I woke up to my alarm at 4:45 am, jumped out of bed and got dressed. It didn’t take more then fifteen minutes to get out the door, because Leah had got my backpack ready the night before, and I got my papers and things in my briefcase as well.
As I walked out the front gate onto the street to catch a taxi to take me to the bus station, I prayed that this trip would be more successful than the last two had been. Catching a taxi is the easiest thing I have done in this part of the world, where we have spent the last three month. On my way I stopped at one of the two ATM machines on the east side to stock up on cash before I made the trip to Waspam, which has neither a bank or an ATM.
I got to the bus station at 5:10, and got into the old jalapadated school bus that was going to make the one hundred mile trek. There were still several good seats toward the front, where I claimed mine. As I sat there waiting for the time to leave I hoped that this time there wouldn’t be more people that wanted to go than there were seats. But that hope was soon dashed as the seats filled up, and then the isle. So I did what I’ve done on almost all my trips with the bus, I surrendered my seat to a woman didn’t have one. As much as I didn’t want to give up my seat, I did it gladly for this lady who had one eye missing and had a baby in her arms.
Finally at 6:15 we started moving, and I was on my way once again to get the papers signed for our property in Krinkrin. I prayed that God would give me the strength to endure another one of these treacherous rides on my feet. As we made our way out of Puerto Cabezas we stopped numerous times for people standing beside the road with their bags of stuff to take to Waspam or another village.
By the time we got out of town the isle of the bus was jam packed full, and I was pushed all the way to the back where it was much rougher than in the front. I made a conscious effort to stay cheerful and positive, because I’m convinced that being negative about my own discomfort does not represent Christ. But it was hard to not get frustrated with those teenage boys and young men who stayed in their seats even though there were many women standing in the isle, being tossed from one side to the other as the driver dashed from one side of the road to the other trying to miss as many pot holes as possible.
After being on the road for about thirty minutes we came to a bus that was going to a little town to the west and had stalled out, and didn’t have enough battery to start the engine again. So our driver stopped, and they took our battery back and helped them get their bus started. Even though I knew that this was the right thing to do, today was very important for me to get through on time, because I was meeting the people from Krinkrin at the judges office in Waspam before two o-clock when the office closes. The previous two times had failed, once because the judge got sick and had to go to the hospital, and once because my translator somehow didn’t make the appointment like I said.
So after having to pay for their boat fare again, and having made sure that the judge knew about the appointment, it just didn’t seem to be a good time for me to not be there on time. But it was completely out of my control, and I knew God had to notice too, so I stayed cheerful.
After about thirty minutes we were rocking and rolling again. Somewhere in the 2nd hour we came to another broke down bus, the Waspam bus going to Managua the day before. The people were all sprawled out on the side of the road, obviously having spent the night there. As we stopped I saw under their open hood that the engine belt was in shreds. It looked like they tried to use tree bark to make a belt, which obviously wasn’t successful. My mind immediately started to reason that since we didn’t have a spare belt, we were going the wrong way to give them a ride, and the fact that we were completely packed out already, there was no way we could help them, so we would just as well go on.
But the driver and a few guys got out and talked a little while before calling to a guy on top of our bus for a piece of rope. In the thirty minutes or so that followed, while they proceeded to make a belt out of that rope, it got a lot more uncomfortable inside our bus. Because they didn’t plan to stop very long, they didn’t allow the people off the bus, and with standing against each other with the sun beating down on the metal roof in a ninety some degree day, we were all dripping with sweat by the time we started moving again.
It felt good to have some air moving again, even though it was filled with dust from the road that hadn’t been rained down for about two weeks, since the rainy season is coming to an end. As the sweat dried, it caked the dust all over us, but it was ok, after all, we were moving in the right direction.
After we were all properly dusted, low and behold, we run into a tropical downpour. By the time the people next to the windows got them closed, they were wet. But they weren’t the only ones wet for very long. With all those people and all that moisture, with all the windows up, it didn’t take long for all of us to have trails of mud running down our face and arms. I guess the ones on top probably had their bath for the week.
We got to the cable bridge, where the bus stopped as usual and everyone was ordered off, because there was too much weight for the bridge. The whole thing shook and swayed as all one hundred of us walked across it. There were no rails so I could look down over the side and see the women and children from a nearby village wash their clothes in the nice clear water twenty five feet below.
After we had all crossed we stood and watched the bus come across too. The wooden planks creaked as the front wheels started across. I listened to the cables groan and squawk as the full weight of the bus got onto the bridge. I couldn’t help from wonder how long it will still be there as I looked at the rust on the cables and the frays where a few of the strands had already given up.
We all packed back into and onto the bus and continued on our way, with a bus that had no shocks and loaded down to the point where every bump we hit, the frame hit the axle, on a road that was filled with pot holes that ranged from normal size to all the way up to big enough to bury a small car.
The more my legs, feet and arms hurt from trying to stay upright, and the more time we lost, with stopping and helping someone else for the third time, the harder it was to not get frustrated. But as I thought about every incident, I knew that the driver had done the right thing, and the same thing that Jesus would have done, had He been in our situation. I felt ashamed, as I knew that I probably wouldn’t have done that, in my rush to go see after ministry things.
As much as I’ve been aware that much of ministry happens in every day life, I still found myself just like the Priest and the Levite in the Good Samaritan story that Jesus told. Without a doubt they had appointments to meet too.
I was reminded once again that the thing that frustrates us gringos the most about doing ministry in Latin America is their inability to show up on time, or look at time the way we do. Yet this is one of the things I like most about this culture, is the fact that they always have time to help each other, even if it means being a little late for the occasion.
After seven and a half hours we pulled into Waspam, and as I got off the bus I saw the guys from Krinkrin there waiting for me. We still had about fifteen minutes to get to the judges office before they closed. As it ended out, we got the paper signed and stamped and still had time to discuss our plans for the ministry we plan to do in Krinkrin. It was another good day gone by in the mission field of North East Nicaragua. Eli Lee 3, Dec. 2012