Group Initiative
Missionaries

Missouri or Misery?

By Chris Turpaud

Discovery Ministries is priveleged to partner with TRAIN International in preparing recruits for the mission field.  Here are some excerpts from a blog post by missionary, Chris Turpaud, who participated in the two-week ORIENT Training in September.  Chris & Lauren are currently serving as missionaries in Guatemala with World Orphans. For the full post go to http://anolivetreefirmlyplanted.blogspot.com/2015/10/missouri-or-misery.html

A thirteen hour drive across a flat treeless expanses of dead sunflowers. Fence post after fence post following in quick succession into a seemingly infinite horizon. All around us, sprawling farmland and beyond that is our destination. A place of hills, rivers, and tree covered bluffs called Missouri. We had left our haven, our home, our fortress of rock for uncertainty. The radio was the only thing that broke the silence most of the way to Missouri. Neither of us knew what to expect from the training we were about to undergo....

As we pulled onto the dirt driveway of Discovery Ministries, we realized Missouri was much prettier than either of us had given it credit for. We were escorted to the cabin we would be staying in and promptly told to leave everything we wouldn't need in the wilderness including cell phones and watches...Trash bags were distributed to each person to carry our belongings as well as a climbing helmet, a Nalgene, and a bandana....

It became very clear after our first group activity that personal space would have to take a back seat during this week. Bouncing down the potholed road the smell of gas, sweat, and rotting wood from the forest permeated the whole car. Within 20 minutes we arrived at our new destination and spilled out of the vehicle and we were given several team building exercises....With only 30 minutes to pack our bags, we scrambled to disperse the sleeping bags, sleeping pads, shelters, and emergency tarps and shoulder our burdens. After a few ground rules we were on our way. Along with my pack of clothes, food, cooking equipment, sleeping bag and pad, shelter, and shovel, came pride, arrogance, and selfishness....

We arrived at our first campsite after dark. We learned how to set up shelters and search for dry wood....Some of the group was visibly and audibly nervous about spending the night in the woods, out in the open, with so many creepy crawlies around, and the rest of us took our nervousness to bed with us.

The next day, Hannah and I were the selected leaders. We navigated to our first spot with some difficulty. When we arrived we were met with a challenge. There was a bluff overlooking the Jacks Fork river with a 60 foot drop and we were told to rappel down it....After proving our next location to Joel and Leah, we threw all our gear into 6 canoes that had been stowed on the edge of the river. Our final destination was 3 miles down river. We navigated down the river to what I thought was the right location. In the black of night we had paddled furiously up a river of cold spring water to reach a place to pull our canoes up out of the water. To my dismay, it was not the right destination. Where we needed to be was in fact on the other side of the river....

As we waded across the river with our canoes in tow, rain was threatening again, dry wood was hard to come by and flat spots were a rare commodity.....After many unsuccessful attempts to light a fire we finally got a flame lit and made dinner. With warm food and the fire to dry out our clothes and gear, the groups morale increased. All our spirits were cheered by the warmth except for mine. I sulked at the back of the group nursing a bruised pride and the feeling of incompetence. I hated the idea that I might be viewed as a failure for leading us to the wrong spot and for the dangerous night canoeing. To top it all off, our shelter leaked as the rain increased from a drizzle to a steady pour. It continued all night....

Coffee, oatmeal, and a hot fire did wonders for all of us that morning! As we packed our gear my pack felt lighter. Both, because some of the food I had been carrying had been eaten and because I was no longer carrying my selfishness on my back. I left it in the sand before we climbed into the canoe....

[A few days later] Joel and Leah gave us a choice. We could choose to see something extraordinary and worthwhile and gain something valuable for our journey, or we could press on with what little daylight we had left to our next destination. We chose the extraordinary and the consequence of lost time with it. Awaiting us after a short hike uphill was the yawning mouth of a cave. After receiving instructions we began to enter the hole single file on our hands and knees. The air was thick and hot at first but soon it gave way to cool, damp conditions underground. The sight that awaited us was incredible! Underground we emerged into a large cavern filled with stalactites, stalagmites, columns, and dripstone. All around us the glory of God was in full display....We emerged into the the semi dark of dusk and began our walk back to where we had left our bags.

As we shouldered our packs again, I felt another load fall off my pack. My arrogance lay in the dirt and I was not about to reach down to rescue it. I had been humbled by the beauty of the cave and the constant reminder that although I think of myself as competent in the woods I had learned so much from Joel and Leah as well as our group about the things I was a self labeled expert in.

Most participants discover more about themselves than they bargained for.  It is only as we see ourselves through God's eyes that we come to understand the miracle of being His children.  He loves us regardless of our faults and draws us close to Himself as He purifies our hearts.

Posted on November 16, 2015
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