Saturday, October 31, 2009

Friday, October 30, 2009


 Yesterday I found out that a young friend in Venezuela had been killed.  I have known the young man since he was a child as we met his family the very first week we arrived in Venezuela over 25 years ago. My heart breaks for his family in their time of loss.

He was traveling between the cities of Barquisimeto and Valencia when robbed and was shot three times in the head. Murdered. I wish I could say this is rare , but in Venezuela it is all too common. So common that people are growing complacent. Just about everyone I know has been robbed at gun point. Everyone has a family member who has been killed violently. Its not shocking anymore. Its Venezuela.

The thing about losing someone by murder is that it fills you with  confusion. Emotionally you need to grieve your loss, but you find there is an anger within you about the  unnecessary loss of life violently taken by another. The anger interferes with your grief.

I am blessed to know that this young man grew up in the church and was spiritually prepared for eternity.

John 14: 1-4 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Jewel's Journal

(This was written by my daughter Jewel)

(You can see the river and rapids in the background of this photo)

I will never forget the excitement and fear I felt as I heard the rushing sound of the foaming water and the fear I saw on my brother’s face as he raced to rescue me from the clutches of the river.

One day my brother, Josh, and I decided to sneak off to the river and swim. We slowly and carefully grabbed our swim suites and quietly walked out the door feeling like we were secret agents in ‘Mission Impossible’ or James Bond jumping behind trees, running through the jungle and up and over fallen logs. We triumphantly jumped into the river splashing and screaming, happily ignoring the fact that we were disobeying our parents and enjoying our selves to the maximum.

After a few moments of playing in the river my brother and I got into an argument, so I decided to swim across the river and play on the other side. In my anger, I did not take into account that the river had risen the night before and was much stronger than usual. Even though I was an excellent swimmer, my 7 year old arms and legs were no match against the swollen river.

I was quickly swept down the river as I frantically tried to recall every thing my father had taught me to do in situations like this. Struggling to think clearly and stay calm, I laid on my back and tried to float to the bank. My anxiety only grew as I accepted the fact that I was not closing in on the river bank fast enough. With every second, I could hear the roar of the rapids getting louder and louder, reminding me of the sound of a hungry dragon’s stomach growling, ready to gobble me up for dinner.

I quickly looked to the side hoping to see someone who could help me and I saw my brother running and waving his arms at me. As I watched my brother, all I could think of was “AY! I am such an idiot! If I had just kept my mouth shut, I would not be in this situation.”

I began to pray, begging God to save me. As I once again turned my head to look at my brother, I saw his face go from terror to hope as he reached down and picked up a rope to throw at me. I quickly shot my hand out and caught it. My brother began to pull as hard as he could and after a few minutes I was safe on land, panting for breath. My brother and I stared at the watery grave that I had so narrowly escaped from. We understood without a shadow of a doubt and without even saying a word to each other that we could never speak of this adventure to our parents.

Jungle Mom adds: I found out about this experience almost 10 years after the fact . All I can say is, "God protects fools and children." 

(Climbing over the rapids during dry season. 
Josh and Jewel are in the middle. 
Josh is wearing a yellow life jacket and Jewel is wearing the pink life jacket.)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Things I See...

Coming home through the front door...

Welcome ~ Beinvenido

Won't you come in  for a visit?
I wonder what we would talk about?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Language School

 We attended a Spanish language school in Queretaro, Mexico before moving to Venezuela. Although it was helpful, we found the Mexican Spanish to be very different from the Venezuelan Castellano. Little did we know that 25 years later we would be living in Paraguay using  voseo instead of tuteo . I never imagined I would be wondering when it we correct to tutear or vosear! If I had known, I would have paid closer attention in those grammar classes!

While living in Mexico we made some wonderful lifelong friends. Recently, while speaking with one of them, I was reminded of a song a group of us had written and performed at a party in language school.

Language School (to the tune of ¨Yesterday¨)

Language School.
Every day I feel like such a fool
Trying to think of conjugation rules.
Oh, I believe in Language School.

Romance is gone.
The kiss you want now will just have to wait.
I´ve got 50 verbs to conjugate.
Oh, I believe romance is gone.

Spanish head.
Oh, I wish that I had stayed in bed.
Trying to think of what my neighbor said.
Oh, I believe in Spanish head.

Forgot my verse.
All my grades keep on getting worse.
I sometimes think that I might curse.
I might as well, what could it hurt?

What did I try to say?
I don´t know.
I couldn´t SAY
I said something wrong
Now I long to go away.

Oh, we´re here and oh so sick, you know.
To the baño we must always go.
We´re full of woe, in Mexico.

Tengo un chiste de vos, pero sólo sea cómica si fueras un nerd lingüístico !

Un hombre entra en un farmacia y pide por pasta dental, se llama Cuélgate. El farmacéutico dice, "Hombre, no lo tengo esta marca, aquí sólo tengo Colgate" y el hombre respondió, "¡Ahhh Amigo, vos sos Paraguayo también!"

Monday, October 26, 2009

Personal Space

People, people, everywhere!!!

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!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Of Course Not !!!


Just a new hair cut!

I am way too much of a coward to let people stick needles in my eyes!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

So... Did I ? Or didn't I ?

I went to the Beauty shop today and I have written about how they were pressuring me to get the eyebrow tattoos...and the eyeliner tattoos...and the lip liner tattoos.

So the question is...


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Things I see...

Driving down the highway...

Jungle Mom:  Honey, can you pull over?

Yekwanaman:  Why?

Jungle Mom:  Because I want to take a picture of the ostrich.

Yekwanaman:  What ostrich? You must be seeing things!

Jungle Mom:  NOPE!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Have You Ever ?

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


Heard the songs of howler monkeys in the jungle?


Seen a sky only God could paint?

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?


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?

Walked under a moon so bright, it cast your shadow at mid night?

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

Felt the sun beat upon you as you paddle 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?


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 swimming 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?

I would like to thank  the Venezuela jungle missionaries who have contributed  these photos. All photos are original to Jungle Mom, Don Arnold, Mike Dawson, Pastor Von, Micah Jank, and Jonathan Reed.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Light

 By Michael Dawson

I was speaking with Carlos from the village of Seducudawä. He paddled down to bring his wife to the medical dispensary as she had been stung on the foot by a large stingray and was in a lot of pain. Carlos, at one time had been one of our most promising believers in Seducudawä and was a big witness for the Lord there. His grandfather, uncle and younger brother were all powerful witchdoctors but we had believed the power of Christ had allowed him to break the cycle. Then a number of years ago he had an affair and later on divorced his wife and married the other woman and since that time has not wanted much to do with us. Then about 4 years ago he almost died with malaria but slowly recovered. After his recovery he attended one of our seminars and publicly made things right with the Lord and the church here, but for some reason, as soon as he returned to Seducudawä he fell off the deep end. The next thing we knew, everyone was saying he had become a witchdoctor. It is hard not to take these defeats personally and frankly, setbacks like this are always hard to take, so we were feeling very defeated as far as both Carlos and the work in Seducudawä was concerned. So I was surprised when he came in yesterday and sit down to talk with me. For the last three years or more our relationship has been strained and cold, to be honest, he mostly has avoided us.

I invited him in and after some small talk I asked him how he was really doing. "Not good" he admitted. I am not happy anymore. "Yes, I heard you had now become a 'shaboli,' (a witchdoctor)" I told him. He shook his head no. "I tried," he admitted, "but i just never could make it. I chanted and chanted, the jecula came close and taught me many chants to use, but they kept telling me I had to get rid of the light. I made my heart as dark as I could, I took dope almost non stop, I chanted all night long but every time the spirits would approach me the small little light in my heart was still shinning and would neither go out nor go away. I did all I could do, but the spirits finally even just quit coming. So to answer your question, I am not a witchdoctor but I did try."

"What do you think the light was?" I asked him. "I know it is God's Spirit. In spite of all I have done, HE has never left me, so the jecula would not come. My heart is so heavy, but I just don't know what I can do." God's Word says if we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive us our sins." I told him. "Pray for me." he said, "I need to take my wife home, but I will come back and talk some more soon." he told me.

For more about Michael Dawson,
 '"Growing Up Yanomami"

Mike's book is available for order at,

Friday, October 16, 2009

Growing up in the jungle...

It means your family is very close!

And Christmas time is HOT!

It means you grew up knowing how to make casave bread...

and hanging out with your indian friends is fun!

You do not realize they are living in poverty...

Perhaps because people would consider that you are living in poverty as well!
But you think you are rich!

It means your dad convinces you to play golf on the airstrip!

It means you were potty trained in an outhouse!

So you know how to appreciate an indoor toilet!

It means you use the river as your playground!

And swim at a very young age.

Your best friends are indian children!

It means, at a very young age, you are the best translator for any outsider
...even government officials and medical groups.

This is normal for you! The indians trust you. And , who else speaks, English-Spanish-Ye'kwana with a little bit of Sanema!

It means you had to help build your own house, even though a child!
By weaving the palm roof...

or helping to lay the hand made adobe bricks...

you help mix the mud used for mortar and learn hard work is FUN!

So you understand all the hard work that went into making your mud hut!

It may mean helping take care of the sick...

It means you have exotic pets...

Meet "Frutilupis" !

This toucan was a regular visitor at our house every afternoon. My husband would pop corn in the late afternoon and sit outside and share it with 'Fruitlupis', which is the Venezuelan name for Froot Loops cereal. This toucan would sit on his shoulder and share the pop corn right out of my husbands hand.

Meet "Bambi" !

Jayde would bottle feed this fawn named "Bambi". Her mother was killed by the hunters and they brought the fawn back to the village to be cared for. She was cared for until old enough to survive on her own in the jungle. Once old enough she was released.

It means you learn to make your own fun!
This improvised see-saw the children made lasted for weeks!

It means putting on plays for your parents!

Even musicals!

It means you are more familiar with flying in small planes than in riding in cars. Taking a taxi ride is 'exotic' and unusual to you, but flying for two hours over the jungle, landing on short grass airstrips is can sleep through that!

It means you might convince your mom into allowing you to wear a Mohawk!
That way you feel like a real indian!

It means you were home schooled.

It means Aunt Beth came to teach you algebra,
even though no one else in the village cares about your suffering!

It may mean you learn to walk on a dirt floor.

But most of all, you know it is for a good cause!
Building churches! Changing Lives!