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International students step outside of comfort zone to conquer Mt. Benson

Encouraging words and God's strength fuel a successful summit and sense of accomplishment.

Here's a story about what happened when two Nanaimo Christian School international students stepped outside of their comfort zone and set out to summit Nanaimo's Mount Benson.

By Peer Ristine, Educational Assistant

In January I set out to hike Mount Benson with Matthew Lai and Samuel Haselhuhn, both NCS international students in Grade 11. Matthew is from Hong Kong and had never done a hike before and certainly not one as steep and grueling as Mount Benson in the winter.

After the initial 50-meter climb I began to wonder if Matthew would make it to the summit. When Matthew verbally confirmed my doubts, Samuel and I gave each other a look, one that says "I don't know about this ..."

I quickly realized we would need to contact the host families and inform them of our delayed timeline. But Samuel and I persisted in encouraging Matthew and coached him every step of the way, literally.

Upon reaching the false summit Matthew exclaimed without exaggeration, "If I am able to do this, it will be the hardest thing I have ever done physically and mentally. My family is never going to believe I did this! They think I am just going for a pleasant walk in nature."

At one point in the hike about a kilometer from the summit Matthew stopped, exasperated and breathing heavily. He declared that he wanted to prove to himself that he could do it because in his eyes it would be his greatest achievement yet.

Finally, after many breaks and words of encouragement, Matthew amazed us and reached the summit! He kept saying that this was the hardest thing he ever did.

"During the hike I felt I had to prove to myself I could do it, since most of my strength is academic and not physical. I know God wants us to grow in areas we do not see ourselves as good in, and every time I wanted to give up God gave me the strength to overcome it." -- Matthew Lai

What Matthew did by summiting Mount Benson may be seen as easy for some, but this hike was way beyond the scope of anything he had experienced up to this point. For the entire next week he beamed about his accomplishment. NCS high school staff members were just as ebullient as Matthew was and celebrated his victory with him.

I believe God calls us to do hard things that push us physically, mentally, and even spiritually outside of our comfort zones so that we can achieve success in who God has called each one of us to be. Thank you, Matthew, for your shining example.

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