Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Things I See...

Very colorful ceramics!

Anyone care to venture a guess as to why yellow dogs with blue spots would be popular?

UPDATE! Blue and Yellow are the colors of the town of Luque's soccer team.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sopa Paraguaya

Photo taken by my daughter, Jackie McCobb
FJ said...

What's good eating in Paraguay? Any dishes in particular? (What can I say, it's lunch time here and I'm hungry...)

One of my favorite dishes here is known as Sopa (soup) Paraguaya but this soup is eaten with a fork or even your hands! Sopa Paraguaya is a type of corn bread made with a white cheese and is delicious, at least to someone who was raised on southern cooking! Cheesy corn bread! What is not to like?

This seems to be the most authentic recipe I have found for using non Paraguayan ingredients to make Sopa Paraguaya.

Of course, if you have an inquiring mind, like mine, you want to know how a dish of corn bread came to be called 'SOUP'! I have asked this question of many of my Paraguayan friends and I have received almost as many answers as people!

The basic element to each story is that an important individual was fond of the corn meal soup made by the Guarani indians. This mush had been altered to include cheese and milk once the Spaniards arrived and introduced dairy products to the indians.

This particular individual asked his cook to prepare his soup. She did so and placed the pan in an earthen oven called a tatakua. These are still used today and can be found in many back yards. The cook seems to have forgotten her soup was in the oven and over cooked it to the point of it solidifying into a cake like texture. Upon trying the dish, the gentleman found he preferred the cake-like soup and named it Sopa Paraguaya.

If you are familiar with the Paraguayan sense of humor, you can see how quickly such a name would catch on!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Thinking about my family

The Rev. and Mrs. Jack Riffe,
My Father and Mother.

I am feeling mixed emotions as I think about my family tonight. Right now, a surprise service is being held for my Dad. He is celebrating 42 years as an ordained minster. People have traveled all across the US to be with him and honor him on this occasion. I am very proud of him and his ministry but wish I could be there to take part in it all.

I am happy for my Dad and yet, melancholic to not be there.

(I'm the little imp in the middle with the wicked grin!)

This is my family while my father attended Bob Jones University. Somehow he managed to be a full time student as well as work full time. He also put us through private schools. It could not have been easy!

Saturday Morning Cartoon!

Did you watch any of the speeches?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Some answers

You asked...

Betty said...

Have you found good friends, for you personally? Being in ministry it must be hard always "putting yourself" out there. Sometimes you just need someone for yourself. I hope you have!

I think my daughters, Jackie and Jewel, were my closest friends , so I miss them both. Truthfully, knowing that I am leaving for Ciudad del Este in a matter of months has caused me to not get too attached to people here . This may not be healthy, but it is how I protect myself from the future loss of separation.
Kathy said...

How soon after you met Clint did he ask you if you wanted to be a missionary? And how soon did he mention the deep jungle as opposed to just "regular" missionary work? Or did you mention being a missionary first??? Did both of you always want to be a missionary or was it something new to think about when the other one mentioned it? :)
I'm sure I'll think of more to ask soon! :)

I knew he was planning to train for the pastorate when we met while still in HS. He was a senor and I was...14. When we married, he planned to be a church planter in New England, but during his senor year, we decided to dedicate our lives to foreign mission work. I had no problem with this as I had always dreamed of being a missionary to an African tribe. As a child, I wrote stories about it.
We spent a year in Mexico and then 8 years in the city of Barquisimeto, Venezuela. We were constantly made aware of the needs of the tribes and saw that few were willing to go live among them, so we felt that we should get the training needed to go ourselves.
Part of this awareness came about by the fact that we raised two Ye'kwana children in our home while living in Barquisimeto. I do not mention them often or give their name as they both still live in Venezuela and I do not want anything I say or do to be used against them.

Mrs. Reverend Doctor said...

I always wanted to know what Bible college you and hubby what to?

My husband attended Baptist Bible College and then transferred to Northeastern Baptist Bible School as he felt we would be living in New England after graduation anyway. That school has since merged with another and no longer exists. I began attending a small school in Florida and then after our marriage I also attended NBBS.

Findalis said...

Name the 5 places on Earth you would like to visit for the first time & why.

Israel~ The history!
Rome ~ The history!
Egypt~ To see the great pyramids.
Machu Pichu, Peru~ To view the handiwork of the Incas!
Easter Island~ It fascinates me to see things for which we have no real explanation.
Hatless in Hattiesburg said...

Would you prefer that the people & communities you work with have less or more contact with "the outside world"?

I loved working with the Ye'kwana people and I enjoy the lifestyle of a small community where everyone knows everyone. It is very fulfilling to be able to help a remote people who truly need your assistance. On the other hand, it is physically very hard to live and serve in such a way.
The Local Malcontent said...

If you, JMom, had an audience with Hugo Chavez, and you were absolutely sure that he would listen to you therein,

What would you say to Hugo?

I hope I would be able to show christian compassion and share the gospel message with him. I would hope he would accept it and change his behavior.
I would truly wish to know if the rumors of his conversion to Islam are true. His behavior and choices of alliances seem to confirm this as a fact. He has the right to believe as he wishes, but why not acknowledge it?
I would also love to ask him about his many well documented lies, some of which he was repeating just last night on Larry King Live.
I would like to know why he hid under his desk when captured if he is such the brave warrior he claims to be.
I would like to know why he preaches socialism for all and yet his family has become so wealthy and live in open luxury.
I would like to know why he claims to hate America and everything it stands for and yet continues to sell oil to the USA. How can he morally do that?
I would really like to know why he would think the people of Venezuela would want to listen to his rants broadcasted on all medias, by law, for hours and hours at a time!!!!!

Glenn B said...

Hi Rita,

My question is on my blog - today's date. I asked it there instead of here because I would like to hear some others also give input.

All the best,

I gave my answer to his thoughtful question on his blog. Glenn and I do not always agree but he has always treated me as a gentleman and a friend.

I am going to save the rest of these for next week and answer each one as a complete post, so watch for them!

FJ said...

What's good eating in Paraguay? Any dishes in particular? (What can I say, it's lunch time here and I'm hungry...)

CKHB said...

What has been your scariest travel experience?

Sarah Joy said...

I know this isn't a question, but i would love to see a "day in my life" type of post.

And, Anonymous, You have many questions! I will try to answer those for you as well in the upcoming days.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Q and A

You ask, I answer!

I am open to any question as long as we keep it nice.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Things I See...

This is the first week of spring here in the
Southern Hemisphere

and my orchids have bloomed!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

5 Words

Betty ( A glimpse into midlife) is a friend of mine who lives here in the Chaco of Paraguay. She has assigned me these five words. for my post today.

Here are the five words.

1. Paraguay
2. Tomorrow
3. Spring
4. Grandchildren
5. Home school


I can barely beleive I have been here for over a year already. At times I still feel so new here. When we had to leave Venezuela under such difficult circumstances, I did not know if I would be able to adapt and accept living somewhere else. I am so thankful that I am enjoying my life here in Paraguay more than I thought I would.

We have had some wonderful ministry opportunities since arriving, I know this is where we are to be. My husband has been teaching and preaching in two different churches and we have seen blessings in both. We have had several seminars presenting materials on how to have a successful marriage. We have been invited to do these seminars for some large corporations who wish to offer help to their executives. Clint also has had such an open door into the Air Force for teaching and counseling the officers of the Paraguayan Air Force.

Last week he was invited to lecture to a class of future chaplains of the National Police and Armed Forces of Paraguay. This will be the first group of non Catholics allowed to fill the position of chaplaincy.

So far, Paraguayans have only been kind and hospitable towards us. We are learning to not only love the country but also the people. And the food!


Tomorrow is Wednesday. Wednesday is a day for making sure we are not falling behind with Jayde's home school classes. I also start to plan my Sunday School lesson and craft so that I have time to go out and get any supplies I might need.

Clint spends most of the day in study for his upcoming sermons and will have a deacons meeting at the church in the evening. Often, the men will request I send a chocolate cake. :)


It is Spring here in Paraguay. My orchids are blooming! The city of Asuncion is very pretty this time of the year. I think it is one of the prettiest cities I have seen because there is still quite a bit of greenery in the city. Right now all the Lapacho trees are in bloom. Most are pink, but some are yellow and a few are white. It reminds me of the Cherry Blossoms of DC.

It is weird to be in the Southern Hemisphere where the seasons still feel reversed for me. Thanksgiving is in the Spring! Christmas is in the Summer. Easter is in the Fall, and the Fourth of July is in the Winter!


I miss mine! I have two grand daughters, Elena is four, and Abby is two. My third grand child will be born this March. It would be nice to have a boy, but we will be thrilled, what ever may be.
Grand children are very special. I always heard people say that, but now I know it is true! Or maybe just mine are so special?

My daughter and her family are having a year furlough in the USA and will be back next winter (your summer) I can't wait! I miss Elena knocking on the door saying, "Coco (grandpa in Ye'kwana) Aicha (grandma in Ye'kwana) I'm here!" And Abby walking straight to the kitchen looking for the jello she loves!

Home school

Because of where we have lived, I have chosen to home school all my children. Three have graduated and gone on to college and all have done well. I never realized how much I would enjoy home schooling.

The early elementary years were the hardest for me. Perhaps because I had so many young ones all at the same time, perhaps because we lived in the jungle and had no running water and other amenities at the time. Or perhaps because it seemed that one of us was always down with malaria or dengue.

The middle years were so much fun! We did a lot of unit studies together and used a literature based curriculum which we all enjoyed.

By the time the children reach high School, they have needed very little input from me. I do the lesson plans, grade the tests and papers and am available as a sounding board for discussions or any questions they may have, but I do very little lecturing. They tend to lecture me by this point!

Jewel was my most challenging student because of her dyslexia. I am so proud of her, in spite of her challenges she has always managed to stay at or above grade level. She is an avid reader. She spells better in Spanish than English. This is her first semester in college and she is keeping her grades in the 90% -100% range, so far.

My youngest daughter, the only child still at home, is in the 9th grade. We are finishing up our last quarter of the year and will have our summer vacation in December. I know, I know. It's weird!

We are finishing up World History , Biology, English Grammar and Composition,
Geometry, Bible, and English Literature.

Those are my five words from Betty! Anyone who wishes to do the meme, just let me know in the comments and I will assign you five words!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Affair of the Spirit

"The care that is filling your mind at this moment, or but waiting till you lay the book down to leap upon you--that need which is no need, is a demon sucking at the spring of your life."

[And the other person--this is a dialogue--the other person says,]

"'No; mine is a reasonable care--an unavoidable care, indeed!

"'Is it something you have to do this very moment?'


"'Then you are allowing it to usurp the place of something that is required of you at this moment!'

"'There is nothing required of me at this moment.'

"'Nay, but there is--the greatest thing that can be required of a man.'

"'And what's that?'

"'Trust in the living God....'

"'I do trust Him in spiritual matters.'

"'Everything is an affair of the spirit.'"--George MacDonald

Friday, September 18, 2009

What about the Culture?

I am re posting this to answer several comments and emails I have recently received which have referred to us as 'genocidal missionaries'.

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.

Recently 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 purport 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?

Thursday, September 17, 2009


My oldest grand daughter will be having a birthday.

I believe it is her first birthday in the USA!

She is FOUR already and I can't believe it.

She was born in Costa Rica,

moved to Paraguay,

and is now enjoying a year in the USA
getting to know the rest of her family.

I miss her bouncing curls ,

and her bubbly giggle!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Things I see...

Soccer / Futbol

Last week Paraguay won their match over Argentina to qualify in the World Cup, which is to be held next year in South Africa. I did not attend the game.(my back prefers to watch from the comfort of my sofa these days!)
My husband, daughter and some wonderful friends were there for the game and Catherine has shared her photos with me.

Soccer is a big deal here. The banner reads, "My Country, My Pride"

Even the dogs are fans!

Let the game begin!

Paraguayan fans are crazy!

And so are the Argentinian fans!

Unfortunately, due to a ticket mix up, my husband and daughter...

and our friends Andres and Catherine,
were seated amongst the Argentinian fans!

So this was their view across the field looking at the Paraguayan fans.

At least they were not the only foreigners!

The groups were divided by the ever present riot police!
Would it be soccer without riot police?

The losing team...

and their coach, ' Maradona'.

Paraguay won!

We are going to the World Cup!
The whole country celebrated It was such fun to be here for this exciting time!

Have you ever attended a professional soccer game?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Makeover

In Paraguay, ordinary daily events, such as a trip to the Beauty Shop, often become extraordinary experiences.

"Look", they say,"don't you think she needs to have her eyebrows tattooed?"

This question is asked, not once, but over and over again. Each and every time I go to the beauty shop. As each new client enters, they are brought over to come and scrutinize my nearly invisible eyebrows, then they all notice that with out mascara my eye lashes are also transparent and I should just go ahead and get the eyeliner tattooed on as well.

Obviously, they are not familiar with many redheads! I think they assume I am a mutant and just never realized that everyone else on the planet has nice, thick eyebrows and lush eye lashes.

The owners of the shop, a husband and wife, are very sweet and happen to attend one of the churches we are working in. This means the conversation gets carried over to the congregation. No client/ hair dresser privacy privileges here in Paraguay, it seems.

And as it would be, the wife has had all her make up permanently tattooed on ,

and...drum roll...

she does the tattoos for others! She wants to do my eyes. I tell her I can't spend that kind of money on such a thing, but now

... drum roll...

she tells me she will do it all for only '25 American dollars'!

She informs me of this offer in front of the entire shop. They are all so very happy for me! Now I can afford to get eyebrows and lashes! I no longer will go through life as a mutant and can join the human race,if I only submit to the tattoos!.


Now what? I imagine my fair, freckled face covered with garish Cleopatra like eyebrows and eyeliner!

What do I say????

The entire shop, employees as well as clients, are awaiting my decision...

I look around the room for inspiration.... help eludes me. My brain is stuck on one thing. Do you remember how as children we would swear to tell the truth, "So help me God!' or "Stick a needle in my eye!"?

"Its cheap" some tell me. "You must do it" say others. I want to cry... but then my eye makeup would run and they would see that I really don't have much in the way of eyebrows and lashes.

She then offers the coup de grace, she announces that she has decided that she will also do my lips! She has decided that not only will I have tattooed eyebrows and eyeliner, I will also have permanent tattooed lip liner. Her gift!

My mind conceives of one image, and one image alone!

Is this the to be the look of a new and improved Jungle Mom????

me thinks, NOT!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The VERY BEST image of the Crasher Squirrel...

Is not here folks!

After 492 people having been misdirected to my blog, seemingly looking for the Crasher Squirrel, I decided to exploit the situation!

Sorry to disappoint you, but since, for some unknown reason, so many have been directed here by Google, I thought I would let you know that the infallible internet has indeed misdirected you.

I do have a funny Squirrel story though, if that interests you! HERE!

And since you are already here, why not leave a comment and say hello? I would love to know what brought you all here!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The Things I See...

Color in Nature

All photos were taken by my youngest daughter.
Verja's Photography

Monday, September 07, 2009

Labor Day had to have been named by a man...

I had forgotten today was a US holiday. If it weren't for the Internet I would never know these things. Once, while in the jungle, my husband and I both forgot our own anniversary. We were doing good if we remembered what day of the week it was as those things did not matter much in that culture.

But today is Labor Day. I am sure the holiday was named by a man! What woman would choose 'labor' as a name for a day of rest?

Sundays are always busy for us. Yesterday we had morning services, Sunday School and church, followed by a baptismal in the new baptistery. 6 adults were baptized. At 3:00 Clint had a study with 12 new couples, all unchurched. At 6:00 was a pre-marital counseling session and evening services at 7:00.

So you can see why we take Mondays as our day off. Today we had planned to just hang out at the house, maybe watch some dvd's with Jayde, but now that we know it is a holiday, we feel pressured to CELEBRATE!

So we have to go out and find some meat, get a gas tank for the BBQ, I have to bake something...

I should never have gotten online today! I could have had a relaxing day, but now I have to have LABOR DAY!

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Sunday Funny

Biblical Headlines Written by Today's Media

On Red Sea crossing:
Pursuing Environmentalists Killed

On David vs. Goliath:
Psychologist Questions Influence of Rock

On Elijah on Mt. Carmel:
400 Killed

On the birth of Christ:
Animal Rights Activists Enraged by Insensitive Couple

On feeding the 5,000:
Disciples Mystified Over Behavior

On healing the 10 lepers:
"Faith Healer" Causes Bankruptcy

On healing of the Gadarene demoniac:
Local Farmer's Investment Lost

On raising Lazarus from the dead:
Will Reading to be Delayed

Saturday, September 05, 2009