Wait, is that lightning?

“Lean back! Keep your head back!”

These were the last words I heard as I took what I honestly thought could be my last breath before my head was submerged in freezing cold water.

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When I signed up for canyoning the day before, I had somehow conceived this idea that canyoning would be “easy”; that navigating my way through rapids with only my body “wasn’t going to be that hard.” I was wrong. Canyoning is the epitome of extreme sports. From repelling off ledges to back flopping into a river, nothing is without danger. I thought that due to my prior athletic endeavors, this would be a piece of cake. But as I’ve come to learn with CR, you can’t expect things to be easy. You have to learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable and push yourself past boundaries you once thought held you back. As we traversed down these Swiss rapids, this became all too evident. Despite my own personal inability to keep my head above the water, I watched as Emma continually conquered her fear of heights. Though each jump was a mental challenge for her, it was so inspiring to see her confidence increase exponentially from her initial repel to her final jump. Each time she came face to face with heights, she made a conscious effort to overcome an obstacle. Each time, she didn’t let her fear define her. Each time, she decided to be comfortable being uncomfortable. As we finished our canyoning endeavor, we realized that our extreme sports adventure was more than just that. Interlaken was going to test us in ways we had not yet seen during CR. Our growth wasn’t to come from our analysis of the world around us, but an analysis of ourselves as we wrestled with personal fears and stepped out of our comfort zones. This brought upon the biggest test of all: skydiving.

I knew when we got to Interlaken I was going to go skydiving, no questions asked. (This shouldn’t be surprising to anyone that knows me. I live for the thrill.) It wasn’t until I was fully suited up waiting for the first group to drop from the sky that I began to wonder about the dark clouds rolling in from the distance. Having waited on the platform for nearly two hours, I was going to be extremely disheartened if this once in a lifetime experience fell through. Luckily, the lady at the front desk assured us that we could drop through rain, just not lightning. As I stood wondering whether that should be reassuring or concerning, I saw the first group fall through the clouds. One by one, I watched as their parachutes opened. Once all six opened, my nerves from their plummet subsided and once again, I focused on the incoming clouds.

Please hold off.”

This was my one shot, I wasn’t about to let a little rain ruin it. Fortunately for the remaining six of us, the crew made a quick turn around and we ascended 13,000 feet over the Swiss countryside.

Wait, is that lightning?”

I told my mom before I left for CR that skydiving in the Swiss Alps wouldn’t be the worst way to go. Though I only said this to be dramatic, when my feet fell over the side of the plane and lightning flashed in the distance, I began to retract that statement. With one last prayer, we dropped from the sky. Despite having always thought the most enjoyable part of skydiving would be once the parachute opened, I found that I never wanted to stop free falling. It was exhilarating. In that moment, all burdens were gone. Every difficulty I was facing was out of my mind. The thought of being struck by lightning didn’t faze me. The only thing I was focused on was appreciating the beauty and treasuring the moment. After about 45 seconds, the parachute opened and we began our five minute descent back to land. Just like that it was over.

When I began this blog post, I thought it was mainly going to be a summary of one of the most unforgettable moments of my life and for the most part, it is. But as I look back and reflect on that day, I’ve come to realize that it was so much more than just an exhilarating experience. May 26, 2018 was the day I learned to be humbled in my strengths, to celebrate one another’s accomplishments, to support one another in times of need, and to appreciate every moment we have on this earth. I found that life is a lot like skydiving. It may be scary at times and there may be some lightning along the way, but with the support of people who love you and care about you, you can make the leap of faith and take a chance on getting out of your comfort zone. Once you’ve leapt, you’ll wonder why you never did sooner and it’s not until the the end that you’ll realize how fast time flies and you wish you could go back and do it again. Looking back on freshman year and even CR, I can see how much this rings true. Life is too short to live in fear of what could happen. I can either choose to live in fear of the <1% chance of getting struck by lightning or I can take a chance and have the time of my life. I think I’ll choose the second.

Brooke Boisvert

 

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Magic Moments

I have a playlist on Spotify titled “A Good Soul Jive” which consists of R&B and soul music. On said playlist is the lovely song, “This Magic Moment” by The Drifters. It gets me thinking about how some moments in our lives are so amazingly unreal that the only word to describe them is…magic. If you’re an avid reader of our quaint CR10 blog, you might notice I haven’t blogged since our visit to Dachau—this is due to a mixture of exhaustion and writers block, but mostly because everything I want to blog about is a brief, “you had to be there” kind of thing. Instead of writing about each of these times, I waited until now to describe multiple (but not anywhere near all) of my magic moments from Interlaken to Florence.

1.) The Train to Interlaken

To get from Munich to Interlaken, we had to take a series of trains. The first one left bright and early, so many of us slept through it (In a strange turn of events, I ended up sleeping on the floor of the compartment. It was oddly comfy). The train I found the most magic in, however, was our very last one. Though it was only 15 minutes long, it had many of us transfixed. Our first view of Interlaken, Switzerland was something I’ll never forget—after being in a dark tunnel for a hot minute, the sun suddenly burst through our train windows and all we could see was the dazzling lake and mountains and trees and sky. The train went silent at first,then all of a sudden we started buzzing about how breathtaking it all was. I’m pretty sure about half of us remarked that we wanted to have our honeymoons here (watch out future CR spouses). We saw a whole new side of God’s creation and it was topped off with paragliders floating down all around us. When you have 16 sleep deprived teens and a beautiful mountain view, magic just happens.

2.) Jumping out of a plane

11 of us thought it would be a grand idea to fall through the sky from 13,500 feet. And it was. After we all got suited up (and took some Top Gun level pictures), we jumped out of planes. It honestly felt fake, and I didn’t even scream because I couldn’t believe my eyes. We were free-falling with a stranger strapped to our backs (shoutout to my guy Craig) with the stunning terrain of Switzerland under us. It doesn’t get much better than that. The only reason I knew for certain that it happened was the fact that my ears didn’t pop back until the next day. Also I threw up in the bus on our way back—I blame that more on motion sickness induced by our crazy skydiving instructor lady’s mad driving, but it counts. I would definitely skydive again if I knew my ears and stomach would cooperate, but nothing beats doing it with these 10 rockstars with me.

3.) Hiking Through Cinque Terre

Don’t let the idyllic, chill Italian beach town vibe fool you, Cinque Terre can be home to some hardcore & sweaty activities. Hiking is one of them. Our day started by going all the way up a mountain to a church, then going across vineyards and valleys to the other “lands” of Cinque Terre (“five lands”). CR is all about the deep talks, especially while walking. Everyone is wanting to grow closer together, so what better way to do that than by asking simple, easy questions like “what was your biggest struggle in life?”, “what are your faults?”, “who are you now vs. who you were in high school?”, “tell me about your family and how they’ve shaped you”, “who do you most look up to?”, “what are your dreams/aspirations?”, “what are you passionate about?” Obviously these questions will help you get to know someone, and I’ve realized they are good questions to ask yourself for you own personal growth. Kyle and I were having one of these CR-deep-talks as we walked, and it was so special listening to and sharing what we are passionate about and why. Kyle, like everyone on CR, is incredibly wise and thoughtful, and truly strives to make the world better using the talents and interests God gave him. He is super involved and passionate about combating human trafficking, and it was eye opening and heartbreaking to hear about how deep it runs in our world and how no easy solution exists. I admire people who see things like human trafficking and, rather than getting discouraged or downtrodden, use all their drive to fight it. Every person has passions and dreams, and learning about them is something I will never tire of. People are far more complex than we can ever imagine, and I’m so thankful everyone on CR has the courage to ask each other about our deepest fears and greatest triumphs.

4.) Floating Down the Arno River

Our very first night in Florence, we had a big surprise waiting for us: we got a nighttime boat ride down the Arno River! What a way to see Florence. The weather was perfect, the river was sparkling, all my newest pals surrounded me, and we got to see Florence from the only boat in the river. People on land were taking pictures of us and waving because we were that big of a deal. We floated under the Ponte Vecchio Bridge and remarked how we all were peaking in life at that very moment. Our Italian boat-rower-dude was teaching us how to say some Italian words and describing the rich history of the buildings we were passing. If you ever get the chance to have a suave Italian row you around Florence at sunset, jump in.

5.) Street Musicians Playing Their Hearts Out

I love music. It’d be kind of hard not to considering my career path, but it has nonetheless been something that moves me and shapes me. After grabbing some gelato, we headed to hear some street musicians outside the Uffizi. I danced around with Lauren (she’s the next Odette in Swan Lake I’m tellin ya) then we all cruddled together (CR + cuddle = cruddle) to listen to a guitarist, flutist, and violinist. There’s something amazing about a group of people going silent just to listen to and enjoy someone creating music—all of us hear the same notes being played but hear different things and find different meaning in the songs. Some of us took videos or audio recordings, some of us listened blissfully, and some of us fell asleep (*cough* Marat). All of the musicians played a beautiful variety of songs, but they all played “Time To Say Goodbye.” Weird, but cool. Despite Dr. P telling us to be all in 24/7, it’s hard not to think about how soon CR will be over and how quickly approaching our “time to say goodbye” is. We are already in our last city, and the pressure is on to make the most of every moment. I can assure you there will be many more magic moments to be had in Rome, and I can’t wait to update you on them. But for now, I will try to get in my 4 hours of sleep before we wake up to go to Vatican City. Ciao!

Live a “YES”

May 26, 2018

Interlaken, Switzerland

Okay folks, It happened. I jumped out of a plane!! It’s one those things I have always wanted to do but didn’t really think I’d get a chance to do–well maybe, but not in the Swiss Alps! When I landed safely on the ground with the help of my trusty guide and our fully functioning parachute, my first thought was: “I need to call my mom so she knows I’m alive!” (I did so, and she was very pleased to hear the good news). But honestly, once I got into the plane with five other CR10 adrenaline junkies and we took off, my initial anxiety turned into vivid excitement. I was SO READY to free fall through clouds and see the beautiful mountain range all around and underneath me. I’ve always been a sucker for blue skies, puffy clouds, and mountains, so this was quite the dream come true. And let me tell you, the actual experience exceeded my hopes and dreams.

I tried to explain to my mom what skydiving felt like, and I couldn’t quite form coherent sentences. This is about what my end of the phone conversation probably sounded like: “Oh my GOODNESS!! Okay, so I was in the plane, and then we just… WHOOSH. Gone. I was literally just falling through the sky. SO COOL. It felt like–I don’t know–wind. Yeah! Lots and lots of wind. And, um…. just falling, you know?” I think you get the gist. I was stoked about this crazy new adventure. I still can’t quite explain it. Skydiving is definitely something you have to experience to truly understand.

I think that’s a lot of what life is. You have to just say “heck YES” and go DO things!! I’ve learned it can be terrifying, confusing, uncomfortable, and messy; but “yes” living, in my opinion, is the most rewarding kind of living. It brings the most unexpected friendships and newfound passions. I believe living a “yes” could include spending time getting to know a new friend, trying odd foods, taking a journey throughout Europe, jumping out of the sky, and so much more. I’m still discovering what it means to live a YES life. I know it doesn’t mean throwing all caution out the window, but it does mean tearing down walls of fear that hold me back from giving myself fully to the moment. I’m hoping I leave CR with a greater sense of adventure and more courage to take risks, knowing full well I may fail. I hope I am able to identify fear for what it is and recognize that I was created for joy, relationships, and adventure! And so were you!

Let’s start saying “yes” more.

-Indigo

Pointing to Something Greater

The few days spent in Interlaken can be described in one short phrase: full of adventure. I’ve witnessed incredibly beautiful scenery as well as taken part in the many outdoor experiences Interlaken has to offer. I’ve loved every single minute of it.

In our full first day in Interlaken, Kyle, Indigo(oi), and I woke up early and spent some time having a refreshing worship session. It was a great way to start off the morning, especially considering we had a beautiful backdrop of snowy mountains and fresh mountain air to wake us up. After we finished up, we quickly headed to breakfast since we had lost track of time and needed to get started with our day.

For my first adventure, Nishu and I headed on over to Lake Brienz (a natural lake created by runoff from the glacial ice of the Swiss Alps) so that we could spend some time kayaking. We started off great by missing out first bus and having to talk 45 minutes to the lake. Turns out, it ended up being okay as we were both able take in the beautiful scenery around us. We finally got our kayaks into the lake and began. I spent most of my time on the lake reflecting on the past couples of weeks and trying to keep up with Nishu (Nishu is admittedly much better at kayaking than I am). Three hours later, Nishu and I hurriedly dragged our kayaks onto shore because we needed to get back to the hotel. For the second time that day, we missed our bus and had to rush back to the hotel at a brisk pace. We may or may not have sprinted the last half mile. Luckily, we arrived back to the hotel on time for the real thriller of the day.

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I quickly dropped my bags off in my room and grabbed what I needed for my next extreme sports experience. Audrey and I were headed to go PARASAILING. I could not be more excited to be up in the air overlooking Interlaken, its two lakes, and the mountains. Despite mine and Audrey’s excitement, we were both forced to patiently wait before we got up in the air because we had to drive up a mountain before we got up in the air. On the twenty-minute bus ride up, instructors briefly covered what everyone needed to do. When they went over takeoff, I began to get a little nervous; we had to run off the mountain and just keep running until our feet were no longer on the ground. Thoughts of whether the paraglider would work began to pop into my head at this point. However, my fear was assuaged when my partner reassured me of his experience in the air. I don’t know how many times in my life I can say I really enjoyed running off a mountain to be jerked up into the air, but my experience was smooth and simple, and we were soon flying high. The view was INCREDIBLE! I could see both of Interlaken’s lake, the mountains I was flying over, the town of Interlaken and all its seemingly tiny people, and even the hotel our group was staying at. Words cannot describe the beauty of Interlaken from above. Pictures struggle to depict the beauty as well, but here are some attempting to do so.

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My instructor even let me steer for a couple of minutes. To up the extremeness of the already extreme sport, the instructor went for some 360s, which admittedly caused my stomach to drop a few times. After about twenty minutes in the air, we landed smoothly. Audrey landed shortly after due to the wind preventing her and her instructor from taking off. That little hitch didn’t seem to bother her too much and she was still brimming with excitement when she landed. We quickly headed over to buy the pictures (because who wouldn’t) and we headed back to the hotel.

At this point in the day, I figured the day was done. I had done quite a bit already and I was looking forward to relaxing a bit before dinner. However, Dr. P invited Jacob, Audrey, and me to take a short train ride up to the top of one of the nearby mountains. I thought sure why not, this could be a lot of fun getting to see another bird’s eye view of Interlaken. So, we took a scary train that escalated at above a forty-five-degree angle. I was anxiously waiting for a drop similar to the Disney World’s Tower of Terror drop. Thank God that didn’t actually happen. We safely arrived at the top and headed over to the 360 overlook. Again, what I saw cannot be easily described. I was able to enjoy a still and peaceful view of all of Interlaken and its surrounding area. Views like below are ones I could sit and look out at for hours.

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On day two, we mixed it up a little and the group reconvened for a little hike. Our plan was to hike a little, see some waterfalls, and then take some gondolas up to the top of Mount Schiltorn, a near ten-thousand-foot-tall mountain. The hike started from a beautiful village and as we walked further, the more serene the atmosphere felt. Getting the chance to talk amongst each other and learn more about other members on CR was relaxing as we sauntered through the valley. On the hike up, I was quite surprised to even run into a friend (what are the odds?). I can’t stress how beautiful it is to walk through the Swiss Alps and I still have a tough time comprehending that we did. The most stunning part of the day was arriving at the peak of Mount Schiltorn and being able to see out for miles uninterrupted. Our group had to take pictures and we took our time to appreciate the beauty that surrounded us and made sure to not rush through our brief time. Snow-capped mountains, a rotating James Bond themed restaurant, small snowball fights, and friends around made for the perfect experience.

mountain pic

My experience in Interlaken and the city’s beauty all point to the same thing: the many blessings God has poured down on my life. I don’t know what it is about nature that draws me to think on such things, but when I’m in nature, removed from the busyness of life, I find it much easier to reflect on my blessings and to ponder in the quietness that often evades my everyday life. Maybe the towering mountains remind me of how insignificant my troubles are compared to all that God can do, will do, and has repeatedly done for my life. Or maybe the beauty of God’s creation helps me realize the amount of work God has put into creating nature, others, and myself included. Whatever it may be and as much as I tend to forget, I am extremely thankful. I am so thankful for my parents for adopting me, for giving me a loving home, and for giving me a fantastic education. I am thankful for Allen, a godly man that has poured into me for the last five years and will be a friend till the end. I am thankful for the many other people God has put in my life from my friends and family. And I am thankful for Dr. P for giving me the chance to go on CR and for investing and putting in so much effort to make sure CR is a stimulating and challenging experience for my peers and me. There are a number of things I can be thankful for and the short list I have given doesn’t even begin to cover it. All of who I am and where I am would not have been possible without God’s working hand in my life. I strive to constantly remind myself of all that God has done and continues to do in the lives of others and in me.

Interlaken, you were beautiful beyond words and you taught me so much about myself. Onwards and upwards we go.

Marat Rosencrants

Carpe Diem

Saturday, May 26th; 11:59pm Interlaken, Switzerland – “Carpe Diem” is a phrase by which I try to live. The phrase was coined by the popular Roman poet Horace in his Odes collection and is of Latin origin. Translated it means “seize the day!” I try to live out this phrase every day because if I can seize/take advantage of every single day, all 86,400 seconds of it, then I believe that I will have a wonderful, fulfilling life. Well today, I carped the heck out of this diem. I find it rather ironic that I began this blog post at 11:59pm because I truly wanted to squeeze every last moment out of this day, and oh what a day it was! I checked some items off my bucket list and grew much closer to my friends and to God.

Although today was jam packed with wonderful adventures, the real adventure began yesterday morning on the train ride form Munich to Interlaken. Dr. Pitcock was so excited because we were scheduled to have one of the easiest travel days ever to Interlaken, only one stop, which means much less stress for Dr. P for there are fewer instances for us to screw up getting on or off the train, but as the great John Steinbeck once said, “The best laid plans of Dr. P often go awry,” and awry they went. Our first train was late, and when we got on the second train, we were informed that it was not taking us directly to Interlaken as planned. Instead, we would need to make two more train switches before we got there, a travelling nightmare for Dr. P. And of course, all of this occurred right after I told Dr. P that he should be more relaxed and more “go with the flow more” during the experience. Not the best timing on my part… :/ Sorry Dr. P! You handled the situation with the utmost poise, and I think you went with the flow very well. I apologize for what I said, and I thank you for getting us to Interlaken, and everyone else safe and sound and honestly just being the absolute best in leading and guiding us on this experience. You have truly done so much for us, more than we will ever know, and I greatly thank you for allowing us to have this once in a lifetime experience. (So that we can see incredible views like these)

Interlaken 1

Interlaken Sunset

Anyways, we finally made it to the hotel safe and sound when the madness began again…

We were informed that we were having a free day in Interlaken!!! YAY!

I was so excited! Everyone was scrambling to make a plan for the next day, trying to find something fun that we could all do together. Although Dr. P strongly suggested that we not participate in any extreme sports and fully informed us of the risks we were taking, I decided to do the two of the most extreme activities I could find: canyoning and skydiving! Because one does not simply “hang out” when you’re in the extreme sports capital of the world! Anyways, despite being Pre-Med, my marketing and salesmanship skills kicked in as I tried to convince as many people as possibly to join in my crazy endeavors, and I did so with great success! (If you want to know more about how I did this convincing, check out my friend Ryal’s blog about the positive effects of peer pressure.)

When everyone finally figured out their plan, we gave our ideas to the wonderful Kim who was working at the front desk and prayed for an absolute miracle: that the places we wished to go would be open, have enough room for us, and that the weather would hold up. Luckily for us, the stars aligned, and Kim was able to work some magic and get all 16 of us booked for the various activities that we wanted to do.

The next morning, I woke up at 7:30am ready for the most amazing day of my life, and it did not fall short but rather exceeded even the loftiest of my expectations! When I say I carped the heck out of this diem, I mean it. I went canyoning in the morning which was an amazing experience because we had a bunch of people doing it all together, and I didn’t really know what canyoning was until I did it so that was a really interesting experience as well. The reason I signed up and convinced others to go canyoning was because past members of CR had told me that it was a blast and a great time to bond with the group. I truly blindly took their advice and really didn’t do any research on what canyoning actually was before I went and actually did it. It was rather exciting though, going into it without knowing exactly what was going to happen. I really had to trust in the other members of my group to keep me going and make sure we all got through it together and alive. Although it was quite intimidating at first, with the help of our amazing guides our whole group made it through canyoning without a scratch, well maybe a few scratches (sorry Taylor).

Here is a picture of our awesome canyoning group! Please ignore my hand and face, but do enjoy the nicknames on the helmets if you can read them!

canyoning group

canyoning

We finished canyoning and ate a nice little café across the street. We laughed about all the fun we had, and the fact that we were going to be jumping out of a plane in a matter of hours finally began to set in. We hung out for a while and when it was time to leave for skydiving the nervous excitement in the lobby was overwhelming with all of us there together. The skydiving place picked us up, and we sang “Live like you are Dying” the entire way to the skydiving zone. At one point we did stop singing, but the lady driving the van told us not to stop but keep singing instead. When we arrived at the skydiving zone, the lady driving the van said, “Well congratulations, you have just made it past the most dangerous part of your skydiving experience.” This was really reassuring for me because I knew that we were more likely to die driving to the skydiving place than actually skydiving. We hung out for a while and took some great photos, some of which you can see below, but eventually our time came.

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pre-skydiving solo pic.jpeg

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frogs by 13,000ft

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I was in the second of the two groups to go, so it was amazing to see all of my friends make it safely before I went. However, after they were done, it was my time to go. The man who eventually saved my life, Tom, walked towards me after carefully packing up the parachute and said, “Hi, I’m Tom! Are you ready to go?” I was like “Heck yeah!” Then he said, “Great because we are going first!”

“What? We’re going first, did you say?” I stuttered to say to him. “Yeah, is that a problem?” he said in reply. “No, that’s cool, sweet, no big deal!” I said very hesitantly. We were the last to climb aboard the little puddle jumper, and we packed in like sardines so that all 12 of us could fit. Tom and I were right next to the open door. As we started down the runaway, my dear Tom informed me that the plane door was broken, and that we would just have to go the whole ride with it wide open. “Just kidding,” he said after an uncomfortably long pause. This was only the beginning of many unsettling jokes that our tandem partners played on us on the way up. Interesting enough, skydiving instructors genuinely enjoy scaring the absolute bejeezees out of people who are about to jump out of a plane. Luckily, I was excited to go, so it wasn’t too unsettling for me, but for someone who was really nervous, they could really do some damage with their jokes.

When the guides weren’t joking about how their partner left an important hook unbuckled or arguing over who would get whose car if they died, they would point out the amazing view from the sky or take pre-jump videos of us. Whenever the final video comes in, I’ll be sure to post it.

Anyways, we finally got to our peak altitude of 13,500ft. Tom yelled in my ear, “Open the door.” Although I knew that I was going to have to do it, there is nothing than can prepare you for opening a door and dangling your feet over the edge of a moving plane. I know that it should have hit me before this, but it truly wasn’t until I looked down out of the open door that I realized I was about to jump out a plane and plummet towards the earth for the next 45 seconds. And what a blissful 45 seconds it was. Tome started us off with a causal backflip, and then we free-fell arms wide until he unloaded the parachute that saved our lives. Maybe it’s because I’m not the best with words, but I’ve found it extremely difficult to describe the sensation of skydiving. It is like nothing you’ve ever felt or experienced before, and there is nothing you can do to physically prepare yourself for it. It is truly just one of the most action packed, adrenaline-filled moments of your entire life, while at the same time being one of the most blissful moment of your entire life. There is something about free-falling towards the earth that makes you gain a greater appreciation for life.

Although I absolutely loved skydiving, I don’t think I can ever do it again because I don’t think I will ever find a more beautiful place to skydive than surrounded by the Swiss Alps. It was the most amazing experience because once the shoot came up and we began paragliding down to the ground, I looked around and was just completely surrounded by God’s beautiful creation. It was truly a surreal experience.

I don’t think I will ever have a more action-packed and exciting day in my entire life, and until I get married or have a child, whenever someone asks me what the best day of my life was, I now have a very clear answer! May 26th, 2018 – Interlaken, Switzerland

Group Selfie

All thanks to CR10!

Carpe Diem

 

Until next time,

Jake Lynn

 

Peanut Butter and the Path to Mordor

Interlaken, Switzerland was exactly what I imagined the Shire to be like when reading Lord of the Rings. Everything was lush and green and mountainous and you couldn’t escape the natural beauty of the town no matter how hard you tried. The water that came out of the tap was directly from the MOUNTAINS, for God’s sake. I felt like God, or Tolkien, had sent me here for a specific reason.

That suspicion was only furthered when the day after we arrived, I joined a group of fellow CRecader’s to go canyoning. I had no idea what canyoning was, but it sounded terrifying. The way it was explained to me was that you jumped off of CLIFFS into RAPIDS and tried not to drown for, like, the thrill of it? I’m not gonna lie, I signed up because everyone else was doing it and I wanted a cool wetsuit picture, but I don’t regret it by any means. It was challenging and spectacular all in one.

Anyway, when we got to the canyoning base camp, we got to pick out our helmets, and this is where I felt Tolkien reaching out to me from beyond the grave. I went with the classic Peanut butter (an amazing substance, which I believe should be classified as it’s own food group, but I digress), and my friend Kyle (who also goes by Lentil, but that’s a story for another time), chose the helmet….wait for it….Frodo. It was at this moment I knew a white wizard was about to appear before me and tell me I needed to join him on an adventure. That wasn’t exactly what happened, but it was kind of close.

Our tour guide did appear and tell us it was time for an adventure (oh, and did I mention he was from New Zealand? As in, where lord of the rings was filmed? The coincidences don’t stop here folks). After a ROCKY bus ride and a hike through some beautiful woods that looked quite literally exactly like Fangorn Forest, minus the talking trees, we arrived at the falls and rapids we would be delving into. Here, I felt like I was in Rivendell, and all the nerves that had been building inside of me immediately calmed. If this place was as beautiful as the home of the majestic elves, what could go wrong?

Well, quite a lot could go wrong if I’m going to be honest. I tried to embrace the spirit of Arwen and be as graceful as I could, but repelling down the first rock I managed to slip and plummet straight into the water. See, the difference between Arwen and I is, she’s an elf. So, she can kind of control water. I, however, cannot. This was a bit of a disadvantage. The rapids were harsh and unrelenting, but I did my best to combat them. It was only when we were Tarzan swinging from one rock to another that I finally felt powerful, and even though I’m sure I looked like a raggedy Ann doll flying through the air, the feeling of freedom I felt from flying in that moment was incredible.

My comrades went on to jump from a plane later that afternoon, and I applaud them for that, but I tempted fate quite enough jumping into jagged rocky water. It was uncomfortable, it was freezing, and I was scared the entire time. But once I stopped and looked at the beauty that surrounded me, I realized just how incredible what I was doing was. I was canyoning in the Swiss Alps. I don’t know how many people get to do that in their lifetime, but I can’t imagine it’s many. So I decided that instead of spending the entire time terrified, I was going to be Arwen, and I was going to love every minute of it, being flimsy and not graceful and having fun with my friends. And I did.

Interlaken, you were beautiful. Thank you for all that you taught me.

Power and Grace

Two days ago, we got to visit this super cute town filled with farms, cow bells, and huge waterfalls. Walking through this valley between two huge mountain ranges, there is something so comforting about nature’s purity and beauty.

Dr. P took us to Trümmelbachfalle where 3 waterfalls from glacier melt all converge into this one powerful waterfall. As this fall was a little bit off the road we were traveling on, I would have never discovered this place on my own or thought it was a place to be explored. I could’ve just thought looking at the waterfalls was amazing enough. But thankfully Dr. P navigated us through fields of wildflowers and across streams to this incredible creation.

While hiking up into the caverns of this waterfall you could hear the roaring water- so loud you could barely hear people talking. This was the first sense of power present in the falls.

Then you could feel the temperature drop drastically, and the brisk spray splash onto your face. And when you got to the rail separating you from the falls, power was immensely evident in the path of the rushing water. The water carved such a smooth, powerful path in the mountain.

This whole experience is an incredible example of God’s power and grace. He is all-powerful, carving every detail from rolling hills to volcanos to tsunamis. His power is so vast and just takes your breath away when you get close. If this was the waterfall’s power, I can’t even fully comprehend what God’s power is truly like.

And yet with this extremely powerful waterfall, God’s grace is so evident. When I paused to embrace God’s power at the top of this cascade, I looked up to see little water droplets gently coming down like snowflakes. I couldn’t take my eyes off this. How could water droplets hit the sides of the cavern and rain down like snow? These droplets reveal God’s grace and mercy raining down on us in the midst of His powerful creation.

God carved the world with His mercy and power. From the Earth’s tectonic plates to each of us, He used His complete power and authority to create beauty while covering us in His grace and mercy. And He lets us just stand in awe of His creation. He gave us everything as gifts. How incredible and loving is He?!

This experience put me in complete awe of God with His combination of power and grace. It also taught me how you can always look at a situation and see more details within. You could easily walk into Trümmelbachfalle and only see the beauty. But with a closer look, you can see power and grace and so much more.

We all take different paths in life, but what path will we carve for others? God crafted an incredible place for us to live in and find Him. I’m so thankful to have experienced this nugget of truth and experience Him more and more through His creation.

With love,

Lauren Rasmussen