After arriving back at the mission base, we had to wait for Pastor Tomas who was finishing up his church services. He pastors two different churches, and that among other delays prevented us from leaving until about 3:30 that afternoon. Two pickups completely filled from top to bottom with our supplies, plus a 15 passenger van made an interesting looking train. The huge amount of supplies caused us a bit of nervousness as we considered the inner border crossings where we could easily be searched. Much of what we had could have looked suspicious, and we were praying that nothing would be confiscated. Back-packs filled with disassembled chainsaws, boxes filled with spare parts, and huge rubber-maid totes filled with our food was all essential to our mission, and we could spare none of it. Amidst other vehicles being stopped and searched, we experienced miracle #4 as the border guards waved us all through with scarcely a glance! What a blessing! The same was repeated at a further border check, and we were praising the Lord for His provision!
Shortly after these crossings, we faced a new challenge as we picked up a trailer loaded with more building supplies. A 16-foot trailer with 14 feet of steel beam sticking out the back made for an extremely unstable load. We had a six hour drive ahead of us that day, but we knew it would take us significantly longer with our maximum speed being barely 40mph. Any more than that, and the trailer would start to dangerously weave and bounce. One of the guys got the brilliant idea to stop at one of the many piles of rocks alongside the road, and put a couple thousand pounds in the front of the trailer to balance the weight more evenly. As soon as this was decided though, all the rock piles we had been observing for some time suddenly disappeared. We drove for several miles in search of more, but all to no avail. We finally stopped in a small town, and decided to try placing our food totes in the front instead. Praise the Lord, it balanced it perfectly, and we continued on the rest of that day without incident!!
We arrived at the Taramuhara mission base about 10:30 that evening. High in the Sierra Madres, it was cold, and we were very grateful for the propane heaters provided for our rooms. Despite that, there was no water heating system, so anyone wanting to shower had to brave the frigid, icy water. Laura was one of these brave ones, and I was going to follow suit, but the water had either been shut off, or we had used it all by then! I was almost grateful!! It was so cold that by morning the water left on the bottom of the shower had small ice crystals in it!
The next morning we experienced a partial answer to prayer when it was told us that one of the mules had been found. Regardless of the dissapointment, we were not discouraged, and even found it in us to try to discover who it was that only had enough faith to pray for one!! :-) Spirits were high that morning as we loaded the mule and one horse they could spare into the trailer. We were off by 7:30 or so, and hoped to hike into the canyon yet that afternoon.
We experienced yet another driving miracle from the Lord in the winding, rural mountain roads of Mexico. I was riding in the van which was leading our train, and we passed a very slow moving pickup. The truck after us did the same, but pretty soon we realized that the third truck had not followed. Our walkie-talkies soon alerted us that the man in the slow truck was drunk and trying to run the third pickup off the road. If I remember correctly, a mountain slope was on one side, and a steep drop off on the other. Every time Sam would try to pass, this guy would get angry, throw beer bottles at them through his open window, and try to shove them toward the edge. Eventually Sam and his crew were able to get past, and once again we saw the protecting hand of the Lord!
About 6 hours later we reached Creel, the last town we would go through. I was under the assumption the whole time that Creel was very high, and it was just a few miles from there to the rim. I was correct, but didn't realize that the last 14 miles was on a steep logging road along the rim of the Copper Canyon and the adjoining mountain ranges. We unloaded at the bottom of this road, ate some lunch, dropped off the horse trailer, and then tied the horses to the back of the pickups. All three vehicles then proceeded to drive for three hours along a very treacherous trail. This was like no other road I've been on in my life. Most people in the states would only drive on such a thing with a four-wheeler, if even that much. It was unbelievably steep in places with ruts a foot deep, or rocks an equal height. Again we witnessed the protection of the Lord through that ride. The canyon rim had gotten snow a few days previously, and in one spot it hadn't melted. On a curvy, steep hill, it was extremely dangerous. Those of us in the back of the pickups were instructed to walk behind, and those in the van had to all climb in the back to give weight to the rear tires. It was packed snow and very slippery, with a 400 foot sheer drop off on one side. A very slow speed, much prayer, and the mercies of the Lord brought us through safely. It was by far probably the most hair raising 20 minutes in the whole trip! (In the picture, notice the vehicle at the top.)
Some of the children from surrounding villages on the rim.
Despite the danger, the ride was beautiful! About an hour into it, I got thoroughly sick of the van, and went to join a few others in the back of one of the pickups. With a cooler for my seat, sleeping bags and soft luggage around me, and the back of the cab to rest my head against, it was the closest thing to a lazy boy I had all week! Plus it made an excellent vantage point to take pictures! Mountains ranges as far as my eyes could see, rugged, yet extremely lush and beautiful. It was during the last two hours of of vehicle ride that I learned of the 70,000 Indians in the canyon - the majority of them completely unreached with the Gospel. In my next post, I'll give a little bit of the amazing background history of the Taramuhara's, and the conclusion of our first day in Copper Canyon! I anticipate sharing it with you!