Monday, January 2, 2017

Mr. Responsibility




DJ & Jodi's October Update

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Mr. Responsibility

 

Trapped! The small inner voice that call's itself "responsibility" taps me on the shoulder. What are you going to do? Looks like you are trapped in La Paz, and the money is going fast! I stare blankly at the dreary street that, under the threatening grey sky, looks the same as it did three hours ago. I resolve myself not to care, not to let my personality clash with the culture, but I can't seem to unravel the knot in my stomach.

Why do plans always change on these trips? I dial the number again. Nothing, recipient is outside of cell range. Should we go without a guide? We haven't the slightest clue where this village is but maybe we could find our way, somehow? In desperation I dial the mayor, and within minutes he calls back with a solution. A few inches of stress knot unravel in my stomach. A guide will arrive in La Paz by mid-day…. but mid-day? Can we wait that long?

"Mid-day" chides the responsibility voice (we'll call him "Mr. R").  You know what that means. Oh, so you are trying to ignore the implications? Let me help you, first know "mid-day" means that you won't leave before 2 pm. That means another expensive meal for the team in the city, but worse, there is no way you will make Chaquety la Plaza tonight, so more meals on the road, a hotel if you can find one. Count the money, I'll bet before it's over you won't have gas money to get home… I struggle desperately to focus on the good, "Hey, listen here, at least we have a guide," I say to myself meaning to sound confident. "It will all work out somehow." My words are not as convincing as I want them to be and I know I will be hearing from "Mr. R" again.

It is 3pm before I ease the jeep out onto the street and head out of the city. With full tanks, 6 adults, backpacks, camping gear, food, tools, and medical supplies everything seems heavy except my wallet. I share the cramped front bench with Dr. Alex and our guide Hernan. His leather dress shoes, above-average height and broad shoulders seem in direct contrast to the somber face, graying hair and soft-spoken demeanor that are typical of a country farmer. Honestly, I have no clue who he is but it will take a while to find out since he is almost as sparing with words as with luggage, a leather jacket being the sum total.

Two hours later, we come to a stop behind a long line of busses and trucks on a one-lane mud road. After a few minutes of waiting, everyone climbs out to stretch. Alex is chatting with the bus driver behind us. Reason for the delay? Road construction: road closed during the day, opens at 5 pm. Mr. R taps me on the shoulder. I had almost forgotten about him. You know that was a close call. Just think if you had arrived here eight hours earlier! The back track and detour would have cost 2-3 hours at least! I grin to myself, knowing that this trip will be interesting. God's hand is already on the move.

Time does not permit me to transcribe all the conversations I had with Mr. R over the course of the trip, so you'll have to imagine his consternation at each new turn of events. I'll just give you the highlights in the contrast between our plans (OP) versus God's plan (GP).

OP:  Arrive at the trailhead to Chaquety La Plaza Monday night. Hike in Tuesday.
GP:  Wait for guide. Pass construction zone at 5pm sharp. Stop for the night at the Adventist school in Chulumani where the pastor's wife/director puts us up for the night.

OP:  Fine, we'll make it to the Chaquety by end of Tuesday.  We'll just stop at Guaraguarani on the way and tell them we'll be passing back through on Thursday.
GP:  Divine appointment at Guaraguarani suspension bridge. Actually, you need to help the people here first. Treated at least 50 between 1 pm and 10pm.

OP:  Arrive at trailhead to Chaquety Wednesday, hike in, treat people, spend the night, and hike out the following morning.
GP:  Get lost, it's farther than you thought, do some 4 wheeling to get back on the right road. There's a sick baby in the trailhead village that you need to see before you hike anywhere.

OP:  Worry about Samson because after we park him and start hiking, we hear how some trailhead villagers have sabotaged and vandalized vehicles in the past.
GP:  Don't worry because I have sent my angels to watch over the truck. Trust Me that you're on My errands and that I have a work to do in this village as well.

OP:  Hike back out of Chaquety on Thursday, treat the trailhead villagers quickly and be on our way.
GP:  Have a sporadic but endless stream of patients… and patience…and rain….and delays and truck problems, because I need to give these cold, closed people a chance to overcome their suspicions and come to get medical help. I need Jodi to talk to a young mother who needs to know that I exist and love her. And I need you to make an important contact with the schoolteacher who used to be an Adventist.

OP:  Get on the road ASAP Thursday afternoon and drive the 12 hours back to La Paz.
GP:  Flat tire, truck problems, road blocked by mudslides. A helpful bus driver, a long detour, arriving at the school in Chulumani at 11pm with no one to let us in the gate. Pastor drives up two minutes later unannounced.

OP:  Leave early Friday and make it back to La Paz.
GP:  Spend time with the pastor, and be advised about another detour we need to take. Rain, slippery roads, cars in the ditch, truck problems. A stop in Coroico for food and an ATM because although my wallet has been empty for some time we get a message saying that an awesome donor has donated money that will get us home.

OP:  Get to La Paz. Stay at our church friends' empty house and get some good sleep.
GP:  Arrive at 9pm in time to catch the end of a Bible study and most of the church people gathered in worship.  Go to bed late, because sometimes people are more important.

OP:  "Get by" on oatmeal for the weekend camping in friends' house.
GP:  Church family and friends 'accidentally' feed us four meals on Sabbath!

OP:  An intermittent problem that Samson was having became a major problem as we struggled to cross the 15,000 ft. pass into La Paz Friday evening.  We recognized that we might have to leave the jeep in La Paz to make the OCI retreat by Tuesday.
GP:  Sunday morning, after you ask me for help, find a hidden, broken wire. A touch of solder, and the problem that had given Mr. R. lots of reasons to expound upon the difficulties of a full vehicle breakdown in the middle of nowhere, was solved!

I like to remind Mr. R that sometimes the picture isn't quite like he paints it. That is, responsibility is important for sure, but sometimes when we have done what we can, God asks us to let the burden rest on His shoulders. Then He leads us forward in the dark until our toes are wet, because that is when He parts the waters.

Epilogue:

About our guide Hernan, well he really needs to write a book. There is no way we can do justice to his story here so it will have to wait for another time.  But as far as his part on this trip? We couldn't have done it without him and we saw God tapping him on the shoulder throughout the spiritual challenges and victories we experienced, reminding him of the eternity that awaits every true believer.

DJ & Jodi Knott
Facebook: GMA Bolivia Highlands
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