Thursday, January 30, 2014

More Lessons from (treacherous) Mountains

Apparently 2014 is the year of “Make Meredith outdoorsy.” 

In general, I love this year’s theme. It is just in the middle of the outdoorsy parts that I sometimes despise it. 

So in line with this goal, my team and I recently took 11 of our students on an “easy hike” to Blue Lake. I should have known that even on an easy hike Seth (my teammate) would find a way to make it more adventurous. It is an awesome (and terrifying) ability that he has. So after crawling under barbed wire, realizing we were going the wrong way, and climbing back through the barbed wire, we came upon an expanse of sharp rocks and this became our path. 

wooohoooo... (Insert cranky out-of-shape Meredith noises here).

As all of my Apache students and teammates bounded across the rocks like they were spider monkeys, I. . .did not. I struggled rock-by-rock, wanting to smack the person that chose that path. “I’m just not actually very athletic. I don’t climb rocks,” I exclaimed to the two kind girls that stayed back to make sure I didn’t die. “I’m noticing that,” one of them replied. I definitely felt empowered at that moment (not). 

To make matters worse (or more exciting), as the gap widened between me and everyone else  a commotion began on the other side of the rock expanse. One of our students had heard a whine. . .an animal whine. As everyone who had already crossed the expanse of death scurried to flee the area in case a momma bear returned, I sat down on a rock, ready to either die by mama bear or be the lone survivor in the attack (great movie by the way). 

As I contemplated the options for my final moments of life, on the other end Seth had gathered all our students and sent them in another direction. “Come on, let’s go! We gotta hurry!” He called to me. I said a few choice words under my breath. 

When I had finally made it to the other side of boulders, happy to be alive, I realized that after two feet of grass there was yet another long expanse of boulders. Seriously!?!? My whole body was shaking, but I knew I had to cross the rocks to get to the other side (and not get eaten by an angry bear. Which was a frighteningly serious option). 

But just when I thought my life was over, things got good.  

By this point everyone had noticed my embarrassing struggle to cross the rocks everyone so easily bounded across. So one of the students, Joseph, began to call back every few minutes, “You doing alright, Meredith?” Another one of our students, Torio (who is basically a monkey) would hop a few rocks and then sit down for a while right beside me, waiting while I managed my way across. He later told me that after the scare with the bear, he stayed with me on purpose. It was perhaps the sweetest thing I had ever been told. He could have stayed with his friends and been across like lightening, but for every few steps of mine he would bound a little bit across, sit, and wait. At some points, when my feet were stuck and I couldn’t figure out where to go, he would hold out his hand and pull me up to the next place. 

Still trying to recover from the climb. 

When I finally did near the top with the help of the freshmen boys, my body was trembling. In a slight moment of weakness and despair I called out to another student, “Hey...hold my hand.” (I was very pathetic). For the last ten steps Carlos literally pulled me up

Later when walking down a path that I was taking super slow Torio, who was still sticking with me, said, “Mer, you are wearing shoes that are made for this. You are going to be fine.” 

Though I was the "adult" these kids were teaching me what it meant to be supported and cared for.  When things got rough, they showed me the path and pulled me up when I got discouraged. 

Despite the embarrassing parts of being lame at climbing rocks, this trip was my absolute favorite. I was so intrigued by the way the freshmen boys cared for me and helped me along. It was a glimpse of the men that they are going to become, men that don’t give in to the standard set for them on the reservation. And my heart was warmed because I know that the way those boys treated me was a direct reflection of how the men I work with treat me. These boys are being discipled by godly men, and it is transforming who they are and how they care for others. It was a beautiful picture, being pulled up the mountain by my students, and it was such a beautiful reflection of the mutual transformation that occurs when working in ministry. Times can get rough here, and I can question my ability to go forward, but our students are so amazing that when I can't figure it out, they pull me along. 

The end goal! 

And in the end, all the trouble becomes one of the best things I have ever done.

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