I just finished my greatest adventure. This was the entire reason I left the USA. Now after months of anticipation and pressing my way to this goal, I have a template for the next season of my life. It all boiled down to a single 7-day trek, that I would never forget! This blog is long, but worth your time.
Arriving In Peru
If you’re new to my journey, I’m in South America, scouting remote highlands in hopes to find undiscovered villages that are in need of help. Then I will select one location and return there to start my bigger work.
I first arrived in Peru on November 30th. This was the second of four locations I was scouting. I wanted to find a location that was rich with undiscovered beauty. A beauty in both the form of genuine kind hearted untouched villagers, and a beauty that can only be captured miles above sea level and far away from a civilized world.
Right off the bus in Cusco we made our way to The Meeting Place, where my good friend Steve Hobby welcomed us. Steve is a missionary pastor to Peru, from England. He has become a great friend and a big help to me.
The Meeting Place is a popular cafe in Cusco. They donate all proceeds to an orphanage for disabled people, and to other various compassion projects. Our plan was to work at the cafe as volunteers, while we researched about where to start this trek.
In Cusco, I felt like I was stepping into something big. At The Meeting Place all the right locals and travelers started to find me. As I pieced together their information I was pointed in a direction I hadn’t noticed from searching online. Once I saw that, I searched deeper than anyone before me. Through different types of maps I found a plausible location where we might discover villages. Then I started to map out a trek. The trek seemed extremely difficult, but possible.
For now I will keep the location of this trek to myself.
On Sunday morning, Tannen and I boarded a bus leaving Cusco to a small town a couple hours away. We lodged there for the night. The next morning we jumped on the back of a truck loaded with people.
Sitting there and looking around, I realized these are the people I’ll be working with for a very long time. I smiled and they smiled back at me. I couldn’t speak their Quechuan language, so for 4 hours no words were spoken. But we understood each other as if words didn’t matter. We made faces and laughed with each other for the majority of the ride.
Then, about 15 minutes before we reached our destination, a lady who sat at the back of the truck motioned the driver to stop. As she leaned away to jump off the truck she looked right into my eyes and handed me some money. It was humbling to accept this money, but also a huge sign of acceptance. I believe this was her way of saying, “you are welcome to be here with us.” She had given me the exact amount of money needed to cover that truck fare.
It was finally our time to hop off. As our feet hit the ground, we looked in every direction and realized we were in the middle of nowhere. Besides that, we were stranded in a snowstorm. No big deal. We had planned for harsh conditions. So trusting God we put on our packs and started to walk. That first day, we walked 9 miles (out of the storm) in the direction of the mountain we’d have to climb before reaching the top of the pass.
On Tuesday we made it to the bottom of the mountain. Along the way we kept running into small houses where the people stay while they herd their llamas and alpacas. Seeing those houses and talking with those shepherds, I realized something; I was not just going to impact the villages I walked through, but also the villages of these shepherds when they returned home.
Wednesday was a very tough day. We trekked up 2,000ft of loose rocks to an elevation of more than 18,000ft were we made it to the top of the pass. On the way up we scouted out campsites and alternative routes for next time. We set our sights to proceed down the pass and felt like it was possible, but we were caught by a bad storm and had to quickly set up camp in unwanted conditions at a high elevation. At one point the thunder was so loud it shook the ground like an earthquake. We feared death by thunder, not even to mention the lightning.
Photo: Trekking to the top of the pass.
Photo: First view from top of the pass and the incoming storm.
Photo: The elevation of our high camp.
Photo: The morning after the storm and a clear view of the pass.
Photos: Pretty views down into the pass.
Photo: This was on Thursday afternoon. Our first view to the end of the pass.
Photo: Along the way we came across beautiful diverse landscapes.
Thursday was tough long day. But it was nice because we made it to a point where we knew the pass was possible. The air cleared and we spotted villages in the valley below.
Photo: We followed rivers and waterfalls to the end of the pass, moving closer to the people.
On Friday, just beyond the blue lake is where we found the most villagers. It didn’t feel right to photograph them, so we interacted instead of taking photos. I wish you could see their beauty. They were everything we hoped for. We found multiple villages. The biggest and most remote village was at the farthest point.
We completed this trek in 5 days, and it should have been 7 days or longer depending on weather conditions and interactions with the people. There is so much more I could tell you about this trek and all we experienced.
Going with Tannen allowed me to see this circuit through the eyes of future Trekkers. I was able to calculate how it will feel to people who are beginners at mountaineering, unaware of the potential dangers, and the life changing impact it will have on them. There were two days in a row that Tannen feared he would die up there. Few people ever push themselves to that level. The lesson is that great things happen when you sacrifice yourself in the hopes of touching others. Now that Tannen has returned to the States, he will take these adventures into his future. Knowing this makes me excited about how others will also benefit from this experience in the future.
I’m Going Back In 2016
I know this trek was the start of something great. I have pages of notes on ways to show God’s love to the villagers. My goal for missions is to make it fun so more people will want to do it. When people are having fun, they can make a bigger difference. This trek is a dream location for activities. For example, we can set up a four day river journey and visit remote villages along the river. There is also the potential for skiing, mountaineering, horse back riding, and dirt bike riding.
All of these things will put missionaries in those mountains. I can see it becoming the happiest region of all of Peru! In fact, that’s my goal. I want to build an oasis of joy there.
When I return in 2016, I will complete the west side of the trek and prepare for the first YWAM team. I hope to send this team before the end of 2016, to get the difference started.
Chile, Argentina, Brazil, and Uganda
Now I’m in Chile, then Argentina and Brazil, meeting with YWAM bases to build relationships and see if they will join me in Peru. Then I’m meeting my dad in Uganda, Africa. He is speaking to 60,000 people in the Kampala national coliseum on New Years Eve! I’m also speaking in large meetings during that trip. I don’t think speaking is my thing, but if God has opened the door, I’m going for it! I’ll also be spending time with orphans, street kids, and remote tribes. I can’t wait!