Saturday, October 1, 2011

Willingdon Ironmen Fall 2011 Retreat: Day 2

8:27 AM:

     We're having a great breakfast in our apartment as the second day of the retreat opens. Tim is an awesome planner - he took all our food needs into account and came fully loaded. The end result is that he made us all awesome breakfast - scrambled eggs with shitake mushrooms and green onions, accompanied with toast and orange juice. Tim Leung is an awesome cook, so impressive that Johnson smelt the aroma while walking down the corridor and came in to join us :) We'll be going for our individual activities later on in the day. Johnson is heading off for a tree-top ecology tour; Bryant and Bryan are running a testimonial workshop in our suite, helping people develop and write a concise testimony of how and why they came to Christ. I'll be heading out to a 6-hour hike at 10 AM, and then off to lunch and second session with Pastor John. I'll update sometime then. Hope everyone reading is having a blessed day!
- The Wisdom Seeker

At breakfast. Johnson dropped by after smelling the delicious aroma in the corridor :)

Tim and Jason making breakfast - scrambled eggs and bagels!
11:49 PM:

     This has been an exhausting, but highly fulfilling day. It had a great beginning, and a wonderful ending. I would write much more in depth, if I wasn't so tired. The hike was great! There were two hikes offered, one covering 13 kilometers, mostly uphill at a steep gradient and ending at a lake with spectacular mountain views from 3,200 feet. The second was a shorter, milder hike across more level terrain with gentler slopes, to Cheakamus Lake, located in Garibaldi Park [1]. I opted for the second one, because I hadn't brought proper hiking shoes and rain gear with me. At the end of the day, after hearing some of the stories of the men that had gone on the more difficult hike, I was glad that I did!

     I met some great men on the hike, and made quite a number of friends. The conversations were deep and personally meaningful. It was surprising how quickly 6-odd hours seemed to fly past with almost non-stop conversation. In spite of that, I still remembered to stop at interesting locations and take photos, some of which I have posted below. One of the great shots I got was a panoramic photo at Cheakamus Lake, which I stitched together later at home using the most handy and open-source tool, Hugin [1].

By a stream going down to the river (shouldn't use the Foliage setting on my camera)

Alex Gonzales by Cheakamuk Lake

A panoramic shot of an area of Cheakamuk Lake, taken during our lunch stop

Collapsed tree trunks and rocky outcroppings by the trail

The intrepid explorer!

A view of the river from the suspension bridge near the trail
      On the way back, I was surprised to get a call from Johnson (who had opted to go on a tree-top ecological tour), asking what I was doing. It turned out that he was back at Tantalus Lodge, unwinding in one of the heated swimming pool, and asked if I wanted to join him in one of the hot tubs. Never having been in a hot tub before and starting to ache from 6 hours of walking, I was most enthusiastic to savour the pleasures of a soak in hot water, until I suddenly realized that I had no swimming trunks. I mentally kicked myself for not having bought one earlier. In any case, after getting back to the lodge, I did drop by the hot tub and snapped Johnson enjoying himself:

Johnson unwinding in the heated swimming pool
   At around 5, we all headed out to dinner at Milestone's restaurant, and the main event of the day which everyone was looking forward to - Session #2, with Pastor John. The topic was something of high anticipation, as he would be delivering a detailed talk on the subject of Evolution and Christianity. And what an evening it was! From the food, fellowship and conversation, it turned out to be a most memorable evening, with 200+ Ironmen filling the restaurant, which we had booked till midnight. And at the end of dinner, the tables were cleared, Pastor John took a seat on a stool with his notes laid out in front of him, and for the next one-and-a-half hours, proceeded to deliver one of the most incisive and fascinating talks that I have heard on the subject. Needless to say, I scribbled furiously as I tried to take down everything I could. I hope to post a detailed layout of his talk in the coming week. See you in the next post!

Alex, Jason, Ben, Tim and Johnson at dinner

Pastor John prepping during dinner

Pastor John speaking after dinner on Christianity and Evolution

- The Wisdom Seeker

[1] Cheakamus Lake
[2] Hugin Panorama Photo Stitcher