Visiting the Montañez Family
In last week's post (CLICK HERE TO READ IT) we introduced you to the Montañez Family of L'Chaim Pura Vida. One of the families at 119 Ministries took some time to go and visit them recently. This week we wanted to let you know what it was like spending time with them through the eyes of one of the 119 wives.
We recently went to visit Jesus and Tammy Montañez at their home. Tammy did her best to prepare me for the road, the cold shower and the fact that they live in the middle of nowhere but until you experience it, you really have no idea.
The Montañezes live 5 hours southeast of us in an area called Valle de Estrellas (Valley of the Stars). As we got closer to where they lived, we got further away from city life. Living there means no quick runs to the store for a loaf of bread or a gallon of milk. In those parts, people grow their food, raise chickens, trade for other items and occasionally make the 45-minute trip to a small grocery store for staples such as flour, beans and rice. For anything more than the basics, it’s an hour and a half drive or bus ride (very few have their own vehicles) to the nearest city.
Before heading to their home, they took us to visit some lovely people in their area. We began at the home of Filiberto and his wife Selmira. This elderly couple had sold their house and moved to the city after family had convinced them it would be better for them. Filiberto ended up getting very ill and was in the hospital after only a few months. He said the city was killing him, so they came back. They still owned a small piece of land that had nothing on it and so with old lumber given to them from a demolished house, he built a lean to. He has been able to build a house up off the ground; now they have a front porch, living area and 2 bedrooms. In the back of the house, you go down 2 steps to the kitchen that is really just an outdoor cooking area. Selmira moved about her outdoor kitchen being a genuine and lovely hostess, preparing drinks and setting out crackers for us while we visited.
As I looked around, I couldn’t imagine life in this little house. The challenges it held from running water all the way from the river to their
outdoor sink to hauling water in a bucket to pour into the toilet (of their new bathroom that is still outside of the house) to flush it. As small and humble as this place was, I was inspired by this amazing couple that had built all they had, literally from the ground up. I could see Yahweh here; others may have seen poverty and lack but I saw provision and love. Even though this couple felt blessed by our visit, the truth is, we were the ones that were blessed that day. I was so touched by how much love they showed to us and how willing they were to give when they had so little.
From there we went to visit the Obandos. This is a beautiful family that welcomed us as though we had always been family. Benilda wrapped her arms around each of us with love and words of blessings and then prepared fresh sugar cane juice for us to enjoy as we sat on her front porch and watched the men press the sugar cane using a trapiche (press). Even Jesus and Jarred helped to get the job done. It was quite the experience!!
Not too long ago this family had an outhouse as many do, but it was quite a walk from the house and at night it could be dangerous. Eulogio was worried that his wife would get hurt going back and forth, especially at night, and so a need was made known by Jesus and Tammy; through a donation from 119 they were able to build them an indoor bathroom.
As we walked through their home, they made sure to show us this small, humble bathroom that is the nicest room in the house. They are so happy and grateful and we are so blessed to have been able to help. Yahweh is here too, in the hearts of this loving couple that now desire to follow his Torah.
After our visits, we continued up through the worst part of the road to where Jesus and Tammy live. The place is beautiful, and at first glance it makes you want to pack up everything you own and move. Everywhere you look is full of wonder, cute little houses, the chickens, ducks and turkeys running around the yard, sheep and cows in the pasture, bananas hanging on the porch and a garden blooming. It’s like stepping back in time to a more simple life. Of course what you don’t see is all the hard work this family has done to achieve this. They went from having nothing to having all of this; once again I can see Yahweh. He has provided everything.
During our stay we became very aware of the challenges that come with living here. Their electricity doesn’t always have enough power to run everything, and getting the power company up their road is a problem. So, they have to do everything themselves including hooking up and running their own power lines. Currently their power is a small cable that is propped up in the trees and hanging really low in some areas. The smaller cable means they cannot pull enough electricity for all of their needs. They plan to eventually get a thicker cable to run to the house but they first will have to put poles in to hold the line. In the meantime, they have to be aware of not running too many electrical appliances at once.
They have no hot water. When Tammy first told us this, I thought…it’s hot there, it won’t be that bad. I was SO wrong! The water is cold, no matter how hot it is, but they are such positive people. While I see cold showers, they see Yahweh’s provision because they have an indoor shower and don’t have to go down to the river to bathe anymore.
Their road is another huge challenge. During the rainy season they may not be able to get out for quite awhile. There have been times that they have gotten out but it rained before they could get home so they drive up to Benilda’s and park their car so one of them could walk up and get the horses to ride home.
During our visit, we spent Shabbat with Benilda and Eulogio. It had rained the evening before and so when we drove down the mountain, we experienced some fish tailing in the mud. You might think a little mud and a bit of fish tailing is nothing, but when the roads are very narrow and the drop offs are steep, fish tailing can be very dangerous. Thankfully the sun came out and the mud dried up before we headed back up to their house.
One of the things that really struck me is that this family gives away as much as they can to those in need. If Yahweh provides 3 roots of yuca, 2 are given away to feed the poor. When our Father commanded us to take care of the poor, the widows and the orphans, the Montañezes took that command seriously. They have dedicated their lives to putting Torah into action every single chance they get. Tammy makes homemade soaps to sell to earn money to help those in need and she sews wonderovens to give to the poor so that they can save money, gas/wood and time. In their area, lots of people still cook over a wood fire and during the rainy season this can be a challenge but with the wonderovens, people are able to meet those challenges a little easier.
All in all our time spent with this incredible family was eye opening and inspiring. In today’s world it is rare to find a family that truly lives by faith. They work to be the light and hand of YHWH in the lives of the people around them. We are blessed to call them family and we look forward to many more visits and adventures with them.
If you would like to know more about this incredible family and their ministry, visit their website at: http://lchaimpuravida.com.
If you wish to help support them with a monetary donation you may do so through our website at: http://119ministries.com/supporting-119 and indicate in the notes that it is for L'Chaim Pura Vida or the Montañez Family.