NCC Adventure Part 1 – Poles and Thunder

The time of the NCC mission trip to the BLC in support of this adventure therapy program has arrived!  12 NCCers and our guest foreman from Signature Research were dropped off along the highway from La Paz at 7 on Wednesday morning, bleary eyed and ready to be stationary for a while after nearly 24 hours of constant traveling.  They were greeted by a short ride down really muddy roads and a crowd of boys still waiting on breakfast.  The team got to work within minutes of their arrival, investing in the boys they had come to help heal and grow.  They haven’t stopped to take a breather since.

The poles going up!

The tower construction got off to a rough start, but God soon proved his timing and providence are as perfect as ever.  Upon inspecting the poles, Michael let us know the dimensions were insufficient to construct even half the tower we had planned.  I knew these were the only 3 available in the province.  Faces fell but hopes remained high as we came up with a plan B and C.  After lunch we set out to inspect the concrete poles (plan B) for sale at the same yard I purchased the wooden poles, and to our sheer delight we found 3 new wooden poles able to sustain the weight at the heights we wanted.  The poles were still untreated, newly arrived as of that very morning, and were unspoken for!  We were literally within 15 minutes of the last pole treatment of the day, and were promised ready-to-go poles by opening the next morning.  The crane came 2 minutes early, the poles were exchanged at a cost difference of 30 dollars, and we were able to take advantage of the crane delivering the new poles to erect them and set them in the holes, all on day one.  It was a spectacular way to start the week!

Team A set out for the mountains on our adventure trip with the boys on Thursday, although much later than planned. It was a genuinely demoralizing beginning to an activity I had been looking forward to for months.  Two of our guys bailed at the last minute, preferring sleep over adventure, and we replaced them with two guys willing to go twice.  It was an excellent team.  At least two of our campers were first timers, but I swear you wouldn’t have guessed it by their attitudes.  It had rained all morning and the firewood was soaked through.  Allyson proved her mettle and put her extensive experience as a river runner to good use by getting our fire started and keeping it alive despite spectacular odds.  Our hike in the morning up a beautiful stream cascading and pooling down a steep mountain valley was fun and tested our agility.  Many failed and became quite wet in the process, but spirits remained high.

The menfolk attempting to light the soaked wood. Allyson gave us our space for a while but then stepped in to save us.

Lunch was simple and quick, cut short by a torrential downpour that drove us into our tents for two straight hours.  Somehow lots of our campers slept through it, but I can’t understand how.  I for one lay in my tent with Luis and Rogelio (also sleeping), my heart pounding as I listened to the rain let up then drive even harder time after time.  The lighting and thunder grew more intense and frequent.  I pondered this display of the Power of God, and how difficult it is for me to reconcile this sheer might with the God we know to be True Love.  Somehow, the God who could wipe me out of existence in a split second was there with me in the tent, helping me stay calm and formulate the best strategy for getting our team off the mountain in the least miserable circumstances possible.

Matt and Ismael took advantage of two hours trapped in a tent together to do some bonding

The thunder died down and the rain faded slightly, but was replaced with a constant roar equivalent to the sound of an airliner passing overhead, only never getting past you.  It took me a good 15 minutes to realize what it was.  I emerged from my tent to go look over the edge of our grassy perch at the stream bed below.  The raging, muddy torrent filled the valley, leaping 6 feet into the air over larger boulders and cutting away the side of the opposing hillside.  The stream of rocks cascaded and disappeared into the angry waters below, and I wondered at how just three hours before we had been enjoying the quiet pools and gentle waterfalls of that same stream.  I was joined by my team, who emerged one by one from their tents as the rain subsided.  We gazed into the valley and many of us were thinking the same thing: how’s the road out of here looking?

The road was wiped out entirely very near our campsite, and further downhill work crews were already pulling rocks and landslides free of the cobblestone roadway.  We packed up camp in a still constant but less intense shower, and still not a word of complaint or even concern from my team.  I am so amazingly blessed to have these men and women of God here to support the work I am doing with these boys.  Their words and actions of encouragement have already uplifted me and given me hope for a successful and effective new year full of life, love and healing.  Our times of worship have reawakened a long-dead part of me and helped me to simply rejoice again.  The way they invest every waking minute in the boys brings a smile to my face.  It has been a while since I smiled so hard for so long that my face hurt, but that was the direct result of an evening of skits and dancing on New Years Eve with this team.  I thank God for the breath of life they are breathing into me and this program, and even the boys.  I cannot wait to see what this next week holds.

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