The bus driver tells us that he can't make it into the parking lot for the swimming hole. Someone on the bus tells him about another swimming hole a little bit down the road. (I didn't really know this was going on because I was in the back of the bus) At this point I'm feeling pretty car sick. I'm trying very hard to look at the road, but like I said, I was in the back of the bus. So we're driving a bit more and then the bus pulls off into a very tiny parking lot in the middle of nowhere. He then turns around. We find out later he had missed the turn and had to drive for awhile to find somewhere to turn around. All I could think was "I just want to get off of the bus!"
We finally make it to the gravel road that you drive down to get to the path that takes you to the swimming hole. It's a one lane gravel road through the middle of the woods. The bus finally finds a place to slightly pull of to the side and we get out and start walking. Thank goodness we got off the bus! (Or so I thought) So we're walking down the gravel road for quite a while. We're all carrying our bags with towels and changes of clothes in them. We finally see a large clearing and think that we're almost there.
But no! This is just where the trail starts. And this is not a nice dirt or mulch trail. It's hilly, rocky, and muddy because yes, it was starting to rain. So we walk for what seems forever down the mountain basically on this "trail" and we finally make it where we can see the swimming hole. To get to the swimming hole you have to climb some pretty big, wet, mossy rocks. Keep in mind I'm awkwardly lugging around a semi-heavy tote bag. And to top it all off....we have to leave to get back to the bus in about 20 minutes. I finally decide to brave the rocks (I really don't move like I used to....funny what having two kids does to you) and make it over to the swimming hole. The water was kind of chilly so I just got in a little bit.
Then it's time to get back to the bus. This is when this trip went from an adventure to what the MC at the conference called "The Hike from Hell". I make it back up to the "trail" and I'm already feeling the pain. It was quite a rough hike. I was huffing and puffing my way back up the mountain. A couple of times random guys asked me if I was okay. Me, who grew up hiking and things like this with my parents was the weak one! It hurt my pride a bit. Then again, I have had 2 babies. I pawned my bag off on a nice young gentleman for awhile, which helped.
The hike definitely felt longer on the way back, but luckily the bus was able to make it a little closer to us. One of the leaders and his wife actually had their 4 yr old and 2 yr old little boys with them! I was astounded at how well they handled that. If I had my children with me on that hike, I'm sure I would broken down and sobbed.
So, we started off the day thinking we were taking 1/4 of a mile hike to a swimming hole. Turns out we took a very difficult SIX MILE hike up and down a mountain to swim for 20 minutes! Hence, why it was termed the "Hike from Hell". However, it was definitely worth it! We all had a nice bonding experience and some wonderful/awful memories!
When we returned it was time for dinner, but girls that we are, Madison and I booked it up to our rooms to shower before dinner. We ran back downstairs just in time to grab some food before the evening chapel.
Thursday evening is when the messages and the worship really started to affect us. To look around and see 250+ youth worshiping God is just amazing. Hadriel (the band) really know how to praise Jesus! Two things that I wrote down from the message: 1) Everything we do flows from our personal encounter with the presence of God; 2) If we don't have a passion to please Jesus, then something is wrong with our perspective!
Isn't it wonderful how the Lord rescues us from ourselves. I love the lyrics of the David Crowder song, "How He Loves". We sang it a few times while we there. I'm going to end with one part in particular that spoke to me:
"Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes
If His grace is an ocean, we're all sinking..."