I glanced at the clock on the dashboard and pressed the gas in our Nissan Frontier just a little harder. I was returning from a trip to the grocery store just before lunch time. Robbie and Claire were waiting, surely hungry by now.

To my dismay, I saw a long line of cars up ahead proceeding at a snail's pace up the steep hill to the cemetery on the side of the mountain. I was going to be seriously late.

On second thought...I had frequently been with Robbie when he whipped through some back roads in the colonias at the bottom of the hill. If I could do what he did and get ahead of the procession, I'd be home in no time! I hung a sharp left and bumped down the road, weaving my way home.

Roads in Honduras don't have names, so I had to rely on my view of the mountain to keep my bearings. At the same time, I was trying to pay close attention to the road itself, which was soggy from heavy rains. After a few minutes, I realized I had gone too far to the north and would have to correct my direction by cutting through a rough neighborhood. Not good.

I breathed a sigh of relief as I headed down the last street of the colonia and saw the steep road up the mountain up ahead. There was no sign of the procession; I had done it!

Just about that time, I felt my wheels slip. The rainy season had nearly destroyed this road, and the mud was affecting my steering. I corrected and recorrected, praying I wouldn't bump into any of the walls or fences lining the road.

I neared the final turn and saw that the road ended in a small U. Both ends connected to the next road. Why were there two? The one on the left was very muddy; the one on the right was grassy. Afraid to brake in the mud, I had to make a quick decision. Wanting out of the mire as quickly as possible, I opted for the grassy path. Bad move.

The entire front of the truck dropped into a huge ditch lying beneath the grass. My head hit the roof, and I knew...I was stuck.

I got out to inspect the damage. The grill guard was caught on the ridge of the drop off, and the entire front right tire was suspended in air. There was no way I could drive out of this one. I was going to have to call Robbie.

Back in the truck, I locked the door and grabbed the cell phone: "Robbie, can you come get me? I'm stuck at the bottom of the hill..." He was on his way before I could finish the sentence. He knew exactly what kind of neighborhood this was.

I double-checked the locks, got the cell phone out of sight, and began to pray. It wasn't too long before I was spotted.

El Chele staggered down the road and squinted at the truck leaning precariously into the ditch. “Just great,” I muttered. El Chele was a resistolero, a drug addict who got his highs from sniffing glue (a common addiction in many third-world countries). We’d been hassled by this guy before, and he was persistent. But Robbie had always been with me; this was much scarier. I sank a little lower in the seat, hoping the tint on the windows was dark enough.

It wasn’t. El Chele peered in and rapped on the glass.

“I’m fine! My husband’s coming down the road! He should be here any minute.” I tried to look confident, but my heart was beating out of my chest. El Chele continued to knock on my window. He wasn’t going anywhere.

“Lord, I need your help here!”

Just then, help came flying down the hill in a gold pick-up. Robbie and Nathan (our partner) had arrived! By now, a small crowd had gathered around the truck. Most of them didn’t look any better than El Chele, but that didn’t matter now. My knight in shining armor was here!

My scary experience brought to mind a Bible verse I'd often read:

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. -Psalm 46:1

I've taken quite a few "wrong turns" on my Christian walk. But when I cry out to my Heavenly Father, He's faithful to rescue me from the mess I've made. Today, I'm praising Him for being my Knight in Shining Armor. Is He yours?

Iguana...It's What's for Dinner!

Any missionary can tell you one of the questions we are asked most when we return to the United States is, "What's the strangest thing you've ever eaten?" I've eaten some pretty odd things (i.e. cow stomach soup), but iguana has to be at the top of my list! So here's a story in pictures! Enjoy!

The hunt begins!

Something's crawling around in that tree!

Can you spot our dinner?

Got one!

The mighty hunter returns!

They caught this one alive!

Cleaning the meat

You'll need vegetable oil, chicken bouillon, water, milk, onion, garlic, and lots and lots of fresh cilantro!

Admit it...this looks pretty good!

Who needs turkey??? Iguana--it's the other white meat.

Under Attack!

The yelps and barks from the side yard startled me, and the dish I'd been washing dropped into the sink. I peered out the window in time to see a Honduran woman on the other side of our chain link side fence stoop down, grab a rock, and hurl it at Roxy, our two year-old Rottweiler. Drying my hands on my apron, I flew out the side door and called out, "Stop throwing rocks! She can't hurt you!" The fact that our guard dog couldn't possibly leap over the seven-foot fence seemed to have escaped the woman, who continued to hurl rocks as fast as she could grab them. Roxy dodged the rocks and continued to bark furiously.

I grabbed Roxy by the collar and tried to no avail to drag her away from the fence. "Lady! Stop throwing rocks! She's not doing anything to you!" Now the rocks started coming in my direction!

Robbie had been collecting fruit from the cashew tree in the back yard. Hearing the commotion, he started walking toward the fence. He was surprised to see his apron-clad wife yelling at a small woman, chasing the dog in circles, and dodging rocks right and left. My attacker had not slowed in the least. As she continued to hurl rocks, the grimy dress she was wearing began to creep down to her waist. Robbie was almost doubled over laughing at the sight of me being pummeled by a half-naked, angry woman. He heard me yell, "Stop throwing rocks! And, good grief, pull your DRESS up!"

He helped me drag Roxy to the other side of the yard, and admonished me, "Chris, she's not all there, babe."

"What do you mean?" I looked a little more closely at my attacker. I felt my face grow hot as reality sank in. I had been yelling at a mentally challenged person. The poor woman had probably been frightened to death by our dog's barks and hadn't realized Roxy couldn't get to her. She obviously didn't understand what was going on at all. I had seen her as the aggressor and instantly made the situation worse by yelling. I ran to her to calm her down and apologize for my behavior.

Unfortunately, this isn't the only time I've been guilty of misjudging a person. Many times I focus on the rocks being hurled at me, failing to look beyond them at the hurt, the fear, the misunderstanding on the other side of the fence. I take things personally, I jump to conclusions, I preach my opinion. How many times have I stopped to ask questions? To try to see the situation from another's point of view? To show compassion?

I've got learn to shut my mouth and look past the rocks.

Much learning does not teach understanding. -Heraclitus

Out of our Element

"Daddy, what is THAT?" Robbie turned around to see a big-eyed little girl staring at the metal box that magically produced a stream of water.

"That's a water fountain," he replied, chuckling to himself.

"I'm thirsty!" she exclaimed, skipping over to the large box. She positioned herself in front of it, closed her eyes, and opened her mouth as wide as she could.

"Umm, Claire, you have to lean in like this, and push the button," Robbie instructed. She's a little behind the times...

Water fountains aren't the only magical treat Claire has encountered over the past couple of weeks. Our first trip to a mall on a Friday night proved just as fascinating. Robbie and I walked around feeling a little self-conscious. We were back! But did we look the part? I was in my own country, in a familiar place, but I didn't belong anymore. I felt like people were staring at us. "Do we look normal?" I whispered to Robbie.

He looked a little uncomfortable himself. "I think so...this is weird." We tried our best to nonchalantly browse the stores. I was careful not to gawk at price tags or stare at the weird sandal/boot shoes all the girls seemed to be wearing. Blend, blend! I told myself.

But four-year old Claire's eyes grew huge at the large bungee-rigged, bouncing contraption in the middle of the atrium. Then she almost yanked my arm off when we passed a large assortment of giant gumball machines. She found the smell of Cinnabon intoxicating. By the time we got to the food court, she couldn't contain herself any longer...

"I LOVE this place!" she shouted, twirling around with her hands thrown into the air.

Our faces flushed as the people at nearby tables stared our way. Robbie grabbed Claire's hand, muttering, "Way to blend."

We have been here a couple of weeks now, and I'm still not sure we are blending back into American society very well. Claire addresses anyone of another nationality (like our Chinese waitress or a Bahamian hotel steward) in Spanish. Elevators are thrilling rides. Toilet paper can now go into the potty. And Walmart, well, as she says, "I think this store has everything in the whole wide world!"

Life is anything but normal right now. We are traveling constantly and eating out
quite a bit. Robbie and I looked at each other in horror when Claire exclaimed, "In Honduras, you have to cook your food. But in the United States...they just bring it to you!"

So if you are out and about this week, and you see three weirdos oohing and aahing over a slushie machine or an all-you-can-eat buffet, just ignore us. Culture shock works both ways.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Five Year Anniversary Video

Team Honduras 2009 Year-in-Review Video

Team Honduras on Facebook

Team Honduras on Facebook