Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Pure Joy

getting started up Mogote
Last week one of our (awesome and amazing!) students asked Daisy and me what in our lives we do that gives us pure joy and a feeling of freedom.  I didn’t have to think much about it.  What gives me joy and freedom?  Being outside, in God’s beauty, hiking up a mountain. 
And, having Carlos to hike with is truly an added blessing.  Our first date was a strenuous hike, and we've never looked back! 
So, when our friend Issai asked us if we wanted to hike Mogote this past Saturday, we quickly said, YES!

smooth trails ahead! :O)
Mogote is one of the higher mountains (more than 4,600 feet) near Jarabacoa, which is surrounded by mountains.  The trail is not super smooth, even when it’s dry. We've had lots (and lots!) of rain lately, which made the trail, well, rather a mess.  What made things worse were the horses, donkeys and cows who use the trail, churning up the ground into a thick, slick stew of mud.
mud stew
I’ve written about Issai before. He lives in Mata de Platano, is one of our English students, and is super sweet. He managed to hike without a walking stick, keeping far ahead of us, hardly breaking a sweat – or even getting his shoes very dirty!

He also snapped tons of pictures, including the ones here, without us even realizing it. Our heads were often down, eyes on the slippery trail!

The hike was not easy, but it was awesome.  As I walked, I kept thinking, "Oh, thank you, Father, this is joy, this is freedom!" 

 I’m not really sure when my love for being outside began, but it’s only grown over the years.  At times it’s almost a compulsion to GET OUT THERE.  The sweat starting to bead on my forehead and trickle down the small of my back, the breath coming faster, my legs beginning to ache as they work to pull me forward… It is so incredible! 

we're not sure what we were so confused about,
but this picture makes me laugh.
As I go, my problems and worries are pushed away as I take in deep breaths of air, glorying in the extravagant beauty that meets me at every moment.  The rich greens of the mountains, the changing sky, the variety of trees and matas (plants), the spiders’ webs beaded with dew (but not so much the spiders and other bugs!). 
Carlos coming to my rescue when I couldn't pull
my foot out of ankle-deep mud.
Being out in the world that God has created draws me into worship.  Even after coming back down the mountain, back into the ‘real world’ with its concerns and frustrations, the joy I experienced lingers, reminding me of the power and love and care of our Father.  The One who spun out creation is at work in me, too.  Whom shall I fear?
going down is always harder!
first day out with my new hiking boots... Awesome!
I hope that each of you has something in your life, too, which gives you pure joy, which reminds you of God's love and care for you.  Whether it is curling up with a good book, scrap-booking, sewing, playing with children, napping in a hammock, or, yes, even wading up a mountain, let’s rejoice at the creativity and variety provided by our great God.  From Him alone comes all true joy and freedom.   

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