Hello once again, this time from Matehuela, Mexico. Nikki & I are both in good health & continuing to walk & pray for unity. We have travelled far into northern Mexico & the scenery is constantly changing around us. Up until yesterday I thought that I wouldn't have a great deal to write about. The only thing of real note was an incredible thunder storm that swept across a plain & competely saturated us for the final 5km of that day. Oh, & the passing of the strawberry & cream highway stands from last week to the rattle snake & cactus stalls of this week. Bizzare. And yes, the 'rattlers' were for eating... I'll have a cactus thanks! Other than that it was a 'quiet' week of slogging it out from town to town & the daily chores that go with it. That is of course until yesterday. It began as normal; 4:30am alarm, 5am wake up holding alarm... & then hit the road under the cover of morning darkness. After only a kilometre or so Nikki & I rounded a small hill to be met by an amazing sight - car headlights stretching in a dead straight line all the way to the horizon. That was one very straight piece of road & it was home for the day. In fact, the other end of the road was some 60km away, so a car that appeared on the horizon with it's lights gleaming stayed in view for well over half an hour before flying past at 100hm/hr. Traffic was intense even for that time of day & so the darkness of the night was split in half by this pin-straight flickering fire light of car headlights. Nikki & I were scheduled to walk 42km for the day & back it up today with another 42km to Matehuela. However, after tipping 45km, we still hadn't found a place to stay & the locals were all indicating that we wouldn't until Matehuala itself. Nikki was struggling with leg soreness & so travelled on ahead by truck to secure accomodation at 'the first hotel'. I wasn't sure how much further I would walk, but eventually I would also need to find a lift or sleep on the side of the freeway with the living 'rattlers'. 50km came & went, then a sign marking the Tropic of Cancer & then sunset. Not sure of how far I would be walking I kept drinking more & more water to ensure a repeat of 2 weeks ago didn't eventuate. The night time walking was pleasant & once again I could see the stretch of car headlights, but this time from the other end of the road. Some of you may remember a certain day back in February when I walked 66km & came face to face with a Puma in the dead of night. That night pushed me on many levels & for only the second time in my life I once again visited kilometre 66. Although there were no Puma's about it felt strange to push on past that mark into 'new ground'. Praying & singing the whole time my body began to hurt less & less & after 73km I eventually pulled in to a service station to restock my food & water supplies, which had just run out. Nikki was carrying our money & I had only a $20 note in my backpack hip pocket, but it would be enough to feed me for the moment. Twice that evening I had been offered either water or food from people as I passed by & a packet of donated biscuits had ended up in the same hip pocket. On arriving at the petrol station I discovered that the note was no more! I must have pulled it out with the biscuit packet at some point & so it's probably still sitting alongside the freeway somewhere. Oh the agony! A shop full of food, a stomach with none & no money. To rub salt into the wound, I was busting to go to the toilet & in order to open the door I had to pay $2... I had $1. A moment of staring at the door in disbelief & I turned & continued walking, praying even more for the unity of all Christians & also for the faith of the Mexican people. It was another 7km to the hotel (or so a sign told me) so, with my body still working (apart from an angry stomach) I walked on through to kilometre 81 &, much to my delight, discovered that Nikki was there (fast asleep in bed) & I had a great little room waiting for me. It was now 2:30am. After having a substantial dinner I finally slinked into bed at 4am, 23hours after waking up. I'm very thankful for being able to finish of the final 3km into the city centre this afternoon & apart from muscle soreness, all is well. Only an hour ago I had $50 stolen from right under my nose so that ticked me off to no end but such are the obstacles in this 'race'. Tomorrow morning we head north for the final stretch to Monterrey city, which we are hoping to cove in 9 days or less. Please pray for unity (for truth & love) & I hope you have a beautiful week! God bless, Sam.
ps: A few times in prayer this week (and in particular in praying for unity with those I may not currently be 'united' with) I was reminded of something my mate Simon once said to me. It was a simple encouragement to always defend people behind their back. And, as Paul wrote;
"Remind the people to be subject to rulers & authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, & to show true humility toward all men." Titus 3:1-2