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The road to Sehaquiba is a narrow gravel road that twists and turns through the mountains outside of Coban. It taxes your body with every jarring rut and pothole. Look out the window you will likely be looking out into ...a precarious drop. Auto traffic creates a fog of dust and exhaust. The road distorts time and distance. I can't even estimate how many miles it is on this road to Sehaquiba. It may be 10 miles or it may be two. All I know is that every morning and every evening we travel this road for nearly an hour. Our van moves at a crawl as we negotiate the single lane with on-coming traffic, motorcycles, families, assorted livestock and dogs. You never know what to expect what to find around the next switchback. Taking this journey to Sehaquiba for the last time, we come upon a processional of adults and children slowly making their way up the road.
They are observing Corpus Christi in preparation for Pentecostal Sunday. They are all dressed splendidly in white. At the front a man is carrying a cross and others are carrying beautiful bouquets of orchids. I point my camera to take a photo of this beautiful scene, but they have vanished into a soup of dust before I can take it. Such is the road to Sehaquiba.
We finally arrive in the community. Foolishly, I have sat in the back seat and my back has taking a beating from the ride. But the aching fades quickly as I hear the voices and laughter of the children flowing down from the school house that sets up high over the road. If I closed my eyes, I can easily imagine myself at the playground where my children go to school.
Since this is our last day in Sehaquiba there is a celebration planned for the afternoon. We will be installing our last two stoves in the morning. As we have the previous three days, our team gathers its toolkit and follows our guide from the community up yet another steep winding trail. With every step I scan the beauty that surrounds us. I will likely never have this view ever again. We install the last two stoves with little difficulty. Under the guidance of Medical Teams International, in three days our team - these people of Providence and these people of Sehaquiba - have become experts at installing stoves. After the blessing of the last stove, we collect our toolbox and head to the community's health center for a celebration. The children are out of school and are there with other community members to greet each team. When we first arrived three days earlier, we were strangers to each other. That no longer is the case. Names of people are called out from across the room only to be drowned out by the laughter and loud greetings of "Ma sa'a ch'ool?" (How is your soul?). My hand is grabbed by a small girl named Ingrid and she is gives me a picture she has drawn of herself with her name written on it. We sit down on the floor and she reaches into her school backpack and pulls out a notebook. She opens to a page where she has written the name of every member of our Providence group:MarkJaniceCindyAimeeJohnMelissaJoeKateCathyKitsyMitchShe points to my name, then to me and we laugh. I look around and all I see are smiles everywhere. I try to take it all in without becoming overwhelmed with emotion.Speeches are made and thanks are given from and to the people of Sehaquiba, but eventually we have to climb back into our vans and head back down the road that brought us to Sehaquiba.I can't help but to think of the road to Sehaquiba as a metaphor for our time there. The slow, but steady work to complete all forty stoves; the precariousness of the situation when a child in their community became seriously ill; not knowing what living conditions we expected to see around the corner when one of us stepped through the door of a home for the first time; and the emotional peaks and valleys we felt as we learned about the people we served. But mostly for me, it was seeing the beauty, dignity and love of each person we met in Sehaquiba despite the heavy and cruel fog of poverty that they are living in.
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