I took a little bit different tack to the final blog post for our mission trip this year… some what out of necessity and some what because I thought it best to reflect upon the trip from a distance. Like any good story, the conclusion should tie up any loose ends and bring some finality to the story’s completion. The last couple of days of our trip resulted in us getting back to the compound after dark… eating late and then spending time together in devotion and reflection. The weary workers then rush to take a shower bath being ever mindful that our fellow team mates felt as dirty and nasty as I did… after nearly 2 weeks of enduring the sweltering heat of a sub tropic country, our living quarters was beginning to the smell…  likened to the average high school locker room. Once the cleansing process was complete, most of the team and I included only felt the need to recline and rest in preparation for the next days fun filled activities that included… Mook! Hence I chose not to write because my dehydrated mind was unable to conjure up enough new ways to describe the mooking process.

The events of the last few days in country were are all considerable notabilia events. On Tuesday we removed the vertical forms from the walls, several team members began the process of bending the 1/4″ wire into triangles while others helped inserting more rebar on top of the concrete blocks and tying it all together in preparation for yet another building code fulfilling requirement and later in the day we would pour of mook to strengthen the building further. The construction process as a whole has slowed down to a snails pace because any time you go vertical on the death trap 3000… you tread lightly on the narrow boards and the local OSHA departments did not require the workers to wear fall protection. Once the re bar work was complete we again started to form the walls with lumber that was supplied by the local sawmill. Holes were drilled. wires inserted and tightened… as the day light began to give way to the eminent darkness of evening that had began to settle over the mountain side we began to wonder if we could complete our assigned tasked for the day… Again I reiterate that it just takes a long time to do the job correctly and working 8-9 feet in the air it is at best described and slow. None the less… thanks to an unrelenting foreman… Daniela barked orders at the locals and gringos as well and at the point of total darkness we completed the pour… A late arrival at the compound… again! A quick meal followed up with a shower… a short conversation with our families and it is bedtime.

Wednesday we arrived at the construction site in preparation to lay the final courses of blocks on the structure. A new block layer was brought in to assist us in the process. By mid morning the heat and fatigue had finally gotten to the best of yours truly, and I turned the tools of the trade over to Mater and Hunterzilla to finish the block work. I ventured off the work site to tour the community. After a couple mile hike I returned in time for lunch… Catching my second wind I jumped back on the death trap and helped to complete the blocks… but as in normal fashion for the last week of our trip we did not arrived back at the compound until the early hours of the evening…

Thursday was planned as a day of celebration. We traveled up to the community one last time not so much to work, but to be given a generous dose of gratitude by the school children, community leaders and parents of the children. Some did get involved in pouring the final mook lift before the roof construction began. After lunch we retired into the classroom and after many people gave thanks for all of our efforts, each team member received a diploma from the teacher. The time had come to do the most difficult part of our trip… saying our good byes to our new friends in this wonderful community. Gifts were exchanged, tools that some of the team members had brought on the trip was given to locals to help finish the project…

I had been planting some seeds with Senor Jefe Chris all week…  to retire his boots there on the mountain as often done by athletes… He has worn these boots on all of the mission trips that he has served on for the past 17 years… they are rough, nasty and I would venture to say they were stinky too! He is moving on to a new ministry in July, a new venture of the sharing of the Gospel. I don’t think that this will be the last time that we will serve together, but next time it will be in a different context.  Our good byes was emotional as usual, but this time is was taken to a new level. He chose to retire the boots… and his hat as well! He gave them to a young man who struggled financially to support his young family and yet he was part of the building process… My hope, my wish and prayer is that every time he puts those boots on, he remembers this group of crazy gringos that in some way helped this little mountain community.

We departed the community and headed back to the compound… no rest for the weary we put together bags of beans and rice for the Tejeras community… This is a squatter community that lives along side of the busy super highway… Half of the team went up one side of the road and the other half on the other. It is such a blessing to help out these folks. We come in the name of Jesus once a year and it is part of our mission to serve the poor citizens that live here. Often there is more than one family per house… and yet we come to share the love of Christ masqueraded as a bag of beans and rice.

After we delivered over 100 pounds of rice and beans we traveled to the nick nack hut to buy some gifts for our friends and family. We returned to the compound for our final meal… Part of our devotion for the evening was done in part to pay respect to our friend Chris… and I wanted to see some more tears from him… They are rare and have even been rumored to cure cancer… Each member shared a fond memory and time spent with him over the years. Some stories were more emotional than others but each story was just a brush stroke of the portrait… and a way to honor the froend and brother that I have been blessed to have know for 17 years. The final leg of this journey had us to pack our bags and prepare for the lengthy travel day that lay before us on Friday.

A week has passed since we have arrived back to our homes and family. The normalcy of life has began to settle back in for most… yards mowed, clothes washed, but the memories are still sharp and vivid… to which I never forget my experiences and the people I have grown to love… and love even more serving together. “Happy Trails To You… Until We Meet Again”

Marco Francisco Valle Valle

  • Our Gang

Senor Jefe – Chris Lakey

Senor Mater – Jerry Kilby

Hondo – Tom Schardt

B-RAD – Brad Tripplet

Hunterzilla – Hunter Combs

Qunda – Wanda Sapp

Que Pasa – Kay Haynes

Selfie – Madison Ashley

Body Pump – Tori Combs

Marco Francisco Valle Valle – Mark Reavill