This blog is inspired by my recent trip to see my long time best friend, who is a missionary in Honduras. AJ Ford has been serving the underserved youth of Honduras in a variety of ways under the umbrella of Walk by Faith Missions, with a headquarters of northwest Honduras, for over half a decade. I am currently planning a team trip with a mission of missionary care, serving the underserved youth in a local hospital, and planning holiday services for the international church during Christmas. In order to better lead this team, I decided to take an exploratory trip to scout lodging, food, ministry, and exploration opportunities. This blog is about one of the exploration opportunities.
We went to the neighboring country of Guatemala to see a hot spring and a water fall. Unfortunately, our scheduled hot spring visit was on their Labor Day, so traffic was crazy on the way back. We got stuck in one town for 3hrs on the way back into Honduras. To ensure we wouldn’t get stuck at the boarder, we hurried back and went to the beach in Honduras instead of doing other adventurous things in Guatemala.
Ok, so that was one version of this story, but this blog is intended to remind us of the power of a story, our story, so, here is the full story, perhaps a more enjoyable story (only pertaining to the traffic, because obviously a story that included all of the day would take…hmm, about a day!):
We spent the night in Guatemala and drove 20 minutes west to get to the hot spring. The adventurous voices in my head were telling me I had to go exploring to get a better view of the water fall for my vlog (coming soon) before we headed back to the truck to head back to Honduras in time to eat dinner with some missionaries. On the way back to the truck, we saw two white people wearing blue shirts and water backpacks hiking to the water fall. We got in the truck and headed back to the east to go through a little town through which we came just about an hour or two before. We drove about half a mile and saw traffic was stopped about ten cars in front of us in the middle of this town. We rolled down the window and asked some guys sitting at a roadside stand when it would open. The police were present, so we figured it wouldn’t be too much longer. However, the guys, in some Spanish and some unknown indigenous Guatemalan language, were telling us it would be well into the afternoon, if at all today, that the road block would open. What was happening? The citizens were disgruntled with the mayor, so they were protesting. Weren’t the cops there? Yes, more on that in a bit.
Instead of waiting, stuck in traffic caused by a Guatemalan protest, in a truck with Honduran plates, filled with two white guys, we turned around to try to drive around the lake and come back into Honduras on the south side of the lake. Unfortunately, by the time we reached internet access 30 minutes later, it was telling us the next connecting road was not until Guatemala City, approximately 5 hours away. Then, we turned back around to try our hand at getting through this road block.
When we got back to the town, the bus previously partially blocking the road was now entirely blocking it, telling us we may have missed our window of opportunity. The side access street into the heart of the town was now covered with branches. A Red Cross van came through the traffic with its lights on trying to get through the block. As one of the medical professionals was awaiting a response, some guy climbs a tree, cuts down the life-giving branch, and blocks more of the road, telling us we may be here a while. This action was the guys in charge telling the medical professional that passing wasn’t going to happen, so the Red Cross van turned around, telling us even more that we may be here a while.
We then see a local farmer with a truck bed full of cattle move the block on the little side road, so we thought this may be our chance. After the guy closed the road block back, AJ asked the guy he could open it back up for us so we could get through because I was “muy infermo” and needed to get to the clinic in the next town. The local then began telling us the roads in the town were in such bad condition that you could not make it through the town, hints the reason for the protest. For another hour, AJ continues to tell locals the “muy infermo” story, trying to get us through before dark.
Finally, after being stuck for close to 2 hours, a guy opens up the side block and does not close it, so AJ uses this opportunity to take us into the heart of the city. So far, the roads are fine, making us question what the farmer was telling us, and then it happened; we turned right. We look at a hill that is telling us we may have made an ambitious and naive mistake. Will this 20 year old Ford driven by a 30 year old Ford be able to do the trick?
Then, the story kept going. At the top of this hill, we saw an even steeper decline and a more tumultuous incline on the other side of a deep trench. The houses were within two feet of the road (more like a trail) on each side. There were people working along the road. There were animals just sitting in the middle of this path, telling us people have not traveled this course in a long time.
The Ford checks the Ford to make sure it is in 4 wheel drive and starts going down the hill knowing that momentum will be the only thing that gets us up the mountain. The animals were slow to move, and the truck was quick to lose grip. One animal did not move and one back end of the vehicle did move, leaving a dead chicken and a broken tail light at the hand of a very close fence post. Gassing up the mountain, we made it to the top with children running out of the way. I’m not sure if it was the 20 year old or the 30 year old Ford, but either way, we may it to the other side of the town. With our adrenaline pumping, we turn the corner, knowing that we made it through and our operation bypass plan worked.
It did not.
On the other side of town, there was a box truck with bricks and logs surrounding it, telling us we may have made a mistake in crossing the trench and mountain. AJ gets out of the truck to try to find out who is in charge. He didn’t get the answer he wanted, so he went to talk to the law enforcer, which brings up back to an earlier question, why was there still a road block when the cops were present? The cop was telling us, it was their human right to protest in the middle of the street, blocking traffic from getting to two large cities in Guatemala. AJ continued telling him that I was “muy infermo” and had to get to the clinic, so the cop then was telling AJ he would try to figure out something, and AJ came back to the truck.
While AJ and I were in the truck singing Cristo me Ama, the guy in charge added a barbed wire line to the barricade, telling us we may need to seek shelter in the truck. Thirty minutes later, the cop motioned AJ to come to him because he was going to be telling us something. The cop pointed out who was in charge, so AJ went to talk to him to see if he could get his friend, who was “muy infermo”, to the clinic. The guy looked at AJ and said that it wasn’t his problem. AJ asked, what if my friend dies. The guy in charge said, “Llama a Dios”, which means talk to God, or quite literally, “I don’t give a rip”.
AJ comes back to the truck, to tell me the story, and I asked, “We aren’t getting through are we?” AJ told me what the boss man said, so I suggested we talk to God. Why hadn’t a pastor and a missionary already thought of this three hours ago?
Less than twenty minutes later, a resident from the town came through the tiny gap in backed up trucks and began to unravel the barbed wire line. We are parked where he needs to go, so we have to move slightly. The box truck moved and so did the bricks and logs surrounding him, but he drove into the tiny gap, telling me that we are definitely stuck. But then, seconds later, the guy in the box truck reached out his window and motioned us to follow him. We got through the gap, they closed the gap back, and we headed to Honduras without another car on the road for over an hour (that was even after we stopped to take the pictures and a video in the middle of the road). Click here to see a short video seconds after we made it through.
This experience was telling me two things: 1. Stories are great, but living the experience is so much better, and I am glad that I have a place where I can visit, minister, and lead a team this December; 2. AJ was not crazy when he was telling me that he needs to raise a certain amount of money because he NEEDS a 4 wheel drive to be able to keep him and teams safe when situations such as this one and the other one he was in just a few days prior to our experience.
The world is telling us a lot of things…what is God telling us?