La Vida Goes to China

By: Nate Hausman
Photos By: Amber and Nate Hausman

Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, striving to “be here now” and focusing on choosing our challenges wisely are mantras that La Vida sherpas continually share while leading expeditions. For Amber and Nate Hausman, not only did they recently have the opportunity to live out some of these La Vida sayings, but they also got to share the La Vida trip experience in China with 17 international school students. The trip was a year in the making and consisted of countless email exchanges, numerous Skype conversations and a lot of trust that it would all come together in the end.


After gear and food pack out, this group is ready to head into the woods!


Heading to the first campsite!

To bring the trip to fruition, they partnered with Concordia International School of Shanghai, Journey Wilderness Adventures (JWA) and a Beijing-based company called The Hutong. The Hutong provides educational experiences for students that are a unique blend of cultural immersion and experiential outdoor education. They provided the logistical support needed for this trip by preparing a route, organizing transportation and guiding us through the wilderness.

The seven-day trip first became an idea in 2015 after Gordon’s Vice President of Student Life Jennifer Jukanovich made a connection with a staff member at Concordia who oversees all their off-campus experiences. What started as a question of whether or not La Vida could provide an international experience soon became a reality. Rich Obenschain and Nate then had the opportunity to meet with Chris Qualls of JWA who was visiting the Gordon area and heard about La Vida from a former student of his in China. One connection led to another and soon the nuts and bolts of the trip were coming together.

What a view at our cooking spot!

Chefs in the making. Lots of delicious meals were cooked on this trip!

Lots of lessons on the first day: LNT, tent set-up, cooking and cleaning, and the fun broadcasting after brushing teeth!

Many technical lessons on the first day: LNT, tent set-up, cooking and cleaning, and the fun broadcasting after brushing teeth!

It was quickly apparent to Nate and Amber that this experience would be a unique one as soon as they landed in China’s capital. Surrounded by a sea of individuals all speaking foreign languages and being shuffled through long lines at the customs checkpoint, Nate and Amber were thrilled to stretch their legs after 14 hours in a plane. The first few days of their trip were filled with not only tourist activity, but also with final trip preparations. A visit to the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and the Hutong district in downtown Beijing were all highlights from those first few days. In addition to seeing some of the sites though, Nate and Amber all focused their attention on purchasing final food items and packing not only those items, but also food they needed to bring from the United States (who knew it was so tough to get M&Ms in China?)

A key component to La Vida is implementing Leaders of the Day (LOD's). All of the LOD's did such an amazing job at fulfilling this role.

A key component to La Vida is implementing Leaders of the Day (LOD’s). All of the LOD’s did such an amazing job at fulfilling this role.

The students had fun learning about LNT by acting out the seven principles for their peers. They are acting out "Be Considerate of Other Visitors".

The students had fun learning about LNT by acting out the seven principles for their peers. Here they are acting out “Be Considerate of Other Visitors”.

Our first full day of hiking involved A LOT of stairs.

The first full day of hiking involved A LOT of stairs.

Day one of the trip quickly arrived, and with that the leadership team headed to the airport to pick up the 17 students and two teachers from Concordia. Concordia has students from all over the world, so they have a strong focus on building community within the high school. Every year the students are a part of a different “TrIBES” (Transforming Individuals By Education and Service) group which is a weeklong educational travel experience. TrIBES seeks to develop communication, leadership skills, self-reliance and compassion. After a two-hour bus ride into the hills located outside of Beijing, gear, food and personal equipment was all distributed and the group of 23 headed to their first campsite. The group meandered their way through the wilderness and as often happens on La Vida trips, started to develop their own inside jokes, tight bonds over long days of hiking and friendships that would last for years after their experience in the woods.

This group was not afraid to lend a helping hand which was needed our third day of the trip. The group really pulled together and showed care and support.

This group was not afraid to lend a helping hand which was often needed throughout the trip. The group really pulled together and showed care and support to one another.

At this point in the trail, we had to hand our bags down one by one because it was pretty steep.

At this point in the trail, it was very steep so the group had to hand their bags down one by one and then climb down.

The views we encountered on the trail were quite magnificent.

The views encountered on the trail were quite magnificent.

The trip was a great experience overall for everyone involved. Nate and Amber left feeling positive that the spiritual curriculum they prepared reached the students well and opened the door for them to begin exploring their faith more. Topics of discussion were based on community development, cultivating your faith personally, learning to be present and not worrying about the future. During an end-of-trip debrief session, all six of the leaders commented on how much work went into the planning and preparation of this trip, but how incredibly evident that planning was in how well the trip was implemented. Many students commented on how they have become more aware of the role of technology in their lives and how they need to find balance with its use, but also came to realize that time with friends and family is something to be treasured, and not disrupted by the buzzing of cell phones.

The students made their group covenant under the stars and had great ideas on how to bring the community they've experienced on the trip back to their school.

The students made their group covenant under the stars and had great ideas on how to bring the community they experienced on the trip back to their school.

Students spent a morning and afternoon on a solo and reflected on their faith, friendships, and family.

Students spent a morning and afternoon on a solo and reflected on their faith, friendships, and family.

The last day of the trip we hiked along the river bed soaking up as much as we could before it was over.

The last day of the trip the group hiked along the river bed soaking up as much as they could before it was over.

Hiking and outdoor recreation is a new pasttime for China. There seems to be a lot of potential for climbing and bouldering.

Hiking and outdoor recreation is a relatively new leisure activity for China. There seems to be a lot of potential for climbing and bouldering.

Our time ended by sharing a meal at a guesthouse where they served us local Chinese cuisine. Yum!!!

The trip ended by sharing a meal at a guesthouse where they were served local Chinese cuisine. Yum!!!

Now that the trip has wrapped up and everyone is back home again, Nate and Amber have been able to share with numerous friends, family and co-workers about how God truly did provide for them during this entire experience. It is apparent that you don’t need to be located in the Adirondacks to experience the power of La Vida. The lessons you gain from spending time in the wilderness are universal and something that cross international borders. Although future plans for another trip to China are not confirmed yet, there is hope this was not the last international La Vida trip.

Nate and Amber are so grateful to have had the chance to serve Concordia students and to partner with their teachers and The Hutong in providing this unforgettable experience.

Nate and Amber are so grateful to have had the chance to serve Concordia students and to partner with their teachers and The Hutong in providing this unforgettable experience.


Creation, Community, and Facing Your Fears- What These Students Learned on Their La Vida Expedition

Written By: Jonathan Chandra, Carter Reynolds, Hannah Fleth, and Rosalind Keeley
Compiled By: Amber Hausman

This past May La Vida Expedition was the first of many life-changing trips that will happen this summer. I’m continually blown away at how God uses the wilderness to shape our faith and who we are. As the groups returned from their 12 and 13 day trips, it was evident that “Canoe 1” had formed a strong bond during their journey. I asked the group if they would share some thoughts that I could then share with incoming students to get them excited about their trips this summer. Please read on to see what they had to say.  We can’t wait to see you at the Base Camp this summer! ~Amber

Meet Canoe 1



“The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
    night after night they reveal knowledge.”
-Psalm 19:1-2

One of the many lessons from La Vida that will stick with me for the rest of my life is that God is overwhelmingly present in nature. “The heavens declare the glory of God;” the Psalmist says, “the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” On my expedition, this was true every day. God made Himself known through blue skies, through sunrises and sunsets, and even in soft grey clouds before light rain. Then again, God was manifest everywhere during La Vida. He was present in gently swaying trees, by flickering campfires, and over the waters.

This brings me to another lesson I’ve learned and will forever take to heart: God is overwhelmingly present in Christian community. By the grace of God, our patrol—a motley crew of individuals who hardly knew each other at the beginning of the trip—came together as a family by the time our journey had ended. With praise, prayer, and shared faith, we persevered through challenges in the unfamiliar wilderness and were bound tightly together in the process. God blessed me strikingly through my group, and I was able to enjoy the experience all the more because of it. God was there with us through it all, from when we rested under gentle trees, to when we shared our lives over flickering campfires, to when we laughed and labored in our canoes over lakes and rivers.

There is something about spending two weeks in the wilderness with a group of strangers, away from the obligations and distractions of normal life, that is deeply spiritual. As you embark on your La Vida trip, I pray (and know!) that God will be present with you in nature, and with the people you are surrounded by. You’re in for something special.   ~God Bless, Jonathan



La Vida taught me a lot, but the most important thing I came away with was verification in the unmatched beauty of Christian community. With an extremely diverse band of 12 randomly chosen Jesus followers, all in different places in their walks of faith, we brought the best out in each other through the peaks and inevitable occasional valleys you will face on a challenging outdoor excursion. One thing that La Vida emphasized which made a huge difference in establishing such genuine, family type bonds, was the concept of “Be Here Now,” leaving all of life’s technological distractions behind for the 13 day journey.

After La Vida, my view of community is rooted in one word: intentionality. Without the typical everyday 21st century distractions of life, an intentional community naturally brings out the best, and worst, in each other, allowing for incredible growth. When you put Christ at the center of that, it amplifies the results astronomically. Being able to say that I saw this happen, by God’s grace, and watched lives be forever impacted by this one trip, is a totally divine gift. I’m humbled, and very thankful for my experience leading a trip for La Vida, and pray that this ministry is continued to be used by God to change lives.  ~Carter ReynoldsIMG_3084

[Facing Your Fears]

Fear always seems to follow me. Every since I was a kid, fear and anxiety would hinder me from living with confidence. So, as I began my La Vida experience, I was not surprised to find fear not far behind. I woke up the first morning with a sore back and a stuffy nose. I immediately began to worry that my body would not be able to withstand the strenuous trip. I imagined myself being driven back to base camp halfway through the trip in humiliation and failure because I’d come down with a fever and couldn’t continue. These anxieties caused me, as they had always done, to pull inward until I could console myself by coming up with a solution on my own.

Thankfully, I wasn’t allowed this “luxury”. My Sherpas sat down with us that same morning and asked us to share how we were feeling, our hopes and fears for the trip. I voiced my fears, which freed them from continually swirling around in my mind, and turned my thoughts to what I wanted from this trip. I wanted to become more fearless. Coming out of finals week, I was tired of being overwhelmed by anxiety and had asked those from home covering my trip in prayer to pray I would become just that: fearless. Despite my faithlessness in giving way to fear the very first day, God remained faithful and answered my prayer. Not only did my cold and back pain go away in the first few days, but I learned how to start living free from fear.

In our physical activities and daily devotions, we discussed how to redefine success so that it’s not about succeeding as much as it is giving everything your best, even if you’re unsure you’ll succeed, and being proud that you tried. As I read more about this and put it into practice while rock climbing and portaging, I experienced a freedom that not only dispelled my spirit of fear but also made me excited to pursue more challenges. I left La Vida desiring to act on my dreams for deeper relationships. I was now unafraid of making mistakes and could reach out to my friends without second guessing my every move. I challenge those approaching a season of testing, whether that is La Vida or some other life experience, to be honest with someone when they ask you about your fears. Bring those fears honestly before God, and be open to lessons that come your way. I learned to embrace the freedom to fail and now I no longer see life as a test, but as a learning process. ~Hannah FlethBlog Template 3

[God of Wonders]

When we finally reached the end of our 12-day journey, we came back together at base camp along with the other canoeing and hiking patrols. One of the songs we sang during the celebration was called “God of Wonders”. I was really moved by this song and the lyrics because it is very valid; our God is indeed a “God of Wonders”.

The best things about the trip that I really enjoyed were the life stories. After we had listened to them, and asked the person funny and interesting questions, we all grew so much closer. I learned from this experience that only the God of Wonders could have brought our group together from across all parts of the world and placed us with the people that would help us grow spiritually and in a personal way. I saw growth in everyone throughout the trip and I saw how in just a short amount of time how the Holy Spirit was present every day we were on the water. Our group covenant (Ephesians 4:2-3) was definitely achieved and maintained during our 12 days as a community. Personally, I learned how to trust in God and find joy in the little things, but as a group, we learned a new kind of love, community, hope and how to challenge each other. Without our God of wonders we wouldn’t have been challenged by choice or placed in the group in which we were placed, and I am so thankful for every minute I got to share with and learn from my C1 family! ~ Rosalind KeeleyIMG_3116

Photos By: Carter Reynolds

La Vida Serves at the Open Door

Gordon College recently received 462 financial gifts from the Giving Tuesday campaign. As an incentive for giving, Gordon matched these gifts with 462 hours of service to the local community. Nate and Amber have been serving at the Open Door in Gloucester for the past few years so they were excited to get the rest of the La Vida office involved to contribute toward the service hours.


The Open Door offers a variety of services to the communities of Gloucester, Rockport, Ipswich, Manchester, and Essex. The Food Pantry is a mini grocery store that provides free, three-five day supplies of emergency groceries each week for qualified residents. They also serve community meals five times a week that are sponsored by church, civic, and school groups around Cape Ann. Additionally, they have the Second Glance Thrift Store which provides reduced-cost items. All proceeds from the thrift store sales support the Open Door’s hunger-relief programs.

Open Door 1

The La Vida crew worked together to prepare a delicious quiche (Rich’s favorite), sauteed spinach, garlic toast and chocolate cookies and ice cream. The industrial size kitchen was no stranger to those of us who have worked at the Base Camp. The Open Door serves anywhere from 20-60 people at the community meals and we served about 40 that evening.

Blog Template 3

If you are interested in volunteering for the Open Door, you can visit them online here.

From Gordon College to Ghana: Serving for the U.S. Peace Corps

By: Roland Griggs, Gordon ’15

This past October, I found myself stepping off a plane into a new world and a new stage of my life. I had just finished my bachelor’s degree in biology at Gordon followed by a summer in the Adirondacks leading trips for La Vida when I arrived in Ghana to begin serving as an agriculture volunteer for the U.S. Peace Corps. For those unfamiliar with the Peace Corps, it is a government organization that sends volunteers to live among people of developing countries all over the world. Its mission is to promote world peace and friendship by providing developing nations with men and women trained to meet the needs of people in host countries and to stimulate mutual understanding between Americans and host country nationals. I work primarily with farmers by demonstrating improved farming techniques and training farmers to use such techniques. My work in the Peace Corps has thus far given me the opportunity to apply lessons learned in La Vida to new contexts outside La Vida, and I recognized many similarities between Ghanaian culture and La Vida culture in the process.

Upon arriving in Ghana, I realized Ghanaians live at a cultural crossroads. In many ways, life for modern Ghanaians, especially those located in rural villages, remains similar to that of their ancestors who lived hundreds of years ago. People live in buildings made of mud, they farm small plots of land using the same farming techniques as their forefathers, animals roam freely throughout the village, and the local governing bodies still consist of tribal chiefs and elders. In other ways, however, life in Ghana has changed drastically. Many people own cellular phones, modern roads and vehicles make various kinds of goods more accessible to rural communities than ever before, and power lines now reach majority of the country.

Roland with the Ghanaian family he stayed with during training, the first two months in Ghana.

With the Ghanaian family I stayed with during training, the first two months in Ghana.

Despite these recent changes in the country, one feature of Ghanaian culture that remains ingrained in society and also reminds me of La Vida culture is that of time perception. At La Vida, we strive to reduce people’s anxiety and foster community by encouraging people to live in the present. But in Ghana, no one needs to be told, “Be here now.” People always live in the present. They spend much of their time talking with others as they do chores or lounge under shade trees, and they rarely look at a clock. Ghanaians’ lack of time management is actually a serious problem from a development worker’s perspective, because teachers and students don’t arrive at school on time (if at all), and it’s nearly impossible to schedule events that have fixed start times. Nevertheless, Ghanaians rarely worry about schedules and timeliness, and they build some of the most cohesive communities I have ever seen.

The simple lifestyles in Ghana also remind me of La Vida. For example, my village has no running water, so we have to fetch water regularly and carry it to our houses to cook, clean, and bathe. Most people don’t own a bed, so they sleep on mats on the floor. And although my town does have electricity, power outages occur regularly; consequently, flashlights are essential tools for evening activities. All these attributes of Ghanaian life resemble attributes of La Vida excursions, and I feel La Vida prepared me well for living in Ghana.


Fetching water from the local borehole and bringing it back to the house.

In addition to seeing similarities between La Vida culture and Ghanaian culture, I have found myself applying lessons learned while working for La Vida to my work here in Ghana. One of the most important group facilitation skills I learned during La Vida staff training was that of framing experiences. Prior to beginning an activity it is always important to explain the relevance of the activity and ensure participants understand the task ahead. This same approach is essential when facilitating training sessions or other activities here in Ghana.

Many of the people I work with have little to no education and do not speak English, and my local language skills require a lot of work before I can begin offering training sessions in the locally spoken Mampruli. Most of my formal communication with people is therefore done through a translator. When speaking through a translator, messages are easily skewed, so it’s essential to ensure trainees understand what they will be doing and why it is relevant before beginning an activity. When meetings and trainings are framed effectively, those attending the meetings and trainings understand the messages conveyed and retain information passed more effectively than they do when meetings and trainings are framed poorly.

My experience working with co-leaders on La Vida also prepared me for my work in Ghana. On La Vida, I learned the importance of communicating my thoughts and intentions with my co-leaders before making decisions or taking action. I now apply this lesson whenever I work with my counterparts in my village. My counterparts serve as translators and co-facilitators when meeting with or training Ghanaian farmers, and communicating my thoughts and intentions with my counterparts before making decisions and beginning training sessions is essential. Prior to conducting training sessions, I often meet with my counterparts to make sure they understand the messages I want to get across. If my counterparts understand the messages that the trainees need to hear, then we reduce the amount of information that is lost in translation during meetings and training sessions, and everyone (hopefully) goes home enlightened.

I loved working for La Vida during my summer breaks from college. La Vida gave me a chance to perform meaningful work, enjoy God’s creation, and experience wholesome community, and the atmosphere surrounding the program made me want to come back for more each year. Now that I have moved on to a new job, I see how lessons I learned on La Vida apply to my life outside La Vida, and I’m continuing what I started on a warm August morning when I last ran eight and a half miles back to Base Camp.

Roland worked as a Sherpa for our Adirondack Expeditions program in 2013 and 2015. We were so blessed to have him on our leadership team and are proud of his continued dedication to servant-leadership. If you are interested in working for La Vida, please visit us at

Reflections on My Time in the Adirondack Leadership Program

By Amelia Luke, 2015 ALP Participant

The Adirondack Leadership Program opened my eyes to many things. It opened my eyes to see God and his creation, myself, and the greatness in other people around me. In the months following my trip, I have viewed the world in a different light and I am a better person because of it. Throughout the course of my journey with La Vida, my relationship with God grew to new levels. Being in such a beautiful environment everyday gives you a chance to see God’s work and really appreciate it. More than once a day my breath was taken away and I was just so amazed at the masterpiece that was in front of me. It’s something that we take for granted everyday, but during those ten days, I didn’t take it for granted. Through the beauty that surrounded me, I grew closer to God. Although it has been months since I have seen the spectacular mountain views that allowed me to deepen my relationship with Christ, the mornings when I see a beautiful sunrise help me to remember to keep God close.


Top of Owls Head Mountain after the rock climb.

I also learned many things about myself. Most importantly, I learned I am more capable than I think I am. One of the most powerful memories I have of this is when my group climbed the rock face on Owls Head Mountain. I was doing a difficult climb and I honestly didn’t think I was going to make it up. Getting to the top was the best feeling in the world, I was so proud of myself and it set the tone for the rest of the trip for me. Every day was long and hard and there were times when I thought I wasn’t going to be able to take another step but everyone in the group felt like that at some point. No one was getting left behind because we supported one another to keep pushing even when things got tough. At the end of the day, when my group was sitting around laughing and reflecting on the day, I knew that I couldn’t have done it without each one of them along side me.


Working together to prepare dinner.


Making Mexican food the first night of the trip.

I took away an abundance of memories and lessons from La Vida but what I took away most was what I call “marrow moments”. The moments in my life that I feel are the marrow or the center of what life is all about. Whether it was standing at the top of a mountain, sitting at a moonlit lake, talking around a crackling fire, laughing in the middle of the woods because the bear bag just won’t go up in the tree or singing along to a guitar with a group of other Christians, the marrow moments I took away are endless. La Vida itself is a program that teaches people what life should be like and how to live life to the fullest. It is an experience that I would do tomorrow in a heartbeat and one that I am forever grateful to have had in my life.


Last day of the trip before the ride home.


The Adirondack Leadership Program (ALP) is an exciting opportunity for 15- to 18-year-old high school students to develop their leadership potential through adventure. Apply today!

La Vida and Gordon Alumni Serve as New Caretakers at Barr Camp in Colorado

By Ashley Miller, Gordon ’13

You would be hard pressed to find a Sherpa who paddled the Raquette River and cannot remember meeting caretaker Gary Valentine. For many, Gary provided a much needed uplifting conversation as well as delicious popcorn – stumbling upon his cabin after what was sometimes a horrendous portage was arguably the best part of the Long Lake itinerary. Having experienced this joyful respite more than once as a Sherpa at La Vida, I was somewhat overwhelmed to be offered a caretaking position on Pike’s Peak in Colorado last spring.


Thankfully, I do not have to measure up to Gary Valentine’s caretaking abilities as the job at Barr Camp takes on many different forms, but the task of greeting hikers and hopefully making their adventure more enjoyable is definitely in the job description. Nearly 7 months ago, Nathan Josephs (also a former La Vida employee), my brother, and I began caretaking at Barr Camp which is located approximately 6.2 miles up the Barr Trail. Nestled in the Ponderosa Pines at 10,200 feet with a wood stove for heat, solar panels for electricity, and a mountain stream for all of our water needs – the three of us have settled in here to take care of the cabin and any hikers who pass through. We operate not only as a place of rest for day-hikers, but also as a back country bed and breakfast. Similar to some of the hut systems along the AT, we have a hostel style bunk house, a separate private cabin for rent, 3 lean-tos, and plenty of tent sites. Visitors planning to extend their hike up the 13 mile trail to the summit have the option of paying to stay with us for a night. During their stay we provide an all you can eat dinner and breakfast.

Sam Johnson, Gordon ’13, comes to visit Barr Camp.

The days at Barr Camp vary tremendously depending on the season and weather forecast. In the summers we spend most of our time answering questions about trail conditions and weather at the summit – as well as cooking for hundreds of people a week. Additionally we have the option of helping with Search and Rescue calls. Since the summer months bring a lot of tourists and novice hikers, we go out on a rescue nearly every week in the summer.  Autumn is dedicated to bigger projects and preparing for winter, gathering and chopping wood, completing cabin maintenance, painting, shoveling out the composting toilets and generally making sure we are ready for the colder temperatures. The winter and spring are much slower – we have fewer hikers so we have a lot more time to hike and explore the mountain, read books, and rest up for another crazy summer.

Nathan doing laundry with the Amish washing machine.

Nathan doing laundry with the Amish washing machine.

Colorado has received more snow than the North Shore so far!

While leading trips in the Adirondacks I never would have imagined that one day I would be living in a cabin much like Gary Valentine’s taking care of hikers passing through Colorado. My time at La Vida however, definitely laid a solid foundation for this experience in numerous ways. Many of the skills we learned at La Vida are relevant as many of the hikers that come to Pike’s Peak are brand new to hiking. Pike’s Peak is incredibly accessible and because the trail is not technical, people of all experience levels walk through our doors. We talk to our guests extensively about leave no trace principles, how to filter water (and the importance of doing so properly), occasionally fix a camp-stove that is not working, and of course take our Sherpa Stew skills to a new level every day making dinner and breakfast. The Wilderness First Responder training we received at La Vida has also been incredibly helpful as we often go out to find lost hikers and complete a primary assessment before the SAR team arrives.

One of the many beautiful views from Pike's Peak.

One of the many beautiful views from Pike’s Peak.

Perhaps one of the hardest parts of our job, but also the most rewarding, is continually practicing “be here now” with each guest that comes through the door. From 7am until about 9pm our doors are open for anyone who may be wandering the mountain and part of our job is to ensure that each hiker feels welcomed and informed about the hike and current conditions. I am certainly thankful for the practice I received at La Vida in being present, and am continuing to learn what a hard and life-giving work it is to be present on a daily basis, moment by moment.

I am so grateful to have this unique opportunity to live and work in such a beautiful place – and grateful for the ways that my time at La Vida prepared the way for me to get here. If any of you La Vida alums are ever in the Pike’s Peak area, you are more than welcome to hike up and practice being present with us, too! We’d love to have you.

Lessons Learned from a Weekend in New Hampshire

By: Chris Perednia, First-Year Student at Gordon College

Being human means always encountering something new and unforeseen, and that is certainly not a bad thing. Whether it be untapped knowledge, undiscovered places, or unique perspectives, there is always something new for us to stumble across. For me, it was the opportunity to get away from the dorm, and experience the White Mountains of New Hampshire this weekend. I was skeptical at first, as I was unsure whether I wanted to sacrifice a weekend of fun, relaxation, and homework for what would seem like a waste of my time. What I ended up gaining from this weekend, was a refreshing outlook upon my faith, and a reminder that I still have much to learn, discover, and grow from.

Being away from technology feels like being separated from the world itself, but in reality, it is the opposite. Instead of looking down at our phones or laptops, we open our eyes to the wonderful and amazing world God has given us. It’s easy to get wrapped up in trivial matters involving social media, but we are really missing out when we limit ourselves to what technology is able to capture.

This weekend I had a nice “workout” and relaxing hike, while experiencing some breathtaking views. It really just makes you appreciate how amazing God is, and how beautiful his creation is, and makes you want to see more of what he has created. I was able to see the land below from the top of Mt. Major, some beautiful lakes, the picturesque backdrop of the mountains, as well as a few beautiful miles of woods near the cabin we stayed in.

IMG_0506I attempted to use the time I was given as an individual away from the group to truly enjoy God’s gift to us in nature, as well as reflect upon my relationship with God and my faith as a whole. Upon embarking upon the beginning of my two hour walk as an individual, I encountered a dog, whom ran up to me with more enthusiasm and energy than I can say I had myself.


The dog began following me, as well as exploring the near-by landmarks which included an artificial dam, a shed, some stumps, bushes, rocks, and some construction equipment. I noticed how the dog was exploring these objects just as any dog would, but tried comparing this to how a human would treat these landmarks. This dog is very open, and curious, and is eager to discover what the inherent purpose of each thing he discovers is. What is just a stick to me, is a means of exercise and excitement for the dog. I believe that if we each approach life as this dog did, there is no way we could ever lack appreciation for God’s creation, nor should we, as it is ultimately deserving of the attention the dog has given it. This made me realize that maybe I was not as appreciative of God’s creation as I should be, and that if I was to approach nature with as much openness and curiosity as that of this dog, there would be no way I could ever be indifferent to it, and I would truly appreciate it as it should be appreciated.

IMG_0449Another thought that occurred to me while I was standing on top of Mt. Major, was I had never seen this exact view before, and I would probably not see it again. God provides us the ability to see such sights, and sometimes, we do not even take advantage of this fact. I believe as I was looking out upon the mountains of New Hampshire, that I could parallel this to a metaphor for life, as well. Despite the heights we’ve climbed so far, there’s always so much more waiting for us, if all we are willing to do is open our eyes and see it. We may have climbed the mountain, but God has so much more planned for us, and it’s beautiful to see. While we may not yet be able to touch or experience what has been laid out in front of us, all it takes is a little bit of trust, faith, and effort, and soon, we will be able to experience what we previously only looked upon from afar, and its all apart of God’s plan.

More photos from the trip by Torri Plank and Kaelie Mercado