Yesterday, being July 4, our team took the opportunity to enjoy some of the more touristic parts of Arizona. The morning began with an early (really early: 5:00 a.m.) hike up to a beautiful view – so I am told. I was not personally awake at that ridiculous hour. Spending time in a climate so completely different from the Midwest had given us all a better idea of how truly extensive God’s creation is. In place of rivers, lakes and deciduous trees are mountains, mesas and cacti. By the way, don’t touch the cacti. It sounds pretty much like common sense, but they really do jump out at you and grab your hand! While we appreciate the beauty and diversity of the region, it would take a while to get used to the heat. If any of you back home are wondering how hot it feels here, turn your oven up to about 350˚ F, open the door and stand in front of it all day. Thankfully, every building here has a serious air conditioning system.
In the afternoon, a couple of very adventurous SME participants decided that one hike on such a day simply wasn’t enough and went up a trail labeled as “extremely difficult.” They made it back, to everyone else’s great relief. A few other SMEs took a day trip to the Apache Trail. It’s an old, mountainous road that goes through a ghost town, the Superstition Mountains and passes by a couple lakes. It was a day full of laughs and fun and finished with fireworks!
Today we are meeting with some volunteers from CrossWalk Church here in Phoenix. On Sunday we had the opportunity to meet with and have dinner with a family who is very interested in a Jesus Cares Ministries program. Their daughter has Down syndrome and is the most friendly, outgoing person I have ever met. It was fun being able to spend time with them. We are all really looking forward to helping this church prepare to help out families who have loved ones with developmental disabilities, and I hope that we can give them the resources and encouragement they need!