Thursday, June 7, 2012

Pentecost Mission Trip: Day 5

Another Day Filled with Blessings

Tuesday morning began like all the other mornings---the wake up bell, the gathering bell, breakfast, prayer bell---AWESOME like always!  After prayer, we were once again divided into work groups and home visit groups.  Travis and the boys continued on the roofing project.  They had run out of materials the previous day and were all anxious to get back and make some progress. 

The girls and I were put on a painting team.  I was a little disappointed because I had wanted to do more home visits like the day before.  (And because I LOATHE painting!)  I was ready to sit and visit with all the wonderful ladies that the missionaries had talked about visiting.  But I knew that we had come on this trip to work, so we ran upstairs and put on our work clothes and grabbed our water bottles and sunscreen.

We arrived at the hot pink house that needed to be painted baby blue and realized that we would definitely need more paint then what we had brought.  We got started right away, and I forgot about how much I hated to paint. 

It's amazing how fast paint dries in the dry dessert compared to the hot humid climate of Louisiana. We were able to get the whole house painted with two coats in just a couple of hours.

One of the beautiful parts of a work project is getting to know your team.  Painting side by side these wonderful people was such a blessing to me.  We shared our stories with each other, offered prayers for each other, and encouraged each other.  We became instant friends as we shared our testimonies and the shade of the "Charlie Brown" tree.

Our awesome crew (minus Luis our AWESOME leader)

The best part of the work project was when the lady and her little boy came out of the house to see the finished project, and we all joined hands and prayed with them.  It was so refreshing to see their smiles and grateful faces.  It felt so good to be able to help someone that I forgot all about being hot and tired.  I smiled with an overflowing heart all the way back to the Mission House.

After lunch, we had a long break and decided to join a group that was heading up the mountain.  I really didn't want to climb a mountain, but I couldn't let Travis take all four kids up the mountain alone.  I would have been a nervous wreck worrying about them.  So, we all climbed back in the suburban and headed to a nearby mountain.

It doesn't look quite so tall in this picture, but it was!
We followed our leader Luis along a little dirt path that winded up the hill towards the mountain.  When we got to the base of the mountain, he pointed out the easier but longer way up versus the shorter more difficult way.  Of course, we chose the easier path up the side of the mountain while many of the young people chose the harder route, although, later some of them ended up on our less steep path.

Isaac and Olivia had no problems and practically ran up the mountain.  Emily, my cautious child, stayed near me.  After about half way up, I decided that I couldn't go anymore (which is what I had said about a quarter of the way up also).  I sat down on a boulder and told Travis that I would catch them on their way back down later.  I sat and looked out at the beautiful landscape that God had created.  It was so awesome to see his handiwork.

Then I looked up to see how far the rest of the group was.  Many, including our oldest and youngest, were already near the top.   Next, I spotted the most awesome sight ever---my husband leading Philip up the mountain step by step.  (For those that don't know, Philip is legally blind.)  I watched as Travis guided every step, telling him exactly where to place his foot and hand, and sometimes bending down to point to the exact place. 

Once again, an overwhelming emotion filled my heart and soul and tears welled up in my eyes.  This sight gave me the determination that I needed to get up and continue on.   I gathered up my backpack and headed up.  I eventually caught up with them and was able to see and hear the struggles these two faced with every step.  It's hard climbing a mountain alone, but even harder when you are weighed down with an extra person.  I could see the exhaustion on Travis's face.

Then I looked at Philip.  It broke my heart to think of how hard this must be for him.  He was totally dependent on someone else.  He couldn't see where he was going; he didn't know how much farther he had left.  He had also touched a catus, and very fine hairlike needles were stuck in his hands.  I could see the pain in his eyes even through his dark glasses.  I asked him if he wanted to stop here with me and just wait for the others to come back down.  He quickly answered, "No. I want to go to the top."

Travis grabbed hold of him once again, and they continued their slow and steady pace up the hill.   Emily and I passed them up, so that we could give them a little "heads up" of what was ahead.  By now, most of the group was at the top waiting for us.   The higher we got the more steep the path seemed to be and the harder it was for me to breathe.  But each time I stopped to rest, I turned around to witness the determination of these two, and I pressed on.

Finally, we all made it to the top of the mountain.  I sat next to Philip as tears streamed down his face.  I'm not sure if the tears were from the pain of the cacti needles in his hands, from pure exhaustion, or from the joy completing the journey, but those tears brought me to tears.  He may never know how much he helped me get to the top of that mountain or how much his determination helped me grow that day.

As I sat next to him trying to pluck the very fine, hairlike needles from his hand, I look over and see my husband resting at the top of the mountain.

The tears began to cloud my vision once again.  (I warned you that I cried a lot on this trip!)  This was the wonderful man that God sent to me almost 19 years ago to be my rock, to be the leader of our family, to stick by our side no matter how difficult the path gets.  This man truly amazes and inspires me each and every day of my life.  I don't know what I did to have such a patient, kind, loving man as Travis.  He is a wonderful example for me and for our children.  I guess it's another testament to God's loving mercy; He gives us way more than we deserve.

After listening to some awesome guitar playing on the mountaintop, we began our way back down.  It wasn't as strenuous going down, but was still a difficult task.  And here they are arm and arm again coming down, one step at a time down the loose, rocky path.

We arrived back at the Mission House with FIVE WHOLE minutes to clean up and change for our rancho visit.   When we arrived at the rancho, I felt sick.  I was physically drained from the mountain climb, so I sat in the chapel alone while the others went out to invite the people.  I began to feel much better when I noticed the chapel had begun to fill up.  We had been told that a group of Jehovah's Witnesses had moved into this rancho and had been trying to weaken the people's faith, so we were very blessed to have a full house that evening. 

I was even more blessed to hear the testimony of my husband.  Yes, that night was his turn to tell how God had worked in his life.  We hadn't discussed what he would say at all, so I was clueless.  If you know my husband, he NEVER shares publicly.  It's hard for him to share with me, so I was curious about what he would say to this room full of Mexican women.  But I wasn't worried because I had already witnessed the Holy Spirit move in him that week and have him step out of his comfort zone to do amazing things.

He began by "buttering" up the women by telling them how lucky he was to give his very first testimony to a room full of beautiful ladies.  Then he shared with the people one of the roughest times of our life, Olivia's Journey (youngest daughter's journey that included 21 surgeries from birth to 3 years old), and how God brought many good things from that experience.  This was the second time today that that man made me cry tears of joy.  I thanked God once again for blessing me with such a wonderful husband.

That night was "Ladies' Night" not only did we get to shower, but we got to share at evening prayer.  I don't like to share in person.  (I much rather write than speak out loud, and let people decide if they want to hear what I have to say or not.  I also like to be able to backspace my words as needed.)  But I felt the Holy Spirit move me to stand and share about my tremendously blessed day from the awesome friendships I made while painting to the inspiration on the mountain to my husband's testimony at the rancho.  Yes, I cried through it all again.

After sharing, we learned that others had been blessed by Travis and Philip's struggle up the mountain.  Someone related it to our Heavenly Father being by our side through every step of our journey in life, guiding our every step, our every move, and holding our hand through the most difficult paths and never letting go.  How blessed we are to have a Father like that!

Day 6

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