On the day I left for Ecuador, I got up at 6am, took a train and a bus to the airport, arrived in the capital city Quito at 10pm. Then, Padre Julian, having the huge heart that he does, had come all the way to Quito to pick me up, so we drove for 3 hours in his Chevy all-terrainer to reach the small village El Chontal in the mountains of Ecuador. I think we got to bed at 1am. That kind of tells you what the trip is like.
So I went around with Padre Julian to different villages for Masses, guests of local people, eating with families, sometimes staying here or there. I always think it’s a privilege to be received by the people who are the most precious to God. I am always so humbled and usually I feel very awkward and helpless because I can’t express myself that well in their language and express what I would really like to. So, anyway, I helped teaching catechesis to some little ones, some marriage prep for a young engaged couple, and taught english in the high school for a few days. I spent 2 days laid up in bed, bath and beyond with traveling sickness. I worked on a blog for one of the local parishes. And all this in a completely different culture and lifestyle and language, where all the familiar creature comforts and conveniences are gone.
So one day, we head to a place called Cerro Pelado, in english, Barren Hill. Now, starting from the village we’re in, which is already in the middle of the mountains in Ecuador, it takes another 2 hours to get there by the Chevy. First, we’re driving down a mountain, then back up a mountain, up and down, twisting around roads that fall off about 4000 ft on the side. We crossed a shallow river, and at times navigated around huge boulders that had fallen down from the mountain onto the roadway. We had picked up one man with a large watermelon, and another man who was on a mission to find out if there had been a motor vehicle accident up the road. The Chevy is full, and we are bouncing around roads that, for many months of the year, are impassable. To reach Barren Hill.
So finally, in the distance, a little village appeared, on a little plateau. We stopped for a picture. “There it is, that’s where we’re going,” said Padre Julian.
It was literally the end of the road.
All the traveling, the whole trip, to reach the end of the road. Barren Hill.
Well, when we pulled up, we were surrounded by about 25 children who had been expecting us. And from then on, all I can say is that we got to spend a night and day with some of the most beautiful hearts I’ve ever met. We had the Mass, we played games, we did some english in the school. We played duck, duck, goose. They were all geese to me, God’s special geese.
So this is why I’m saying all this, to share what I’ve seen at the end of the road.
Don’t be afraid of following Jesus Christ. Don’t be afraid of the risks and dangers, don’t be afraid of the poverty and helplessness, the sicknesses and sufferings, the missed people, the lost conveniences, all the changes and the uncertainties and the barrenness of where it all seems to lead. Don’t be afraid. Because there are some very beautiful hearts waiting for you, God’s special geese are expecting you.
At the end of the road.
“The kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Mt 19:14)