Church on a Volcano
Cindy and I were invited by some dear Guatemalan friends to hike up Vulcan Pacaya, picnic and do a church service. What a memory. Pacaya erupted a couple of years ago (photos and blog in archives). We had to shovel sand off walks and roofs. Our guide on Pacaya had to dodge falling rocks one to two feet in diameter that day. A local reporter was killed that night.
We got up about 4:30 in the morning and met at our pastor friends house and started picking up more folks along the way. We had 17 or 18 brothers and sisters in our group. When we parked we were offered horses, and guides. Boys sell walking sticks to you in the morning for 5.00 Quetzals and meet you in the afternoon asking if you will give it back. I offered to sell my back for 6 Q, after all it had been road tested and carried to the top and back by a gringo that looked a lot like Santa Claus. They ought to be able to get more for it tomorrow… they did not take me up on it, but seemed to enjoy the humor. So we go through the park gate, Cindy and I now get Guatemalan prices when we show our Guatmalan ID card. Folks it was all up hill from there, all the way. The guide followed me offering his “horse taxi” several times. He often reminded me how much further it was to the top. I am certain there is a verse in the Bible about not using a walking stick on a Guatemalan guide…
Walking through the forest, seeing the views, watching the jungle change to bare ash covered mountain top spewing sulfur smoke, all I could think of was my dad who passed away almost a year ago. He would have expressed his amazement at the power of the mountain under his feet and panoramic vistas that his eyes would see. And when our pastor friend asked me to lead the teaching on that volcano Genesis 1 came to mind. I shared my dad’s love of his Creator and His Creation. While we see death and destruction around us, our Creator promised that satan and his legions would not stand in the end. Jesus said “the gates of hell would not prevail.” Yes we are in a battle and there is more conflict ahead but Jesus and those who believe in Him will destroy that fortress. It begins in being transformed (Romans 12), and living out that transformation before our wives and children. It is more than being good churchmen, but being true Christians in the days between Sundays. We have a most precious gift in Jesus Christ, a gift we should actively share with others. In closing we asked brother Mario to pray and he asked all to kneel. I could not understand all he said but he was grateful for my dad’s testimony and grateful to our Creator. I opened my eyes to see rising out of the ash of that volcano a very dainty flower. If I had stepped forward as I preached I would have crushed it. But what a blessing from the LORD, it would have been a delight for my dad to see. It closed the sermon for me in a way only God could have arranged. Thank you LORD.
There were multiple memories on that Sunday. First it is the highest point on earth that I have kissed my wife! Second tried to call all my kids, got hold of Peggy – she was jealous. Then called my mother who answered the phone in a whisper and asked me to hold on… HEY Mom I’m on a volcano in Guatemala calling you… LOL. Well it turned out that she and several family members were celebrating Uncle Ernest’s 95th birthday and they were in the midst of prayer. So who am I when you are talking to God, right? So mom hands the phone to Uncle Ernest and I wished him Happy Birthday from high up Vulcan Pacaya. I am 59 and he brought up his favorite memory of me – he and Aunt Reta used take us by the hand and walk us to the little store on the property and buy us candy. You are always a kid to some folks… smile.
On the way down, Antonio our guide had picked up on my love for nature and started sharing names and uses of the plants that we passed. He pointed out the electrical plant. It is a steam generator built by Israel for their friends in Guatemala. That would have delighted my dad too. It was down hill all the way. Cindy and I are both feeling pain in our quadriceps. It will take a week to recover, then who wants to go to Pacaya?
Check out the photos linked here, including a couple of that flower. There are more details in some of the captions.
Thank you for your continued support. In Christ, Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon