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Young Life

August 5, 2016

Last October, Jess and I attended the Snoqualmie Valley Young Life Banquet. We had a fabulous time, hung out with amazing people and helped support a great cause. For us, it’s even more exciting as this summer Colby will be able to participate in club this summer (he has already been to a couple events!) (Scary as Middle School is now upon us!)

The truth is that despite the fact that Young Life was not at my high school, it still had a huge, profound impact on my life. I had the chance to go to Malibu when I was in high school. I had several close friends that went, yet I declined to go. I delivered pizzas instead to earn some extra cash.  Yep not one of my best choices ever.  However even though I declined, Young Life was still able to find me, it just took a couple more years…

My junior year of college, I was home for the Apple Cup. It was Leaf vs. Huard. The Cougs were looking to go to the Rose Bowl. A friend of mine, Jacob, got me a ticket in the student section. Prior to the game I met up with my sister as she was also going to the game. We were both together – a difficult thing to accomplish at that point in both of our lives. Since we were together, the bombshell was dropped. My Dad was diagnosed with cancer. It was advanced and he was given a year to live. As I know some of you might be curious – his was in no way related to the type of cancer I have.  I know I have repeatedly said that rule number 1. of a cancer diagnosis is never Google it and then rule number 2. is to never believe your doctors when they tell you how much time you have (they really have no friggin idea). That said, the news was not good. We knew that he hadn’t been feeling very good for a while, but we would have never guessed that it was cancer. Anyhow, the game was played, the Cougs crushed the Dawgs and went on to the Rose Bowl. Leaf was the number 2 pick in the draft (that didn’t work out so well). I went back to school in Forest Grove, Oregon. Being at school, I missed a lot of what was going on with my dad battling multiple myeloma. Because it was sort of “out of sight, out of mind”, I think I just suppressed all of my feelings and emotions about everything and just stuffed them away so that I wouldn’t have to deal with them. In the Spring, we had planned a big birthday trip for my 21st. He wasn’t feeling good, so it had to be pushed back. I remember that being a tough few days for me. Most of my best friends in College were all younger then I, thus it was an uneventful birthday. He rebounded in May and attended Keri’s graduation. That was a great time. Probably the last great time the 4 of us spent together when he still felt good.  It was fun to see him smiling again. Just before wrapping up my junior year, I received a call from Andy Martin. Him and I go way back and have been friends forever. He had been working to set-up a Young-Life Club in the Valley. He was going to take group of just graduated high schoolers to Beyond Malibu. Malibu is a camp that is located in the Jervis Inlet in British Columbia. Basically it is only accessible by boat. To get there, you drive up to Vancouver, BC, take the Horseshoe Bay ferry across the bay then drive to place called Egmont, where you then take a boat up the Jervis Inlet, where you then turn into the Princess Louisa Inlet, where you then find this amazing camp called Malibu. The inlets are in the middle of the BC Coastal Range, thus there are 6,000 to 7,000 ft peaks that rise right out of the water all around. Beautiful doesn’t even begin to describe this place. Malibu has two camps, Malibu and Beyond Malibu. Malibu has cabins, structures, and all kinds of cool things. It is an amazing place to go to camp. Beyond Malibu is nestled back in the inlet and is made up of some rustic cabins and is used as a launching point to send groups out into the wild of the BC Coastal range.

After we arrived, we met with our guides (two guides are assigned to each group) We actually had 3 as we had a guest guide for the trip! – more on the importance of this to come. Next we completed a ropes course, then did a gear check. One of the questions that our guides asked us was “Why are you here?” I remember Andy’s response was, because I am supposed to bring David here. My response was because he (Andy) told me to come. It was as simple as that. Our climbing objective was Mt. Pearkes, which is 6,078ft tall. We left early from the Beyond Basecamp via boat. We were all locked and loaded. The boat literally just dropped us off on the shore. The boat had a gate in the front, where the driver would just drive to the shore, the gate would be lowered and we all then walked off the boat onto the shoreline. The boat then left and you realize that you are now on your own for the next week. Let the hiking begin. I won’t bore with each and every detail, however each day we would hike and move to the next camp area. The trip culminated in the summit of Mt. Pearkes. The views were stunning and spectacular the entire trip, mountains stood tall breaking out of the water all around. The view would go from the water to the tops of many peaks that topped out between 6,000 and 7,000 ft.  We had perfect weather the entire trip, it was sunny with clear skies.  It rained for about an hour, when we boarded the boat to go home, but outside of that it was perfect conditions.  The climb also featured snow travel at the top, a fixed line, and some roped up travel. Nothing being very technical, but still lots of fun and an amazing experience.

SC Beyond II

SC Beyond I

Pictures taken from Shawn Carnes on his 2016 trip to show the beauty of the area. He was on One Eye, so not the same mountain, but every mountain up there is beautiful.

One of the days was sort of like a rest day. We were told to spread out on the mountain and just have some personal quiet time. You could read, write, pray, sleep, whatever, but they wanted everyone to have some personal space to reflect. The weather was gorgeous – blue sky and the sun was shining. We were in an open area on the side of the mountain, looks of open space with rocks. I found a nice place, brought my bible and hunkered down. The next several hours, I went through this period of reading, sleeping, prayer, conversations with God and dreaming. It was truly a vision quest. A period of gut wrenching, sole searching for me. I was trying to really figure out this God thing and deal with my Dad’s cancer. I felt a little bit like Jacob, who wrestled with God in Genesis. I had demanded my miracle from God, I wanted my Dad healed. The reasoning was simple, lots of people have gone through miraculous healing, now it’s my Dad’s turn – a simple request. I spent time reading first and Second Samuel – the story of David. I actually think that he is the most interesting character in the Bible. He was a boy destined to become king, he was an incredible talented musician and a warrior. Yet he also repeatedly failed in many aspects of  his life. He committed adultery, murder, he performed cover-ups to hide his misdeeds, and in many ways failed as a father. Yet despite his short comings, God refers to him as a man after his own heart, repeatedly and often. He provides us a “real” story about life and the ups and downs that we all go through. Yet one thing that David also does, is come back to God and admits his failure. He is a great example of the grace of God and how forgiveness and reconciliation should work. He was forgiven by God, but did pay a steep price for his mistakes, from the loss of a son, to a rebellion by his children, and God telling him that he will not be the one to build God’s temple. But through it all he was loyal and God was with him. After my prayers for healing and a miracle, I did receive an answer, the dialogue went sort of like this:

Me: Please heal my Dad, let him live.

God: Your Dad is going to die, it’s his time

Me: But there is so much more I need to learn from him

God: He has already taught you everything you need to know.

That was it, the request was denied. The reality was going to set in over the upcoming months. The truth of the situation was that a miracle did happen on that mountain, it just wasn’t for my Dad, and it was for me. The only reason I was on that mountain, was because someone was told to bring me. During the trip, each person was given the floor to tell their own personal story of their life, of their faith, really of whatever. If my memory is correct there was 10 of us on that trip. I was one of the final three to talk. Although I didn’t really talk much, I pretty much just broke down and cried. All of the stuffing of my emotions the last year because I was trying to avoid them, just came out and I was a mess. It was what I needed, just to sit there in sadness, to be weak, to let out my feelings and to be real. To get to this process it took months and a trip to Canada to get me to where I needed to be. The final three to speak from the group all had stories to tell of the impacts of cancer on their fathers. From Katie who lost her Dad to cancer at 16, to our guest guide (whose name escapes me – ugh! I can picture her in my head though) she had guided the past couple of summers, but came back on this trip as she needed an escape as her Dad was nearing the end of his battle with cancer. She was from Vancouver, B.C. It was like I went from being on this lonely island dealing with things, probably the person to best relate to was my sister, but she was in Pullman and I was in Forest Grove, Oregon, which made that hard. I am not fond of talking on the phone, especially about my emotions! But, all of the sudden, I was  being surrounded by two amazing people who could related to what I was going through as they either were there or had been there before. Conversations with them was huge. I can’t express in words how big a moment that was for me. It is a big reason why I have the passion I do now to talk with others with brain cancer. Until you have been there, it’s hard to relate, hard to understand, and feel the pain, the confusion, the anger. The sequence of events on that trip up to the summit of Mt. Pearkes was not happenstance, it was not random, it was not luck, it was divine intervention and it came at a time when a broken down 21 year old needed it the most. That was the miracle that happened.  My belief is that somehow my Dad took a pass on his miracle that day.

The following year, I went back to Beyond.  My Dad past away that October.  My Aunt and Uncle had sent me a check to help cover the costs and told me to go back.  So I did.  This time I was again with my buddy Andy.  That year when asked why he was there and what his expectations were for the trip he said.  (paraphrased) “I know this mountain will not challenge me, but you all will.”  Famous last words, instead of perfect sunny weather, we endured a week of pouring rain, had to dig in an emergency camp as we were totally stuck in a whiteout.  It was so bad that you felt like you had vertigo as everything was completely white.  It is still to this day one of the worst whiteouts I have ever be in throughout all of my trips and climbs.  Although it was a physically tough and mentally challenging trip to deal with horrible weather that year, we still made the summit, but could not see a thing.  One big key to that trip is that there was also a girl on that trip who was a Young Life leader with Andy. She enjoyed going into the mountains and loved to hike and climb, her name was Jessica Thuot…







5 Comments leave one →
  1. Abby Salsman permalink
    August 5, 2016 11:44 am

    What a touching story! Young Life is an amazing organization! i definitely changed my life.

  2. DAN C GUPTILL permalink
    August 5, 2016 2:33 pm

    Thanks for writing about your experiences. God is a God of miracles, and we’re each just one of them!


  3. Michelle Carnes permalink
    August 5, 2016 11:26 pm

    Dude, that’s awesome.

  4. August 6, 2016 10:07 am

    Keep writing, David. You have a real message to share with others. I don’t know why God allows these things to happen in our lives, but I know He wants us to live each day out to the fullest, and believe in his everlasting promises. I haven’t climbed a mountain, but I experienced Malibu 3 years ago with my sis, who has cancer. It was an opportunity to be brave in a completely different way. I’m continuing to pray for you and your family

  5. August 6, 2016 11:42 am

    Thank you for sharing this story. It helps me remember why I work so hard to keep Beyond Malibu going and running. Rob Duyker Camp Manager of Beyond Malibu.

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