(Scarlet Macaw Flying By A Carribean Pine in La Mosquitia)
On Sunday, April 18, we came down the long road out of Rus Rus into Puerto Lempira. We had been staying overnight in the abandoned home of Tomas Manzanares and Alicia Lacuth for the last several days as we journeyed out each day to study wild Scarlet Macaws.
(Road out of Rus Rus - my feet showing my comfortable position riding in the pick up truck with the soldier)
Rus Rus is a small pueblo in the area known as La Mosquitia and has indigenous people, los Misquitos, who have their own language and their own culture. Their lands and way of life is severely threatened, as are their very lives. Tomas, as the leader of his community, tried to stop some “invaders” from taking over their land. These men waited in ambush for him one day in December, 2009 and he was shot 4 times.
(Tomas showing me the scars of his 4 bullet wounds)
Today he has mostly recovered and his biggest regret seems to be that his camera was broken during the shooting. Against advice, Tomas journeyed with us back to his town of Rus Rus, where most of the people had to flee for fear of their lives after the incident with Tomas. He told me, as did several of the Misquitos, that they are willing to risk their lives to keep their wondrous pine savannah and forests from further destruction, and to protect their Guara Rojas (Scarlet Macaws). But already the rivers are beginning to dry up and most macaw nests that we saw have evidence of chicks being poached.
Half way back to Puerto Lempira we stopped at the army base to return the soldiers we had hired to protect us while we researched macaws. There the commander of the base gathered his men and then I was invited to give a talk to the soliders. Before I began, a prayer was said, asking God to help the men listen to me so that we could all work together for the people and the parrots. With such honor and respect, offered to me, I thought that I could only return the same to them. I told them of how I had been moved by their people, the Misquitos, who had courage, strength, passion, and heart to love their land and to protect it. I told them of the power they had in their relationship with the land and with each other. I told them that it would take everything they’ve got to keep their land and Guaras from being “ desaparecidos” (disappeared). I then asked them how I could stand in solidarity with them and what they might say to the world. One solider stood up and told you, my one wild and precious world, to help them do what they must do to keep their land safe, and to keep it beautiful.
(Talking with the Soldiers at the Base)
Though I was not back in my home congregation on this Sunday morning, I got to preach and in turn, am being saved by the gathered. My deepest thanks to these Hondurans who are helping me savor and save the world.
(Field Research Group Showing Their "Fly Free" Macaw Wrist Bands)