Annapurna Base Camp Trek

The Annapurna Base Camp Trek – Epic, adventure, challenge, fruitful, new friendships, awe-inspiring, vast, grand, like nothing seen before! These are a few words to describe the three weeks I spent with the team as we trekked from 1000 meters (3510 feet) up to ABC (Annapurna Base Camp) at 4130 meters (13,549 feet).

Upon landing in Kathmandu, we headed out into the city for cultural orientation and exploration. We were blessed to stay at Apple Pie Expeditions’ guest house for a few days while we “acclimatized” to the new culture and then we set out for Pokhara, the starting point for the ABC trek.

While in Pokhara, we got to see all that this part of the Himalayas has to offer the outdoor adventure community. Paragliding, kayaking and rafting, trekking and the beautiful landscape draws thousands of people to this part of Nepal each year.

Pictures may best describe our 10 days on the trek so please be sure to look through the album on the right side of this post. The pics were taken with a trusty iPhone but we hope to update the blog with more shots once the team returns in November.

The best stories from the trek are the ones about other people. We were so blessed to meet so many different people from all over the world. English is the main language along the trek which made for quick community-building in the guest houses each night. Most of the conversations started off with highlights from the day, how many leeches each person found on their shins or in their socks, the tragedies of the day (someone getting injured or having to stay back at lower elevations) and of course, stories of the vistas and grandeur from base camp! But from there, the conversation naturally progressed to deeper, more personal things such as family, faith and challenges in life.

As we built relationships with fellow trekkers and travelers over those 10 days, we were blessed to hear their stories and honored that they would take a minute to hear about ours. We were encouraged in our pursuit to love and serve the outdoor industry and the people of Nepal by those that didn’t share the same values or beliefs and we were able to be ourselves and live out the kingdom community in a unique way. (By “ourselves” I mean that we are Jesus followers who love adventure and who care for adventurers in the industry and the people of Nepal alike!).

One highlight of the trek was meeting up with Ueli Steck’s expedition at ABC. Ueli is a world-famous Swiss climber that is also known as the “Swiss machine”. While we didn’t get to meet Ueli himself, we did have the chance to talk with his climbing partner and photography crew. Our Swiss students in particular enjoyed the opportunity to speak Swiss-German for a few hours! You can read about Ueli’s accomplishment here. More than talking, however, we were able to pray with Ueli’s crew and encourage them in their pursuits.

For some, 10 days of trekking felt like eternity, but for others we could have kept going over the next mountain pass, into the next valley and back up to the next base camp. Either way, after 10 days the whole team was exhausted and it was a blessing to rendezvous with friends and contacts in Pokhara for a day and two nights of R&R before heading out to the next location.

Click the image below to learn more about EDTS!


A Person of Peace

God can and does use whoever He needs to expand His Kingdom for His glory.  Back in 2006, I was part of a community development outreach team that went to northern India to teach in schools and work with the local community.  During our time in northern India we stayed in the home of a Muslim family. They knew who we were and why we were in India, and were okay with the fact that we were Christians.  The people we stayed with were very influential in the local area, and our relationship with this family allowed us the opportunity to go and teach in places that would not have been possible had we been working on our own.  The family we stayed with was open to what we shared with them and with the community. The wife in the family is a very influential person in the area of education. Her influence and reputation allowed us the opportunity to go into a few schools and incorporate Biblical principles in our teaching.

We also had the opportunity to teach English to two of the girls who were living in the home where we were staying. Their parents were supportive of the idea, but they did not want us teaching their daughters from the Bible. Instead we taught them some of our favorite songs about God and the Bible.  While we weren’t able to teach them directly from the Bible, the songs we sang conveyed the Bible’s message, and the girl’s parents were okay with that. As time went on we would occasionally hear them singing the songs to themselves throughout the day. Our team was always encouraged when we would hear them singing because not only were they practicing English, but they were also proclaiming the truth of God’s Word.

Over the next 8 weeks many doors were opened for us and we had many opportunities to to teach the Bible to the members of the community.  Throughout our entire time in India trust was built and God’s Kingdom grew in a dark place.

God puts different people in our lives all the time. We don’t always know if someone we meet will become that “person of peace” for us sometime down the road. A person of peace (in my definition) is a person, or even a family, who have influence in a particular area. Trust is built up over time, and opportunities arise that wouldn’t have been possible without that person’s status or influence.  An example of a person of peace could be a school principal, a mayor, a tribal leader, or even a doctor.  Basically, it’s just any person who has enough influence or respect in an area that they can provide opportunities. People are our greatest resources.


Matthew 10: 11  Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. 12  As you enter the home, give it your greeting. 13  If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. 14  If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. 


Divine Appointment

We were serving in Chiang Rai living in a coffee shop called Homemade Cafe, which is run by Bobby Bo & Boo Ya. Each Saturday, Walking Street, (a local night market) opens up right next to the cafe, and our team would evangelize and meet people.  One day my co-leader, Steve Hazeltine, went walking through the city and met these three women. They saw him down the street and yelled for him to come over. They ran a massage parlor, but when they met Steve they asked why he could speak some Thai and why he was in Thailand. When he told them that he was a Christian and wanted Thai people to know God’s love, they begged him to share more. He was able to share the Gospel with them and one of the women named Pak was ecstatic; she had been waiting for her friend Dtoi to hear the Gospel.
Dtoi had left Buddhism two years before but hadn’t felt like anything replaced it at all for her. She was a widow and had no family still connected to her.  The next night Steve and I went back to visit these ladies, they sat us down and gave us hot tea. Pak was excitedly telling me that they never meet foreign men with good intentions, and that Dtoi had decided to become a Christian. She had already thought some about Christianity,  but hearing the Gospel and seeing God’s love through Steve is what made her decide to convert.
Dtoi shared she was a very sinful, and we shared the parable that Jesus taught concerning another sinful woman — Those who are forgiven much, love much. Through this, Dtoi really experienced God’s love. It was amazing to see  these women encounter God’s love. Dtoi, an ex-buddhist widow became a believer, and Pak (who was Buddhist at the time) told us that she now believes in what Jesus has done, but that for her families sake, she is not ready to call herself a Christian. Despite that, Pak told us that she wants to tell all her friends about Jesus and that they should follow him.
To me it was such strong evidence that God loves Thai people, and that He is the one who leads us to the hearts of those who are ready. Steve had no idea these women were even there and Steve had no idea who these women even were and yet they called for him – it was like they were waiting for the Gospel; waiting to meet God and He let us be a part of it!

Lecture Phase Wrap-Up

It is a cold and rainy evening here in Lakeside, Montana, but we’re optimistic that as we head out into the backcountry for a 5 day backpacking trip tomorrow the weather will clear and the temperatures will rise.

Trip #6, as we call it, is our last full lecture week before outreach departure on September 19. It is also the capstone trip as we will be putting almost all of our outdoor skills and knowledge into practice. The team will be splitting into two groups, with each group accompanied by staff and a guest speaker. One team will start on the west end of our route and another team at the east end. On Wednesday we’ll cross paths. We eat like kings!

The teaching topic for the week is evangelism, which comes on the heels of last week’s teaching on missions. The other teaching since our update in week 8 was community development/worldview. While we’ve had lots of opportunity to “rub shoulders” with outdoor enthusiasts on our camping trips this summer, our focus is also geared towards reaching out to the Nepali people and the trekkers that we’ll meet along the way as we trek Annapurna base camp trail in a few weeks. We believe that God is calling us to this specific outreach in Nepal and we would appreciate your prayers as we go to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to those that need to hear it and receive it.

A few other highlights over the past few weeks include the EDTS crew running children’s ministry at the YWAM MT staff retreat and lots of food dehydrating for trips 5 & 6. Another great adventure was a descent into an ice cave and a swiftwater rescue outing with the local search and rescue association (some had more opportunities than others to engage with this activity as I accidentally got the jet boat stuck and it took the better part of the morning to get it out of the water! I was showered with grace by the team and it made me very grateful to work with such a caring group).

Thank you for your prayers and encouragement throughout the past 12 weeks. We’ll try to send an update before the team leaves for outreach.

Trip #6 was a huge success and it had its share of challenges, including some dried up water sources, but the views, vistas and teaching for the week was transformational. A huge thank you to our fearless leaders and teachers for the week. And as always, thanks to our amazing students who continue to help pioneer Endurance DTS!

Click the image below to learn more about EDTS!


Out of Cambodia

Every afternoon rain splattered downwards onto our faces in little bits of drips and the grass was wet, but the air was still uncomfortably warm. Seventeen young Cambodian girls stood scattered around the small backyard space waiting for me to start speaking. They were a part of a local soccer team which weekly met with a few of us from our School of Dance Studies 2010 outreach team for extra conditioning classes.

Some days we taught them upbeat dance classes, sometimes we worked through aerobic exercises together, but on this day it was my turn to challenge their cardiovascular systems. Running with high knees, fast grapevine steps, and backwards jogging were all a part of the planned workout for the day. I pressed play on my iPod. Music beats blared. We began.

Well, I began, they stared at me as I ran—most Cambodians hide inside when rain begins falling. Consequently, this request to run in the rain was not looked upon very favorably. I quickened my own legs’ pace, trying to push thirty-four other legs to do the same. Smiles and cheers burst from my lips. I ran circles around them.

The girls reluctantly began moving. I came alongside their movements, looked encouragingly into their eyes, and challenged them to step further forward into more of the great potential they possessed. In my goofiness I let them know they could try without fear. I purposefully ran ridiculously so they might feel free to try without embarrassment.

And finally these girls moved and ran and laughed wholeheartedly. We shared smiles, laughter, breath, and sweat. In that small and sodden yard, they and I together found freedom and so much fun. Treating them with kindness was a joy. I loved loving them the best that I could. I loved encouraging them to run forward physically while believing the action to be a symbolic statement for their lives.

As a team, we believed in them, shared God’s love with them, and invested time into their lives. In a country where female children are often taken into the sex trade and treated horrendously, we let these girls know that they are worthwhile and worth so very much more. God gave us the privilege of standing against what was often seen as normal, not only on principle, but out of love for each individual child we met. A love that not only beat in our hearts, but flows from God’s heart directly into the atmosphere of that Cambodian land. His love for them flows more faithfully than their country’s afternoon rains. And it is only this love that can fully rescue and fully restore all of us beyond the bounds of both our logic and imagination.

The Truth Will Set You Free

I had never before seen the Holy Spirit fall with such power and conviction as it did while teaching God’s plan of redemption in a Nepali village. It was beautiful there. Rice paddies and vegetable fields were terraced into the sides of green hills. We slept on the third story of a traditional Nepali house, with goats living on the ground floor. It was our first Bible Overview Seminar and I was apprehensive about how the people would respond. Those in attendance were of varying ages – men and women, old and new believers. A sixteen-year-old girl, who had been a believer for just eight months, sat under the same teaching as a church elder who had been a believer for thirty years.

We started with the character of God and creation. As we worked through the Bible, we could see understanding begin to show in the faces of the people. God was bringing truth into their lives. On the third morning of the seminar, I taught about the coming of Jesus. As I opened with prayer I became so overwhelmed by what Jesus had done for us that it was almost as if God was changing me by my own teaching. As I finished, a woman began to weep. She had been a Christian for six years, but that day she realized for the first time that God had forgiven her past, present, and future sins. She no longer needed to live in fear of un-forgiveness. At the end of the seminar, we lit candles to illustrate how believers are the light to lead people out of the darkness. In the candle-lit room we thanked God for redeeming us. We wept – Nepalis and Foreigners alike – hands held high, crying out to the Lord with our whole hearts. With voices joined, we prayed for power, that the world would know the truth and be set free. May we continue to preach with boldness and be filled with His Spirit.

Soul Sickness: The Bible Is The Cure

One Sunday morning, my team mate Victoria taught the Inductive Method to a congregation in Bolivia. She finished by giving a final exhortation and asked them to join us at our next seminar at another church. When we arrived at our seminar we were pleased to see that a man named Juan had chosen to come. Juan was extremely quiet but greeted all of us with a customary kiss and warm embrace. This seminar ended up being the low point of the outreach. Attendance was less and less each night and those who came didn’t seem to be particularly eager to learn. Juan was there every night though, Bible and note book in hand, hanging on every word, eager to pray and take part in ministry times. God began to lay Juan on all of our hearts and we began to thank Him for our one faithful attendee. In our team prayer times we sensed that we were to teach with all our hearts, even if Juan was the only one who wanted to learn. His genuine hunger kept us going and we looked forward to seeing his smiling face each evening.

At the end of our seminar Juan asked to share his testimony. We learned that the Sunday Victoria spoke at his church he had been contemplating taking his life. Bad choices he had made had destroyed his family’s faith in him and his wife and children wanted to leave him. He asked the pastor for prayer and the pastor told him his soul was sick because of the way he had been living . He said that God’s Word was the medicine he needed and encouraged him to attend our Bible Overview seminar. God brought Juan to our seminar that week and each night He was faithful to teach Juan about His character and to challenge Him to live a godly life. Juan was so moved by what he learned that every night he went home and taught his family all that he had learned. The family repented and recommitted themselves to each other and to God. In closing, Juan said said he was so thankful that we had come to teach and that he was dedicating his life to learn as much as he could about God so that he could use that knowledge to change the lives of other families who are hurting just as his family was. After Juan finished sharing I reflected on all that he had said and came to a better understanding of what it means to teach. I realized that teaching is never about me, my ability or my plan but it is always about God. God sent five ordinary people from the United States to teach one man in Bolivia and through that one man I know that countless other lives will be transformed.

Mexico Update

In the spring of 2013, David Garrigan and I joined 6 guys from Stanwood, Washington, Foursquare church in Santana, Mexico at Rancho Bantano. It is a big camp in the middle of the desert affiliated with the Free Methodists. This ministry is very busy throughout the year hosting church groups, women’s groups, retreats for pastors, and helping in many other ways to refresh and give rest to church workers. They also minister in their local community.

The Rancho Bantano camp began a building project in faith last winter, trusting God to provide the funds and labor to get the work done. Teams began signing up and helpers came from all over, just as the camp staff had been praying for. We were able to be a part of an answer to that prayer as our team arrived in March and we helped button up the building by installing the metal roofing, helped with the electrical, poured concrete, set doors and installed knobs along with a variety of other things. We were able to use our skills and labor to get the work done quickly, which was a blessing to the ministry and an answer to their prayers.

It was so rewarding to have a break from everyday life and use our construction skills to impact the Kingdom of God. I believe that, even though we can’t see the direct connection, our efforts are helping to change the lives of people.

Bringing Hope to Places, Hope Wasn’t Brought

To sum up this experience in just a few words, is more of a challenge than what I had heard. You see, I could talk about salvations and how whole churches were rocked. But to me outreach was something else, something more personal, not about numbering salvation numbers off. It was the worst place I’d ever been, the corruption, the hopelessness. However it was one of the most beautiful places I’d ever seen, and God gave us the privilege of bringing hope to the broken, the less. And it was beautiful, it was challenging, it was extravagant! But most of all it was spirit lead and God again, and again, proved his eternal glory and his intimate love. It’s funny how you can go into a place thinking it’s you pouring out the love. When it felt like all I did was receive, throughout everything we had done. By refreshing the saints or picking up children who had never had hope.

This is where it all started for me, when it became a little more serious and a little less joke. So what is it about “Hope” that changes a face, that changes a place or a heart? What is it about “Hope” that attaches itself to faith and becomes attractive from the start? Hope that’s for a king ,for a bed-ridden or even the average man. That hope that impacts anyone no matter where they stand. So what’s different about hope, compared to love, life or success? Because today I look around and see that hope and hope itself brings light to the darkest mess. You see hope didn’t start when there was the death on a tree, hope started when Christ rose from the death, thus creating hope…for you and for me.

Hope is the breaking of chains, a comfort to pain, the renewal and gain to what once seemed lost. It comes out of nowhere bringing care to the uncared, and this hope does not and will not ever cost. You see… when Christ died, he died for us all, becoming a part of the fall, falling deeper than us all, pushing us up from underneath to arise to out call!


That no matter what we face. What were seen as, talked about or known, that Hope is an outpour of love, for the lost, the broken and disowned. It’s this “Hope” that is for anyone, no matter where they stand. Wether from the slums of Rio, the richest of kings or even the average man. It’s this “Hope” that changes a face, that changes a place and changes the heart. It’s this hope that attaches itself to faith and is attractive from the start. Those children became our lives in the slums, attaching themselves wherever and whenever they could. To be honest it wasn’t really us at all, it’s because the love of Jesus, experienced for the first time, is really really good. So for me this was my outreach, bringing hope to the people more so than the place. Because seeing that trash can of a home they lived in, only highlighted the value written across each and every face.

I can honestly say I am totally transformed, something like writing this I never would have done. But God cared for the people just as much as me, and glory be to him for what he did in Rio, Niteroi, the Mountain Churches and the slums.