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white water tubing…one for the books

June 21, 2006

We nearly lost our lives today, seriously, all of us.It’s been a while since I’ve experienced such anadrenaline rush—one that surges through your body witha near death experience. One of that nature happensrarely, but today I was reminded of my dependence onGod as well as His people.

The water, like ice, seeped into my clothes with afrightening chill—apprehensive but excited all themore. We slowly made our way into the water, ploppinginto our tubes, only to be swept away by the forcefulcurrents.

Chrissy propped her foot out as to maneuver to theside of the rock but instead, the current propelledher into a backwards flip; somehow her sunglassesdidn’t budge from her head, quite amazing. She soonstepped out of the water to walk alongside theriver—she’d have no more of that.

Colton and I bolted to the front, somehow survivingthe rapids. Launched out of my tube I quickly reachedfor it and forced it back over my head, holding on fordear life. Never have I floated a river of thisintensity and soon I understood why. My legs beat intothe rocks, leaving a multitude of rock dents in myshins. Gasping for air in the roughest parts, waterwent into my ears and then I swallowed enough water tobe fearful of Giardia. I pulled off to the side for amoment when I saw the available lull: a two secondtime span. Colton passed me and I saw Anele in thedistance. Catching my breath, I braved the water once more andcaught up to Colton. Not long afterwards we saw twoempty tubes cruising down the river. All I could dowas hope and pray God was taking care of everyone.

In the meantime, Andy, Andrew, Swithin, Eli, andSonia found themselves in a blown-out rescue mission.Sonia clung to a rock in the middle of the river as abear hugging a tree. Sprawled out over a rock shelooked away as to not see the raging water. She fearedfor her life, praying, “Oh God, save me and I promiseI will not get back in this water!” She imagined thisrock to be Jesus. As tightly as she held on to thisrock she knew she had to hold on to Jesus just astightly and even more. Swithin was on one side of theriver while Eli and Andrew were on the other and Andywas downstream to catch Sonia in case she lost hergrip on the rock. Praise God for these men, for theythrew a rope out to Sonia—she missed a couple of timesuntil finally Swithin caught it and then gave it toSonia. They reeled her in to safety by God’s grace.

Colton and I kept cruising along. By now I wasgetting a feel for things, sitting comfortably againafter my spill. Suddenly I hear Colton yellingsomething fierce! I finally made it out to be, “Grabthe shoe! Grab the shoe!” Oh heavens, a shoe and nobody! We settled under a bridge to recoup and Coltonheld on to the lost shoe.

Little did we know, Anele was close behind us, onefoot shoeless, without contacts in her eyes, and anempty tube in both hands. We were all falling apart.

Chrissy kept chucking alongside, walking at a mildpace and looking to see if we were still alive.

Quite a ways downstream, Linda, Clint, Nikki, andAndrew braved the rapids. The current took Nikki aheadof the others and she ended up going down backwardsand then on her stomach on another rapid. She hit herhead on some of the rocks only to be followed by alast rapid which nearly drowned her as she was caughtunder the water for a time. Linda was flung from hertube and then later she got stuck in the surf waves ofa rapid, paddling with all her might to break free.Clint found himself facing skyward unexpectedly as thewaves flipped his tube vertically.

Sonia and Swithin, now on the other side of theriver, were in a predicament as they read numerousprivate property signs and beware of dog warnings…sothey ended up walking much further than planned inorder to get back with the rest of us. They evenbraved a violent cell phone man yelling at them as hepointed his phone like a gun.

Andy, Andrew R., and Eli kept floating along. Andy’stube somehow decided it would deflate itself. Being abig guy, this caused a multitude of problems,seriously. He found himself crashing into every rockpossible and with an airless tube at that. The kickerwas the final kidney punch one of the rocks gave him.Sonia described it to be wounds like the Passion ofthe Christ and Chrissy said he’d be peeing blood for aweek with a wound like that. Andrew endured severalblows as well, leaving some red welts on his chest.

Colton kept the shoe—that is until the very end. Wehit a huge waterfall and it sent him flying out of histube only to land hard on his right side. He said helanded so hard he wiggled his toes to see if he wasparalyzed or not. Praise God, they wiggled.Unfortunately, he lost the shoe in the process. Werode into the shore after that one and called itquits.

Chrissy eventually came down the dirt path andshortly following, Anele came carrying three tubes.There was a look of fright in her eyes that terrifiedus all. We didn’t know if the people were okay but atleast she saved the tubes so we could get our $5deposits back.

Andrew R. and Andy finally came and we met up withLinda, Clint, Nikki, and Andrew who had stayed back tofloat a shorter area. The funniest sight: Andy came upto us with this tiny, deflated tube, throwing it downand saying, “And I don’t know what happened to thisthing!” Then a few seconds later he gasps, “And to topit off, I just got stung by a bee!” He stomped on thebee and held out his hand to look at its alreadyswollen mark. Thankfully he was not deathly allergic.

While waiting for everyone to gather around withtheir battle wounds and bloody legs, wiping leechesoff our bodies, Anele and Eli started jumping into thewater with a rope swing. The next thing I knew, Eliwas laid out on some rocks with a crowd around her.Apparently she had fought with a rock and the rock gotthe best of her. She had a small but a deep gash inher leg that met the bone. Chrissy sacrificed herwhite tank top to wrap around Eli’s leg.

We turned in our tubes, looking like we just cameback from war and received our $5 deposits—orcompensation? I wondered if that’s all I thought mylife was worth… after all I did sign away my life fora few bucks.

Andrew drove Eli to the hospital to get stitches andthe rest of us rode home, thankful to be alive. We allhugged and praised God for keeping us alive. Truly,what an adventure! And if you asked me if I’d do it again—I’d probablysay yes. Call me stupid or cal me dumb; I like to callmyself adventurous.

Through all of this, God taught us that we need oneanother for survival, for love, for help, and forsupport. In such a self-sufficient, independentsociety, God reminded us that we cannot stand alone.We must depend on Him and be in community with people.We must hold tightly to Jesus all our lives.

As the river wound around and the rapids remainedunpredictable, and at times, violent, life itself wasrepresented. No matter how hard we paddled or foughtwe’d end up being swept away by the current. God’scourse will ultimately prevail. We can stand in thewater, but we’ll be pushed over by the white water andend up hitting rocks. If we paddle to the side we endup just staying stagnate and eventually must move onanyhow. If we try paddling against the flow of theriver we tire easily and end up hurt. Instead we musttrust blindly and hold on for the ride. God guides usas the river’s current does. We don’t always know whatis ahead but we must trust Him and move forward.

One Comment leave one →
  1. January 29, 2011 10:12 am

    wow. yeah, that was probably the silliest thing you have EVER DONE. don't do it again, I like you^^

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