Hey Guys, I had so many positive responses from my blog post about our trip up the river that I decided to make a movie 🙂 Enjoy!
There are not even words to describe the perfect day we had today.
As we flew down the road yesterday bumping along in the back of the truck we saw beautiful canoes all carved in the custom style lining the road. The sign said blue hole and our driver told us that if we paid 1000vt ($10USD) then we could have a ride up the river. It sounded pretty fun and so today when we passed the canoes again we stopped to take a ride.
A rusty chain hung around the gates and nobody was to be seen. Not to be discouraged our driver said he knew where the owners would be. So we went on a bit of drive checking in and out of different village houses until we finally found someone who knew where the owners were. I guess they were napping in the grass. After explaining that we would like to canoe up the river on one of the boats and paying him the advertised fee we all climbed in. It was simply amazing!
Once we got settled and the chatting and laughing subsided, (with our group that rarely happens) Ben (our guide) paddled us up the river. It was like magic. The birds were singing in the trees and the only sound was the paddle hitting the water. The words running through my subconscious brain spilled into my consciousness. Peaceful. Tranquil. Magical. Sacred. If nature could pray it was like witnessing the prayer of the earth to Papa God. It really was a extraordinary.
We got further and further into the jungle and now vines were dangling in seemingly mid air with oversized pods and spiders and other creatures living with them. The white sand of the river bottom was visible the entire time and schools of tiny fish made appearances here and there, dancing around the boat and going on ahead without us.
After probably 20 minutes of paddling, and much sooner that we wanted we turned the corner and there was the blue hole. A glistening pool of deep turquoise blue in the middle of the jungle.
So out of place amongst all the greens and browns that we had been seeing, the blue hole looked like a secret hiding in the forest.
After playing, rope jumping, feeding fish and exploring the surrounding gardens and paths we persuaded Ben to take us all the way down the river and to the open ocean. It was nearly just as beautiful as our trip up the ocean and a few times during the trip Dan or Eric or Lindy burst out in song unable to express the reverence for the surroundings in any other way. Sometimes I wonder what it would do for the soul to be constantly surrounded by so much beauty. It certainly agrees with my soul!
I also considered how lovely we thought the river was and not knowing what was at the end of it, all of us could have happily stayed and played in the shallow pools all day. However, just like God’s plan for us, He knows what is ahead, and He has much greater, and grander plans for us than we could ever imagine.
How could my life be transformed if I would quiet down for while and trust in the Almighty?
They promised me that there were steps under the rushing water.
With the sound of the water pounding on rock all around us, The people in front of me and the people behind me waited and watched.
I didn’t believe them. The water was coming so quickly- tumbling, rushing, pouring over the rocks frothing at the sides. How could there be steps under all that?
Finally I got the courage to go forward. First one step and then another, I slowly felt my way forward putting my feet one in front of the other into the middle of the monstrous Mountain waterfall. Up and up I went, never being able to see each step that I took but hoping there would be a steady place to land each time.
The people behind me followed me and the people in front of me cheered for me.
I was never even intending to go in the first place because I hadn’t been feeling well. But when my sister came by with a load full of local women from our church and begged me to hop in I couldn’t resist the invitation. As unprepared as I was, with no towel, or bathing suit, I was so glad that I had been persuaded.
Although the day was drizzly and grey the entire hike up the waterfalls had been pleasant and beautiful. I especially enjoyed the activities with the local women that we have been invited to. It wasn’t until The hiking was mostly done, and we had nearly reached the very top of the nearby Cascade Waterfalls that things started to get rather scary.
I had successfully made it UP the steps that were hidden behind the rushing water, and after climbing over boulders and around trees I saw the view that made it all worth it.
There at the top was the beginning of the waterfall, a giant torrent of liquid spilling over the rocks and down the mountain pounding & crashing into pools at the bottom. It was truly beautiful.
After I had spent some time just appreciating the magnificence of the waterfall I turned around and headed back down.
This time I KNEW that there were steps underneath the water. I couldn’t see them, but I knew that they were there because I had just climbed them. Armed with this knowledge I started going back down confidently through the pools of rushing water. At that moment two interesting things happened.
The first thing that happened was that I noticed a rope which I happily grabbed onto and tried to use as means of steadying myself as I climbed down. Almost as quickly as I noticed the rope the time came where it was no longer heading the direction I needed to go. I knew I had to let go. I was trying to get back down the same stairs I had climbed up but this time I felt my feet slipping, being pulled by the great force of the waterfalls current as thousands of gallons of water and thousands of pounds of pressure all headed down, swirling around my feet nearly sweeping them down with them. If I stood still I was fine, but when I started to move I was unsteady.
I began to feel nervous as I realized that I wouldn’t be able to make it in my own. I glanced around at all the people some going up some going down each person struggling to find their own safe path oblivious to my need.
Finally I noticed a young man in front of me a bit further ahead. He looked strong and remarkably secure in his footing. I had to yell to be heard above all the noise of the water, and truthfully I was embarrassed as reached out my hand and begged him to hold it as I climbed back down the stairs.
After thanking the man for helping me, I took a moment to reflect. As I sat under the shade of a giant tree, I suddenly became overwhelmed with the beauty of my experience and started to recognize lessons that could be applied to my life. I d like to share them with you 🙂
“There are stairs beneath that waterfall”- The gospel of Jesus Christ is a beautiful gift from God. I know for myself there is joy to be found from following the teachings of Jesus Christ. There are many in life, who are doing what I did with the waterfall. They are looking at the path ahead with doubt and fear, but in order to experience the beautiful view at the top we must take those steps, and when we cannot see the stairs we must exercise faith.
Letting Go- The rope was there the whole time, even though I only noticed on the way down. It was a guide and a help to me, but the time came that I had to let go and go a different direction. Sometimes in our lives there are things we need to let go of in order to more fully follow Christ. It could be fears, unhealthy habits, friendships that pull us down, or possibly even aspects of our culture or upbringing that are not in harmony with God’s plan of happiness for us. When we recognize the right time and the right things to let go of we are making room in our lives for many more things that are good that will bring us even greater joy and success.
Asking for Help- Pride is one of my weaknesses. From the time I was little my parents taught me that I was strong, bright and capable. I hate asking for help, but this time I really needed it. What I found out afterwards was that the man who took my hand was actually a worker at the falls. He had been there hundreds maybe even thousands of times. He knew exactly where the sure footing was, he knew just the right way to bring me and he was happy to help. In much this same way Jesus Christ can be our sure footing. His hands are stretched out ready to take ours at any moment. He knows the way, because He is the way!
I’m sorry this post was so long, thank you so much for sharing in my little adventure today. May God bless you in your journeys as He is in mine xoxo
The smell of rotten eggs filled my body and I thought I was going to throw up right there.
The good news was that nobody would have noticed because the thick mud surrounding our bodies was much too dark to see anything through. Plus the throw up would had just joined the dead floating crab and other little things mixed in with our hot mud bath. Happily I managed to keep my lunch inside.
We were all rolling around like pigs in the sulfur filled mud baths at the “holy healing waters” that we found on the side of the road.
Since the local medicine man was so helpful 😂
I decided to try another island treatment for ailments.
I had Heard that Vanuatu had some natural Hot Springs and mud baths. I’ve been to Hot Springs before and I definitely felt positive health benefits after soaking in them, so I was excited to discover that this island we were staying on had them as well.
When I went on trip advisor the reviews were kind of sketchy, so I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. I knew I didn’t want to go alone, and was delighted when my husband and sister and a few of our kids agreed to make the journey with me.
After driving for an hour halfway around the island and up and down windy mountain roads we finally spotted the hand painted sign indicating that we had arrived at our destination.
Eagerly we pulled in but nobody seemed to be around except a couple village pikininis (children) playing in the grass.
We finally were able to track down someone who was happy to take our Vatu (money) and show us around.
She told us stories of how she was once very large and when she went in the waters she became skinny, and how her dad was crippled and when he went in the waters he started to walk. The truth seemed to be mixed generously with some things that seemed quite unbelievable, but I was happy to be there anyways and was definitely not expecting a miracle 🙂
“You must sit in this pool for 10 minutes. Then you must cover yourself in mud in that pool. Then we wash you off and you sit in that pool.” She pointed up ahead as she spoke to us in her broken English.
The instructions she gave us were quite clear and we obediently took off our clothes and hopped with our swimsuits into the first pool.
It was hot but felt amazing. The water was bubbling up from a spring deep in the earth and you could taste the salty minerals.It felt like heaven sitting in the homemade cement pools bathing in the hot spring.
My 15 year old who usually hates getting dirty and my sister were the first to leave the clean hot spring and take a dip in the mud bath. At first the mud pool was gross. It was smelly, and well…muddy.
Mary, the daughter of the owner of the place, got right to work covering our faces and backs with the mud as we tried not to laugh and throw up at the same time. The smell was pretty overwhelming.
Nate just kept saying “this is so gross, get me outta here” but his mom made him stay anyways.
We all got really into it and soon we forgot the rotting eggs smell and we were floating blissfully into the oozing, stinky mud.
It felt like we stayed forever but it was only an hour in the mud. When we felt ready we got out and Mary washed us off by dumping buckets of warm salty water over our heads and body. It actually felt AMAZING!
As I watched her humble, seemingly boring job serving us, I couldn’t help but feel gratitude for this young lady. She spent the whole time we were there watching us, telling us which baths to go in and which were too hot (there were some places that the water reaches 90 Celsius / 104 Fahrenheit ). She helped us when we got mud in our eyes and and washed away the mud from our adventure so we could be clean again.
I also couldn’t help but feel gratitude for One who is greater than us all who chose to humble himself and be the servant of all. I am grateful for His guidance in which paths to take and which places to avoid and most of all his loving sacrifice that washes us clean when we are covered in the dirt and filth of the world.
We truly are blessed to have this special time to draw closer together as a family as well as to draw closer to the Savior and see His hand at work in our lives.