I spend a lot of time with rocks. Not really on purpose, I just happen to be surrounded by them. It is part of life when you live in the middle of the Andes mountains. Our yard is full of rocks. The farmland is rocky. Even my adobe house is more rock than adobe mud! We live in Peru and we minister to three communities of Quechua Huanca people. “Huanca” means rock in the Quechua language, so the Quechua Huanca people are the “Rock People”. Interesting name for a people group. I have asked about this several times and the answer is always the same… in their own words, the Quechua Huanca are “hard”people. They work hard. They lead hard lives. They have “hard hearts”. They even have a dialect and speech pattern that sounds “hard”. We haven’t found them to be especially hard people – we happen to love them a lot! Rocks and stones have special
importance for me and for the people here on the mountain, and I spend a lot of time thinking about them and the references that people have for them here.
Recently, I was reading a friend’s blog regarding Ebenezer stones. In the Bible passage in 1 Samuel, Samuel took a large stone and placed it between the towns of Mizpah and Jeshanah. He named it Ebenezer—"the stone of help"—for he said, "Up to this point the Lord has helped us!"(1 Samuel 7:12, NLT). There are other references in the Bible where God’s people came through trials and erected Ebenezer stones or small pillars of stones to symbolize God’s help and to stand as a reminder of God’s provision and help.
This reminded me of other rocks here in Peru and of their meanings – very different meanings than the Ebenezer stones.
While hiking in the glacier range across the valley from us, we have to hike through an area that is all rock. There is no way to see a path or trail in this area because there is no actual “ground”, just rocks and boulders. We always hike to the glacier with a guide because of this. He knows the way. He has been hiking here all of his life. He knows the path.
In this particular area, there are hundreds of small pillars of rocks. Hikers call these “cairns”. They are usually placed along trails in strategic places so that hikers can find their way and not lose sight of the correct path. But there are literally HUNDREDS of these cairns in this particularly treacherous area and there is no way to know which ones are the correct ones to follow. So I asked our guide, Luis, “Why are there so many? Why would the hikers place so many cairns here? How do you know which ones to follow?” His answer was shocking and sad… “Many years ago, the witches of the Andes (yes,
witchcraft is very real and very strong here in the Andes – there are many practicing witches in these mountains) learned that the hikers and travelers were using this technique to mark their way through the mountains. So they devised a plan to trick them and trap them. They began to put cairns everywhere and confuse the travelers. When the travelers would get off the
true path and follow the wrong way, they would become lost forever in the mountains and eventually die in the cold. When the witches put up a cairn, they leave offerings and sacrifices to their gods. It is an evil plan, but it works for them.” For this
reason, the rocky area with hundreds of cairns is known as “The Witch Temple”.
This makes me reflect on life in general. Am I erecting rocks and pillars in my life that are evidence and reminders of how incredible God is? Of his provision and his help? Of his true leadership and protection? Or do I follow false pillars? Am I easily led astray? It is so important to follow the “true way”,to know the path, to stay close to The Guide and trust in His wisdom. How easy it is to become distracted! It is so important to stay connected to the One True Rock!
Serving Christ in Peru
Who am I? In my USA life, I was a teacher in Texas for 15 years. I was also a professional photographer, a Southern Living / Martha Stewart wannabe, a soccer mom, and a short term mission team coordinator / intern director for missions in Mexico... you name it, I probably tried it!
In 2006, my husband Billy and I became cross-cultural workers (CCWs) with TMS Global. For five years, we served in three rural Quechua Wanca villages in the Andes of Peru. And when I say rural, I mean RURAL - like no potty! We have three incredible children... two adult boys who live in Texas, and the Sarah (14) lives with us in whatever country we are serving. I'm still teaching, still taking photos, still leading teams and mentoring, I just do it all in full-time service now! And I'm working hard at giving Southern Living and Martha Stewart a run for their money! I spent my days in Peru learning to live a Quechua lifestyle in a rustic adobe house - cooking Peruvian foods, sewing with Quechua women, raising my chickens and goats and pigs, and planting my gardens. Now I live my life in small town Spain, serving other cross-cultural workers and immigrant peoples, writing, and trying to figure out what life looks like for a Texas girl serving Christ in Southern Europe. Life in His service is AWESOME! I'm happy to share it with you here... Enjoy!