Beauty in the unexpected (Nicaragua Part Uno)

As we boarded the flight in Memphis I was flooded with excitement, but I was also a bit nervous for the week to come. I wasn't sure what to expect when I saw the city, and was also a little nervous about hiking to the top of a volcano. Was I really ready for all that God was going to teach me in a week? 

Even though I wasn't sure what God would teach me, I did expect for everything going on in my life in the states to somehow be fixed. But boy did He show up in a completely different way....

Stepping off the plane, it was hot and sticky and the air wreaked of thick, dirty air. There was something different about being in what seemed like a world completely different than my own. A world that seemed forever away. The dusty air. Crowded streets. Horns honking all around us. People and motorcycles weaving in and out of the busy traffic. It was fast paced and packed; and while I saw so many familiar things, it was so different than what I have become content with in the U.S.  I couldn't help but wonder what these people thought of us westerners in their country. Do they envy the world we come from? Do they wish we would take our western ways back to our own country? Being there, even only for a few hours, already changed so much. After all the initial thoughts and a good night's sleep, it was time to go on our first adventure. 

It was time to go hiking. There was so much more to take in as we had left the city and were now in the more rural parts of Nica. Sickly animals roamed the dirt roads. Children were out working with their families, but sometimes they were even alone. As we bumped along the muddy road, I noticed that even in the midst of a busy life, time seemed to slow down. Once we made it to the volcano, there was no turning back. I was so excited, yet I was terrified. Honestly, there were moments when I wanted the Lord to just go ahead and take me. I wasn't sure I would make it to the top. We climbed rocks for what seemed like hours, but was only about 30 minutes in reality. Every few yards, I took a moment to rest and take in the view before we reached the first break section. At this point, I was amazed at how far up we were. By the time we made it to the first section where everyone had stopped to take a break, I was feeling shaky and sick to my stomach. It wasn't going how I had planned. As I kept moving, I remember praying to just make it to the top. I just had to keep moving.

And, you know what!? I made it! All the way to the top! It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen in my life. And, quite honestly one of the hardest things. As the wind blew around us, there was a calmness that fell over the vast land around us. It all looked so peaceful and serene, even though we all knew that poverty loomed all around the town below us. I wish I could describe the beauty of the stillness on top of that volcano. The other volcanos in the distance. The lush green all around the black volcano.

And, as I stood there on the side of the volcano, descending alone, I couldn't help but think that the God of this universe-the creator of this big volcano-HE SEES ME. Here on top of this volcano, God sees me and is with me, just as He is when I am in the states. We go through hard things in life. Things that we aren't sure we can even make it through. Especially like hiking to the top of that volcano. But, He is there with us every step as we climb whatever mountain we are facing. He is pushing us forward and walking right alongside of us, because He doesn't leave us where we are. And when we make it to the top of that mountain, we can stop and take it all in. We can take in the beauty and the goodness of a such a gracious Father. Then, as we descend, we know that even though the days ahead may not be the easiest, they sure won't be as hard as that climb. 

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There, as I stood at the bottom and looked up at the mountain I just climbed, I knew that this week was going to be one of the best weeks of my life and I was ready for God to use me and teach me whatever He had prepared for me. I wanted to drink in every detail of the trip. I wanted to be still and listen. But most of all, I wanted to love those around me well. But, I never expected to fall in love with the precious people of Nicaragua the way that I did. And it only took one little girl to change it all...