This past week, my team took part in an outreach event in a town called Novy Sącz. I'll talk more about the outreach event in another post, but as a fun activity after visiting the church that was doing the outreach on Sunday, several of us went on a hike.
This wasn't just any old hike. This was a hike up a mountain to go to a restaurant that you can only get to by hiking.
Not to mention, the group that went was composed of American, British, and Polish people. It was a cross cultural mix.
From these details it probably sounds like an interesting and fun experience, but I had very different thoughts from the start.
Honestly, I'm not a fan of rigorous hiking.
I like wandering around the woods. I like camping. I like the outdoors. And I like climbing hills.
But for some reason the idea of hiking high inclines through the mountains just does not appeal to me.
Now if I could climb at a leisurely pace, I would probably feel differently.
But we were hiking to get to lunch, which means a hungry stomach, and that means hiking with haste.
Before we even got to the mountain I kept thinking in my head: I don't want to do this. I really don't want to do this. I'm not going to complain out loud, but God, I really don't want to do this. Please let something happen that we don't take the short and fast way up. I really don't want to do this.
And even as we began the hike: Why do we have to do this?? Why couldn't we have taken the other way? Pierogi is definitely not worth this hike. This restaurant better be worth it. Why would anyone enjoy this for fun?
Obviously, I had a sour attitude.
And I realized it when we took our first break.
You see, being with a group of Brits and Poles makes for an interesting cultural experience. That means that they ask a lot of questions about America and American culture, and we get to ask a lot of questions about British and Polish culture.
Everyone else was taking the time to enjoy the hike, even slow down a bit, and ask questions, get to know each other. But all I cared about was complaining in my head.
When we finally came to a meadow overlooking a great view, I realized that I needed to change my attitude.
Yeah, climbing a mountain is hard work, you have to take it one step at a time, and you need to take rests every now and then. But you climb a mountain for a reason. Usually it's to get to the top. But most of the time the real joy comes from the journey.
The meadow was only half of the way up the mountain to the restaurant, but the view from the meadow was worth the climb.
It honestly felt like a scene straight out of The Sound of Music or even a Lord of the Rings movie.
The view from the meadow gave me hope. It helped me shift my attitude and keep climbing.
And it made me think.
There are times when living life feels similar to climbing a steep mountain. The terrain isn't level, and there isn't always an easy path. You get hungry. Your legs get tired. You slip on a couple of rocks and cut up your knee. And you're not sure if the climb is worth it. Climbing a mountain is hard work. Just like living life can be hard.
All you can do is live life the way that you climb a mountain: take it one step at a time, rest when needed, check your attitude, and take time to enjoy the view.
After an hour or more, we finally reached the restaurant, and we were greeted by a cute little lodge that serves traditional Polish food.
Of course, I had pierogi. And we even had a cake called szarlotka, which is like an apple pie. Our group was even able to chat for a while, and I learned some very interesting things about British culture from a visiting Brit (maybe I will share those factoids in a later post).
The climb was really worth it. And as I repented from my sour attitude at the start of the hike. I realized something else.
At the top of the mountain of Life, there isn't a restaurant that serves pierogi. The end of the journey means coming face to face with our Maker. And for those that believe in Jesus, the end of the hard climb, the rigorous work, and the struggle, means an eternity with Jesus, which is an eternity free from pain, tears, and strife. Eternity with Jesus is the final rest after the long journey. Knowing Jesus is worth climbing every mountain.
All I can say, is when given the chance to climb a mountain to get to a Polish restaurant, do it! Especially when freshly made pierogi is waiting for you at the top.
All of the images on this post were taken by Chelsea Hoskins. You can check out her blog here: https://peachywhimsy.wordpress.com/
But the photos can't show just how beautiful the Polish countryside truly is.
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