Yesterday’s “Iron-man Challenge” at the International Campus Leadership Conference in Ikogosi, Ekiti State turned out to be a very personal experience. We had to walk for about 7 miles or 11 km, have breakfast, climb a steep forest path while crossing two waterfalls, then return through the steep slope and walk back (7 miles) to our resort. By the time I did the entire stretch, my pedometer had recorded over 267,000 steps.
The walk was an incredible discovery both in the beauty of the surrounding nature and the in-depth fellowship with fellow Challenge participants. I spent a large portion of that first stretch with Kevin and Eunice Oduor from Kenya. Our conversations covered many aspects of life and could be described as deeply inspirational.
After viewing it from a hilltop vantage position, we later walked past a village on a hill with a very colonial feel and were once more reminded of the simple life. Some participants decided to stop walking and joined the bus at this stage.
My endurance was tested during the 7 level steep and somewhat rocky climb but especially during the 7 miles walk back from the waterfall. The hilly landscape of this beautiful part of Ekiti State reminded me of my childhood, growing up in Njinikom – my father’s village. Meeting a young boy returning from the farm with firewood on his head brought precious memories of me accompanying my grandmother to the farm during my preteens, carrying a basket of corn on my head.
This childhood experience in endurance will later help me through some significant life hurdles; especially when I spent 10 months in the hospital and had to climb through what felt like Mount Everest, at the age of 20. I remember drawing mental strength back then from my childhood experience of climbing hills and descending several valleys to my grandparent’s farms.
The walk back was a deep re-connection with that childhood experience as I grappled with the hills and descents on my way back yesterday.
It reminds me of the shepherd boy who drew strength from his past experiences to face the giant, Goliath, at crunch time. (1 Samuel 17:33-37).
May our everyday experiences and routines serve as a training ground for tomorrow’s challenges.