As of today, we've been here two weeks. Here's some snapshots:
**We've rented a little 2 room"apartment" in Yamaranguila, a town of maybe a thousand people. We narrowed our selection down to this one primarily because it was the only one. No stove, no frig. We did buy a hot-plate in order to heat up some food. Still no frig, and may not get one. We will be eating our meals at the mission base and may forgo the luxury of a refrigerator. Our landlord lives in a house adjoining our apartment. He has a housekeeper who for some reason precisely between 5:30-6:00 a.m. daily chops wood on the concrete sidewalk fifteen feet outside our bedroom window. An unsolicited alarm clock. Our landlord has has 3 roosters in a pen about 30 feet away form our window. One of them is apparently neurologically deficient and crows around 3:00 a.m. and the rest begin about 5:30--just in case we were to sleep through the wood-chopping.
**The mission base, Mercy International, builds houses both locally and up in the mountains where the poorest of the poor reside. I just returned from our first hike up into the mountains. (Les did not accompany due to some strained neck muscles from an accident about a week before we arrived here. She hopes to accompany me on the next hike next week.) First, it is a two hour plus drive on a very rough, unpaved mountain road, and then we abandon the vehicles and hike a minimum of 3 hours up into the mountains to get to this little mountain village, Santa Maria. We hosted a team from Florida State University, a number of them on the football team. They all concurred that the hike was beyond what their conditioning involves. We divided into 2 teams, one team to pour a concrete floor for a mother and her children, the other to complete a house by adding trusses and a roof. Ironically, the family for whom my team built a roof is the same family for whom I poured a concrete floor this past Nov., and it was a great pleasure to meet them again and re-establish our relationship. I went to the other site and met the mother for whom we were to construct a floor. She's 56 y.o. She has lived in what I call this "house of sticks" for 25 years. No floor, no running water, no electricity. Literally, sticks packed with mud for walls. She cried as I asked her about her life. Her husband had died in January and she has no idea how she will provide for her family. I would ask her about other matters but she would resume talking about her husband whom she misses dearly. She is filled with grief, both recent and old. She told me she had 14 children and 6 of them have died. Hopefully, a concrete floor will serve as a metaphor for something of substance for her to stand on as she regroups and faces an even more difficult life ahead.
**These are a humble people. When we built the trusses and added a tin roof to "my" family's house we asked if we could gather around them and pray for them. They were very appreciative and wanted us to. When we finished praying for them the father, Melbis, asked if he could pray for us. You who have so little have so much compassion that you want to pray for US? We gratefully received his prayer.
**The hike out of the mountains was in the rain, and the mud was slippery and many of us slipped and fell but only our pride was injured. As we drove back on the mountain road, the van was slipping in the the mud. We had two trucks leading the way for the van. As we were descending, I noticed a full-sized school bus ascending the approaching mountain curve, but then stopped. We couldn't see what was going on. All of us left our vehicles to discover that the bus had lost traction in the mud and had begun to slide back down the hill. The bus driver had hit the brakes, got it to at least stop, and had someone attach a rope to the bumper and there were about 15 Honduran adults and children attempting to pull this full-sized school bus up the mud-soaked mountain incline. We all ran over and joined them in the mud and somehow pulled this bus up the hill to a level place where once again the driver could get traction. The bus driver proceeded to shake our hands in fervent appreciation. It was a joyful feeling joining these Hondurans as a team, agonizing in pulling this bus up the hill. What a wild ride!
Well, those are a few slices of life thus far. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers. And be grateful for what and who you have.
(Sorry, no photo; problems loading and want to post before I lose everything.)