Interested in sharing how God blessed you through the ministry of
Nemeiben Lake Canoe and Bible camp? Email
your story, and he will have it posted. Please try to keep it to a
paragraph in length, but exceptions will be made.|
A canoe trip, sounds exciting, thrilling, something I've always wanted
to do. A whirlwind of thoughts went through my head as stood looking
at the poster on the wall at NLCBC. And here was an opportunity daring
me to take the challenge, a 5-day trip to Morning Lake and back. I
pointed out the pamphlet to my brother nonchalantly, trying to
interpret his reaction. (Going with someone I knew would make it
easier). Who am I any ways? Can I handle such a trip? What is a novice
canoer any ways? Do I fit that category? A flood of other questions
poured through my mind. Ah yes there was the leader too, Jack
Stefanick, avid an excellent canoer. But I had heard stories of some
of his escapades in the past and the grueling days he put in. But as
the registration deadline approached I became more and more thrilled
and with the encouragement of my wife I applied making sure to mention
that my canoeing abilities were limited. 'No problem, you're in,' was
the e-mailed reply.|
As the departure day drew near I packed with a nervous excitement and anxiously waited for any email from Dave Danyluk (trip coordinator) on what to bring. At times my fears secretly looked for a good excuse to back out though I knew my heart would never let that happen.
Finally the day came, off to Saskatoon, I headed to meet with the rest.
Butterflies in my stomach, a prayer on my lips and a special request
to my family to pray for me daily. By now the 5 day trip to Morning
Lake and back (40 miles) had become a weeklong trip of 95 miles. It
was nervously thrilling; this trip is actually a documented trip,
awesome! In Saskatoon I met with the 11 others, all virtually total
strangers to me. We packed our gear into a couple of vehicles and off
we were stopping only in P.A. to have our last connection with
civilization, a meal at McDonalds. It was dark by the time we got to
camp so setting up tents was a challenge, but all went smooth and I
even slept reasonably well.
|Next morning after a breakfast of pancakes and a few instructions, we were paired up and our adventure began. I remember there was such variety that day. Rice fields, open water of Head and Clam lakes, a peaceful winding channel, wading our canoes up a small stream. Clouds, wind, rain and sun, it was all there and it was wonderful. 19 miles and 4 portages later our first day came to an end as we set up camp at Morning Lake. I had experienced my first long haul canoe trip and was realizing what canoe tripping was all about. Awesome!!|
|The days that followed were an endless adventure, each day seemingly getting better and better. I was a kid again having the time of my life. There was work but there was also play. There was fear but there was also joy. There were difficulties but there were also blessings. It was all there and it was all-great. My mind is full of wonderful memories, of pictures too great to accurately express.|
|There was the rough waters with white caps on Besnard Lake; how we were blessed to have the wind at our backs most of the time. The wading of our canoes down numerous shallow rapids, slipping and sliding and hanging on. The 10 or so portages and the grueling work they can be. (I still have to learn an easy way to carry a canoe.) The campsites in all their variety, a tiny island once, bottom of Trout Falls and Lesser Devil Rapids, the point of a peninsula, all special in their own way. The shore lunch of bannock, sausage and cheese. There was the thrill, nervousness and exhilaration of running simple rapids and trying to learn ferrying. Gunneling up in the middle of the lake, sharing a snack of gorp, candies or wine gums. (A fond farewell to the half a bag of wine gums that sank to the bottom of an unknown lake.)|
|I remember laying back in a canoe and how comfortable that can be, you can actually sleep like that. Riding the waves of little Devil Rapids in a life jacket, daily tasks of setting up tents, collecting firewood, or doing dishes. The evening devotional and the morning quiet times, God seemed so close.|
|The lugging of our canoes along the shore around Greater Devil falls. The riding of Otter Rapids, what a thrill! Sun, wind, rain, heat, it was all there. And the endless panorama of beauty! Black Bear Island Lake is my favorite. It was so beautiful with its endless number of islands and water was like a mirror; I can still see the 6 canoes paddling along, each one making a wake in the dead calm water. It reminded me of navy battalion crossing the Pacific. It was all awesome, I never ever, not even once regretted my decision to go.|
And those 11 strangers, they ceased to exist. They became 11 friends.
I don't even know all of their last names but I know their first names
and their faces, and will remember them fondly for a long time. The
camaraderie that develops with one another is hard to explain. It
seems to happen as people share in the tasks of wilderness travel.
And how you adapt to your canoeing partner developing a unique
relationship. And my nervous uneasiness of Jack and Dave (Dunn)
disappeared. It turned to awe, admiration and respect.
This trip, in so many ways, was both a challenge and a blessing. It was physically challenging. 8 plus hours a day paddling in all sorts of weather, portaging rugged trails up to 3/4 of a km with packs up to 80 pounds, slipping and sliding on rocks while lining canoes. All of it tough but tough in a exhilarating way. Bruises, scrapes and sore muscles were common. Sometimes I had to dig deep. But the work brought blessings in the sense of accomplishment and in the completing of a good day's journey, our longest being 22 miles. Amazing considering our experience.
I was challenged and blessed socially. Eleven people, all strangers to me with only briefly having met one of these people before. 7 men, 5 women made a unique flavor. But the camaraderie created a team, people digging down and struggling together. I vividly remember how we all worked together lugging canoes full of gear around Greater Devil Rapids. I ached for those when they suffered and silently cheered when they surmounted challenges. 11 people, started out with nervous greetings but they became friends and though I may never see some of them again I have a heart full of fond memories.
|The challenges and blessings came emotionally as well. There was the nervous fears of canoeing in waves with white caps. The anxiety while waiting your turn to run the rapids, but amongst the worries of the unknown there was so much joy. The ambiance of such a wilderness trip stirs the heart to its very core bringing up a whole array of emotions.|
|The exhilaration of successfully making it down those rapids even though it was mainly luck, the sense of awe that comes with being amongst the beauty and peacefulness of God's creation, the joy in seeing someone catch their first fish, and the satisfaction in succeeding at so many things for the first time.|
|And I was also challenged and blessed spiritually. The evening devotional led by Dave Danyluk and how (since he misplaced his notes) he shared from his heart were a blessing. His searching questions that made you think. Questions like 'why are you here?' and 'where are you with God?' were a challenge. And the seemingly innocent 15 mins of quiet time every morning before we set out (a must for every trip) became such a blessing that I looked forward to it. A time to meditate, talk to God, and read his word in the presence of his awesome creation.|
I especially remember one morning when we were
camped at the bottom of Trout falls. My bible fell open to Eph 4 and
the verses were talking about our spiritual walk and they seemed to
parallel so much with the disciplines that we were dealing with on
this trip. God felt so close. The song 'Heavenly Father I appreciate
you' came to my mind. I didn't even know all of the song but as I
sang the parts I knew quietly to myself, I wept.
This wilderness canoe trip had its difficulties and it was challenging but far above that it was a blessing, more blessings then I can even count. And canoeing, it will never be the same. I dream canoeing day and night. Would I go again? Without a doubt. Can this trip with all its blessing be repeated for me, probably not, the first time is always extra special, but I anxiously wait to find out.
I end this rendition with a quote by Sigurd Olson from the book Canoeing Wild Rivers by Cliff Jacobson:
'If a man can pack a heavy load across a portage, if he can do whatever he has to without complaint and with good humor, it makes little difference what his background has been. And if he can somehow keep alive a spirit of adventure and romance as the old time voyageurs seem to have done then any expedition becomes more than a journey through wild country. It becomes a shining challenge and an adventure of the spirit.'
...and a blessing to his soul.