Wednesday, January 4, 2017

One More Step

Today the team had a chance to hike to the top of a volcano. We see it every day enveloping the skyline. Standing massive and beautiful in the distance. The Volcano is a grand focus point for miles and miles around. However, it does not look like a volcano that we picture in our heads. It is inactive. So it looks like a grand mountain covered in green trees and plants. In fact it has millions of coffee plants growing on it. Plants that are so good that they get exported out of the country and the El Salvadorian people don't even get to try them.

More background to my story...
We were escorted by military. The volcano is on private military property. So four soldiers hiked with us up the mountain. Two with the front quicker group and two with the pacer group. Neat experience to be able to see them close up and share some snacks and drinks.

Now to my story. What did God want me to learn or apply today? I had been hiking in mountains before. On these hikes there comes a point where your legs start to burn. Today that happened with everyone. As a Fitness teacher I wished my students could experience this burn. Many who work out may say they have. I may agree. But it's the fact that as your legs burn, as your lungs burn, as you think you can not possibly take another step you do. You push yourself beyond what you think is your limit. Here is the difference. In class you push yourself for one, two maybe three more reps through a burn. Today, we pushed for hundreds maybe thousands of more reps. Karen kept saying to herself,  and Tyson and I, "One more step. Take one more step."

We discussed how if they had distance markers like we've seen on other hikes it would make it easier. We would know how much longer we had. If we had done this hike before we would know approximately how much longer we had. Isn't this the same with life? We don't know how much longer we have. There are no distance or time markers. We haven't done it before.
Why did we continue today?
Why didn't we just quit and say our legs and lungs burned too much to continue?
Why push on?

We were told the view from the top was exhilarating! We were told you could see 360 degrees around and you could see for miles and miles and you would see mountains and lakes and amazing scenery.  We knew there was a top and we were focused to get there.
So we pushed on.

In life we push on. I encourage YOU to push on. We don't know the distance or time.  But I do know that God has told us if we follow Him, if we continue to push on through the burn, if we focus on the top there will be a grand reward. Today we were blessed with a magnificent 360 degree view of a glimpse of God's creation. In life we will be blessed with a view of Heaven that will be a billion times  more magnificent.

I want to encourage you to continue to look up.
Continue to walk in His ways.
The view is going to take our breath away.

One more step. Take one more step.


Flee or stay.

    Today after a good day of building four homes we were able to once again sit down for a delicious meal at Carrie and Stuart's home. As typical, our translators and drivers stayed and ate with us and I was blessed enough to sit by them. While I have talked to Donald (our driver) before and even met his wife (Ellie) before, I was not aware of the things going on in their lives.  Donald spoke to us about his children. Donald and Ellie have two children they can barely afford, but are also caring for two other children who were abandoned by her sister and brother-in-law when they fled for the USA.  This is a similar story to those we have heard before from others, and these stories always move me as I consider the impact on the children. In this situation, the oldest child (10 at the time) pulled back and would not accept any affection or Love from Donald and Ellie for over three years. 
    What was different this time from the other stories I have heard was their description of the missing father. Their father does send some support (it does not cover their costs) and does phone on a regular basis.  Recently, the father paid for a coyote to bring the children to the USA without even letting Donald and Ellie know, so the kids were suddenly gone. However fifteen days later the attempt had failed and they were back and in trouble with the law due to the failed illegal attempt.  What shocked me was that throughout the conversation they had nothing bad to say about the father, and they even admired him for having the courage to make the dangerous journey to the USA. I was overwhelmed and had to express to Donald that we admired him and his wife because I believe it takes more  courage to stay behind and take care of both his family and the additional kids even though it was a struggle. 
    This very choice is what we have been commending this week in our building community, as so far every home built has been for families with both Father and Mother present and signs of strong commitment.  These families need our prayers as the lure of fleeing to a better life in the USA is still alive, even with the broken homes it leaves behind. 
Thank you for your continued prayers for us and these families.