"The other way" was the way he had always come in. It was another hour's drive on the main highway, down an extremely bumpy road for another 25 minutes; then we'd have to cross the swinging bridge hanging at least 25-30 meters high; walk through corn fields and cow pastures for another 30 minutes until reaching the foot of the mountain that we'd have to climb.
I had made that walk and climbed that mountain (up and down, mind you!) pregnant (twice), carrying a baby and a backpack countless times; we had made that walk in the dark, in the rain, walked in knee-deep mud, many times hoping the cows in the pasture didn't charge at you as you passed them at arm's length. Children see everything as an adventure, especially when you can ride a horse! We have surely made a lot of memories on the old trail, for sure!
But quite contrary to my husband's fears, the road to the village was just lovely, and our vehicle made it through the "back way" with not a single problem. The view was beautiful, and I got to see the other side of this majestic mountainside. It was absolutely breath-taking. And to listen to my husband exclaim over and over what a miracle it was to have a road back to this village was priceless. He relived the days when he was just a very young boy, walking with his Daddy and Mama down a small path over this same territory. "I just can't believe it!" he said over and over.
In a short time, we were riding down the gravel road that we had walked over countless times, to his sisters' homes. The last time I had walked down this road, I was jumping from rock to rock to avoid stepping in mud. The rocks were huge. One had to be careful not to slip! So many times I had held tightly to my children's hands so they wouldn't slip and fall on this very same path.
And now, we were in an air-conditioned vehicle, driving down this same road. You would have had to experience the many things I experienced in this same place to truly appreciate the wonder of the new road. I hope I have adequately described it to you.
As I stepped out of our car, I realized that I had forgotten just how hot it got back there. We had arrived at the home of one of my three sisters-in-law who live there with their sweet families. They immediately ushered us into the little kitchen, where a short, tin roof made it feel as if you were sitting in an oven. Off to the side, an open fire burned as they prepared their dinner. We were served cold watermelon. How refreshing!
My sweet mother-in-law, recovering from an awful case of Shingles, was staying with her daughters as she rested and regained her strength. Everyone was so happy to see us and welcomed us warmly. They always give us the very best that they have.
Feeling as if I were going to suffocate from the intense humidity, I walked outside and sat in the hammock with Baby Tommy. It felt maybe 3 degrees cooler outside. At a short distance I could see the chickens and turkeys in the pen. Off to the side was the simple wash area. Then just past that a beautiful view of the river flowing down beneath.
I had forgotten a few things, I realized as the days passed. The rocky walk to the outhouse. The big bullfrogs that hide in the outhouse at night. The constant struggle to keep my ready-to-walk-but-still-crawling-around 14-month-old baby off the dirty floors. The crows that land on the tin roof early in the morning and make enough noise to wake a sleeping baby boy.
Too often, we tend to allow the inconveniences or discomforts of life to overshadow the amazing, fun things we are to enjoy and cherish in life. The fellowship that we always enjoy with my husband's family; the retreat from a busy life in the modern city; the beautiful sounds and smells of nature; watching the children enjoy the thrill of riding a horse and laughing with cousins; the beautiful Ch'ol dialect spoken by these dear people...I didn't want to take this for granted. The discomfort would last only for a few days, but the sweet memories we were making were going to last forever.
I look at my husband, his heart full of laughter, relaxed completely as he jokes with one of his brothers-in-law. He is so happy here. I enjoy seeing him this way.
Debbie came close to me and whispered, "Mommy, I am so hot!" I took her hand and led her to the wash area. I had her lean over the wash area and poured water over her head, down her neck, and got her clothes wet. She looks up at me and grinned. "This is fun!" 'That's the spirit!' I thought. That became our routine...about every 2 hours. It kept her cool and happy, and she told me, "Mommy, this is SO MUCH FUN!" Amazing, the simple pleasures in life.
That first night, when we finally got to bed, my baby boy sleeping beside me, I closed my weary eyes and thanked the Lord for a safe place to sleep. I opened my eyes once more to look at my husband. He was just staring at me. He smiled and said, "Anna, who would have ever thought?! I just can't believe we rode in our car all the way here!" I wouldn't have missed that moment for anything in this whole world!
We did enjoy 4 days of sweet fellowship with the dear family members, fellow-believers. The last night we were there, my husband took his guitar and our electric keyboard out of the trunk of our car and hooked up the keyboard. We realized the electric power was not quite enough for the keyboard. So my husband strung an extension cord out to our car, started the engine, and plugged in an electrical strip to the cigarette lighter. As my husband's family listened, our family sang for them..."Until Then," "Mansion Over The Hilltop," "On The Jericho Road," "One Day At A Time," and other songs. There is hardly a better way to make a family reunion complete than to have a little singing. What a joyous time it was!
It was a sad good-bye the next day as we drove off. How my mother-in-law wept! (I believe that the older one gets, the harder good-byes become.) As we waved good-bye, I couldn't help but be thankful in my heart for the time we were able to spend there. Before we made the trip, part of me was dreading the trip, knowing it would be hard going back with a baby. I prepared my heart days before the trip, praying the Lord would help me to "rough it" with a good attitude. (I realize now that Satan tried his best to steal this opportunity from me, and I'm so glad I didn't let him have his way. It was an experience of a lifetime!)
And you know what? The Lord helped me! Dread turned to happiness. Fear turned to thrill and excitement! Nothing could take the place of the thrill of riding beside my husband and watching him enjoy the wonder of a modern road back to the place that seemed so remote and far, far away!