather than to the Israelite army. Sometimes we are required to live with less securities so that we give the glory to God rather than to our undeserving selves. Next, we took time to pray for the college, the lost, and the churches in Durango. As well as praying for the people of Durango, we prayed for those who are fighting the large wildfires near South Fork and for rain to help in controlling the fires. Not much later in the day, the skies let loose and it poured. It only rained for a short period, but it was certainly an answer to prayer. We were also able to sing a few worship songs, but unfortunately there was a little misplacement with the sheet music, so we had to go with what our guitarist, Michael, knew by heart.

After skidding our way down the steep slope, we treated ourselves to a bit more fellowship over Dairy Queen. I think that the whole team would agree that there is no better way to end a hike than with a little ice cream.

Grizzly Peak Camp and Climb:

Mike, Rachel, and I, Kala, met up with a new friend and fellow hiker Lizzy late in the afternoon on Friday the 26th of July. We passed the two hour, four-wheel drive ride with great conversation. After finally reaching the trailhead for Grizzly Peak, we said a quick prayer and began our overnight adventure. We only had a mile to hike on the first day to reach our camping site, but just before arriving there the skies let loose and we were pelted with hail.

We took shelter under a large rock for a few minutes allowing the hail to stop before setting up camp. Mike scouted out a safe place in a grove of trees, where we each set up our tent and enjoyed our late and much anticipated dinner.

Before bed, I gave a short devotion about the Church being a place for sinners, yet it not always feeling like that. A couple of conversations with friends who did not feel accepted in church had got me thinking of how many Christians could work on being more accepting of those who may sin differently than themselves. After some helpful conversations, we went our separate ways for some much needed sleep.

We woke up early on Saturday morning to eat a quick breakfast and begin our final ascent. The remaining two and a half miles to the summit were uphill and lacked a clear trail. Once we made our way through the boulder field, our last obstacle was a rock chute.

The quarter mile scramble up the loose rocks took nearly an hour, but the view at the summit was definitely worth the struggles. We spent a few minutes soaking in the beauty, but because of the incoming rain clouds we decided to save lunch for once we made it down safely.

Unfortunately, we did not make it out before the rain and then hail returned. We quickly retrieved our equipment that we had stashed to lighten our packs for the summit, then made our way briskly back to the cars. The hail may have stung a little, but we all reached the cars safely, ready to enjoy sitting down for the next couple of hours. When we returned to Mike and Rachel’s house, where we had met the day before, Mike prayed for us, ending another great adventure with Climbing For Christ.