Dearest friends and family,
It strikes me as remarkable how much nature and our surroundings can teach us if we’ll notice. Call it the product of living in a variety of small cities out in the countryside for the last year, or call it enlightenment from being absorbed in my own thoughts as my feet pound the dusty roads or broken pavement all day long, but I have felt my eyes alighted, my nose filled with new sensations, and my ears tapped into a life-line of living, breathing lessons going on all around me, every day.
So we made it to the volcano Cayambe this last Monday and WOW, let’s just take a moment here to explain why this is a perfect example of what I’m trying to share. The 6 of us were climbing around the base camp and the air was super thin, so we weren’t really talking too much between us, which left me deep in thought without even really realizing it. As I looked back down the mountain I could see the sharp tree line where the denser forest suddenly gives way to small shrubbery-like plants and eventually thin mosses and flowers growing out of cracks among the rocks. I marveled how the weaker plants and trees are left-behind as only the strongest and more properly adapted plants are able to grow at the much higher altitude. It’s like these plants burst through into a better level, where they can live and breathe, free from distraction of the less suited plants. It got me thinking how we need to be like these plants. We have to leave behind those things that aren’t suited for higher-quality life and break out into our own little space in the free, new air.
Even just the altitude itself – and all that has to do with acclimation - teaches a powerful lesson about life. We arrived at the base camp refuge house where we found lots of climbers doing little drills and testing out their ropes and gear. It must be a necessary part of preparing for the climb to the top to camp out for several days at the refuge house where the altitude is 15,000 feet to let your lungs get the hang of breathing air that barely counts. I was very happy to be there to say the least, simply because of how fresh and unrestricted the destination was. I will definitely be returning one day but with intentions of seeing the summit. Sitting there, taking a little rest at the refuge house, I reflected on vivid memories of my first few weeks of acclimation to the mission. It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t fun. However, now that I have my lungs I’m climbing at faster rates than I’ve ever imagined, pushing for the summit. And it seems that the thin air has become invigoratingly sweet to me. It fuels me and cleans me and reminds me of the challenges that I have already overcome. It also helps me keep fresh and present in my thoughts the true necessity of allowing yourself to become acclimated to your surroundings, since climbing without acclimation would be fatal.
We finished our adventure on the mountain at around 10 AM and made our way back to the truck soon after. We found our driver sleeping but we woke him and started the trek back down the mountain. Not long after the shocks on the rear axle of the truck broke on some rocks in the road, leaving us stranded in the rain, which quickly turned into fierce, heavy hail. Thank goodness it doesn’t hail often in San Diego because, wow, it really hurts! To lighten his load, we paid our driver and continued to walk down the hill while cars passed, unable to climb any further because of the weather conditions higher up. Some very nice people from Quito offered us a ride back to the town of Cayambe and we squeezed into the rear compartment of their Hyundai. While squished back-to-back against Elder Cuevas, I asked him if he felt ready to finish his training and be a normal missionary. His reply brought feelings of relief that I have done a decent enough job as his trainer. He said he has really enjoyed his training, that the time has flown by, and that he had learned more in the past 12 weeks than he ever imagined he would. He said he felt ready. And I know he is ready. He has the attitude to be a rugged and well-prepared plant capable of shooting up well beyond the trees.
Let’s be rugged and well-prepared plants. Pay attention to nature and I promise it will teach you something.
Lots of affection,
- This letter is almost 2-weeks old as Adam is now working in the office in Quito and wasn’t able to write until yesterday (Saturday). Look back 2 weeks in the archives if you’d like to see photos from their adventure up Cayambe.
- I was pretty sad leaving Cayambe, to be honest. We teach the Sunday School Gospel Doctrine class and at the end I announced that I was leaving and all of my alumnos started crying. It was pretty depressing. They wanted to go outside and take photos and lots of other ward members came out as well (see photos). Bleh…leaving is the worst! There’s a photo of Elder Cuevas and I standing with about 10 people outside...that represents the fruits of the labor from the last 3 months of working in Cayambe. All of them were baptized or soon will be. Very emotional.
- Quito is way different than anything I have ever experienced here in the mission. My companion, Elder Moon from Boise is great, and I’m here with some of my best friends, Elder Morton and Elder Castagno. It’s like a dream come true. Its funny Elder Castagno and I have followed each other all around the mission haha. I hope my Spanish doesn’t weaken too much being around all these gringos haha. Castagno, Morton and I are working on a plan to ride motorcycles from Alaska to Argentina when we get home. I love these guys.
- Today we all went to a science museum for p-day. I got to see some parts of the city that are very Spanish looking in the colonial sectors and Old Town. Quito is beautiful. There are no dirt roads and nothing is really that dirty. Everyone has cars. We live in an area called Iñaquito and President Murphy lives one street or so over from our sector. The people in our area are pretty cold, but the ones we are teaching are really intelligent…one is a doctor and she takes notes during the lessons. We are definitely not in the campo anymore. J
- The secretaries tend to stay in the office for 4 transfers so I’m expecting to be here for the next 6 months…it will be like April when I leave. Crazy!
- I love you all so much. I am happy and getting my hang on all this new stuff. I miss you all! Have a great week!
|Rescued off the mountain|
|Saying goodbye in Cayambe|
|Waiting on planes at the airport - at 3 in the morning - Johnny Rockets in Quito who knew?|
|The tongue is out - it's still little kid Adam in there|