Brandi Richardson took part in our Freedom Challenge trip to the Grand Tetons, Wyoming in 2016. During the trip Brandi and fellow women from her church, The Father's House in San Diego, climbed almost 30 miles and raised more than $525,000 for Freedom Challenge projects. Here, she shares more about her biggest challenges and how God tugged on her heart to go on the trip...

How did you hear about the Freedom Challenge?

When I heard about the Freedom Challenge through The Father's House, it seemed a little crazy to me. Seeing pictures of women on top of mountains huddled together freezing? Nope, not for me! However, I was interested in the local hikes they were training on, and I wanted to train and encourage the women who had decided to do the Freedom Challenge.

How did you end up taking part?

I actually didn’t want to sign up at first. I had gone on a mission trip to India in January 2015, and this year, 2016, our family had planned a family vacation, so all funds went to this. We had nothing. I wasn't sure I could raise the money or take more time off work as I had just done the trip to India the year before.

After a couple hikes and talking with the women on the trails, I started seeing/feeling that God wanted me to take on this challenge. He put peace in me thathe would make this possible for me. On my trip to India, I had seen what The Freedom Challenge funds went to, and now I wanted to be part of raising more funds to help. I felt God wanted me to complete the circle, so to speak.

What were your biggest challenges?

The biggest challenge for me was the hours of training and being away from my family. I loved the physical part of hiking but missed being with them. I'm so blessed to have the support of my husband; he allowed me to focus on the physical aspect of hiking and training for the hours I did. I physically challenged my body and mind and accomplished so many things. I learned a lot about what I am able do physically and mentally. I learned how to fuel my body and mind. The months of training allowed me to see the beauty of God’s creation all around me. This calmed my mind and brought a sense of peace to my spirit. To take life in, slow down and enjoy the beauty around me.

What lessons did you learn from going on The Freedom Challenge?

Fundraising and bringing awareness to everyone I came in contact with sparked a fire in me to make a difference in this world. I knew the funds would come in and allow me to take this challenge. I knew I would have to work hard for it, and I did because the fire was burning strong to fight for this cause.  

Now, looking back, what have you learned from your experience?

I'm so glad to have taken this journey. The friendships I've made and experiences I've had is something that I will cherish for years to come. I'm glad I listened to God and did what He called me to do. We are His hands and feet. He asked me to speak up for the voiceless, so I did and will continue to do so.

California native Brandi Richardson has been attending The Father’s House for almost 11 years. She’s been married to Steve for almost 15 years, and has two sons (Tyler, 21, and Zakary, 12). She works as a patient care coordinator for a home oxygen and respiratory company, and as a massage therapist. She’s lived in Illinois and Germany, and currently lives in Escondido, Calif.