Pickups vs. Mules

A young boy with a backpack stands smiling on a dirt road, holding the reins of a white donkey loaded with a bundle of firewood. Behind them, a white van and a blue off-road vehicle are parked on the side of the road, with lush greenery in the background.
Around the World

Pickups vs. Mules

In America, pickup trucks are often considered luxury vehicles, and most who spend money buying a four-wheel drive vehicle do so for the fun of weekend jaunts on dirt fields and roads. However, I suspect most owners will never use the four-wheel drive function. The attraction is not in using it but in knowing you have it available (and showing it off to your friends). As Americans blessed with abundance, we have become people who “spend money we don’t have to buy things we don’t need to impress people we don’t know.”

But in developing countries, pickups are considered work vehicles, and you are blessed if you can afford to buy one; that’s why they are usually ten, fifteen, or twenty years old and still running – somehow. But most either must carry their loads in their arms or, if able, use their animal as a pickup.

This boy lives in a mountaintop village in Honduras named Majada Verde, where we have a church and feeding center. In the summer, we take our Visionary Trip groups there to meet the people, conduct a mini-VBS, or deliver food bags. As we were doing so, we would have to step aside for an occasional motorcycle to drive through or, in this case, a mule. This smiling boy walked through two of our vehicles carrying a load of firewood to take home so his mom could cook. 

If the family has no food, they typically express it by saying they “don’t have any firewood.” The meaning is that if there is no food to cook, firewood is unnecessary. So, though a family may have a pile of wood outside, if there is nothing to cook, they will say they have no firewood. It’s not a lie; it’s a metaphor.

You may notice this young boy has a smile on his face. He was happy to see us; he was happy because of the abundance of firewood he collected, but now, he could go on his way with a bag of food, enough to last for the next four or five days. Now, at least, he cannot say they have no firewood!


  • Jon Nelms

    The Rev. Jon Nelms is the founder of Final Frontiers. Called to missions at the age of eleven, he has been winning souls since he was twelve. Jon was a street preacher, pastor, church planter, and missionary before founding Final Frontiers in 1986 at the age of 30.

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