Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Blood of our own


Lev. 17, 18

...The life of the flesh is in the blood. Blood is given upon the altar and is never to be eaten. He who consumes blood will ever have God's face set against him (17:10). So with me. If I would save my life blood - forbear to pour it out in opposition to the example of my Lord - then must I feel the flint of the face of God set against my purpose. Father, take my life, yea, my blood, if Thou wilt, and consume it with Thine enveloping fire. I would not save it, for it is not mine to save. Have it, Lord, Have it all. Pour out my life as an oblation for the world. Blood is only of value as it glows before Thine altars...
-Jim Elliot,
April 18th, 1948

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Miracles In Copper Canyon - Pt. 4

Just a quick recap as it's been awhile since I posted about my trip to MX. Dealing with a sick computer has taken up nearly all my spare time these last two weeks - thus the lateness of this post!

At this point in my narrative, we had reached the canyon rim after 3 days of traveling. The majority of us spent Monday night there with a Christian family, while six brave guys tackled 3 hours of hiking in the dark to fix the broken cable car used to make the river crossing. I will pick up Tuesday morning when the group I was in started the hike.


By 7:00 Tuesday morning, we were packed and headed for the trail head. The Lord had graciously provided two small burros from Antonio and Ramona, and they were able to carry about a 100 pounds each. Even with this help it was a chore. We had a 50lb generator to carry in, plus fuel, two chainsaws, a chainsaw mill, all our food, nails, and other miscellaneous building supplies. Some of the guys were backpacking 80 pounds or more, and I marvel at the endurance level the Lord granted them. My pack was only around 30 pounds, and I still struggled with the hike!

It took us two-and-a-half hours to reach the river. During that time we descended about 2000 feet along a very steep trail. One of the things that made the hiking so difficult was the condition of the trail. It wasn't manicured dirt or even smooth rock like we are accustomed to here in the States. From nearly one end to the other, it was covered in loose rock anywhere from landscaping to football size. Each step had to be quickly but carefully evaluated, as one wrong step could lead to a nasty injury. With the extra weight on our backs, the fast pace, and the uneven, steep trail, balance was difficult. Steep drop off's gave us extra motivation to be very careful where we placed our feet. There was a hundred times that I thanked the Lord for His protection. So many time I thought I was stepping on a solid rock, only to have it skid out from under my feet and head down the trail or over the edge. Any of us could have so easily sprained our ankles, yet we can testify to not one injury in the hike there or back!


By the time we reached the river, I was nearly all in. I was grateful to find that the guys were not quite finished with the car, and greatly enjoyed the hour rest to eat some lunch and bathe my feet. My feet and and ankles hurt so badly, I honestly didn't know how I was going to make it the rest of the hike. We still had the river crossing, then 1000 feet up the next mountain to reach the Taramuhara village. I discovered the major source of my discomfort in the eight massive blisters decorating my feet. Though I thought I had broke my new shoes in well enough, I hadn't gone hiking in them yet! That was a lesson very painfully learned!

The breathtaking beauty of the riverside.

Despite my painful condition, I was excited to hear of the Lord's provision for the six guys. When daylight came that morning for them, they were dismayed to find nothing but scrub around. They desperately needed a good sized tree to make lumber to fix the car, but nowhere could they find anything near large enough. They could do nothing else but commit it to the Lord, and then go in search of firewood. In their hunt, they were astounded to find a large log wedged in some rocks near the car. Upon closer examination, it had obviously been cut down with an axe. They could only presume that an Indian had felled it for his own use, but "somehow" it had fallen into the river and floated away. What an encouragement that was!

The condition of the car as they found it.

Sawing the lumber.

Completed!

I was in the second group to cross the river. This was three-quarters fun, and the rest terrifying! The car would coast about half-way across the river, but then had to be pulled along by hand the remaining distance. Care had to be taken that you didn't allow your hand to go too far back where the pulley could easily take a finger or thumb off. Two of us went at a time, and we all made it over without incidence, saving one guy who cut himself pretty badly in the pulley. Once I was over, I was very glad to again be on the observing end as the next hour was spent hauling people and packs across.


This gave me another hour to contemplate my foot situation. I knew without a doubt that I couldn't make it any father with the condition they were in. I could barely limp along, much less hike. My shoes had become torture chambers, and every step simply rubbed the already broken blisters into raw wounds. I mentioned it to one of the guys with concern, and they immediately suggest putting duct tape on the blisters! Duct tape!! I honestly could not see what good that would do, but having no other option, I decided to give it a try. Others confirmed the first guy's suggestion, and told me they will never hike without duct tape with them. I had nothing to lose, so I put a small piece over each blister. I was absolutely amazed to find that when I put my shoes back on the pain was completely gone. The tape prevented the blisters from rubbing anymore on my shoes, and somehow soothed the pain as well!


The last couple hours of the hike were extremely intense. Though temperatures were fairly cool on the rim, the conditions became near tropical inside the canyon. Just across the river we picked citrus fruit, and wildflowers and a few palm trees were scattered here and there as well. The sun was high in the sky by now, and in no time, every one of us was drenched in sweat from head to toe. The trail was now so steep, that at times we had to throw our packs up and receive a helping hand up the rocks. We were now also following a small creek, and while it supplied desperately needed water, it also made for slippery walking at times.


We left this creek about 500 feet up. The trail was now a little more established, but consistently steep with no flat spots to catch your breath. Heat exhaustion started to set in, and there were some that got sick alongside the trail. I was nearly at that point - desperately thirsty, yet each sip made my stomach turn over. I was grateful that I never threw up...I desperately needed every last drop of fluid I had.


About half-an-hour from the village, some of the Indians saw us coming and came down to help us with our packs. If it hadn't been for this, I'm not sure how some of us would have made it. Even relieved on my backpack, I could barely trudge into the village. Once there, most of us were flat out on the ground for nearly an hour, trying to regain some strength through snacks and simple rest! A half-ripe orange never tasted so good before!


The first agenda for most was to shower. Four days worth of travel dirt didn't leave any of us smelling or looking the nicest! :-) Most opted for the creek, but circumstances didn't make this too practical for us girls. There was a bath house in the village, and despite it's primitiveness, it felt soooooo good! The close proximity of the creek allowed the Indians to pipe water in through long tubing where it was gravity fed into the village. The black hose combined with the warm day made the water the perfect temperature, and the half tire a perfect tub! Call me crazy, but I thought it was neat!


That afternoon, the guys literally dug right in building the outhouse. In no time at all, the hole was excavated and the frame built. This was the progress in just a couple hours! I found this impressive, especially considering the fact that by then, I was so sore I could hardly walk. I knew they felt no different, and their determination to tackle the project despite the pain inspired me! I guess they knew that their muscles were going to hurt even worse tomorrow, so they just grit their teeth and did it!

Our evening ended early that night as we spread our mats out on the concrete at 7:45pm. We all slept in this one room, though Laura and I had a small tent to crawl into. Despite our small air mattresses, neither of us slept well. In the morning, nearly everyone said the same. The concrete floor wasn't so bad, it was the condition of our bodies that prevented the desperately desired sleep from coming. I have honestly never hurt so badly in my life. Lying perfectly still did not ease the thousands of torn muscles - only time and exercise would do that!

Despite the many physical difficulties of the day, it was one of the happiest for me of the whole trip. Seeing and experiencing firsthand the hardships that many missionaries face on a regular basis was a challenge. In America, physical comfort is very high on our priority list, and the absence of that gave me a lot to consider. It reminded me most of all of our Saviour who sacrificed more than we'll ever be able to do, just to come and save a lost, dying, and wretched humanity. I can testify that it was a true joy to suffer this little bit, and it caused me to realize in a new way that no cost is too great for the salvation of souls. He who paid the greatest price ever will freely grant grace enough for us to follow in His footsteps!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Announcing....



....a new online music streaming service! A friend of mine has taken the initiative to provide a website with beautiful background music that can be played 24 hours a day! I've enjoyed it thoroughly already! Check out this post for the complete details. Also, if any of you are aware of conservative instrumental music that is either non copyrighted or permission could be obtained easily, Ryan would deeply appreciate any leads you could give him! Contact info is on the site! I hope you enjoy it as much as I have! Be sure to pass on the word if you know others who would be blessed by it!

Monday, March 19, 2007

A Soldier's Crossroad


The land unconquered lies before,
Behind us peaceful Jordan's shore.
Before lie battles fierce and strong,
Behind the fighting's done and gone.

'Tis true there's blessings promised there;
Milk and honey a daily fare.
Grapes of Eshcol sweetly hang -
The seasonal early and latter rain.

But they say there's giants in that land,
Fortresses tall and cities grand.
Are the blessings really worth that much?
Our life's blood spent that land to touch?

But wait! Remember Egypt past!
That awful bondage in sin's tight grasp.
Our Lord has led us from that place,
and called us out a peculiar race.

With cloud and fire He has led us on,
Supplying manna when our strength was gone.
So faithfully He's gone before,
'Till now we stand on Jordan's shore.

Our only fear in path's ahead
is forgetting how our Lord hath led.
Abundant provision is ours to claim
As we move ahead in Jesus' name.

We find our enemy's heart's are faint
through tesimony of our dear Lord's saints.
Their battles are won e'er they pick up the sword
through their steadfast trust in the name of the Lord.

Brother, sister!! We must rise and meet
the challenge left by Caleb's feet!
Wholly following the Lord his God,
An inheritance gained by this pathway trod.

The blood and sweat that stained his path
In light of Canaan seemed but chaff.
With strength renewed yet day by day,
He onward pressed, he wouldn't be swayed.

We too can claim this blessing grand
By following our Lord through Canaan's land.
The way ahead is steep and rough,
Yet Christ's "well done" reward enough.

With faces set we rise and go,
Moving forward we face the foe.
Shunning contentment, ease, and rest,
We give our utmost for His best!

Zion's mountain is our final goal.
The resting place for a soldier's soul.
It's only there the battle's o'er,
That final crossing onto heaven's shore
A.J.H. March 18th, 2007

(References: Deut. 1:19-31; Deut. 3:21-22; Joshua 1-2; Joshua 10:25; Joshua 13:1; Joshua 14:8)

Friday, March 16, 2007

An Itty-Bitty Update

Just popping in here real quick to let all you faithful readers know I have not abandoned this blog! Our computer has undergone a super major virus infection, and I've been fighting with it for the last week. All my spare time has gone into that and the powerpoint presentation I'm trying to get ready for our MX team on our spare PC. Anyway, expect an update (hopefully) within a week or so! I'm hoping to have thing satisfactorily ironed out by then!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Miracles in Copper Canyon - Part 3

Before I launch into the conclusion of our day at the rim, I'll give a little background information on the Tarahumara Indians that may help you to better understand our mission there. For some reason, these Indians, much like the Native Americans of the US, have been hated and mistreated for many years. No less than 20 years ago, the Tarahumara's were so despised by the Mexican people that the government actually had a bounty on their head. With a promise of being paid for every Tarahumara they killed, Mexicans hunted them down like dogs, and as a result, most fled to the remote mountain slopes of the Sierra Madres. What used to be a people group of millions, is now reduced to 70,000-100,000 - most of them still living far back in the mountains. The area we were in was one of the easier to get to, and it was still by far the most grueling driving and hiking I have ever experienced. Nine hours from the nearest town, Creel, many in Copper Canyon never know more than primitive mountain life.

17 years ago, Pastor Tomas received a burden from the Lord to help these people. With an infant mortality rate of 50%-75%, the Tarahumara's were fast becoming a disappearing people group. For 14 years his efforts among them seemed to bear no fruit. With the recent persecution, the people were terrified of him, and fled whenever he came. For 14 years he traveled back and forth from Juarez to the Copper Canyon bringing food and supplies. All he could do was leave them near the villages and turn around and head home. His faithfulness and diligence in persisting this God-given calling, amidst seemingly wasted effort, has been a tremendous challenge to me!

Three years ago, Pastor Tomas started seeing the fruit from his labors. The people were becoming more receptive, and soon some started coming to the Lord. There are now several families in the mountains that have accepted Jesus Christ, and many others who now give him a welcome reception. Yet, despite this progress, it is only the tip of the ice burg. Recently Pastor Tomas took a two-week trip back into the mountains. He takes those mountain slopes at an extremely fast pace, and even with that, he did not reach the end of the villages. The mountain ranges stretch for as far as your eye can see, and among them is nestled thousands of people, most who have never heard the Gospel even once. National Geographic recently did a trip farther back than Pastor Thomas had even been, and found tribes still living in the stone age. Living in caves, wearing next to nothing, and having never known a different life, they are a people crying out for the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Cannibalism is also rampant deeper in the mountains. This is Mexico! Only 12 hours drive from the border! It overwhelms me to realize that this is in the 3rd most evangelized country in the world. If such needs are present so close to us, what are the needs of those countries considered completely unreached?

With this knowledge burning in my heart, I entered the canyon realizing the awesomeness of what I was called to do. No, it wasn't a long trip, but God had sent me, and I was so excited to see what He was going to do!

Initially, we were planning on hiking into the canyon that afternoon, and getting to the village after dark that evening. We did not reach the rim until 4:00pm though, and it was quickly decided by those who had been there before that it was far too dangerous for us to proceed that evening. However, Pastor Tomas soon informed us that the cable car at the bottom of the canyon was broken. This car was needed to cross the 250 ft. river, and because of the recent snow, it was too high to cross any other way. After a bit of discussion, it was decided that six guys would hike to the river that evening so that they could be up at the crack of dawn to fix the car before the rest of us arrived. This was serious undertaking, as that spot in the river was practically the backyard of a known and feared local cannibal. Mountain lions were also rampant in the area, and with all this in consideration, two guys were always awake that whole night keeping watch. It was a tense night for all of them, and they were praising the Lord when morning came!

Five of the six guys ...

Brenda

For the rest of us, we enjoyed a relaxing evening at Antonio's and Ramona's house - a Christian family on the rim. Homemade corn tortillas, chicken, a zucchini dish, hot chocolate and coffee made for a scrumptious supper! Laura and I got our first taste at cooking Mexican, and enjoyed learning from Brenda, the Mexican lady that joined us from the mission base in Juarez. Dark fell quickly on the canyon rim, and we all went to bed very early. I don't think one of us complained! Despite our excitement at the next days events, we were exhausted from the days travels, and were more than ready to call it a day!


Antonio and Ramona's House where we spent Sunday night.