Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I'm Not Catholic...

Which will be quite obvious after this story!

When I was newly married, my husband and I worked part time as janitors in the evenings, to pay our school bills. One of my first jobs was to clean a Catholic church. Prior to this, I had never stepped inside a Catholic church! The only Catholic I knew was an uncle and we only spoke of that in hushed, pained voices. I come from a long line of Baptists and am the fifth generation of Baptist preacher's kids...we just never met many Catholics.

On my very first day, I was diligently vacuuming the multi purpose room which was where Mass was held and also used for other meetings including Bingo on the weekends. They had a rather ornate communion table with red velvet curtains which fell from the table top to the floor. Striving to do a thorough job, I pushed aside the curtains to vacuum under the table.

The sight I saw under the table turned my blood ice cold! I saw a pair of lifeless, bloody feet! I threw my hands up and screaming, ran off the platform into the arms of my husband! The priest and a nun came running to see what the commotion was all about.

I told them! There was a dead body stashed under the communion table! You should have seen their faces! Apparently, the church had a life size crucifix which they hung on the wall during Mass, but hid under the communion table during Bingo, not deeming it proper for Christ to look down upon such activity.

Oops! My bad. The priest was very kind when he realized my ignorance and he chuckled a bit about it.

A few weeks later, I decided to clean a small basin I had noticed. It was gold plated and a bit scummy to my eyes. I scrubbed and scrubbed and rinsed and rinsed until it shown!

Then I was given a lecture about Holy Water and how it had to be procured and blessed by a Bishop as it was the only water to be used for baptizing. It seems one does not wash it down the drain!

Oops! My bad. The priest was very patient as he explained but he did not find it funny at all.

The final straw happened a few weeks later. The church had a small break room and the priest had told us to help ourselves to any food there. Often we would find donuts or pastries and being poor college students, we did help ourselves! But on this day, there were no snacks out...except for a box of some kind of strange wafers. My husband and I both grabbed handfuls of the crackers to snack on as we worked. They did not have much flavor but did have a curious texture and way of melting on your tongue.

This time the priest was not even polite. I guess one should not snack on the Lord's body! For these curious wafers were the Host. In our defense, they were very different from the unleavened bread used by baptists in our communion services!

Oops! My bad. We never were sent back to clean that church but were reappointed to a bank.

I wonder if that priest remembers me?

Jungle Movie

UPDATE! Order the book,'Growing up Yanomami'
at book@missionpadamo.org

I have reviewed the book written by a friend, Micheal Dawson, entitled '"Growing Up Yanomami" . Mike has emailed me stating that any of my readers interested in purchasing his book will be given a reduced price of $20.00 with no shipping charges. If any are interested, please leave comment as I do not have the mailing address with me but will have it for you by tomorrow.

I had also written about the book entitled "Spirit of the Rain Forest" which is the biography of a Yanomami shaman ( witch doctor) who I know personally. You may be interested to know that his life story is being made into a movie! He is from the village where Mike writes about his growing up experiences. Check out the website for more details of the upcoming movie, entitled "The Enemy God".

The Story Shake is a powerful shaman of the Yanomamö people. He wields his power to heal and to protect his people against their enemies in this world and beyond. Tracing his life and the life of his community over 40 years of their history, Shake tells how he and his people grapple with new ideas that come from the outside world and the challenging decisions they make in order to maintain their identity and survive as a people.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Blog

The Birth of a Blog!

Little did I know! Way back on October 28, 2006...this blog was born. It had a very rough beginning and was not planned, or frankly, even wanted! But here it is, with a mind of it's own!

Here is how my very first post read:

Hey, I'm back. I've recreated myself.
After several failed attempts, here I am again.
I guess all those years in the jungle set me back in my computer skills.
This time I have everything written down on paper and hope to maintain this site for at least a week.
This is a test, only a test.

How did it begin??? An accident!

My daughter calls me from Paraguay and tells me to check out her blog.

"Blog?" Says I, "What's a blog?"

"MOTHER! You know, a blog!" says Jackie.

"No, I don't know. What is a blog?" Patiently, saintly, I ask.

" You know, on the Internet!" exasperated!

"Well, yes, dear, I have heard of the Internet, but never had much use for it or computers myself." Still very saintly, I respond.

"Just go to my blog and leave me a comment, you'll figure it out!" She said, very impatiently, I might add!

So I did. I sat down in front of the horrible beast, the computer, and I typed in all those odd random letters and POW!!! there is it was... The very first blog I had ever seen! I read.

I had been told to leave a comment...but how??? Oh, I push this key and that key and all of a sudden... I had a BLOG!!!! No comment for Jackie, but I had this...thing on my screen!

What was I supposed to do with it?

So, I call Paraguay.

"Jackie dear, I love your blog!" Always the saintly mother.
"But, I couldn't leave a comment." says I.

"Why not?" she asks.

"Well, I tried but, I ended up with a blog of my own, somehow..." I mumble.

Laughter heard all the way from Asunción to Barquisimeto!

Jackie asks " Where is it? I want to see it?"

Santa Rita, "It's on the Internet of course!"

Jackie; " But the address, how do I get there?"

Pitiful Santa Rita, " I have no idea!"

I have only seen that poor blog once since then! It makes me feel so guilty! Sitting there, unfed! Uncared for! But I can't access it! The horrors! Poor orphaned blog!

So, with the help of my daughter, I made this blog, mainly to permit me to leave comments on her blog and write things of interest to my many family members stretched across the globe.

I don't know when, or how, anyone ever even found my little blog!!! I never expected to generate this much interest and certainly never dreamed so many would want to read my daily posts. I often post about nothing at all! But still you come! I had been planning to write a book about our life in the jungle so I decided to test the waters a bit by writing a few short jungle stories on THE BLOG!

For by then, I had people reading each and every day. This was ok by me, as I have tried to discipline myself to write something in my journal each and every day, so now I could write most of it on THE BLOG!

And so, here I sit, typing on my very own laptop, in my very own blog, that nearly 200 people a day come to read! I am honored! I have met some wonderful people online, people I would love to meet one day. I have also met some strange folk...you know who you are! But I appreciate the encouragement I receive from so many of you, it keeps me motivated to continue to write our story.

So, THE BLOG and I thank you very much!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


I must warn you that the following video is...gross! My son found it at You tube and we were all so excited to see someone else who had experienced the famous "NIGUA" ! I must say, I never thought to video the extraction of one.

I posted about all the critters one finds in the jungle
and mentioned how that I once had several of these egg sacks embedded under my toe nail which resulted in having to remove the toenail, cut out the eggs and required stitches to close the wound.

Here is what I wrote about niguas:
Another most annoying bug is the nigua. The nigua is everywhere. Due to the dirt floors and the constant contact one has with the dirt and with others who also happen to have niguas, you can never truly avoid this bug. Some refer to it as a burrowing tic, but it is rightly, a sand flea. It is almost impossible to see with the naked eye, but it makes itself known!!!

The nigua will burrow into any exposed skin, most commonly the toes, but also the hands and in small children who play on the floor, I have seen them on the babies bottoms. They must be removed. This is best done with a small thorn from a bush the indians use for this very purpose. I used a needle so that it could be disinfected. Another way to prevent them, is to step in kerosene daily. During dry season, I would keep a shallow pan near the door for this purpose. We also would wash our chancletas (flip flops) in kerosene. Kerosene has no lead so was safe to use in this way.

An indian boy was brought to us once who had both feet so infected by niguas, he could not walk. We had to clean and remove infectious tissue for several days. The Sanema of a certain village were so inundated with niguas, that every member of the village could show you scarred and missing digits from their feet, caused by niguas.

I would love to know how many of you actually watch the entire video!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Pow Wows are Fun, and a lot of Hard Work!.

For my new friend, The Localmalcontent!

To the tribe, the Pow Wow is the biggest event of the year. Everyone will make some effort to attend although,normally the men and the younger folk are the most likely to travel. This is a chance to visit family and most likely is where a young person will meet their spouse. Each year a different village will play host as the tribe gathers for a time of fun, competition, food, and visiting.

In the Ye'kwana culture each visitor is received by the entire village. As the canoe loads arrive at the port, a call will go forth so that everyone in the host village will line up to receive the new arrivals with a hand shake of greeting.

The host villagers will take responsibility for carrying all the luggage of the visitors to their place of stay, which is what these two guys in the picture below are doing. If you arrive at a village and no one shows up to help with your luggage, you should probably continue on your way and not stop at that village!

It is a lot of work to host the tribe for a pow wow in the jungle, no hotels, no stores, no restaurants. All the food and housing must be provided by the host village and it takes months to prepare and lay aside all that is needed. Extra housing must be built as well. As the following picture reveals, it gets tight!

The most common aspect of the gathering among the Ye'kwana is the competition. Soccer has become the way of promoting your village athletic prowess. Soccer was easily adopted by most South American tribes since their ancestors all took part in ball games such as the Aztec, Mayan and Incas played. Each village also sends a "queen" to represent the tribe. Some wear traditional clothing and others prefer western wear. The choice is up to the village. The Queen below happens to be Pastor Victor's daughter.

Recently, volleyball has also been added to the tournament which allows even the girls to participate. These teams are coached and practiced for months in advance. Sometimes they are even housed separately and fed apart, so as to totally concentrate on being prepared to win.

In the evenings, the tribe will gather after the evening meal and play traditional games.

Everyone is included, even the children. ( You can see my WHITE face below my daughter who has perched for a better view.)

Aside from the soccer and volleyball, there are also competitions in foot races, canoing, archery and target shooting with blow guns!

The girls spend a lot of time in painting each other up and wearing their beads to show their beauty and wealth. Above, Jewel gets help from a friend, below, the finished product. Leg paint is also important as it is viewed as a way to ward off the snakes!

The main event of every powwow is the food! In a culture where so much time and effort goes into gardening and hunting, food is always appreciated. Can you imagine the work that goes into preparing meals for 2000 people , 3 times a day!

Cooking over fire.

Just the amount of water that has to be carried up from the river for each meals is amazing!

No one is exempt. Even Yekwanaman and Jungle Mom pitch in with the food preparation.

Different families take turn providing refreshments for all the athletes.

Jewel is serving brownies!

Music is important and their are many traditional 'dances' and marches. Some are merely forms of greeting other villages as shown here.

Each village will bring their own drums and bamboo horns. Our river is named "Bamboo River" and our village, "Chajuraña" translates as "Bambooville" as we have the BEST bamboo horns!!!
Oh Yeah!!! It's important!!!

It is important that one understands the culture and realizes that all indian traditions are not necessarily pagan or evil. Often times, the outsider will not understand this and condemn something that is only cultural. To the outsider, may of our traditions seem just as strange!
When an activity is truly pagan or satanic, the believing Christian indian will know to abstain from the activity. The indian believer is indwelled by the same Holy Spirit as any other Christian. We have seen this over and over. They will come to the understanding of right and wrong in regards to their faith and practice. This will then be a proof of their salvation as it is worked out in their lives that all may see the difference. The proof is in their practical christian living. ( Have you ever wondered what the indian believer would think about Easter eggs, and christmas trees, or placing flowers on graves? Not to mention Halloween!) Judge not lest ye be judged.

The church in our village always took the opportunity to preach and share the gospel with the other villages at the yearly pow wows.

Pow Wow

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Auto Biography, By Photo, Jungle Ministry

Part Four: Serving the Tribe

Providing Aviation Support.
Hangar in Ciudad Bolivar.

Transporting indian patients.

Yekwanaman learning the language
and culture from the chief.

Jungle Mom visiting with the ladies
to learn the language.

Entertaining guests in The Jungle Hut.
( The animal is a baby wild pig.)

Teaching the Word.

Yekwanaman and Victor,
Translating the Bible into the Ye'kwana language.

Providing Emergency Medical Care.

Delivering babies and providing vaccinations.

Building Dispensaries.

Fighting malaria through fumigation,
blood testing and medicines.

Jungle Mom teaching hygiene class.

Teaching literacy.
Children learn to read both Ye'kwana and Spanish.

Build schools and train teachers.
Education provides protection from abuse!

Help provide food for hungry children.

Provide and repair Short Wave radios
for communication.

And the church goes forth!

to be continued..

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Auto Biography, By Photo, Jungle Life Begins

Part Three;
Home life in the jungle.

Cutting a jungle trail.
Josh, Yekwanaman with Jayde on back, Indian Daughter Woodi, Jackie, and Jewel

Making camp
Notice blue portacrib!

Jackie leads the Way!
Followed by Josh, Jungle Mom, Jewel and Woodi.

A family meal on the trail.

A road trip through Pemon territory.

Beginning to build The Jungle Hut

Putting on the palm roof.

Jungle Mom and Baby Jayde are happy to be behind screens!

While doing all laundry by hand in the river,
we learned why indian babies don't wear much clothing!

Washing hammocks is hard work!!!
Jungle Mom with Woodi.

A very happy day for Jungle Mom!!!!

My clothes lines worked great...except for during rainy season,
which lasts 6 months out of the year!

Our jungle closet. Less is best!

The famous water bed!
Frame is for mosquito netting.

Josh moves into the loft to get away from sisters!!

Life is good!

To be continued...