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Pico De Orizaba

Pico De Orizaba. (Photo by Rich Shear)

In the News

Popocatepetl, the Mexican volcano that has been off-limits to climbers, threw up an ash column nearly two miles high on Christmas day 2005. Glowing rocks flowed down its snow-covered slopes, according to news reports.

Popocatepetl, which means “smoking mountain” in the Nahuatl Indian language spoken by the Aztecs, has been extremely active since Dec. 1. It reawakened from decades of inactivity in 1994.

In 2000, tens of thousands of people living near Popo were evacuated because of a series of explosions. Scientists claim the last major eruption occurred more than 1,000 years ago.

Mexico’s Volcanoes

God’s Presence On the Lava Domes

By Rich Shear

Peeking out the window as my flight broke below the clouds on final approach high over Mexico City, on Oct. 29, I was amazed at the populated hillsides. The plane was still high up and continued for almost 10 more minutes speeding over a seemingly unbelievable expanse of humanity. As I looked down on the second-most populated urban area in the world, I contemplated how God provides food to so many hungry hands as well as clothing, shelter, and boundless spiritual nourishment for incredible numbers of heads and feet.

With a population that has doubled every thirty years (in 2005 there were somewhere between 18 and 22 million), Mexico City has endured famine, earthquakes, and war. It is positioned at an elevation above 7,000 feet on an ancient, dried-up lake bed. Far off, within sight to the south, are the majestic, snow-covered volcanoes, Popocatepetl and Ixtaccihuatl. “Popo” is currently off limits. The 17,925-foot crater currently gives off vapor with residual poison gasses that would obviously be dangerous to even the heartiest of climbers. “Ixta” lures climbers of all talents and ages to test their mettle on rocky and challenging slopes.

As a first-time mountaineer, I was blessed to be in the presence of some veteran climbers. Along on the journey, as well, was a knowledgeable and personable Mexican guide. Our goal was to climb three dormant volcanoes: Toluca (15,390 feet), Ixtacchihuatl (17,343 feet), and Pico De Orizaba (18,850 feet). After eight days, with most of us reaching the three difficult summits, a couple of our group expressed the pleasure of having just spent over a week on a formidable expedition without as much as even a cross word by anyone.

As I descended Orizaba, the third and highest of our volcanoes, I remember thinking that there seems to be a common denominator that has drawn many of us to high places for a few thousand years.

“Which by His strength setteth fast the mountains, being girded with power.” – Psalm 63:6

When we are given the blessing of having the health and fortitude to reach seemingly insurmountable goals, we too often forget to plainly and simply have the fortitude of heart to take a moment to give thanks for these experiences that enrich our lives. Can we then meet God’s challenge for us to go forth refreshed; with renewed confidence, and be better stewards of His word? When others ask about seemingly tough exploits, occasionally the opportunity enables us to acknowledge our thankfulness to God, and perhaps plant a seed in those that have not yet experienced the blessings of His word and the good news for the entire world to hear.

“Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy.” – Mark 4:16

Ixtacchihuatl
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