12. CENTRAL AMERICA
The call of God to walk from Mexico to Colombia is an awesome call. I accepted it at Mt. Sinai in the Sinai Desert in the Mideast. Then comes carrying out of the call. One foot in front of the other.
In 1976 I began in Mexico City and walked south. Jim Hampton, the Hollywood actor, a great follower of Christ and friend of mine, came to spend the first week with me on the road.
Jim, Andrei our Mexican interpreter, and I were going up the high mountains south of Mexico City. We were passing a rancho with about 20 or 30 workers on a hillside. There was a barn and a ranch house. I saw a man staggering down the road toward us. When he got to us we could see that he had too much to drink. The men were drinking poque (the first juices from the cactus, when fermented, become poque. Then you can make mescal, and after that you can refine it and it becomes tequila). The man was so excited, standing there in his baggy clothes and big hat.
“What’s he saying,” I asked Andrei.
“He thinks you are Jesus carrying the cross.”
“Well, who does he think you are?” I asked.
“Oh, he thinks we are two of the disciples.” Andrei said.
“What does he want?” I asked a bit confused.
“He thinks you are Jesus and we are two disciples. He wants you to come up and drink poque and play cards.”
We spent the night in their barnyard and had a wonderful witness.
In Mexico, south of Oaxaca, I had one of’ the most fantastic times. I was staying with some missionaries from the Netherlands named Houcks. They were very nice to me, so kind. I spent the night with them and the next day I went into the market town to preach. There were 2,000 or 3,000 people in the market. Smelly meat was hanging up with flies all over it, vegetables and fruit everywhere; pots, pans, and household wares, just a real Mexican market. I carried the cross into the market and the people were as thick as the flies on the meat. I stood up on a table and began to preach with an interpreter. Masses of people were saved. After we had finished praying with the people and instructed them in living for Jesus, I stepped down. There was this little old lady dressed in black sitting there. She had a big pot boiling on a coal fire. What she was cooking looked something like stew. She looked up at me and asked, “Would you like something to eat?”
I could understand what she was saying in Spanish. I answered, “No, I’m not hungry.”
It was 11:00am and I was hot from the boiling sun. I wasn’t hungry at all, and looking at the pot I wasn’t hungry even if I had been hungry. She looked at me with her sad, hurt eyes, reached up her hands and asked, “Would you eat, I want to give you something.”
I looked at her. She was old, poor, and this was her life’s occupation. The Lord said in my heart, “Eat it and let her know you love her.”
I sat down on a log for a seat. People were pushing and shoving, just to be near me. I was dripping sweat in the hot sun. She dipped down and poured a bunch of this stuff in a bowl… it looked horrible. Houcks, the missionary, said, “Arthur, don’t eat that.”
But I said, “The Lord told me to sit down here and eat it.”
He said, “You’d better make sure the Lord said it. I’ve been a missionary here 17 years. You’ll have diarrhea and vomiting. We’re going to have a rally tonight. You can’t eat that stuff. Do you know what it is?”
I said, “Wait until I’ve finished before you tell me. See if you can find some water or something so I can wash it down.”
I started eating it. I couldn’t chew it. I just had to swallow it whole. It was like eating rubber and oil. The taste was nauseating. Everybody watched me as I ate. After eating, Houcks said to me, “That is minudo, the inside lining of a pig’s stomach.”
After a bit I left to carry the cross out of town. Houcks rode along on his motorcycle. When a crowd gathered, he would interpret as I preached. Later he went back into town. Soon he came up on his motorcycle and said, “Arthur, there is a restaurant here in town. It is the only decent place for the next 150 miles. They want to give you a meal for free. I know them. They flagged me down and said they had dinner ready and they want you to eat.”
“I’m not hungry,” I said. “And after eating that minudo I won’t be hungry for three days. I don’t want anything else to eat.”
“Okay,” he said. “I’ll go back and tell them.”
He went back and they had the dinner ready, so he decided to eat in my place. I didn’t see him again until that night. He was pale as a ghost. He said, “I hate you, Arthur Blessitt. You ate that minudo, you’re going strong. I ate the clean meal and I am about to die!”
Another time when a friend was walking with me we were very thirsty. A guy stopped in a battered old pickup and asked, “Would you like something?”
We talked with him, gave him a tract, and went through the scriptures and prayed with the man. He asked again, “Do you need anything?”
I said, “Do you have any agua?”(This means water in Spanish)
“Si!” he said, nodding his head.
He got in the truck, drove down the road about 100 yards, reached into the back of the truck, picked up an old can and went down to a hog pen, literally with the hogs. There was a trough there where the pigs drank. He scooped the water up into a big old rusty can and came running back toward us, just grinning from ear to ear. He was so happy, pure love from the man’s heart. My friend said, “Arthur, you’re not going to drink that!”
I said, “The Bible says to eat and drink whatever is set before you.” I couldn’t tell this guy that I’m too good to drink it. He would drink it if he got thirsty.
So, I took old can and said, “In the name of Jesus, kill ’em all,” drank it, handed it to my friend, who said, “Okay, I’m with you!” And we laughed.
Guatemala – What a glorious day! We’re hot, dirty and tired, but all along the Pan American Highway people gathered to see the cross and hear about Jesus. They would crowd around the cross and kiss it.
Two old ladies hitchhiked for 50 miles to see me and to have me bless them. They received Jesus and left rejoicing.
I am walking through sugar plantations. As I walked along the roadside when trucks or cars would pass, I would have to move into the thorny bushes and grass along the roadside. The grass would cut and sting and the thorns would prick me. What a mess to walk in. I could see a crowd waiting for me in the village ahead. Then a bee stung me, of all places, on my lip. I was in awful pain and my lip was swelling as I arrived and was met by the anxious crowd. I tried to speak in Spanish. My Spanish is so bad, especially with a swollen lip. But at least I can say Jesus.
Had freshwater shrimp for supper tonight. Just the best you can ever eat, praise the Lord!