In today’s post, first-year missioner Hady Mendez shares her experience climbing the steep mountain to reach Cochabamba’s famous landmark, Cristo de la Concordia, the largest Jesus statue in the world.

WE DID IT! This picture was taken just minutes from reaching the top of the mountain and seeing the beautiful statue.

I got up at 6AM that day. Silly me didn’t realize what a ginormous task I had ahead of me. It didn’t look especially daunting from afar. Little did I know…

I consider myself to be physically fit and always up for a good challenge. So when my host sister, Cecy, invited me to join her for a hike up to the statue of Cristo de la Concordia I quickly accepted. I thought it would be a great way to start my Saturday.

We picked up Caitlin on our way to the statue and off we went. I quickly realized how difficult the climb was going to be. I was completely out of breath after only going up a few steps. I asked for “un descanso” (some rest). Then went up about 3-4 sets of steps and asked for rest again. This pattern pretty much persisted all the way up.

I was confused. Why could I not get up more steps before needing rest? Was I physically that unfit? Why did I look like I was having a harder time than Cecy and Caitlin? What was going on here??

And somewhere along the way, as I was pondering all these questions, it dawned on me that going up to the statue was a lot like our life’s journey.

Think about it.

We take on an activity thinking it will be fun and somewhat challenging. But then as we are engaged in the activity we realize how hard it really is. We take breaks to try and catch our breath and maybe come up with new strategies for overcoming the challenge ahead of us. Some people give up and stop trying to reach their goal. Other people, like me, move slowly but persist. They know the end goal will be worth it.

I got to the top of the mountain that day and had the opportunity to see the biggest statue of Jesus in the world. It was quite breathtaking. And at the same time, I learned a valuable lesson about being persistent, knowing when to step back and regroup, and recognizing when all your hard work will be worth the effort.

My host sister, Cecy, and I posing for the camera as we enjoy the view from on high.

There will be difficult moments and days ahead. Although it’s still new to me, I can see that life on mission is filled with ups and downs. I hope to face each new challenge like I did climbing the mountain that day. Slow and steady. Not questioning myself. Not trying to figure out WHY I’m not making better progress. Just accepting where I am and pushing myself to keep moving, keep reaching, keep looking towards the prize.

And as it turns out, Jesus is always the prize. Way cool.