Te Anau to Milford Sound
117km | 1500 climbing meters
The New Zealand Challenge has all but ended. After 1042km and 10723 climbing meters from Christchurch to Milford Sound everyone has arrived safely. I think the memory of the climb up to Homer Tunnel, a dark, wet, 1.2km tunnel that enters through a mass of rock and descends into an open Jurassic Park to Milford Sound will be firmly etched into the minds of everyone. It has been an epic journey for most and I don't think that is an overestimation of the week which has been endured. There were only a couple of little hiccups for the day which had Richie take the donkey award from Darren (asked Richie what happened) and Andrew Hellinga finish in his socks on a bike made for a 5 foot lady. Being 6 foot 6 it was a very humbling and funny way to end such a massive journey.
Everyone can ask their friends and family about the journey they have undertaken so I won't write anymore about the journey itself but the things that were shared during the debrief time with each team. Debriefing is something we value greatly as a way for people to share their heart with everyone before they enter their worlds again. After spending a week together, overcoming many challenges as a team, many have their natural defences down and share openly. It is an amazing experience and privilege to just be a part of it and listen. I went from one group to another just to hear in their own words what this week has meant to them:
Some comments from Team 20
I never want to do this again - Yvonne (second ride and is an inspiration to all)
I've never met a group of young people like them - Di (positive reference to our young crew who brought so much enthusiasm and energy)
This has been the hardest but most rewarding experience of my life - Dan L
I don't know anywhere else where I can get this same type of mateship - Matt
I never expected you could go from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows in the space of one hour - Marina
Some comments from Team 27
I've learnt to cope with stressful situations and continue on - Darren
Every time you achieve something it's not quite as frightening as it was (reference to climbing hills/life) - Paul C
To be with a group like this is worth millions - Owen
It's something I'm trying to instil in my kids; to never give up - Richard A
Makes me realise there is more to life than work (first holiday in six years! Though it was not quite a holiday we all understood his point) - Nikko (support driver)
It's been a challenge to me this week that I can do it [cycle]. I'm 52, overweight, but I will put it to you all next year I am doing it - Greg P (support driver)
There were a lot of tears and some really positive stories that came out of debrief. It seems like God just works through anything and everything He chooses. We kind of box things in; give objective and purposes to them (organisations). But no matter what the organisations purpose is God is still intimately interested in our lives. So it is great that while we run these events to change the lives of children living in extreme poverty God is changing us in the process.
Thank you to Hedgy, Dan, Andy and Andy who work tirelessly in organising and leadership to pull of these events and do their best to bring everyone home safe.
Maybe if I could just end with what I heard today: Live life, but live with a core value to care for vulnerable children - Andrew Hellinga
As the NZ Challenge comes to a close. please consider supporting vulnerable children through our Education Program for just $12.50 per month. Register here - http://bit.ly/EWAEducationProgram