Marji Laine: Faith~Driven Fiction

. . . Authentic and Intense

The Christmas Tree Treasure Hunt – Chapter 5, Part 1

7 Comments

The Christmas Tree Treasure Hunt

Grace takes delivery of a package and her life is turned upside down by nine sealed mystery envelopes from her late grandmother. Grammie’s instructions require Grace to take the journey of her lifetime, not only to far off places, but also into the deepest parts of her heart. As she follows the trail laid out for her and uncovers her family’s darkest secrets, Grace is forced to confront the loss and betrayal that has scarred her past and seek the greatest Christmas Treasure of all.

If you’ve missed any sections, though, be sure to use the links below to catch up!

Read Chapter One by Joan Campbell

Read Chapter Two by Ruth O’Neil

Read Chapter Three by J.A. Marx

Read Chapter Four by Deanna Klingel

A Novella by the authors of Write Integrity Press and guest writer, Marji LaineChapter Five Part One

By Marji Laine

I leaned toward the window, peering past the plane’s wing and onto the teal expanse below. The monochrome of the ocean resonated with my core. How long had I felt so empty? Maybe this had been a dumb idea. After all, I couldn’t bring Grammie back.

Craving distraction and reassurance, I pulled out the note I’d found with my flight vouchers.

My dearest Gracie,

I’m so thankful you decided to go with me on this journey. Your next stop will be the Andorre Orphanage in Siguatepeque, Honduras. My good friend Adriana Sebastian will meet you. The prize you seek stands both distressed and nurtured between heaven and earth.

You loving and ever-present,

Grammie

Something about a suspension between heaven and earth sparked a memory, but for the life of me I couldn’t make the full connection.

A phone number at the bottom of the page put me through to the orphanage and a thickly-accented male voice on the other end promised a car at the airport. At least I think he said something along those lines.

The memory knotted my stomach. What if he misunderstood and nobody showed?

I forced my head back against the rest and closed my eyes, trying to slow my nervous heart rate and calm my breathing. Surely this large city had a taxi service to get me to the orphanage? And I could sleep almost anywhere for just one night. No problem. Nothing would keep me from finding my hidden treasure.

For an instant, I imagined Lauren sitting next to me and the giddiness we felt hunting as kids. The moment didn’t last. Instead it stirred up painful visions of her betrayal.

Maybe I should have thought twice about going on Grammie’s voyage.

~ ~ ~

After an introduction to the sweltering heat on a walk from the plane to customs, I collected my rolling suitcase out of a stack against the wall and headed for the exit. A tall, heavyset woman with lily-white skin and curly gray hair came directly toward me. “You must be Gracie. I’m Adriana.” She gave me a tight hug and led me to a run-down fifteen-passenger van with Spanish words across the side. “You’re exactly like the picture your grandmother sent. I would have known you anywhere.”

Good thing because I would never have picked out Adriana as a missionary to a Central American country.

Her speech held only a hint of accent, and she didn’t seem to need any encouragement to keep up the conversation. “I told the children you were coming and they are so thrilled. Anything and anyone new throws them into uproar, and this treasure hunt … well, they’ve gone right over the edge of excitement.” She chuckled and shifted lanes. At least they looked like lanes, though few cars actually used them.

“The kids don’t get to leave the village most of the time, far too dangerous you know. The murder capital of the world they call this country now. Not that the drug cartels would be interested in a busload of kids, but I don’t take the risk.”

The thought of being in the murder capital of the world caught my attention with a nausea that crept into my stomach. Good thing I didn’t have to test the I can sleep anywhere claim.

Adriana must have noticed my concern. “No worries. Everything we need, we can make ourselves or purchase in Agurramundo, the little village where we’re headed.”

“I thought your orphanage was in Sique … Sepet …”

“Cigar-tea-pick-eh. On the outskirts, and we avoid the city. Too easy to get lost.”

I felt lost already. A scooter veered in front of us, coming inches from being squished. I braced my hand on the van roof and Adriana honked the horn, but continued her chatter, almost oblivious to the unruly traffic and life-threatening near misses.

Earthquake Damage Leaving San Paulo Sula, she changed her topic to the surrounding land and distant mountains. Scars from the recent earthquake marked the landscape. Huge chunks were missing from the road and sections of small buildings were cracked or broken away. In one case, an entire bridge lay crumpled on the river bed.

My thoughts spiraled inwards. Broken. Missing pieces. I could empathize with this land.

Adriana caught me looking at the bridge. “Several cars fell when the bridge went down. I have one little boy who lost his entire family there. I still don’t know how he survived. Most of them didn’t.”

“That’s terrible.” And it hit too close to my own tragedy.

“Not so terrible. He found Andorre.”

I glanced back at the wreckage. Thankfully, I’d had family to fall back on. “How did you know Grammie?”

“Oh, now, that is a story, and an old one. Your grandparents had only been married a year when they came down here with a group from their church. They worked for over a week to put up the first building. It’s one of our classrooms now, but then it served as an office, meeting room, even a bedroom during the rainy season before we built the dormitories.”

“They helped you build it?” Had they ever told me about this place?

“From the very foundation. And they visited several times to help teach.”

I could imagine Grammie with the children much easier than I could envision her holding tools.

We turned onto a dirt road skirting the edge of a village and came upon a cluster of bleached white adobe buildings huddled against the rock edge of a mountain. “This is it.” My chauffeur pulled in front of the largest building as a dozen or more children of various sizes came running.

Opening her door, Adriana spoke to them in a smooth staccato. A boy pushed his way through the others then tugged at my door. I climbed out, instantly surrounded by kids, their hands stroking my scrunched auburn hair.

Though not tender-headed, all the fingers clawing through my tangles freaked me out a bit. “What are they doing?”

“I don’t think they’ve ever seen hair such as yours.” Adriana pulled out my suitcase and rolled it toward the house next to the largest building. “You’ll be staying with me. I’ll be back in a few minutes to rescue you.”

“Rescue me?”

Marji Laine is the Featured Author today at the Write Integrity Press blog, so drop by to read her Favorite Christmas Memory and Recipe.

Read Chapter Five Part Two.

The Christmas Tree Treasure Hunt

Grace takes delivery of a package and her life is turned upside down by nine sealed mystery envelopes from her late grandmother. Grammie’s instructions require Grace to take the journey of her lifetime, not only to far off places, but also into the deepest parts of her heart. As she follows the trail laid out for her and uncovers her family’s darkest secrets, Grace is forced to confront the loss and betrayal that has scarred her past and seek the greatest Christmas Treasure of all.

Read More:

Chapter One by Joan Campbell

Chapter Two Part One by Ruth O’Neil

Chapter Three by J.A. Marx

Chapter Four by Deanna Klingel

Chapter Five by Marji Laine

Learn more about this fun project at Write Integrity Press.

Marji Laine is the Featured Author today at WIP, so drop by to read her Favorite Christmas Memory and Recipe.

She’s also the Featured Guest at Magnificent Hope’s Christmas Party so come on over and celebrate with us!

Advertisements

Author: Marji Laine

Marji is a homeschooling mom with teenage twins left in the nest. She spends her days transporting to and from volleyball, teaching writing classes at a local coop, and directing the children’s music program at her church. Raised in suburban Dallas, she got her first taste of writing through the stories of brilliant authors of their day, Mignon Eberhart and Phyllis A. Whitney, and through stage experience. After directing and acting in productions for decades, Marji started writing her own scripts. From that early beginning, she delved into creating scintillating suspense with a side of Texas sassy. She invites readers to unravel their inspiration, seeking a deeper knowledge of the Lord’s Great Mystery that invites us all.