On this, my day off in Tierra Blanca, I can't help but think that it was an odd week on the road, walking & praying for unity. Nikki & I covered a massive 396km in 11days to make it this rest day & although nothing like the 'big' incidents of the past few months cropped up, it was certainly a very tough physical & mental stretch. We twice walked over 50km in a day this past week & with the hot Mexican sun bearing down on us it made for some 'gritting of the teeth' days. In a rather bizzare moment, we were caught in a passing storm early one monring & took shelter in a half-collapsed palmleaf-roofed bus stop outside a farm. Within a short space of time were were suddenly joined by a massive pig also looking to shleter from the rain. It wasn't fussed with our presence but took an instant smell-liking to our bag of food & proceeded to try & eat it's way through our bags, boots & walking poles! It just wouldn't stop & it was too big to just push away. Eventually I stopped trying to push it away & instead sratched it behind the ear. Well, the great lump of pork that it was pretty much collapsed on the spot. It closed it's eyes & let me scratch away. I couldn't help myself so I moved on to its shoulder's & gave it the best massage it'll ever get! I'm pretty sure it actually fell asleep. The life of a Mexican pig... On many occasions this past week we have been warned of the dangers along the roads here. People have been very graphic in their discriptions of assaults & other unpleasantries but to date, other than the usual heckling from passers by, the people have been beautiful. I ripped my walking shirt so replaced it with the local Mexican football team shirt. I met some young guys on the side of the road in a forest village & commented to one of the guys (who was wearing the same football shirt) that I should've bought the one he was wearing as it had a collar. I'd only gone another hundred metres down the road when that young guy, a complete stranger, ran up to me and took his shirt off, handing it over to me. He simply said, "It's yours", and ran back up the winding road, shirtless. So, I have two Chivas footy shirts now because a young bloke literally gave me the shirt off his back. On another occasion Nikki & I were passing by an Evangelical Church in a small rural outpost when the guy living next door, seeing that we were checking the church out, waved to us to come over to him. He & his family were members of the church & upon hearing what we were doing, insisted on us staying for lunch. I was more than happy to park myself at the dinner table & we ate & chatted for an hour & a half. We finished by gathering on the front verandah & praying for each other & for unity. By the way, everyone is invited to his daughter's wedding in November if you're passing through :-) And finally, to top off the hospitality, in the middle of nowhere & having walked more than our due distance for the day, I asked a farmer who had just stepped out of a paddock ahead of me if there was anywhere to stay nearby. He nodded & said, "Yes, my home. Come!" And so we did, to a three room bush hut in a small isolated village called Ninos Heroes (it's not even on my map). I got the wood plank bed & Nikki got the hammock next to the parrot & rooster. It was a meek living but the farmer, his wife & their two daughters were great hosts & giving in every sense of the word. Just don't ask Nikki about the long drop. Just don't. I reckon if you lit a match near it you'd wipe out half of Mexico. It was great though to see that despite the fear many of the locals had for our safety, it was counter-acted by acts of kindness & generosity. From here it is a long haul up into 3000m high Mexico City over 10days. It is day 218 of 572 (I feel a little like Kevin Costner in Dances with Wolves writing that...) but my resolve is stronger now than when I started that the Lord's heart is for unity. True unity. It's a long road ahead though. Please pray on & feel free to send my mum a birthday message at firstname.lastname@example.org!
God bless, Sam.
"You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day." Psalm 91:5
(ps: "...do not throw your pearls to pigs" Matt 7:6)