Determination (includes a challenge to the Home-Schoolers following this blog)

I have been reading my husband’s letters and growing increasingly awed by him.  He has endured climate changes (like going from sleeping where there is snow on the ground to wearing shorts due to the heat), hunger, pain, loneliness, and exhaustion in order to bring awareness about the pollution that threatens the water we all drink, the air we all breathe, and the earth we all depend upon.  I see in him a determination and tenacity I always knew was there, but had always assumed he would never need to access to this degree, in our life together.  I know that he fights for his clients like a guard dog protects his owners from an intruder,  and I know that he pours himself wholeheartedly into the causes he believes in from his faith in Christ to his belief in justice and civil rights.  This side of him may indeed be  something new to my eyes but it is not a new part of his character.  It has always been there.

We had not yet met when he had his motorcycle accident in 2003 that resulted in a Traumatic Brain Injury with several fractures in his skull, a broken pelvis, and the loss of the use of his right arm.  However, his parents and his friends have told me how in the beginning he repeated the same few words over and over again,  because he had no short term memory.  The brilliant mind who had received an education from Cornell University and was in his first year of Law School at the University of Kentucky, had big dreams and plans for what he would do once he graduated.  But, when the accident occurred he experienced agony, anger and frustration when he could not remember the simplest things, like which shoe went on which foot.  His mother in particular shares the story of him on a treadmill enduring physical therapy, trying to teach his body how to walk again with tears streaming down his face.  The pain was unbearable but he would not quit.  He kept his eye on the goal of returning to Law School and finishing what he had started.  Eventually, he achieved all of this but, not without great difficulty and many setbacks.  I did not witness the miracle of determination in his life back then because it would be years before we would meet.  But, I see it now.  I hope you do to.

3/30  Arufus Morgan Shelter  10:21 PM

After an arduous day of hiking, I just ache.  My feet burn and tingle, my legs ache and my shoulders feel permanently slumped when I’m not wearing my pack.  It has become such that it does not even feel good to stop, sit down, and take a rest.   

This has been my worst night yet.  I’m sitting in the damp dirt next to the shelter in the rain as I write this. Tonight, as I was trying to hang my bear bag, I caught myself saying  “I hate it out here, I hate bear bagging, I wish the bears would just eat my food”.  This had happened after an hour of trying to hang my bear bag, a day of exhaustive walking where everything seemed to hurt, a day of pouring rain and thunder storms, and an evening trying to cook my dry beans I had carried with me and soaked in a Mason Jar.  They had not turned out well.

I recognized my discouragement and right away decided to think of something more positive.  Out here, you are alone with your thoughts a lot and if you are not careful, they can turn dark.  So, I started thinking about how blessed I am to have the opportunity to do this.  In preparation for this trip I heard so many people say “I wish I had done that when I was younger” or “I would love to do that” but, because of life situations, they were unable to.  I am privileged to have the love and support of my family and even strangers who know nothing of me and gave of their resources to help me get here.   I begin to remember that I owe it to myself and to them.  This trip is not just for me.  It is for everyone supporting me.

Then, I begin to think about the home-school kids who are following our blog.  What do I want them to know about what one should do when life gets hard?  Home-schoolers, I want to tell you something.  This may sound like a real adventure and lots of fun, and truthfully it is both of those things.  But, it is also hard and a lot of work.  I often get into my cold sleeping bag at night when I’m either wearing my wet clothes or they are in the sleeping bag with me as I try to dry them when it is wet outside.  When I get into camp some nights I’m so tired and worn out that I feel very confused and can’t concentrate on what I am trying to accomplish.  This is not a glamorous trip, but I can tell you that it’s a lot like life.    Life is a lot of hard work too.  And, when you find a cause you believe in, you can’t just say you care.  You have to do something about it, or there is no real evidence that you care at all.  This is why I am doing this.  In life, good and worthwhile things do not come easily.  They take work.  Hard work.  But, even though I am feeling discouraged tonight, I know that fighting for my friends who live near  and work in mines to have clean drinking water and not be exposed to cancer and birth defects for their children, is something I must do…not just with words.  

Never quit and give up because something seems too hard.  Someday someone may tell you that something you care about is unwise, impossible, or not worth your efforts.  You have to be ready to continue, even if you feel as if you are standing alone.

 To help you understand this concept, I am giving you an assignment (with your parent’s permission).  

1) Think about an issue you believe deserves justice.  It can be something local or beyond that.  Example: Bullying

2) Research the history of the issue, including what those who disagree with you think.  A good activist learns about the issue from every angle.  Example: Why do bullies do the things they do?

3) Brainstorm ways you can help.  A good advocate includes those whom they wish to help in the process.  Example: Interview someone who has been bullied and ask them what would help them.  Write a letter to a politician quoting the person who was bullied.

4) Email my wife at: and we will share some of the top responses with our readers.  The home-schooler with the best idea gets a free copy of the book “Do Hard Things” by Alex and Brett Harris.

Remember, the issue you care about may not be easy to solve.  The point is that we try to help and that we let others know what the problem is.  If you can help make others aware, you will find others who care just as much as you do.


NOTE FROM TANYA:  Christian and I talked today and we would like to open this challenge up to anyone 18 or younger whether you are home-schooled or not.  You are our future.  We want to hear your ideas!

Today’s donation totals did not change.  We have raised $2,585. We still need $2,415 for him to complete the trip. Thank you to those who have supported us. Please mail donations to: Christian Torp, P.O. Box 861, Lexington, Ky. 40508

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One Response to Determination (includes a challenge to the Home-Schoolers following this blog)

  1. Carey Henson says:

    Beautiful message, Christian! It’s easy to have fun when the sun is shining, but it takes real determination to go on when you’re cold, wet, hungry, and tired (literally and metaphorically). Hike on!

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