Sunday, July 17, 2011

July 17, 2011 Chapter 2 (Still Unedited Continued From Yesterday)

In my spare time, of which I have very little, I write.  There are days when I don't feel like writing and other days when the words flow into my mind with ease.  I am preparing this book about my adventures in Honduras where my grandchildren and great-grandchildren will know what I experienced as a missionary.  What you are reading is an unedited version.  I am sure it will change some as I think of other things which must be included.

Wall at the farm

Chapter Two

Daniel Palma Cerrato has been a nightmare of a neighbor, nefarious.  He is the kind of person everyone hopes they never meet, much less have to live with as a neighbor.  I have had the police arrest him and throw in jail two times, as of this date, once for stealing my ducks and the second time for continually turning off my water.   I am sure there will be more days in jail to come, because Daniel is unrepentant and hell bent on doing wrong. There is a higher power, in control,  that has more authority than Daniel Palma. [2] 

More orchids...
Does anyone know their name?

Currently, Daniel is so afraid of losing a day’s “mono de obra” [3], he no longer messes with me.  Each time he is placed in custody for twenty-four hours, he loses wages.  Through my insistence that what is mine, is mine, and not to be touched by him or stolen from me by his family, I have taught him a lesson that he cannot bully everyone.  I have managed to make it seem easier for him to be a gentleman to me, than to aggravate me and pilfer from me.  Daniel and his children continually terrorize all of my neighbors causing a carfuffle as they help themselves to what ever suits their fancy. 

Early on, Daniel and his children were stealing [5] my ducks, de-feathering them, stuffing them in a pot, cooking them and eating them without my permission.  It wasn’t long before some of the neighbors were reporting the thieves to Moncho and Luz.  Eventually I was to get a restraining order to preclude Daniel and his children from entering my farm.

Dona Vidalia and her calf

 A few months ago I saw Daniel’s curly headed teenage son and two friends robbing Doña [6] Rosa’s pulperia [7].   I went to the police, made a report and as a result the teens were put in jail for twenty four hours.  Some of the money stolen was recovered, but once again I was nose to nose with Daniel Palma in the police station.  I told the police in Daniel’s presence that he, Daniel was to blame for teaching the children their depravity.  Daniel responded by saying that I needed to return to the United States and that I had no rights in Honduras.  I laughed as I informed him that the Honduran laws clearly stated that I do have rights, very similar to his native born rights, the major difference being that I can not vote.  I suggested to him that he might want to read Honduran laws before he showed his ignorance by saying things that were not true.  I continued on in front of the police with a small sermon regarding Biblical values and they made sure that he was attentive and not speaking while I was speaking.  Little did I know that my sermonette was an answer to prayer.

Orchids at the farm
Does anyone know their name?

Daniel is uneducated he can neither read nor write.  Honduras has a literacy rate of 76% but Daniel was as rebellious as a small child as he is now and did not want to attend school.  Literacy alone is not a problem, I know many people that are unable to read or write, but have strong moral character.  Papi, Monco’s father, is a prime example.  Daniel, however is a man who exudes debauchery in everything he does.   He lies, he cheats, he steals but worse than this, he intimidates people.  Good people, honest people acquiesce to his ideas, in order not to be presumed to be his enemy.  Daniel’s presence terrifies people; he uses fear, bullying and verbal abuse to maintain a position of supremacy.  The good people in the aldea [9] below my farm have “voted” him in as an axuilar [10] for El Socoro.  When I asked some of the residents of El Socoro why Daniel had been voted to be the axuilar, the people responded that they are fearful to take a stand against this evil man.  They are afraid with good reason.  He is mean.

Outside my house at the farm

When I first met Daniel I was stunned, no not stunned, but utterly shocked at his voice.  He has absolutely, the lowest bass voice I have ever heard in my entire life!  I have never heard him sing, but his talking voice is so low, it is astonishing.  He walked into my life one day in 1994 or 1995 as I was having a free medical clinic at my farm for the poor people.  He arrived with his horde of childrenAK-47 assault weapon in hand, his taciturn wife dutifully trailing fifteen feet behind, and he fully expected to cut in front of the line of people who had been patiently waiting their turn for hours to see the gringo, “Doctor Ed Jelonek” who had come to help them.  

Geese and Chickens

At this first time meeting with Daniel, my initial nose to nose confrontation with him, I had no way of envisioning the trouble that he would cause me, the patience that I would glean from my encounters with him, the fear that people had for him, or the way that God would use my willingness to forgive him as a real testimony to the people that lived around my farm.  I had no clue that this man and his deliberate attempts to steal and run me off my land and out of Honduras were just a small taste of what was to happen in the future.  How could I possibly know that yet another man under satanic afflatus would soon begin stalking me in an attempt to kidnap me for ransom? 

How could I possibly know that Daniel Palma and several others with similar modus operandi were part of a far larger picture?  These people, Daniel Palma, attorney Jose Roberto E. A., police officer S. A. R. F., the gang from Los Povos, F. I. M. C., J. I. C. S., police officer J. S. J. O. and many others too numerous to name and some with unknown names, were all in the right place at the right time, each with a devilish mission.  Each mission was carefully designed to give me a hard time and to cause me to flee Honduras, flee my calling and my mission in life, tail tucked between my legs, like a beat up old dog.  The goal of each was to steal something from me, get me out of Honduras and to keep me from completing what I was born to do.  

The fountain behind my house decorated for a wedding

The way that I confronted each situation, the method with which I evaluated each problem, the approach I used to resolve each issue, were all preparation for the future. Ultimately these very same enemies were catalysts that caused me to develop and mature in my understanding and in my way of dealing with people. [14]   Each enemy taught me something about the Honduran government system and each taught me invaluable lessons regarding Honduran culture and human beings in general.  Each of my encounters with these ill-mannered, contentious, covetous, power hungry, misdirected men guided me to a place of peace [15], into the arms of my loving father and this same peace, in greater proportions, has caused me to remain happy and content in a place were I am hunted and stalked.  I have learned not to fret about the wicked [16] or to run from the call of God that I have on my life. [17]

The road to the farm

Valley of the Angeles is a blend of the new and the old; contemporary and antique; hand carved figures of Madonna in every size, shape and color and Harley Davidson logos hand carved into mahogany trunks (copyright laws are not particularly respected in Honduras); hand crafted objects made by traditional methods and plastic key chains made in China; Italian Pizza baked in a shiny new pizza oven and plato típica, consisting of Chorizo [18], fried plátano [19], rice, beans, tortillas, mantiquilla [20] and pan fried steak cooked over a wood fire in a hand made iron pan; tourists dressed in shorts, tank tops and Tevas; some locals dressed in modest skirts and puffy sleeved blouses.  This small town is a place of contrast.  Every morning the men come down from the mountains with their mules piled high with firewood chopped by hand and parade by the Internet Café to the local restaurants, where meals are fixed over wood fueled fires.  The cobblestone streets are narrow, the Catholic Church antique and the local people reservedly friendly.

When I first encountered what was to become my farm, I was out on a Sunday afternoon ride with my friends Tyanne Jurka and Catherine Garza McCardel.  We had taken an afternoon to go to Valle de Angeles and were wandering around the countryside, driving on dreadfully deeply rutted mud/clay roads recently washed out from the forceful Honduran spring rains.  After some quality “shop-til-you drop” time in Valle de Angeles, the handicraft packed tourist trap of Honduras, we decided to drive up the mountain and see what was on top.  I don’t think Tyanne, a former Pennsylvania girl, who continues to live in Honduras and at that time had already lived in Honduras for over ten years, ever had been to the top of the mountain.  We headed out, the oversized van creaking and the running boards scrapping as we crossed the washed out, pothole after pothole, road. At times we drove on the wrong side of the road as we searched for the smoothest places winding up the steep mountain towards the top. The van wildly moved from side to side, as we held on to the grab bars on the ceiling.  It was hard to believe that we were barely crawling, yet the van jerked so wildly.  Twenty minutes later we arrived at the top. We took a right onto a small, smoother, dirt lane and then we saw it. The view!

It was breathtaking! It was incredible!  It was pulchritudinous!  It was a totally clear afternoon and we could see for miles and miles.  The Valle de Cantaranas [22] was below, the mountains in the distance, the cabbage fields and corn fields on the sides of the mountains closest to the left.  Each distinct crop looking like a different colored postage stamp, carefully pasted to the side of the pine tree covered mountain. A river snaked its way through the cane fields, fifteen miles below us in the valley.  Not that we were fifteen miles high in altitude, we were at five thousand two hundred feet, but the river was below us, in the valley and fifteen miles away from us.  I asked Tyanne to stop the car and we all stepped out into another world.

The air, the smell of the air, was so fresh and so crisp, so alive, so full of...  I savored the soft smell of pine trees as I took in deep breaths and suddenly the smell brought back old, very kind memories of my grandparent’s homestead farm in Buckner, Arkansas.  How long had it been since I had smelled pine trees?  Years, I think.  What a wonderful smell.  For a split second, I remembered grandpa Yancy.  I remembered the mornings that he would take me hunting when I was a small child.  Grandpa Wallace set traps and every morning he would go to check on the traps and see what was there.  I remembered the soft, slightly damp smell of pine needles, as our feet crossed over them, while we headed to check out the latest capture.  I remembered how when I was stung by a wasp one day as I was climbing over a split rail fence with him at my side.  I quickly remembered that he took already chewed tobacco out of his mouth and carefully placed the saliva filled glob of “chewin’ ta-back-er” on the sting.  I remembered the instant relief as the moist tobacco touched where I had been stung.  I remembered his love for me.  I remembered as he scooped me up in his arms and told me everything would be alright.  All of this I remembered in a split second.  The memory passed too quickly to define the exact length of time, but the recollection of that the precious thought lingers on in my mind, imprinted like it was yesterday.

Fruit trees ready to plant

The temperature between Valle de Angeles, were we had been shopping below, and the temperature on top of this lovely mountaintop where I was standing, were worlds apart.  In the late afternoon breeze, I almost needed a sweater, but the temperature didn’t matter.  I was in another world oblivious to everything but the exquisite view surrounding me.  Suddenly I was startled, from somewhere behind me came a man that looked like a harmless older gentleman, but carrying a machete [23].  I was talking to Tyanne and Catherine when he snuck up on me from behind.  At that moment, I met for the first time one of my future neighbors, the man that I was to latter find out was actually a pedophile.   

Catherine and Tyanne begin to speak with this man, paradoxically named Angel.  As Tyanne was translating the conversation, I found out that this harmless looking man with beautiful elongated eyelashes, had 48 children, none of whom lived with him.  He was pompously unmarried but in his forty five years had been through a series of common-law and live in partners.  As Catherine and Tyanne talked to him, I stared, still mesmerized by the beauty of the view, half attentive and half in a dream land of my own, interjecting words only occasionally as I listened to Angel, extremely proud of his illegitimate contribution to the population explosion in Honduras, as he explained proudly his goal to reach fifty children and he shamelessly made inquiry of each of us to ascertain if we were married.

As we all walked along the dirt lane and talked, I fell in love.  I fell madly, passionately, undeniably in love, not with Angel, the proud pedophile and womanizer, but with the view, the peace, the aroma, the sound of silence and nature.  I felt as though I had arrived home, the place where I was meant to be.  When it came time to leave that afternoon, I began to softly cry.

I have traveled all over the world.  I have visited South Africa, the Philippines, Mexico, Ecuador, China, Nigeria, Brazil, and a myriad of western European and other countries.  I have spent months at a time in these countries, but none of them has affected me like Honduras.  It is as though I have found something I have always looked for, and yet I never knew I was looking for this special place.

More orchids at the farm
Does anyone know their name?

I do not believe in coincidences, and am quite confident everything happens for a purpose. [24]  At every fork in the road we have a chance to make a decision. [25]  These choices have the possibility of affecting the entire plan for our life.  I call these decisions, these happenstance meetings, which weave through our life, threads, the plan of God. 

I have many threads running through my life.  For instance; In 1979 I met a woman at a meeting whose name was Marty Phipps.  Marty introduced me to a man, Benny, who led a group that went to South Africa in 1981.  I tagged along.  While on the trip I met a man, John, who was a diamond cutter.  He eventually taught me the diamond business.  On that trip I also met a woman, Betty, who traveled to Ecuador.  Betty invited us to go with her.  Mike, my husband, and I invited and took David and Carol Beal with us on that trip.  In 1982 we all went to Ecuador and in 1983, and 1984 I went to Ecuador alone. 

After returning from my first trip to Ecuador, still interested in travel, a friend whom I had not seen for years heard that I had just returned from Ecuador and asked me to speak to a group of people.  I joined that group.  It was in that group that I met Minan Kluff, a neurosurgeon’s wife.  Minan had a wonderful love for the Lord it.  It was not until 2002, twenty years later, that I would see why the Lord had put us together.  God had a plan, but I didn’t have a clue what He had planned.

The clouds rolling in!

Returning to the USA, I went to Tulsa to meet with a friend of a friend, who introduced me to a missionary from England to Brazil.  The missionary from Brazil, Bernard, had an adopted son who is in the emerald mining business and Bernard introduced me to Eduardo, his adopted son.   Eduardo and I began working the emerald and colored stone business together.

Soon I was introduced to a man who lived in the Philippines, Mike Keyes, he asked me to go to visit him in the Philippines and in 1985, 1986, 1987, and I went.  While there I was in a rural and dangerous area called Southern Mindanao. There I met a man called Col. Ramberto B. Saavadra.  Little did I know that the great plan in place for the life of Col. Saavadra who I affectionately called “Dadong”.

A crusade in 1987 in the Philippines, my interpreter and 
the blue dress arm to the right is me

Not long after that I met a man from Nigeria, West Africa. I went to Nigeria four times over the following three years, 1989-1991.  Moses Umoh is a big man, no a huge man, with huge jaws and striking features.  Moses soon became a regular visitor in our home in Kansas. 

While in Brazil, in 1991, visiting Eduardo; I saw a sixteen year old, young man, with and un-repaired cleft lip and palate.  I made a decision to help him.  I pulled together a plastic surgery team to go to Brazil to help this young man, but the team was refused permission to operate.  The Brazilian government basically said; send money and we will perform the surgery.  With a team that was energized to go and no place to go, I called a friend “Dr. Tomas” who I met in this same group a few years earlier.  I asked for his advice and without hesitation he suggested that we go to Honduras with the plastic surgery team. It was also his idea that the team work with Peter and Tyanne Jurka in Honduras.   

There I was, sitting on top of a mountain in Honduras with Tyanne, softly crying.  I was crying because I was in love, in love with an ambiance.  Tears were rolling down my cheeks, for no apparent reason.

I had to acquire this astonishing location.  I longed to know that it would always stay this beautiful.  I made a snap decision, after feeling the tugging of the Holy Spirit and hearing the voice of God speak deep within me, that I would procure that land, that small piece of heaven on earth, and I promptly began bargaining with the owner.  For two and a half years I negotiated for that land.  The owner, Don Marco Tulio was unenthusiastic about selling.  Ultimately he gave in and sold to me, I think, not because he wanted to sell, but because he tired of my attorney’s and my continuous, incessant telephone calls.  

[2] Isaiah 3:10  Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well with him: for they shall eat the fruit of
  their doings. 11 Woe unto the wicked! it shall be ill with him: for the reward of his hands shall be
  given him.

[3] Wages for hand work

[5] Exodus 20:15  Thou shalt not steal.

<6> Doña: this is a title like Mrs. in Spanish, a proper, respectful way to speak to a lady

[7] pulperia: (Colloquial) Spanish, a small neighborhood store

[9] aldea: would be considered a group of homes like a subdivision, is located in a suburb, which is located close to a city.

[10] Axuilar: an axuilar is a person who is like a block captain or a representative for an area

[11] AK-47 -: The AK-47 rifle, is known as the rifle used by peasant armies due to its durability in harsh war conditions.  An automatic AK-47 can fire as many as 600 bullets rapidly with one squeeze of the trigger. An AK-47 bullet travels about 2,400 feet per second. The killing range of an AK-47 is 1,500 meters.  It weighs 9.5 pounds with an empty magazine and 10.75 pounds with a loaded magazine. These guns are all over Honduras as a result of the war with Nicaragua. 

[14] What Satan has meant for evil God will use for good.

[15] John 14:26   But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my 
    name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I 
    have said unto you. 27   Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world 
    giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
[16] Proverbs 24:19  Fret not thyself because of evil men, neither be thou envious at the 
   wicked: 20   For there shall be no reward to the evil man; the candle of the wicked shall 
   be put out.
[17] Joshua 1:9 Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, 
   neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.
[18] (Colloquial) Pork sausage
[19] a type of banana
[20] (Colloquial) sweet sour cream
[22] Valley of the Singing Frogs
[23] Machete – a long bladed, long handled knife used in Honduras and other countries
[24] The steps of a righteous man are ordered by God
[25] there are always chances to make right and wrong decisions

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