If you're following along with the posts from the last few days, you'll have read about the trip to the volcano and the excitement and exhilaration of the climb. About the stamina and determination of making it to the top and overcoming obstacles to get there. But for me, the story was a little different. Hiking with steep elevations has proved to be very difficult for me and I find myself getting very short of breath. This hike was no different and after maybe 20 minutes I knew I wouldn't be able to continue. I felt humiliated, frustrated, small. But I knew I would have to turn back. And in doing so would have to take people back with me. So my dear friend Donald, one of our translators Patricia and a lady from the mayor's office offered to head back down with me. I watched as Deve and the last of the remaining volunteers headed up and out of sight...
Back we went. To the spot where our truck was parked. When the tears were flowing and I wished for what I couldn't do. Because sometimes things in life just don't go the way we'd hoped - no matter how hard we try. And then God gave me an unexpected gift right when I needed it most.
The truck was parked at the home of a past El Salvadorian president. Up on the volcano in the middle of his coffee plantation. So while we ate our lunch I casually asked if there might be someone around who could tell us a little bit about the coffee and how it's grown. No one really knew, but a little while later I was introduced to a lovely elderly gentleman who had worked there for 60 years from the age of 13.
He had so much to tell and it was so fascinating. And then, to my companions' surprise, he did something that apparently just doesn't happen... He opened a gate and led us into the president's gardens. Centuries old walkways and stairways. Manicured lawns and stunning floral gardens. All looking out to the valleys and hills around us. It was so beautiful and so unexpected and so lovely. I was thankful beyond what I could express. To our kind and generous guide, but mostly to Our God (my true Guide) - The One who is always there to show us the way. Even when it was not the way we had planned.