This experience was incredible!! I was going to find my dad's brother whom he hadn't seen in over 46 years. His daughter was coming with me - she had moved off the colony some time ago and hadn't seen her father in a very long time. Her coming with me was an open door for her to go back onto the colony to see her father and her sister. This trip was much more than just about me finding my dad's family. God knew why I had to go and He knew what was in store for us and He knew what would be the outcome.
We had to take a train for 6 hours - a very wobbly, slow, hot, full train. The sites that I got to see and pictures that I took were incredible. An experience I will never forget. My cousin knew only the low German and a little Spanish so I had all these hours to relearn how to communicate in German. :-) It was amazing to me how God brought my German back to me after not using it for many years - since I was a child. I'd heard it now and then but hadn't spoken it fluently for years. We had good conversations though in spite of my broken German. :-)
We had to travel from Pailon to San Jose, Bolivia from mid afternoon to evening. Once we got to San Jose, we had to find a taxi to take us to colony but none were going there. We were informed that a bus was taking some Mennonites to the colony so we got on that bus. It was full of Mennonites in their traditional dress with their hats on. I felt a little out of place just in my skirt and shirt - it was good to have my cousin with me. But they were kind and told us that my uncle was living with his one daughter so they knew where we needed to be let off. Thus began our ride into the country for a 45 minute drive to a different world, into the unknown - another adventure out of my control :-) but I knew God was in complete control of this situation.
We arrived at 10:30 at night, above us was a full moon in a clear sky full of stars and lightning was flashing in the distance. We stood at the edge of the driveway after the bus drove away - there wasn't a sound in the air and the wind was completely calm. It was absolutely beautiful!! There was no power on the colony and so everything around us stood out in the moonlight. It was breathtaking!! I called out "Hello, hello!" hoping that they weren't all sleeping yet. We saw a flashlight moving around through the windows and then coming towards us down the driveway. They were happy to see us. :-) When we were inside, my uncle came inside, stood there in the darkness and asked me who I was. I told him I was his brother Peter's youngest daughter from SK, Canada - I was here to visit him. He couldn't believe it!! We were offered some food, visited for a while by candlelight and then were asked if we wanted to wash up before bed. I've never had a shower like that one before! I stood under a pail with tons of nail holes in it while the water dribbled down on me. They didn't have running water either. I felt like I was back in time. :-) They had no power, no phones, no furnaces, rode horse and buggies for transportation, and their tractors still had steel wheels on them. They were choosing to live 30 years back in time. Very interesting.
The next morning, the household was up by dawn doing the chores - feeding the chickens, pigs, horses and cows. It was busy. The roosters were crowing and the sun was shining in through the windows. We had breakfast and then my uncle showed me around their place. I admired the quietness, the beauty and simplicity of things, and the relaxed atmosphere of the village. No one was in a hurry and they weren't ruled by busyness. I appreciated that. We sat on the front veranda visiting and not worrying about things that needed to be done. The visiting was wonderful - we talked about life in SK and about family that my uncle hadn't seen in nearly 50 years. I had brought some pictures along with me to show him as well as some pictures of his siblings to leave with him. He gave me some calendars and knitted potholders to bring back to SK to give to his family here. It was such a wonderful time. One time, I walked around the side of the house and the 3 young girls had just finished butchering 2 chickens for lunch. :-) I have never had fresh butchered chickens for lunch before! I even got to go on a buggy ride! Now I could write a book - "Planes, trains, buses, taxis....and buggy rides." :-) Instead of passing vehicles on the road, we were passing buggies pulled by horses. It was fun.....for a time. I don't know if I could live like that for too long. But it was super good to be visiting and meeting them and having a taste of their life there.
The highlight of this trip was having a talk with my uncle and sharing with him how much God loved him. I shared with him the gift of God's salvation - it's given to us as a gift, it's not something we need to work for. God sent His Son down to this earth to die for our sins and we could accept that freely. We cried together and laughed together. He missed his wife, who passed away a year ago and his son, who passed away this past winter - he missed them dearly. I shared with my uncle how he could be sure of seeing them someday again in Heaven if they were there. He hoped they were there and he hoped that he would go there someday too but he felt he needed to work for that. As tears were running down my face and his, I held out my hand and asked him to accept Jesus, who died for his sins and rose again so that we could have eternal life - I asked him to accept God's free gift of salvation and to just simply believe. He took my hand and I pray that he fully understood. Thank you God for that wonderful opportunity! I felt my mission was accomplished right then and there - that was what I was sent to do - to plant a seed for God. :-)
After we left the colony in a taxi, we did a bit of sightseeing. My cousins took me up to these cliffs and you could see forever. It was absolutely breathtaking! All you could see were trees and sky and San Jose way in the distance surrounded by trees. As far as the eye could see, you saw sky and trees. What an incredible view. Being a photographer, I loved being up there and I just breathed in the beauty of God's creation from up there. It was so high - it was like I was on an airplane. As I sat there looking at the beauty around me, being on this peak of the earth, it just didn't even come close to how I felt God being so near to me as when I was sitting with my uncle, holding his hand and asking him to accept God's free gift of salvation. There was no comparison as to the elation and wonderment I felt. God loves us so much! So very much but He gives us a choice to choose Him. And when we choose Him, what a life we will have. Will it always be easy on this earth when we choose His ways?? No it won't and we will mess up, but He will be quick to forgive us. We will also have such an incredible reward awaiting us in Heaven. Our eternal reward will be nothing compared to what we receive here on this earth. And that's why I felt so much more in my heart sitting with my uncle George than I felt standing on top of the world. God is absolutely amazing. Nothing on this earth even comes close to how I feel with God at my side. :-) Thank you Jesus!
(pics of this visit is on the other post called "Pics of 1st Colony Visit")