The only transmission mechanic specialist in the whole northern area of Guatemala was able to go find the parts needed to rebuild our transmission. After waiting a week for the repairs we were finally ready to move on to our next destination in Guatemala, an orphanage in a city a day’s drive south of us. After fifty miles our rebuilt transmission went out and only first gear continued working. We called the mechanic who refused to come down and help sort out why his work didn’t work. So with no other options we continued for hundreds of miles in first gear with our caravan of five vehicles and campers. We camped the first night on the way and continued our journey all the following day as well. That evening as we entered a small remote town on the way people gave us directions and we figured that by the map we would make it soon and not have to drive too much at night which we have been frequently warned against here in Guatemala. We soon found ourselves on a small bumpy dirt road climbing mountains. We hoped the roads would turn better but it only got continuously worse for hours into the night. Roads worse than any Africa jungle track we’ve experienced being visited by our two RV’s, SUVs’ pulling tent trailers, and a low riding Buick station wagon.
On the way up this first narrow steep rocky mountain passage one of the trailer tires popped and was wrecked twisted underneath and off the rim. There was no other spare, this was the spare, and the other one had already popped earlier that day. There was no way to turn around, there were not many options other than to pull it on its rim or leave it behind. Ben and I ran up to the vehicles waiting about ¾ miles ahead to get help and tools. Many crazed dogs jumped out from the bushes and chased us the whole way. We threw rocks, even a tire iron but it seemed there were not enough rocks. As we ran up this mountain with dogs barking and growling at our heals every time I turned my head back all we saw was dozens of glowing eyes right behind us from the glare of my head lamp. When we unhitched the other camper to have the Durango taxi us back because the dogs, Taylor and Victor had miraculously fixed the tire. They had found a rock to beat the rim back into shape and some string to tighten the broken tire to the rim and with a can of fix a flat and our small compressor had the trailer ready to go again. I wanted to turn back seeing how it was constantly getting worse and then one young man passing by said it was only forty minutes further to the next small town. . Many hours later we realized he was wrong.
We winded back and forth up and down steep mountain slopes. The road was often muddy and slippery on the edge of high steep cliffs. The drivers had to stay very alert especially because of many areas where the road had fallen off as a landslide over the cliff. Sometimes the danger was so high because of drop offs on both sides of the road that I even had all the passengers exit the motor home and walk and I drove solo because of high chance of vehicle plummeting over the edge. We noticed that the rear vehicles had stopped again and I got out walking back to them. Just then Gillian comes running up the mountain towards us shouting, “Come quick! The vehicle is falling off a cliff.” We ran down to find that the Suburban pulling a tent trailer was on the edge of a cliff stuck with the soft edge breaking away underneath. With all the manpower we could muster we tried to push the vehicle forward and back onto the road but the tires just spun sending the vehicle nearer to no return. We unhooked the trailer and were able to get the vehicle along back on the road and then with everyone working together we lifted the trailer and pushed it up a steep hill to where we could find traction and reconnect it. We were successful; How? I honestly don’t know.
It was in the middle of the night and we didn’t think we could endure anymore but locals warned us not to stay the night in those mountains because it was not safe. Everything was flying everywhere in the motor homes and people got injured just by falling objects and falling down. The bottoms of the vehicles were hitting the bumps so often with no way to avoid it, not being able to stop in the muddy holes. We completely wrecked our sewage tank unrepairably meaning no working toilet in our RV unless we find new sewage tanks for sale somewhere. We finally arrived in the middle of the night surprised that we had made it and found a rundown hotel full of roaches and mildew. As soon as we had made it down the last steep mountain and entered into this old town the brakes in our motor home and the station wagon over heated and stopped working. If that had happened a few minutes earlier we wouldn’t be here writing the story. But God allowed it to happen once we arrived in this town to show us that He had been with us the whole time protecting us. We slept okay regardless of the gunfire and horns blowing, and other strange noises. In the midst of all the dangerous and stressful circumstances, most all of our team had great attitudes and joy.
We are overjoyed to be missionaries and these last couple days reminded us of many similar experiences around the world that we have had while carrying this Gospel to the darkest places. It is all worth it from eternity’s perspective! We are now at the orphanage making it by mid-afternoon on our third day of travel. We have a transmission mechanic coming tomorrow to look at the Durango. Pray he is better than the last one. We hope to be heading over the border to El Salvador within the next couple days. Please keep all of our team in your prayers.
Written by The Gellatly's