My team traveled 9 hours south of Santiago, Chile’s capital, to the city of Pucon.
We first did a week of ministry; performing skits in the streets, dressing like clowns and even preaching sermons in local churches.
Our second week we participated in something called Adventure Team. During this week we were pushed beyond our physical limits as we white-water rafted, mountain-biked, rode horses, and my personal favorite, climbed an active volcano.
We got up at 5 AM and the bus left at 5:30 to head toward the Villarrica volcano. We were dressed head to toe in a ridiculous orange and purple jumpsuit. We wore helmets and carried pic-axes as we began our hike.
I remember my sweaty palms and fast heartbeat that morning. I was convinced there was no way I was going to make it up this volcano. It was 9,341 feet high and I had been told stories of people who had to turn back half-way through. I replayed the picture in my head of that happening to me. The shame I would feel trekking back down the volcano alone, not having reached the top. These thoughts consumed my mind before I took the first step up the volcano.
We began our hike and I stayed right behind our guide. Where he stepped, I stepped, determined to keep up. We would hike for 30 minutes and take a quick break as we drank ridiculous amounts of water to keep us hydrated. Slowly I began to fall behind, but kept moving, still determined. My fear and desire to overcome this volcano was all that kept me going.
We reached the halfway mark where the rest of our journey would be in hiking in the ice and snow. We put on our “crampons” which were sharp metal spikes we attached to the bottom of our boots to dig into the ice. We quickly ate some energy bars and took out our ice-picks. Making our way to the icy ground every step became more difficult. I had underestimated how heavy our new equipment was. I had also never used an ice-pick and wasn’t sure how I was going to rely on it when I had no idea how to use it.
While I was getting used to my equipment, one of our guides approached our group. He told us to look up towards the top of the volcano and to watch the smoke. The gray air shifted in the wind. It billowed to the right and I wondered why he asked us to watch it.
He then told us that the smoke had poisonous gasses and sulfur in it and that the gas was blowing right over the path we needed to take to get to the top. He told us that if the wind didn’t change in the next hour we would have to turn back.
I remember looking down at my ice-pick and then back up at the smoke. This man was telling me that despite how hard I worked and my determination, I still might not get to the top of this volcano.
My team and I waited and watched the smoke. Thirty minutes went by and nothing changed. Thirty more minutes and still the smoke blocked our path.
There wasn’t enough time to get to the top of the volcano and be down before dark if we were to wait any longer.
We had to turn back.
My heart dropped.
Why God? You can change the wind’s direction with a single word.
But He didn’t. The wind blew and we turned back-down the volcano.
I didn’t understand why it seemed I wasn’t given the chance to make it up.
Even though I had no idea why the smoke wouldn’t clear, I had to trust that God knew.
It’s not just about a volcano, there are times and situations in our lives that this happens all the time.
I don’t understand why there are women held captive. I don’t understand abuse.
There’s sickness, earthquakes, heartbreaks and death.
And sometimes there’s just smoke in the way of making it to the top of that volcano.
We have to remember who our God is.
He is good.
He knows the things we don’t.
Maybe He was protecting me from something at the top.
Honestly, I don’t know.
But I do know God.
God has never let me down; He has always provided for me.
I was blessed to even be in Chile climbing a volcano.
This is a reminder for all of us who sometimes just don’t understand what God is doing.
We have to trust in His goodness and His plan for our every day.