Today, we had the opportunity to travel up the mountain to a beautiful municipal park just north of San Andres. There, we met a group of about 20 students, all receiving scholarship support thru Mission Guatemala. Here, students pay to attend grade 6 and higher….and the call of family responsibilities is many times too great to make continued education a possibility.

Together with the students, we left the cars on the roadside and hiked down thru a coffee grove , Across a dry stream bed and up to the picnic ground. But that was just the beginning of our climb. Led by Tomas, our Mayan guide, up the real mountain we hiked. And hiked. An hour later and nearly 1000 vertical feet higher, we reached the summit at 7,560 feet and were rewarded with a panoramic view of God’s handiwork, overlooking the volcanoes and mountains surrounding Lake Atitlan.

When our heartbeats had returned to normal, we headed back down the mountain to beautiful sunshine and kids for whom the hike appeared only a warm-up. Our younger team members obliged, leading games, playing soccer and volleyball and even teaching the bravest ones a few dance moves.

We had just queued for lunch when the rain began, with abandon. The soccer fields were quickly a swamp, and we had to simply find the patience to wait out the storm. We weren’t going anywhere.

When the storm finally subsided, we headed back up to the car, but not without another challenge. The dry stream was now a rushing river, and the only option for crossing was to walk across two parallel logs, holding onto a rope handrail hastily installed by our crew. Teamwork, encouragement, and more than a little bit of faith got us thru, and soon enough we were back up the path to to cars, ready to return to the RiverHouse

Today, we were reminded of the many blessings and the incredible abundance we enjoy in our lives. Even more, we were given the gift of time with new friends – ones who do not share our language, our culture or our lifestyle, but came to us with open hearts and broad smiles.

We faced challenges, and together conquered mountains.

We celebrated the universal experience we all share: we our His children, surrounded by our Father’s love.u