Last week, I was in Honduras with a group of youth from Urban Trekkers Honduras hiking the tallest mountain in the country – Celaque. I went to film the youth’s experience along with Cory to help put together some promotional videos for future Treks.
The kids all seemed to have an amazing time. The theme was leave your trace and there were a lot of conversations about legacy and the type of legacy we want to be intentional about leaving.
During the post hike interviews, it became clear that all of the youth had connected with God through the experience and had also forged stronger relationships with everyone on the hike.
Throughout the week, I saw the youth encouraging each other, working together and helping each other out. Maybe it was the language barrier but I didn’t sense much complaining.
My experience with Celaque however was different from everyone else’s. I was not mentally prepared for the physical and emotional stress that the week would bring.
I do love to hike but up until Celaque, I’ve only done day hikes. Day hikes and multi day hikes are two very different things. I knew the hike would be strenuous but it was a lot steeper and tougher than I thought. We took fewer breaks than I anticipated – breaks where I thought we would be filming but never did, so extra gear (i.e. dead weight) was being carried. (My pack weighed in at 45 pounds while Cory’s weighed in at 55)
Needless to say, by the time we reached camp the first night, I was physically exhausted. So exhausted that it was really hard to find the energy and determination to film. I was also frustrated from having little to no trail footage. And already, I was feeling like I was behind on my shot list – questioning why I was here when I was so unprepared. (The physical and mental exhaustion of the hike was already heightening my feelings of frustrations)
The next morning, we got up at 4am for a sunrise hike to the summit. Three or four (possibly forever) hours later, we made it.
We were in a cloud forest with the summit being at 10,000 feet. It was gorgeous on top but I was too distracted by the nagging feeling that I wasn’t getting enough footage to really enjoy it. (“Not enough.” This will be a constant theme for me from this trip if you haven’t noticed yet.)
After breakfast and a mountaintop devotional, we headed back down to camp. I don’t think I can emphasize enough how steep this mountain is. So steep that the map has two sections: steep and very steep. Also those plateaus aren’t real.
I was slow coming down, tripping more and more the closer to camp we got and already I could feel my legs getting tired. Unfortunately we still had another whole day of hiking down the mountain to go. I tried my best not to think about it but how could I not when my legs were already getting jello-y and we hadn’t even started the real hike down.
Once we broke camp, we ate lunch then everyone started back down the mountain. 30 minutes in, my legs were already shaking. Only 5.5 hours to go! The last three hours my legs were so tired and wobbly, that I never actually knew if they were going to hold me when I would take a step. But I made it back to base camp just as the last light was leaving. (Also I should mention I don’t know the exact time it took for the hike. I just picked the time it felt like and rounded down)
That night we celebrated by not eating camp food. We went to a restaurant and had real food!
And then we all jumped into the nearby hot springs which felt really good.
Thursday we got a chance to go zip lining. This was my first time going. It was a lot of fun – especially once I knew the brake worked!
In the afternoon we went to a museum and a fort where the kids had a chance learn about the history of Celaque, the neighboring town and the hotsprings. There was also time for reflection on the week.
Once we left the mountain, I knew that my chances of getting the footage I thought I needed were over. So while everyone left accomplishing their goal of reaching the summit of Celaque and overcoming their fears on the zipline, I left feeling like I didn’t accomplish my goal of getting everything for the vision I had. And worse, I felt like I had the wrong expectations coming in so I never even had a chance. As a goal oriented person, it was frustrating to say the least. It still is.
After returning to the States, I’ve talked with a few friends about my frustrations that followed me home. In separate conversations (because that’s how God works), they all reminded me that God’s purposes are greater than mine and he will always use what we have as long as we offer it. So while I may feel like what I was able to get wasn’t good enough, allowing God to use it is what is most important – the willingness to give it all to him for him to use.
Just like the story of the fish and the loaves in Matthew, the disciples didn’t think they had enough so they were ready to send people away. But one kid who had a ridiculously small amount to offer was willing to give what he had and let it go as far as it could – even if it wasn’t very far. And because he was willing, God was able to make it go extravegantly further. (It’s easier to stretch something than nothing.)
While I still feel like what I have isn’t enough, what I do have is for God to use – not me. Because in the end, just like with the fish and the loaves, what I have or how much I have isn’t what is important. What is important is that I am willing to give it all to God to let him do with it what he wants – miracle or no miracle. I did the best I could and now it’s God’s turn to do with it what he wants.