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The Man on the Moon and the Man in the Hut

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The news outlets reminded me last week it was 47 years ago that astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first walked on the moon. Although just 13 years old at the time, I well remember the incident.

We lived in the city of Merida, but my dad’s ministry was diverse as it reached out to several villages across Yucatan. Just a year before, we had gone into the village of Tecoh for the first time for an evangelistic outreach. By 1969, property had been purchased, and facilities were in their early stage of development.

During the week of Neil Armstrong’s famous first steps on the moon, Dad asked me if I wanted to go to Tecoh with him where we would be ministering for a few days. I jumped at the opportunity. The lack of amenities made this seem like camping so it was all the more fun for a young teenager. I also enjoyed interacting with the Mayan speaking villagers. Their lifestyle was a throwback to another era which intrigued me.

The “Comision Federal de Electricidad” was just getting to some of these villages with electricity. While the main plaza in town had electricity, only some of the 8,000 villagers had this modern convenience.

The first inhabitants of Tecoh who acquired electricity for their homes would install a 60 watt light bulb, purchase a cheap electric iron, a blender, and a black and white tv set – all in that order. It was an amazing sight to behold – a hut with mud walls, dirt floors, thatch roof and a tv antenna sticking out through the thatch!

During those days there was no 24 hour broadcasting; TV stations would broadcast from 4 PM till 10 or 11 PM. Those villagers who were fortunate to live along the path of the first utility poles carrying electrical power, would travel to the metropolitan city of Merida and purchase small black and white tv sets from furniture stores. They would then charge their neighbors 20 centavos to watch their tv at night. This enabled them to pay for their “luxury item.”

At nightfall you could tell who had tv sets in the village as you could see its soft glow emitting from the open doorways of the huts and the group of 20-30 people who would crowd into those small huts to be entertained.

On the night that man first walked on the moon, I walked down the dirt road from the property we were developing and dutifully paid my 20 centavos to join a crowd watching the broadcast of the Apollo 11 astronauts and their historical feat.
I was elated to know that modern man had the ability to travel from earth to the moon, land there and leave footprints in the moon dust! Although I was living in Mexico, I was also proud of the fact that my native country, the USA, had accomplished this great feat! Later as I left the crowded hut and walked out into the night to catch a breath of fresh air, I noticed a Mayan man who also walked out, looked up at the moon and then proclaimed: “I don’t see anybody up there; I don’t believe it.” I laughed at that scene as I walked back to sleep that night in my hammock.

I found out sometime later that he was not the only man exhibiting unbelief. One of the astronauts on that first lunar landing would later write in his autobiography: “I went to the moon and did not see God.” The amazing thing was that he was looking at the celestial bodies that God created. I remembered the unbelief of an uneducated man who spoke Maya and lived in a mud hut and contrasted that with the unbelief of an educated, highly trained pilot and astronaut. The unbelief of one man would have eternal consequences.

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Forty seven years later I doubt that many people living in Tecoh remember that night. Tecoh later became the strategic location of my Dad’s ministry. Multiple church plants have been established in Tecoh and surrounding villages, a Bible Institute exists that trains people for ministry. More importantly, the gospel has been preached countless times in these last four decades, and many have had their lives eternally changed by the power of the Gospel, and their belief in God's Word. They may live in humble homes, but one day those believers will live in mansions!