Mission: Possible II
During one of the last days we slowly climbed on the dry crispy grass up a particular hill outside of town. I had been here before, but this was Mark's first time to this place. I had never thought about it, but this was something Mark was hoping God would allow him to do at least once during this trip.
The wind blew tattered Tibetan prayer flags, which were strung on almost every tree and pole. Small piles of Mani stones erected beside our path showed us that we were approaching a Tibetan monastery. Before ascending we stopped to pray, asking for God's favor and the blood of His Son Jesus to cover us. We prayed for those we met on the trip and particularly for the city we could see below us.
We headed up the path and inside the monastery. Nobody was there, but yellow vicious eyes were staring at us from every corner and on every wall of the building. We were faced with the darkness of a religious system that paints pictures of fear to keep its followers captive. We prayed for God's light to shine here, and then left.
This trip was not only marked with intense moments of prayer – for that was all we could do at times – but also with the knowledge that God has just used two fragile vessels to pour out His mighty love on a bunch of young Chinese mountain guides and some of our siblings in Christ. Seeds of the Gospel Truth were sown not through our own strength, but when the Holy Spirit caused silence and ready ears sat listening. God particularly used us to bring a specific skill (mountaineering) that will enable these already busy guides to take their clients up and down the mountain in safety, possibly preventing future fatalities.
As both Mark and I reflected on the trip we were touched by many of these things, yet know in our hearts that this work with these people is not over, but just beginning. We hope this trip is the first of many to come. We had four major goals and below is how God worked during this trip and also what we expect our needs will be for the future:
1. Glorify our God and Savior Jesus Christ: We were able to pray, reconcile, share our faith, disciple a new sister, and encourage our co-workers in the area. We hope that we can come back for follow-up with our local sister and also continue our relationship with those who have heard the Gospel.
2. Assess the mountaineering competency of the local guides and begin teaching skills according to team-member ability and the guides' greatest capabilities: We found that the guides didn't even know basic skills, like how to put on a harness. We were able to teach these basic skills and even more, including: mountaineering knots, rope management skills, belay techniques, basic anchor building in snow/ice and on natural features, rappelling, rope team management and techniques, z-drag systems, self and team arrest on snow or ice, rope ascension, and how to make do-it-yourself anti-bod plates. This course was impromptu and done over the time span of five days. We know that just in these skills alone we need to follow-up to make sure the guides are using them correctly. There are also many other guides who would like to train with us, but they didn't have enough time during this trip. We also know we need to cover other skills like first-aid and rescue. On future trips we will be looking for Climbing For Christ members qualified and experienced in teaching mountaineering skills, wilderness first-aid, search-and-rescue, and avalanche detection (see item #4 below).
3. Assess the local guides' gear and clothing needs, while donating or lending these items when available: We were able to donate several pieces of warm clothing, socks and gloves. At the end of the course we gave a prize comprised of a rope, harnesses, webbing, crampons, and carabiners to all the guides because they were very good students and stuck through until the end. In the future we will try to donate what we can as a team to help them along with their safe guiding careers.
4. Formulate a plan of action for the next training session in 2010: Climbing For Christ is now in prayer and planning for the next session and will get back to members about the dates for next trip as soon as possible. We need instructors, experienced and able to teach mountaineering skills, wilderness first-aid, search-and-rescue, and avalanche detection. Other important needs that C4C may be able to address in the village below the mountain are the need for supporting students who can't afford school and also starting a small retirement home for widows and widowers. Please continue to pray about your involvement in this project and watch for updates on next year’s trip.