Scaling the Heights

On occasion we have invited guest bloggers to help contribute to the story of IWU. Guest writers provide a special glimpse into the life at IWU and even helping to define the mission of IWU. Today we have an article that can be read as an inspiring story, even a devotional thought. Mike and Cindy Helvie ’81 are missionaries to with Global Partners. Their ministry has taken them all around the world to far reaching places as Zambia. Last year they lead a team of students to Zambia to study abroad. Their experiences and mentorship of students has defined a generation of young leaders serving as nurses with a profound experience of studying with Mike and Cindy.

Serving as Missionaries in Residence provides a rich ministry to students at IWU. Weekly you can see them meeting with students at McConn Coffee Co on the campus of IWU. They are mentoring and training our students! They are a welcomed relationship and resource to students.

Today, Cindy is our guest blogger. That you for sharing your experiences from your summer.

Written by Cindy Helvie ’81

On August 29th 2014 I stood on the top South Sister a 10,380-foot mountain, in Oregon. The sky was clear and blue and I looked down on rolling hills, smaller mountains and the steep red lava rock path I had just travelled. In my mind I kept saying, “I made it!” I was also excited that five of the seven ladies that started out also made it to the summit. I was with a group called “Northwest Women” each they year hiked or climbed to raise money for women in other countries. This year we raised money for World Hope’s Anti-Trafficking program in Sierra Leone.

Kay Winters, a pastor’s wife from New Creation Wesleyan Church was our leader. Kay had trained in mountaineering and was our coach for our preparation and climb. I took the preparation very seriously; if I was to succeed I knew I needed to be ready. The other ladies participated in five training hikes in Oregon. These hikes increased in mileage and elevation preparing the body for the endurance needed to climb in thinner air. I was not able to do those since I was in Indiana. My training needed to be in Marion.

I started in April by running on the IWU track. I remember the first lap I jogged. I didn’t think I could make it. I was out of breath, nauseated and my chest hurt. But I didn’t stop. I kept going and it got easier I added a lap each week, until I could jog 3 miles or 12 laps. Under our leaders direction I did the Stairmaster and push-ups and sit-ups to build my strength to carry the 20-25lb pack.

I needed to buy equipment. I looked for hiking boots in Marion and couldn’t find them. I had to travel to Indianapolis. The thick high-topped boots felt strange on my feet used to summer sandals. I had to break the boots in so I hiked in Mater Park with my boots and pack loaded with books. People looked at me strangely. One lady saw me and told her husband, “Why is that lady hiking with a pack, does she need to stretch her back?” I told an older man who was walking in the park that I was training for a climb. He saw me at the end of my training hike and asked, “Are you feeling ready to climb that mount’ in?”

On August 26th I flew to Oregon, a long time friend who had climbed two years ago helped me with additional equipment; a cold weather sleeping bag, whistle and rain coat. Our group drove to Bend, Oregon and went in to eat lunch our last “real” meal for three days. We would eat dehydrated foods at the campsite. As we came out of the restaurant the pastor who was our “support team” looked at his tire and realized it was low. When he put air in he could hear the air whooshing out. So we had an unplanned stop at the tire shop and sat while they bought two new tires for the truck.

This gave us a late start on our hike to the primitive campsite. I put on my 27lb pack; it was so heavy it seemed to pull me backwards! At 5,000 feet each step required exertion. We hiked 2 ½ miles in three hours. I wondered “How are we going to summit the mountain tomorrow?” We took out our tents, stoves, extra water, and air mattresses out of our packs. We walked down to the lake; collected water, filtered it, and boiled it to add to our freeze dried packs of food. It was 9 p.m.; we got our packs ready and crawled in our tents. In the night I heard the sounds of the wilderness, it sounded like animals, I pictured bears, sniffing around our tents. Then I shone a light and saw it was only the wind gently lifting and dropping the tent flaps.

I woke at 5am put my boots on and got my daypack ready with gloves, hat, down coat, climbing poles, high protein food, and three liters of water. We shared a verse together had a prayer and set out. We walked and walked, first the trail was over gently rolling hills then it began to get steeper. We walked through a boulder field, then over red lava rock path that was littered with “scree” with the mountain falling away on either side. The “scree” is a combination of sand, gravel and loose rock; it got in boots and made hiking difficult. Yet we kept climbing. The hardest part was at 9,700 feet, we had been walking over six hours, the path was steep, the red rock scree was deep, the wind was blowing, and there was no cover. I thought, “I really am on a mountain.”

I remember how I kept jogging on the red IWU track and just kept putting one foot in front of the other. The preparation on the track at IWU prepared me to reach the mountaintop. The preparation I did at IWU when I was a student over thirty years ago has prepared me for life as a nurse and missionary. It also prepared me spiritually, as I hiked a repeated a verse, “They that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength they will mount up on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary they will walk and not faint.” I thank God that He did renew my strength and take me to the heights, I reached the summit! IWU is a place of preparation; you never know where it will take you!

See picture here of Cindy on top of the mountain

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