Thursday, February 26, 2009

This is a traditional Totonac home. Inside, I snuck some photos (not great ones). The couple was precious. You can see the man sitting in front of bagged and stored grain (corn), along the wall and under blankets. His wife is in her kitchen.

I awoke on the mountain at around 4:00am as a rooster began to crow. It sounded like he was sitting on the bed next to me. It was my first night in Cerro Grande, and came unexpectedly. We had gone to bed around 1:00am.

I drifted back to sleep, and was then awakened by pouring rain on the tin roof I slept beneath.

We had traveled nearly 20 hours from Nuevo Laredo, Mexico to our mountain top perch. We were under the same roof as the pastor of the local church and his family. The church had been started by my traveling companions, who I hoped were still asleep somewhere nearby.

The children woke near 6:00am and began to be...well, children. It was good to hear their clamor, but I fought to gain a few more moments of rest.

Light began to penetrate my room. I covered my head to erase it. My translator slept near me and seemed completely unaffected by all of this. I was jealous.

I rose a bit later and headed out of our curtained partition. I found Pastor Alba (my friend and traveling companion) and we sat down in and adjacent room. We each studied our Bibles.

We were pleasantly surprised when our hosts brought us coffee and some form of pastry. It was completely unexpected, but greatly appreciated!

As I studied, someone in a home nearby was playing native music. It was the first time I'd ever heard it, but it soothed my soul. I felt it was a mercy from the Lord.

I had no idea where I really was. Cerro Grande can't be found on any map. It's near Coyutla, but a small enough pueblo to be ignored by cartographers.

I stepped outside for a moment. That is a somewhat relative inference, as there is no clear separation between indoors and outdoors in most of their homes.

Awe...just awe!

We were atop one rise, but were surrounded by taller peaks. They were enshrouded in mist from the rainy morning. Lush green gave way to smoky grey tufts of ascending and descending clouds which seemed to be playing "hide and seek" with the mountain tops. It was a breathtaking sight!

Finally after all had arisen, we sat down to a second breakfast! We were being treated far too well.

After that, we met with the pastor for a time, and then decided to hike up the mountain to pray over some of the local people.

Each home down the road, sat either above or below the narrow street. This entire village was built on a steep mountainside, and one had to climb up or down to visit anyone in their home. Every home seemed to have accompanying land where vegetation had been cleared and corn was being grown.

I am from Indiana, a corn growing state. But there, they grown corn on flat land. Here, there was no such luxury. The corn was growing on steep banks.

We reached the place down the road where it was necessary to climb. We went off road and began to hike up a steep narrow trail. The scenes before me reminded me of movies I had seen from the Vietnam War. We had entered a jungle.

AS we climbed, we passed coffee bushes, vanilla trees, corn, and every fruit imaginable! These were all intermingled with plants I could not identify, which were native to the area, and competed for light, moisture and nutrients withe desired crops.

This didn't look like any farm in the US. There was no rhyme or reason to where the plants were growing...but they were present, and did belong to one of the families whose land we were passing through.

When we arrived at our destination (see photos above), we were greeted by a friendly elderly couple. They invited us into their home whose door had long since hung on working hinges.

A dirt floor hosted us. They produced chairs or a bench for each of us to sit on. I felt sure I was the first white man to breach their entryway.

They were precious, but had significant need. The husband had physical problems with his knees. One did not have to stretch to understand that on this unforgiving terrain. Still, he did not let it keep him down. He walked with struggle and probable pain, but his will superseded his ailment.

His wife was tiny. Her face had long been kissed by the sun, and had deep lined grooves that scurried from place to place. Every one would tell of a long journey, given the opportunity. Soft, supple leather did not glow as uniquely.

After our visit, we prayed over them. What a privilege! I am sure I received far more from the experience than they did.

As we began our descent, I need to tell you something. Most of us who speak even a bit of Spanglish, may be familiar with the word "lociento." It means "I am sorry," in English. In Spanish, it literally translates, "I feel it deeply."

We are carefully climbing down the only available path. Many places there are rock steps which have been purposely placed. They are covered with fallen leaves and all of them have been made unfriendly by the significant rainfall.

We choose each step with care. Two of the ladies with me, take turns hanging on to Pastor Alba, who is not a young man. He was very comfortable with this, and joked most of the way down.

At one point, Anabel, my dear friend and primary contact was in the path in front of me. Much of the way the path was single track (one person wide) and we had to take extra care. The jungle was dense and we never knew what might make a sudden visit.

We had just passed a spring. A pipe had been connected so one could drink from it. I was told it was potable, and I believe they wanted me to drink from it. I had done so in Africa, but here I had my water bottle with me, and reminded them that I was fine. Interestingly, none of them drank from it.

Just after this, Anabel suddenly dropped out of my line of sight. Now were hiking single file, descending steep terrain, but her sudden disappearance came with a loud thud and shrieks.

She had slipped down on the slick path, and landed on the edge of a flat rock and then bounced down two more that had been set as steps.

I was very concerned. She was fortunate that she had not gone cascading much farther down!

I pushed my way past her to come around to the front of her. She was crying and laughing, simultaneously.

"Oh Anabel, lociento mucho!" I said.

She quickly fired back, as she struggled to stand, "Lociento mas!"

Our friends began to roar with laughter as she struggled to stand. Tears raced down her face and pooled in her laugh lines. She found humor in her pain.

She had just responded to my "Anabel, I am very sorry," with her own, "I feel it more!"

Her countrymen found this hilarious. It had to be explained to me, amid their attempts to stay erect.

Anabel's expression reveals her pain and laughter just after the fall

It is so easy for things to get lost in translation. Too often we miss the main points because of our lack of true understanding. I learned things about the language in this moment that I will never forget!

This was true bonding time for the five of us. Though we had already covered many hours and miles, these were the moments that we truly came together and understood our purpose.

What a blessing to walk in simple obedience!



At 11:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very cool,
God Bless
Greenfield, Indiana

At 12:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the pictures and stories. They make your trip so real for us.
Love you

At 1:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

God Bless.


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