Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Linguistics and Language Learning

I thought you may be interested in seeing how the Ye'kwana language looks in written form.

Awa´deene yaaajäntädaawä Wanaadi cönaamode´nai caju, nono mmaja,

The time and effort put forth to achieve a phonetic break down of the language so that you may be able to transcribe what you are hearing into a phonetic alphabet is staggering. This will allow the translator to be able to reproduce the sounds he is hearing, which will be the first step in the language learning process. This requires listening for phonetic sounds and intonation patterns.

We use two methods to achieve this. TRACKING and MIMICRY.

Tracking is listening to a tribal speaker either on tape or in person, and quietly with your lips, or silently in your mind, repeat exactly what he is saying. Instantaneously mimic everything being said so that you are never more than 4 or 5 syllables behind the speaker. This is difficult at first but will become a real help to hearing and understanding the language in rapid speech. Tracking should become a habit. ( Non- tribal language learners could use this method with radio or television to good effect.)

Mimicry is working with yourself. It is copying the rhythm and pitch you hear in the spoken language. It is mimicking the people. Not just sounds but intonations also. One must take advantage of every opportunity to say things as they do, using their rhythm, pitch and expression. You can not possibly write down everything you hear and maintain the speed and rhythm of the spoken language, but you can mimic a lot as you hear it! Don't get the people to slow down for you, mimic them at their natural rate.

Mimicry is practicing with yourself while alone and when with the people. Lots of talking will cement the material you are learning. Your goal is to be as natural as possible and to sound as much like them as possible.

Memorization without adequate mimicry is a good way to ensure a foreign accent!

Anyone care to venture a guess at what the following means?

Awa´deene yaaajäntädaawä Wanaadi cönaamode´nai caju, nono mmaja,

(based on New tribes Language and Culture learning manual)

Sunday, September 28, 2008


A meme about my hubby.

( I gave my heart to a Marine!)

1. He’s sitting in front of the TV; what is on the screen?
Action movie

2. You’re out to eat; what kind of dressing does he get on his salad?

(Treating indian patients.)

3. What’s one food he doesn’t like?
Strawberry ice cream

4. You go out to the bar. What does he order?
We don’t go to bars…

(At my son's wedding.)

5. Where did he go to high school?
Zanesville, Ohio

6. What size shoe does he wear?

(Baby Jessica born weighing only 2.5 lbs.

was one of the many babies delivered by Yekwanaman.)

7. If he was to collect anything, what would it be?
He collects knives and first edition old books.

(Delivering the New Testament, translated into Ye'kwana, to a village)

8. What is his favorite type of sandwich?
Venezuelan pepito

9. What would this person eat every day if he could?

10. What is his favorite cereal?
Honey Nut Cherrios

11. What would he never wear?

Anything with a NY Yankee emblem!

(Providing dental care for the tribe)

12. What is his favorite sports team?
Boston Red Sox!

(Just chillin')

13. Who will he vote for?
John McCain...or as we say...McPalin!

14. Who is his best friend?
ME! And his children.

15. What is something you do that he wishes you wouldn’t do?
He does not like it when I do more than I should!

16. How many states has he lived in?

9 US states and 3 countries.

17. What is his heritage?
French/English...and third generation marine from Beaufort, S.C.!

(At the beach in Beaufort.)

18. You bake him a cake for his birthday; what kind of cake?
Cheese Cake

19. Did he play sports in high school?
Football in Jr. High and Marching band (trumpet) in High School.

(Baby dedication)

20. What could he spend hours doing?
Reading Greek and Biblical translation.

( Reading the Greek New Testament with youngest grand daughter)

Friday, September 26, 2008

A NOT so itsy bitsy spider!

(Another re-post! Sorry!)

One thing you see a lot of in the jungle are spiders. At first, they catch you off guard and give you a fright. But after awhile, you start to expect them and don't get too excited when you do see one.

There are several poisonous spiders and they are not all big. Some are quite small. Of course, many are Very large. The tarantula is by far the largest. But even tarantulas vary in size. The average tarantula has only about a 6 inches leg span. However, things in the jungle are rarely average!

We had several encounters with spiders. The scariest spider is not as large as the tarantula, but is very fast. This is the Monkey Spider. It has only about a 4 inches leg span but can jump several feet in one single HOP! It is also poisonous. Once my son was chased by one of these monkey spiders!

But the tarantula is huge! My husband knocked one out of our palm roof which was so heavy, I heard the THUNK as it hit the floor even though I was in another room!

Tarantulas however are stupid and slow, and it is a good thing they are!If you ever run across a tarantula, remember this...don't poke at it, it will rear up into a striking pose and reveal it's fangs! Don't hit it, it's exoskeleton is too hard! Don't dare touch it, its hair will cause severe itching! So what to do?

My husband learned this the hard way, but all you have to do to get rid of a tarantula is...BLOW on it! Really, bend down and puff at it! It will run away! Every time...well, most of the time anyway. My husband was camping out on a river trip once and a tarantula was nearby. He bent over to get a closer look, and a cruel jungle MK (missionary kid) blew on it! The thing nearly climbed Clint's leg! You got to watch out for those MK's! They are by far the most dangerous creature in the jungle!

My kids would often catch tarantulas to play with during school. Like I said, Mk's are ...different. The game went like this. Place the tarantula in the middle of the table where all 4 kids are studying. As the tarantulas crawls toward them, the child will PUFF on it and redirect it towards their sibling, who will in turn, PUFF it towards another. This can go on for hours! I know, my kids are strange,but...HEY! They had no X Box!(or even nintendo!)

But one day, we saw the MOTHER OF ALL TARANTULAS!!!

My son had the daily chore of taking out our garbage. We had dug a big garbage pit about 50 meters or so away from the house and each day the trash was dumped there and burned. Josh left with the trash one morning and quickly came running back to the house. He ran into his room, grabbed his pellet gun and ran back out the door. I yelled after him, " What are you doing?" He answered over his shoulder, "I am going to shoot THAT spider!"

Now, we all heard this and decided to run after him. We wanted to see this spider he planned to shoot!He had complained for days that there was a big, BEEFY,spider living in the garbage pit. He was right!

We arrived at the pit right as he took aim. This tarantula was HUGE! It was the size of a dinner plate! This was no spider to swat at with a magazine! No, Josh was right. The only way to get rid of this baby, was to shoot it.

Which he did.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


( A re-post for Hermit: The not -so-great-things about the jungle!)

Insects: In ,on, and under the skin!

It often seemed that while living in the jungle, one was at war with the entire animal kingdom. Fighting off "critters" would become a full time, never ending battle. No matter what you were doing or planned to do, the insects and other critters had to be taken into consideration. They devoured food,destroyed clothing, swam in your water supply, infected children...

All our dry foods had to be kept in large coolers (such as Igloos) with airtight seals. We ordered dry goods only once every three months and if not completely airtight, it would all be ruined in a matter of days. Not to mention the four footed furry vermin!!! or the bats...or snakes...

By far, the most dangerous animal in the jungle is the mosquito. The mosquito carries the dreaded malaria as well as yellow fever, and dengue. Any of these can, and do, kill humans on a regular basis. You begin to be aware of the mosquitoes living habits. You plan to not be out from under screens and nets between 5 -7 a.m.and 5-7 p.m. as this is when the mosquito is out and eating. You sleep under the mosquito net, not only to fight the annoying buzz of the mosquito, but also other flying insects... and bats...rats...snakes...

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

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

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

Another common problem was scabies. Yuck!!! So many babies with scabies. I concocted a body shampoo, of sorts, for my family to use regularly in order to not be infected. Part of this shampoo was a dog shampoo. Sounds gross, I know, but ever so much better than scabies. I would say that we saw patients with scabies at least once a week. It is difficult to treat because it also infects clothing and bedding. And since several people share the same hammock...

With the dampness of the rain forest climate, fungal problems were also a concern. You had to stay dry! If you sweated, or were rained on, you had to change to dry clothing quickly or you would end up with rashes and other issues. Closed in shoes were not a good choice for daily use. I have seen a lot of newbys come into the jungle wearing leather military type boots or rubber mud boots, HA!! You knew they would be by asking for medical attention soon. Sandals and plastic flip flops are a much better choice as they can be treated and dried quickly. I have seen some severe cases of athletes foot! Many fungi respond well to being treated with white gas. We had to constantly come up with economical, yet safe, treatments for common problems.

The constant rain caused a lot of difficulties with clothing. Very hard to get the clothes dry. Many a time, I have had to re-wash all the clothing as it began to mildew while on the clothes line. We often would have everything in the house drying and yet, it would remain wet and begin to smell. When we arrived in town, our clothes smelled rank and mildewy. Eventually, we would keep city clothes in town and jungle clothes in the jungle. I was so happy when Febreeze became available in Venezuela!!!

Parasites were another problem. Dysentery type illnesses were common and we would have to de-worm the entire village every so many months. Since they share a common eating and drinking gourd, when one was ill, all were ill. When ever we ate with the people, we would suffer for a few days with stomach ailments, but we seemed to slowly grow more resistant to the bugs and were able to eat with less problems each year.

Culturally, the Ye'kwanas share gourds and when offered a drink or food it is very rude to deny it. It is the worse possible insult to not take part in the meals. A girl would serve you a large pot of yucuta, made from casava, and you were required to eat or drink it all. You could swallow it and spit it out, but you had to finish the pot. Vomitting it up was NOT rude and much preferred to returning it unfinished. In the common round house, you had to be careful where you stepped as much vomitting is normal. All of this makes a wonderful breeding ground for more parasites!!!

The other problem that was a daily battle was the head lice, as everyone is infected. In the evening, the indian family will sit around and de -louse one another. I am sure you have seen the pictures where they appear to be eating the lice. Actually, they are only using their teeth to kill the lice. If they only remove them and toss them to the ground, they will be back. It is a sign of affection to de-louse someone.I remember my youngest daughter would play at de-lousing her dolls. The indians thought that was so sweet, what a good little mommy she would be!!! We used the same dog shampoo, weekly, in order to not get the lice.

On occasion, it was inevitable and one of the children would end up with lice. The quickest way to get rid of the problem is to cover the head in cooking oil, pop on a plastic shower cap for 24 hours, and then, shampoo out. The oil will smother the lice and even penetrate the nits and end the problem with one treatment.

So many bugs...

My husband became infected with onchocerciasis. This is from the bites of the black fly and can lead to blindness. It also caused some severe itching which he suffered with for years, until finally able to kill the disease completely. The parasite, once in the blood stream, can live for 10-15 years. It causes raised bumps under the skin which are colonies of eggs. Very difficult to treat. There is a large portion of the Sanema tribe of Venezuela who are going blind as I write this, entire villages infected and not receiving treatment. It will eventually cause lesions upon the eye itself and is painful. You can even see the larvae crawling along the inner eye, just under the sclera.

I could go on and on...

We saw some insects that made me think of aliens. I am sure there are a few undiscovered bugs we saw. But the other bug that was a problem was the army ant.

Now, this is no ordinary ant! These ants would come out of the jungle, swathing through everything. The largest group I saw were about 4 feet across and walked through the village for an entire day. They eat everything in their path and you can not stop them. Not by water, fire, nothing. You must get out of their way and remove anything organic you do not want to be eaten. The indians tell stories of babies being eaten while asleep, as these ants would march by.

These ants will cross creeks and rivers by making boats of large leaves. Very freaky!!! You can hear them coming in the distance as they eat. Chomp! Chomp! We had to cancel classes a few times while we waited for them to walk through our class room. My kids loved that, as we had no snow days, so they loved Ant Days! There is even a hot sauce the indians make from ants which my husband eats and enjoys. But, my daughter prefers termites! Easily accessible at night while attracted to the inside light, all one must do is scrape them off the window screen and pop them in the mouth. Our screens became the fast food joint for many children!!

And of course, the infamous 24 ant. Yes, it exists. It is a large, black ant measuring a good 2 inches or so. It not only bites with pincers but stings with its wasp like tail. It feels as if it tears skin away while biting and does cause slight bleeding. The toxin it injects with its stinger is like liquid fire and quickly causes the entire muscle area where bitten to burn for several hours, thus ,called the 24 ant. It wont kill you, but for 24 hours you will wish it had! And yes, I am speaking from experience! (And my children had better not tell any more details about it!!!!)

Although controversial, we treated many snake bites and 24 bites with electrical shock. We had a small ammo box which was converted to a kit. Inside was a small magnito attached to a handle outside which could be cranked to produce a small, high voltage low amperage shock, similar to a taser. Leads were attached on either side of the bite. This only works on certain toxins and must not be used except on extremities. If applied quickly, it greatly reduces the swelling involved in most bites and we have seen it used this way several times. It changes the molecular structure of the toxin.

I haven't even mentioned spiders...

I remember reading the Apostle Paul's book of Romans while dealing with a bad case of niguas and seeing it in a whole new light.

Romans 12:1

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

At times, I felt as if my body was a living sacrifice! Being consumed daily by the critters!

Roaches and chagas deserve a post of their own!

Why I have No Time to Write ...

As I unpack our boxes, I am amazed at how blessed we are. Two years ago we were forced to leave the jungle with no warning . The Presidential decree gave us only a few weeks to leave our home. This meant that most of our belongings had to remain there. So...where did all this stuff come from????

Unloading the container.

My living room.

Hmmm...you can take the girls out of the jungle...
but, can you take the jungle out of the girls????

Monday, September 22, 2008

Have You Ever ?

Have you ever?

Listened to the sound of rain falling upon a palm roof?

Heard the songs of howler monkeys in the jungle?

Seen the double rainbow stretched over the canopy?

Watched the majestic macaw soar overhead?

Fallen asleep to the sound of the river flowing past your window?

Swam beneath the spray of a waterfall that has no name?

Heard the complete silence of a night, when you were all alone?

Seen the full moon so bright, you can cast a shadow at midnight?

Listened to the thunder roll across the jungle, and heard the voice of God?

Followed the tracks of a jaguar down to the creek, hoping to catch a peek?

Stand under the jungle canopy, looking up...and see no sky?

Felt the sun beat upon you as you lazily float down stream in a dugout canoe?

Loved a child with dark, black, shiny eyes?

Swam in a current that nearly takes you away?

Eaten a sun ripened pineapple, straight from the garden?

Drank the cool, clear water of a jungle mountain stream?

Held the hand of a tribesman, and truly felt him to be your brother?

Smelled the smoke of a camp fire, hours before you arrive?

Been held in the embrace of an Indian grandmother, who "rocks" away your pain?

Eaten a fish that was speared only moments ago?

Had your face lovingly painted in onoto, and felt beautiful?

Had to leave it all, not knowing when , or if you would see them again?

Saturday, September 20, 2008


(As told to me by Victor and Simeon.)

A very long time ago, who knows how long? "The people" ( Ye'kwanas) did not keep track of days and things back then! We did not know a Sunday from a Monday, a January from a February, days were just days! All we knew, was the changing of the moon, and the times of rain and dryness.

But... a very long time ago, when we were very small boys, we would play every day! All day, for we had no schools yet. We only ate and played or helped our Fathers. On this day, we were playing together, running, jumping, chasing and hiding from each other.

We knew better than to wander off into the jungle alone. From the time we could walk, our grandmothers would tells us that if we went into the jungle alone, we would get lost! We would be eaten by jaguars, or gored by wild pigs, bitten by snakes, or worse yet, we would be attacked by Canaima, and die for sure!

On this day, we forgot how far we had wandered. Little boys do this! If you turn your eye away for even one moment, they will "poof!" disappear! Our sons are like this today, you now! So we ran and we hid and we chased each other, until we realized, we were far from home!

We did not know what might happen to us! Were the old grand mothers right? Would Canaima come and get us? We began to run as fast as little ones can! These were the days before store bought clothes. We only wore our red loin clothes, the flaps were slapping along behind us as we ran, when ,suddenly...

On the path right before us... we saw a dark body, crouching along side the path. We stopped in our tracks! It was not Canaima, but it was... a jaguar! And a big one!

What should two little boys do? We had nothing like a weapon, not even a small knife like we normally would carry if walking with our fathers in the jungle! The jaguar slowly came closer. It was beautiful! We stared into its eyes. Our skin became like the skin of a jungle chicken! All bumpy with fear!

We stood our ground and the jaguar slowly came and even sniffed us! It was making funny, rumbling sounds in its throat! All of sudden, little Simeon, pulled out a small plastic comb from the waist of his loin cloth. The missionaries had given us these and we used them as toys more than to comb our hair. We would chase one another and flick each other with the combs as hard as we could. It would really sting and leave a red mark on the skin! You know, that's how little boys play! Our sons, today are the same way!

Simeon quickly, flicked the comb right on the jaguar's nose!

The jaguar jumped back, and screamed just like a woman, but even louder! And, you know, woman can scream very loudly when frightened, but this was even louder than that! It was so loud, that we screamed as well. Both of us began to run down the path as quickly as possible for two little ones! Still screaming, for we were but little boys and not very brave yet!

As we got closer to the village, we slowed down. We had a big problem ,you see, for how could we tell the men we had seen a jaguar? And how could we recount the bravery of Simeon? For we were not to have ventured so far off alone! The old women would spank us for sure! What should two little boys do?

We decided to tell no one. For many years we kept this secret. Only when we were men ourselves did we tell others of our adventure, for now the old women could not spank us!

But... you should have seen that jaguar and heard it scream!!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Dorotea's Bucket

I have been too busy to write or even visit many blogs so here is another re-post from quite a while ago.

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 tent and I boiled kettles and kettles of water while she and her dad laid 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 I 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.


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 foreign 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!

he runs, he is praying aloud, "Please God! No snakes!"

Later, he said 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)

Personal Update

We finally got our Visa paperwork on Tuesday. We needed this to be able to claim our container at customs in the port. This morning my husband went down to begin the work. We had been warned to expect up to $2000 of 'processing fees' and up to a month at the port and they would charge daily rent in the warehouse. Today was the last day of our 'free' rent.

My husband called me at 6:00 p.m. on his way here with the truck..$0 extra fees! Our agent was Christian gentleman and he worked miracles! I was totally unprepared for this to happen so easily! It's like a HUGE miracle...I mean, like the feeding of the 5ooo or raising Lazarus from the dead kind of miracle! I feel like I am in a Twilight Zone episode.
This does NOT happen in South America..no, really, I am speechless!!!

We got our visas in 5 weeks, and our container in a day!!! God is good! I guess after all the difficulties we have been through the last few years with our friend Chavez and his band of merry men, God is giving us a respite! I am so thankful!!!

But, I can not lift anything heavy due to my back surgeries. My son in law,Brian, Jewel, Jayde and Clinton had to unload. My neighbors, whom the landlord had introduced us to and are trustworthy, came out and helped! Four men and some teens. We shared terere and planned a BBQ. Paraguayans are so great!

Now I have to earn my keep and unpack all this stuff!!!
I may not be around online much for a few days.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

5 Things I Love about Paraguay

Brenda has asked each of us who blog from Paraguay to list 5 things we love about this country.
So this is my list...

1) The people
The Paraguayan people are very friendly, I mean, almost extraordinarily so! If you ask a Paraguayan for directions, they don't just tell you, they offer to go with you!! This friendliness seems to be across the board. My husband commented about this to a lawyer, she replied,
"We don't have anything else here of much value, but at least we are courteous!" And they are.

2)Everyone knows everyone!
Here in Asuncion, it still feels like a small town. People seem to know each other. Upon greeting, they converse in such a way as to find out what they have in common to establish a friendship.

3)They are passionate about futbol! (soccer)
I mean...passionate! It's very fun. The entire country gets into it by wearing the team jerseys and colors all day on game days. I have even seen several grown men walk around downtown wearing the flag as a cape!

4)The History!
The city of Asuncion has a long interesting history and beautiful buildings.

5)Chavez isn't here!
Yep, that is very nice. We don't hear him everyday on TV and radio, we don't have to see his face plastered on every wall and billboard. We can breath free!

6) And the best reason of all... my two grand daughters are here!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Jungle life

Sunday Funny!

One Sunday morning, the pastor noticed little Alex standing in the foyer of the church staring up at a large plaque. It was covered with names and small American flags mounted on either side of it.

The six-year old had been staring at the plaque for some time, so the pastor walked up, stood beside the little boy, and said quietly, ‘Good morning Alex.’

‘Good morning Pastor,’ he replied, still focused on the plaque. ‘Pastor, what is this? The pastor said, ‘Well son, it’s a memorial to all the young men and women who died in the service.’

Soberly, they just stood together, staring at the large plaque. Finally, little Alex’s voice, barely audible and trembling with fear asked, ‘Which service, the 8:30 or the 10:45?’

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

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble .

Psalms 46:1

Friday, September 12, 2008

A Walk around the Block

Let's take a walk around my block!
(click on picture for a larger view)

Most streets are a sort of cobble stone.
Only the major roads are paved.

This is a typical sight here in Paraguay, horses, cows,
and motorcycles sharing the same road.

Our street maintenance crew! They are 'cutting the grass' somewhere on our block nearly every day.

In the evening the cows are collected.
I have no clue where they are taken for the night...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Where were you ???

Here's my 9/11 story. I was in the jungle, where were you?

I remember that day. We were in the jungle and had just completed a very intense medical clinic among the indians, both Ye'kwana and Sanema. We were hosting, in our jungle hut, two missionary families as well as 8 medical missionaries who had come on a short missions trip, doctors, nurses, pharmacists and dentists. Just some regular Christian folk trying to do some good for the poor and underprivileged of this world, as taught by our Lord.

The clinic ended on September 10th, and the 11th was travel day for the Americans to return, via 3 mission planes, to the town of Puerto Ayacucho where they would catch a flight to Caracas and then on to the US.

We awoke and had breakfast as planned and began the job of weighing everyone and their luggage to decide how best to disburse the weight among the three planes as we could only take off from our short airstrip with a limited cargo.

The first MAF plane arrived early as planned and the pilot came up to the house where we talked over the planned flights for the day. He and my husband then began to prep the flight for a cargo only flight. As he taxied to the end of our airstrip to prepare for take off, he placed his radio call into the mission base at Puerto Ayacucho for flight following. He slowly taxied back and began to walk up the hill towards our house.

He entered the house where we were all laughing and joking about our week. He was white and shaky and said," The US is under attack! Two planes have hit the Twin Towers and one has hit the Pentagon!"

We all stared at him in disbelief! How could this be? He said he needed to sit and get himself together before he tried to take off.

We all began talking. We had no TV, no radio, except the hamm radio, no way to find out any information.We called Puerto Ayacucho by radio to see if they had more news for us and were told of the plane in Pennsylvania. They also told us that all air traffic was closed down in the states. Our American friends became very uncomfortable when as they realized they could not get home!

I remember wondering how I could continue to feed so many people indefinitely...I put water on to boil for some pasta not knowing how many people I would need to feed or for how long.

The visitors became very upset at not being able to communicate with their family and friends and we decided to continue with the plan to fly them all to Puerto Ayacucho where they would at least be able to phone home.

As we waited for all the flights, one of the visiting doctors, a Lebanese-American, listening to all of our consternation at this vile attack on our country, said, "Welcome to the real world!" Her comment was not well received by all at the table, but she had a point! She told us how as a child growing up in Lebanon, her family said good bye every morning not knowing if they would ever see one another again. She was raised as a Christian in Lebanon and terror was a part of her daily life. She said we, Americans, needed to ,"Grow up!" She was right.

We ended up having 5 planes land and take off from our strip that day. I remember Clint looking at me as the last one took off and saying, "Do you realize we just had more flights here than in the entire US today?" We would not see video of the towers falling for 2 more weeks. I remember thinking of the obvious differences between Islam and Christianity that day. Here we were trying to spread aid and comfort and the Muslims were spreading death and destruction.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Blood, Sweat, and Tears.

( Another re-post)

If anyone asked me for my opinion ( yeah right! Like I'd wait to be asked!) on what it takes to be a career missionary, I would answer, "Blood, sweat, and tears!"

It takes years to learn a language and a culture well . A language is picked up long before the culture is truly understood. In most cases, the missionary can attend a language school to learn a rudimentary knowledge of the language, but there is no class room to learn the culture. When dealing with a tribal language it is much more time consuming and the culture of course is totally alien to the western mind.

To learn a tribal language, one must become child like and follow people around and try to imitate sounds with out a clue as to their meaning. Eventually, you will begin to hear the different individual sounds and can transcribe...well, that's another whole blog!

To learn a culture is an important task for the missionary and it takes time, and, as I said, "Blood, sweat and tears!"

BLOOD? Yeah! You have to learn the cultural way of dealing with death. You have to find out their way of mourning and caring for the dead. This can be very different in each culture.

Take the Sanema tribe, I remember the first time I was invited to a "funeral". I walked to the village and found a spot around the huge fire being built. I saw the women screaming and crying and slapping themselves in dispare. I saw them bring out the body wrapped in it's hammock and, I saw them place the body upon the pyre. There is no smell quite like the smell of human flesh being consumed by fire.

At this point, the witch doctor really began to whip it up. I saw the women even more excited. This dancing and crying went on all day...all night... until, at last, the fire was allowed to die.

Not over yet though! Now comes the most important part! The most vital thing one must do for their dead loved ones...the drinking of the bones.

The women scraped through all the cinders, sifting through their fingers every last little bit. Careful to catch each piece of bone left. Then these bits of bone are taken and with a primitive mortal and pestle, are ground to a fine powder. Once this is prepared, it is added to a banana drink and stirred in.

Now, all the immediate family members of the deceased come forward and begin to drink the bones. They pass the gourd around solemnly from one to another. The tiniest baby must swallow some as well. NOW, they can relax and rest in peace! Their departed love one will now be ok!

By drinking the bones, they have guaranteed that their family member will live on in them. Now they will have eternal life by being part of the living. And when the living die, they will be consumed along with them by the next generation.

Why is it important to know this? It might explain to the missionary that the father who refuses to allow you to fly the sick child out to town for medical treatment isn't being a monster. No, he loves his child too much to risk him dying out among the "criollos" and being buried! For who would drink his bones? Who could guarantee the continuation of all the ancestors contained within the child? It is an act of love in his eyes.

We may think it morbid, but...it is actually the nature of man to desire life after death and if no one is there to explain the true path God has set for us to achieve it, this is their feeble attempt to acquire eternal life for themselves.

SWEAT! You bet, sometimes you have to work with them physically to gain their respect. In some cultures, you need to understand why they DON'T seem to work at all! It is all part of how you will communicate truth to them in a way they comprehend.

I remember a group of visitors making an observation once about Ye'kwana men.

"They are so lazy! They sleep till noon and then sit around in their hammocks the rest of the day while the women do all the work!"

DUHH.. I thought! So would you if you had been out running through the jungle hunting all night and knew you had to go back out tonight since you weren't able to bring home meat for your family!

TEARS! You need to know what hurts them. You need to be with them in their times of mourning. Sit with them as an old, loved one slowly dies. Or as a newborn infant fades away.
I learned from the Indians, tears are not always visible. The worse hurts stay inside. The pain is for you alone and can not be shared, as this would cheapen it. So, if you don't see tears...that's serious pain!!!

BLOOD! Literally, sometimes. I once flew out to town to donate blood for a dying indian. No one else with his blood type could be bothered. I gave so much blood I nearly passed out. And I gave again in a few days. I wanted to give more but they would not let me. His father placed his sons hand in mine and said, "He's your son now too. He has your blood now."
His father had never wanted to listen to the gospel until that day. He is now a believer!

SWEAT! I have seen my husband work with them. He helped them build the school. He helped them build the dispensary, he helped them cut the airstrips they needed so the plane could get in to take out medical emergency patients. I have seen his shirt soaked as he worked hard in the sauna like environment of the jungle. I have seen him go days without sleep caring for the sick. This speaks volumes.

TEARS! How many caskets have we built? I remember one baby we were hand feeding , drop by drop as we could not get in an IV. We were unable to fly our plane out due to government problems and red tape. We called for the health department planes, but they were BUSY flying assembly members to Angel Falls for a vacation. When the baby died, my husband built the tiny casket. Jewel lined it with a blue gingham material and Jayde sang' Jesus Loves Me' in Ye'kwana at the funeral.

We are by no means, SUPER missionaries. These stories could be repeated over and over again by a number of missionaries. I just feel they need to be put in writing so that others can know of the many things God is doing in Missions today. Often times we act as if the God of the Old Testament is dead and no longer works among us. Or we read of great missionaries of the last century and wonder why God is not doing the same great things today. He still is! I have witnessed it.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Strange things

The following may only make sense to my Spanish speaking readers.

Since I have arrived in Paraguay I have heard some very strange things! Let me explain, I have lived in Mexico, Venezuela, and now Paraguay and have been speaking Spanish for about 22 years. I still have some of my gringa accent, but I am fluent in the language...or so I thought. Then I moved to Paraguay.

They have a lot of words here I have never heard before! And then, they throw in Guarani, which sounds quite a bit like Ye'kwana, but it isn't. So, sometimes I hear things that sound familiar, but don't quite make sense.

For instance, I was told I had a giraffe outside my kitchen! Or something like that. And further more, I needed to replaced my giraffe if I intended to continue cooking on my stove! Come to find out, the giraffe which in Venezuela is 'girafa', wasn't what they were saying at all. They were saying 'garafa' . Which turned out to be my propane tank!

In Venezuela we call the propane tank a 'bombona'. So I asked the man where I should go for a new 'bombona'. He looked at me and pointed down the street and told me to go to the 'dispensary'. Well, he said, 'despensa' which sounds like dispensary to me. He said I could get any candy I wanted there!!!! Because candy here is 'bonbones' which is what he thought I was asking for! And the 'despensa' does not dispense medicine ! It is a 'bodega' or small convenience store.

Also I was really surprised to be asked if we had found a Paraguayan 'remera' to take to the soccer game! EXCUSE ME!! That sounds too much like another word in Venezuela, just change one vowel and it means 'lady of the evening', and no matter her nationality , we don't need one of those! But here, 'remera' is shirt.

Then we went to order beef and it was suggested we get a 'vacuno'. I really don't want any vaccinations which is what 'vacuna' is in Venezuela. But I would like a 'lomito' which is a tender loin in Venezuela but here it's a sandwich. Not the same thing at all!

And that's just the Spanish words...the Guarani is another whole disaster!

Friday, September 05, 2008


The climate here in Paraguay can change in a moment. It all seems to depend on the wind. We had two hot days. I mean, HOT! Like 40* C ! Then, over night, the temperature dropped to 12*C, which is COLD!

The hot days were caused by the North Winds blowing in. It seems those winds are always dusty! The cold days are caused by the South Wind which blows up from the Antarctic. Today is a cold South Wind day.

If you are unfamiliar with the Celsius temperature and converting it to Fahrenheit , here is a quick little trick I learned years ago. It's not precise, but will get you within a degree or two for a mental conversion of temperatures.

Celsius to Fahrenheit:

Double the number, then add 25.

40 + 40 = 80
80 + 25 + 105* That's hot!

12 + 12 + 24
24 + 25 = 49* That's cold!

To go from Fahrenheit to Celsius,

Subtract 25, then divide by two.

105 - 25 = 80
80 divided by 2 = 40*

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Feeling at home !

Yesterday morning I watched some Paraguayan news coverage and found myself hearing the newly elected president, Lugo, informing us of an alleged meeting which took place Sunday night. It is said that the ex-candidates and a General, met to discuss plans to over throw the new government, only two weeks in power.

It is all being denied, of course, and we certainly do not support any illegal take over of a democratically elected government!

But I must admit, after all my years of living in Venezuela and listening to Hugo Chavez, almost weekly, denounce supposed planned coups and assassination attempts against him...hearing all this intrigue on the television made me feel quite at home!

When there are talks of coups in the air, you just know your back in South America!

Now, all I need is a whiff of tear gas and a few tanks rumbling down the road...

El presidente paraguayo, Fernando Lugo, denunció hoy, dos semanas después de asumir el poder, un proyecto para desestabilizar su Gobierno planeado por su antecesor, Nicanor Duarte, y el general retirado Lino Oviedo.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Personal Update

The immigration process is going fairly smoothly, considering we are dealing with a South American country. One of the surprising things for us is that the 'processing fees' (bribes?) are so much less than dealing with Chavistas!

The other thing that is nice, is that we do not see Hugo's posters slathered on every office wall!

We have been cleared by Interpol and the Health Department. You will all be glad to know that we do not have aides or syphilis.

We now have to go around to our neighbors and have them sign an affidavit stating that we actual do reside at the address given as our home.

In the mean while, we have enjoyed getting to know the folks at church here. The girls are active in the teen group and a small group bible study. My husband was able to preach his first sermon as a missionary in Paraguay last Sunday, which was exciting! We enjoyed the service two weeks ago which was in celebration of Children's Day. It is a big deal here so the church service was geared towards the children. My son in law gave a bible lesson using story cards. We had puppets and after the service a carnival type atmosphere had been planned for the neighborhood children with games, prizes, snacks and clowns. It was a great way to bring in families! Here are a few pictures of some of the events.


Feed the pig!

Fishing hole!

And Jewel as a clown !
(She's the one with red hair!)

The people here are very friendly and humble, easy to get along with.

I made a major mistake by shipping our school books. We have only math and 9 weeks worth of other subjects in hand. Our shipment should arrive in port on the 7th.

The 7th of...never!

Oh well, there is a lot to study outside of books! I am preparing a small unit study on Paraguayan history and geography for the girls so that they are more familiar with the country.

I also was able to meet a Paraguayan blogger I have been following for over year a (Muna’s Blog)
as well as spend and evening with one of my favorite bloggers.(Brendas Blog)

And, some how, through it all, I totally forgot today was a holiday!