May 21, 2020
Redemption… A multi-faceted word bringing hope out of despair, a mulligan in life and who of us does not need our share of it? Tracing our journeys back to the glorious days gone by, we are back in Honduras for another tour of duty. The plan for this year’s adventures leads to another new village for us, most of our travels are new in the early stages. We began a construction project at the home of a lady who by life’s cruel means had been literally kicked to the curb. She lived an Adobe brick home that had been constructed on some family owned land in La Montanita which translates to ‘Little Mountain’. Her story was deep in sorrow and pain, a widow with 2 small children in the house and barely enough food to survive. Their clothes well worn and even tattered and raggedy. No utilities in the house, water/electricity… when the call of nature hits… nature was where it all happened. Tragic… unfortunate… bad choices… there are endless adjectives to describe the plight of Rosa, but our goal was to invite her to travel down this road of redemption.
“They travel on the road to redemption
A highway out of yesterday, that tomorrow will bring
Like lovers and heroes, birds in the last days of spring
We’re only at home when we’re on the wing
On the wing
We are young
Wandering the face of the earth
Wondering what our dreams might be worth
Learning that we’re only immortal
For a limited time”
Roll the Bones, 1992, Peart
The members of this year’s team had changed dramatically from the past few years. The college students that had made up a large portion of those prior teams were now engrossed in Red Sector A, or better known as life and fledgling careers. The core had remained intact, Jefe, Mater, B-Rad, Marco, Que Pasa and Aaron, with the addition of Victoria, Tom and Hunter. Smaller, lighter and more compact team from previous years, that allowed us to be more flexible and diverse. Our task was to construct a bathroom/shower pila combo and remodel the 2-room house. As the blocks arose from the ground appearing like twin towers reaching upwards to the clouds…
Affectionately we began to refer to the structure as ‘Mooktovia’. Concrete Pillars built to the gods of mook… with a sacrificial basin attached.
The diversity of the team begins with our music selection and the artists that were present in the group. Tom and Victoria, both accomplished musicians/singers… entertained the group regularly each evening while we dined on the appetizing local pallet. B-Rad brought the entertainment to the job site…. daily… primarily consisting of eye bleeding artists from the dark metal scene know as… DOOM! His selections of primary choice was DOOM, with the occasional classic metal offerings of Sepultura for My lord aka Maynor. On this one particular occasion, as the heat of the day started to set in, B-Rad set up the Doombox to motivate us… I remember looking at him saying, “That is a little bit rich for this time of day.” Not complaining about his selection, but I explained that I had a monster headache… unlike the time when a verbal folly ensued between B-Rad and another team member over his musical taste buds… promptly he quipped, “No I don’t have any *thing else on my iPod!” O the memories of the iPod and its tragic fate… That will surly arise in a future post as well.
Playing pranks on one another is one of the best parts of these kind of trips. It is not like you can just go jump in your car and a head down to the local Wally World… remember we are in a dirt poor third world country with unsafe drinking water. We tend to find entertainment in a wide array of circumstances… it can be a simple sarcastic insult, or being the butt of the joke and still better to break a newbie in with a sinister prank. During the construction of the Bathroom at Rosa’s house, we also prepared a latrine pit for the ‘waste’ that would come from it. Hunter, a big, brawny young man, fresh from his high school graduation was ‘up’ to the task to get ‘down’ in the pit. We had already installed a 3” drain line from the house to the edge of the pit. While Hunter was still digging in the pit, we took some water that had been sitting around and was too hot to drink… added a pack of lemonade flavoring to make it look yellow… there you have it, the ‘gag is ready. I sneak over to the pipe that is protruding from the floor in the house and pour it down the drain… about 3 seconds of delay and you heard, “What the…” With one mighty leap, Hunter came out of the pit and said, “That better have not be what I think it is!” I let him off the hook because I did not want that ‘Combs’ side to get loose on me.
Another memory from this visit was when we built a bunk bed for the two small children. Until that point, they had only slept on the floor… did I mention that it was a dirt floor? Collectively the team took some money out of our till and bought the lumber and mattresses for the children’s bed. Que Pasa assisted me in building the bed. We had to assemble it inside the house because the doorway was too small to bring it thru. We attached all of the structural members with 3” wood screws to make it Carlos ‘proof’! A few hours later, the project was completed, and the fitted sheets were applied… beautiful and rewarding. As we sat around eating a sandwich for lunch, Que pasa commented to me that when she talked to her husband Billy that night, she was going to tell him that, “We were screwing on the bed all morning”! That coming from a late 60 years faithful disciple… I still smile when I think about it. That is the type of comradery our teams have every time we gather, we are not being disrespectful by any stretch of the imagination, we just like to have fun while we work or play.
Down the road to redemption we did travel with Rosa, hoping that thru it all we gave her some hope that the cruelty that life had presented to her thus far… Our story with her did not end at that moment, in fact we made several more visits to her home for more work, improvements and personal visits to check in on her and the family. Another great trip and greater memories had been made. Until the next time we gather in the virtual realm of the Federation Blogosphere Portal, good night, good luck, good hunting.
Marco Francisco Valle Valle