Friday, October 31, 2008

Trick or Treat

I wanted to find a picture I had posted awhile ago of a Yanomami witch doctor. I have so many photo files, I decided it would be faster to just google, 'photo of Yanomami witch doctor'.

I did! Guess whose picture was the third one across the top????

MINE! Yep, a picture of me and my kids holding a sloth.

I might be many things, but I am neither a Yanomami nor a witch doctor!

Hmmppphhh!.... the demons danced upon our roof

Many times in the jungle one is confronted with the reality of the spirit world. I know that in our modern society, many do not believe in witches, demons, angels or even God, but this is not the case with the indian cultures. They know good and evil spirits exist and even interact with us mere humans.

The Ye'kwana culture is replete with myths and lores of the spirit world. Some are based on historical events and what their ancestors observed.

There are spirit beings as lowly as wee folk who play annoying pranks hiding things from you or troubling the hunting dogs all the way up to "Canaima" who is the embodiment of our "Boogey Man". There is the often seen "wiyu". This is a spirit which comes after someone has died and tries to trick another person into accompanying the dead one. They even have a mermaid! And don't forget the terrible" macuchis"! My children even sang a song about the macuchis to tease each other.

macuchis gonna get you if you start to pout!
The macuchis gonna get you if you don't watch out!

Whatever the case me be, I have seen and experienced things that I often do not share as I fear people will think I have lost my mind. I have seen people who were visited by Canaima appear to be in a trance and die a few days later with mysterious bruises and bleeding. I have been touched by a demon possessed person, only to wake up hours later with the print of their hand burned into my flesh. I have awakened at times with a smothering feeling of heaviness only to find my husband awake and experiencing the same. Talk about a cold chill, to wake up at night and feel as if an elephant is sitting on your chest and the night is so black you can not see your own hand, but you know there is a presence there. At times like these, the only relief comes from calling out to God !

After building our house and finally getting a small generator to replace our Coleman lanterns, we learned of an interesting event that had taken place. We learned of it in a most unusual way.

One night, we were both awoken simultaneously by a strange rustling sound which seemed to surround our house. We arose from our hammocks to investigate and found our house to be totally encircled by indians. More importantly, chirstian indians!

My husband went out side and asked what was going on. Shyly, they explained that they were watching out for us as they had observed "spirits" dancing upon our palm roof. Then they proceeded to tell us of a story that had unfolded several years before our arrival.

The old witch doctor of the village, Manweda, had snorted the hallucinogenic drug which the witch doctors use to enhance their visions, and after several hours of being in a trance, he awakened to tell the village a prophecy.

In his vision, he said he had seen a strange, strong light glowing out of a building upon the small hill which arose at the edge of the village. No one lived there and it was not even cleared yet, but he said he heard a loud noise which came from the house as well as the light.

As is often the case, the villagers discussed what this could mean and had not a clue. Until we showed up and asked if we might build our house upon that very hill. However, we only used Coleman lanterns and had no generator or loud noises coming form our house for several months.

Until that night!

The whole village, unbeknownst to us, had met to discuss if this was the fulfillment of Manweda's vision. As they ventured out to see, the unbelievers were frightened by what they saw around our house.

Spirits dancing on the roof!

The Christians feared for us and bravely decided to confront the spirits on our behalf, knowing we were not knowledgeable or aware of the great danger we were in, due to the nature of the evil demons and the fact that we were so reckless as to have built our house with HUGE windows in every room. Surely, Canaima would come for us one night!

But this night, the christians surrounded our house and joined in prayer to God for our protection. They were amazed that we could all sleep through the night with the demons dancing above our heads. We finally awoke from hearing their muffled prayers on our behalf.

As we spoke to them, we were told of the prophecy the witch doctor had made of our arrival with the lights and loud noise coming from a non-existent house on this exact spot.

Could God use a witch doctor to foretell of our coming? I don't know, but he has used stranger things...such as Balaam's donkey!

Whatever the reason, the people of Chajudaña had welcomed us unanimously and the new christians were greatly encouraged that we were not bothered by the spirits. Soon they were opening up their houses with larger windows to allow for better light and air flow, no longer so afraid of the spirits!

No longer were they bound in the darkness and superstition that had enslaved them and caused them to live in unhealthy smoke filled, dark houses cowering in fear!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

CSI: Jungle

The Ye'kwana people are very superstitious, as are many tribal people. The stories are their way to explain the unknown. Some of the beliefs are expected and one can understand why the have the belief. Other's are not so easily comprehended and one has to wait until it makes sense to you, or someone in the tribe can reveal it to you in a way that a western mind can grasp. Whichever comes first.

One thing that seems universal among the tribes, is that death is never from a natural cause. Whether the death is of a new born or elder, the death was inevitably caused by witchcraft. You can explain that the baby died from dehydration caused by vomiting and diarrhea and they will believe you. They also will set out to discover WHO caused the curse of sickness to be placed upon the child, or the elder, or the healthy young man who dies from malaria complications. Someone sent a curse.

And that is when things get interesting! There are so many ways to go about discovering the murderer. Many tests to run, much evidence to study. Many, many hours of discussions around the evening fires. Eventually, it will be discovered.

We once lost a man to yellow fever. He had been very healthy until his bout with the fever. He died one night, quite suddenly. The family was devastated and it was all complicated by the fact that he was from another village. A village where there was a very powerful witch doctor related to the man. This could not be good.

The witch doctor decided there was only one way to determine the killer. The dead man's finger was cut off of the corpse and placed in a kettle of water hung over the cooking fire. A representative of each clan was called to sit in a circle around the fire. As the water began to boil, the severed finger of the dead man began to spin and tumble. This was watched very closely and with baited breath!

Finally, the water boiled off and the finger came to rest on the bottom of the pot. NOW one could clearly see who was guilty for cursing the dead man by sending the yellow fever, for the finger was pointing to the guilty party! Not the actual person, but a member of the clan. NOW the witch doctor would know which village to seek for revenge, which family was the perpetrator. He would be very busy!

The representative of the clan was not guilty as she had married into our clan many years before and could not have been involved, but she was shamed!

The next day the shortwave radio crackled with the news of the results of the finger test. Many denials, many threats, but everyone felt so much better knowing that the yellow fever was sent as a curse and unless they had an enemy, they could relax about becoming sick.

The clan that had been blamed was angered greatly by this accusation, so they requested another test. This required a family member to travel to their village to be present. Interestingly enough, I heard that this test revealed the same guilty party! So another test was to be done. This process could go on for years much as our court system allows for appeals.

Eventually, the family of the dead one will lose interest in the pursuit, send a few hexes out to pay back the murderers, and move on. The anger of the accused will slowly die down, and they will move on. It is all part of the way they deal with their grief. They need to be able to transfer their emotions to another subject in order to get through their days. If it were a Sanema, it would be a very different story as this could be traced back for generations! The family might decide to wait another generation or two before seeking revenge. But rest assured, revenge would be sought!

I witnessed many interesting procedures used in the jungle to determine the guilty parties. I should probably offer my services to the police as an expert to advise the investigators! I have observed how to examine the placenta to determine the biological father of a new born, what is used in a 'love potion', how to curse someone just by using their foot print, and other handy information.

I was even trusted with the evidence and was once asked to freeze the finger of a dead man so that his family could walk over from their village for the boiling finger test...

So, did I, or didn't I ?????

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

BBQ??? Parrilla??? Asado???

Whatever you call it, Paraguay has got it!

Last week end Paraguay earned entrance into the Guinness World Book of Records for consuming the most meat in an open air BBQ.

26,145 kilos of meat was consumed in 6 hours!
This was eaten by 42,000 guests, 6,000 volunteers and 1,800 police!

The newspapers reported that notihng was left, not even a bone for the dogs!

We had our own BBQ here at the house. In Venezuela, we call it a 'parrilla' , here it is an 'asado'.

Either way, the meat is great! We ate ours with yucca, here it is called mandioca. I also prepared Venezuelan guasacaca, no parrilla is complete without it! The Paraguayans do not approve of the guasacaca, something to do with avacado only being eaten as a sweet.

You know what that means, don't you???? MORE for US!

GUASACACA (Venezuelan steak sauce!)
1 Med. Onion chopped
2 green peppers chopped
2 ripe avocados
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 bunch of cilantro
1/2 bunch of parsley
1/3 cup of vinegar
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1. cup of olive oil

* Throw all these ingredients in your blender, EXCEPT the olive oil. Add the olive oil slowly as it is blending. Let the flavors blend for an hour. Serve with steak, sausage, chicken, potatos, yucca..

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Ye'kwana Basket Weaving

Imagine my daughter's surprise when she ran across this add in the Simple Magazine!!!

After all, she grew up surrounded by Ye'kwana Baskets!

She has even made a few of her own!

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Jungle Mom and friends enjoying the cement floor.

Before living in the jungle, I had never put much thought into the making or care of dirt floors. I assumed they would be care free! Not so.

The first few years in the village, we only had dirt floors. This is because the cost of flying cement out to the village by plane was very expensive. And then, the fact that all the sand and gravel had to be dug out of the river bed during dry season when the river is at its most shallow, carried up to the village and hand mixed with water which you also hand carry, bucket by bucket, slows down the process greatly.

So, dirt floors it was! When making a dirt floor, the first step is to dig down and level the floor as much as possible. Then, using water and a heavy tamp, you begin to pound away!!! You must use enough water to dampen the floor, without actually making mud. This process goes on for several days in each room.

After the floor is deemed "finished", you may then begin to use the room. Dirt floors do need to be swept daily. Lint, thread, and other debris does accumulate just as on any floor. Each day the floor is swept with a handmade broom. Once all debris is removed, you sweep the floor yet again, this time adding water to the floor as you sweep.

This is to settle the dust which comes from walking on and sweeping of the floor. If you do not keep the floor dampened, it will turn to dust and everything in the room, including small children, will be dusty. The dirt is of a high clay content and leaves an orange stain on everything. I had orange feet for years!!

Dirt floors do not show dirt, but it is amazing how trash, such as paper and such, will show up! The other problem with dirt floors is when you have accidents, such as spills. How to clean it up? There are many vermin and insects and if you leave anything organic, you will be overcome!

I learned this when we first arrived and our children were all still small. We all came down with malaria and had several bouts of vomiting. How do you clean that up??? With a shovel!!! Then you bring in fresh dirt to fill in the holes.

I did learn that by occasionally adding kerosene to the water I used on the floors, I was able to keep many insects at bay.

We finally laid a cement floor in the main room after about a year and a half . It took us several days to carry up all the water we needed for the cement. We had been collecting the sand and gravel from the river for a few weeks and we were excited to finally lay the floor, by hand. What a job!

Once it was dry, we prepared a concoction for sealing the floor. I heated kerosene on the stove and melted candles into it. We then applied this while still hot to the floor. It worked great! I kept the floor polished by adding 1/4 cup kerosene to each mop bucket. Again, to fight the bugs as well as add shine.

We slowly added floors to the house and eventually added up our costs to be nearly $15,000 US!!! For rough, hand laid cement floors. The floors helped our children's health by cutting down on parasites and also the ever present "nigua".

A "nigua" is a small burrowing tick which lives in the jungle dirt. They especially like to burrow into the toes and even under the toe nails. They are barely visible to the naked eye, but once under the skin, the nigua lays an egg sack which grows and grows and grows... until the eggs hatch and all the new baby niguas begin to reproduce!!! Not fun. Neither is it fun to dig them out of the tender nail bed.

I once had to remove an entire nail of my toe to get to an egg sack under the nail. OUCH!!! And, of course, any opening in the skin is likely to become infected.So the floors, though expensive, were needed and greatly appreciated.We would eventually come to the point of feeling the small niguas before they even burrowed!!

A new problem occurred when we laid the first floor. The Sanema chew tobacco. They keep a large plug of it under their lower lip at all times. This produces a green ,slimy spittle. The Sanema generally spit a lot! They spit out the nasty spittle. On my floors.On my walls. It was a constant source of irritation to me.

I finally had to come to accept it. I did keep a spray bottle of bleach and paper towels handy and taught them to clean it themselves. The bleach was also needed to clean up after the many diaperless babies that came to visit each and every day.

Needless to say, our only furniture was wood or plastic so that it could be cleaned and disinfected daily. I felt it was better to have things I did not mind them using, than to have nice things, but perhaps worry that it would be damaged. I did not want 'things' to come between me and the people I was there to serve.

On the other hand, I did feel it was wise to teach them what behavior would be expected of them by the Venezuelans in town. After gaining their confidence, I was able to teach them that spitting would not be acceptable in town. Nor would babies without diapers! Nor looking inside through windows...nor using yards as an out house... nor walking in unannounced ... nor burping loudly at the table...and many other activities deemed perfectly acceptable in their own culture.
A visitor with her baby.

Obama on Abortion

From Caffeinated

by Shane Vander Hart

The election is coming up very quickly. I know there are many of my brothers and sisters in Christ who just don’t like Senator John McCain. I also know some my mostly younger evangelical brethren who have been swayed by the rhetoric of the Obama campaign and “progressive” evangelical groups like Sojourners and the Matthew 25 Network.

Those groups talk about finding middle ground on abortion. It is played off as not as important as addressing poverty. It is a “dividing wedge” issue they say (so let’s avoid the topic if we don’t agree). Those who has bought into this line of thinking or who have been star struck need to know who they are voting for when it comes to his view regarding the pre-born.

Dr. Robert P. George, the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University, wrote a piece for the Public Discourse - the Witherspoon Institute’s blog entitled “Obama’s Abortion Extremism” on 10/14/08:

Sen. Barack Obama’s views on life issues ranging from abortion to embryonic stem cell research mark him as not merely a pro-choice politician, but rather as the most extreme pro-abortion candidate to have ever run on a major party ticket.

Barack Obama is the most extreme pro-abortion candidate ever to seek the office of President of the United States. He is the most extreme pro-abortion member of the United States Senate. Indeed, he is the most extreme pro-abortion legislator ever to serve in either house of the United States Congress.

Yet there are Catholics and Evangelicals-even self-identified pro-life Catholics and Evangelicals - who aggressively promote Obama’s candidacy and even declare him the preferred candidate from the pro-life point of view.

The fact that some self-identified “pro-life” Catholics and evangelicals support him is stunning; saying that he isn’t pro-abortion, but pro-choice. After all who wouldn’t want a world without abortions? George examines their arguments and finds them wanting. George states that you simply can not say that about Barack Obama, and he gives compelling reasons in the following bullet points:

  • He supports repealing the Hyde Amendment which protects taxpayers from having to pay for abortions that are not necessary to save the life of the mother or are not the result of rape or incest.
  • He said that the first thing he would do as President is sign the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA). This would create a federally guaranteed “fundamental right” to abortion throughout the entire nine months of pregnancy. This legislation would nullify existing state and federal anti-abortion law and policies.

  • He said that an unexpected pregnancy is punishment that a young woman should not have to endure.

So much for finding middle ground on abortion in order to reduce the number of them that occur! George says that it gets even worse:

But it gets even worse. Senator Obama, despite the urging of pro-life members of his own party, has not endorsed or offered support for the Pregnant Women Support Act, the signature bill of Democrats for Life, meant to reduce abortions by providing assistance for women facing crisis pregnancies. In fact, Obama has opposed key provisions of the Act, including providing coverage of unborn children in the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP), and informed consent for women about the effects of abortion and the gestational age of their child. This legislation would not make a single abortion illegal. It simply seeks to make it easier for pregnant women to make the choice not to abort their babies. Here is a concrete test of whether Obama is “pro-choice” rather than pro-abortion. He flunked. Even Senator Edward Kennedy voted to include coverage of unborn children in S-CHIP. But Barack Obama stood resolutely with the most stalwart abortion advocates in opposing it.

Still not done - his positions & record gets even worse:

  • As an Illinois State Senator, Senator Obama opposed legislation to protect children who are born alive. This legislation would not ban abortions, but protect babies who survive abortion and babies who were deliberately delivered. The federal version passed unanimously in the United States Senate.

Regarding the pro-life Obama supporters George writes:

They typically do not deny the facts I have reported. They could not; each one is a matter of public record. But despite Obama’s injustices against the most vulnerable human beings, and despite the extraordinary support he receives from the industry that profits from killing the unborn (which should be a good indicator of where he stands), some Obama supporters insist that he is the better candidate from the pro-life point of view.

They say that his economic and social policies would so diminish the demand for abortion that the overall number would actually go down-despite the federal subsidizing of abortion and the elimination of hundreds of pro-life laws. The way to save lots of unborn babies, they say, is to vote for the pro-abortion-oops! “pro-choice”-candidate. They tell us not to worry that Obama opposes the Hyde Amendment, the Mexico City Policy (against funding abortion abroad), parental consent and notification laws, conscience protections, and the funding of alternatives to embryo-destructive research. They ask us to look past his support for Roe v. Wade, the Freedom of Choice Act, partial-birth abortion, and human cloning and embryo-killing. An Obama presidency, they insist, means less killing of the unborn.

This is delusional.

We know that the federal and state pro-life laws and policies that Obama has promised to sweep away (and that John McCain would protect) save thousands of lives every year. Studies conducted by Professor Michael New and other social scientists have removed any doubt. Often enough, the abortion lobby itself confirms the truth of what these scholars have determined. Tom McClusky has observed that Planned Parenthood’s own statistics show that in each of the seven states that have FOCA-type legislation on the books, “abortion rates have increased while the national rate has decreased.” In Maryland, where a bill similar to the one favored by Obama was enacted in 1991, he notes that “abortion rates have increased by 8 percent while the overall national abortion rate decreased by 9 percent.” No one is really surprised. After all, the message clearly conveyed by policies such as those Obama favors is that abortion is a legitimate solution to the problem of unwanted pregnancies - so clearly legitimate that taxpayers should be forced to pay for it.

But for a moment let’s suppose, against all the evidence, that Obama’s proposals would reduce the number of abortions, even while subsidizing the killing with taxpayer dollars. Even so, many more unborn human beings would likely be killed under Obama than under McCain. A Congress controlled by strong Democratic majorities under Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi would enact the bill authorizing the mass industrial production of human embryos by cloning for research in which they are killed. As president, Obama would sign it. The number of tiny humans created and killed under this legislation (assuming that an efficient human cloning technique is soon perfected) could dwarf the number of lives saved as a result of the reduced demand for abortion-even if we take a delusionally optimistic view of what that number would be.

How can a Christian, who knows the facts about his record, can vote for him with a clear conscience? I don’t want to question the faith of those evangelicals who support him, but I do want to exhort them that God’s word is clear regarding abortion. When Obama says that he wants to work to reduce the number of abortions, and that he wants to find middle ground with those who are pro-life what in his record has shown that he will do that? Nothing. He has shown quite the opposite. An Obama administration will be simply dangerous for the pre-born.

HT: David C. Innes for the article and From Their Own Mouths for the 3rd video in this post.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Learning to Love Again

A frequent reader here asked me the following question;
Findalis said...Each nation and sometimes regions of nations have their own customs. You never said which one you prefer better. I'd like to know.

I was reminded of the following post, which I wrote last year while here in Paraguay on a survey visit. I still think it best describes how I feel about the countries where I have spent most of my life.

I have been trying to comprehend my feelings of love. Emotions of love I have for more than one country. Perhaps you think that I can not love many places equally, or that in loving one, I love the other less. But that is not the case for me.

As a mother, I love each of my four children equally. But differently. Each occupies a place in my heart that no other can fill.

My first born daughter, Jackie, was born a very independent child. She was mature and handled everything easily. She was quickly to become my friend. My best friend. My love for her is shown in that way.

Along came son, Joshua. He was a serious minded child. Content to play alone, but in need of my presence for security. As he has gotten older, it seems our roles have changed. He now cares for me and brings me security. He does his own thing still, but likes to have loved ones nearby for comfort. I show him my love by being available.

Jewel! She quickly revealed a strength of character we had not yet seen in any child. Strong willed, independent, and very loyal. The life of any party! My role with her was often to be a boundary setter as she knew no limits and thought she could do anything. She usually could, but at times to the detriment of others or endangerment of herself. She is now a young lady of 18 and still is a strong minded individual but has learned to be considerate of others. I show my love by supporting her in her endeavors.

Then the baby, Jayde. She is the social butterfly. She thrives on attention. She does not like to be left to her own devices and prefers to be part of a group. To show her love, is to look her in the eye and communicate. A lot!!!

I love them all greatly, but differently, just as I love my different countries equally and yet completely.

My home land, the USA, is the land of my birth. The land of my heritage. It is where I feel safe and secure. A refuge. The land of my mother tongue, of my sheltered childhood. I could not love another place more!

Venezuela is my adopted country. A place I chose to love and a people who returned my love, mostly. Just as a young bride leaves the home of her parents to begin a new life with her husband, I chose to begin a new life in Venezuela. I gave Venezuela my unconditional love. Yes, I know her faults and difficulties, but I love her still. I could not love another place more!

Then the Ye'kwana tribe. I love them with a passion! My time with them was the culmination of a life long dream. Our lives were filled with excitement and adventure. Emotionally draining at times, but very fulfilling! I could not love another people more!

Now, I am opening my heart to Paraguay. Just as a young person first in love, tentatively, shyly even, I am reaching out to see if that love is returned or spurned. It is exciting and yet terrifying! It could break my heart! Or , bring great joy!

Yes, I have a great love for more than one place, more than one people. One will never replace the other and all will be part of what makes me feel whole and gives me purpose in this life and the one to come.

1 John4:21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.
My children.
(Abby, Jackie, Jewel, Jayde, Naomy, and Josh.)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Random Observations


The people here are different than the Venezuelans. It is a subtle difference and I am sure that in my short time here I am only aware of a few of those differences and may even have some very incorrect impressions. So these are merely put forth here as 'impressions'.

They are more casual. Especially in dress. In Venezuela, personal appearance is very important and one does not leave the house with out dressing to the nines! When leaving work, the manual laborer will change into nice clothes before catching the bus home. Even very poor people will try and have something nice that they will wear out in public and if one did not know, they would never guess they lived in a tin shack. You do not just run to the store in flip flops! But here, the people are seen at the grocery store dressed very casually. I have been asked why I am so dressed up all the time. I'm not really...

They are soft spoken and reserved.
( Except about soccer!) Which Venezuelans are not prone to be. Especially in regards to government and politics, it is very hard to get a read on the people. I try not to discuss politics while overseas as a guest in a foreign country. I know how I get annoyed by foreigners telling me how my government should be and what my country should do, so I try not to do that to them here. I have been told that this reserve was learned during the days of the last dictator when it was not wise to voice opinions as one could disappear. There are places still remembered for the torture that went on there. This was not that long ago, so people still remember personal accounts of these happenings.

Women drive motorcycles! Women in suits and high heels! Very strange for me. I do not recall ever seeing women driving motorcycles in Venezuela. Riding with a driver , yes, driving them, and in HEELS..NO!

The neighborhoods are more mixed than in Venezuela
. In Venezuela one would know the economic level of a person just by their address. Here, the rich, middle class, and poor seem to be very integrated. A large quinta will be next to a humble earth walled house. The neighbors will visit each evening by pulling chairs out and sitting on the side walk. No one seems to care if their neighbor is a have or a have not. I find this refreshing! It was pointed out to me that people also treat their maids as friends and even will hire family as house help. I never saw this in Venezuela.

Kissy, kissy! In Venezuela the traditional greeting is a kiss on the cheek, which is more a touching of the cheeks with an air kiss. Here, it is a real kiss on both cheeks. Very important for one not to forget the second kiss or you will find yourself in the awkward situation of being face to face, at close proximity, as they are turning for the second kiss. At church I start to get dizzy from so much kissy, kissy!

Paraguayans are a bit snobbish about food. They seem to not like to try new things and have a lot of strange rules about when to eat certain foods, and what foods may be eaten together and which ones can not. Apparently, avocado is only to be eaten as a sweet.

And so, I am learning! I also have seen a few things that I found rather odd.

On the way home from church Sunday, as we drove by the main gate of the Air Force base, a soldier, dressed in camo fatigues, was riding a horse and herding cows that were grazing on the air base grounds. A soldier cowboy!

Today, I watched a Hummer drive past a horse drawn cart in downtown Asunción.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Call to Prayer

No matter whether you are conservative or liberal, I trust you will all join me in prayers for Obama's ailing grand mother. Let us take but a moment and bring her before the throne of God, hoping and praying that she may be spared pain in these days of sickness and trust that she has had the opportunity to prepare her soul for eternity. We pray that she might recover and be able to share in the pride of the moment of seeing her grand son who has reached such a high position as has Obama.

Also, pray for Obama, as it is never easy to have someone close to you near to death at any time, but at a time like this it must be overwhelmingly stressful. May the mercy of God touch his heart and may minsters of God's grace be round about him in these days.

The Theory of Devolution

As hypothesized by my son, Joshua. Joshua spent two years in the dorms and was the R.A. He was married this summer and sent the following words of advice to his friend who is now the R.A. of the dorm.

Yeah dorm life is , how do I say this correctly. OK here we go, I think that since so many people were bothered by the whole water boarding issue that instead ,these terrorist, war criminals should live in dorm rooms with American 18year olds which tend to be at the same IQ level as the Gold fish Version of Forest Gump. I must admit that the dorm convinced me of Devolution. I fear that in maybe two generations we will revert back to ape like status and eventual turning into some form of primordial ooze, we see early signs of this in Micheal Moore.

One need only to smell the toxic fumes emitted from a boys dorm to know that the male body is devolving at a more rapid pace, at least physically. We are not sure how bad the young girls are devolving since Plaster of Paris and other forms of makeup are skewing our scientific research.

I could not let myself be contaminated by this dreadful process and escaped, for a piece of heaven on Earth called marriage. I will say this ,friend, you have found one of the non devolved women on the planet! A rarity whose price is far above rubies, it will get better very soon.

So I say this in closing, continue to shower on a daily basis and wrap your head in tin foil.
The showering will fight of the ape degeneration gene from your body, while the tin foil will deflect any IQ point subtracting rays from your brain. You will make it out alive and there are lots of loving friends and family here to help you through recovery and rehabilitation.

Your friend Josh

Monday, October 20, 2008

My Angel

Let me tell you about Petra.

I first met Petra when we arrived in the village. I did not speak her language and she does not speak Spanish. At the time, we were living in a borrowed indian house while we built our own house. My youngest was not yet walking, and I also had a 3 year old, a 7 year old and a 10 year old. We still had our indian daughter with us at the time. She was 16.

Clint was busy from sun up till sundown. Getting poles from the jungle, making adobe bricks, getting leaves for the roof. I was busy teaching all the children and carrying water, doing laundry in the river, washing dishes in the river, cooking over an open fire.

All was going well, until one day, indians began to get sick. We had over 80 cases of malaria in one month. We had no radio to call for outside help, so we were doing all the medical work ourselves.

One morning, I taught my 7 year old son his math lesson and left him to do his work sheet as I went to begin cooking . After a few minutes I went to check on how he was doing...I saw my son passed out at the table! He had been fine just 30 minutes earlier! I felt him and he was burning with fever.

He had contracted falciparum malaria. This is a cerebral malaria which comes on fast and strong. We had a microscope to do the blood work and we had the quinine to treat it. So we began his treatment. On the third day when he was finally able to talk and walk with our help, the 3 year old also came down with malaria. Hers was vivax malaria, though not as dangerous ,she was still very feverish and in a lot of pain. Next was our indian daughter, she also contracted falciparum malaria. Then...the baby! She came down with vivax malaria.

Quinine is the most bitter pill you can imagine! Trying to get it down a one year old is a real struggle, but we managed.

We had so many sick, we began to run short of medication. We still had quinine , but no analgesics for pain and fever. I began to crush up Tylenol for babies. I remember giving my last dose to one poor toddler.

That night, I began to feel achy! Then the fever. And a terrible head ache! Sure enough, I also had malaria. I developed a bad case of strep throat as well, from working with the sick children. We had no more antibiotics and no pain reliever.

At one point I began to hallucinate. I don't remember much. I remember worrying about my children. They were still sick.

Thankfully, my husband and Jackie somehow were spared malaria that time. We had to wait for the scheduled flight day to go out for help and the antibiotics I needed. I sort of remember the flight, but the fever was very high.

But...what I wanted to tell you is how Petra would come everyday and hold my sick baby. I was too weak to care for the little one, and Petra took it upon herself to come each day and stay most of the day. She was the one to make sure Jayde got all of the quinine down and kept it down. She made sure we had water in the house.

I couldn't speak to her much at the time, but later, she told me how she felt that she was led to care for us and the baby. Even when we returned, all healthy, she would come and sit in on our home school classes and entertain the baby for me.

She said she wanted to help me, so that after I finished teaching my kids for the day, I would have the time and energy to learn her language.

WHY? So I could teach her the Bible! She did all in her power to help me to learn the language so that I could begin a ladies Bible study.

It took a few years, but I did begin a ladies bible study twice a week...and I know Petra will be rewarded by God for her ministry to me and my family when we most needed it. She may not look beautiful to you, but to me....she is an angel!

Proverbs 17:17
A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sunday Funny!

Colossians 3: 8 - 15

8But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.

9Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;

10And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:

11Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.

12Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;

13Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.

14And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.

15And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.

Favorite Scripture Passage

Although my favorite book of the Bible is Philippians, the two verses which have most impacted my life are found in the book of Romans.

Romans 15:20-21

Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation:

But as it is written, To whom he was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand
A young Ye'kwana reading the New Testament.
He later became the village school teacher
and personally taught hundreds to read and write their language.

I am sure you can understand the appeal of these verses as my husband and I set forth to live and work among the Ye'kwana tribe.

Do you have a favorite scripture from the Bible or one that has been an influence in your life decisions? Share them with us!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Cacique...the Chief

Bertico is his name. He has been chief for the last 15 years, but is suffering from chronic bronchitis due to his excessive smoking. We used to provide him with guafatussin, and I worry about his coughing now. Who is giving him medicine for his terrible coughing??? No one.

Bertico and Yekwanaman were having a conversation in the village round house on the day this photo was snapped. Just talking about 'men stuff' which is genetic in all males, no matter the culture. Some things are universal.

Bertico is a friend but never became a Christian. I still pray for him and even though he was never interested in the gospel, he is a true friend. He has stood up for us against the false accusations made by military investigators, he has stood up for us when other Indigenous Advocate groups tried to force the removal of all missionaries from the tribes.

Bertico as chief is greatly respected. One does not belittle the chief or take undue privileges while speaking to him, or about him. He is the chief until he dies. Then another will be appointed but not necessarily a son of his.

Something you can not see in this photo is that much of his power comes through his practice as witch doctor. He is a shaman. His father was such a powerful witch doctor that upon his death, his head was saved. The head was cleaned down to the bones and wrapped in cloth for safe keeping. Bertico has his father's skull in his hut. Whenever he feels the need for wisdom, he will snort a local grown hallucinogenic ( having much the same effect as LSD) which will allow him to have visions. In these visions he will often see and converse with his' father', thus the need for the skull to be kept close by him for such times.

My children were never afraid of Bertico, but were often skittish when walking by his hut, just knowing the skull was in there made them nervous!

My husband once asked Bertico how old he was. His answer, after a long thoughtful pause, was, "I am very old."

I miss him!

A Younger Bertico with his son.
(This photo was taken and developed by a retired missionary)

Character Sketches

What do you see in his face?

How about her?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

How to Make Rain

I am not as qualified on this as my children are. My children were making rain long before I was even aware that it was possible to make rain. Silly me, I thought rain was only caused by the climate and certain events out of the control of mere humans. Later, I would find out that even young children can cause a storm!! Yes,and can also stop a storm!

My four children grew up on the banks of the Chajura River in the southern most part of the state of Bolivar in Venezuela. Right in the middle of the Amazon jungle. We say they grew up 'on the banks' of the river, but really, they 'grew up IN the river'.

We used the river for our water supply, it was our bath tub, our laundry, our kitchen sink! Each child would carry buckets of water up to the house several times a day. Even the youngest was given her own small bucket as soon as she was walking. It was a small plastic bucket which originally had chocolate milk powder in it. A Taco bucket. She was very proud of her own bucket!

All of my children swam like fish. Under water, against the current, climbing up slippery muddy banks. Slithering over wet mossy rocks. Climbing trees in search of vines to use to swing out over the river and jump from. This was all fine by me, but, in truth, I never learned to do much more than a glorified doggy paddle. My children felt so sorry for me! Luckily, their father was just as adept in the water as they were. This worked out well for me as I spent many an afternoon in peace as the children entertained themselves in the river.

After a few years living in the jungle, an old lady came up to the house very irate! We had a severe storm the night before and had seen the river rise overnight to the highest level anyone alive had ever witnessed. So high, in fact, that a few of the houses closest to the river had actually flooded. This 'nosamo', old grandmother, had awoken in the night to find the water up to the level of her hammock!!! And it was my children's fault!

She came to warn me of the dire events which my children were causing! My sweet innocent, fun loving children were changing the weather patterns. They were causing it to rain! I had mistakenly assumed the Rain Forest was so named due to the inevitable fact that it rained several months out of the year. But it seems, my children were causing it to rain more often and much harder than normal.

I needed to make them stop! I was taken aback, how could I stop my children from making rain????

The old grand mother, having given me the warning, turned and left me standing in awe of the power and talent of my children! My children could make rain! I did not know how they managed to do this, but, did they?

A few hours later, four wet, tired children made their way up from the river path, each with a bucket of water, which they emptied into the water barrel beside the house. I asked them,

"Do you know that you made it rain and flood last night?"

They looked sheepishly from one another, and I knew that they DID know how to make rain! And they had done it on purpose!

"So... you know that you are making rain?"

Four small heads nodded in agreement. How could I admit to them that they were so much more advanced than I. They not only knew they had made rain, they knew I did not know beans about it!

I warned them!

"Nosamo came by and said I have to make you all stop causing the rain! She was flooded out of her house last night!"

Four faces looked at me in complete belief.

"Well, what do you have to say for yourselves? You have to stop this rain making business, it bothers the people!"

Four innocent pairs of eyes, looking up at me... aw, shucks! Forget my pride!

" exactly do you make rain?"

Four mouths opened excitedly to share the details! It seems all you have to do to cause rain is to horseplay on the river too much at the wrong places! If you play around too much, the river goddess gets angry! She will talk to the other spirits and will cause a lot of rain!

My children knew this from talking with the other children. But, the favorite rock to climb upon, the best place to play King of the Mountain, was in the wrong place in the river. My children had decided to play anyway. They wanted the indians to know that they were not afraid of any old river goddess!

They had been warned, but had chosen to continue...thus causing rain. Then they had decided that making rain was fun! It was exhilarating to make rain and have everyone know YOU had caused it!

"Besides," they said, "We can always make the rain stop!"

Once again feeling the fool, I had to ask,

"How do you stop the rain?"

Four smug smirks!

"By cutting the rain with a machete, of course!"

My son grabbed up the ever handy machete and began to slice through the air in a sideways motion. It seems that is how one makes the rain to stop. I had observed the Ye'kwanas doing this so often and had never realized what they were doing! I just thought it was a habit or something to do when bored. Swing a machete to pass the time while riding in a canoe, or working in the garden. I never knew it was to stop the rain.

But my children knew!

To this day, if it is raining hard, I find myself tempted to 'cut the rain'.

This is what happens when you spend too much time in another culture.

A Ye'kwana man cutting the rain to make it stop
in order to continue the soccer match!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Ciudad del Este

My husband and son-in-law just took a trip to Cuidad del Este where they spoke at a church and did some survey work. My husband described the city to me in this way,
"It's a small New York City. While walking down the sidewalk within a matter of half a block, I heard Arabic, Spanish, Guarani, Portuguese, German, and even Chinese!"
Twenty five different nationalities are represented in the small city.

They came back with lots of interesting stories and details, but more importantly...


Yes, I know you are all as excited as we are! In order to procure such a dietary delight, they had to cross the border into Brazil. They drove across the river into Brazil to check out a store owned by Wal-Mart. Once there they discovered that it is closed on Sunday. My husband called me from Brazil to sadly report that he would not be able to purchase the zip lock baggies I so desperately wanted. Oh well.

Once they had returned to Paraguay, they were told of a store owned by Brazilians who had imported Doritos and Ruffles and cake mixes. No zip locks, but that's ok! Maybe next time, but in the meant time...we have ...

Monday, October 13, 2008

What About the Culture?

These three young people are the children of the Christian pastor in the village. Christianity has not made them any less Ye'kwana.

To gain access into the tribal area, each mission must fulfill many requirements. The first of which is to be INVITED to live there by the tribe and the village. To think that anyone could just walk into a village and be allowed to live there by the Indians is very naive. If you are not asked by them, they will remove you. Themselves. Indians are not helpless children in need of anyone to 'protect' them.

I find many people that seem to think WE are some how required to protect the Indian from any outside contact. In this day and age, this is already a non- issue in most parts of the world, as contact is nearly universal. I find this attitude to be very arrogant. The Indian is a person like anyone else, and with education, is just as capable to determine their own future. Neither is it true that their culture is something so fragile that they will discard it when made aware of another culture.

Last year a Venezuelan Army General learned this from the chief in our village. The military arrived and began to announce their plan to place Cuban doctors in our house. The village did not want this. The General said that the village would no longer need to depend upon the foreign missionary for help.

Yekwanaman with the Chief

The chief, Bertico, responded by saying that Cubans were also foreign. They did not want Cubans living among them. The tribes do not like for single men to move in, as it almost always creates a problem, as they begin to seduce and impregnate their girls.

The General began to make accusations against us. This was done by showing a folder with pictures of our family, even our children as he accused us of atrocities, such as rape, starvation, slavery.The chief, a non- Christian, became very irate! He expressed the same opinion to the General that I have put forth here . Indians are not likely to permit someone to come in and live among them and FORCE them to do anything, and certainly not to abuse them. He actually told the General , " If anyone came in here and did those things to us...well, we are Indians, we would just kill them!! So be careful!"

At that point the military decided to leave and has yet to return to the village.

This photo was taken by another missionary in the 60's. This is the chief, Bertico, as a young man. He still weaves baskets and continues to teach the young men the art.

I am often told by academics and government representatives that the culture must remain untouched and that any exposure to something from outside will destroy it. I have a hard time believing this.

Consider the case of the modern day Jew. Although spread around the world, although having had to survive several bouts of genocide, the Jewish culture survives. The Hebrew language was even revived. The Jewish people have certainly been exposed to other cultures and have even taken an active part in many different cultures but has yet managed to retain their ethnic identity, their culture, as well as their religion.

I also point to the fact that tribal cultures co-exist living next door to one another, in some cases for centuries, and yet each tribe manages to keep their ethnicity and language differences. The Ye'kwanas share the same territory with the Sanema ( Yanomamo). Each culture is distinct. Each language is completely different. They interact and have for centuries, but each culture remains, to this day, distinct from one another.

The cultures differ in the most basic human areas. Their spiritual beliefs, their marriage rituals and burials are very different. The Ye'kwana bury their dead, the Yanomamo burn their dead. The tribes do not even inter marry.

A culture that has a strong moral fiber will survive. A culture that does not have this foundation, will not survive. And, frankly, should not survive. Consider the culture of the Ancient Aztecs? Should a culture that practices human sacrifices be allowed to continue to do so? Will that lead to a better world? Would you like to live in that culture? The Aztec culture was intent on conquest, slavery, and brutality! I am not saying they were not admirable in many other ways, but it is not a model society nor one in which you or I would enjoy living .

Let us consider the situation of the American Indian of today. The most important factor necessary to maintain a cultural identity is the language. That is the primary factor that will determine if the culture will continue after assimilation by what is referred to as the host culture. The criollo, Latin, culture of Venezuela is the host culture to many tribal cultures. What group of people through out the world is most dedicated to alphabetizing, translating and printing tribal languages?

The missionary! We set out to learn the language, create a written alphabet of the language, but that is not enough. Of what value is a written language if no one knows how to read it? And what is the motivation for the indian to work and learn how to read, if there is nothing available in their language to read?

Anyone who has taught a child to read knows what hard work it is. Imagine teaching a child to read, and then the child have nothing available in print to read. It would be difficult to motivate the child to bother to learn! More so with the adult indian! They have a lot to do without learning to read for no apparent reason.

The missionary, of course, wants the Indian to read for himself. Why? So that he can read the Word of God for himself. And with that knowledge, be exposed to the Laws of God, such as the 10 Commandments, which will only strengthen any culture if it is put into practice.

With the new found knowledge and ability to read and write, the culture can then flourish to a new level. Poetry, music and even science can become available to all. The Indian now has the tool needed to chronicle his own history. This will protect the tribe from falsehoods another culture may choose to puport about them.

Missionaries have written for the Ye'kwana of Venezuela, in their own language, The History of Venezuela, several hygiene pamphlets, a Literacy Primer as well as the New Testament and parts of the Old Testament. We have personally printed and distributed various teaching aids to be used in the area of general education and religious education. We have provided teaching aids and a complete phonics program for literacy classes as well as having trained individuals to implement the program.

Literacy is a powerful tool that should not be denied anyone. An indian that learns how to read is able to progress and progression is not evil. You and I enjoy our modern life. We enjoy the many things that our ancestors were able to learn and teach us. We then build upon that knowledge each and everyday and we all hope to leave the world a better place for our children and grand children.

Who are we to deny the same opportunity to the Indian?

These three Ye'kwana students were taught by missionary Florinda Eddings. The first is now a village head man, the second is a teacher, and the third has been trained as a nurse to work in the village dispensary.

This is the 6th grade graduating class of 2005.
These are the grand children of the men pictured above.

UPDATE! The children are wearing school uniforms provided by the Venezuelan government.( Ministry of Education)
This had nothing to do with the missionaries. The daily clothing of choice would be a T-shirt and shorts as they are much more durable than their loin cloths. The loin cloths are not easily made and are difficult to keep clean. Some tribes, such as the Sanoma ,do not wear much clothing, it is a personal choice. The Ye'kwana have always been a people desirous of progress. Also note, there is a 50 year time gap between the two photos.
Do you or your children wear what your grand father wore?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Just for Fun

The Hermeneutics Quiz

Big shocker here folks, I came out as a Conservative!

The conservative hermeneutic group scores 52 or lower. The strength of this view is its emphasis on the authority, ongoing and normative authority, of all of Scripture. It tends to operate with the line many of us learned in Sunday school: "If the Bible says it, that settles it." Such persons let the Bible challenge them with full force. Literal readings lead to rather literal applications. Most of the time.

Friday, October 10, 2008

People in Paraguay

We have met the most interesting people since we arrived here! I must admit to having previously assumed that due to it's small population, Paraguay would be very provincial. I suppose outside of Asunción's that is the case, but here, we have met some of the most diverse, interesting people! Form everywhere.

For instance, a Canadian chiropractor. She came here 15 years ago, moved in with her boyfriend's sister. He was supposed to join her here 6 months later. He never showed up... she is still here. And part of the Bahia faith which is quite prominent here...who knew?

My Canadian doctor whose family drove all the way from Canada to Paraguay when he was a small child.

My daughter is attending a teen Bible study for English speaking children...most of them are Korean and Taiwanese!

I met an American man who speaks a little English, with an accent. His grand father came here, fell in love and married. This gentleman is in his 60's, is an American citizen and has never been to the USA.

I met the girl friend of the bass player for the very popular Spanish pop group, "Sin Banderas". We gave her a ride home one evening.

Then there is the Peruvian woman who has a ranch in the chaco. The Uruguayan man at church, OH! and the Brazilian couple I met at immigration who are moving here to be able to afford in vitro fertilization! I found that out in the waiting room. Latins are much more open about things like this.

We attended an election debate here in Asunción, sponsored by the embassy, and I met these two men;

Raul "Danny" Vargas, chairman of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly and a prominent businessman from Northern Virginia,

My husband got in the last question in regards to the Democrats responsibility of the financial crisis going back to Clinton and Carter, with the democrats blocking the reforms McCain called for two years ago. Danny Vargas finished with some 'zingers' on that! We did get to meet both men. Moses Mercado was saying that Obama would meet and talk with Chavez. All I wanted to know was, if he would give Obama a message for me, and ask Chavez if I could please go back and get my stuff!

My husband has met the Minister of Religion and Education as well as the commanding General of the Air Force.

Also, he has an interesting relationship with a little old lady who sells fruit at the intersection. He told her he should not buy so much of her fruit as he needed to diet. She proceeded to take his hand through the window and explain exactly what herbs he should add to his terere to help with weight loss. She even told him where he could buy the herbs. Imagine getting a nutritional consult from your fruit vendor on the street corner!

So... you just never know who you may meet in this country!