Gun slingin’, tobacco chewin’, teeth grittin’ cowboys and miners of the west howled and growled around in my mind. My imagination galloped into a new world on the fourth night of Explore’s 18 day backpacking trip in Death Valley, Ca. Upon splitting up into two groups of guys and gals, the men rounded a bend and came upon an abandoned mining camp with cabins, mills, quarries, and mine shafts. Old mining towns are still standing and scattered around Southern California from the big boom over a century ago. As if we had discovered gold, we spent the afternoon exploring the area and dreaming of what it must have been like to experience the life of a gold rush miner, which, at this point, the environment, our grungy selves, and the rest of our senses didn’t separate us, but rather, only a number of years had put a gap in that fantasy.
God had given us an incredible blessing to enjoy as we set this canyon as our site that night with no idea there were cabins and mine shafts for us to discover. Much of our time was consumed with investigating the mines, crawling up and down the maze of tunnels, running like little girls from the bats, and standing in awe with eyes glowing at the different minerals and treasures which God has placed in this world. We finally settled into camp and I taught a lesson on baking breads in the backcountry. After dinner and some stories we rolled out our bags and brushed off the dirt and rested peacefully. Our Father wasn’t done blessing us on this trip, for He continued to reveal His goodness through His creation, and in the love the community shared throughout our time in the desert. I am reminded that all the beauty and wonder which we tasted on our extended trip pales in comparison to what God has in His heavenly storehouses and in the relationship we have with Him. The average annual rainfall in Death Valley is a skosh under two and a half inches, and God decided to send some down that night upon our tin covered mining cabin. We fell fast asleep listening to the lulling cacophony of rain on tin and rested in the safety of His arms.
Stephen currently lives in Huntington Beach, CA, but is originally from Saint Paul, MN. He is a second year Explore student, is completing his internship at Blue Bronna over this summer, and plans to return to Prairie in the fall to finish his BAMOL. Stephen plans to work with Bible translation in his future.