so we made it home from the ambassador’s youth orange trip yesterday… made it home? sounds like survival talk there? oh wait, it is… the trip for me included a near death experience – or one that felt like it anyway – for me and so i am really glad to be back, and with my the beautiful Val again…

all in all it was an incredible trip – a lot of effort needed at different times for different reasons but a great bunch of leaders, a crazy mad rad bunch of youths, and once again a winning combo of tour guides headed up by the irrepressible Ollie (if ‘irrepressible’ means brilliant leader, cool fun funky guy, and all round winner, which it probably doesn’t – who makes up these words anyway?)

it is impossible to suitably (some might say ‘aptly’ but not me, not this time, i’ve gone for ‘suitably’ – darn, wish i’d gone for ‘aptly’ now) give an accurate summing up of the whole trip cos so much happened, so many conversations, so many moments of humour and blondity and action and so much monty python, marco poloing and new business forming… so i’ll just have to mention some highlights, which are going to be more relevant to those who went than those who didn’t – you really did have to be there [where were you anyway?]

so, near death? nappy running [take off your life jacket and step thru the arm holes thus wearing it like a nappy – jump into river and swim swim swim against current – failed that bit a little – and then get into cocktail position which is feet first with arms and feet in air and let river take you] sjambok which is a level grade 2 rapid and the worst one we encounter on this trip – started off badly when i couldn’t swim far enuff across the river cos i suck as a swimmer and the current was really strong so probly cocktailed too early, but fortunately the current carried me towards the right place anyways – or unfortunately it seems – and the bit where you get sucked under into the whirlpool and then spat out quickly i got the first bit right of and then suddenly i am under the water swimming to the surface… and swimming to the surface… and panicky swimming to the surface… it’s like i see the long tunnel with the light at the end, but the whole tunnel is flooded… [got so bad that Laurie, one of the girls standing at the side of the river who weighs about my hand, at first thort it was Ali playing a joke and then when she realised it was me and how long i’d been under was about to jump in and ‘save me’ – fortunately it was at that point that] eventually the river spat me out and i got a breath and started trying to swim and just had water everywhere again and so tried cocktail and that worked and i started floating down the river and fortunately John-o and my boat buddy Chris made a man chain from the side and caught me and pulled me in cos i had no strength by then… may not have been as close as it felt, and i probly wasn’t under the water for the seventeen hours and thirteen minutes it felt like, but really did feel like a bit of a close call…

so probly not my funnest moment, but if i had to pick some highlights of the trip they would probably be:

* times around the fire challenging the youth with God stuff, choosing this day whom they will serve, Beth’s testimony/sharing, the morning devotion times to reflect and a lot of small group and one on one conversations, especially on the bus on the way home…

* finding out that Marco (who every time anyone said his name i would shout “Polo”) actually has “Paulo” as his second name (so we changed the response to “Paulo” and most of the group joined in)

* standing for about half an hour throwing rocks of increasing size at the spot next to Rosslee having her believe it was firstly fish and then James and then anyone else but the person a metre right behind her doing it and watching her jump surprised every time…

* gondola’eering – cos that never gets old…

* after a shaky start with Chris my boat buddy in terms of steering and power, absolutely owning all of the major rapids, including sjambok…

* business creating in the format of:

me: i’ve got a business
andrew: what business is it?
me: we send out people with metal detectors to african countries that used to be at war to remove mines from the fields
andrew: how’s business?
me: it’s picking up

my alltime favourite though is still:

me: i have a new business
andrew: what business is it?
me: we manufacture make-up that people use to beautify pieces of poo
andrew: how’s business?
me: it’s pretty crap

* video interviews with the finger and other forms of microphone

* the food, which was incredible, for food in a gourmet restaurant let alone stuff the guides had prepared on the side of a river over some coals – the gammon especially, wow, must have had seconds of that (fourteen times!) – definitely makes the trip a whole lot more comfortable

* juggling class and psycho golf (spin around ten times facing upwards holding on to a paddle then run and try and hit a bottle of water, or launch yourself over the edge if you are john) and all the water ball games (except maybe day one’s toe-crushing race against harry potter) and jack handeying and green stone popping and sharing my toothpaste with greg and josh on the last nite…

* oh, and winning… cos after a day of pulling peter and gavin for a while, and then lifting melch, and so being in last place straining against the water for most of the day, somehow boat buddy chris and i managed to find the front after lunch and managed to establish a slight lead and despite some gail force winds we managed to win the whole trip. cos we all know, it’s not a race. but it is.

just an incredible time of connecting with God, meeting new people, re-establishing relationship with old friends and braving the elements, oh and tunnels filled with not enough light and too much water – thanks to Andrew and Ambassadors for the opportunity and Ollie, Abel, Max, Matt and Griffin from Felix Unite for looking after us so well.

and it was all yello….orange…