By Cassidy Campbell |

“Jó reggelt.”

These were our tour guide’s first words when we stepped onto the bus at 7:30 a.m.

“Jó reggelt” he said again. “But is it really? Is it really a good morning?”

I answered back immediately, “Yes, it is a great morning!”

To begin our four days in Transylvania, Romania, we enjoyed an amazing breakfast at our host family homes. Our plan was to climb a mountain two hours away, and then have other excursions later in the afternoon.

When we arrived to the village I looked up at the mountain we planned to hike. I doubted my skills and ability to climb the huge peak but decided to go for it.

The first five minutes of this hike I contemplated turning around. The walk was immediately uphill with tons of rocks and gravel. I figured it would eventually get easier and did not want to quit this early, so I continued on.

A few hours and lots of water breaks later, we finally made it to the top of the mountain. I was in awe of God’s complete and utter beauty. I saw the valley, mountains and town perfectly, and could not believe how accomplished I felt in this moment. I did not want this moment or feeling to end.

We saw storm clouds rolling in so we decided it was time to head back to town. Since the walk up on a hike is almost always 95 percent harder than the walk down, we thought the worst of this hike was over.

But, boy were we wrong.

It started to rain the second we began our walk down. This light rain was not a bother. We were all sweaty from the hike up anyway, so it felt refreshing to feel some cold rain on our skin. The rain got heavier, which meant the way down got even more slippery. The path was straight downhill, and it did not help that the mud got thicker and more slippery.

After five minutes of struggling to get down a little way, we knew it was going to be a long and miserable walk.

The original path we were supposed to follow became too muddy and slick, so the group of us in the back had to jump from tree trunk to tree trunk so we would not tumble all the way down. We followed each other’s footsteps, held on to trees for dear life and helped each other by supporting whoever followed. It was a great team bonding exercise, I guess.

After an hour of struggling down we assumed we had to be close to the village. The tour guide informed us we still had an hour left to the bus. But with the rain and mud, we had to double that time.

We still had two hours to go.

Some of the group started to get terrified. We tried to stay positive and laugh for the most part, but we thought there was no way to get down this mountain. It seemed like bad thing after bad thing kept piling on to make this hike even more miserable. It began to hail. Everyone was falling and bumping their heads, legs, arms and feet. Our shoes were drowning in mud. Stomachs and heads began to hurt.

The entire time I prayed to God that we would all make it down safe without injuries. I was terrified and knew I needed God to give me peace.

Three hours later, three times the amount of time it was supposed to take to get down, we finally saw the town. We stumbled into a field full of sheep and their shepherd.

Although I was exhausted, covered in mud, and did not think I could walk one more step, God showed me his face.

The field was so bright. It was finally sunny and full of life. The mountain behind us was a beautiful sight. We had been on top of that mountain, struggled through the hike to the bottom, and finally made it out to this field and found the light at the end of the tunnel.

I truly believe that was a sign to remind us that God is our shepherd and he will never leave his sheep behind. Even though we struggled in the valley to get out of that mountain, God was still watching over us the entire time, no matter how alone or scared we felt.

I could not help but think of all the verses in the Bible reminding me of God’s love for his sheep.

Psalm 23:1-4 says: “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his names sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

Although this experience was physically and emotionally so difficult, I was reminded of God’s presence through my lows and my highs. Even if it looks like I am surrounded by failure, God is surrounding me with his presence.