Rescue mission
Wednesday, October 13, 2010 at 10:23PM
Living with Freaks

Thad, Will (Thad's son), and Richard had gone to the Guadalupe Mountains National Park to go backpacking. They hiked 7.5 miles and up 1,500 feet of elevation before setting up camp. The next day, they went down into a canyon to get some water.

While going down, Thad had an MS attack. It was only his second ever, so it was definitely a shock. By God's grace and much determination, he made it down to the canyon, where some rangers found them and took them all back to the ranger's station.

The problem was that Thad's side was numb, and all their stuff was still at the campsite (7.5 miles away). So Richard decided that he would hike the 15 miles round-trip as many times as it took to get all the stuff.

When Mendy (Thad's wife) heard all this, she sent an email to the church. When I saw the email, I replied, "I will pray." But thankfully, the Lord was calling us to action as well.

Around 10 pm Saturday night I heard a knock at the door. It was Greg and Clint, and I had no guesses as to why they were there. Clint turned to Greg and said, "Do you think he'll come?"

"Come where?" I asked.

"Did you get the email?" Greg responded.

It took me a few seconds before I figured out what he was talking about. "Oh," I said. "Oh. Oh! You want to go?"

"What do you think?" Greg asked.

"I think I like it," I said. "But let me talk to Amanda and call you back."

Amanda and I talked, and it was clear to both of us that I should go. I could tell that she didn't want me to go, but it meant so much that she supported it.

What was hilarious was that I have spent the last 2 months buying lots of backpacking gear and reading books on backpacking. For reasons I cannot explain, I got a serious urge to get into backpacking in early August. But up until that point, I had never actually gone backpacking! "Well, Lord," I thought. "I guess You've been training me for this."

So we went.

We left around midnight on Saturday and drove through the night for 10 hours, taking shifts. We reached the park at 10 am, and immediately we saw Thad and Will walking around the ranger's station. Clint drove up to him and jokingly asked for directions. Thad looked at us and froze.

"The Lord sent us," I said.

Thad started crying. Then I started crying. Then Clint started laughing. There were a lot of emotions swirling in that moment. Thad looked at his son and said, "You see, we prayed and we knew the Lord would do something."

You could tell a burden had been lifted from our brother. It was killing him that Richard was going out on the trail by himself to hike more than any man should ever hike. By 10:30 am, this band of brothers was on the trail with the mission of finding Richard, getting the rest of the stuff, and bringing our brothers home.


(Yes, I am trying to look cool in the picture above. I earned it!)

We found Richard about 1/3 of the way up the trail. Needless to say, he was shocked as well. Greg took Richard's pack and went back down to the ranger's station with Richard. Clint and I continued on to go retrieve the stuff.

In about 40 hours, we had driven 1,000 miles for 20 hours and hiked 15 miles and 1,500 feet of elevation carrying 70 pounds of gear.

It was the hardest physical thing I have ever done. There were times on the trail I did not think I would make it, but Clint kept encouraging me. In fact, the time with Clint on the trail was precious to me. The time with Greg in the car was precious. The time with Thad, Will, and Richard at the park was precious.

Because these brothers are precious to me. I love them. And love lays down His life for one another.

Of all of us, I think the park ranger was the most amazed by the whole thing. He would just look at us like we were freaks.

Yes. Yes we are.

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