This week our courageous 9th graders embark on one of their milestone outdoor education trips: hiking the Caribbean’s highest peak — Pico Duarte!
We believe in the value of doing hard things, pushing ourselves outside our comfort zones and learning to work as a team, servant lead, and fall in love with the Creator through being outside in his creation.
The staff leaders of this particular trip asked several of us to write the kids notes of encouragement to be read to them on the trail. Dan LeMoine, our director of development, chaperoned this particular class on their outdoor education trip last year, and you’ll find his note to them below.
Please join us in prayer as these high schoolers are on the trail all this week, push themselves and their classmates to be revolutionary, perseverant, and courageous!
A note to our 9th grade Servant Leaders:
My wonderful 9th graders —
I am so incredibly proud of each one of you and I truly wish I was with you while you accomplish this very unique, brave, and amazing feat! Only a select few people in the world can say they’ve ever been at the HIGHEST POINT IN ALL OF THE CARIBBEAN (<–that’s so cool!). Soon you too will be one of the few.
The hike to Pico Duarte is not easy, as I’m sure you are already experiencing.
But, trust me (and your leaders) when we tell you that there is immense value in doing hard things.
These hard times will push you out of your comfort zone.
These hard moments will build character in you.
These hard moments will prepare you for other, even harder things you will inevitably face in your life.
Once you conquer Pico you will not only have a wonderful sense of accomplishment, but you will also have more courage, and more perseverance, and have forged stronger relationships with your brothers and sisters (classmates).
All of these will be helpful tools to conquer other challenges in your life — like standing up for the weak, getting into college, living a life which honors God, facing hard times like loosing a friend or family member, doing what is right in the face of persecution, or simply passing your next big exam!
I promise you — your Pico trip will be something you never forget and an experience you will rely on for years to come!
Here’s my encouragement and challenge to you as you make your way to the Peak.
- When it’s hard and you don’t think you can go any further – think and rely on Jesus for endurance and perseverance.
- When it’s easy and you’re resting – think about and praise Jesus for rest and for your classmates and leaders and guides.
- When you’re tired and you get frustrated or upset – think on and pray to Jesus for patience.
- When you’re legs don’t feel like they can go one step further – set your mind on Jesus and depend on him to help you keep moving.
- When you’ve made it to the pico and have taken pictures with Juan Pablo Duarte – take in all of God’s created beauty. Look from left to right and look out as far as you can see, and remember that if you have accepted Jesus that Psalm 103:12 says “He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.”
- When you have returned back to La Cienega and are waiting for the bus to pick you up – PRAISE JESUS and soak up how amazing you’ve done!
God loves each and every one of you more than you can even begin to imagine. He loves you because He loves you because He loves you.
But our junk – our sin – has separated us from Him because He is so good and so pure and so holy. But God loves you so much that he sent his son Jesus to enter our world, get down and dirty with our struggles, and then be murdered to pay our sin-debt so that we can be back in a right relationship with God. That’s how much he loves you. (John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”)
Jesus did hard things – to the point where he willingly allowed himself to be mocked, beaten, tortured and murdered for you and me. Think about his strength and perseverance and courage as you hike. Remember what Paul said:
“That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor. 2:10)
I miss and love all of you – and I’m so proud! Bring back some good stories for me and don’t pick on Frankely too much! 😉