Adventure With A Purpose
As I trained for Primal Quest 2009 (PQ), I felt like I was to use my endurance for something more.
All this training had to be for something more than a race. Yes I was hoping to use it to "Earn The Right To Be Heard," but I knew there was more.
I shared with a friend Pat McClard, as we worked out, how I wanted to take the gospel to unreached people groups that others couldn’t get too.
I researched it a bit as to where I could go, then I put it away to prepare for PQ. A few weeks later, Pat said, I have something for you.
It was a card from XMA- a brochure. I read it and said this looks like me.
I put it aside as PQ was on the forefront of my mind and didn’t think about it until I returned.
After I returned I was physically exhausted. It took me a while to recover and get motivation.
But about 6 weeks later, I saw this brochure again. I decided to call.
Randy Pierce, (the founder of XMA) answered and was to be in town the next weekend. We set up a meeting at Star Bucks.
Upon meeting with Randy, I knew he was a Godly man and I decided I wanted to do XMA the rest of my life. Yes I am like that. I jump in full force without thinking.
I thought this is the coolest job ever. I have a heart for children and sports and knew I wanted to work in the villages. I really thought my adventure racing days were over and I’d do this.
I thought I'd crossed my last finish line.
Randy mentioned he had met a man, Joe Kelley and he asked me to think about Slovenia.
I was not interested. It didn’t look like a mission trip and I wanted to go and suffer.
I knew how to do that. And honestly it is easier to go help someone who needs it, than those who have everything but the only thing they need-God.
I planned on doing some mission work with Randy in the mountains, but Phil was not ecstatic about my choice. He never ever worries when I race or anytime for that matter, so I took it too heart. Then I started getting e-mails about the adventure race.
Every time I raced it was taking me so long to recover, because I was racing with faster and faster people. Pushing the limits by racing with elite men was tough.
I also didn’t have a team since my last team was from all over the US. But God kept pushing me down that path and so the door opened for the Slovenia AR..or so I thought.
Slovenia Adventure Race
Since Primal Quest wasn’t happening I thought my big race would be Slovenia. For months I prepared and worked on putting together a team. We probably went through about 5 people for our fourth person and it just never clicked.
Joe and Randy finally made the call and called it off and asked if I wanted to do the Trek Race instead.
Well I prefer to do things I might can win, and the Trek Race is not my strength. A marathon is a warm up for me, so I knew I’d do my best, but I’d prefer to be slogging it out over days.
Well it typical Kim fashion I got sick before I left. I only worked out 2 times in the 2 weeks before we left. I had some type of flu. My prayer partners must have worked over time, because as I hit the airport I felt good.
I met some of the group for the first time and I knew most as acquaintances. I immediately liked Jay and Jada whom I had just met and was excited to see Walter and Randy again.
In the days ahead I'd get to know everyone in a special way.
The trip over started an exciting journey. A met a Spanish teacher who would be backpacking across Europe. She was in her 50’s alone. She was an inspiration.
I slept a lot coming over and was thrilled to get off the plane. As we exited into Slovenia Joe was there.
We rode up the hill with JP, another missionary to Slovenia. The car sick group, which included me, went in the car as the van was a little wilder…and I think Joe’s driving is too a little wilder!
We stopped at a restaurant on the way in a quaint, beautiful town. I do not even eat fish, but decided to sample the local cuisine. Well I thought I’d be like Katrina and get rustic trout. That sounded safe.
Well it came as a full fish! Yes head and all. For those who know me, well let’s just say you'd be surprised. I ate it and didn’t even flinch…much.
We set up camp in the dark and prepared for showers. Until we found out there were no shower tokens. We had been traveling about 24 hours so this was disappointing. But hey we do not even get a tent in adventure racing, so it was all good.
DAY 1: THE WALL
We met at Joes’ for a devotional and to find out what we were doing for the week. I was a little worried.
I try not to say that ever as everything is psychological, but I am always afraid to ride a bike in a group as that seems to be my nemesis riding on the road.
JP did our devotional, then we broke up into groups. Joe explained all about prayer walking and literature distribution. Then we looked at maps.
Walter and I decided to go together and we picked a pretty tough route. We biked from village to village, house to house, giving out postcards where people could get a free bible, and a business card with a website to answer questions.
The day included lots of hills, and lots of prayers. Walter really wanted to mountain bike and so I decided the dirt trail was up above us (there were 2 trails on the map).
I said Why don't we bushwhack up this hill? Walter agreed.
Well that was a bad idea. As we went up the hill our legs started burning, and burning and burning.
I was reminded of my sisters going through stinging nettle and me laughing so hard... making fun of them as they ran to the river to wash off…I suppose God does not forget.
We press on as welts begin to break out on my legs and get up to a house. We put our bikes up over the gates only to be locked in by another fence. Then Walter said he’d pick our bikes up and I should climb this rock wall.
I began to climb and as I reached the top I felt it give way a little, then a little more.
Then the stone wall tumbled with me on top. The railing came down on me and 2 huge rocks rolled by me and I rolled on the ground.
Since God spared me injury, I laid laughing so hard. Then I notice all the house windows pointing to me.
We are in a remote area and I can envision us being watched. We struggle to put the heavy rocks back on there, replace the wood rail and high tailed it.
Then the stinging nettle. Since our great plan for the new trail took us right back to the road, we decided to hit the river and get the stinging nettle off. That ice cold river felt so good to me, as I washed away the stinging.
From here we climbed and climbed and climbed. We finally reached the top of the trail and a house that no one lived in. Walter hiked up to take some pics and I enjoyed the view.
We found a café nestled in the mountains for our lunch. It was really rough sitting there enjoying our food while taking in a breathtaking view. This actually was a good stop as Walter befriended the young waitress.
On the way back we caught up with Shane and Justin. We hit some apartments together. While here Walter and I got run off. We later think the man may have been trying to give us directions, but he kept pointing us out the other way!
At this apartment there was an older gentlemen who spoke no English which I gave a card too. He was sure excited to see me and it warmed me heart to see him reading it as I left. It had made the day worth it.
Upon arriving back at camp we got showered up and headed to dinner. Heading to dinner involved a 30 minute walk or a 20 minute bike ride.
It was up a pretty good hill. We started calling Bovec the never ending workout. I figure I burned 200 calories on the way to dinner however.
Dinner was a small pizza place, an outdoor café. It was very good and the company was great. We shared stories of the day and relaxed.
DAY 2: FLYING
Today was more biking and literature distribution and lots of prayer. We’d take 1 trail on one side of the river, ride that and pray and hit the houses on the way back.
Walter and I went with Jay and Jada. Right off we found a church that was neat. Joe said only about 10 people attend the churches. They are catholic churches.
We then took a nice ride where we prayed and saw an incredible water fall. We took a mountain trail to some houses and I thoroughly enjoyed that ride. The prayer, fellowship and bike was stellar.
Walter had a good spill. He flew past me and I was thinking I should catch him, but it was sketchy on the rocks. Just when I decided I'd chase him he took a nice spill!
Prior to splitting from Jay and Jada, Walter had a good contact with a man walking the road with a rake. We were never sure when people looked like they'd be working but most talked to us.
Jay and Jada split off from us when we hit the villages. We took 2 villages and they took 1. They had to be back little before us.
Rudy and Ivan
Towards the end of the day after some long riding, we saw 2 guys working. I didn’t want to bother them as they were hard at work but Walter walked right up to them. Walter was great to have with you as he is very bold and has a gift with people.
We all started talking and we ended up spending 1 ½ hours with Rudy and Ivan. Rudy knew more about America than we did and some words he shouldn't know! He was very funny.
We learned that he thought Catholic and Christian were synonymous and he was worried we were trying to have him switch churches.
We explained we were not and had a great conversation. Walter brought up moonshine. Rudy asked Ivan to get us some, who said he had about 50 L is his house.
He brought us each a bottle. Walter the man kind, and me the ladies. He wanted us to drink it and it see what we thought.
Though it was 50% alcohol I managed to take a drink without changing my facial expression and exclaiming, “Mmmm that is good!” I do not care for the taste of alcohol.
They saw Walter had been cut (from the bike fall) and they poured some on it to help heal it.
"Medicine for the inside and out," we were told.
Walter asked if Joe could contact them, since they had no e-mail or face book and Rudy agreed, but with no promises.
Walter and I now had to book it. We had a paragliding appointment in just 2 hours. We took off confident we’d be back. Well that is until we took a wrong turn. Joe says you cannot get lost. Well that is true unless you take a wrong turn.
So needless to say we cut it close to paragliding arriving a few minutes late. Since I was in bike shoes we had to run by the camp for shoes.
Then we started talking to Rodney and Kartina. I really wanted to stay and chat as we had a great conversation going but we were late!
After arriving at the shop, we hopped in the car and flew up the mountain.
Yes really flew. Zep was a wild man driving up. At one point after we had skidded around a mountain road, with enormous drops on both side, Zep slammed on the brakes. All 3 guides jumped out of the car.
They thought they had hit a squirrel. They had all jumped out to save it.
Paragliding was awesome. Ivan was my guide and was very cool. We talked a lot to the guys going up and then Ivan really talked a lot when we flew.
I get motion sickness and that never even occurred to me until I started flying. It was fine until he started turning circles.
I was praying, “Please do not let me throw up on Ivan!” Now I understood while Ivan did not want me to eat before the ride up! We landed without a hitch and no throw up so it was good.
Zep and Ivan invited us for a beer. I had not eaten all day since we were racing around late, and was nauseated.
Thankfully they knew I was sick so I was able to graciously decline. Walter enjoyed a beer with them and we had a really good chat.
We learned about the Slovene philosophies and their lives and how they push the edge. Zep says your not living if your not pushing the limits. And that his life is not extreme, but normal.
That evening we had dinner at camp-Burgers. Jelena, a guide, thought this was ludicrous we were in Slovenia having burgers. But they were good!
Thank you Katrina and Jay who cooked up a great meal.
Joe’s devotion that evening was great. He is a gifted communicator and inspires you to do more. He had some great suggestions for us and helped encourage us in the week ahead.
He shared a message of sowing the seed. Though we'd all heard it before Joe shared new truths that we took to heart.
By 10 everyone was in bed. Well I am not used to going to bed that early so I hung out a while then turned in to read.
DAY 3: YOU'LL FIGURE IT OUT
Praying for Bovec
Tom and I were partners this morning. We were to hydrospeed later. I told Tom that we had it easy and today would be our recovery day. Those words would come back to bite me.
Tom and I had the area around Joes’ house for literature distribution and prayer. We didn’t see a whole of people out and about.
I did about jump out of my skin once however. No one was out and I was putting a card on a door mat. I bent down right when a man above me said something loudly. I jumped so high. He was very friendly and ended up coming down, but he didn’t speak English.
We next headed up to a church. I went up to the church and I thought Tom followed me. I spent some time at the church, then headed down. I got down the long steps and couldn’t find Tom. I asked several people and they would all say, “ yes he went that way.” Well I never found Tom up there.
I circled the town and finally found Tom downtown with some others of the group.
It turned out to be a blessing we got split up. Tom met, Elka and was able to minister to her, because of us getting separated.
Tom and I then had a nice lunch of salad and cheese. It was delicious. After sending my 1 e-mail for the week (I never check e-mail or phone while I am gone), we set out to hydrospeed.
Mirko was our guide. He told us on the trip up that hydrospeed was the most demanding water sport and asked if we really want to do it. We thought he just wanted us to raft, so we were adamant we could do it.
The ride up was good and Mirko was quite chatty. We learned some about him and also about the female guide.
I told Tom at lunch that there’d be no place to change in the wetsuit and they’d likely just change right there-European style. When we arrived Katrina was also there.
She and I bonded through laughter as went to the woods to change. We were laughing so hard as we tried to get dressed.
We had to help each other get the suits on they were so tight. Then I was to put a wet suit top on. It had a hole on the bottom. We were trying to figure it out and saw Tom put his on. So we copied Tom. It didn’t seem quite right, but hey Tom did it.
I look over and see Mirko is now telling Tom to take it off. He had done it wrong. He had put his waste in a leg hole…as had I now had as well. I was able to escape ridicule as I got changed before anyone but Katrina knew!
Then we hopped in the water. I felt like the Michelin man.
This was our instruction. Hop in the water and I’ll tell you more as we go. Well I had river boarded some, but Tom had never even been on white water. So off we go. Tom trying to figure out how to turn and me getting nervous as to how this is going down.
You see if I have fear of the water now. Normally I can talk myself out of a fear and pride myself in blocking things out.
For instance at PQ Utah we did a 450 ft rappel. I was afraid of heights, but just pretended I wasn’t, and got through it. Now they do not bother me.
The white water used to be the same thing. Well it was until I almost drowned. I was paddling at the Berryman when we came upon some rapids and a strainer. The current was pulling us hard to a downed tree.
I was in a heavy canoe that was hard to steer quickly. Our teammates managed to stay forward and plowed through the tree branches.
I couldn’t get us straightened and we came in at an angle. I yelled at Chris to lean into the tree. He did but we leaned so hard the boat still flipped. It knocked him out for a second and knocked me in the back of the head, pinning me to the tree.
I was holding on to the tree when the boat finally released. Then I was knocked so far under I couldn’t pull myself back up out of the water. I knew not to go under a tree, but I was drowning.
I contemplated it then, I felt like I was supposed to let go. I did, went under the tree and popped up fine. God was good to me that day.
Now I am a little scared of white water, even when I psychologically prepare myself. So needless to say I was a bit timid.
We headed down and it was fun when we started. Tom still didn’t know how to steer but was muscling it down. A few of the rollers took my breath away.
I stopped for a moment filling like such a goob. My helmet was in my eyes, my pfd in my mouth and I felt like a child. I tried to fix it but Mirko said, “We must go on!”
Then the raft (who was going down with us), Tom and I, all went down the same rapid. It flung me out and into a hole. Tom ended up in the same hole. As we kept spinning I started getting a little freaked out.
I remember how to get out if I was swimming, but I had this board with me, which I had been threatened to hold on to. So I looked at Mirko, on one of my rounds and said, what do I do? His words which summed up the Slovenian way for me…
You’ll figure it out
So I pointed my board sideways kicked out and did get out.
We proceeded down for a while and I still felt out of control. I was having troubling manhandling the board. I though I was in way better shape to handle this little board, but it was sucking my energy. As we went down the bigger waves it was holding me under and I wasn’t able to breath until we’d get out of the rapids.
Mirko said we were at the half way point and that it got much harder. Did I want to get out?
Well I do not ever want to quit so I was tortured, but my arms were shaking from that board from trying to keep myself out of the water.
I decided to try one more. We went a little farter. I got sucked under again, and decide this was for recreation and I wasn’t risking getting pinned because I was tired.
I chose the raft. I hated making that decision. Then as the female guide picked up my hydrospped, she saw it was full of water. She acted strange as she poured and poured more water out. Mirko had headed down the water with Tom so he didn’t know.
I hopped in the raft and had a good time with Rodney, Katrina and an Italian man. Rodney and he jumped off a huge rock. It was pretty cool.
After finishing up we enjoyed some time with the guides. Then the woman guide told Mirko that my board was full of water. Another guide was also there. He said it is extremely difficult if the board is full of water. As we looked at it, the cork was not in the hole. So it was just full, making the board extremely heavy.
Mirko was mortified this had happened. He was very worried, I’d tell his boss and he’d be fired. Me I was just happy there was as reason it was so hard!
I explained I had a great time and I would not be telling his boss. He continued to be nervous and even when parting asked if I would not tell his boss. I assured him I would not and look forward to keeping in touch with Mirko.
Tom and I headed back to camp for some down time. I actually caught about a 30 minute nap before we headed back to town for dinner. We went to a neat restaurant and I had vegetable soup. We had a good time of fellowship and laughter this night.
Ok Joe enjoyed a lot of laughter. Walter and I were sitting on the end talking when a huge taradactul like bird attacked us. I jumped, Parmesan cheese was slung and noises were made.
Maybe it was a little bird, but it flew right between us scaring the daylights out of me.
DAY 4: KAYAKING
I contemplated today. I was to kayak with Joe. While I was excited to kayak with Joe, I was still a little nervous on the water.
Now Joe is on the white water rescue team so I felt good about that, but I was learning I'd have to push a little bit out of my comfort zone.
When a Slovenian says it is easy, it usually means you must be advanced as they are all elite!
So Shane, Joe and I set out to kayak. This was my first day spending time with Shane, and what a treat that was. He is a quite man, with a hear for God.
I really enjoyed getting to know Shane on our kayak day.
Joe first proceeded to make sure we could get out of the overturned kayak. My least favorite thing to do. The first time in, shocked me, the water was so cold.
I did it two more time but not better. I think Joe enjoyed turning us over a little too much.
Then we took off down the river. Not long after we started Shane tipped over. It looked like he stayed down a long time, but Joe assures me it was 2 seconds. But I kept thinking when is Joe going to help him!
Rest assure he "figured it out" and was fine.
Joe was a great teacher, teaching me to go in and out of eddys. I need to do it about 1000 more times, but if I can find some white water I have some good things to practice now.
Shane did great. He had never even kayaked and went down the river, never flipping again. Joe did not like my habit of back paddling to steer, which is my natural reaction to turn quickly.
He gave me some new strokes that I'll have to practice at the compound (aka my mom and dads' land).
Today was a leisurely day and I did feel a bit guilty. We got to talk to a few people on the river, but not a ton of contact.
As far as a sport, this was my favorite day by far.
As we finished up I was messing around, not planning on going all the way in the water. Joe proceeded to tackle me, so again the cold water shocked me.
Joe always kept it exciting! Joe was a great guide and we had an excellent day.
DAY 5 ROCK CLIMBING
Today Blaz would take us to climb. Blaz was a super guy, just a good kid. He was an incredible climber and the day was great.
We got tons of good climbing pictures, so check out the video above to see them.
I am not the best climber, but Rodney and Justin gave me some good advice and I had a good day for me.
Randy, Rodney and Justin knocked out some big climbs. Then Joe of course is just a natural at all of this and followed Blaz's route for a stellar climb.
This was a productive day in befriending Blaz, who taught me some Slovenian. I was so proud and ran around all day saying it. Apparently what he taught me though, was a pick up line!
DAY 6 THE RACE
Now this is what I am most comfortable writing about- races! But I'll keep this one short.
Most of the team was doing the 10k and they swept the field with Joe leading the pack.
Joe pushed me up the climb to the 10k cut off. That was a help! We then filled up with spring water. Joe had told us all about the route and he sent us off.
Everything he had said was spot on. It was as if he'd been here before!
He would go on to catch the rest of the team and beat them. He was an incredible athlete.
Walter and I pushed on and up, up and up. We climbed about 3 hours to the first check point.
Then we ran down about 40 minutes to the next one. On the way down I rolled my ankle pretty good. We were trying to push it to make up time.
We were making up time because we got lost. I took us on the wrong trail twice, so we climbed this one portion 3 times. We were trying to do the ultra ultra.
Then we climbed some more. I was looking at my watch and we were coming up on 5 hours. I didn't have an altimeter so I wasn't sure where we at. I kept having to look at the map to try to guess.
Then we finally reached CP 3. We were informed we had missed the cutoff by 10 minutes. Cut off! We didn't even know there was a cut off.
This was my fault. I paced it more like PQ than a marathon. My legs were tired climbing, but when we stopped I recovered, so I was not climbing near fast enough.
Walter waited from me at the top of the hills. He was in great climbing shape. I was just adamant we'd not push it and run hard down.
Sorry Walter I know you trusted me and I lead you wrong.
So 700m from the top we were axed. Now I was not happy. I do not like to not finish. I was embarrassed and really upset because I wasn't even tired yet!
Plus my pace had caused Walter to miss it. We'd agreed to stay together.
I tried to talk the lady into letting us go on, explaining it was only 10 minutes...no dice.
I was highly disappointed but we headed down for the walk to Bovec, dejected.
Walter hitchhiked and got us a ride (we had been going to do this all week). Much to Walters dismay, I declined saying we'd walk. It was a 2 hour walk back, but I thought we deserved that.
Then this man started yelling at us. Walter said God wanted us to use these opportunists (his guilt trip for me, to get me to ride) and so we rode down in a cable car.
Now as we were nearing the finish, I took my race tag off. I knew people would think we had finished and clap. That is just humiliating when they clap and you didn't finish.
So of course, I must have looked haggard, because they knew we had raced and starting saying Bravo. How embarrassing. It was lesson in humility for the week.
Ride to the Airport
Well it was time to head home, but God didn't want us to waste any time. We rode with Natasa. She was an incredible young woman and was Blaz' sister.
We had a great talk and I hope to meet her in the states in Colorado of course.
ADVENTURE WITH A PURPOSE
Going with XMA on this trip was a great decision, as well as life changing. Now you do not expect to get your life changed radically at 41, but do not limit God!
Randy was an incredible leader and such a Godly man. He has such a heart for people.
Though you are going to look at these pictures and hear the story, you'll probably still question what kind of mission trip this was.
I'd like to break it down for you. Joe has been in Bovec 6 years and there is not one believer. Not one!
Now I didn't get to meet Joe's family, but the people adore Joe. They all had great things to say about him. They respect his ability. Then know he is one of them.
Yet they still do not believe. It is a place filled with beauty and wonder, yet darkness. Joe needs people like you to support him, by coming to Slovenia. The people need you to share the gospel with them.
But you'll share in ways you cannot imagine.
Consider going on one of the many trips to Slovenia. The people of Slovenia to hear the Good News.
Bringing people to Christ is far more than simply presenting religious facts, theology and presuppositions to people. It involves a process of life-on-life.