Sunday, August 28, 2011

The BIG Move.

Yes, I am moving again. Tomorrow we are moving into a house we have been blessed to be able to purchase. We are so excited to finally have a place of our own. We are buying the house from another American couple who built it in an American style, including a basement! My favorite part is the laundry chute!

The owners are practically giving us the house as they wish to see it being used by missionaries.   It is a four bedroom house with a large open kitchen/dining/living room just perfect for entertain , which we do often!
It has a two car carport made of palm leaves which reminds us of our many years living in a palm roof hut in the jungle. The house does need a lot of repairs including  a complete re plumbing of the entire water system.

Rejoice with us as we enjoy this blessing!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The deer god

One of our concerns in the jungle was making sure we had enough protein in our children's diet. In the early years, before the solar panels, generators and battery powered refrigerator, we were constantly searching and trading with the Indians for fresh meat and fish.

One meat that the Indians were usually interested in trading with us was liver. Deer liver and tapir liver. We were glad to get it! We always pretended it was STEAK! The most yummy, prized, sought after cut of meat in the jungle! OH ,yes, my children, you get to eat LIVER! Poor children in America rarely have this opportunity! Aren't you all lucky! WOO HOO!

Since my kids were really isolated in the jungle...the ruse worked! They all ate liver with gusto! But our favorite was deer liver as it was more tender.

One day, Jorge arrived and asked if we liked liver. My husband assured him that we liked liver very much. Then, dear hubby said, in very clear Ye'kwana, " We love to eat deer liver! Our children all love to eat deer liver. Can we buy or trade for some of your deer liver????"

Jorge, opened his eyes and repeated, "Deer liver?"

Hubby says, "Oh yes! We would be glad to trade whatever you might need, for some of your deer liver for our children."

Unfortunately, the Ye'kwana word for 'DEER' is 'CAWAADI' and the Ye'kwana word for 'GOD' is 'WANAADI'. Very similar to a new language learner.

My husband had been asking to purchase a bit of 'God's' liver for our children to eat!

Wanaadi...Cawaadi.. God ...deer... a big difference

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Things I See...

At the super market, they sell everything but the 'squeal'.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The World

Jayde wearing her traditional Ye'kwana face paint.

When you live in a small, closed community, such as an indian village, it is easy to lose touch with the larger world. The universe contracts and becomes the space you occupy and the people you see daily.

As an outsider and an adult, I still found this would happen to me occasionally, but for my children it could become normal for them to think the world revolved around our little village. The other villages along our river were 'foreign' like other countries even, and town, where Spanish was spoken, was down right alien. The strangest of all would be the 'gringo' people who would appear in our world from time to time.

Once, when my youngest daughter was but a toddler, we found ourselves in the village for a longer stretch than normal. We had not left the village in over 6 months and in the mind of a toddler, that was forever.

About that time a North American man and his grown son decided to fly out and visit us. When they arrived we were quite happy to visit and chat with them in English. They stayed with us for several days and were very kind and generous to our children. They had brought them coveted books and goodies from the US, so the kids were thrilled to have them as visitors.

Except for the baby.

She seemed very upset the first few days. Although normally a bubbly, out going child, she withdrew and became shy, even rude to the guests. After one meal where she refused to speak with the gentlemen, I had to take her aside and try to figure out her problem.

She began to cry and informed me that these men were speaking 'our' language! How did they know 'our' language? They we not 'our' family! Who had taught them to talk like us? Of course, this was all expressed in the vocabulary of a 3 and a half year old.

I was floored! My blond, blue eyed child thought that our family alone spoke the English language! She felt threatened that strangers, who looked a lot like us, could waltz into her life and communicate intimately with us in our family's private language! Her entire world view had been shaken, she was insecure in who she was and where she fit into the big picture.

Because of this, we learned that we had to make an effort to leave the village fairly often, every two to three months, and spend a few weeks out of the jungle and away from the tribe so that the children would not get over whelmed with the outside world. Even so, we still had times when the children would come up with something that totally blew our minds as parents.

Such as when I was teaching my daughter about the US flag and that each state was represented by its own star. She wanted to know which star represented our village.

Another daughter was learning map skills and I was called away for a few moments. I handed her a piece of chalk and asked her to draw a map of the world while I was out. Our school room had untreated cement floors, so I used the floor as a work space for the kids to do their drawings, spelling words, and even math drills.

When I returned, she had covered the floor with an amazingly accurate map of the world.

Her world.

In other words, the village.

The World

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Things I See...

 My grand daughter cuddling with one of our new kittens.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Travels with Jungle Mom... never boring...

I was asked...

What has been your scariest travel experience?
 and I am stumped for an answer.

Its not that I have not had interesting experiences in my many travels, it is that I am finding it difficult to decide which one would be the scariest! Partly, because as I look back on each event, I now find them to be hilarious, even though at the time, they were frightening.

Would it be the time our Cessna landed on a grass strip in the rain and the water wall splashed so high we could not see where we were going until we stopped? Then we realized we were about 3 feet from the jungle trees at the end of the strip?

Or was it the time the engine cut off in the single engine Cessna while we were climbing? I did scream that time!

Or the time my daughter and I were left on a strip alone with indians who had never seen a non-indian female? They were very interested in confirming that we were indeed female...

Or when the three girls and I were, once again, left waiting in the middle of the jungle on a grass strip. The one where the jaguar liked to sun himself? The one where they killed the jaguar a few days later for chasing after an old man? My loving husband left us with his Leatherman knife, so I guess we were safe enough! (There's more to this story, but I must save some things for the book or you all will not purchase it!)

Once we needed to land on a small strip but found it occupied with buffalo. Kind of like playing that old video game 'Frogger' but with a plane and buffalo...and only one life!

Or maybe driving along the border with Colombia in an area known to be infested with FARC guerrillas? A few times we had to go in caravans and have a military escort until the military guys ended up being about as bad as the FARC.However, I think the huge pot holes on that road were by far the scariest aspect of that route.

Once, we were fording a river in a Land Rover (GREAT VEHICLES!) and we were meeting up with a ferry in the middle of the river. The car became stuck on something and the ferry moved off , dragging us along into deeper water. The back of the car, where the small children and I were, began filling up with water. I started throwing babies up to Clint in the front and then decided we should save the video camera as well. I grabbed the heavy camera case and lobbed it with all my might towards the dry, front of the car. I hit our driver in the back of the head! Obviously, we all survived and no one was harmed...well, except for the driver. He never would drive for us again.

There was that flight in the middle of the national strike.We managed to get tickets on the last flight leaving Barquisimeto for Caracas. Some Venezuelans did not think Gringos should get the last spots, even though we had tickets and they did not. Nor did it matter that some of those 'Gringos' were actually Venezuelan citizens. A small 'riot' began to break out and we were separated form our girls. The girls thought they were being kidnapped, when actually some airport workers were trying to place them in a protected spot. The, NAZIonal Guards (as some call them), National Guards, came over and began hitting people off with their machetes. We were told to, "Go quickly to gate one!" I don't remember much more. A big blurr of grabbing kids, wondering about luggage, listening to Spanish curses, and just getting our very white selves hidden away in the plane!

But truth be told, there was one trip that terrified me for the entire two hour flight! We were flying in a small commuter Turbo Prop from Puerto Ayacucho to Caracas. This plane had no lavatory facilities, and that was the problem! It turned out that I had E coli and very much needed those facilities! I was horrified I would not make it to Caracas. Those were, by far, the longest, scariest two hours of my entire life!

Except, there was that other time...

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Things I See...

So... that's where the cat hid her kittens!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Favorite Family Fotos

I love my family! 
Sometimes, candid shots turn out to be the best!

My oldest daughter, Jackie

My son in law, Brian

My son, Joshua, on his wedding day.
June7,2008. Lake Tahoe, California.


My daughter in Law, Naomy, on her wedding day.
June7, 2008. Lake Tahoe,California

My daughter, Jewel

 My daughter, Jayde in her Paraguayan dress

My oldest grand daughter, Elena

My grand daughter, Abbie

Grand daughter, Lexi, discovering cookies in the oven!

My husband and I cheering for Paraguay's soccer team.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I held a Jewel

Today my Jewel is 21!

Jewel was born with an attitude!

She could never sit still for picture taking!

She has always enjoyed any type of hand work.
Here she is watching an indian lady make a hammock.

No matter where she is, she will find a way to be helpful.

She is always up for an adventure.

She loved canoeing on the river in the jungle.

A rough and tumble kid!

She has always loved babies and will make a great mom one day.

Loves drama.

She learned from other cultures that there are different ways to do things.

She makes friends easily!

She has always been interested in medicine.

She would be a great nurse.

Always was a bit of a tomboy.

Very competitive.

She has become a real beauty...

And I keep wondering ,
"Where has my little, tough, tomboy gone?"


I held a jewel in my fingers
And went to sleep
The day was warm, and winds were prosy
I said, "Twill keep"

I woke - and chide my honest fingers,
The Gem was gone
And now, an Amethyst remembrance
Is all I own

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

So... this is heaven?

I wish you all could meet a friend of mine from the Ye'kwana tribe. Cristina was my neighbor for all those years we lived in the village. When I first met her, she was a married woman with 5 children. A few months later, her husband died of a high fever, probably yellow fever. This made her a widowed mother of 5. Life in the jungle is hard even with a husband but for a woman one to build the house every five years or so when it falls down...HARD!

About this same time, I had my first back surgery. This meant I could no longer do my own laundry in the river. Lugging dirty clothes down the bank and then heavy, wet clothes back up was no longer possible. Cristina showed up one morning and told me that God had led her to do my laundry for me. I had been praying about whom to hire. It is hard in a small, cashless society to hire one person over another. But this was the perfect answer, as everyone knew Cristina needed help. She did my laundry for several years.

One dry season, she was collecting fire wood, which must be collected before the rains and kept under a roof to use during the long rainy season. She stopped at my door and took off the head strap of her handmade back pack.
(These men are wearing the same style back pack.)

"WOOO", she called.
I opened the door and as she came in I could tell she was not feeling well. Now, Cristina stands at about 4'8" or so and might weigh 45 kilos. I had just watched her come in carrying a good 25 kilos of firewood on her back. Her garden was probably 2 to 3 kilometers away, so, she had every reason to not feel well!
She asked me if I could give her a "red" pill for her pain. The "red" pill was ibuprofen, the Miracle Pill in the jungle!

I went into the store room to get it for her, and when I came back out, she was sitting with a smile on her face looking around my house.I gave her the pill and began to tell her how that in heaven there would be no need for medicine as there would be no pain. And there would be no need to gather firewood, as God would provide all our needs and be the very light. I said it would be so great in heaven , to have all our needs met and provided AND , we would each have a mansion!!
Her face lit up, she looked at me and said something I will never forget. She said, "Heaven will be like your house!"

Now, my heart stopped for a moment. My house, that she was referring to was a mud hut! With a palm roof!! When you touched the walls, pieces of it fell off. Worms and cock roaches nested in the palm roof and even occasionally fell on you, not to mention the lizards and snakes! I had a generator and lights though, and a rough cement floor. I had colorful curtains, and a sink!
To Cristina's mind, this was as good as she could imagine!! (Inside The Jungle Hut)

I remember thinking, "Please God ,let her be wrong! Heaven has got to be better than this!"
And then I began to think, in Cristina's limited imagination, my home was a mansion.
What if, in our limited human imaginations, we are as far off as she is in what we imagine heaven will be like!