Thursday, July 11 found me paddling for my life down a fast moving Tuckasegee River. Why? Well, why not? Dad paddles, why can’t I? It looks fun. I wish the confidence had stayed around a little longer instead of fleeing the moment I sat in my kayak in the rapid moving, freezing cold water of torture, I mean fun.
A friend from Africa joined us in NC for a weekend of kayak learning in the mountains. Day 1 found us practicing rolls & braces on the Tuck. We put in at an eddy that was big enough to keep me on edge & pray hard that I would be able to get out of it. Of course, Dad hops right into his boat, paddles to a wave, & begins playing in it. “I’m gonna go on down. Just aim down river & paddle hard,” he calls as he effortlessly leans into the wave & floats through the rapid. Mr. Young & Fearless doesn’t think twice & goes right after Dad, punching each wave without grace but making it through. Great. I’ve been left to age in this eddy. Now I HAVE to go. Ok, count to three. 1, 2, 3…. Ahhhhh!!!!!!
I get my boat across the eddy line. Barely. And head straight into the monster waves of 2 feet. Paddle, lean, LEAN! PADDLLLLLE! Oh no! Paddle! Paddle! Oh, made it! Oh, wait…. crap!
The cold swooshes around my face in a rush of arctic panic that takes my breath away. Suspended underneath, I try to get my paddle to the top of the capsized boat & attempt to roll up. Fail. Attempt 2. Nope. Ok, I’m outta here. I pull the skirt & punch out of the kayak only to find Dad right there with his boat, ready to have assisted me if I had only signaled. My brain was too cold to think that far ahead.
With my first “swim” behind me, bravery slowly peeped its face around the corner to stare down my fear of dying by moving water. After more instruction from Dad, I got back into my boat & continued to paddle down the river. We even stopped in a small eddy to work on pull outs & eddy turns. Once again, I became closer friends with the icy Tuck river, but this time, I successfully rolled back up!
The rest of the weekend proved to be lots of fun. To gain more river confidence, I spent Friday with a private instructor practicing my roll, strokes, & ferrying. We went back to the Tuckasegee where I rolled, this time purposefully, in the rapids to boost my boldness in the fast currents. By the end of the day, I could say I enjoyed kayaking & felt prepared to tackle the next glacier: the Nantahala.
With enough confidence & skill to be dangerous & comical, I joined the “pros” on the Nanty Saturday & Sunday. The waves were much larger, longer, & livelier. The holes were more threatening & ominous. The rocks were more frequent. And the conversation in my mind was not always missionary like. However, I successfully paddled down the river, combat rolled perfectly, & even braved the class III falls at the end. I can now say that I kayak. Sorta.
While I was facing fears of fast water, my friends in Bundibugyo were confronting fears of death by gun point. I arrived home Sunday night to find Josh’s status on facebook:
“Please pray for DRC refugees in Bundibugyo. An estimated 60,000 have crossed over due to conflict in eastern DRC. We have been helping setting up a refugee camp (with water) and providing firewood for cooking. Hoping to provide medical care and care for vulnerable children later in the week. Thanks for prayers. These are long days. (PS- we are safe in Bundibugyo).”
“Because this area of the DRC has been so remote, so volatile, and mostly closed to foreigners, it has been extremely difficult for anyone to bring the gospel there. But now, these Congolese are literally in our front yard (and sideyard, and backyard…). They are scared, desperate, and displaced.”
That’s a positive way of looking at it. This is a chance to share the love & grace & comfort of our Maker with the Congolese people. Please join me in praying for Josh, Ann, Jess & the summer interns as they persevere through exhaustion, stress, & turmoil. Pray for the Spirit to pour into their hearts boldness to share God’s love & wisdom in how to best engage. Also pray for Edward, the Headmaster of Christ School Bundibugyo, as he continues to lead the school through the end of term 2. And lastly, pray for our brothers & sisters who are caught in this chaos. Pray for the Annets, Rachels, & Gladyses, people who are no longer statistics but dear friends, to have boldness & joy in sharing their Hope & Peace.