George Bowers Sr.: A fall at the falls

George Bowers Sr. visited a number of waterfalls on his recent trip to Hawaii. Courtesy photo

As I shared in last week’s column, Nancy and I were privileged to recently visit Hawaii and enjoy many scenic and historic sites as well as the local cuisine, of which I brought back not a little on my person. It was truly an enjoyable trip and we are thankful for this special opportunity.

While most of our excursion was incredibly enjoyable, there was one brief moment that continues to impact me weeks later. It occurred on a hike while I was traveling the “Road to Hana.” Hana is a small town on the eastern end of Maui and is of no great importance. The journey to get there, however, is another story. Along this 52-mile trek, there are 617 turns, 56 one-lane bridges, and 23 climate changes. On the mauka, or ocean side of the highway, trekkers are treated to spectacular views and sheer cliffs that drop several hundred feet into steep ravines or directly into the Pacific itself. On the makai, or mountain side, stunning cliffs soar to the heavens.

Sprinkled along the way are incredible waterfalls, enormous trees, and colorful flowers. It is truly a paradise, especially if you enjoy outdoor photography. There are also multiple opportunities to pause and stretch your legs on hikes to amazing destinations.

Having done my homework, I planned to visit one of the “non-touristy” waterfalls that the travel guide described as unpublished and only about 10 minutes from the road. There was no trail for this one so I had to climb up the stream over the rocks and logs. Since it had rained that morning, they were still quite slick but that just added challenge for an old country boy.

I managed to keep my feet mostly dry and finally spied the incredible falls just ahead. It was amazing. After taking a photo, or four, from that location, I pressed on with renewed excitement. Unfortunately, my feet slipped and both plunged into the water followed immediately by the rest of my body, even to the top of my head. The stream was fairly shallow so I’m still not exactly sure how it all happened, but for a Dunker preacher, it was quite an unplanned rebaptism.

The water didn’t bother me that much, but I immediately began checking my gear. Thankfully I still had my wallet, though waterlogged. My backpack too had been baptized and most papers, magazines, and snacks had been compromised. I checked my pocket for my cell phone. It wasn’t there. Hoping I had left it in the Jeep, I checked just to make sure and as I felt around the small pool, I discovered and pulled it from the water. Amazingly, it was still on thanks to the LifeProof case.

Having collected all my belongings and readjusting the best I could, I continued another 50 yards to a direct view of the waterfall, which I photographed with a backup camera I had in a Ziploc. The beauty was worth every drop of moisture and after several more photos, I headed back downstream.

A little later into the trip, however, my phone went dark and has stayed that way ever since. After arriving back at the hotel, I trashed some of the snacks and magazines while I dried the rest of my belongings. Thankfully, I was able to salvage most things and the only real casualty was my phone. As of this writing, I’m waiting for my replacement from LifeProof.

What struck me most about this experience was the pervasive impact that occurred in such a brief moment. I was under water less than 3 seconds, but it affected everything on and with me, even to the point of ruining some things.

We may think that momentary events are insignificant, but they can affect us greatly. In cases such as drug use, sexual encounters, or pornography, the brief exposure can have negative impacts that last a lifetime, while other situations of marriage, salvation, and kindness are profoundly and, in some cases, eternally positive.

If you ever visit Hawaii, be careful while hiking and keep your valuables dry. But more importantly, as you travel through life, be aware that each action can impact the rest of your life for better or worse and invite the Lord to help you make wise choices. A brief second can have eternal consequences.

Thankful to be dry again, George

George Bowers Sr. is the senior pastor of Antioch Church of the Brethren and has authored nine books including his latest, “Valley Verses, Volume III.” He can be reached through www.georgebowersministries.com or at gabowers@shentel.net.