Mountains Beyond Mountains

Jessica always gives me a hard time about not blogging. When went traveling four years ago, I was blogging just about as much as she was. Now it seems I just maintain the blog and let her post away. I’m not sure why this is, but here are some recent thoughts of mine.

I’ve recently been reading Haitian proverbs. Haitian culture is full of proverbs. As I continue to learn Creole I am finding that often times when you ask a question you don’t get a factual ‘American’ answer. What you get is a proverb. For example when we first arrived in Haiti a little over a year ago, while meeting with earthquake survivors who had fled Port au Prince and moved to Port-de-Paix we posed the question to our translator, “How do these people survive?” He replied, “For the donkeys that don’t have tails, God shoos away the flies.” In other words he was saying, I don’t know, it must be an act of God.

So when people ask me how things are going in Haiti with the work that we are doing I find it fitting that I too should answer with a proverb; Beyond the Mountains there are more Mountains(dèyè mòn gen mòn). This proverb is particularly insightful to me for after spending much of my adolescence backpacking in the Sierra Nevada Mountains with my Dad. The Sierra Nevada Mountains hold the highest point, Mt. Whitney, in the continental United States and are particularly striking when looked and hiked form the East side where 14,000 plus peaks loom over the desert floor. What you can’t see as you drive highway 395 through the desert with the Sierra Nevadas to the west is that the first set of peaks that you see are just the beginning of a 55 mile wide (East to west) 300 mile long mountain range. All the trails from the east side of the mountains are steep and dry. It is not uncommon to gain 4,000 vertical feet in less than 5 miles as you make your way into the back country. As you crest the first pass, be it Bishop Pass, New Ary Pass or dozens of others you are greeted by a vista of seemly endless mountains. These peaks signal to let you know that you are not at the end of your journey but merely getting started. More than once we have passed inexperienced hikers and backpackers that are completely exhausted frustrated and unprepared for the subsequent hiking after summiting the first pass. Dad and I always give them a bit of a hard time, something to the effect of, ”what did you expect?” If it was easy then the beauty, grander and solitude would be lost to the masses.

I feel like that disillusioned weary hiker. I knew Haiti would be hard, but I though that after we made it over that first pass that things would get easer. Instead we are met by more mountains. We are at the first summit, catching our breath, drinking some water and looking at the task ahead of us. The mountains are large and storms are looming in the distance.  But, thankfully, I am starting to make out the trail as it skirts the side of a mountain and works its way up to the top. That is not to say I know where it leads but only that I can make out a small line, a long ways off, and am going to continue hiking along.

4 thoughts on “Mountains Beyond Mountains

  1. Very insightful Brandon. Some say that parents don’t really have an impact upon their kids. What better preparation for where you and Jessica are today, then the hours spent on the trail with your Dad. Just like your earthly father, your Heavenly Father is teaching you how do your job in Haiti. Solomon liked proverbs, and in Chapter 3 vs 5&6 he advised: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and HE shall direct thy Paths”
    Your insight and understanding are being honed every day. We pray for you and Jessica as you follow in the Master’s footsteps. Grandma and Grandpa

  2. Fantabulous word picture Bran! I am confident that we can barely even start to comprehend what you are encountering in Haiti, but I feel like your analogy helps me get a glimpse into the hardship and your perspective- thanks for sharing! We love you guys!

  3. Hi Brandon and Jessica,
    I loved your word pictures, it helps me get a vision in my mind for what you two might be experiencing in Haiti.
    I was thinking of a verse in Isaiah 58
    The Lord will guide you always:He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land, and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well watered garden,like a spring whose waters never fail.
    Jessica is right, you need to share more, what you have to say is beautiful.
    Love Aunt Kathy

  4. Great post Brandon.The only proverb that is coming to my mind right now is a Czech one that says “to learn another language is to gain another soul.” I do not know if you find language learning to be part of your mountains but in Czech, language learning is definatel like that. The more I learn, the more complicated it is. Know that we are praying for you guys. It is always very encouraging to hear what you guys are up to. The Lord gave you a niche that is specific to you both. I am blessed to see how well you guys are doing there. And seriously, one step in front of the other is where the Lord wants us. “Knowing” too much makes us dumb (He just wants us to rely on him). Bless you both!
    Kristin Yorman

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