Friday, September 30, 2011

The Things I See...

I was so sad to notice my favorite lawyer's sign had been painted over. I mean, who is ever going to believe me now when I tell them about  Mr. Gigglberger???

This city just wont be quite the same without him!

Fire !!

One night, our youngest daughter was experiencing croup. A bad case of croup. She was about 2 at the time. We were in the jungle and no doctor or hospital was available, we couldn't even call for an emergency flight to come get us. The Cessnas cant land at night on a dark airstrip. So, we did all we could. We set up a pop up tent and I boiled kettles and kettles of water while she and her dad were inside the sauna like environment, hoping to loosen the phlegm which was blocking her breathing. Finally, around 3 a.m. She was able to get rid of the phlegm and promptly fell into a deep sleep.

My husband and myself prepared to get some sleep as well. A few minutes after we had laid down, just on the verge of that wonderful sleep...we began to hear something. Rustling!
We went out of our room in time to see our son (10 years old or so) run by on his way outside! The 2 older girls were right behind him!
We could hear Indians beginning to run past our house as well, calling out...something!

So we grabbed the little one and ran out as well. You see, children always learn a foriegn language faster than their parents and Josh had understood the screams of the Indians.

He heard them yelling, "FIRE! THE ROOF IS ON FIRE!", and as he rolled over and looked out his window, he saw the flames VERY close to our roof. He thought OUR roof was on fire.

We had taught the children that if our palm roof EVER caught on fire..Get out FAST!! Dry leaves go up in flame very quickly and there is no time to grab anything. So, he took us at our word, and with only a yell over his shoulder to his siblings, he was out the door.

Once outside we realized the fire was at Tito and Dorotea's house, about 100 meters or so away.

My husband began to run towards the jungle path that led to our water pump. Their house was lost, but we hoped to be able to save the houses near it, including our own by wetting the roofs.

So Clint runs out, barefoot, into the dark jungle. The indian trails are narrow and only wide enough to walk on in single file. So staying on the trail in the dark was not easy. The pump was about 500 meters or so down to the river. There was no moon light, and the jungle at night can be scary. I ran in and grabbed a flash light and tossed it to him.

In the mean time, I climbed up our water tower to unhook the flexible pipe we used to fill the barrels we used as a water storage tank.

Once down, my son and I began to pull the 2 inch hose towards the fire. A two inch hose full of water is HEAVY! We were pulling and had gotten to the edge of a thick piece of jungle we needed to get through to reach the fire. My young son's voice was a little frightened as he asked, "Mommy, are we going to walk through there without a light?!"

I answered in my own frightened voice, "I guess we have to." At that same moment, something SWOOSHED by us and we felt the hose pulled from our hands!

All this time, my husband is experiencing his own adventure! The flashlight I had tossed him...well, the batteries were dead! So he is running through the jungle in the pitch black! Now, unless you have been in the jungle on a moonless night, under the canopy of the forest without a light, you have NO idea how DARK it can get!
aAs he runs, he is praying aloud, "Please God! No snakes!"
Later he says he wished he had prayed "No thorns". I had to pull 13 thorns, some up to an inch long out of his feet after he got back. But he did make it to the pump house and he did get the pump started.

Josh and I felt the hose taken from us. It was so dark we couldn't see who ,or what! had ran by until one of the Indians said, "We got it now".
Whew! I was glad to not have to go through that dark jungle!

After fighting the fire for several hours, the village was able to save all but the one house.

The thing I remember most was poor Dorotea! She was crying, "My new bucket! I lost my new bucket!"
That was her prized possession! A plastic bucket.

I ask you, if you had a fire, would you be crying over a bucket? That kind of puts it in perspective for me! We are so wealthy!

Lets remember to be grateful! God has blessed us with so much in our country, we don't even comprehend how wealthy we are. So next time you (or I) feel like whining about not having something, think of Dorotea and her bucket.

(This is a typical Indian house)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Things I See...

 My two grand daughters behaving
very much within the Paraguayan culture.
They are sharing tereré.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

How Does your Garden Grow?

(Another recycled post. Very busy this week.)

When we moved into the village, I had great intentions of planting a vegetable garden. I really did! My grandmother always had a garden and my father would plant one any time he had the space, not always possible for him as he is a Pastor. Sometimes the church provides a parsonage and there just isn't land for a garden. But whenever possible, he would plant one. My mouth waters remembering his tomatoes!

In the beginning years in the jungle, we only had fresh vegetables once a month. That was when the plane would come with supplies. We would stuff ourselves on fresh veggies for a few days! We did not have any type of refrigeration at first, so we had to eat it all fast. Later, when we had our own plane, we had more frequent flights, and when my husband was able to install solar panels, he converted a small fridge to a 12 volt system to run off batteries, which we charged with the panels! He did the same with a small freezer! We were living good!!!

Back to the garden... I had ordered seeds for things I thought might grow well in the jungle. Although the soil is fertile, it is a very thin layer of top soil as the heavy rains wash it away each rainy season. This is why the Indians have to cut new gardens every year or so. There are also a lot of insects to combat. The Indians grow tubers mainly and the best, sweetest, pineapples, and lots of different types of bananas. The main food is casava made from yucca, so the majority of their gardens are given to the yucca plant.

I wanted to try to raise tomatoes, green onions and peppers. I thought that just those three things would "spice" up so many of our plain meals!. As I waited for my seed order to get to the states and then back to me, I tried to prepare a compost. One morning, I found an Indian friend diligently "cleaning" up my compost area for me. Oh well!!!

Finally, the seeds arrived on the flight day! That evening I had sat at the table and sorted them all out into nice little piles, imagining all the good food we would have. I left the room for just a moment ,only to return and find several Indian children enjoying the "snack" they thought I had prepared for them! I often would make popcorn and place it on the table for the visitors to eat and the Indians would eat dried pumpkin seeds as a snack, so they assumed I had left it for them! Oh, well!!!

A few months later, I received my second order of seeds. I was much wiser now. No more sorting at the table. I guarded the seeds as if they were gold. I even managed to get my tomato seedlings started. What joy! I would set them out each day for the required sunlight.

The village was experimenting with raising sheep. They kept the sheep across the river, usually. No one told me, but they decided to bring the sheep over to the village side because a jaguar was killing them off over there on the other side.Well, you guessed it, the sheep assumed I had prepared a "snack" for them . They really seemed to enjoy my young tomato plants! Oh, well!

A few more months went by, and once again, I received my seeds, set the tomatoes , carefully guarded them from all 2 legged and four legged creatures. I had my husband clear a spot and build a small, low fence. You know, to keep out the sheep. I set out the young plants! I was very excited!

We had to leave the village for a few days and I asked a neighbor boy to water the garden since it was now dry season. He was excited to do it as I promised to bring him a treat from town for his work. And he did! He watered the garden faithfully.

The men of the village decided to burn off some jungle area. They burn off the areas around the village during dry season to keep snakes and critters away. Guess which area they burned? Yep! Bye, Bye garden!

When I returned the poor little neighbor boy was still trying to water the burned garden!

Ok, so I am not a quick study, it takes me awhile to figure stuff out, but after over a year trying to get a garden...I decided, maybe it wasn't going to happen after all!! Oh well!

My garden certainly never produced any vegetables, but I did cultivate something else. What, you ask?

Patience (Hope deferred maketh the heart sick!) and a good attitude when things don't go as I had hoped and planned !( Put away anger and strife) So I guess it was a success after all!

Monday, September 26, 2011

I miss them...

 Jungle Mom the absentee blogger

I miss  the interaction I used to have on this blog. These days, I am lucky to have time to jot something new down on a fairly regular basis. There was a day when I would be able to visit many blogs and leave comments. This in turn meant that those bloggers would visit and do likewise.

Since moving to Ciudad del Este and begining a new church plant, I have not been able to get around to all the blogs I used to read on a daily basis. Also, since we are working with people here, I do not feel at liberty to  write much about that or what we are doing in the ministry. I feel I should protect their privacy and I would not want them to think they are merely BLOG FODDER, so to speak. They are precious people that I enjoy interacting with and I am blessed to have them all in my life, but I wont be writing  anything about them except in a very general way.

 Which brings me back to the title of this post... other bloggers and their comments, I miss them! And I miss some commenters who do not have their own blogs but used to regularly leave comments here at The Jungle Hut.

People like: Z, The Beak,   The Merry Widow, Papa Frank, Serendip, Speedy G, Big Girl Pants, and of course, all of my expat bloggers spread across the globe! I also miss the regular comments from people like Gringo who seems to get my sense of humor more than anyone else.

 So, if you are out there reading this... how about a comment for old times sake? Or if you are a new reader, please introduce yourself!

 Even feel free to ask a question about anything at all. Yes, anything at all, and I will do my best to give you an answer.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

True Missionaries!


Meet Simeon and Victor. These two men are Ye'kwana Christians. Victor is now the Pastor of the Good Hope Baptist Church and Simeon is a deacon at the same church. I would like to share with you some of their zeal in sharing their faith with their tribesmen.

Victor and Simeon had decided to take the gospel to a small village far up in the mountains. This village was so resistant to outsiders , they had purposely chosen to live in a difficult to reach area of the jungle. Victor and Simeon have family members living in this village and both felt responsible with taking their family the knowledge of Christ which has so changed their own lives.

Both of these men were reached by missionaries with the gospel as children. They had eagerly awaited some 25 years for a missionary to return to their village as they were now adults and had the desire to learn more. Both men were able to read in their language, thanks to missionaries! They were able to read the New testament in their own language, thanks to missionaries.

We were able to aid these two on their missions trip by giving them a lift in the Cessna to the closest airstrip to the village they intended to hike to. This allowed them to spend a few days preaching and teaching in the village with the airstrip as well, before heading to the more remote village.

From the village by the airstrip, the two men canoed for two days. At that point, they proceeded by foot, uphill, towards the village of their family members for another two days. For a non-indian, it would take at least three days!

Victor and Simeon found their family to be receptive and they were able to begin with some "pre-evangelism". This is the term we use to prepare an illiterate people with no understanding of the Bible for the gospel message. One must first begin by teaching through the Old Testament, to show our need for an atonement and redemption, leading up to the birth of Christ and His ministry here on earth. We call this the Chronological Bible Teaching . Basically, the goal is to help the "people walk backwards, in to the future".

After a month of daily teaching, the two Ye'kwana missionaries returned to the airstrip where there was a ham radio to allow for communication with us. We had planned to send the plane for them. Unfortunately, the Venezuelan government was not allowing us to fly at the time, by denying permits to purchase gasoline for the plane. This left Victor and Simeon stranded in the village for two more weeks. They used this time wisely by continuing with their teaching at the village.

After two weeks, they became concerned for their families left back in Chajudaña, who would be out of meat, and in need of hunters. The two decided to hike back home via an old hunting trail rarely used. By speaking with old timers, they received directions and were told it would take about three weeks to reach our village. The two set out into the jungle with no means of communication, no canoe, and only a machete and one shot gun with a few shells.

We eagerly awaited word of them. Finally they arrived. They had made a small rough raft on which they placed their hammocks, provisions, and weapons in order to keep them dry. They could not ride on the raft themselves or else it would sink. They were swimming along behind it and were very water logged! Both were very weak and had open sores on them from the rough trail and lack of nourishment, along with malaria!

They told us of the great joy they had in preaching to these villages that had never before heard the good news of the gospel. Believe it or not, they were anxious to return and preach more!

They had suffered hunger, sickness, and great discomfort, but they knew their suffering for a time here on earth would be worth it if they could reach some of their tribesmen for Christ. They also knew that Christ had suffered much more while bringing the message and way of Salvation to us all.

These two men may not look like missionaries to you, but they are the true un-sung heroes of the faith. No one will ever hear of them or their ministry. They will continue to be two indians from a small village in a small country. But they are the kind of men God uses to carry forth His word. They are akin to the men of the New Testament who went forth and spread the gospel so that, eventually , one day it reached ME!

Friday, September 23, 2011


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.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

My Dad's a doctor?? Sorta...

My Dad, the doctor. Another re-post! from my oldest daughter, Jackie

She asked if my dad was a doctor.
Uhm...yes, well, kinda...maybe? Sorta.
Hm...I'll just start at the beginning.
When I was eleven we moved from a big city in Venezuela, Barquisimeto its called, to a small Indian village named Chajurana. It was a two hour plane trip. Not a big plane, a small one engine 206 Cessna. Like a sardine can with wings. We arrived in the village and began the long process of settling in. The bats didn't like that we were taking over their outhouse. And of course we didn't like going to the outhouse by ourselves. So who ever had to "go" also had to convince a younger sibling to accompany them.
Josh - "Hey! Jewel! You want to go to the out house with me?"
Jewel- "No."
Josh - "It will be fun!"
Jewel- "No, it will stink. The out house smells weird."
Josh - "Please???"
Jewel - ""
Josh - "Uhm...Jayde! You want to go the out house with me??"
Jayde- "AAAA!! I hate bats!!!" (as she's running away....)
You get the point. Well, one day, right at dusk, the Ye'kwana nurse came to get my dad. He told my dad they needed his help. A little boy had shot an arrow into his shoulder. Could my dad help the men get it out? My dad was ecstatic to help, he grabbed his flashlight, because his idea of "helping" was holding the flashlight so they could see better while they pulled the arrow out. Wrong.
When they got to the small, smokey little hut one of the men handed my dad a scapel and said, "There you go." My dad asked them just what they thought he was supposed to do with a scapel. "Pull the arrow out."
"I don't know how to pull the arrow out. You're the nurse!"
"Yeah, but you're the missionary."
"All missionaries have to do medical stuff." Of course this conversation did not take place in English, it supposedly took place in Yekwana, which my dad knew very little of at the time. So for all we know the conversation that really took place was...
"Pull the arrow out"
"Hi! How are you? What is your name?"
"What? I asked you to pull the arrow out. Here's the scapel."
"We will be here for three months, and Jesus loves you."
"You missionaries get weirder and weirder."
Most of our early conversations in Yekwana went like that, and I must admit that my grasp of the language never really got past that point! ;-)
Long story short, my dad pulled the arrow out, and he was hooked. He loved medical work and went on to deliver babies,treat burns, stitch, pull teeth, etc. Just about anything you could think of, he could do. Of course his children did not put as much trust in him as the Ye'kwanas did. We were afraid to tell dad we had a toothache, cause he would want to pull it. Practice, he called it. We were not very excited about being his dental guinea pigs.
The Ye'kwana parents would threaten their kids..."If you dont behave, the missionary is going to give you a shot!" Ahh...the good old days. When penicillan could fix everything!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Flavor of Words

When one becomes bilingual or multi-lingual, a strange thing happens. Words begin to have flavor. Certain words just taste better when said in certain languages. That is the only way to describe it...flavor.

For instance, English is a great language for technical words and for teaching concrete matters.

Spanish, is very emotive, full of strong feelings.

Ye'kwana is for description. The words often sound like what they mean.

Because of this, our home is full of a mixture of all three languages. A sort of smorgasbord of vocabulary, if you will. Pick and chose whichever your taste buds are desiring.

Some of my favorite words in one language just don't have a good translation into the other. Yes, you can translate it's meaning, but not it's flavor!

For instance, in Spanish, 'Animado'. Sure, it means excited or motivated but, doesn't 'animado' taste sooooo much better????? ' Animado' has texture and cotton candy.

Or the Venezuelan , 'Na'guara', I mean...Na'guara just oozes excitement and wonder! So much more flavorful than ,"WOW!" It tastes like caramel candy that sticks around on your teeth for awhile and you pick at it all day.

And then in Yekwana, one of my favorite words is....

get ready....


That words just rumbles around in your mouth and explodes out!


It's a great insult because it is so funny sounding, no one could take it too seriously.
"Töwödäjööque!" means 'ugly'. But when you say it, it tastes like a mouth full of red hots!!!!

And the word, "Soto". It means 'people', but not just any people. It means 'us', the tribe. And it is such a proud sounding word, "Soto"! Like biting into a piece of dark chocolate! Sharp, bitter, and needs nothing added!

English has some great words as well. One that just makes me giggle is, "Somebody"! Imagine how that sounds to a non -English speaking person! "Somebody" tastes like sparkling cider, it's a funny sort of fizzy words!

The word "logic" sounds so...'logical'! Boring. But necessary for plain bread.

And lately, a tasty word in my mouth has been..."Politics", that sounds like a string of fire works!
It has a spicy taste like curry, fine in moderation, but don't go overboard with it!

Which makes me think of 'Democrat" which has a soury sauerkraut!!! And smells up the kitchen too!

What about "Republican"? It sounds like something solid and traditional. Tastes like a sour dough bread to me. Tough and strong enough to spread some jam or butter on it without it crumbling!

And speaking of flavors, in the words of Emiril Lagasse ...


You Are Cayenne Pepper

You are very over the top and a bit overwhelming.

You have a fiery personality, and you can give anyone a good jolt.

You can easily take things up a couple notches, no matter what crowd you're running with.

I am wondering if any other bilinguals feel this way about words, and if so, how about a word 'tasting'?

Share some words from your language with us so we can all have a taste! (NO PROFANITY!)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Being a missionary is not my real job

Thoughts for Missionary Wives

I am often asked what is a typical day like living on the mission field . It is a very hard question to answer. You must understand that every circumstance is different. The missionary's schedule will be dictated by the culture in which he works, the level of his language skills, the ministry role in which he has been placed, and even the missionary's personality.

Our days in the jungle were completely different than our days here in Paraguay. Both were full of ministry but ministering to our flock was different there than it will be here. We do not do any medical work here, we do not need to do translation work, but we still have a ministry.

A common misconception some people hold is in regards to what the role of the missionary wife should be. Wives on the mission field do indeed serve in various capacities, but their ministries will be different depending on several factors. How many children are in the home? Does she have small children? Does she need to home school the children? What are her living conditions? (Carrying water, cooking with fire wood, hand washing laundry do take time!)What help does her husband require of her? Her ministry will be ever changing as the dynamics of her home change. Since my decline in health and physical ability, my role has changed yet agian after so many years,

My job is to be the wife my husband needs, finish raising our children yet at home, which includes home schooling them, and if my husband needs me to serve in a capacity of ministry, I will do that as well. But, in my case, I am only a woman married to a missionary. Being a missionary is not my real job! I do not get paid to be a missionary nor do I punch a time clock. I am a stay at home wife and mother and I happen to live on the mission field.

As a child of God I do feel required to take part in christian service as is every other Christian where ever they may live. I have the privilege of enjoying my life as the wife of a missionary and I also feel fulfilled in my role as wife and mother. Serving my Lord on the mission field is just the icing on the cake!

I would like to be able to instruct younger missionary wives as to the role which they play on the field. Every woman is different and married to a different man. Every ministry will ask different things of different people, but the missionary wife must never feel guilty for putting her time and energy first into her family.

Some families are able to find adequate education for their children on the field and I am not assuming to know what may be best for another family, but even if your children are enrolled in a school your job as a wife and mother will still require much time. Some woman even need to have outside interests and ministry will fulfill this for her, but in balance. This time away from the home duties may allow you to came back refreshed.

The work of a home maker seems to always be more time consuming in third world countries. We do not have the option of packaged foods, fast foods, we do not have central air and heat to keep dust out of the home. We sometimes lack time saving appliances commonly found in the American home. Our electricity and water go out often which requires more work. Buying groceries and other supplies takes much more time as we do not have the convenience of a Super Wal-Mart with one stop shopping. Even paying bills takes a lot of time. We can not do it online or even mail in a check, we have to go stand in several lines to pay each one. Of course, that is after standing in line at the bank to change our money in order to pay the bills, all the while watching our backs to make sure we will not be robbed as we leave the bank, which happened to a lady here just a few weeks ago, shot dead in the parking lot for $2000 US Dollars. Sometimes our homes and cars are robbed and we have gun shots in the night. I have personally had my home invaded by armed military while my husband was away.

How many times have I seen women on the mission field break under the pressure she feels to perform more than she is capable of! This often leads to depression and even leaving the mission field. Perhaps, if the missionary wife would relax a bit and give herself the opportunity to be 'just another woman' this would not happen so often. Remember you are under extra stress just dealing with life in a new culture and and language.

To the younger wives I would remind you that your children will grow up and you will have more time available for ministry then. Never forget your people are observing you and the best testimony is for you to show them a Christian woman who is at peace and content.

I have known phenomenal women who were able to do it all! Sadly, I have known many who gave up, not feeling adequate to the job they assumed others expected of them. Often times this pressure comes from well meaning folks stateside who somehow think the wife of a missionary should be capable of more than any other woman. A Christian Super Woman with special powers! Personally, I think being able to sleep through gun shots flying over your roof is a Super Power! Some even think that the wife is an employee of the mission, which may be the case for some, but not all.

So dear younger missionary wife, don't forget to enjoy your life. Don't forget to be available to your husband as a wife, not an employee, put your best time and effort into your children, and serve God first at home. Remember you also need time to study and promote your own intellectual and spiritual growth as this will only serve you in your capacity as a counselor to others. And you will be a counselor!

God will always provide the right ministry for you that will not be more than you can handle. If you are stressing out, feeling pressured to perform, loosing joy in your marriage, or do not have control of your home and yet still try to be involved in ministry outside of the home, you are doing too much.

God does not want His children to serve out of duty alone but with a heart of joy. Service to Him will never require you to abandon your first calling to the home. If this is the case for you, perhaps you need to step back and re-evaluate what you are doing and where you are expending most of your energy. Plan a little time for relaxation and fun each and every day, it will only make you a better person.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Gall bladder Christmas

I believe it was December 2004... yes, it was the last Christmas we were in the jungle. We did not know then that we would be forced to leave before the next year ended, thanks to the decree of President Chavez.

My son, Josh, had flown from the states to spend Christmas with us in the jungle. We flew in the MAF Cessna out to Puerto Ayacucho, Estado Amazonas to meet him and to do our supply buying. All went well and we drove down to Puerto Ayacucho, about an 8 hour trip, on some of the worst roads in Venezuela. The next day we flew the 1 hour 30 minute flight back to Chajuraña

We were excited to fly home and get the tree up and spend Christmas together and with the church people! Lots of big plans and even fireworks for the village. The very next day, Saturday, I began to feel ill but enjoyed watching the children decorate the tree.

Sunday, after the morning service, I made our traditional Sunday lunch...homemade pizza! We always ate pizza on Sunday and had our 2 liter Coke for the week to go with it. Shortly after lunch, I began to feel much worse.

I ended up in bed and by early evening was having terrible pain in my chest. It felt a bit like an ice pick was sticking through me and all the way out the back between my shoulder blades! By early Monday morning, I was not only in pain but was also vomiting.

Clint asked if I wanted to be evacuated to the clinic, but I hated to ruin everyone else's Christmas! I seemed to be feeling a bit better by late morning. He did call the missionary pilots on the radio to let them know we might be needing a flight if I did not improve. There were to be 3 planes in our area the next day.

Late that night, I had even worse pain than before and actually felt a hard, tender protrusion just below my upper right rib. By now, we knew it was the gallbladder. That was the longest, most painful night I have even endured. I also began to pass blood. No pain meds seem to be helping much.

The next morning, Clint began to prepare for a medical evacuation. The problem was that our car was in Puerto Ayacucho and I did not want to have surgery in Puerto Ayacucho! I would not want my dog to have surgery in Puerto Ayacucho! But that was where two of the planes were headed. The other plane, a NTM, plane would be passing directly over us in the afternoon and then flying on to Puerto Ordaz, Estado Bolivar. My own doctor was in Puerto Ordaz and the medical care is much better there...but, they could only take two of us!

So...Clint and the girls ended up flying to Puerto Ayacucho to get our car, Josh and I stayed and waited for the Puerto Ordaz flight. The other pilot flying in the area, Dan Whitehead, did stop by and check on me as I was still in excruciating pain. I remember asking him if he could use his Leatherman All Purpose Tool and just take the gallbladder out then and there!

Finally, my plane arrived. Josh helped me down to the airstrip. I was unable to sit up, so we removed some seats and I laid on the floor of the plane. I never realized how many bumps our airstrip had until that take off! Our pilot was Stefan Pyle and he is still my hero!!

Josh had been given a hand made indian straw sombrero that he wanted to take back to the states for use while working construction in Florida, so he was wearing that. Remembering that our international insurance was not accepted at the clinic, Clint had already given him 3 million Bolivares as well. ($1000 at the time)

The New Tribe missionaries had arranged to have an ambulance waiting at the airport in Puerto Ordaz and a missionary friend met the plane as well. And we were finally off!!

Once in the ER everything went quickly and I finally got some pain relief!!! While I was getting sonograms and tests, Josh was left to register me. He says that they asked him names, etc. but then they asked for a street address....

"Well, we don't exactly live on a street..."
How about a phone number?...
"Uhhh.... you see... we don't have a phone..."
A neighbor's number then???
" No...none of our neighbors have a phone either..."

The poor office girl did not know what to do! She finally found a manager and Josh overheard her say she had "some strange campesino, gringo- in a sombrero" out front. Finally, they said they could not admit me into the clinic without any info, they would need to send me to the state run hospital.
Josh said, " But I have CASH!" Now, he was the campesino, gringo, a strange sombrero!

(This is the same type of hat!)

Suddenly, they were able to admit me and find me a private room! Josh spent the night caring for me as Clint and the girls drove all night from Puerto Ayacucho to Puerto Ordaz. A terribly dangerous drive to make at night! Probably more dangerous than my gallbladder attack!

It seems that I had passed several gall stones before arriving, I remained in the clinic for 4 days. Thankfully, our missionary friends made sure that our family had a Christmas meal and a place to stay while I was hospitalized.

Thank God for good friends!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Personal Space

People, people, everywhere!!!
Jungle Mom entertaining friends.

You are never really alone. Not in an indian village. There is no concept of "personal space". Actually, the Ye'kwana language does not even have a true translation for "privacy" or "being alone" as a positive thing. The translation is a negative, like "lonely". Something sad. Something to be avoided. Something dangerous, as being alone is an invitation to the evil spirits to come and attack you. Especially "Canaima"(the death angel) who flies around at night, looking for some poor soul who is alone. Canaima will set in and give that person a beating and death within 3 days. That is why no one would ever think of walking around the jungle alone, even to go down the path to the river alone is risky.

I share all of this, so that you can understand how different the culture is in regards to privacy. We had NO privacy. Our home was always open, and often full of people. We even had indians standing around looking in our windows most of the time. Especially at night. Our house had large windows to afford us with light and cross ventilation. But with our lights on at night, we were watched by the entire tribe. We were their entertainment, " Live, in Technicolor and Surround Sound". Even in the house, under the palm roof, with no inside ceilings, what was said in one room was heard through out the entire house.

Being very aware that our entire lives were under scrutiny, we had to discipline ourselves at every moment. Even when speaking English or Spanish, our body language, facial expressions, and reactions were all being watched. They wanted to see how a christian re-acted to things, we needed to show them patience, love, gentleness...self control. Christ in us.

My husband and I learned to not show our irritation with each other in public, and we were always "in public". If an issue came up that absolutely had to be "discussed" in private, that meant, going to the river, getting in a canoe, paddling for 10 to 15 minutes to get out of hearing range from the village, in order to have a private discussion.

Frankly, not many things are worth that effort! By the time you get done paddling, you don't have the energy to argue. Or it no longer seems important enough, you may even forget what had annoyed you to begin with, or, you find yourself alone and don't want to waste that precious privacy in anger!

I think every married couple ought to buy a couple of rowing machines and make a rule that before responding to one another in anger, you both have to row for 15 minutes!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Janus the Great

She just keeps growing! Here is Janus, our Great Dane, at almost 6 months.

Friday, September 09, 2011

The Things I See...

Would you buy chicken here?

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

It seemed like a good idea at the time...

 Another one of those things that may not have been such a good idea after all...

("This is a work of fiction - any resemblance to actual persons
living or dead is purely coincidental...maybe".)

After leaving the jungle, we were still under investigation by the authorities. Sometimes this involved having our phone tapped. We had been warned of this and sometimes, you could hear a machine click on and occasionally, even breathing and other background noises.

We had nothing to hide and did not discuss anything private over the phone, certainly not with our lawyer. Even so, it was very irritating.

So... we embraced the situation. If I ever had a toddler in the house I would let them speak, and babble and sing to their hearts content over the phone.

Or, read scripture passages for long stretches!

Give the official listening in the 'Plan of Salvation".

Speak in PIG LATIN!!! Oday ouyay eakspay igpay atinlay???

Our favorite, when calling one another, from the market or some such place, was to speak in Ye'kwana! This is best done in low, grave voices. Oh the evil codes they must have thought we had invented! They may have assumed we were discussing the evil empire and it's plans to dominate, but we were really just discussing what items we needed from the market. Hee, hee!!!

But the most important thing of all is to speak to the officer listening in. Say "Hello, how are you? Are you having a nice day?" If asking a question to the person with whom you are conversing, ask the official what he thinks, "SO, dear official of the day, should he bring home chicken or fish for dinner? We'll have plenty so you all can come by as well! "

And, be nice! You know, like before you hang up say ,"I am not expecting anymore phone calls this evening so why don't you just go ahead and rest now, or get a coffee".

And being a good Venezuelan family, we even ended with, "Bendición?" !

Friday, September 02, 2011

It seemed like a good idea at the time...

 This is my friend ,Theda Dawson, in front of a Mission Aviation Fellowship plane
on the air strip in the village where she lived and worked at the time.

I  was reminded  by another missionary, Theda Dawson, of the time I had a root canal in her jungle home. That's right, a root canal in a mud and stick house with a palm roof in a Yanomamo village. You see, a dentist was visiting from Puerto Rico and he offered to do it for free. I needed it, he offered, so...

I sat myself down in the middle of a room full of half naked indians, chewing tobacco and spitting it on the floor as they chattered on. They spoke Guiaca, so I had no idea what they might be saying.

 It went quite well, considering. I did not have too much pain and after the root canal we loaded up in a speed boat and headed down river to a Ye'kwana village where we would spend the night. I did fine until night when the Novocain wore off. I spent the night in my hammock tossing and turning which kept everyone else up. In a jungle home built of poles which are all tied together, when one persons swings his hammock, the poles shake and everyone swings with them, others are not always appreciative!

The next day we loaded up in a Cessna, piloted by a missionary friend, to fly to the relative civilization of Puerto Ayacucho. As we began to climb to gain elevation...I knew I was in BIG trouble. The higher we  climbed, the more pain I was in. Tears began to squeeze out of my eyes and I began to bang on the door repeatedly in pain.

That was when I learned that one should not travel in an unpressurized plane immediately after major dental work. My tooth began to grow! and GROW! AND GROW! It was so big it was about to explode and take my head with it!

Eventually, I was able to make the pilot hear me and he tried to fly as low as possible. Unfortunately, the mountain ranges refused to lower themselves and we had to climb repeatedly to cross them. I began to consider the possibilities available for constructing a parachute and taking up sky diving.

About that time, I heard another pilot talking on the radio. He had a young indian girl on his plane headed to the same town. She was having complications with her labor and needed an emergency flight to the hospital. I could hear her screaming in the back ground. Poor thing! After hearing her, I refused to scream, but I did cry and kept right on banging that door. It probably still has a dent in it...

As we neared  town,  we descended to land and  the pain also became less intense. Even so, I went straight to the pharmacy for some pain medication and I never flew again for at least 3 days after I had any dental work, even just a cleaning!

I hate dental work under normal circumstances, and I can not recall why I would have decided to go through a root canal in one sitting, no x-ray machines, in a jungle hut. Maybe one of the witch doctors cursed me to have a lapse of judgment.? Or maybe I was just a poor missionary who really needed free dental work?

Whatever the reason, it seemed like a good idea at the time.