Home / Stories / Solidarity in the Climb

Solidarity in the Climb


Editor’s Note: Missioner Aubrey Kimble reflects on finding solace during an emotionally and physically strenuous climb up a mountain.

On June 21st, Bolivia celebrated the Andean New Year. For the Aymaran people, this marked the year 5524 according to their calendar. This day is important because it is the beginning of a new agricultural cycle.

It is customary for the Aymaran people to be up very early that morning to receive the first rays of the sun. The day is celebrated with different rites and offerings to Pachamama (Mother Earth).

Since the Andean New Year is (recently) a national holiday, I got up early with some friends to climb to the top of the large statue of Christ in Cochabamba. This was no easy feat though – there are over 2,000 steps to get to the top of the mountain where the statue is located! I started the climb with friends, but fell behind fairly quickly to rest.

View of the Christ statue from afar

View of the Christ statue from afar

In the midst of my disappointment at falling behind, I met a woman who was struggling up the steps. She was carrying a large container with gallons of hot juice – alone. She was trying to make it up to the top before the sunrise so she could sell the juice.

I stopped to help carry the container, although admittedly before I realized that she was trying to make it to the top. It was heavy – I couldn’t believe that she was doing this by herself! We started chatting, and before I knew it I committed to carrying the container to the top with her. It made me feel better about climbing so slowly!

The climb to the top of the mountain with my new friend really showed me the meaning of solidarity. There was something incredibly special about struggling up those steps together. We shared [brief, breathless] stories about where we are from and what we do for a living. We were exhausted, but we were glad that we were doing this together.

That experience reminded me that two is better than one. Instead of watching someone struggle with his or her burden and passing quickly by, it is much more rewarding to slow down and help out a fellow brother or sister in Christ.

View of the Christ statue up close

View of the Christ statue up close

Unfortunately, we didn’t make it to the top before the sunrise. We did, however, make it up shortly thereafter, just in time for thirsty customers. It was an unforgettable experience!

Reflection Questions: In moments of struggle, how do you remind yourself of others around you? How can you remind yourself to offer help as well as ask for it?

*Featured image: adaptation of photo on Pixabay – labeled for public domain  

Aubrey has been in Bolivia since January 2016 serving at Unidad Académica Campesina-Carmen Pampa, a rural college. She works at the children's library and in a daycare for students' babies. She also accompanies students in their daily and after-school activities, such as Pastoral group, English Club, and Mujeres Valientes, a women's empowerment group.

Aubrey’s heart lies in service, the Spanish language, and music – she has been playing the cello for 11 years. While studying economics and Spanish at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Aubrey became a Catholic and discovered her love for service through Newman Center alternative spring break trips to Philadelphia and Staten Island. Her desire to be the hands and feet of Christ among the poor motivated her serve on overseas mission.