December 13, 2011

Where my brother is.

I have mentioned here and there that my brother is living in South America right now but haven't really said much more than that.

A couple years ago, my brother told us that he was going to intern for a ministry called Dry Bones in Denver, CO. He was going to be the mountain intern, where he would assist the mountain guide (who happened to be a friend of mine from Young Life in college) in leading the trek up and down the mountain for youth groups visiting during the summer. Honestly, I was kind of surprised. We had both done treks before with Young Life and also with Wilderness Trek in Denver so it's not like he'd never expressed interest in trek but he'd never expressed an interest in doing it for 3 months straight. I was really excited for him, though. I had a feeling he'd love it.

We've lost him to the mountain ever since.

That first semester back in Abilene at ACU was very different for him. He had lost all interest in school, had changed his major again and just didn't feel at home in school. He still loved Abilene and he felt like his friends there were his best friends in the world, though. So he was torn. He finished up that semester though.

All the while, though, he was researching a program called NOLS. Two of my best friends, Jason and Stephen had done it when we were juniors. It stands for National Outdoor Leadership School. Jason went to Arizona and Utah for a semester rock-climbing and Stephen spent a semester in the outback of Australia camping. The best part? They got a whole semester's worth of school credit for it. I told Cole about it when they got home thinking that would be right up his alley.

I didn't know he would choose the really long program, though! That was not the deal! He chose the two-semester program in Patagonia, Chile. Before he tried to sell the idea to Mom and Dad, he called me and asked if I thought a Powerpoint presentation would work. No joke, the boy made a presentation complete with graphs and pictures. I think my parents were impressed but my mom's immediate reaction was no! She's kind of attached to him for some reason. But they didn't answer right away and thought about it a while. After some negotiating about how it will be paid for, some threats deals made that he would finish school after coming home, it was decided that he could apply. A little while later, he was accepted! He would leave the following October.

It was still January though, and he decided to move back to Abilene and work that semester. He worked at a law firm that a few of our family friends have worked at as their errand boy basically. He had a pretty boring semester since his friends were busy with school and club stuff but he was glad he stayed since he loves Abilene and Young Life there and his friends. Oh, except that time he had a bike accident and broke his jaw. Guess he needed a little adventure.

Sorry, probably should have warned you a gross picture was coming but I made it small.

He had a pretty awful summer after that. He lived in Denver again working for Dry Bones and then went backpacking in Italy for a few weeks with my Dad. Wait, did I say awful? I meant best summer ever.

Then the day finally came when he left for Patagonia! That was not a good week for Mom. I know from several sources around town that she had a tendency to burst out in tears about any mention of Cole or even a mushy commercial. She's better now. Love ya, Mom ;)

So what has he been doing? The first 48 days or something, from what I understand, they lived on the mountain and on a glacier. A glacier. That sounds so hard core to me. He said he took pictures so I'm excited to see them. Other than that, I don't know what all they did. I picture them doing little science experiments on the forest floor (for the school credit part) but I don't think that's really what they do. I talked to him when they got back to base camp through this internet calling service but I didn't want to overload him with questions. Yet. I'll wait when I see him at Christmas.

After that, like I said, they got back to base camp for classes. They have been training for their Wilderness First Responder test. Its like an EMT certification that includes general medical training along with accidents that typically happen in the wilderness. Mom just called me to inform me that he called her and he passed his test! He has to have that for any sort of job in that field so that is really exciting.

Now that they've finished the WFR, next they leave tomorrow for their community service project. They are volunteering for a national park. I assume they will be doing things like repairing fences and clearing brush. I don't really know. After that he has a couple weeks of break when he will come home for Christmas!

When he gets back, they will take a 40 day or so sea kayaking trip! I got him a wet bag for Christmas so that he can put stuff that he doesn't want to get wet in it. (He's not flying in until Christmas day and I know he doesn't read my blog out there, so I'm not worried about him seeing this).

After that, they will do a rock-climbing excursion for another extended amount of time.

And then they will have the section called "cultural immersion. During these two weeks, they will live with a local family by themselves, having to speak Spanish and participate in whatever means that family has to make a living, including tending livestock and farming. Kanyon can't wait to talk to him about that part. I hope he has to castrate a calf.

The last part is a sort of end of the year test. All the students go on an excursion by themselves with a satellite phone and find out if they learned anything! They will be by themselves using all the skills they learned that year.

I'm sure I'll have lots more info after Christmas but I wanted to finally share all that he has been doing. He has such a tough life, huh?


  1. thanks for the update - i'm so glad he will be back for the holidays :) miss you, love you.

  2. Miss you, love you too! We are so excited to see him too.