Now in the City of Our Lady Peace (La Paz) and we are headed to Peru for our Annual Meeting for the Xtreme Team. I figured I would take this time to relate what happened in our last investigation trips. By the way, I have loaded many photos of our travels on Facebook, but have yet to do it on this blog site. Sorry about the delay it just takes a long time to download for that particular site.
After many delays we were able to finally head off to Colqa Pampa, one of the bigger communities about a seven to nine hour walk away over some pretty high mountains. My partners had taken a shady little bus the time before, but we all decided to do the walk this time, proving to be a lot shorter…and a lot harder.
The mountains we have to climb over stand mockingly to the east of our base camp in Pocoata. Upon first sight of them I was a little intimidated, then my feelings were confirmed with the ascent. Our base camp sits at over 11,000 feet, so with our climb we reached as high as 13,500 feet, just 500 feet below the tips of the rockies. At this altitude it is hard to breathe, and makes it that much harder trying to climb mountains.
Before we actually left, the caretaker of our house told us there was going to be a huge festival, and that all the people in all the communities would be drunk. With our limited time to do the investigation we thought we would give it a try anyway.
It seemed like nothing went right with this trip. The ¨Man of Peace¨ from Javier and Caleb´s last trip was not there, so we had no where to stay. People were getting drunk at ten in the morning, and so most of the people were incoherent. After my partner got in a awkward situation of where he had to drink some alcohol, we decided it best to leave and try to our chances with the other communities. It was all the same everywhere we went. It was such a sad situation and we decided to come back when this festival was over.
After a day of rest we decided to head back. The mountains this time looked smaller, more manageable and we reached all three communities in one day. Though having nowhere to stay in the first we tried the second, but they didn´t want us to stay, so we went to the third, called Qarchumi. At this time we had been walking for over nine hours and I was deserately praying for a place to stay the night. We had the option of the tent, but still had to walk a good ways to even set it up. We met with the Mayor of Qarchumi, a community of twenty families or so, and they fed us and we were able to stay with an elderly lady that night. God provided.
The next morning the Mayor told us that they had no work and nowhere for us to stay so we needed to go onto the next community. Feeling the rejection once again we left. As we were leaving another guy came up and gave us fruit and asked us where we were going. I told him we didn´t know but wanted to work for our food and a place to stay if only to learn from the culture. This man then gathered the leaders of the community including the mayor and after meeting for thirty minutes they questioned us about our reason for being there (some of them wanted money from the North American) but after explaining our desires, they all agreed to give us work, food, and a place to stay.
The first day we worked with the Mayor, basically clearing a field of rocks preparing it for planting. It was a good six hours of labor. The Mayor kept sticking leaves of cocaine in his mouth and chewing them, occasionally offering it to us, but we graciously declined. Caleb threw out his alcohol thinking it was left over water. This is what we call creating a barrier. His kids were with us throughout the day as well. They were kind of the highlight, laughing at everything I did.
We were really excited about this and one of the guys even mentioned that we could teach something every afternoon. Hoping to do this next morning we woke up with great expectations, only to be shattered by the news that none of the people had any work for us and couldn´t feed us. Once more the Mayor told us that we needed to leave.
Feeling somewhat unwelcomed we decided it was better to leave, but they promised they would allow us to stay another time. The elderly woman, who was wonderful, told us that when her husband returned we could work with him, and that she would cook us something very good. This was good news, on many accounts. We could return in the future and have someone that wanted us to stay and work provided, that and the promise of good food considering the time we were there, it was somewhat lacking.
The generosity of the people was such a blessing from God. The people kept bringing us potatoes and corn. It was overwhelming. Also because they would stand there in front of us waiting to get their bowl back, and after five bowls of potatoes we still had to put it down. God provided.
Not having sufficient time to investigate another area and a festival on the horizon we thought it best to return to Pocoata.
Thanks for all your prayers and please keep praying for Javier and Caleb. We still don´t know about their situation and are hoping to see the LORD work in way we know it is from Him.
Both small trips really pushed us to our limits at times. Between the physical aspect, trying to find our way, the drunkenness and rejection, and just trying to really inquire of God of what to do next, I felt so overwhelmed and drained at times. Though, in every situation, though at times ambiguous and uncomfortable, I could feel the LORD´s leading and the confirmation of His Will for my life. Looking at the foreboding mountains before me I could only think of all the times that God has called me to something terrifying, challenging, and ultimately higher than I. It is in this leading to the Rock that we are purged, tried, and ultimately changed into something more beautiful than we could ever imagine. It is in this leading that I rejoice. I hope to keep ascending.
¨from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.¨
– Psalm 61:2