I was able to check in early and had the afternoon to kill so I decided to go over to Mt. Monadnock which was only 10 minutes away. I have always wanted to climb it, but never got the chance due to weather or not having enough time. Thursday was the nicest day the entire time I was gone, and even though it was still in the 50s I had to put the top down. I’m sure the locals thought I was crazy.
The climb up wasn’t so bad. I made it fairly close to the summit (past the timberline and got to the last ascent before reaching the summit), but I was running out of time and knew it was going to take me a while to get down and I wanted to make it back before the conference officially kicked off. When going up I realized that this was pretty steep, and going down I thought was going to be somewhat challenging. I had no idea. I’ve hiked up mountains in North Carolina before, but this was considerably different. Let’s just say, going down really sucked. Big time. Especially since I am missing a big chunk of my outer meniscus in my right knee. I wasn’t anticipating the pounding my knees were going to take. When I finally made it down, I was sore the rest of the weekend. Both of my knees were swollen (I had slipped and tore up my left knee – there was still ice & snow on the trail), and I had a hard time climbing up and down stairs the rest of the weekend. But I’d do it again, and I regret not going ahead and climbing to the top. I’ll have to do that next year (and leave myself more time to get down).
The conference itself was excellent. It was a great time for me to reflect on where I was spiritually and in ministry. I also enjoyed seeing colleagues and friends in ministry. It was great time of sharpening and encouraging one another. I attended a workshop put on by Eugene Schneeberg, the project director of Straight Ahead’s Boston/Lynn Re-Entry Aftercare project, he talked about case management as an effective tool for aftercare. It was extremely helpful and gave me some good ideas. Then I attended another workshop led by Keith Winters, one of the chaplains with Midwest Challenge in Minnesota, on ministering to Muslims using the Quran. It was very interesting and gave me a framework for discussion when I have a chance to speak with a Muslim. We do have a some who come to our Bible discussion groups from time to time.
During our time of collective prayer on Saturday night, God kept bringing Joshua 1:1-9 to my mind. I had shared that scripture when I spoke at the seniors’ retreat for the Christian Ministries department at Trinity International University a couple of weekends ago. The topic was ministry uncertainty, and I realized that scripture was for me as well (duh). SOY is facing a challenging year with one of our federal grants ending, needing to recruit more mentors and with the desire God has placed within me to see SOY minister in more facilities and begin a re-entry aftercare program. God says to Joshua “be strong and courageous”. He says that three times in this passage. How can we be strong and courageous in the midst of adversity? Because of God’s presence! He promised Joshua that He would be with him. I also can be strong and courageous because of God’s presence and work in the circumstances and challenges I face. If it were up to me, well that would frankly be pretty scary.