Friday, April 4, 2014

Lenten Project: Fifth Fearless Friday

The Schaefer family likes to travel and hike.  That's what we've done for years, together as a family, enjoying time together outdoors.

From the very beginning, in Grenada, we often went hiking together.  Grenada has some amazing mountains and trails, and even a few forts leftover from the colonial period.  We'd drive up to the old volcano-turned-crater-lake, Grand Etang, which the locals claimed was bottomless (it's only 20 feet deep).  If we were lucky, we'd see the remains of an animal sacrifice made by the Spiritual Baptists.  Some of our friends liked to tease us that a sea monster dwelled in the bottomless depths, but I never saw anything but fish, which we liked to catch in little nets we made.

Sometimes, Dad would organize country-wide church events, where all the other IFB churchgoers would be invited to go adventuring with us.  We went hiking up Mount Qua Qua and visited the Seven Sisters waterfalls, went mossy rock-hopping across rivers and streams (Mom always fell in), swung on the rope swing into the waterfall pools, ate off banana leaves, waved our arms to keep the monkeys from pulling our hair, and admired the beautiful, brightly coloured birds and flowers.

It was always so cold up the mountains--at least 70 degrees!
So we'd bundle up in sweatshirts every time.

Our love of hiking didn't end when we left the West Indies.  While on furlough in '98, we hiked all over the States' East coast, enjoying the Appalachians and Smokies.  We'd goof off and have fun together.  My sister Elizabeth liked to do "tour guide" voices and make things up as we trekked along, and she always had us in stitches, laughing as we hiked.

Hannah and Mary attempt to murder the tour guide

Singapore has a hill in the middle of it.  I say hill because, after Grenada's volcanic mountains, Singapore's little Bukit Timah is like a backyard stroll.  We still had fun hiking it, though.  We laughed at all the rules and restrictions--that's Singapore for you!

And even more recently, with so many of us girls grown and married, my parents would come back to the States every year and occasionally rent a cabin in the mountains of North Carolina or Georgia.  We'd go hiking in the Appalachians.  

Dad's antics have only gotten crazier over the years, and they've rubbed off on the rest of us. One time, in Grenada, Dad grabbed a snake from the bushes along the trail, and instead of slithering away in fright, like usual, the snake wrapped around his arm and wouldn't let go.  One of the church girls had to pry it off of his arm where it was constricting him.  That incident hasn't stopped him from snatching at snakes and critters on the trail, though.  He still does it!

Like that time he wore a dry cleaners bag as a poncho

Dad likes to be as embarrassing as possible when we pass other hikers on the trail, and it used to make us girls want to dive off a cliff.  Now we all join in and try to embarrass our spouses, or better yet, Mom.  Lizzy is still the master at "tour guide voice," though, and her husband is the perfect foil.  Since we grew up in Grenada before it was as heavily tourist-ised like it is now, we're used to trails with no signs and no rules.  Our only guidelines were: make it up as you go along, bring a compass so you don't get lost, and always respect the map reader in the group.  Also, stick close to the designated snack-carrier.


These more recent family get togethers provided time for catching up, family pictures, and relaxing.  We haven't been all together since a year or two before my divorce, though. Most of my family hasn't even met my husband, much less my stepson and new daughter. And now that my beloved sister Mary is moving to Togo with her family to serve on the mission field, a complete Schaefer family gathering will probably be put off till many years in the future.  Hopefully the next time we're all together won't be a funeral or something, but that's the reality we face, since our family is now scattered all over the world. Missionary problems!

My fanciful dream is that we can all forgive one another and leave behind past hurts in order to forge a new future of unconditional love and acceptance for those in our family, setting aside personal interpretations of the Bible and theological beliefs to really live out the Gospel to one another.  It would take a lot of humility, which is not a staple in Fundamentalism.  But someday, someday not too far away, I hope we can all go hiking together again, joking with one another again, listening to Lizzy's "tour guide voice" again. There is a whole generation of grandkids who haven't yet been embarrassed by their grandad on the trail, or heard their grandma freak out that they'd die if they climb that tall tree/eat that fruit/jump over that stream/touch that unidentified animal.  And before the chance is gone, I'd like my kids to experience that, along with their cousins they've never met.