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5333 E. 6 Mile Rd. - White Cloud, MI - 49349 -

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Mexico Backpacking Trip

Oct 28. 
Linnea and I arrived at O'Hare this morning. Richard dropped us off at the the airport and drove our car back to Michigan. We are trying out Frontier air to see if we like it better than Spirit. Their flight prices were comparable. Their plane seems slightly more comfortable, but the baggage prices are outrageous. They charge more for a carry on than they do for a checked bag. We ended up checking our carry on baggage. We paid 120 for our baggage. Hopefully that payment was for the round trip. I think that I would prefer to fly with Spirit air next time. The other thing that got me a bit irritated was that when I bought the tickets I tried to reserve specific seats but wasn't able to and as a result Linnea and I didn't get to sit next to each other. I talked to a flight attendant and he said if you wanted to sit in a specific seat you had to take care of that online before the flight....obviously that wasn't an option. I'm trying not to let all of this get me down. We are on our way and didn't forget anything and have had safe travels so far, those are all blessings to be thankful. I am especially thankful that Linnea is even able to come with me at all.

I am praying that God gives me and the other leaders of the trip a vision on how to move forward. There are other villages in this valley that we could go to, but I am wondering if continuing to do these trips the way that we have been is the wise and most effective thing to do?

Are there ways that we could still be involved but that would enable and encourage the local church leaders to preach the gospel themselves? It will be interesting to see what the church looks like from Aquinabo and Guajaray from last February to now.

Oct. 29. 
It's been a long day! we have been on the road since 1am and finally arrived at the mission around 10:30pm. It was a fairly uneventful trip with a brief exception at the border. The border agent told Linnea that her enhanced driver's licence was not any good for crossing the border. That was news to us. Part of the reason that she got it was so that she could use it for going to Mexico. They Let her through but wouldn’t giver her a visa.  

Oct 30.  
We left the mission center in San Carlos early this morning. We arrived in Guajaray around 5:30 in the evening. The drive was fairly uneventful. As we drove further into the mountains it became more apparent that there has been quite a bit of rain recently. Everything was much greener and lush than we are used to seeing here. As we pulled into Guajaray the sun was just starting to set behind a mountain range to the west.

Initially we had planned to show the  film Faith Like Potatoes here this evening. Unfortunately due to unresolved tension within the church we were unable to show the film. Instead we attended the church service which consisted of two older men, a younger couple who left shortly after the service started and a blind man who arrived part way through. We learned from the pastor that at one time there was a healthy church here with a strong kids program. Now only about a dozen people are a part of the congregation and of those, not all are regular attenders of the services. There is a divide between the believers here and a man who is not from Guajari but who is associated with the organization that built their church building. There seems to be a spirit of control and of discord at work here. We pray for unity and peace. I am reminded that although it is easy to single out people who seem to stand in our way and to be frustrated with them, we are not fighting against flesh and against blood. Rather we fight a battle that is being won and lost on a spiritual battle field. If we are to win these battles, we must not rely on our own strength, but on the strength of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Power of the Holy Spirit and His Word.

Oct. 31 
Today we had planned to get up and to leave Guajaray by 9am. We got up and had breakfast with  Ramon and Clara. After breakfast Juan went and visited the governor who had asked that he stop by before we left. They talked about the division. The governor pointed out that he was not a spiritual brother of Juan's and pointed out that He and Juan did not fight like the brothers of the local church did. It was discouraging to hear him put it that way.

Our original plan was to go to Bavicora a village with 35 families and no believers. The locals told us that it was a longer hike than the hike from Guajaray to Aquinabo. This concerned me due to the physical condition of several members of the team, including Pastor Alfredo who had gone with us on our first hike. The day after returning he was involved in a rollover accident that should have killed him; although he is recovered enough to go on the hike with us again, he is still in considerable pain.

In light of the physical concerns and also in light of the issues going on in Guajaray, I felt like we needed to consider spending all of our time in Aquinabo and Guajaray. This would allow us to spend time doing more teaching as well as building relationships. Teaching is obviously something that is needed here. As soon as I mentioned it to Juan he said that his heart had been in the same place. We decided only to go to Aquinabo and then to return to Guajaray Thursday evening. This would give us two days to teach and do ministry in Aquinabo and two days to do ministry in Guajaray and two days to travel. We planned to provide and invite the entire village, believers and non believers to a meal in the village plaza our last evening there. Before leaving, we shared our plans with the governor who seemed content to hear of our change in plans and gave us two watermelons to take on the hike with us.

We got a later than normal start, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Because we started so late, we were traveling in the cooler part of the day, rather than during the heat of it. From the beginning the donkeys were losing their packs. That has been an issue in the past, but not as bad as it was this time. We had to stop about a dozen times throughout the hike in order to re-pack the donkeys. Just before it got dark two cowboys from Aquinabo showed up to help us. They said that it had rained quite a bit recently so we had to skip several of the river crossings which meant taking the longer trail around and over a steep ridge. By this point the sun had set.

About 8pm we had our first major river crossing. I was following the Cowboy from Aquinabo across the river. Linnea and I were riding double, with her in the saddle. About halfway across the river the mule in front of us freaked out and tried to turn around and go to back to the bank we were coming from. Our mule started to spook as well and went down. I was worried Linnea might get stuck under it and get tangled in ropes, but I was able to jump off and without my extra weight it was able to regain it's footing. I was able to get in front of it and lead it to the far shore.

At 9pm we had our second major river crossing. The first part was fairly shallow and we crossed onto a rocky island. On the far side of the island the river was much deeper and the current much faster. We unloaded the 2 pack donkeys out of concern that they would not make it with the packs, then drove them across. The donkeys struggled, even without the load. It took quite a while to ferry the luggage across on mules and the people on horses. The water was up to the saddle on the horses.  After crossing the river we realized that the donkeys were nowhere in site. Two of the cowboys went off to look for them while the rest of us star gazed. After about 30min they showed back up with the donkeys, saying that they had run all the way ahead to Aquinabo. In the end, we ended up shouldering all the luggage from the one donkey because we kept having problems with the pack saddle.

We finally made it to Aquinabo sometime around 11, set up tents, visited with Santiago and his family (the believers who we made contact with the first time we were here) and went to bed around 12:30. It was a long day, elongated mostly due to the pack saddle complications. It was a good day though and I quite enjoyed the unexpected adventure  that was added in.