Editor’s note: Missioner Aubrey Kimble reflects on how a trip to Amboró National Park gave her a chance to relax in a beautiful natural setting and reflect on care for creation.

The university here in Carmen Pampa is currently on break. I decided to take advantage of the time given and went on a much-needed vacation. My friend Molly came to visit me, and while she was here we did a bit of traveling around. Our travels took us to Sucre—the capital of Bolivia and its most beautiful city—and finally to Santa Cruz.

While in Santa Cruz, we went on a two-day visit to Amboró National Park. It was an amazing experience: we swam in a river, followed almost exactly in a puma’s footprints, and saw lots of animals in their natural habitat. It was gorgeous!

Exploring the park quickly turned into a spiritual experience for me. I began to think about how rare places like this are—places that are protected from environmental contamination and destruction, that are left to its own devices to grow and be wild.

I thought a lot about how grateful I was to be there, experiencing something so wild and beautiful. I thought a lot about creation, about everything that God has created and how it is good. I thought a lot about life as well. I have come to appreciate the dark green of an area that means there is enough water to sustain life and help it to flourish. That is something that I had always taken for granted, but living here has shown me it is something to appreciate, take care of, and conserve.

Our trip was only supposed to be for one night, but the first night we were there, rain began to pour down. The rivers we had to cross to get out of the park were so high that we were unable to leave the next day. I could’ve very easily become upset by the sudden change in plans—after all, we had to stay longer and pay more! But I thought about how so many people in other parts of Bolivia pray for it to rain just so they can have water, and I quickly adjusted my perspective.

On the third day, the rivers were still pretty high, so we left on horseback. It was about a two-hour ride to where a car could pick us up. Thank the Lord the horses did the walking for us!

My time in the park made me think about how we as a society—and how I as an individual—care for creation. There are so many small things we can do to lessen the harmful impact we are currently making on the environment. Recycling is a big step and something that I want to take with me when I go home. We can also be more mindful of turning off the lights when we’re not using them, or cutting down on all the electricity and energy we’re using. But even more than that, I have learned to recognize that water is a precious resource that not everyone has immediate access to. We can use less or be more conscious of how we’re using it, being mindful of the fact that it is a resource necessary for all human, animal, and plant life.  

Visiting the park reminded me to slow down a bit in order to recognize and appreciate the beauty that is all around me.

Reflection Question: Make a conscious effort to slow down today. What do you notice? What can you give thanks for and learn from what’s around you?