Flat tires, jet lag and culture shock

Have you ever driven a stressed out lady and her young son and infant two hours down a bumpy logging trail after she had major surgery trying to find her husband that lives eight hours walk from the meeting place only to find him not there and then driving on a crazy 4by4 trail and waited for him at that spot until he finally arrived only after trying to use an interpreter relaying through two other people over the radio to try to communicate? Now we can say we have done that. They shared a slice of their giant hot dog the size of a sumo wrestlers arm, literally, the thing was huuuuuuge, for lunch before we disappeared in a cloud of dust.

I have often dreamt of sailing across the Pacific Ocean, actually it is one of my life goals. It took us fourteen hours to cross the great ocean going over 500 miles an hour, it is a stinkin long way over here, that would be a long trip going seven or eight knots over all that water. I think we'll stop in Fiji for a break on the way. We have been in Chiang Mai now for two nights and the jet lag is wearing off. Tomorrow morning we hit the road again heading into the Burmese jungle!!! We are so excited, so excited I just peed myself a little thinking about it. We have been drilling people with questions since we arrived, feeling a little naive as to what to expect and what we will be doing. For the next six to eight weeks we will be hiking the jungle, arriving first at the training area helping the FBR army guys and participating as we can for a week or two. Next, we will be helping with the good life clubs or hiking further into the jungle and visiting villages along the way. We will be unable to update our blog until we return to Chiang Mai in six or eight weeks so both of you who read this (thanks moms : ) will have to hold your breath until we come out!

Before we left our friends in Mexico Heidi and I both filled our days as best we could using up our last hours to finish all the loose ends. Heidi installed all the trim in three rooms that she had been cutting and painting, I built three sets of shelves for Mark, we watched a three hour movie in Spanish, Dave and I agonised over how to get some tires to Mark after his had gone irreversibly flat, and we packed our bags to enter the next phase of our adventure.

Sometimes Heidi and I look at each other and exclaim at how lucky and blessed and fortunate and maybe even a little stupid we are for jumping into an adventure like this. We have had more adventure in the past month and a half than many people experience in a lifetime. Heidi and I are struck at Gods provision for us along the way already, mostly the friends that He has clearly put in our lives to bless and be blessed by, God is so good!! Sometimes we have felt an expectation of what God is going to do and we feel that now as we head out into the jungle, we are waiting, and praying to see His hand move!!

Our favorite quote in flawless english by Daves wife Delia after losing a game of UNO


Picking the scab

The flight would have been longer if I hadn't thrown my headset out the door with the air drop we were making. Yes, you read correctly, it seams I have a habit here of destroying things right and left. First it was the pots we scraped some of the Teflon off then snapping one of the living room chairs, cutting the cord on the skill saw, and the list goes on. I feel a bit like an accident waiting to happen. Anyway, Dave and I prepared the airdrops the night before and I was able to ride along with Mark to throw the packages out for John the Mennonite. The first two dropped perfectly with the shoots opening to soften the reunion with the earth. The last one I forced from the plane with half my body hanging out the plane but somehow my arm hooked the headset cord and flung the thing off my head and out into space. Angry with myself I forgot to look to see if the package landed OK and see if my headset missile killed anyone on the ground as it plummeted to earth.

The following day Mark, Carmen, Heidi and I along with Dexter the dog, piled into a jeep to bump our way out to Rowadiche and spend the next three days hiking to rural villages to help the sick and visit friends. Carmen is a doctor at the mission hospital and has spent many of her days off hikeing to the bush villages to help where she can. For Heidi and I it was a spectacular dichotomy seeing the awesome beauty of the high sierra and immensity of the canyons with shear cliffs and unforgiving beauty and seeing the beautiful people that carve out an existence there and their rugged way of life and the palpable spiritual darkness. We feel honored to gain insight into this place and see what life is like for our neighbors here.
It is a staggering reality check for Heidi and I gaining a little idea of life for these folks. Many of the friends we have made live a true subsistence lifestyle growing corn and beans to last the year and find other work occasionally to provide the other necessities. Infant mortality here in the sierra is the highest in the Western Hemisphere. Simple sanitation education would dramatically improve that statistic but new ideas are slow to take root.

One of the nights we spent out in the bush the family we stayed with offered their own house for us to sleep in. We were honored still even when we found that they had been spending the last several moons sleeping under the stars to avoid the starving flees that were infesting their house. We enjoyed an evening under the milky way that night.

Carmen put us to work on one of the children that had scabbed over wounds on his head with the dried puss mounding up in his thick black hair. With my leatherman I cut the hair away to expose the wound and we picked away at the scab to expose the bloody flesh in order to treat it with ointment. If left unattended Carmen informed us the problem would eventually cause serious kidney damage.

We are two days away from leaving our new home down here and looking forward to the next chapter. Mixed feelings follow as we must leave old friends and our new friends alike. I don't think I will miss the flees, but the parasites in the jungle are bound to treat us less kindly.

Chinese proverb say - Don't open a shop unless you like to smile


Hospital, hospital, we have a transport

It took exactly 2 weeks, numerous discussions on the best methods, several e-mails to Super Cub experts (thank you Jeremy and Matt), and lots of laughs for Lyle and Dave to finish the annual on the plane. The timing could not have been better either as Mark and his new wife Carmen arrived home on Friday evening and the plane was needed the next morning. Praise the Lord! Often during those two weeks, while I was puttering around the hanger doing odd jobs, I had the privilege of listening to Dave and Lyle banter back and forth. It brought me such joy because I could see Lyle was really filling a need for Dave. He helped with the annual and was a wealth of information about different ways to do things in the aviation world. God's timing is perfect and I really feel He orchestrated our trip perfectly for Lyle to be of service to Dave.

The rest of the week leading up to the completion of the annual was filled with much the same task as the previous week. On Saturday we had one more chance to head to Delia's family ranch to retrieve the picked corn before all the little animals had their way with it. Lyle and Dave spent the week days working tirelessly on the plane and I found jobs here and there to be useful. The hospital had an eye-surgery weekend where they bring down skilled doctors from the states and do hundreds of different eye-surgeries. Therefore I spent a few days there helping with the preparations, including one day where I spent 3 hours doing nothing but laundry because the hospital uses one load of water twice, draining one machine into the other. You must watch the laundry to catch it at the right moment. Spending time at the hospital is always a comical event sense I know very little Spanish. Creative hand-signalling has become my new second language. One additional activity Lyle and I were able to be part of was a patient transport. We drove about one hour in the hospital ambulance to a near by town, dropped of the patient, then Lyle drove home sounding the sirens merrily all the way.
Over the past two and a half weeks I have thought endlessly about God's blueprint for saving people. Questions about methods, and approaches, techniques, and attitudes have all run over and over in my brain. Always God has brought me back to one basic but difficult answer. There is NO set method or formula. God uses all kinds of people in all kinds of situations, in all kinds of ways to meet all kinds of needs. The way to be used by Him in His smorgasbord approach is to continually be seeking a deeper relationship with Him so we are sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. To punctuate this answer to all my burning questions He had my beautiful sister-in-law send an e-mail that they recently found great truth in.
"The impact God has planned for us does not occur when we are pursuing impact.
It occurs when we are pursuing God."



The Hard Way

The teacher, John the Mennonite.

Last weekend Heidi and I tagged along with Dave, Delia and their four month old bambino on an overnight trip to see a friend that lives up the valley from Samique past Wachochi. A location becomes a village when more than one family lives there and from a distance you can spot a town by the cleared ground for growing corn. John the Mennonite lives in just such a place, two hours walk from the nearest road and road is a loose translation of a sketchy logging trail where Dave should never drive his van. You can easily spot John from a distance and recognise him by his lanky body and long stride lengthened by hundreds of miles of trail troding in his sandals cut from a car tire and skinny Amish beard squaring off his ruddy good looks. John seems wise beyond his years and talks easily and honestly of the trials and problems he has and sees and the joy in his life pours out of his body like water from a spring. John originally hailed from Tennessee but God clearly placed him with the Tarahumura Indians and he came and found a bright eyed young Tarahumare to marry and now he is sowing his oats evidenced by two rugged children. John has hewn out a life for himself in this jagged rock strewn territory but it was his sweet tooth what allowed me the chance to meet him in the first place. He had come to town, a full days walk with the children, to get his fill of Coke and cookies and run a few errands before strapping on the kids and hiking the eight hours back home! Every Sunday John leaves at dawn and walks to several villages to share what he has learned from the Bible as most of the people can not read and there are very few writings in the Tarahumura language. He returns before the sun makes its exit from the evening sky, on most nights, to enjoy his family. It is interesting experiencing the adventure of the teachers life when it has worn off for them but through our eyes still vivid, dangerous, and strangely alluring.

The days and nights since then have been filled with projects, chief among them for me is helping Dave complete the annual inspection on the super cub they use for the mission hospital. For Heidi, helping out at the hospital and hanger where ever needed has been her work de jouir. On the mundane side several of Heidi's hours were filled by plucking a pinch of cotton from a pile to make a cotton ball while listening to the fellow laborers talk, in Spanish, about all the goings on around the place. Heidi has also been asked to cut and paint and install trim in the guest bedroom and tend to the home made water filter that is being tested for use with the locals for personal use. We are stoked to feel needed and soaking up the experience, loving every minute of it!!

There exists no politician in India daring enough to attempt to explain to the masses that cows can be eaten.