Searching for What Makes Us Come Alive
By Guest Author on November 9th, 2012

Sometimes it just takes one flying leap into the dark to start something new. You might need to go somewhere no one else has gone—into the unknown. It’s the path of the unknown that somehow inspires those following you.

The black abyss of darkness and water was as much of the unknown as I could handle. Using a little flashlight, I strained to see the origin of the cavern’s spring. It seemed to be bottomless—we knew it was deep enough and clear of rocks. The darkness made the cool, moist air seethe into my skin even deeper. Why was I doing this again? Why did I decide to lead a group of eight fatherless boys into the wild for a three-day canoe trip through the hidden Ozarks of southern Missouri? Standing on the ledge, I was thankful for my friend Tim, who had agreed to share leadership during our wilderness excursion.

But now I was going to willingly thrust my body into a fresh water spring that was pitch black inside of a cave. Was I afraid? Of course! Was it going to be cold? Like the Arctic Ocean. Was it going to be fun? You bet. It was one of those crazy things that you do when you need to release something from inside of your soul. My concern at that moment was not if it was possible or not. Adventure was calling out.

After a count of three, my friend Tim and I were going in. One, two, three—SPLASH!

The animal, survival instinct kicked in, telling me to get out of that icy water—like a cat that has been thrown into a swimming pool. We scurried up the slimy, mud walls of the black pit into saftey, but what followed suit was even more thrilling.

It’s in the midst of the adventure that we learn how to come alive. In the case of the fatherless, we find that creating more intentional contexts for bonding is necessary to grow in relationship with one another. Especially with boys—they need a place to let their hearts soar in discovery of something new. There is a mutual joy that comes in discovering something together.

Our little excursion inspired the boys to get their own taste of the adventure. They took it to another level. They approached a cliff that was even higher than the one from which Tim and I had jumped. One after another they bombed into the aquamarine pool below at the mouth of the cave. Shouts of joy and the Sheer bliss of being airborne for a moment promoted a frenzy from the boys. It was an all out barrage of youth that took over that icy spring for the next several minutes. They were heroes—each conquering their fears of the intimidating cold water.

Beyond a greater sense of alertness, I felt a pleasant sense of accomplishment. We explored and discovered; we took the leap and found joy. Maybe this is what it means to lead the fatherless. We can journey with them into the unknown and show them how to leap once we take the plunge ourselves.

– Peter Kiiskila

Peter Kiiskila obtained his B.A. from North Central University in Minneapolis, MN, majoring in cross cultural studies with a international business focus. In 2004 and 2005, he completed an internship in Uganda, Africa, working with two non-profit organizations that exist to create holistic development in the local villages and to restore and reunite street children with living family members. In 2010, he went to Zimbabwe to work with community-based orphan care outside of the capital city, Harare. Later that year he completed the Orphan Justice Center’s Fellowship, a three-month intensive to gain understanding in the issues surrounding the orphan. He currently serves with the Orphan Justice Center as the Director of Mentoring, as well as serving with a non-profit organization to rescue, adopt, and restore orphans in the US.




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