Thursday, December 15, 2011

Bring Your Own Machete Day!

{Our family on the KBI land}

Two churches sent men to help on Tuesday to start clearing the institute land. The village of Se' Tul (where the radio station is located) sent 8 men and the village where the school's director, Manuel, is from sent 7 men. Domingo, Jimmy and Elías joined also, each with their machetes (Jimmy also brought a bow saw...what a gringo...).
Since Manuel and his wife will be living there permanently we wanted him to choose which plot of land he wanted. The small rectangle next to the main road will be the row of classrooms, the large square will hold 4 students houses each and then each little square will hold a student house as well. The rest of the land will be used for farming projects. Manuel chose the bottom square on the right. That is where the men started clearing first.
{This is what it looked like at the beginning of the day.}

After paying for the meals and the bus trip for all of the men, the price ended being about the same as just hiring 18 men from the village to clear the land for us, but it was very important that these men come and volunteer their time. It is vital that the Kekchi churches here see this Bible Institute as theirs and not as belonging to the white guy. It is true that our supporters gave the money to purchase the land and to buy materials, but in every way that the Kekchi are able to participate, we need to give them that chance. Not only did we get more work done by volunteers committed to the vision, the churches that sent their men now have sweat capital invested in the Institute and will hopefully continue to take responsibility for the project. In 50 years, after we are gone, these churches will still be here and hopefully continuing on with the vision of training Kekchi pastors. The foundation for that vision started today with these men. By the end of the day they had cleared over 35,000 square feet of jungle where we will eventually have roads and the directors' house.
{Taking a break and sharpening machetes. Domingo is in the striped shirt. He is the president of the board of directors}
They chopped down trees with machetes. Not much caution was taken. Several times men would move at the last second just barely avoiding death by falling tree. The other men would laugh. It must be a cultural thing, but we though it was pretty scary.

{Progress by lunch time}

Jimmy arranged for a family in the village that neighbors the land to fix meals for the men. Beans and eggs for breakfast, chicken caldo for lunch and beans and rice for supper.
{Lunch time}

We didn't find out until later that the father of this family was the ringleader for a group of villagers who last month had decided to cross the fence line, cut down our trees, build houses and squat on the land until the government eventually gave it to them. Basically it was a plan to steal our land. In case you think this sounds unlikely to work, the village they live in now used to be part of the land before we bought it that they moved onto and stole. After that the previous owner put a fence around all of his property, but not until after they had stolen 25 acres from him. This is a common tactic among some of the Kekchi. It causes a lot of problems here and is just too much money most of the time to try and get them off once they inhabit it.
{Ladies preparing the food}

You read before that we fired the previous guard, well now we are looking for a new one. He is supposed to start today. Tuesday, Jimmy drove around the property again and found several areas people are still entering the property and stealing wood.
{Barbed wire tied together to be able to re-enter easily}

Not just branches for firewood, but huge 6 and 8 foot diameter trees they are cutting down. To haul it off, they have to cut our barbed wire fence and remove the fence posts to drive their trucks in.
{This was the second time within a 10 minute interval that Jimmy had to close this fence. It is really blatant}

Wednesday, Elías and Domingo were at the land with a chain saw cutting up the rest of the trees that had been felled and setting them aside for firewood. One of the villagers came by and told them to give him one of the stumps. Domingo said no, that they were going to be using it. He said, "Oh, you're not going to give it to me. Ok." Then he walked over, picked up the stump and took it home.

So yesterday Jimmy and Elías went to the police department in San Pancho to ask about driving by a few times a day, just as a deterrent to wood thieves. Here, to get the police to investigate something for you, you have to pay for their gasoline. If you have them do too much, eventually they will ask you to buy them new tires. I don't know for sure, but I would imagine if they shoot somebody for you you would also have to reimburse them for their bullets... but whatever. They were not too interested in helping us but said if we catch somebody in the act of stealing wood, to call them and they would try and get there in time (8 minutes from their police station).

Please pray that the new guard will be at least a deterrent. Soon there will be students living on the property along with lots of projects going on, therefore many more things to steal. This is a problem that has to be addressed before it gets even worse. We were hoping to start a work in this village right away, but they pretty much hate us right now since we are taking over their free wood farm. We were invited into the village on the other side of them and have already held an outreach that I will share about later.

The KBI land is full of all kinds of goodies. We are trying to preserve as many of the trees as possible.
The sap from this tree obviously has been harvested a few times already. It is called Copal (or Pom in Kekchi). It is worth about $2 a pound. It is used as incense for Mayan witchcraft ceremonies and by the Catholic church in place of frankincense.
As our family was walking through it the other day Jimmy was finding all kinds of air plants, vines and other goodies to replant on our forever house land. I love walking through and seeing all of the beautiful things that God made just growing wild.
There are even lots of monkeys on the land. That large black blob hanging on to the tree in the middle of this photo is one of them. There will be plenty of virgin jungle left for them to reside in.
Becca, the boys, and I all stopped by Tuesday to see the progress. It was a muddy mess, so we stopped at the hardware store for Becca to buy rain boots. I don't think there is a man in Petén that doesn't own a black pair of these. Becca bought white which is what all the dairy farmers wear. So we enjoyed giving her a hard time about that!

So here is the progress from the first land clearing day:




1 comment:

  1. Look at you color coordinating with your rain boots... :D Haha!

    I hope you find something that works to keep the villagers from stealing from you.


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