Season 1 Highlights: To the End of the Road and Back
Relive some of the most incredible moments from the inaugural season of The End of the Road podcast with hosts Cathy Herholdt and Karess Linzer.
Check out photos, videos, and behind-the-scenes stories from our guests on the podcast. You won’t want to miss these exclusive extras!
Host Cathy Herholdt is joined by guest host Karess Linzer for an exciting look back at the most memorable experiences from Season 1 on The End of the Road podcast. Relive Harun Ringera’s heartfelt return to South Sudan after fleeing an attack in the middle of the night. Be reminded by Katie Toop and Maggie Konstanski of what it really means to be “brave” in the face of fear, knowing God is with you. And feel what it was like for World Concern President, Nick Archer, to land on an airstrip where animals grazed near an abandoned airport in Somalia in the early 1990s. Don’t miss these highlights from Season 1 and the exciting things in the works for Season 2, as we journey to new frontiers at the end of the road.
Season 1 Highlights: To the End of the Road and Back
Cathy: Welcome to The End of The Road podcast. My name is Cathy and I've had the privilege of being your host and tour guide on season one of the podcast, which we just wrapped up and oh, what a ride it has been. We've journeyed together to places like South Sudan, Kenya, Bangladesh, the middle east, Somalia and more. I want to thank you if you've been a part of season one, the journey on The End of The Road podcast, I hope you've enjoyed the stories and the experiences we've brought to you and hope you'll not only go back and listen again to some of those favorite moments, but share those with others. We're going to recap some of our favorite moments today. And to that end, I want to welcome Karess Linzer our content strategist here at world concern. We're going to do something a little different today, and I'm going to hand the mic over to Karess, and she's going to interview me. So welcome to the podcast Karess. It's great to have you.
Karess: Hi. I am super excited that I get to interview you, Cathy, and we get to chat all about season one. I mean, 13 episodes done. How does it feel?
Cathy: It feels amazing. As I mentioned at the beginning of the podcast when we first launched, this really has been a dream come true for me. I've wanted to share the stories of people who live and work at The End of The Road for a long time. And so to be able to see this podcast come to life and share it with others and get some really great feedback from the listeners of season one, it's been absolutely incredible. I feel a little bit of relief that we made it through season one, kind of feel like celebrating. It's a big accomplishment.
Karess: It really is. I mean, it definitely is something to celebrate for sure. What would you say are some of your highlights from season one?
Cathy: So for me personally, and I want to get into some of the episode highlights some of the stories and some of the interviews that we did on season one, but for me personally, being able to invite others into the experiences at The End of The Road, that was really our goal. When we set out to do season one was to enable people to experience what life is like in some of the world's hardest, most remote places. And I personally have had the privilege of visiting some of these places and fell in love with all of them.
Cathy: And whenever I would go and spend time in one of the places where world concern works or get to spend time with some of my colleagues, some of our colleagues that live and serve at The End of The Road, I always felt like I want everyone to be able to experience this.
Cathy: I wish that I could bring my friends. I wish that I could bring others to these places and let them experience it. Or I wish that they could sit with someone like Harun Ringera or Kenya and South Sudan country director, and just experience what their life has been like and hear from them and get to know them because these are just incredible people that we've had the privilege of interviewing on season one. And so to see that happen and then hear from listeners how blessed they were, how much it changed them to hear these stories really has been the biggest highlight for me.
Cathy: I would say that we accomplished our goal and that's been the biggest highlight. And I think the other thing would be just the feedback from listeners that we've gotten, just folks saying that it really opened their minds and made the world a little bit smaller for them. It's opened up conversations with people. Who've never really thought about what life is like in a developing country or in a place that is dangerous or so remote that most people will never go there. And so I think to that end, that's been exciting too, to hear how it has opened people's minds and hearts to what God is doing around the world.
Karess: Yes. And that's awesome. I definitely fit into that category. I could not even imagine the stories that the guests have shared and just being able to hear that it has been life changing for sure. What about some of your episode highlight?
Cathy: Yeah. Yeah, there were so many, it would be impossible to put them all into one season recap starting right off the bat. Our very first guest was Harun Ringera. Harun has been a friend of mine for the entire 12 years that I've worked at world concern. And I just love just his personality, his sense of humor, his beautiful smile and just the way that he communicates. And so I was really excited for people to get to hear Harun's story, but kind of thinking back on that in part two, which was the second episode that we interviewed Harun, he took us to war up state in South Sudan.
Cathy: He shared the story of when he and the team had to evacuate the office there in South Sudan because the town of Wau, where we were and still are headquartered in South Sudan was under attack. I just remember Harun saying that he went back after things had calmed down and the violence was over and that he was blessed and excited to go back. And so to have to flee a place in the middle of the night under gunfire, and then have a desire to go back to that place. In fact, he couldn't wait to go back. And so I asked him about why that was, and his response was really incredible. So let's just listen to that clip.
Harun: We felt we needed to go back. I know Cathy, those are people in South Sudan and people who have not been to South Sudan they don't know that South Sudanese are very friendly. They are very well coming. Like me. They call me brother. So I felt I need to go home. Like when I'm there, I feel I'm at home. Actually I feel more safe than Nairobi because when I'm there, they say they are protecting their brother like their insurance because I'm their brother. They make sure that I, and my team and I are not injured. And I really want them to go back to the team I was working with to inspire them.
Harun: Because if I stay in Kenya and I left part of my team in South Sudan, they'll feel that our leader doesn't care. So I had to go and cry with them because a number of them had lost their loved one.
Harun: So we had to go back, encourage them, give them hope, organize some more develop sessions with them because we also wanted to take care of them. Also, a number of them had gone to internally displaced camps, which you call NDPs or refugee camps. And some of the people who are there, they're my friends. There's no boundary between us and them. So we were one. And that's why I told you I'm so happy I am back because I know I will make a difference in their lives. And I will give them hope. You know that you can sort that with an email or a phone call, you have to go and sit down with them, cry with them and listen.
Cathy: Another highlight for me, probably my favorite episode. In fact, it's one that a friend of mine told me she has listened to now for her third time was my interview with Katie Toop and Maggie Konstanski. These are just two incredible humanitarian heroes as far as I'm concerned. They have lived and worked in some of the hardest places in the middle east, in Asia, in different places that I think would be very challenging for most of us, but they were willing to share those experiences. We titled that episode, "You'll never cry alone," and you'll have to go back and listen to that one to understand that title, but it gave me such insight into what it's like to be a woman in a part of the world where we don't hear much from women.
Cathy: There's such a bond there between women and these two really experienced that. And they also experienced the kindness of strangers and their neighbors in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt, and Sri Lanka. Their honesty really blessed me in the interview. I asked them the question if they felt like they're brave and I'd love for us just to listen again to how they answered that question. And so here's Katie first.
Katie: I remember talking to a mentor of mine a few years ago and I was heading into a difficult situation. And she said, "You're so brave." And I said, "I'm not brave. I'm terrified." And she said, "Bravery doesn't mean you're not afraid. It means you step forward into that, despite the fear." And I think I was, I've always been very aware of my fears and fears have the real potential to paralyze me. And so I think I was always aware of that and never really considered myself either brave or adventurous.
Maggie: Yeah. I relate to what Katie said a lot. I think that people at different points have described me as fearless and I just have to laugh because inside I'm terror stricken a lot of the time. So yeah, I think that Katie's definition of bravery, that one makes sense to me, but I definitely move forward in fear a lot. And I think that a lot of it comes to trusting that God will be there and that God will be with me, even if I'm moving forward into something that terrifies me. I definitely feel a lot of fear and a lot of anxiety, but have often been able to move forward because of what God's put on my heart and also the people that God has surrounded me with that move forward in that fear with me.
Karess: Wow. I really relate to that. I mean, I can think of different circumstances and situations that I have even found myself in where I am overwhelmed with fear, but God is really pushing me to move forward anyway. And I definitely think that is just the epitome of really relying on God's strength to move forward.
Cathy: Yeah. And I think that's one of the takeaways from this interview with Maggie and Katie, that the listeners can apply to their lives. And I think that was what I think really resonated with a lot of people in those interviews. And so the other thing I really loved about my conversation with them is that they really opened up my mind to an understanding a bit about Islam as a religion. And so let's listen to what each of them had to share about what they learned and appreciated about the Muslim faith.
Maggie: I think that for me, I really came to really deeply appreciate the faith of my neighbors in these places. I think some things I even learned and I feel like enriched my own faith in these places. I think that there is a lot of ritual in the Muslim faith. There's set holidays that have certain customs and practices the call to prayer, which I still miss hearing, which happens at least five times a day, sometimes more depending on the day, but that call to prayer that reminder. And I really feel like I came to love that sound and kind of the rhythm that it brought to the day and that reminder to pray. And that reminder throughout the day to bring things to God. I feel like for me I deeply appreciated that. I think there is an element of welcome.
Maggie: I feel like I was invited into different holidays in Ramadan when people fast for the whole month from sun up to sun down, just again like this deep sense of commitment to that, and never being expected to. Like, I mean, people don't expect you to follow that either, but being invited in to breaking of the fast. And yeah, I think also there's what I found is there's often a mutual respect for Christians and Muslims. We both have a book that we follow.
Maggie: We have some stories and people that are shared between our religions. And I always appreciated kind of getting to hear those stories from my Muslim friends. Yeah. I think I really came to really deeply appreciate the faith and the reality that we could share our faith and talk with one another and be open about that with one another really found that was such an enriching experience. And yeah, it came to really respect the way that so many of my neighbors practiced their faith and knew their faith. And yeah, that was a definitely a learning experience for me still kind of miss some of the aspects of that, and being able to kind of enter into that with people.
Cathy: So those were some of my big takeaway moments for me in that particular episode. The other thing was just getting to experience some places during season one that all probably never get to go. One of those places was Somalia and world concerned president Nick Archer took us there on just an incredible journey. And so I wanted to just go back to that episode for a minute. Let's listen to his description of arriving in Somalia.
Nick: I was flying in 1991 in a small Cessna. I really didn't know what to expect and I think for those probably very few listeners who have actually flown in to a small rural town in Africa on a small plane is that one of the things that strikes you is that the sun reflects off the tin roofs of many, many of the houses. Many houses in Africa have a tin roof. Some people call it a corrugated roof and the sun reflects, and I remember distinctly flying in, and that was a seven hour trip from Nairobi flying at about 10,000, 12,000 feet. No bathroom on the plane. You had to make sure that you didn't need a bathroom when you were in that flight. And we were landing coming into Hargeisa and I barely saw a roof.
Nick: There was barely a roof on any house. And I realized as we got lower that almost all the structures had their roofs missing. I mean, it really just shocked me that there had been such and of course it became very evident when I landed, it was a town and an area of the country that had been completely devastated by the civil war. And we have to remember that the government at that time was bombing its own people with pilots who were mercenaries and they were bombing their own town. They were flying from the local airport, circling around and then bombing the town itself. And there was hardly a building that was left standing and certainly very, very few with a roof on. And we landed in the airport in Hargeisa.
Nick: And we have to realize this is the place there was no law and order. There was no law in order. There was no authority. There was no overarching mechanism that brought structure and normality to the place. So we flying to the airport, the airport had been partly destroyed. There was no air tower that was bringing aircraft in. You had to fly over the runway to scare the animals off, and then you could land. And in the airport, I mean, this goes to show what it was like, there was no immigration, no customs, nobody was running the airport. Nobody, no entity ran the airport.
Nick: And you just landed there and there were just quite a few people milling around mainly men, all of them armed. And at any given time, those clan relationships could change and you could have fighting. So even the journey simply from the airport into the town was fraught with risk because you didn't quite know what you were going to face.
Nick: And even on a daily basis almost, you had to figure out where the tensions were in order to be able to move from one place to another and to do so safely. And landing in... This was an airport. If you can imagine... If you've seen any pictures of those old British colonial buildings, the airport looked just like that. It was just this old colonial stone building with some old plaques dating like from the 1950s on the wall. But structurally there was nothing else. I mean, windows were gone, doors were gone, everything. It was just a shell of a place.
Nick: And when you went into the town, the whole town pretty much looked like that. The central bank was nonfunctioning. It had been looted. There was nothing in there. It was a town really with no order, no structure, a lot of fear, a lot of guns.
Cathy: Incredible. And yet Nick came away from those experiences, feeling like Somalia was a place that really changed him. And then there were the stories, the stories that were shared of challenges that people face in a place like Somalia. Let's listen to this one.
Nick: I talked to a woman there and she told me what her story was. She had walked from an area I mentioned earlier, which is the Juba valley. She'd walked about three or four days with her three kids. And they started out with a donkey. The donkey died halfway and they walked the remaining day and a half. I mean, she had small kids, five and seven, that age range and one small child, one baby, all the way to get to this feeding center.
Nick: So for her story, she'd pretty much, she'd not only left everything, what she had, what little she had, she'd left. If she had something she wouldn't have left, but situation was got to the point where if she was going to survive, she had to move. And she basically, by the time she reached the feeding center, she had nothing left. I mean, she barely got there. And that's the story of really a fortunate person. There are many others in situations like that, where they don't even make it that far, the drought and the famine because of the drought, just leave them so weak and emaciated that they simply... They don't have the option to leave, to find something else elsewhere.
Karess: So we walk through some of your highlights through the season and some of those stories, what have been some of the challenges from season one?
Cathy: Yeah. Great question. There certainly were a few of those. I think the main one that really comes to mind was just technical difficulties that I had interviewing Rose Ogola and Rose's story of working in a really, really tough place. She served in Samburu, Kenya with world concern. And we got to hear some of her experiences there from the time that she arrived and basically realized that the only place for her to stay at the time was a small room with no bathroom and no kitchen and no running water.
Cathy: She just forged ahead because she really felt called to serve the people of Samburu, but even just recording my interview with Rose kind of shows just how different life is at The End of The Road or in a far away place. So she lives in Kenya and so we attempted to record that interview a couple times.
Cathy: We used the platform that you and I are using right now. Unfortunately, after an incredible, probably 40 minute interview realized that the recording completely failed on her end, both just because of an unstable internet connection, but also just, she wasn't able to use the correct browser that's needed for this platform. And so that was really discouraging for both of us.
Cathy: But the other thing was just like she had to go outside and it was nighttime. It was morning for me, nighttime for her. And so she had to go outside in order to try and get a cell connection on her phone to do the interview. And I just remember hearing all these outdoor nighttime sounds, there were really loud, like crickets chirping. There were sounds of animals and people and other sounds because she was having to stand outside to do that interview.
Cathy: And I just kept thinking, "Well, this is the reality at The End of The Road, people are going to get a little bit of a taste of what life is like there and even just the technology challenges are in a place like that." And our field staff at world concern deal with those kind of challenges every day, trying to do their jobs. And the other aspect of it is that Rose shared in that interview, that she has a habit of praying through the night.
Cathy: She often stays up all night and prays, especially if there's something going on that she feels like really falls into the realm of spiritual warfare. She will stay up through the night and pray. And I felt like the difficulties we had recording that interview were an example of that kind of spiritual interference, because I don't think that the enemy wanted her story of a life of prayer, being a true prayer warrior to be told.
Cathy: And so we ran into a whole bunch of challenges recording that interview. And so we finally found a time at the third time, third time's a charm. We were able to use zoom and get a decent connection on her phone and get that interview done. And so listeners will probably notice if they go back and listen to that interview again, that the sound quality is a little bit different, but we just praised God that we were able to complete that conversation. And I was so excited to be able to share some of Rose's story with the listeners.
Karess: I didn't even think about that aspect, just the technology, just trying to coordinate that and the time zones. I didn't even think about that. That's definitely challenging.
Cathy: Yeah. Yeah.
Karess: Okay. So what can listeners expect for season two of the podcast?
Cathy: Yeah, I'm really excited for season two. We're going to journey together to some places that we haven't been yet. Places like Haiti, Myanmar and others. I think the other exciting things that we're going to bring some more video into season two, so it won't just be audio, but you'll actually be able to see some of the people that we're interviewing in their homes and in the areas where they work and live.
Cathy: And so I think that's really going to help bring those stories to life even more than in season one. So some changes coming, some exciting changes coming in season two of the podcast. So really looking forward to that. And I definitely just want to take a moment again and thank the listeners for just enjoying and participating in season one. It's been such an incredible experience. And if you haven't had a chance to listen to the full series, I really encourage you to go back, pick up those episodes.
Cathy: It's one of the beautiful things about podcasting is that the content is really evergreen. You can go back and listen at any time and get caught up. Also, just stay tuned for season two. We're going to share a couple of exciting little episodes during the break, and then we'll be back in a few weeks with the launch of season two. And I want to invite listeners also to connect with us here at the podcast. You can text the word podcast to 34444, get text updates every time a new episode is released and stay connected with us that way, exciting little teaser and updates coming that way.
Cathy: You can also email us. You can email me, actually. This comes straight to my inbox if you email firstname.lastname@example.org, that's email@example.com. And let us know if you have feedback on the podcast, questions that you want to ask, anything that you want to share with us. We'd love to hear from you via email.
Cathy: And lastly, if you're enjoying The End of The Road podcast, would you take a moment and write a review or rate us on whatever podcast app you choose to listen on that would really help us to be able to spread the word about the podcast and bring other listeners into the journey.
Cathy: So Karess, thank you for taking the mic today and asking me some questions and being our host today. And I just want to again, thank the listeners and we'll be back in a few weeks with season two of The End of The Road.
Cathy: I want to thank CRISTA ministries, World Concern’s parent organization for making this podcast possible. And I also want to thank Casey Helmick and the whole team at Terra Firma for their production and editing and consulting expertise for helping us bring these stories to life and bring them to you. Thanks again for joining us today, we look forward to more stories at The End of The Road. Next time.