For a number of years now, I have dreamed about going bear hunting. I have even looked up YouTube bear videos. One time when I was twelve, a bear was roaming around a local community close to where I lived and my neighbor and his parents took us out in their car looking for it—we never found it, which was a huge letdown.
Anyway, for the first twenty-two years of my life, I never saw a bear in the wild, but on Labor Day weekend in 2010, my parents, brother, and I went to Gatlinburg for a long weekend to do some hiking. All weekend long, I did my typical scouring of the woods for a bear. And finally, on our hike we had two separate bear sightings. My weekend took on a new vigor of excitement.
For the past ten days or so, Chele and I have made several trips out to a field that is right next to the jungle in search of a bull. The best way to describe this field is that it is shaped like a hand. Every time Chele and I search for the bull, we go into each inlet (finger) of the field looking up to the edge of the jungle. The first several times we found the bull a couple feet into the jungle resting in the shade. Chele would crawl into the jungle on foot to chase it out, and my job was to run into the open field on horseback. After many failed attempts by both of us, the bull would go deeper into the jungle making it impossible to get. I know the saying is “as stubborn as a mule,” but after my experiences with many bulls here, I think it should be “as stubborn as a bull.”
But this past Monday, the bull hunt had a different feeling. We were three strong this time with Chele, me, and one of the guards with us on his bike. Chele had come prepared with extra tools for success. I was sick of this bull and had a gut feeling that today was going to be different. My adrenaline was pumping. I was ready to ride through the “fingers” of this field looking for this giant black bull somewhere in the jungle. As we began to get closer to the fringe of the jungle, my mind kept on switching to this being a bear hunt. The guards always carry a shotgun with them, and this guard was no different, which put my imagination over the edge. I could not shake the idea that we were on a bear hunt. I kept telling myself it was stupid, but every time I would see something big and black in the jungle, my first thought was always bear and never bull. I even at times found myself looking up in the trees. At these points, I would just laugh to myself hoping the other two didn’t see the stupid gringo looking up in a tree for a bull.
After an hour or so of looking deep into the jungle, we gave up the search and rode back through the field towards the gate. All of a sudden, Chele gave out a loud, roaring laugh as he pointed out the bull to me resting under a large bush sitting in the middle of the field. The bull was as plain as day, and it was clearly a bull, not a bear.
As I reflect on this story, I think of the rest of our time here. We are over half way through our time; we have about 40 days left here, which is a lot of time and yet very little time. Savanah and I have had frustrations and obstacles at times here with my injury, lack of Spanish speaking abilities, and adjustments to small things. The bull gave Chele and I some setbacks those first few attempts. And just as we went in search of that bull with great excitement, Savanah and I have elevated excitements leading into this final stretch. I reflect and pray now that we would not miss what the Lord has so plainly put in front of us to do with our remaining time here because we were daydreaming and too focused on other unnecessary things.
Pray for our attentiveness to the Lord’s leading. Whatever the work He has for us here in our remaining time, we know it is important whether it is as simple as a bull laying under a tree or as exciting as a bear up in the trees. Pray especially for the remaining time with Chele. We have really built a great relationship with him. We pray that he can see Christ in us because it is difficult to hear it with our limited Spanish. Thank you all for your prayers.