On October 15th, 2005, Sue and I set out for Comitan, Chiapas, Mexico, along with seven men and three young ladies from New Testament Fellowship Church in Alton, IL. Our mission was to help build a church for a congregation in the village of Bajucu, some twenty miles up the mountain from there, under the leadership of Pastor John Robles of Operation Latin America. The ten days we spent in Mexico were filled with sights, sounds and emotions. We worked hard, had fun, and were touched in many ways. There is no substitute for being there, but we shall attempt to bring you a taste of what went on.
We gather in front of our church in the cold, dark, silence of an early Saturday morning. It's as good a way as any to spend my 55th birthday.
Our airport waits begin amid the sounds of flight announcements.
The roar of the jet takes us to Dallas and on to Mexico City where we are soon swooping in for a landing over the brightly colored and tightly packed buildings of the world's largest city.
"Hurry up and wait" continues to be the theme after we miss our connection on Mexicana Airlines to Tuxtla.
It takes three taxis to take us and our luggage darting through the rush hour traffic of Mexico City to our hotel for the night.
We do some sleeping and wake up to taxis beeping.
We wait some more until the big orange bus shows up to take us away.
We load up once again and leave for Comitan.
We negotiate 360 hair raising curves on winding mountain roads in the next 50 miles.
We stop in San Cristabol to shop and recuperate.
At last we reach our home for the week at Hotel Posada Del Virrey in Comitan.
Now it's a short 45 minute drive each day in an over crowded van to the village of Bajucu - except when the van is late, or has a flat tire, or runs out of gas.
Building the Church
Monday we arrived at the building site. The locals had already built concrete columns. Our mission team immediately got to work. All around were the sounds of discussion and planning.
There was tons of dirt to be moved. Soon we heard the sounds of shovels being pressed into earth and the sound of hard clay plopping into wheelbarrows.
Workers of all ages helped shovel and move wheelbarrows full of dirt.
The village kids came by to see what's going on.
Meanwhile the sound of sawing began as the first beams were cut and lifted into place. We were thankful for the one available electrical outlet fed by the community electric meter.
Tuesday began with the sounds of hammering echoing through the mountains as the first roof trusses were built and lifted into place.
Delivery Truck dumps a load of gravel for concrete.
Delivery Horse brings more lumber.
On Wednesday the hammering continues as two by fours are added to the roof trusses.
Soon we hear the rattle of tin being handed to workers on the roof.
Thursday brings the sound of shovels in sand and rock, and voices of an unfamiliar language as the locals demonstrate their concrete mixing skills.
We each do what we can to help smooth the new floor. Sue says it's like frosting a cake.
By Saturday the church is finished and decorated, ready for the sounds of its first worship service.
Pastor Robles presents the new church to the pastor and his wife.
And the people come to worship...
As a wayward burro looks on from a cornfield nearby.
Sights, Sounds and Smells of the Country
Getting the cooking fires going on an early mountain morning in Bajucu.
The buzzing sounds of a produce delivery cart echo through the empty streets at 7:30 every morning in Comitan.
Neighborhood Tortilla Factory
Little cars with "Speakers Grande" blast through the streets each evening.
A Mariachi Band entertains us after dinner.
Internet Cafe - The World is only 5 pesos and a click away.
Every day is wash day.
Climbing the Mayan Pyramids at Tenam Puente
Our meal being prepared at our bus driver's family restaurant.
Rush Hour in Comitan
Rush hour in Bajucu
Yes, we still fix our TV's
Bargaining at the Market
Last breakfast south of the border and it's back to our favorite Mexican food at home