It was seemingly normal, seeing first Elisha, then his siblings descend the hill into the valley. After all, there’s not a day without an adventure in their lives. But something felt wrong. Very wrong.
Being the only one watching the ordeal, I knew it wasn’t up to me to instruct or discipline any of the three kids. I knew it wasn’t my place to tell them what to do and what not to do. But something bothered me.
It being Elisha first, it didn’t feel wrong. I knew he could take care of himself in the valley.
But when my (feels-like) little brother and sister followed him one after the other, something felt a little off.
Their dad came up onto the hill I had bid them farewell on to see if we could all hike down on another trail and came to see that Elisha was completely out of sight in the wilderness in the valley, Jehoiada was almost out of sight and seemed to be handling himself well, and Jerusalem was halfway down the initial hill, not yet to cross the creek or thick vegetation at the center of the valley.
So he instructed Jerusalem to meet them on the trail loop, and let Jehoiada go on through the valley.
Meanwhile, Isaac and Jessica agreed to walk down the trail through the valley, which is safer than the valley crossing the boys were attempting and also where they were meeting Jerusalem. Meanwhile, the pastor, my parents, the pastor’s daughter, and I hopped in the red vehicle to take us down the same trail.
We started a little after Isaac and Jessica did, and kept our eyes peeled for Jerusalem and the boys.
But because we were in a car and much faster, we soon passed them and started traveling toward the trail loop we were supposed to meet Jerusalem at, which would take us to the house eventually.
It was quite concerning when Jerusalem wasn’t at the trail loop, and because we had seen no hide nor hair of the boys for over 15 minutes, that was a little concerning as well.
We continued to slowly drive along the rocky trail and spotted Jerusalem a little bit farther down the trail. We were finally able to let out a breath, and an even deeper one when Jerusalem agreed to ride with us in the car.
We planned to send back the pastor and his vehicle for Isaac and Jessica and let them know if the boys had made it to the house and that we had Jerusalem.
As we drove up the rocky trail, we prayed that the two boys would be waiting for us and the three kids would be reunited. Then we could send the pastor back for Isaac and Jessica and all would be safe, sound, and not worried.
But it was not to be.
We arrived to find Elisha at the house waiting on the vehicle’s arrival. When we got out, the first thing out of this concerned sister’s mouth is, “Where’s Jehoiada?” And his first question, “Where’s Jehoiada?”
Now, Elisha did not know that Jehoiada or Jerusalem had followed him and had been expecting a packed vehicle to arrive with my family and all of his family but himself. We quickly explained that both Jehoiada and Jerusalem had followed him through the valley, and Jerusalem was supposed to meet us on the trail so her parents could take her back to the house. She did, but she wanted to come with us in the car.
When he asked where his parents were, we told him that they were out looking for Jerusalem.
We were both very concerned about Jehoiada’s wellbeing, and knew that their parents would be worried about Jerusalem.
So he clambered on top of a pile of gravel and called out to his parents and brother worriedly.
He then saw that a small, white figure was at the beginning of a thickly vegetated, extremely steep downhill section of the non-existent path. It was his brother.
And as a good big brother would do, he ran down the path to get him. But I stopped him before he started and handed him my ever-present compass. I only hoped it would help him find his brother and come back with him intact.
So I stood and waited for a long time, listening to the exchange of yells across the valley of Elisha looking for Jehoiada; Jehoiada looking for any of his family; Isaac looking for Jehoiada; Isaac looking for Jerusalem.
I went into the house to check in on Jerusalem and do some translation for my parents to help explain to the house owners and pastors the situation. Apparently, in the flurry of activity, the pastor had forgotten to go get Isaac and Jessica, but there was a full conversation present in the valley at the time, so he wasn’t needed anymore.
I then went and resumed my post at the top of the hill.
When I saw two little white figures ascending the hill and ducking under the old wood fence to come into the property, I breathed a deep sigh of relief.
I was jubilant that Elisha had been able to make the long trek back over to where Jehoiada stood and back with him, and that Jehoiada had made himself findable.
But I was still concerned that Isaac and Jessica would be worried about any one of the kids, as we had them all safe and sound with us at the house.
We were all, especially Elisha and I, shaken over the events, yet ready to completely resolve the situation.
So we made several attempts to contact them through the valley, but we could do nothing but wait for Isaac, Jessica, and the pastor’s wife.
It was a long and tedious wait before Isaac’s tall stature bent itself under the fence and began the final leg of the journey to the house.
We learned that Isaac had walked straight through the valley and would around in an attempt to find his two youngest children, and once he learned we had them, he made his way up Elisha’s path to the church. Meanwhile, Jessica and the pastor’s wife short-cutted through the valley onto the more direct trail/path that Elisha had now used many times.
Four down, two to go.
So we watched and waited for any sign of the two women still in the treacherous valley.
Finally we spotted two female figures ducking under the old wooden fence.
And we could all breathe a really deep breath for the first time since not seeing Jerusalem at the trail loop.
After our fun (not) little (giant) adventure out in the valley, we continued with our day by heading back to the casa, playing with the animals, taking pictures and videos, and hiding from the fact that we might actually need to leave this wonderful place in the next 10 years. Or 2 hours. Whatever suits you best.
So, my parents weren’t sure we were going to leave until the very last minute, when we decided I needed to make good on my commitment to La Fuente that I would help out with worship.
That said, we had to zip up our bags and head off from this amazing valley for the bus station in dirty and overcrowded Yali so we could head back to Matagalpa.
We took a very long bus ride to Jinotega, during which we were packed in like sardines, but after I got a seat, I slept. Very well.
After we arrived in Jinotega, we grabbed a taxi and headed to the South bus station, where we could take the hopefully-not-crowded chicken bus to Matagalpa. We ended up, instead of waiting to catch the 7:00 bus, we caught the tail end of the 6:00 bus. We literally ran out of of the taxi and in the emergency exit of the bus after it started moving.
After a seated, lighted, “first-class” journey on this bus, we finally arrived in Matagalpa’s South bus station, from where we staggered into El Taquero, an awesome Matagalpan restaurant, after which we stumbled in our front door. We were exhausted, suffering from bus lag (ha – get it?), and on top of that, suffering from intense culture shock.
Whatever will we do in America?
Thanks for staying updated on our journey to the Yali area, and I hope you stay tuned for more posts, no matter where we are.
See you soon,
P.S. Here’s some pics 😉