May 26, 2020

It is not the destination… it is the journey along the way… I am not sure that I came up with that or not. If not, I did not intend to borrow it without credit, if it is mine solely, you can borrow and give me credit or put an offering in the plate! (It felt like an original cool thought) It simply fits my mood and style this evening. Year seven of this journey presented a new challenge and destination for the group, Tierra Amarilla. (Yellow Earth)

This was the first outreach project for the Federation with hope of a sure and certain proliferation among the locals. On my sighting trip in 2015, we visited this region being welcomed by the children of the school to a resounding rendition of the Honduras national anthem! Not only were the children excited, but many of their parents waited outside of the school… no windows, only covered with wire screen; they could surely hear the conversation ensuing within the confines of the classroom. Patiently waiting to hear some good news… assistance was on the way. The teacher was well prepared during that meeting, his explosive charts and graphs exposition showed without a doubt that the remote community was growing and in need of a new kitchen to feed the children. The old kitchen/ bordega/ toolshed had run its course… she was a bit out of date to serve the needs of the community. Enter the group from Carolina de Norte! Primed, pumped though not as Muscle Tech in all of his synthetic protein knock offs.

“It is not the destination… it is the journey along the way”. ‘Journey’ it was to this quaint village carved out of the rugged mountain scape of Honduras. The primary road leading to the entrance of the community was your normal ‘washboard’ rumble strips along with the normal ruts and crevasses, though smoother than previous travels, such as Teo or Nueva Esperanza, but the challenge lies ahead in the death zone known by the adventures that trek the tail to the top of the world in a quest to concur Mt. Everest.

At the fork of the road deep in one of the lush crevasses… laid the road to the village of proliferation. The road was too steep and perilous for the autobus to venture down… 12 to 15% grade with difficult switch backs. The first day we ‘Hiked it” both up and down, something got to give on that adventure. (Mountain goats we are not, comfort and transportation we need). The Federation employees heard our mass distress and provided ample mode of transportation… 4 wheel drive Yota to the rescue and a bed full of happy gringos to hang it out on the ride… a way provided… for the rest of our journey. Thank you Maynor!

“Driven in
Driven to the edge
Driven out
On the thin end of the wedge
Driven off
By things I’ve never seen
Driven on
By the road to somewhere I’ve never been
Driven on

Driven in
On the thin end of the wedge
Driven out
Driven to the edge
It’s my turn to drive
But it’s my turn to drive”

Test for Echo, 1996, Peart

The project was spearheaded by a longtime Federation construction guru/translator and good friend Daniela, who thru his own admission confided to me that his time was limited. The stress of translating and hearing the needs of so many had begun to wear on him personally. He was excited about this journey and this community as well. I could tell he had spent a lot of time preparing for this project. Once the old tool shed was torn down, the new construction process could begin in earnest… true to his plan it did arise from the dust of desolate earth to a towering figure of pride… but there were pains along the way. A small child of the community was stung by one of the scorpions that traverse this region… pitiful wales of agony filled the mountainside that day… the first of many to come on this journey of faith, growth and humility.

Mook was mixed, Rebar bent, tied and thrust deeply into the ground. Blocks were laid and the walls began to arise from the earth of yellow tint. The ambition for this project was large, we were thankful to have some skilled help along the way. (Vieale, Daniela’s friend and partner in crime, later was cool hand Luke who simply made mooking look sexy) By mid-term I felt like we were beginning to ‘gel’ together and make some serious progress in the construction zone… enter the ‘Leatherman’.

Through the years of service to Honduras, the church from Wilkesboro has always worked diligently ‘behind the scenes’ to provide a small token of love and trust to the communities that we have served abroad. This year there was no less effort as they provided clothes made from pillow cases for the children in Terra Amarilla. Quanda was trying to release the beast of a zip tie with the said ‘offender’ and stabbed herself accidently…. a very scary moment for all of us. All of the team gathered and prayed as Hondo broke out the first aid kit to control the bloodletting… meanwhile, the team full well knowing that we were about one and a half hours away from any type of medical attention… struggled to grasp the reality of the situation. Her laceration was not on in the torso region, but near a critical juncture between her arm and hand that could have a devastating result if not attended to immediately. A truck was summoned to transport her for the needed medical attention. ‘Nothing else mattered’ at the moment, our hearts were on edge all day until she arrived back at the job site several hours later with a couple of stiches in tow, (been there done that… got the scars to prove it!) Thankful for a situation that could have gone sideways in a hurry… as it turned out we kept plugging along on this melody.

Our ‘Day Off’ on this trip was planned by B-Rad the former Blog Master… a journey to the coastal region near the border of Guatemala for a day of fun in the sun. After touring an historical stronghold and an historical lesson in the Spanish slave trade market that resulted in pillaging the land of Honduras for her gold to satisfy the wealth thirsty monarchy from the eastern side of the Atlantic. We spent a day along the beach head enjoying the best the Caribbean had to offer. The white sands of the beach… blistering hot and unbearable for the naked foot to stand upon. The waters of the Caribbean Sea were crystal clear even at a depth of 10 plus feet, warm, relaxing and refreshing as nature’s own hot tub. Our Driver for the day was ‘hired gun’ much like the Boris Said of NASCAR fame. The mirrored shades and the intensity to get us there with post haste methods were as smooth as an apex carving Moto GP rider along the infield of Indy. A joyful memory from the front seat.

A new week, new adventure and new challenges awaited us on the job site… Communications have always been a challenge on these adventures. For most it means an early morning conversation with loved ones or awaiting the evening communication via scraping, face time and emails… none the less all a challenge. I myself have always prepared for the ‘Worst Case Scenario’ the dreaded phone call from home saying something has gone amiss. On the hillside I received such a call of distress… as sketchy as the signal was, my daughter said, “Mom, is in the hospital and not doing good.” Am of the day for sure. Here I am in the Honduran bush serving and now this! I began to make plans for an emergency escape plan to be by her side, but as it is… it would take days to arrange an early departure. Would I have to reminisce and experience the Ghost Riders trails? I am thankful for a bunch of brothers and sisters who comforted me in my time of distress and inner turmoil (It will never be forgotten). Thankfully the Lord was watching over her, me and our children and she made a full recovery… (Been there done that… got the scars to prove it!) Why are we here? Why do you go? A question posed by people who have been consumed by the ‘easy life’ and myself without a better vernacular description or any more humble than I have to offer at the moment. “Because we are here.”

As I make the last reflection of our journey this year, I scraped across the Blog journals from years past for this young man’s name, alas I did not find it as I reread the story in the afore mentioned blog post. Maybe I did not record it for his own protection and ours? Again it is not the destination, but the journey. As best that I can remember his name was “Joel” pronounced ‘Joe-Well’. A young man who worked in whatever manor he could to support his young bride and family. They lived in a hut on the mountain side. Sticks thrown together and covered in a plastic tarp… The staircase to his abode was sketchy at best, and there he was… there we were. Every day that we worked on the new school kitchen, Joel was there. No English to speak of, but a willing servant (as he knew it). We visited his home on our last day in the community to say our good-byes. Senor Jefe was off to a new adventure and it was time to retire them o’ stinky boots. As the prolific athlete walks from one life to another or a musician turns the page in his journey they seem to leave a lasting mark upon the earth… as yellow as it is.

There you have it. Joel gave his life to Christ that day, Jefe walked home shoeless (well in the sense anyway). On a hillside far away… His blood shed for the masses. Yellow earth was turned to the color of red… a sign of redemption for the outcast and hope for the sinner…

Marco Francisco Valle Valle

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