Sunday, May 11, 2014

St. Mark Responds Quickly—The Rainy Season Is Here

Last week I wrote about St. Mark and the rainy season. Well, he didn't wait long to come through. Today is the sixth day in a row that it has rained here in La Montaña.
Driving back from San Pedro Viejo
That is great for the people who depend on their crops of corn and beans to stay alive all year. It’s not so great for people who have to drive the roads in the mountains. What were called “dirt roads” last week are now called “mud roads.” Add in fog and wind and cold (and dark, on occasion), and you have a not-so-nice driving experience at times.

Driving back from Yerba Santa
The bad thing about the mud is that most of the roads are quite inclined. So if you are going uphill, your tires are spinning—and if you can’t make it, it’s scary to have to back down in the mud; just like driving on ice, it’s easy to lose control of your vehicle if you touch the brakes. And driving downhill around a steep curve can be scary too.
Vehicles turning around rather than trying to go down a very steep section
And last week was just the week that Don Dagoberto, the bishop of the Diocese of Tlapa, asked me to take him to some of the farthest-away villages in the diocese. It was a two-day experience to go to and return from San Pedro Viejo (of the nasavi, also called mixteco, culture) and two days to go and return from Yerba Santa (of the mephaa, also called tlapaneco, culture). The impoverished indigenous peoples were thrilled that their pastor would go so far to be with them, but the visits did mean that I spent about ten hours a day driving (make that thirteen hours on Thursday).

People from Yerba Santa going to the entrance of the village to greet  Bishop Dagoberto
Don Dagoberto asked me to greet everyone associated with Mission Mexico and to thank you for your solidarity. He is a wonderful bishop, and the people here are thrilled that he is willing to spend so much time with them instead of just being in his office.

Bishop Dagoberto and Mike in Yerba Santa (he had more collars of flowers than me, but he removed them
to put on his Mass vestments—just in case you're wondering)
One thing about driving on mud roads is that if a vehicle gets stuck on the road ahead of you, you have no choice but to get out and try to assist the driver in moving on. So even today I still have a sore throat and bad cold from getting so cold and wet on several occasions this past week.
We had to push this truck at least ten times in different places
But that works both ways. I was coming around a turn on Thursday, and a truck was sliding down the road almost sideways. I had no choice but to pull over as close to the mountainside as I could. The truck didn’t hit me, but I ended up needing a push to get out of the ditch on that side of the road.
I guess I won't be able to claim a "never got stuck" rainy season this year
But at least I’m here to share this “adventure story” with you. The Nissan Frontier truck I drive is four-wheel-drive, and that helped immensely. I now know that the tires on it aren't really designed for mud; they’re like summer tires that aren't so good in the snow. I hate the thought of spending money on tires that have a better grip for mud (four tires will cost about 800 Canadian dollars), but I guess I have no choice if I want to do what I can to accompany the people in the villages during the next six or seven months. And if I want to keep myself and others in (and on the back of) the truck alive…
Some women at Mass in San Pedro Viejo
(the women tend to be on the right side of the church, the men on the left)
Thanks, everyone, for supporting Mission Mexico. Your support makes a difference here in many small ways and in many big ways. One small way is the French press coffee pot that I gave Father Juan Molina the other day. I will close with living proof that he received it. He too sends thanks to Mission Mexico. God bless all of you. Happy Mother’s Day to all moms.

Father Juan with his first cup of coffee from his new coffee pot—thank you, Mission Mexico

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