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The First Time I Rode A Horse

December 2022

Growing up in the city, the only horses I saw were in fields or circuses. The experience of actually riding one, had to wait until I was in my mid twenties and a missionary in Colombia, SA.

We had been invited to a rural area, where former black slaves of the mining era of Columbia had found freedom and land ownership.

They lived in villages close to each other, but to survive the men had to travel by foot many hours away from their families during the week to farm small plots of land. There were many Christians among them, and they celebrated together each week when the husbands and male children returned from the plots of land

In order to get to them; and the small city that served as the commercial center for the distribution of their goods, we had to travel by train from the city which dead ended in their town. The train was a nearly identical train we have ridden at Knott’s Berry farm.

In order to get to their church, we had to ride horses up mountains slippery from recent rain. Imagine grandma and Doug strapped to one horse, and me to another. To top it off we had to ride the horses across a suspension bridge that looked less than reassuring. It was an adventure!

There were of course, no hotels in their midst, and their homes were not big enough to house three extra people. But, as in the case of most of the places I traveled throughout Colombia in those days, there were small bedrooms for visiting guests.

This one was very simple. A small bedroom with two beds or more, an outhouse, and a small wood burning stove for them to cook meals for us. Patti remembers trying to make sure that the candle did not go out as she made her way to the outhouse in the middle of the night, outside, away from our sleeping room.

After the long train ride and the horse ride up the mountain, we collapsed into bed to the sound of rain pelting on the tin roof. As I recall, we slept well. Grandma woke up with one eye nearly swollen closed. Apparently, some kind of a bug had bitten her eyelid during the night and now she was “one eyed!”

Someone from the church came to cook us a simple breakfast, and we waited for the rest of the congregation. And we waited, and we waited. The rain was pelting down and didn’t stop. It was so loud that Patti could not hear what I said to her, in spite of the fact that she was right next to me.

Eventually a hand full of people arrived, having braved the rain and the mud slogged paths. But, we had been invited to address 100’s!!! I did speak for a few minutes, but with the rain pelting down on the tin roof, no one could hear me. After a time, we mounted the horses and slipped and slid down the path, and across that suspension bridge again, to our train back home.

Why had God allowed us to “waste” our time. Why had these believers invited us in such a time?

But, did we really waste time? Was the inability of the believers to arrive across rain soaked paths, and their desperate need to carry their produce down the paths to market, a “mistake?”

Or, had we learned important life lessons? Patience for people and their struggles? The cost of just staying alive for people who had little to nothing? The daily struggle they went through to eek out a pittance?

Those images still invade our minds and remind us that as children of God, we are to LIVE WITH OUR HANDS open.

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