Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Good Book

Yonaguska was a prominent Cherokee Chief. He was known to be a fair and wise man. He was a peace chief and counselor rather than a war leader. He was a very handsome man standing at 6'3" tall, strongly built, with a faint tinge of red to his countenance.

When the missionaries had finished the translation of the book of Matthew of the New Testament into the Cherokee language, it was taken and presented to Yonaguska for his people to read. Yonaguska had never learned to read the Cherokee syllabary or English. Before he would allow his people to read the book of Matthew, he asked that it be read to him privately in order for him to be assured that it was something worthy for his people to read.

After listening to a few chapters, Yonaguska remarked dryly,

" Well, it seems to be a good book - strange that the white people are not better, after having had it so long."

Articles in regards to mission work among the Cherokee nation:

Saturday, July 30, 2011

A Day Late and a Dollar Short

The following article was written by Missionary Ken Hagerman,  a friend here in Paraguay.

Usually we shy away from those things that look a little too self-serving. For this reason, we don’t often talk of finances or of needs, especially the physical ones. However, recent events in the financial climate as well as our first-hand knowledge of how these events are dramatically affecting ministries operating here, have necessitated my writing this informative piece. Many times we Americans don’t know a whole lot about how the world functions outside of our borders. Even if we are seasoned business travelers or vacationers we only experience the other countries we visit from the small window of opportunity those things offer. Today, I wanted to take the time to tell you a little about exchange rates.
Many of you may support ministries outside of the United States and if so I want to share a little bit of how those financial blessings operate once they leave the good ole U.S. of A.  While there are several countries outside the USA that use the U.S. dollar for their official currency (Panama, Ecuador, El Salvador etc.) and while there are many places that accept the dollar for payment, the majority of countries require the exchange of that dollar to the local currency in the event you care to make a purchase. The United States is a world power economically. Being such, when the economy is poor or shaky in the States it filters down throughout the world. Locally you may experience higher gas prices or a slight bump in food cost. Pay raises may be slower and smaller. Interest rates will be higher or the requirements to get a loan will become more stringent. All these things as well as the general “doomsday” morale being perpetrated by the media lead to a general “woe is me, we can’t make it” feeling.
Now let’s think about the missionaries and ministry organizations you support. They have to take that dollar you give to the local exchange house and turn it into whatever currency they need to operate. I will give you the specifics of Paraguay since we live here and I know it best. The Paraguayans as a rule aren’t bothered with the fluctuating dollar. It does cause some prices to climb on imported goods but their general life and livelihood are hardly inconvenienced by it. The missionaries and ministry organizations that operate here who have funding coming into Paraguay from the USA are bothered by it. In fact many are downright harmed by it. For instance, in October 2010 the rate of exchange here was Gs(Guaranies)5000 to $1. That meant when someone exchanged $1000 dollars they received 5 million Guaranies. Way cool huh?! This also meant when a ministry went to the local market and bought a kilo(2.2 lbs) of ground beef for the kids in their children’s home for 25,000 guaranies, it was the same as paying $5 for that meat. Or let’s say that a ministry went to fill the gas tank on the mobile medical office they use as a tool to enter communities and share Christ, and they bought 40 liters of gas at 6500 guaranies per liter (260,000Gs total) . That’s $1.30 per liter, $52 for 10 ½ gallons. Yep, we are paying a little over 5 bucks a gallon for gas here.
Today we were in town and I saw a sign for an exchange location that boasted a rate of 3900 guarnies to one dollar. In less than 6 months, the dollar has lost 22% of its purchasing power here. Let’s take the two examples above and rework them with the new rate. First the children’s home ministry buys 1 kilo of ground beef for the same Gs25,000 but now they have to use $6.41 to buy it instead of $5 dollars like before. Next the medical missionaries fill their van’s gas tank. The same 40 liters of fuel  that was $52 now costs them $67. These changes occurred over less than 6 months.
The point to this exercise is to point out that while we are all feeling the pinch of the downturn in the economy what would it feel like for you if everything you bought suddenly went up 22-25%? I bring this up not to “drum up business” for the Hagermans in Paraguay but to mention to the good people, the world-wide donors, who support ministry in foreign lands to take notice. If the ministry you support is something that is close to your heart then ask them how things are going for them financially. I don’t know the state of exchange rates in all the countries where God’s people are working, but I suspect that their purchasing power has been dramatically affected of late. It may be a time in your life that giving more is just not an option for you, but you may be able to lead a campaign to raise finances for that children’s home or those medical missionaries or whatever other ministry God has put on your heart to partner with. I know firsthand that the missionaries we have met in the field think of the word partner as more than a check. They regularly lift their partners to the Lord in prayer, they think of each person as a vital part of the ministry, and they love when those people can come to see the work with their own eyes. If you are partnered with a particular ministry, engage them and pray that God blesses their work and ask HIM to show you your part in their work.

 JUNGLE MOM ADDS: Since Ken wrote this the exchange rate has dropped even lower. This morning's rate was down to 3610 Guaranis per dollar almost 300 less than when he wrote this article.

Friday, July 29, 2011

I'm NOT Catholic...

Which will be quite obvious after this story!

When I was newly married, my husband and I worked part time as janitors in the evenings, to pay our school bills. One of my first jobs was to clean a Roman Catholic church. Prior to this, I had never stepped inside a Roman Catholic church! The only Catholic I knew was an uncle and we only spoke of that in hushed, pained voices. I come from a long line of Baptists and am the fifth generation of Baptist preacher's kids...we just never met many Catholics .

On my very first day, I was diligently vacuuming the multi purpose room which was where Mass was held and also used for other meetings including Bingo on the weekends. They had a rather ornate communion table with red velvet curtains which fell from the table top to the floor. Striving to do a thorough job, I pushed aside the curtains to vacuum under the table.

The sight I saw under the table turned my blood ice cold! I saw a pair of lifeless, bloody feet! I threw my hands up and screaming, ran off the platform into the arms of my husband! The priest and a nun came running to see what the commotion was all about.

I told them! There was a dead body stashed under the communion table! You should have seen their faces! Apparently, the church had a life size crucifix which they hung on the wall during Mass, but hid under the communion table during Bingo, not deeming it proper for Christ to look down upon such activity.

Oops! My bad. The priest was very kind when he realized my ignorance and he chuckled a bit about it.

A few weeks later, I decided to clean a small basin I had noticed. It was gold plated and a bit scummy to my eyes. I scrubbed and scrubbed and rinsed and rinsed until it shown!

Then I was given a lecture about Holy Water and how it had to be procured and blessed by a Bishop as it was the only water to be used for baptizing. It seems one does not wash it down the drain!

Oops! My bad. The priest was very patient as he explained but he did not find it funny at all.

The final straw happened a few weeks later. The church had a small break room and the priest had told us to help ourselves to any food there. Often we would find donuts or pastries and being poor college students, we did help ourselves! But on this day, there were no snacks out...except for a box of some kind of strange wafers. My husband and I both grabbed handfuls of the crackers to snack on as we worked. They did not have much flavor but did have a curious texture and way of melting on your tongue.

This time the priest was not even polite. I guess one should not snack on the Lord's body! For these curious wafers were the Host. In our defense, they were very different from the unleavened bread used by baptists in our communion services!

Oops! My bad. We never were sent back to clean that church but were reappointed to a bank.

I wonder if that priest remembers me?

(This is my light hearted attempt to remember this event which recounts my true ignorance at the time. I mean no offense to anyone and certainly no disrespect to the Communion or Lord's Table or even the Priest as he was truly kind to me.)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

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!

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Things I See...

My daughter's braid.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

My Messed Up Kids...

I often worried over the fact that my children were growing up in a different culture than my own. Twenty five years later I do not know why this even bothered me, but at the time it seemed they might be forever scarred and labeled as misfits of the planet. Which they may well be, but that can be a good thing in this day and age!

Growing up in the jungle among a tribal people with a completely non Western world view was bound to have some impact upon their psyche, right?

You could say that!

This would often be displayed by the innocent things they would say, or do, never suspecting it was not normal in their own 'culture'.

Like the time my 12 year old son informed me that if his wife ever behaved like 'so and so' he would spank her! After all, that was the way Ye'kwana men dealt with their wives. We had a very long discussion about that and I am sure he has never spanked his wife.

Then there was the time we were in Caracas and needed to travel across the city by using the subway. Jewel was 6 years old at the time and as we walked down the stairs leading into the underground subway system, she freaked out! I was a little freaked out myself because the subways are very dangerous in Caracas, but this child was terrorized.

Finally, we got it out of her. Did we not realize we were dragging her into the underworld? The terrible place where evil reigned and people entered but never returned! Every Ye'kwana indian above the age of 2 knew of this awful place and we were dragging her into it. That took another several hours long discussion to set straight. I think she knows it is not true now...I think...

My oldest daughter watched all her friends get married young. Very young, like 12 - 14 years old. Is it a wonder she was married at 18? Is it not logical that she would choose to have her babies be born at home with only her husband in attendance? She uses the Ye'kwana hammock method to deliver. She had one baby in a hospital in Costa Rica, but to hear her tell of it, she was tortured and will never purposely submit herself to that again.

My youngest daughter thought the village was the world. The entire universe. She thought everyone ate worms and monkeys. She knew her familial relationship to everyone in the tribe. She even thought the rainbow was her cousin for awhile...

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Christianity is a philosophy

Unfaith turns Christianity into only a philosophy. Of course, Christianity is a philosophy -- though not a rationalistic one because we have not worked it out from ourselves. Rather, God has told us the answers. In this sense it is the true philosophy, for it gives the right answers to man's philosophic and intellectual questions. However, while it is the true philosophy, our Father in heaven did not mean it to be only theorectical or abstract. He meant it to tell us about Himself -- how we can get to heaven, but equally, how we can live right now in the universe as it is with both the seen and the unseen portions standing in equal reality. If Christians just use Christianity as a matter of mental assent between conversion and death, if they only use it to answer intellectual questions, it is like using a silver spoon for a screw driver. I can believe that a silver spoon makes a good screw driver at certain times. But it is made for something else. To take the silver spoon that's meant to feed you, moment by moment, and keep it in your tool box to use only as a screw driver is silly.
Francis Schaeffer
Death in the City (Downers Grove, InterVarsity Press: 1969) 139-40

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Things I See...

I am not too sure about this!
Janus is n ow a little over four months old and has learned how to get up on the bed.... I don't think this is going to work out!

Friday, July 15, 2011

You can take the boy out of the jungle...

But, can you take the jungle out of the BOY?????

(A repost from 2008)

My son killed this snake for me a few days ago. He used his little knife he keeps by his bedside. The snake was sunning on our porch and he knew it would give me a fright to open the door and see it there.

And then I found him outside playing with his new toy....

He made himself a blow gun!!!
( all you need is some PVC pipe, electrical tape,
plumber's putty and a plastic cap for the mouth piece.
Use wooden skewers for shish kabobs as the darts. )

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Me, Myself, and I

( This was written a few years ago by my daughter , Jewel)

 ME ~ The indian
(grating yucca with my indian friends)

 MYSELF ~ The Venezuelan
(all dressed up for a wedding)

and I ~ The American
( confident and ready for independence)

No, I do not have dual personalities but I do have multiple cultures. To be more exact , I have American, Venezuelan and Indian (Ye'kwana) cultures.

People like me are called TCK (third culture kid) or ATCK (adult third culture kid) I am also called a chameleon because I can blend in to almost any culture. It's pretty simple once you know but to do it correctly it takes practice and understanding of cultures. So now  that I have given you the 101 on what I am called. Now I will tell you what my cultures are.

Riding on a dug out in the jungle.

Indian me
As an Indian I know how to plant a garden .I know how to catch a boa constrictor and come out alive (if all goes to plan) but more importantly, I know that I do not leave my house by my self. I will only go with my father or brother or another woman.
When I am talking on a complicated or uncomfortable topic or just confronting some one, I will not look them in the eyes!! I also will not show my father any affection out side of the house ,such as holding his hand or giving him hugs. I will walk slightly behind him, I will be quiet if men are talking.
When it is time to eat I will serve the men first, oldest to youngest, then I will serve the children and old women and then I will eat with the other women.
I know there are only two ways to punish a man for any thing he has wrongly done to me. If I am not married to him, I will get a couple of my friends to help me and I will get the largest bucket I can find and fill it with water and a cereal type of grain .Then I will offer it to him and he will have to drink it all!!!!! If I am married to him, I will wait till he is asleep in his hammock with his head over the smoldering cooking fire, and I will take the machete and cut the hammock strings so he lands head first in the fire ( which is so much more enjoyable if he is still drunk from the three day party down at the churwata)
If a man wishes to propose to me, he will hang his hammock in my house and if the next morning it is not thrown out side in a heap it means I have accepted . He will then move in with me and my family and then we will go to the village elders where they will study are family tree to see if we may marry. In one case, a couple was told they could not marry because the girl and the boy were both directly descended from two very powerful witchdoctors and if they should have children, it could be dangerous. So they were both married to different people.
And there is much more. I could go in to, but I don't want to sooo ,continuing on...

Cheering for Venezuela's futbol (soccer) team playing in AsunciĆ³n.

My Venezuelan Self
As a Venezuelan woman I know my physical appearance is very important. If I call a friend up on the phone to ask a favor, I must first spend 15 minutes chit chatting, ask how their family is? Have they found their lost dog? and so on, and then I may get to the real reason for the call. If a baby has hiccups I will put a wet cotton ball on his chest to get rid of the hiccups....why? I don't know.
The relationship between a mother and her son is very strong because many times there is no father figure and hence some times this makes the wife and husband relationship hard.
I love colorful clothes and big earring's and high heels and I all ways drink coffee any time of day or night. I had my first cup of coffee in a bottle (mom and dad didn't know) I had my ears pierced by the doctors when I was three days old
At Christmas I will buy new clothes and will wear it to a big party where I will have all the Christmas foods and drinks. Then me and my family will go to the beach for a couple of days
A strike or protest is not a strike or protest if there is no tear gas or the National Guard come out all dressed up. You must flip buses, burn tires ,and scream and yell with the other hundreds of people there. At 12pm we go home and eat lunch, take a nap, take a shower and go back to the strike.
Shorts are only for the beach or pool or at your house. Always iron you cloths, make sure your feet are clean, and if you can't smell the soap and shampoo and perfume or cologne on some one, they are dirty.Flip Flops are for the shower only!
Baseball is bigger then futbol in Venezuela ( but futbol is still very big) the top teams are 1- Cardenales de Lara ,2- Leones de Caracas, 3 -Magellanes de CARABOBO!!, and right now the Cardenales are in the lead and they are the best,they are also my home town team!

Registering to vote for the  US Presidential Elections.

I am American
As an American I am very proud and strong I do not back down from a fight ( sorry mom and dad) I support the war in Irak, I love the Marines but that might have to do with the fact that my dad is a third generation Marine. I like country music,and I love the American dollar! I love Wal-Mart. I love celebrating Thanksgiving. And my favorite candy is Reece Cups. Since I have lived there less than anywhere else, I have already run out of things to write about the American culture.

Since I didn't write very much about my American culture, I will write a little about the mk culture

Questions we hate the most:
Where are you from? What country do you love best? These are frequently asked questions from non-mk's. When mk's meet each other, we have several questions we ask each other, such as
Where were you born? How long did you live there? How many languages do you speak? How many countries have you lived in? Are you a first generation mk or several generations? How long have you been on the mission field? Where do you consider home to be?

We all so learn how to stand at a display table in the church lobby.We smile and answer the same questions over and over because we know the churches are our supporters. We also learn to cut off our emotions, especially when we say good bye because we have to!
Woto#ojo!  Hasta luego!  See you later!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Jungle Cuisine

Here is a collection of photographs of some of the things I have eaten during my time in the jungle. (I did not take all of the photos myself. Some were shared by friends. Thanks to the Dawson, Findley, Jank, and Mutti families.)


(Photo by Michael Dawson)

Roasted Monkey

(Photo from the Findleys)


(Photo from Michael Dawson)

Palm Grubs

Earth Worms


Gator (caiman)

(Photo from Jacob Mutti)


(Photo from Jank's)

( This is the only one I have not tried, but thought you would like to see it anyway)