Friday, March 30, 2007

Crossing the Andes

What a week its been! I've successfully crossed the Andes & am now in Maracaibo in N.W. Venezuela. I had the ultimate Andes Mtns experience as I set out from Barquisemeto to San Pablo. The usual 4:30am start saw me trekking the surrounding hills by 8am. I met a fellow who'd just stepped off a bus & was interested in what I was doing. He was a Christian - I invited him to pray for unity but due to my poor spanish he thought I meant right there and then. He began praying for unity on the side of the highway, arms raised, cars flying past us. I guess you can't get much more of a witness than that! By lunch time I'd found an isolated yet open church perched on a hill with the most breath-taking view of the Andes peaks. I sat in the open doorway & rested for an hour then pushed on into the mountains. For the next 25km I walked & prayed along a disused road that twisted in & out of every mountain crease, higher and higher towards the highest peak. At the base of highest peak with 1hour of sunlight left I had a problem, the road forked but there were no signs and only one road was marked on my map. I decided to take the road less degraded but around the next bend I was discouraged to find that it headed straight up into the clouds. I had a moment of, "Oops, I'm in trouble again" but I realised at that point the power lines to the peak left the road just behind me but a line continued along my road (it had to go somewhere!). At 1400m above sea level I crossed between two peaks (@1600m each) from where I had a view of a multitude of valleys and mountains for as far as the eye could see. I met a goat herder and his family up there and he confirmed I was on the right road. I proceeded quickly down the narrowest & steepest road I've ever seen! I arrived at San Pablo just after sunset to find the highland breeze litterally whislting through what is now a ghost town. It was an eery sight in the twilight. Broken walls, scattered roof tiles, trees growing out of windows. The only life I found was a very old couple who who hadn't left when the new highway went through 10km south of here 15 years ago. They'd hung on, tending to their goat herd and living off the land. It was another 6km on through the night to a 2nd town with no assurence of accomodation. I sang loudly as I walked, enjoying the incredible echo I was getting off the valley walls. At 8pm after 60km I walked past an Evangelical Church that was starting it's Thursday night service! I was welcomed with open arms and was invited to stay at the Pastors house. We prayed together and shared as best we could with my poor spanish. He and his wife were incredibly hospitable. With a mattress on the floor, I headed off to sleep - another day completed! Thank you to everyone who has popped a comment on the website! They're great to read after a big walk. Please check out the comment Andy wrote under the video, it's good reading. I've had a few good oppurtunities in the past week to pray with people from many different churches over here - it's great to hear of similar fruit over at Tabor College in Adelaide! God bless you all and please pray hard! Sam.


Benjamin said...

Sam, your response to the Lords voice leaves me inspired and motivated to pray harder for the cause of unity. I am enjoying the moments you share and the images you have captured on your journey to proclaim unity. Pope Benedict XVI said in his opening address as Supreme Pontiff "Nourished and sustained by the Eucharist, Catholics cannot but feel encouraged to strive for the full unity for which Christ expressed so ardent a hope in the Upper Room." Know with each stride, each moment drawing closer to that encounter in the upper room, that so many of us here (particularly all who gathered for this Easter at light to the nations) can't help but feel encouraged to pray for the full unity which you are proclaiming through your response to the Lord's call.
God bless brother.
Ben Galea

stuart.west said...

hey sam
just wamted to let you know that im praying for and with you bro. thanks for the strength of your witness, your an inspiration.
god bless and i will keep praying