The kids are finishing school again. This is the second time Annie is finishing 5th grade and Sarah is finishing 3rd. They completed those grades in Peru, but being in the southern hemisphere, the years were flipped with summer break starting in December. So we moved here and let them finish the years in the grades they had previously completed. The first month was hard, especially for the girls. But yesterday as we drove home, Annie said to me “I am really going to miss school! I liked learning new things and making new friends!” As Allison told me, it is a reminder that things, circumstances, and best of all, attitudes can change with time. Come on summer break. It will be the kids first one since February of 2016!
“This is going to be great,” Sarah exclaimed.
This was not going to be great. Dad was making us go on a four day hike that none of us wanted to go on, except of course, my little sister Sarah, who was very optimistic.
We climbed out of the van with the rest of the group and started carefully going down a very steep hill that lasted for, what felt like forever, when in reality was just the rest of the day. While we were sliding down the hill, the group separated because some people went slower and some people went quicker. My parents had walkie talkies to keep in touch with my brothers who were ahead of us. When we dragged into the campsite we were exhausted. My mom was in charge of cooking dinner that night. She prepared the best spaghetti I had ever eaten. After dinner we looked up at the brilliant stars. Mom and I climbed into our cozy tent and fell asleep right away.
During the night mom got sick with diarrhea. “I’ll be okay,” she said. “Don’t worry about it.”
But as we went down the hill mom had to make many stops behind a bush. Mom saw the walk ahead and felt dizzy. We were considering going home, but mom kept going. David and I went ahead with a young couple, David and Ari. I had known Ari since the day I got to Peru. She worked in the hospital with my Dad. She was very funny and had a unique personality. Then she married my peruvian teacher, David. Peter and Sarah were a group, and Dad and Mom were a group. Mom and Dad were way behind. Dad was being patient and waiting for Mom while Mom was doing her business. The hike was super steep and we hiked non-stop. There were no flat parts at all. It was a very eventful day. When mom and dad finally got to the campsite, we had already eaten.The campsite was super cool. It had lots of wind, it was extremely high up, and it had an awesome view. It was a lot better than the other campsite.
We ate at a typical Peruvian house. We paid them some money and they brought us some food. It was cool because we got to see what it was like to live in a Peruvian house. There were guinea pigs running across the floor, and dirt walls. After that I took an extremely cold shower but it felt good. We went to bed exhausted. But I didn’t sleep very well because in the next tent they were playing games and being very loud, but I woke the next day refreshed and ready to go.
We hiked the rest of the way to the Incan ruins. They were pretty cool but definitely not worth the hike. At least that’s what I thought. We ate our lunch there, a few granola bars and some fruit, and then started walking to the camp we stayed at the first day. It was miserable on the way down. I thought I broke my toe because it hurt so badly and I cried at one point. I rode a horse for about fifteen minutes and we were at the camp. Ari and David, that young couple me and David walked with the day before, were in charge of dinner. Basically we had raw rice and raw vegetables. They were not good cooks. I imagine they’ll get better at it. I mean they had only been married a couple months. When I went to use the restroom it was very disgusting. The toilets weren’t flushing so they were overflowing with brown and yellow. Mom went to go talk with the manager about the toilets. It took a while for them to fix it. We went to bed exasperated. That was definitely the hardest day yet.
For breakfast the next day we had granola bars, again. We were hiking up the hill that we went down the first day. Mom and Sarah were so worn out that they got on a horse together and were at the entrance in no time. David and Peter went ahead and so it was just Dad and me. I talked and talked all the way until we got to the entrance. Dad would be like “ I need to take a break Annie,” and I would say “Okay,” and we would stop. I wasn’t tired at all! I told dad about “The Ted Wars.” That was when I stole a stuffed animal named Ted from my brother David. He stole it back and then I stole it again and so on. I told him about my favorite part of the hike, about my friends, and practically everything I could think of! Right when we were walking up the final hill we saw two amazing condors soaring above us.
They were so close I felt as if I could touch them. It was an amazing experience. When we got to the entrance mom gave me some money to buy a snack. The car that was picking us up was very late. Something about peruvians you probably didn’t know is that peruvians are always very late. I ate my snack and talked to my teacher, David. When the car finally came I climbed in ready to get home. We all marveled at how we just did that long hike. I was glad to get home. But if someone invited me to go again, I would say yes.
We enjoyed some of the best parts of the Hill Country this last weekend. And those “best parts” were our friends. You can be anywhere and be content as long as your friends are there with you.
How much happier we’ll be if we rejoice for what God is doing here and now, every day and every hour of our lives. Why wait many years — or until we’re with the Lord — to look back and say, “God, I finally see that you were at work even in those hard times; I wish I would have trusted you then”? I have a friend who genuinely believes that nearly every meal, get-together, retreat, or vacation is the best he has ever experienced. This makes him fun to be with. His capacity to enjoy the moment and savor present happiness becomes a treasured memory of past happiness. After every time we’ve been with him, it seems, he texts me, saying, “That was the BEST dinner and most FUN time we’ve ever had.” I smile and enter into his happiness. The present is the only place we live. Happiness in God should be more than memories and anticipation. Circumstances constantly change, and good news comes and goes, but we should look to God for happiness now. Why? Because the Good News of happiness has come, it is still here, and it will never go away!
Alcorn, Randy (2015-09-17). Happiness (pp. 50-51). Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
Annie’s class is blessed with a super committed Christian teacher. David is creative, active, inclusive, and energetic. He loves training his class to do dramas. He has been the catalyst for a complete 180 degree turn in both Annie and Peter’s attitudes towards math–now it is their favorite subject. He has invited his students to ultimate frisbee nights, where they share a devotional every week; a one-year discipleship course; and their moms to his wife’s Bible study group. Some of our regular blog readers will remember a little boy Dany who was missing. David was tireless in searching for him. There was another kid in Annie’s class who needed lots of love and discipline. David attempted so many creative approaches to help him stay in school and succeed socially. I think he could write a book on strategies to reach the seemingly unreachable. It is a daily blessing that our kids get to sit under his tutelage.
Profe David decided that their class needed some bonding time, so he planned a sleepover. But this wasn’t a sleepover like you’d imagine, with pizza and Coke and giggling over secrets shared from sleeping bags. During the school day, Annie’s class visited three schools and shared the gospel through dramas and wordless books (colors that tell the major points of the good news). In the afternoon, they went on a treasure hunt with the Scouts-type club we have at school followed by stations of games/ values teaching. After a cookout dinner, they had a devotional and the director shared the gospel with them. In the morning, they ran and prayed, then played interactive games with their parents. David had the parents divide up in groups to plan the meals, so we got to know one another a bit better as well. I had the privilege of taking a group of kids in the car while they shared their dramas. Visiting public schools in the area was eye opening. Watching the kids share God’s story gave me goosebumps. Seeing their confidence was inspirational. We love you, Profesor David! (Click the pictures below to see them larger.)
Scripturally, the culture of God’s people is one of joy, happiness, gratitude, eating and drinking, singing and dancing, and making music.
Alcorn, Randy (2015-09-17). Happiness (p. 21). Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
My kids want to know why I like to go on these hikes. I tell them it is so that they will know the joy of the Lord. They can rejoice in the use their God-given bodies to enjoy some of the hidden beauties of God’s creation that he has left for us to discover. And I tell them that it is in this experience that we can have joy in the the goodness of the Lord! They are still not totally into it. Click on the pictures below to see them better.