A 5 day adventure 

Last weekend was Labor Day weekend here in NZ. And while many got to take Monday off. I had to work.

And when describe work you might just roll your eyes.

I got to help plan & particulate in a 5 day rafting trip down the Clarence River, essentially from source to sea. A river that starts high up in the mountains and ends in the Pacific Ocean. One of the truly great wilderness & remote adventures in NZ.

After gathering with 16 other friends, colleagues & Board Members from Scripture Union, Arocha & Adventure Specialities we drove the 2.5hrs to the put in.


Logistically this trip was massive with 17 people on 3 rafts for 5 full days with enough food, personal gear, cooking gear, tents & safety stuff. A lot of thought was given to it all. Not to mention the transportation challenges of getting us to the put in. Then arranging how we were going to get home. That part was an 11 hour bus ride. Double what it should have taken us. But due to the kaikoura earthquakes almost a year ago & 100s of road slips meant frustratingly that we were really close to the now reopened section of road but far enough away that we had to effectively drive north before we could drive south.

Meanwhile we got on the water around 330pm Friday afternoon & paddled until we ran out of daylight around 8pm settling for a less than ideal campsite on the side of the river.

We all slept well after a good dinner of beef stir fry that was conveniently “thawing” on the top of one of our rafts as we floated down stream. That first afternoon had its fair share of decent rapids. 

Saturday morning came after a really good nights sleep (in a tent of course) Which after 4 nights one gets really good at putting a tent up, especially one thats not personally yours.

Each morning we aimed to be up around 700am. It was quickly established that I was the designated coffee person. In part because I like it strong, and my argument for strong coffee is that you can always add hot water to weaken it, but when it comes to weak coffee and making it stronger… insert the crickets chirping here. We have a lot of big coffee drinker or coffee snobs and 3 big plunger pots therefore each morning around 700am there was a flurry to get the date on the gas rings or the recently lit fire and “get the coffee on”.

Packing up camp each morning is quite a task. Pulling down tents, packing our big blue waterproof barrels (2 people/barrel). They are the barrels in the picture above. Eating breakfast, cleaning up, loading all that gear on 3 rafts for 17 people. We were on the water by 930am each day. which didn’t leave for much idle time. A big pot of porridge/oatmeal was made each morning and dutifully consumed.

Saturday was our first all day paddle and the chance to enter the first of 3 big canyons on the Clarence. This trip has so many highlights however one would have to be a amazing and dynamic geology and demonstration of tectonic forces (nerd alert!)on show. The rocks had some incredible faulting and folding lines that often ran parallel to one another creating a plowed field look yet no where near straight in their appearance.This often found us looking up as much ad enjoying the rapids of the day.

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Our 2nd day ended with a sweet campsite of river right, a little up from Muzzle Station where as we were paddling into camp a farm worker from the station was heading cattle with ….

A HELICOPTER.

Tells you a little about the terrain and its inaccessibility. See video below and look hard and listen.

This camp site provided good shelter from the forecast gales that were predicted and we were kept up to date on each day with our daily Sat phone check in. On this night we also sat and had a facilitated discussion about Faith Formation and what that looks like in our context. And you can imagine with 3 very intentional faith-based non-profits and a faith based funding group there was lively conversation.

Day 3 saw continue continue our float to the ocean as we began to float through the middle of the Seaward Kaikoura’s to our left and the Inland Kaikoura’s to our right. The later have peaks that are much higher including one of my favorite mountains in NZ. Tapuae-o-Uenuku, or known as TapiHaving climbed to its summit and been denied its summit more times than I care to remember it was good to see “an old friend”. Click here for more info. This mountain is the first real mountain Sir Edmond Hillary Climbed and from there got the bug.

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This brought us to our 3rd campsite but not before some drama. On November 14th last year a violent 7.8 earthquake shook this region. Creating all sorts of destruction and damage. Including State Highway 1, which to this day is STILL closed from 100’s of slips and the.  Click here to read more stories about the quake. One of the lesser known effects were on this mighty river. A series of huge slips blocked the river and created a lake for some time until the power of the river punched through the rock wall to continue its path to the ocean. It would have been impressive to see the rock fall and blocking of the river (from a safe distance of course) and then even more so when the river punched its way through. Well anyways we saw the effects of the landslide and the river reasserting itself. As we paddle this section there were house-sized boulders all around and still little slides and slip going on. Couldn’t help but feel very small at that point and put in our place in the universe. A good reminder of the sovereignty of God too. This video shows us rafting through this new section that none of us had paddled before. Rafting this section was optional for us, of course I said yes, and we “lined” the heaviest raft through the rapids for fear or it flipping with people and all our heavy gear aboard.

Just below this piece of God’s handiwork we found our next campsite and set up for the evening. This time to enjoy a pasta dish and peach cobbler for dessert. Yes we ate well. Before dinner that night I got to take a wee run up towards Tapi and stretch my legs after effectively have them sit in a raft for 3 days. It was good to be running and even running uphill.

Day 4 or Monday (Labor Day) had us in the raft and off again around 930am. Into more rapids and another gorge/canyon. This is the only day we lost 2 people over board as we entered a rock-garden like section of rapids that saw us ping pong off a few rocks, some seen some unseen which caused 2 members of my raft to get thrown across the boat and into 2 other people and over he side into the river. Soon after getting them back on board, one with a throw bag we parked up to lick our wounds and stretch our legs.

One thing about this trip was a the amazing weather we had. Forecast rain never came and gale force winds never really blew. We were in a weather no-mans land though as far as reading forecasts which had us drawing from 3 different areas to try and syphon what part of that 1 forecast from each of the 3 might mean for us. With good weather on our side we were even more excited to be on the river.

If the weather was good, something had to give and that was the geological weather. Apparently we had an earthquake centered not far from where we were. The same faults that gave way here almost a year ago. This sent some family and friends into enquiry and wonder. Only to be responded with “What earthquake?” from us.

Day 4 ended as the most amazing campsite. A place called Matai Flat and oasis of old podocarp forrest on river left at a sharp left had turn in the river. Matai flat provided great comforts, the opportunity to swim, rest some and be awoke to the most amazing dawn chorus of birds. Not before landing in some strong wind gusts in the mid afternoon sun.

As we set out on our last day, we were up early to get done so we could get into that 11hr bus ride home. After the brilliance of the bird song start we were expecting to wind down for the morning to our take-out late morning.

This was not the case as we witnessed more quake devastation, mostly in the form of impacts to humans activity. Including a destroyed bridge and a major re-challening of the river. In the quake some major uplift occurred. This caused the river to find a new low point. Remember gravity and rivers a best mates. This caused the Clarence to move approximately 200m to the north and away from the old river bed as it would now we required to go uphill. The new path was cut without care or feeling across a sheep farm and multiple paddocks. To witness this and see what had occurred was again a “we are really small moment”. After seeing this new section of river we continued down stream passing where the river use to go and seeing its now dry river bed behind us joining the new channel sitting about 4-5m above us from the uplift. This old channel forever changed in a matter of moments after flowing that way for who knows, 1000’s of years.

From here we made the short rest of the way, still enjoying some big raids and long wave trains. So much for staying dry that day.

Upon arrival at the take out, a mere several hundred meters from the Pacific Ocean we took photos, high-5’d, and begun the packing up, this time for the last time.

 

Where’d She “Learn” That?

Recently we have noticed that Moana has been adding words almost daily to her vocabulary. Then even starting to string sentences together. However perhaps the most noticeable observation I have had is the inflection in her voice.

When this occurs (in English anyway) it usually means that the speaker is making their statement into a question. I have recently seen this with Moana when I have returned from a run. She has greeted me with a “Hey….. run?”. With the inflection in her voice on the word run, to denote that she is asking if I have been for a run. Which of course I have.

Where did she learn this from? How did she pick up on this technique?

She hears it from us & others, perhaps watching her favorite… Elmo. Which makes me wonder, besides learning how to create a question (out of just one word), what else is she learning from me, we, us and maybe you.

We live in a world that appears quite polarized right now. Race… politics… sexuality… mental health… and more.

We know that from dust we came and from dust we shall return. And therefore everything else we latch onto, learn, gather or form opinions on has to be a mixture of people and experiences.

What people and experiences are we having to create not only those questions (whether they are one word or more) but perhaps more dangerously those opinions and biases on race… politics… sexuality… mental health… and more.

We aren’t born racist, prejudice, liberal, conservative, progressive, homophobic, narrow minded on mental health we learn those opinions. I wonder if we can unlearn them as simply as we learned them. A simply as a child does.

The Wonder of the Outdoors

In the recent July School Holidays, I was at camp with these fine youth. Based out of Makarora in Mt. Aspiring National Park here are a few highlights from our time together.

Acts 2, 21st Century Style

There’s a thing called TED Talks. It stands for Technology, Education & Design. They have these big conferences around the world. And are presentations by really froward thinking people on all sorts of topics. There is a weekly email that comes to your inbox with the best in TED Talks. Anyways, its really good.

I delete more than I click on, however this past week one got my attention. It was entitled “How cohousing can make us happier (and live longer)”. That got my attention.

Here’s the link to it

I’ll let you watch it, but as Robin & I watched this around 10minute video we almost kept  yelling at the screen things like…

“The only thing missing is Jesus” or “This is how its supposed to be” or “Read Acts 2 lady” or “This is the early church” or “No, she did not just say that”.

In a time when if you live in the west then your country is confronting issues of mental health and suicide more so that ever before in history. And don’t worry developing countries aren’t too far behind. Every country has shocking suicide stats because without sounding cheesy, 1 suicide is too much. But people suicide for two reasons. Loss of hope and loss of social connection. We are more connected yet more lonely now than ever.

Yet if you watch this Ted Talks you can see why this form of living in so attractive. And then if you insert Jesus or parallel read with Acts 2 and Acts 4: 32-37 we can begin to understand that what we offer at followers of Christ is so transformative that who knows where it would go.

I was recently having coffee with a youth director at a church and he was telling me about the intentional community they have grown into in a quiet street. That what once started with 1 house and a few people living together is now over 20 in several houses on the same street. The challenge he said was that there were some conflicts and tension arising and asked me if I thought it was because had got too big.

My response began with asking him why he thought it had got so “big”. Rhetorical as it may sound, but what their community offered was attractive and enticing and very welcoming to an outsider. So much so that many wanted in, to be a part of it and so they joined and now it had mushroomed to several houses and 20+ people.

Remember people are looking for hope and social connection. Or should I say meaningful Christ-centered hope and meaningful social connection (don’t get me wrong, screens and social media have a place). We went on to talk about the challenge that presented itself when every outsider would join that it would change the dynamics of a house and that the community would need to establish or re-establish the guidelines/practices for living.

That it is a slow process, certainly not a quick or an efficient to do life. But people didn’t want to be in this setting because it was quick or efficient. They wanted in because it was hope giving and connecting.

As the Ted Talk concluded the speaker references studies and stats of the benefits of cohousing. These are alarming good. Imagine if that same cohousing was centered around people, families, groups and individuals coming together for whom doing life and faith was the goal.

Some might say…

This book has been floating around for a few months now, maybe more. The author has written numerous books. Mostly described as a fresh perspective and a refreshing yet different approach to life, faith, Jesus & relationships. His video series were also quite different too. They can be found on the bookshelves of many youth directors, pastors or people who work in ministry with youth &/or young adults.

Then there was a book entitled “Love Wins”. By now you might know who I am talking about.

Yes Rob Bell. That book essentially got him kicked off the island. The Christian island that is. And he “swam” (or surfed,  he does like to surf) in the mainline sea of being judged and cut off for over 5years. Now he is back with a new book and here it is 

Entitled “What is the Bible?”, is just that. And I just got a copy and intend reading it. So watch this space.

Today there was a article on cnn.com about him on cnn.com as he embarks on a book tour in the Bible Belt. A bit of a read but a good one, to bring you up to speed on this guy, his history and why he is still turning heads for better and for worse.

When left is right & right is left

This week America provided us a reversal and confusing look at their viewpoint on guns. In summary it gave us two moments when we could have sighed and said “oh no… thats not helpful” and “whew… I’m glad those two people were there.”

By this I am referring to the 1st incident where by a self-confessed Bernie Sanders supporter showed up at a congressional baseball practice and started shooting at as many members of the GOP as he could. Yes, a passionate Democratic Party supporter (who even volunteered during the 2016 election). This is not what the Democrats needed. The party that champions the cause for greater gun control, especially against assault weapons. Here is a man who is acting with an object that the democrats are trying very hard to control getting into the hands of people just like him. UGH!

Then ‘down the coast’ in Georgia we have two inmates who manage to kill two corrections officers and escape a prison transport. Then commit various acts of stealing cars, terrorizing people, high speed car chases across two states to finally come to a crashing end and run off into the woods in Tennessee.

While the deaths of two officers is unspeakable, this story comes to a peaceful ending. Two members of the public spotted these two inmates in the woods near their house, and wait for it… GRAB THEIR GUNS and go get em’.

If it wasn’t for these two gun totting weapon owners these escaped inmates might be still running or have had a fiery shootout with law enforcement.

So, here we have a situation where the left leaning gun lobby are let down by ‘one of their own’ and we are sure glad that the right leaning protect my gun rights laws have prevented a awful situation becoming even worse.

 

 

 

Surf’s Up

This past weekend we had a storm that spat out of the deep depths of the Southern Ocean. Or Antarctica. It produced some massive swells or waves. 

Click the link to read all about it   

Surf’s Up.

And more
This weekend we are going to the very southern tip of NZ for a youth & children training event for churches. It will be fun to take Robin & Moana to the southern tip on NZ…. next stop Antarctica. 

Thanks for the job security LaVar, but I don’t want it.

Recently I was tooling around online and stumbled across the story on ESPN about the upcoming NBA Draft. But more importantly the UCLA player Lonzo Ball who is expected to go high in the draft if not #1.

BIG DEAL you might say we get these stories 3-4 times A YEAR… pick your professional sport. However this year this young man is really a metaphor or symptom for perhaps giving people who work with children and youth the best job security in the world.

Not by the wayward choices they might make but by his father LaVar Ball.

It appears that Lonzo has very little opportunity to make decisions on his own, and every decision made is either by his father or for his father and in the name of his father. I’m all about upsetting the apple cart however this “gentleman” is something else. He reminds me of Napoleon Dynamites Uncle Rico in the movie Napoleon Dynamite. Rico never made it past being a famous high school quarterback because of someone else and it appears to fit the description for Lonzo’s dad. Mad at the world I missed my opportunity and so this is how I’m going to make up for it. Lonzo’s dad does it all.

It becomes apparent very early on that “dad” speaks… talks… represents…deals… organizes… maybe he even poops for his son. Almost every time I see the two, Dad does it all. Now admittedly my sample size isn’t great, however I have seen enough to get that picture.

So to my point. 

Thanks for the job security LaVar because its my observation that from this approach I think about the resiliency and coping skills of his son and frankly a whole generation of youth that aren’t put in enough positions to develop those skills through the worlds best teacher… experience all because a parent or parents have literally done it all.

Case in point. A man in a Tennessee bar this week poured kerosene all over himself, set himself on fire and ran into a bar. All because his girlfriend broke up with him.

Man sets self on fire on Facebook

This story is an absolute tragedy. However the focus appears to be on the method, the tragedy and Facebook. Who once again is been held to task for seemingly every evil action and act of violence that occurs on this platform. Its like suing a car manufacturer for a drunk drivers actions.

The story I hear hear is why he did it.

“He believed that suicide would be the ultimate revenge on her,”

How bad had it become for this man that this was an viable option. How unable was he to cope with his mental health that this occurred. This is not a statement about how people had let him down, or how we should have given him medicine, or that his family should have tried harder.

Children, youth & young adults are increasingly expressing their mental health to anyone who will hear and respond. But perhaps the real challenge is where have skills like resilience, coping and problem solving gone. Many of us have been through a bad break up, parents going through divorce or struggling with our or anothers sexuality. However what goes hand in hand with these are the above mentioned skills. Not thats its the gold ticket to jettison us away from pain, heartbreak or loneliness. But there appears to be a rise in younger generation type problems that aren’t meet with skills of coping etc.

Were they not taught? Not experienced? Not allowed to experiment with failure and growth in far more digestible problems in younger years so that where those real storms of life come, like divorce, breakup and sexuality that there is at least some foundations of skills to begin to process and get help.

Its well documented that people die by suicide because of a loss of hope and/or loss of social connection. And I wonder if some of that could be minimized, not “fixed”but minimized by looking for more opportunities to put into practice those life long skills.

And while we/parents everyone continue to not expose our children and youth to manageable challenges of life by speaking for them, making all their decisions, even living vicariously through them we are also providing people who work with children, youth and young adults the best job security in the world. But for all the wrong reasons.

 

 

What happens when kid has to make his own decisions

What does that mean when dad isn’t around

Another picture of no coping skills no resiliency

Follow what so what now what model

LaVar & Lonzo

If you stand still you can…

Today was a perfect day. We drove west to the mountains to Lake Coleridge which sits as a gateway to the big mountains along the spine on New Zealand’s South Island. I won’t say too many words as they don’t do it justice.

But I will say this. NZ is usually quite windy most of the time and the mountains of course are no exception. However, today was 1 of those few days where it was perfectly still. Between the views, the blue sky, the peaks, and of course the company if you stand still you can…

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Driving time = 90mins

Hiking time = 90mins to the summit, 60mins back down.

Amazing Feat/Feet

You might have missed it on Saturday but the world of athletics was shaken up. Not by a big disclosure of performance enhancing drug abuse but the lowering of the world record for the men’s marathon. And an attempt at going under 2hours for the same race. #breaking2

However if you read between the lines there is inspiration for all of us not just for some of us that geek out over the times, the splits, the speed….

But Eliud Kipchoge, a 32-year-old Kenyan, ran 26.2 miles faster than anybody in history, finishing the time trial in 2:00:25.

Yes it was…

  • A time trail, so not one of the big time marathons from around the world.
  • A bit of a publicity stunt by Nike. (don’t worry Adidas is attempting it soon with its stable of runners).
  • As many of the controllable conditions were controlled.
    • Running on the Formula One track at Monza, Italy (the fastest in the world), with the least amount of turns.
    • Numerous pacers to help the 3 designated athletes.
    • A carefully chosen start time and day for weather purposes.
    • The food and fluid handed to them so they could keep moving.
    • Some new amazing shoe developed of course by Nike.
    • …..

The list goes on. And from that the haters, doubters and purists were everything from skeptical, even mad. The old record, set at the Berlin Marathon back in 2014 of 2:02.57 might/will still “stand” and the IAAF hasn’t decided if it will ratify this record yet.

BUT…. all the explanation aside, this is an amazing feat. Kipchoge managed to hang on and while not smash the 2hrs mark (which experts predicted that humanity wouldn’t reach this time for another 75years) showed what is and can be possible.

And while he didn’t reach the sub2 goal, look a while and what he did do. He smashed the old record. All because some people got together and said lets try this, we won’t know unless we try. And if they didn’t start with that thought of lets try this they would be still sitting on the couch now talking about it. The old record would still be there and not a revised goal of 2:00.25. Sure they didn’t get there but they got somewhere and closer.

Makes you wonder how much we sit around and wonder but then don’t even try. If we don’t get to ‘our goal’, we got somewhere and that was better than where we were.

In case you are wondering thats 4.34mins/mile. Try doing that once. Then repeating 25 more times… IN A ROW.