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Stranded by a Guanaco

As we were riding through the Atacama Desert in a 1995 Jeep Wrangler with an extreme lift kit and massive tires, I need mountian climbing gear just to get into the thing. I looked over the the vast landscape of red tinted sand with ridges all throughout the landscape wondering how a place so dry could even exist. My Dad sent me off with my friend who is doing a pre-college trip prepping for her meteorology degree by coming out here and doing a study of one of the driest places on earth. My Dad told me that a girls main goal in life cannot be to marry a rich guy or be a Tik-Tok star. While Amelia was completely fascinated by all of the nerdy things about this desert I was enjoying how the red tinted sand gave of a warm reflection giving the perfect lighting for my selfies and Tik-Tok. While it does seem sad that I am worried about my Tik-Tok videos while my friend is pursuing her dreams I am having way to much fun chilling starting at our guide. A girl has got to distract herself some how from being bored as all get out and our guide Roberto is definitely helping with that. Roberto has dark tan skin shredded shoulders and soft smooth Chilean accent, light brown eyes and short black hair. As I was now staring at my phone which had no service disappointed because I was taking bomb Tik-Tok videos for the first hour of this car ride Amelia suddenly shouts, “Luna!” I yell back, “What?” I do not know why we are yelling but I definitely almost dropped my phone out of the Jeep which would have not gone over well with mom. Amelia says, “You came all the way to Chile and you are going to be in the most fascinating deserts in the world and spend your time zoned out looking at a phone with no service?” I respond with my signature sass, “Uhhh what else do you want me to do?” Amelia looks at me with her glaring green eyes that make me feel guilty even when I didn’t do anything. Which is rare that I didn’t do something worthy of receiving a glare, but the few times that I don’t do anything I know what it feels like to feel guilty for no reason. Kind of like when my mom looks at me. Amelia reminds me of a mom because she is so mature and responsible and has her entire life together, along with constantly telling me that I need to get serious about life. Which always hurts when she says that. Amelia says, “Take this in and actually pay attention to something and you might find something your actually passionate about.” I gasp trying to act surprised that she said that, but she says remarks that are poignant like that often so then I just shrug it off and pull out my pocket mirror to apply my some Rihanna Gloss Bomb. Then we all the sudden it feels like we just hit a huge pot hole and my mirror and gloss bomb goes flying. I scream in the process as I do the weird thing with my hands I always do when I’m stressed waving them around like I am doing an interpretive dance and the car comes to a jarring halt. After I get done screaming, I look at Amelia and yell, “What happened?”

Amelia calmly says back, well we just hit a pothole, ran over an animal or something really scary and random with the car happened.”

I respond, well I don’t like any of those options. Roberto gets out of the car and looks under the car and he squeals like a girl which I appreciate the honesty but I then in response start screaming because I’m thinking that we just ran over a person or something and when Amelia finally calms me down she explains that Roberto just ran over a Guanaco. Which is like a South American Llama.

Roberto then speaks up and says, “The Guanaco is a beautiful creature. The one that is sadly under the car is dark cinnamon and looks like a young teen in Guanaco years. Luckily it wasn’t an adult but if the Mama shows up to see this we all might be in very big trouble. We will need to remove the Guanaco from under the car and make sure the car is still drivable and then get away as quick as possible before the mother or another predator comes to finish off the remains of this Guanaco.”

“Umm, excuse me Roberto,” I interrupt. “So by we do you mean you? Because I do not do dead bloody animals, and frankly I do not do alive animals either so there is no way I am touching that animal under the car.”

Roberto rolls his eyes and responds, “Well would you like to keep watch to warn us if any other animals are coming that seem like they could harm us?”

“That actually sounds like the perfect job for me!” I responded.

“Yea until she doesn’t tell us that a pack of gray foxes comes and eats us all.” With a smirk and a slight laugh.

Roberto says, “Well actually gray foxes probably….”

“Sarcasm Roberto.” Amelia quickly cuts him off.

As Amelia and Roberto are working on getting the Guanaco out from under the car and checking on the car I just sit and look out into the vast desert really hoping that the car is still drivable because we drove for a long time and we are in the middle of the desert, going full on survivor mode isn’t possible because the desert isn’t the most resource abundant place on the planet.

As I look at the desert I can’t help but begin to think what the rest of my life has to hold. It seems that Amelia and Roberto have their lives all together and know what they are going to do in life. They are probably going to get married have three kids and live in Chile and have tons of money because they are both smart with big goals while I am living in one of daddy’s guest houses all alone and still trying to get Tik-Tok famous. I wish there was something to make sense to life. My life feels like I am in the desert and I am never going to get out. I am just going to spend the next 80 years wandering around with no point hungry, confused and lonely. It’s like I want a good life but ever sense mom died life has gone numb. As a kid I dreamed of traveling the world as a fashion designer and journalist but I just haven’t cared about anything since mom passed 3 years ago. I mean what is there to live for. I could die out here and never get to the goals that I set so what’s the point of wasting time now when I’m not promised anything. Why not have fun while I can, Y.O.L.O am I right? Oh my gosh no one says YOLO anymore I’ve really lost it.

“Luna… Luna… LUNA!” Amelia cries.

“What do you want?” I snap back.

“You to get off the car so we can jack it up easier to see under it” Amelia responds.

“Why would you want to mess his car up even more? It’s our only way home stupid.” I reply.

“Not like that, you idiot! Jack up as in use the car jack to lift the car up to see under it to make sure the Guanaco didn’t mess anything up too bad.” Amelia sighed.

“OOOHHH that makes a lot more sense.” I said as I hopped down from the car and as I walk towards Roberto, I see a scorpion and scream and begin to run in circles around the car and Roberto gets up and I crash into him and we both fall down and Roberto gets me to calm down explaining that the scorpion will not chase me as long as I leave it alone.

I still did not get anywhere near the scorpion or any more scorpions that popped up while Roberto was under the car and then all the sudden we hear Roberto yell, “OUCH! That hurt!”

Amelia responded, “what happened?”

Roberto responded through tears, “5 scorpions just bit me! I, must have been laying on a group of them that were underground.”

That was it I, I was done for, I begin to run around the car screaming and frantically panting and on the verge of a panic attack and as I ran back by Amelia she slapped me and screamed, “Snap out of it!”

“Owww, and thank you I needed that.” I responded. Then I immediately asked. “Is he going to die?”

Roberto getting out from under the car says, “Normally that answer is definitely no but because multiple bit me I will need medical attention. The good news is that the car is fine to at least get us back to town and I can see the doctor. Amelia you drive, the Jeep’s gps will guide you back.”

I hopped in the front seat and Amelia turned the key and the Jeep roars to life and then sputters just as quickly.

“What happened to the Jeep being fine?” I ask sheepishly.

“Well, let me check the engine. Roberto responds.”

Roberto hops out with a grimace on his face and opens the Jeep hood, and says, “Oh No.” Calmly as ever.

“What’s wrong?” Amelia asked The impact of the Guanaco shook the engine up enough that the fuel line came loose and bursted.

“Is there a spare one where the tire was?” I asked. Amelia just glares at me telling me to please stop talking with her eyes and looks back at Roberto and says, “I guess we will just have to walk. We can’t just wait around.”

For once in my life I agree with Amelia and we jump from the front seat and begin to walk and after a minute we realize we do not have Roberto and we turn around to see Roberto laying on the ground. We sprint back towards Roberto and I get to him first and slap him trying to wake him and he doesn’t budge. All the sudden this just got a lot more serious. I look at Amelia and she gives me the nod and we pick up Roberto and begin to go as fast as we can back the way we came. Luckily Amelia is great with directions so I think we will make it back before Roberto dies. We were only driving about 30-45 minutes since I saw the last town so I think it’s doable. Amelia and I are tracking along and I turn and look at Amelia and smile. She says, “I haven’t seen that face in a long time chika. Glad to see it back.”

I ask, “What does that mean?”

Amelia responds, “Just you haven’t been the same. I know you mom passed and I will never understand that but would this be the life she would want for you? Would she want you just to live life numb, just forsaking the adventure and thrill because you lost all hope? Before you had dreams, aspirations bigger than mine and believed you could achieve them. But now all you care about is scrolling through Tik-Tok and having fun. It just feels as if you separated yourself from your own life and are just along for the ride.”

Tears run down Amelia’s cheek and there is silence for a few precious seconds and the silence breaks with a sniffle and crying which I then realize is my own. I feel so exposed so broken, so confused but in that moment I saw light for the very first time. There actually seems to be an end to the desert I have spent the last couple years in. I see a city for the first time. I see purpose for the first time and I weep hard. Everything inside of me comes out and I weep harder than ever. I realize that I did separate myself from my own life and just simply been along for the ride. I have not truly lived since my mom died and I simply existed. It all came together in that moment but there was still no answer just I felt a glimmer of hope but then the dark reality set in that I have no idea how to get back on track. I want to live life to the fullest again I just have no idea how. I guess that is what stopped me before but I just didn’t care to find out how to start living. So I voice all this out to Amelia and she smiles and is silent for a second and says, “You remember all those times I’ve tried to get you to come to church with me and you refused?”

“Oh please don’t make me go!” I begged.

“You don’t.” Amelia laughed, “I was about to make a point. I know you think that God is a made up concept to oppress the oppressed and keep those in power in power, but that’s now God at all. This God is actually a lifter of the outcast and is a friend to those on the fringes of society. Jesus actually said that His mission was for those who were oppressed. To set the oppressed free and to give them ultimate freedom. To make them more free than any of their oppressors were.”

This caught my attention and I said, “Continue.”

Amelia chuckled and asked, “Have you heard the story of Jesus?”

“Not in the way that you just described it.” I respond.

Amelia said, ok well, Jesus mission was to come and set the world back to it’s original design where all humanity could live in unity with each other and all of creation. Jesus returned to humans the power that was lost in the Garden of Eden when they chose to rule for themselves rather than trust God. Satan (whose name means the adversary) Promised Adam and Eve ultimate freedom if they would just go and live life for themselves on their own terms and forget God. Satan promised Adam and Eve god like status the wanted it, then they realized how horrible that being their own god was. They realized that they gave up all power to their circumstances and to Satan. That outside of God’s rule they were powerless against Satan and the rest of the Old Testament shows just how powerless humans were to the dark spiritual forces that eventually lead to God’s chosen people Israel being taken into exile by the Babylonian Empire.

But God did not forget his people and 400 years later after the last words of the Hebrew Bible are written Jesus steps onto the scene claiming that He has come to give humans the new life that God has promised since that fateful day in the garden. That God had come to rule over His people and give them real life, and Jesus claimed to be God in the flesh but not everyone like that. Those in power opposed Jesus. They tried to kill Jesus multiple times because they wanted to hold onto their power and eventually they succeed at killing Jesus. Not because they out smarted God. But because Jesus sacrificed Himself to pay the debt that we owed once for all Jesus gave himself over to the dark spiritual forces controlling our lives and satisfied God’s wrath against humanity for sinning.

The story doesn’t end there luckily. Three days later Jesus rose from the dead and proclaimed that His resurrection was just the first of many to follow. That everyone who believed that Jesus is the risen King of the world could experience a resurrection like Jesus’. Jesus ascended into Heaven in order to send God’s personal presence to the earth so that every follower of Jesus could have the personal, empowering presence of God living inside of them. This spirit is the Spirit that rose Jesus from the grave and it does the same for all of those who claim Jesus as king.

This new life gives new purpose, new hope. No matter the circumstance everyone who proclaimed allegiance to king Jesus could experience a whole new reality right in the middle of their old one.

I wept. Furiously. I was broken and I felt the most intense feeling of love fill every fiber of my being like I was being held in the arms of my mother all over again but even more comforting. I set down Roberto and I wept. Through my tears I said, “I need that, I can’t live like this any longer.” Then Amelia told me to repeat after her. “King Jesus…thank you for giving your life so I could live…I am sorry for my sin and everything that I have done to live for myself… Today Jesus… I give you my life… In Jesus name… Amen.” All the sudden like the most intense adrenaline rush of my life I tingle all over and I feel free. The weight of grief that I had been fighting was gone.

Amelia looks at me and says, “Now that you have given your life to Jesus no matter what you career is your life purpose is to lead others to Jesus. Jesus is the doctor the entire world needs and it is our job to drag everyone we can to him. Like we are Roberto right now. As we were talking a helicopter flys overhead through it’s intercom system says, “We thought you guys might need some help, it’s almost dark and we haven’t heard from you. Stay put we are coming down.”

I look at Amelia and say thank you, today beings a new life for me.

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