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Alpaca Bag; You Should Too

December 31st, 2008

Focus Text: Isaiah 44: 23 (NLT)

Sing, O heavens, for the Lord has done this wondrous thing.  Shout for joy, O depths of the earth!  Break into song, O mountains and forests and every tree! 


Stop Here and Reflect Before Reading Ahead

Our team here in Bolivia took the day off from work to experience the sights and sounds of Cochabamba and the Andes Mountains.  It was more than just memorable . . . it was astounding!  First, we traveled to see the Cristo de la Concordia— a one-hundred-and-seven-foot tall statue of Jesus that overlooks the city.  The view was incredible and our students had a blast.  Next, we traveled into town and “raided” a few jewelry stores.  And finally, we loaded into the trucks and began a trek into the beautiful mountains.

As you may recall, our experience so far has been nothing less than a spiritual zenith for many of us on this trip. The kids at the Bolivian Hope Center.  The kids at the women’s prison.  The time spent together and the love of God that we all feel in this moment.  So, this morning when we told the group that we would not be going to work today, the response was not exactly what we expected.  Many members of our team were disappointed.  Now, you tell me where else in life you can find a group of twenty high school and college students who would rather spend a day sanding, staining, and varnishing doors and bamboo poles than sightseeing in Andes Mountains.  Yeah, that’s the kind of journey that we are experiencing.

That being said, we still made the team take a day to rest and to see the sights . . . they needed it more than they knew.  I don’t think any of us were prepared for the kind of day we had, especially our time in the mountains.  It began with a two-hour drive in the back of trucks (safely on benches, or course) over stone-paved and dirt roads. Up and up we went; and when we got very high up the mountain, we went on up some more.  We began to see little houses and huts of the indigenous people who farm, herd, and live in these mountainous regions.  For the most part, it was like stepping back in time a hundred years.

The air got thinner and thinner as we passed thirteen and fourteen thousand feet above sea level.  The combination of the altitude and the extreme jostle of the ride gave a few kids some minor motion sickness, but it was nothing serious.  We pushed on and eventually came to a spot that took our breath away.  In addition to the majestic mountains that surrounded us and the cascading waterfall that flowed next to us, our students went absolute berserk when we encountered a field replete with alpaca.  I’m honestly unaware of what exactly is the obsession some of our kids have with these mild, wooly creatures, but you would have thought that we had stumbled upon the fountain of youth . . . except instead of eternal youthfulness, we found stinky animals and field full of their poop.  Details . . . mere details.

Pastor Andrew led the charge as we unloaded into the field to chase, corral, and pose with the alpaca, of whom I would give a million dollars to read their thoughts as twenty-four grengos ran towards them squealing like little piglets.  After our quality time with the alpaca, we began to explore the mountain.  Pastor Andrew again led the expedition as some of us braved the climb.  You cannot comprehend what toll the altitude takes on the body until you struggle to catch your breath after climbing just ten or fifteen feet; but we continued and the results were well worth our huffing.

The waterfall.  The mountains.  The little huts and less-than-exotic animals.  The huge front of fog that settled in on us, giving us the feeling that we were walking among the clouds.  It was breathtaking . . . figuratively and literally.  And although we didn’t work directly with the children today, each student came down from that mountain with a fresh, supernatural impression of God’s wonder.  One of them even commented in our reflection that they were moved when they realized that the same God who created these beautiful children who have captured our hearts, has also created the mountainous masterpiece upon which we climbed.  

Simply put, God’s glory continues to illuminate our lives in ways we never expected and no specific number of amazing events or experiences can ever fully reveal the depths of who He is.  Like those mountains– like these children– the glory of it all is uncontainable.  Unending.  Incomprehensible.  

So today, I hope that just as we are chasing alpaca and preparing our hearts for the next great “mountain” experience, that you will make room some within yourself . . . in your spiritual “bag” . . . for something unexpected and breathtaking.  Oh, and you better bring a jacket.




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