Jacob Weibe climbs the mountain

Through four decades of beginning new churches in central Mexico, Jacob Weibe has put up several “roof only” churches. Walls cost too much for most congregations. This summer the Huichol people, one of the poorest native groups, made and laid clay blocks for their first church on the side of a steep mountain. Jacob, 71, and others traveled there to assess how to finish the church with a metal roof.
After the trip, Jacob said, “I can not do what I used to do.” His wife Linda gave the following report of his trip of “steady plodding” – of placing one foot in front of the other to just keep moving.
It all began near midnight when two “old” men, Jacob and a Mennonite brother in Christ, boarded a bus to make the eight-hour trip to Tepic where others joined them. Together they endured an excruciating five-hour bump-your-head-every-couple-of-seconds
truck ride over uneven terrain. That ended with a hasty river crossing into a cartel-controlled territory.
The final leg of the journey was the clincher. They had to climb the mountain to the Huichol community. After two hours of walking, climbing, huffing and puffing up a steep ascent, the guides provided donkeys.
Donkeys are the ideal transport for managing the switchback, hairpin curves on those mountain trails. The problem for the rider occurs when the animal is too large to make the turn and needs to hop onto a small boulder with nothing but a drop-off on the other side of the small boulder. The donkey swivels and proceeds up the steep incline. Praise the Lord for sure-footed beasts of labor! They made it to the top.
A crowd of welcoming Huichol people met them and proudly showed off the church they had built with homemade bricks. The visiting welders had come to help plan the roof structure. Measurements were taken, materials discussed, and plans laid out for a future work crew.
Work done, the real party began. The spiritually hungry Huichols sat down and listened to four lengthy sermons about the God they would worship in the new church.
Finally, as dusk set in, the visitors headed down the mountain but without donkeys. Exhaustion set in as they crept along the winding path down. Jacob questioned whether his strength to make it down the mountain. The guide swept rocks off the trail for him
Every time they rested, Jacob protested the man’s extra work, “I’m fine. I can do it.” When the group reached the river, a cartel watchmen stopped them. Jacob was sweating profusely. He knew they saw two white guys in a crowd of Mexicans and native Indians. He happened to be carrying the funds for all the roofing material. Praise the Lord for the camouflage of darkness – or whatever hid them, the cartel guard let them pass.
The pedestrian caravan reached their overnight stop at 11:30 p.m. The lady of the house got out of bed and fried fish for her guests. Tents went up. Sleeping bags were pulled out. Quickly the weary travelers slept, only to be awakened at 4:30 a.m. to begin the grueling truck ride back to Tepic. The driver didn’t understand the fine points of brake usage on the steep descent.
When they saw the lights of Tepic, the travelers sighed in relief. Most were home. The two “older” men snagged a bus to Durango. Eleven hours later, they arrived home exhausted and yet so encouraged that they already are planning the itinerary for their return trip.
Linda closed asking for prayer for the Huichol men to find a way to get the steel and the aluminum roofing sheets up that steep trail. Some insist that if necessary they will carry the metal roofing up the mountain. These believers will not let the matter of a little five hour climb deter them from joining together under one roof to worship.