Out of breath, I along with seven others tried to keep up with Marco as he effortlessly ascended the mountain. Earlier that morning we had set up a medical clinic in a small village in the Peruvian Andes Mountains. While the majority of our team remained there, a small group of us set out to go further up the mountain. The only way to access these remote homesteads was on foot or the back of a donkey. We were going to provide aid to some elderly individuals who couldn’t make it down. I was tagging along and packing some archery equipment with me, hoping to entertain some youth along the way.
Marco grew up in the village below and is the local pastor. He makes this trek twice a week to minister to his community. As we all lagged behind it was obvious the rest of us didn’t grow up on a mountain nor did we make treks like this on a regular basis. The altitude was definitely taking a toll, but with a steady pace, plenty of water, and the occasional stop for someone to vomit, we managed. Did I mention that Pastor Marco is in his 70s?
Along the way we made various stops at the mud brick homes and provided medical attention and some archery fun where we could. My friend Chad would pull out his medical supplies and treat the body and I would pull out the bow and begin to treat the soul. It was amusing to see the curious faces of the young and the old when I pulled out the zombie green breakdown Tribe bow. As I’d string it up the kids would line up. One after the other I’d teach them how to correctly hold the bow, nock an arrow, draw, anchor, and release. I knew enough Spanish to verbally teach archery to most Peruvians, but these people, indigenous Quechua Indians, didn’t speak Spanish and I had to count on more primitive hand signals and gestures to communicate. Although it was a bit difficult, a few shots in, each new archer would hit the mark. It didn’t take long before we understood each other perfectly fine. The smiles on our faces said it all; we were having a great time.
The highest point of our hike, for me, marked the highlight of the entire trip. There was a home with a father, mother, three young children, and an elderly grandmother with some serious aches and pains. Chad began working with her through a translator, who translated his English to Spanish, and then Pastor Marco translated the Spanish to Quechua, and then from the grandma it would be reversed back the other way. I pulled out my bow and gestured to the kids to follow me a short distance away where we could shoot. They timidly followed.
Though fully clothed, it was obvious that their lives were not easy. They were filthy, smelly, and already—even at such a young age—had many physical scars from a rough life. With little convincing the brother of the two younger sisters stepped up. As with most boys it took very little instruction to get him flinging arrows. The first arrow hit to the left of the target, the second to the right and then the third arrow, smack in the bulls-eye. His grin reached ear to ear as he motioned to the older of his two sisters to give it a shot. Though she never found the bulls-eye she was delighted to just hit the target. The younger sister took a little more coaxing. She finally, awkwardly, grabbed the bow and wanted me to let go so that she could do it on her own. I let her give it a go. After a few failed attempts of trying to nock an arrow on an upside down bow I had to gently pry my fingers in between hers and force her to release the bow. I then turned it over and placed her small hands in the appropriate position and helped her shoot a handful of arrows at our cardboard filled target. She was hooked and the only reason she stopped was because of the candy filled bag that we gave each of them.
Sitting back, enjoying the sight of them eating their candy, I noticed the younger girl’s shoes. Her cute but filthy little toes were sticking straight out the front of both of her worn out shoes. Not having shoes for a three-year-old in my backpack, I did what I could with medical tape and then had one of my teammates draw a flower on each. The result was a smile followed by a big hug, which I’ll never forget. Although I couldn’t speak their language well, I knew enough to tell them that Jesus loved them. And even though we wanted to say and do so much more, we had to find contentment in the smiles that we left them with.
That represents one story from one of nine days and hundreds of miles traveled across the country of Peru. On that trip my team trained 63 new HisPins Archery instructors, started six new HisPins clubs, introduced hundreds of kids to the sport, and most importantly shared the love of Christ with each one of them. Tribe helped make it all possible by supplying all six new clubs with long lasting and good shooting bows. Having used multiple different bows from multiple manufacturers, I can say without question that we couldn’t have a better bow to do what we do.
Interesting Tribe bow facts:
Tribe bows are now the bow for seven new foreign archery clubs. (One in Juarez, Mexico, and then five others in the towns/cities of Lima, Manchey (2 clubs), Salamanca, and Picapiedra, all in Peru.)
They’re easy to transport into foreign countries and at home.
They work in the desert, on a mountain, in a mud brick house, in a cactus filled field, in the middle of city squares, on city streets, in hotels, on roof tops, in a church sanctuary, in a gym, at a school, in the YMCA, at Salvation Army Camps, for Boy Scouts, on football fields, in garages, in classrooms, in apartments, on soccer fields, for Girl Scouts, in nursing homes, for young, for old, in the rain, in an office, to compete with, in a pig pin, on a sheep trail, and most importantly, they work over and over again…
Surrendered to the call,
Heart of the Outdoors