Read part I and part II before you read on.
This little series is entirely fictional and based on my heart's desire at the time I'm writing. We all know if we truly had our way, things wouldn't be so great, but I think there are desires God has given us that are okay (even good) to dream about.
As I hiked up the steep incline, with my cumbersome camping pack snug at my hips, I remembered why retreats are important. Some of the best advice I ever received came from a seasoned missionary, who said, "Take prayer retreats. Oh, once a month at least! at least!"
I'll admit, I thought once a month would be a bit extraneous (wasn't I supposed to be reaching out to people instead of hiking up and away from them?) ... But, as the air grew thinner, my head started to clear. The stress of the village and the weight of decisions fell like the sprinkles starting around me. Grasping a sturdy limb, I tilted my head back to drink in the delight of the early morning.
The winding trail I followed had been blazed by the steady footsteps of women and children with water the destination at the base of the mountain. It was no more than 10 inches wide, but the path furrowed deep into the mountain rock. I prayed as I hiked... and the Lord pressed further on my heart a passion for this place. The people, whitewashed by tradition and necessity, appeared as snapshots across my mind: Natalia, Jesus, Mario, Gabriela, Maria, Carolina, and Juan Pablo.
I thought back to the previous evening I had spent with a family at the base of the mountain. They had attended our church for almost a year and each member seemed like my own relation. I remembered sitting down at Carlos and Andrea's table for arroz con pollo y vegetales, and I praised God for His presence and faithfulness in our village.
My breathing was a little more strained when I realized I was reaching my destination, signified by a painted rock on the path. I stopped to breathe deep before I turned around to take in the glorious sight from my bird's perch. No matter how many times I looked out onto the mountain valley, I always always am amazed. Prayer retreats at this post are more like songs ... and come with little effort.
But, this morning, I knew I would be doing little talking. This morning God wanted me to listen.
Here's the next tidbit.