Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A South American Adventure: The Preparation Before the Journey

Well, it's time to blow the dust off of The Chronicles, and do a little more writing.

I'm not the stereo-typical "Adventuress"...Laura Croft and I don't have much in common, except for a love for adventure! But though I may not "look" the part, I do however claim the title. In the past I've roamed around Ireland and Scotland by myself, wandered the back roads of Puerto Rico, been stranded in the Everglades in a raft, and backpacked 700 miles on the Appalachian Trail...a good part of it solo. So it shouldn't be surprising, for those who know me, that two days from now I will be on a Greyhound bus on the way up to Washington, DC. And two days from tomorrow I'll be on a plane on my way to Central and South America. My excitement has been mounting, and the long awaited departure has come up amazingly quickly.

I've been planning this adventure for 6 months. Seems like a long time, doesn't it? But there's a lot to consider when you're going off the beaten path, especially in a foreign country! The video above provides an introduction to my trip. Since I've had a number of people ask me what I'm packing, I've included a description of the choice of gear, and what some of the considerations were in choosing it. When you have to carry everything you need to live for 3-1/2 weeks on your back, you want every bit of that 60-lbs of gear to be useful and necessary.

First a little background. When I originally started planning this trip it was going to be a business trip to Ecuador. I was going to look at land...which I'm still planning on doing, and I was going to take an import/export tour to look at products to import into the States for resale. I bought my ticket in December for only $579 round-trip, which included a 2-night layover in San Jose, Costa Rica on the way to Ecuador and a 3-night layover in Lima, Peru on the way back. Without the 2 layovers, it would have been just under $500.

At the beginning of the year, as I was praying over my businesses that I already have, I felt that the Lord was telling me not to expand into something else right now (i.e. the import business) but to focus on what I already had going. I didn't have a problem with that, but that did change the course of my trip. I still felt that I was supposed to go, and began praying for clear direction. It was at that time that one of the dreams that has been on my heart to do for right at 25 years resurfaced.

Long ago, not too long after I go saved, I had read about the Huaorani indigenous people in Ecuador. If you've watched the movie The End of the Spear then you've heard about them. Anyway, for years it's been my dream to go to the Rainforest and spend some time with them. As that dream resurfaced and began to form itself into solid plans, my excitement has mounted. This is Number 2 of one of the major "have-held-onto-them-for-years" dreams that God has brought/ is bringing to pass. The first was last year when I was able to be a part of a mission team to Uganda.

I've been asked, "What are you going to do there?" Well, I'm going to spend time with the people. Hopefully work along side them. Hunt with them. Cook with them. Learn about them. Others have asked me, "Is this a mission trip?" Well, I guess that would depend on YOUR definition of a mission trip. If your question is, "Are you going to go preach to them?", then the answer is no. BUT, the Holy Ghost and I ARE going there together...and HE has a mission in mind, so as far as I'm concerned it IS a mission trip. It's just not what you typically think of as a mission trip.

My Pastor has been teaching a series called Evangelism by Fire for the last several weeks. It is a series that was birthed out of one of our Saturday Night Corporate Prayer meetings. It's been an awesome series (which you can listen to by going to http://www.valleyword.org and clicking on The Media Room link in the left nav bar). In the series, Pastor made the point that Fire was used in the Word to represent the Presence of God (the Pillar of Fire by night for Moses and the Children of Israel, the cloven tongues of Fire on the Day of Pentecost, etc.). [You can check out Pastor's blog to get some great nuggets from his teaching.]

What his point was is that it is the Presence of God in our lives that draws people to God, not how many tracts we pass out or how many people we "witness to." If we abide in God, and allow His Presence to flow in and through us, people will be naturally attracted...without us waving Bibles in their faces telling them to repent or they'll go to hell! Remember, the Gospel is the GOOD NEWS of Jesus Christ...telling people to "turn or burn" just don't sound good to me! =)

Having said all that, let me back up and say this...I'm going to experience them...to live with them for a short time...to learn about them...to show God's love by just being me. Anyway, I've got to get up in 3 hours for church, so I'm going to shut up now! I hope you'll enjoy yourself as you follow along with my adventure. There's a lot more planned that I haven't had time to mention. Until next time...

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