Life’s Summits

I am hot, tired, and exhausted. But not done. I have been hiking for four hours and have already summited one mountain top. I am on my way down from the first peak and setting my sights on the next one.

As long as the weather and my body hold up I will make it to the top of two 14ers in one day.

The trail is steep and my next summit looks a million miles away to my oxygen starved brain. A little voice in my head tells me I could just turn around. That making it to the top isn’t that important – it’s too hard, too far, too scary. It whispers to look how easy the descent would be and how sweet it would be to rest.

But a mountain looms before me that must be conquered. The summit beckons me forward, inviting me to keep putting one foot in front of the other, to push past the little voice and ignore my screaming legs and lungs. To push forward to a beautiful vista, an accomplished goal, a moment that will last forever.

I must make a choice. Or maybe, the choice will make me.

Why I Love to Hike

For me, one of the most beautiful things about hiking is how much it reminds me of living life. When you hike you pick a path that you are going to go down – whether it is planned or spontaneously unique, a paved path or a boulder field, to the summit of a mountain or to the depths of a cave – you start down a route often not knowing fully where it will lead.

As we go down our paths, we can experience the highest highs, the lowest lows, and everything in between. We are faced with big decisions and difficult moments – physically, mentally, and even emotionally – that can have a profound influence on how we look at every future trail.

We are constantly surrounded by dangers each step we take. Whether it is a cliff, jagged rocks, wild animals, or the weather we must brave, every hike includes some level of risk. Risk that can terrify us, excite us, or sometimes fill us with debilitating fear. The scars from a fall on a slippery trail can make us timid when it rains or the rewards of a sunset over the hills can help us push our bodies further than we thought they could go just to see red and orange fill the sky one more time.

Guiselle’s Trails

I don’t know about you, but all of that sounds a lot like life to me. In life we choose our route, we fall and we climb, we are broken and we are built up, we experience deep-rooted fear and upmost elation, all in the name of reaching some “summit” we are chasing.

Our children in Nicaragua are no different from us. They face just as many challenges in life – in fact, if we’re being honest, most of them have faced more difficulties by the age of 5 than most of us will know in our lifetimes. And just like climbing a 14er, they must make a choice – will they take one more step toward hope or let fear and despair send them back down to the trap of ease and comfort.

I can’t help but think about Guiselle and Lupita (the little girls in the picture to the right). For those of you that follow our work you have known them since they were 5 and 7 years old in 2010. Now it is 8 years later and they are 13 and 15.

I can’t believe it. Time has gone by too fast.

Guiselle and Lupita have had to climb some serious mountains and they have experienced both extreme highs and extreme lows. When I first met them, they were both 5-10 pounds underweight, hungry, sick, tired and fearful. They lived in a dirt-floored, rain-soaked shack that was pieced together from scrap wood and plastic (the shack actually collapsed on them about 2 years later). They were not in school, didn’t know how to read or write, and because both their mother and aunt often had to resort to prostitution (just to put food on the table) they had no idea how a woman should be treated or that they were worth anything at all.

Talk about a long, steep, winding trail to a terrifying summit.

We immediately put them into our single mother program and their life changed. Not all at once, but little by little. I can still remember how hard the first year of school was for Guiselle. She was bullied because of how poor they were and how far behind she was in every subject. I can vividly remember holding her in my arms as she wept from all the mean things the other children said about her.

But she didn’t give up.

She just kept putting one foot in front of the other, day after day, step after step.

Continuing Towards the Summit

Each year we have been there to watch and hike alongside her. We have had the honor to encourage her, pray for her, and speak into her. You have enabled us to provide her with the food, clothes and school supplies she needed to be successful, and most importantly, the time to teach her what matters more than anything else: that she is loved and forever will be.

That God loves her, is hiking with her, and will never leave her.

Now, for the past 3 years, she has had the highest GPA of all the kids in her grade (check out her elementary school graduation pic to the right!). She dominates every subject so thoroughly and is so smart and naturally gifted that I truly believe she could do anything she put her mind to.

Her mother and sister are no different. Her mother was able to get a stable job in a factory and has not had to return to the darkness of the streets since coming into our program. Her sister Lupita is a firecracker that loves fiercely and is just as smart as Guiselle. She will not be told what she cannot do.

The whole family has come to know Jesus, the love he has for them, and how valuable they are to him and to us.

All of this change occurred because you helped us come alongside a single mother and two little girls. I will never have sufficient words to express my gratitude or how big of an impact you have helped us make. Here are a few more pictures from Guiselle’s transformation. Take a look and then continue reading down below!

Hiking for Change

These girls (and many others like them) are the reason why this July we are climbing a 14er in Colorado. We are hiking because we believe in these children, we believe in their future, and we believe we have a responsibility to help make it better.

Will you join us? Will you help us make the hopes and dreams of these little ones possible?

If so, you can use the donation widget to the right and welcome to the team!

Now, let’s go for a hike.

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