Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sun damage / Sin damage

My skin is bearing the consequences of some very unwise decision I made in my youth. I chose to expose my fair, freckled skin to the sun. I was young, what would be the harm? I suffered some terrible burns and always promised myself I would never do it again. However, when confronted with the opportunity to spend time with family or friends at the beach or pool, I did not want to miss out on all the fun, and so, I would burn myself to a crisp several times every year. In a futile attempt to have a tan, I even spent time in a tanning booth!

Then I moved to South America and lived in the Caribbean for over 20 years. We were all ignorant about sunscreen back in those days. A tan was considered healthy. I never managed a tan, just white, red, white, and then the same all over again with more freckles added in..

All this time I was exposing myself to future harm. I was killing healthy skin cells that could never be replaced or repaired. I was ignorant to this, but it was happening. Deep down inside at the cellular level a seed of evil was being planted that would one day bring forth pain and destruction.

A few years back the party ended and the damage began to reveal itself outwardly. After several bouts with pre-cancerous lesions, I developed a persistent cancerous one (carcinoma) on my nose. Four times I suffered the pain of having it removed and each time it returned.

After having it cut off four times, it became necessary to have more tissue surgically removed and studied in a more aggressive manner. The surgeon cut, scraped, and burned an area the size of a quarter. I ended up having to have a bit of plastic surgery in order to hide the fact that my eye was being stretched down by the scar. If I had waited any longer, the cancer would have made it to my tear duct and it would have been much worse. And now after several surgeries, I still must apply an acid type cream to the area every other night to keep the cancerous cells at bay.

Every day I deal with the damage the sun did to my skin. Every few months I have to have lesions burned away, frozen, or scraped off. Mostly they return with in a few months. Sometimes I have to have them cut off leaving more scars. I am ever so repentant of the ways of my youth, but I still bear the consequences of those deeds and will do so until I die.

While contemplating how the sun has slowly,even silently, been damaging my skin all these years, it reminded me of the effects of sin in our lives.

Galatians 6:7-8 (King James Version)

7Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

We slowly are absorbing all the 'junk' of this world and often think."Hey,I'm OK.It's not effecting me." and then one day we wake up and find our life in a mess.Or our testimony ruined. Or discover that we have harmful habits that are not easily overcome. Then we have to submit ourselves to a thorough inspection and it often involves pain and may even leave scares.

Even when we manage to fix the problem, sometimes it is only a temporary fix, and returns again and again. Sometimes these damages alter our lifestyle. We can't fix it back to the way it was, we just have to change our expectations and live with it.

It seems that just as the sun damage is accumulative and requires vigilance even after we give up the bad habits of exposure and even if we are using SPF 100(YEP,that's what I use) without warning, a new lesion appears, seemingly over night. It is a constant battle.

Sin is the same way. Once we give in, the effects remain and the temptations are harder to fend off. Scars are visible and our life can be altered in ways we can never fully change. We must daily fight against temptations to fall back into sinful habits. Our sins are forgiven and forgotten by our Lord, but the scars will be visible.

Proverbs 28:13 (King James Version)

13He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.

I thank God for His mercy, for in it we can trust completely!

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Things I See

What is it?

A closer view.

Ant hills are everywhere!
(And, as I have said, so are cows!)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

"It's not just a hair color, it's a state of mind."

(With my grand daughter)

It has been six months since my last visit to the dermatologist and yesterday was the DAY.

I had three large lesions burned off. They are about the size of a quarter. Seven smaller which were scattered about my limbs were also burned off. I had my eyelids 'shaved' and burned. I now have what appears to be a black left eye, in the nice, bright purple stage this morning, and to a lesser degree , my right eye is swollen as well.

The cost of being a red head in the tropics.

Speaking of red heads, did you know we are actually becoming extinct? If you are a red head, I am sure this alarms you as much as it does me! I already knew I was a mutant, but now I am an endangered species! I read the terrible news that redheads are becoming extinct!

The reason, according to scientists at the independent institute in England, which studies all sorts of hair problems, is that just 4 percent of the world's population carries the red-hair gene. The gene is recessive and therefore diluted when carriers produce children with people who have the dominant brown-hair gene.
Dr. John Gray's often publicized explanation of his foundation's findings: "The way things are going, red hair will either be extremely rare or extinct by the end of the century."

(Age 17)

"Redheads are less than 1% of the world's population. Now that is a minority! And, I thought, one that should qualify me for school scholarships or something like that."
-Becky McAlpine

"The highest percentage of natural redheads in the world is in Scotland (13%), followed closely by Ireland with 10%. In the US, about 2% of the population are natural redheads."

"I do believe my redheadedness plays a huge part in who I am. If I were a blonde or brunette, I would be an entirely different person."

"We redheads are a minority, we tend to notice each other - you know, and notice our identity."
-Juliann Moore, actress

"A face without freckles is like a night without stars."

"If you want trouble... find yourself a redhead."

If you are fortunate enough to be a red head or know a red head, you will enjoy these jokes( hehehe)

What do you call a woman who knows where her husband is every night?

A redhead!

What's safer: a redhead or a piranha?
The piranha. They only attack in schools.

How do you get a redhead's mood to change?
Wait 10 seconds

What do you call a Redhead with an attitude?

Only two things are necessary to keep a redhead happy.
One is to let her think she is having her own way,
and the other is to let her have it.

How do you know when a redhead has been using a computer?
There's a hammer embedded in the monitor!

Why do redheads think they're special?
It's amazing what arrogance and a lack of sensitivity will do for your ego...

What's the advantage of a blonde vs. a redhead...?
At least you can ignore the blonde safely...

Q: Why didn't Indians scalp redheads?
A. They knew better.

(age 12)

"You'd find it easier to be bad than good if you had red hair," said Anne reproachfully. "People who haven't red hair don't know what trouble is."
-Anne to Marilla in Anne of Green Gables

"Ruadh gu brath!"
Scots gaelic for "Red heads forever!"

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


P - Priest/ President. President Lugo was a priest before running for office and becoming the president.

- Asados! No celebration is complete without an 'asado'( cook out).

- Ruins. The Jesuit Mission Ruins (Reducciones) are quite impressive. I am eager to make a trip to visit them! Check this link for more great photos of the ruins!

- Adolescents. The majority of the population is under the age of 30.

G - Guarani. The country still maintains the Gauarani Indian language as it's official second language.

U - Udders! Cows are everywhere!

- Asuncion. The capitol city's complete name is 'Our Lady of the Ascension' and is also known as the 'Mother City'. More amazing photos here!

- Yerba Mate. Terere, yerba, is consumed in some form each and every day.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sunday Funny

A cowboy appeared before St. Peter at the Pearly Gates.

"Have you ever done anything of particular merit?" St. Peter asked.

"Well, I can think of one thing," the cowboy offered. "On a trip to the Black Hills out in South Dakota, I came upon a gang of bikers, who were threatening a young woman. I directed them to leave her alone, but they wouldn't listen. So, I approached the largest and most heavily tattooed biker and smacked him in his face, kicked his bike over, ripped out his nose ring, and threw it on the ground. I yelled, 'Now, back off!! Or I'll rip your head off.' "

St. Peter was impressed, "When did this happen?"

"Just a couple minutes ago..."

( Thanks Beamish!)

Friday, May 22, 2009

You (or your Parents) might be a Missionary if...

1. You can't answer the question, "Where are you from?"
( Is this a multiple choice answer?)

2. You speak two languages, but can't spell in either.
( sadly very true, es verdad!)

3. You read National Geographic and recognize someone.
( Hopefully not myself! I showed up in Google once labeled as a Yanomami witch doctor!)

4. You have a time zone map next to your telephone.
(I can never remember if Venezuela is 1/2 hour ahead or behind. Thanks to HHH's private time zone!)

5. You consider a city 500 km away to be "very close".
(It's not?)

6. You watch nature documentaries, and think about how good that animal would taste if it were fried.
(Oh yes! PETA loves me! I have eaten alligator, worms, grubs, parrots, rodents, danto, and monkey)

7. You can cut grass with a machete, but can't start a lawnmower.
( Used to anyway)

8. You speak with authority on the subject of airline travel.
( It's terrible)

9. You have friends from, or in, 29 different countries.
(At least)

10. You do your devotions in another language.
(or two)

11. You sort your friends by continent.
(And a few islands as well)

12. You realize that furlough is not a vacation.
( hardly!)

13. You know how to pack.
( I stay packed)

14. Fitting 15 or more people into a car seems normal to you.
( Have done so in an Isuzu Trooper MANY times!)

15. You refer to gravel roads as highways.
( Well YEAH!)

16. You haggle with the checkout girl for a lower price.
(What? You're not supposed to???)

17. You don't think that two hours is a long sermon.
(Just getting started.)

18. You have a name in at least two different languages, and it's not the same one.
(I do! I even have an internet name!)

19. You feel you need to move after you've lived in the same place for a month.
( more like every two years for me)

20. You cruise the Internet looking for fonts that support your "native" language's alphabet.
(Spanish is easy, Ye'kwana? Not so much!)

I am sure many of these apply to other ex-pats and not only Missionaries. Can you add a few of your own to the list?

UPDATE: Make sure and read the comments for some great additions to the list!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Streets of Ciudad del Este

My photos are not great as they were taken from a moving car. I wish you could hear the sounds of this city. Every few feet you will hear a different language. Spanish, German, Guarani, Chinese, Arabic, and Portuguese are all swirling around in the air. It can make you dizzy!

Down Town

Sidewalk vendors

Busy and crowded, not to mention noisy!

Hammocks and luggage.


The Mosque

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Erebato River Part 2

How it came to be called 'Erebato River', or in the Ye'kwana,' Dede Watö River' according the the legends of the Ye'kwana tribe.

The bat is much represented in the hand work of the Ye'kwana of this area
but not often seen in the work among the same tribe living in another river region.

In Southern Venezuela, about 150 km (100) miles from the Brazilian border, the Yek'wana have a story of a giant man-eating bat. This story has been with them for several centuries.

The legend is told that a few generations ago there was a large bat, perhaps more, that lived at the headwaters of the river in a cave on a large mountain. Periodically it would attack canoes and carry off people as its prey and was seen to eat grown men. After quite a few deaths and several years, men were chosen to go to the animal's lair and kill it, which they did. I asked them which mountain it was but there is no consensus, even though I would love to know where that was!

Because it was seen to defecate in the river after carrying off humans, the Indians still will not drink from the Erebato River ( translates as' Bat Poop'), they will cross a river 100 yards wide just to get to a small stream that feeds into the river for their drinking water. If anyone, unaware of the significance, does drink from the river, it would upset them greatly and be considered gross beyond all imagination. Unthinkable!

Once, the Indians noticed pictures of pterodactyls and such in a book, and they became very animate and said, "that has to be the giant bat that once devoured our ancestors!" For them it is not a myth or legend, but a true story of their past that has been handed down orally through the years.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Erebato River

The etymology of words fascinates me, much like a treasure hunt. One learns a word or phrase and accepts it at face value, often not curious as to why it came to have it's meaning. But how exciting is it to discover the reasons for the meaning of a word!. This could be brought about by an historical event or the introduction of another language.

In Venezuela, we lived on the Chajura River which is a tributary of the Erebato. The Erebato is a tributary of the Caura River and the Caura of the Orinoco River.

I had lived in Venezuela for several years and knew of the Erebato River, never once wondering as to the significance or the meaning of it's name. Until I moved into the Ye'kwana village on the Chajura River.

The Chajura River, literally translates as 'the place of bamboo'. This is because it is the only river in the area with a significant amount of bamboo. Bamboo is very important culturally to the Ye'kwana, as they use it to fabricate their horns, which are used in the cultural chanting and dancing. Other villages would travel for days to our region for the sole purpose of acquiring bamboo to be used in this way.

After a time, when my ear was a little more accustomed to the Ye'kwana language, I began to notice that they referred to the 'Erebato River' as the 'Dede Watö River'. I knew the meaning of the two words and could not understand why or how a river would come to be called by such a name.

The word 'Dede' in Ye'kwana is 'Bat'.

The word 'Watö' translates as 'excrement'.

This makes the name of the Erebato River to translate as, 'Bat Poop River'.

Why would a tribe of people choose to name a large river such a thing?

Come back tomorrow to find out!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Iguazu Falls

More from our trip to the Tri Border Area.

Psalm 104:24
O LORD, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches.

(Taken from Brazil by my friend, Kathy)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Motherhood in the Tribe

Today is Mother's Day here in Paraguay so I thought I would re post this about motherhood among the tribe where we lived in Venezuela.

Today is also Independence Day here. A fellow missionary living here in Paraguay posted about how this is celebrated here and has some nice pictures to accompany it. Luque Life

(This young mother is expecting her fourth child.
She has two living children, having lost one to malaria.

Amanda of Baby Bangs had a lot of questions for me in response to the post I did about Ye'kwana marriage customs. I'll try to answer them.

She asked;
"I need to know more about the married couples giving their firstborn children to the mom's parents to raise. So does the child think of its mom as its sister? Do the moms have a hard time doing this? Do they stay involved in its life? So many questions!"

When a newly married couple has a child, tradition dictates that the child be given to the mother's parents. The child will know who is it's mother but the grand parents have final say in all matters. When that grand child marries, the son-in-law will move in with the grand parents.

Giving up the child is not as terrible as it may at first sound when you realize the mother and her husband will usually live with her parents for several years and even then, they will build right next to her parents. The son -in -law is responsible for the upkeep of his wife's parents and it is his duty to stay nearby to do so. This may even play into the tradition of giving them the first born, as it will encourage the parents to stay near by. Also, the girls are quite young at marriage and often need the support of their mother. The girl is marriageable shortly after her first menses.

The parents do stay involved in the child's life but are not the highest authority. This does cause conflict at times when a Christian girl marries and her parents are not Christin. She will not want her child raised out of the faith. This encourages Christians to marry children of other Christian families so as to avoid this conflict, which does cause the Christian families to be stronger.

The encroachment of the outside culture is causing much of this to be abandoned and is a great source of concern for the tribe. Without the in-laws staying to care for the elder parents, and the young child to provide for them, what is to become of the elderly? These are issues one does not see without spending time on the culture.

And now, allow me a rant!

The Venezuelan government often tries to move Indian teachers, malaria workers and such, around at their own whim and are not aware of all the difficulties they are creating. The government has placed Cuban and criollo Venezuelans into the community, even military, which often impregnate the young tribal girls, and then leave them to fend for themselves, not knowing where they fit in the community, once the workers are relocated elsewhere.

This creates grave problems and no one is left to deal with it. This has even led to armed confrontations between military and tribal peoples. Very sad, and the instances are happening more and more frequently as the military is moving more and more into the tribal communities.

This type of behavior is what will ultimately destroy the tribal cultures and is the true case of ethnicide in Venezuela. It is being quietly covered up and unreported, but it is happening!

The missionaries who were accused of such things, but never proven to have committed them, are no longer on sight to report such atrocities and the government claims to have 'saved' the tribes from the evil influence of foreigners, all the while destroying the very people t which they claim to be helping.

Adorable children!

The Things I See

Yes! Because I have spent the week with some pretty strong pain meds coursing through me, I saw this!!

I wanted to post a photo of the profile of 'Jesus' I saw in the pattern of the tile, but my family convinced me otherwise. Besides, upon closer inspection, it turned out it was really Che Guevarra's profile.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Personal Update

Upon our return from Ciudad del Este, I found myself not doing too well. These last few days have been difficult and painful because of the sciatica pain which I inflamed with all our travel and walking. I have had to be on some strong pain medications and for that reason have not written anything here but merely posted photos and re posts.

I made the mistake of posting while on Vicodyn once and I wont ever do that again!!! Actually, it was only a comment I left on another blog. Next thing I know... well, never mind ,that is a story best left untold.

Sunday was a typical day here as Mother's Day is Friday, always being on May 15th here. Sunday night my husband was able to baptize 6 new converts. There was a mishap involving the baptistry though. It seems no one thought to begin filling it in time for it to be full for service, one of those times when being Baptist and practicing baptism by immersion can be a problem!

What to do? The men called the local fire department and they came out with their truck and filled the baptistry for the church! Not something you see everyday!

We had to start back to school after our week off for the trip. It is always hard to get back on track after a break. I have finally completed Jewel's high school transcripts for her college application. I also had to do a lot of work as it seems here immunization records were left behind in the file cabinet in the jungle. We were unable to get everything out and had assumed we would be able to return one day.

Monday was spent with the family. My husband made a steak for me. A HUGE steak. It was delicious. Brian,Jackie and grand daughters came over for a movie night. We had nachos and Jackie made a cheese cake.

We watched Fireproof. We had all been waiting to see this movie and we were not disappointed. I enjoyed it very much and it was well done. I admire Kirk Cameron and have for a long time. A little family secret here, but a family member of mine was a co star of his back on 'Growing Pains', until she was fired.

Fireproof had such a powerful message. We are showing it in Spanish to some couples tomorrow night here at our house as well as sharing the book 'The Love Dare' which, thankfully, is also available in Spanish.

I am curious, have any of you seen the movie?
If so, what did you think of it?

About FIREPROOF At work, inside burning buildings, Capt. Caleb Holt lives by the old firefighter's adage: Never leave your partner behind. At home, in the cooling embers of his marriage, he lives by his own rules.

Growing up, Catherine Holt always dreamed of marrying a loving, brave firefighter...just like her daddy. Now, after seven years of marriage, Catherine wonders when she stopped being "good enough" for her husband.

Regular arguments over jobs, finances, housework, and outside interests have readied them both to move on to something with more sparks.

As the couple prepares to enter divorce proceedings, Caleb's father challenges his son to commit to a 40-day experiment: "The Love Dare." Wondering if it's even worth the effort, Caleb agrees-for his father's sake more than for his marriage. When Caleb discovers the book's daily challenges are tied into his parents' newfound faith, his already limited interest is further dampened.

While trying to stay true to his promise, Caleb becomes frustrated time and again. He finally asks his father, "How am I supposed to show love to somebody who constantly rejects me?"

When his father explains that this is the love Christ shows to us, Caleb makes a life-changing commitment to love God. Andówith God's helpóhe begins to understand what it means to truly love his wife.

But is it too late to fireproof his marriage? His job is to rescue others. Now Caleb Holt is ready to face his toughest job ever...rescuing his wife's heart.

The Early Years

The Jungle Hut - a work in progress!
( This is year 2, I know because we have a water barrel!)

Things were not always easy at first! It took time and a lot of hard work to get the home livable for the family. When I look back, I wonder, "What was I thinking?" I am so glad we did not hesitate but went to the jungle and spent the best years of our lives there!

I am glad my children were raised in such a humble way, as it has made them into strong, confident, easily satisfied adults. I thank God for the privilege to have lived with the Ye'kwana people and for His love for them. For never failing to watch over us for all those years. May I never take it for granted.

Jewel and friends in front of our house.
(Sitting on the jungle poles used to work on the house.)

Clint and Josh walking over to the Sanema village on the log bridge.

Visiting with my friends.

Ye'kwana Man and Baby Jesica.
( Jesica is now an orphan.)

Doing the laundry in the Padamo River at Toki.
( The Indian with me, Frida, died in a plane crash.
We raised her two children in our home for 7 years.)

Trying to do school work with an audience.
( The fish bowl lifestyle of a tribal missionary family.)

Taking a blood sample to check for malaria...again.

Entertaining friends.

Baby Jayde in our unfinished house.
(This was my kitchen for more than a year.)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The 24 Ants

This is taken from the path as we head towards the falls.

In my post I mentioned that we had seen 24 ants. One reader seemed surprised that we had counted the ants. It gave me a little chuckle because the'24' ant is a type of ant. It is large and bites as well as stings. I know from experience that the sting will not kill you, but it will hurt so much that for 24 hours you will wish you were dead. Thus the name, '24' ant.

Here is a picture of the one we saw at Iguazu which is actually a little on the small side for a 24.

and never mind about where I was bitten....

A little further down the trail, we saw the 'Three Musketeers Falls'.

The Three Musketeers!

Or, are these the Three Musketeers?

One of the falls before reaching the 'Garganta del Diablo' fall.