Monday, February 22, 2010

In Darkness Flickering

In Darkness Flickering

Amidst the roaring dark we fight
With straining muscles trembling.
With weary hands we hold the light
Our hope is ever dwindling.
Heroes all, against the dark
Yet now our might is crumbling.
Piercing darkness finds its mark
And down we fall now, stumbling.

The dark howls in to cut me down
Then halts above me, quivering.
It's held above me, out of reach
By palest glow still shimmering.
The smallest light holds back the dark
I feel my hope rekindling.
So courage glimmers like a spark
A light in darkness flickering.

Written by my nephew, Kenny Bruce..remember the 5Ks? Kenny is a very talented young man who is currently attending New Tribes Bible Institute in Waukesha, WI.

Miguel and Micah Conquer Fish Mountain

Since we arrived in the city a year and a half ago, Micah has been wanting to climb "Fish Mountain", which is what we call this hill. It isn't visible in this picture, but halfway up the side, there is the shape of a fish laid out in white rocks. It is said that Christians in this part of the city have claimed this area for Christ, thus the Christian symbol of the fish. Micah got his wish this morning when Miguel took him up to the top.

Fish Mountain (during summer).

I think it took them about 30 minutes to get to the top.

The view to the east...beautiful!

Happy guys!

Fish Mountain is on the edge of the city...the other
side is just barren hills.

Another view of the city facing southeast...

Thursday, February 18, 2010


It was about five p.m. when my dad saw the ducks fly over the houses on the lake. There were two kinds of ducks that hung around...a common, black, inedible pato negro (black duck) and the pato real (royal duck), less common and highly coveted by my hunter father. My dad invited me to go along with him on the duck hunt and we quickly grabbed a machete, some drinking water, the shotgun and a few shells and off we went in our little canoe, named Castor y Polux.

Unlike the picture below (our house was the second from the top), it was rainy season and the jungle around the lake was completely flooded from the overflow of the nearby Guaviare River. In some places, the water rose 10 feet or more above the jungle floor. The ducks had headed towards the top of the picture there, so we pointed the canoe towards what we called the Nature Trail, a trail that my dad and the other missionaries had hacked out of the jungle on that end of the lake.

Laguna Pabón (Bass Lake).
Our family lived here for five years during the contact
of the Nukak tribe in the jungles of Colombia.
Eventually, the missionaries were able to move inland as the
Nukak became our friends. They were rather hostile for many years,
though, which is why the missionaries chose to build the houses
in the middle of this lake.

During dry season, we walked along the Nature Trail, but in rainy season, it was completely navigable by canoe. It was really neat to be able to go through the jungle in a canoe, but there were challenges...many vines and half-submerged logs...I remember getting dumped into the water on more than one occasion! Eventually, the Nature Trail reached a couple of smaller, marshy lagoons where we often saw many kinds of birds and animals, including alligators. One time, we startled a bird sitting on its egg on an old, dead tree. We felt so badly about that because the egg fell into the water and was lost, but since the bird was completely camouflaged as a broken-off branch we didn't even realize it was there!

But I dad and I followed the ducks further and further down the Nature Trail until we realized that we were traveling in circles. We kept coming back to the same tree marks he'd made with a machete earlier. So, not only were we not getting any ducks, we were lost as well! My dad was an excellent woodsman and knew the territory around the lake like the back of his hand, but since we were 10 feet or more above all of the usual landmarks, he was very confused as to where we were, exactly. We wandered around in the canoe for a while, and then my dad decided to hop over the side and wade around to see if he could get his bearings. The water was up to his chest and I shuddered to think of what kinds of animalitos (critturs) he might of my biggest fears is swimming or wading in murky water where I can't see what my feet are touching. I also have recurring nightmares of snakes in water...but anyway, it was getting dark and I think Dad was a bit desperate to get me home by nightfall.

The jungle was silent after he left and I wondered what would happen. I was beginning to realize that perhaps we might be spending the night out there after all and fervently hoped that my dad could find the trail again. But he didn't. He did find where a creek ran nearby during dry season, but he couldn't say for certain which direction would point towards home. Instead of getting us more lost, he made the decision to stay where we were and hope that we could find our bearings by the moon when it came up that night.

Our house on the lake (dry season).
Rainy season brought the water level nearly up to the house.

At this point, two things were very clear...1) we were very, very glad that we didn't bring my little sister, who was about 5 years old at the time (we almost did...), and 2) one should ALWAYS, ALWAYS take a compass when heading into the jungle! I was very thankful for the bit of drinking water we had, though. I'm pretty sure it was my Mom's idea to send it along with us.

When my Mom and our coworkers realized that we weren't making it back home, they began to fire a shotgun every 30 minutes or so, the idea being to let us know which direction to go. It was nearly impossible to tell from which direction the shots were coming from, however, since the water made the sound bounce all over. My dad fired his shotgun in return, however, at least to let them know we were still alive. They eventually gave up around midnight. The moon didn't help us much either, unfortunately, as it was a cloudy night. When it did finally peek out from behind the clouds for a while, it was directly overhead.

It was a long night. The mosquitoes were relentless and hovered in clouds. Sleeping was near impossible because the mosquitoes were biting us so viciously. My dad made switches out of branches and tried to shoo them away from me so I could sleep a little, but I could only sleep for a few minutes at a time. There were strange noises in the trees and I was scared. One scary noise sounded an awful lot like a jaguar call, even though my dad said it was just a bird. I didn't know if he was just telling me that to calm my fears or if it really was just a bird! Jaguars were probably what I feared the most, the flooded jungle wouldn't have deterred them much since they are excellent swimmers. And we were out of ammunition. (Anacondas would probably have been the biggest danger, though, so it was probably a good thing I didn't think about them...but now that I think about it, are they even out and about at night?)

My dad knew that at 6 a.m. the next morning, my Mom would be getting on the radio and letting everyone back at the base know that we were missing (embarrassing for him), so he was highly motivated to get us home by radio time! As soon as the darkness began to lighten a little, he was out of the canoe and back out searching for the way home. He soon found what he was looking for, we'd spent the night not 300 feet from the trail! And we made it home before Mom called out on the radio. I don't remember what Mom said about it all, but I'm pretty sure my Dad got an earful for getting me lost out there overnight!

I slept all day and it felt wonderful to be back home in my own bed under a mosquito net. A few weeks later, the inevitable malaria hit me and I was very sick for about a week. I had chills so badly the whole house shook!

Every time I had one of these "adventures" with my dad, I always swore I wouldn't ever go out hunting/fishing/exploring with him ever again, but I always did. Now I have a lot of good stories, though. I miss my dad, he died in 1999 of a heart attack at the age of 55. He was a good man.

If you enjoyed this story, you might like A snake in the window or Jaguar Hunt.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Update on Praying for a Friend!

PTL, we received word this afternoon that Isaac has been released! This is very good news, considering the alternatives...I'm sure he will still have judicial procedures, etc. to go through, but seems like the worst is over. Thanks for praying!

Kevin in Haiti

This is my sister Kathy and family...the 5Ks, we call them. Kevin, Kathy, Kenny, Keilah, and Kimberly. They work with Liebenzell mission in Ecuador with the Awa tribe. You can read more about their adventures here. Kevin wrote a bit more about his trip here. Right now, the 5Ks are on their furlough in New Hampshire.

Kevin and some guys from his church in NH spent a few
days in Haiti helping a pastor with his house.
So neat that he could go help out!

Handing out food bags.

Kevin said this man knew quite a bit of Spanish
so they could talk!

Children at the orphanage.

A damaged church building.

JD All Dressed Up

Huge, huge blessing this last week! A friend from church took JD to a fancy store and bought him a full suit, complete with shirt and tie! This is JD before taking off to the church youth Valentine's Party...looking pretty spiffy there!

So hard to get him to smile, but
I think I see a little one there...

There's the tie...none of know how to
actually TIE the thing. Guess I need to learn!
Maybe on youtube or something...

The True Challenge of Potty Training

I have become convinced that the true challenge of potty training isn't getting your kids to 'go' in the potty, but in maintaining one's sanity while you are at it. It's quite possible that God designed this stage of childhood as a sanctification tool or something...there are few things that can bring out the Mean Mama in me quicker than things that go on during this time of potty training.

The other day, for instance, all I wanted to do was take a nap! And yet, who kept popping up out of his bed, peeling off his diaper, needing to sit on the potty than the child who just a few days before had resisted all efforts at training?! No use telling me this is actually a good thing, it's still annoying. Yes, I really do want him to use the potty, just not every five. minutes. during. nap. time. Apparently, the gumdrop rewards are working better than I thought...

But a funny thing happened the other day (and here is where you choose to continue reading at your own risk due to somewhat graphic imagery ahead...). Jkaile pooped big time. Then he got up, turned, bent over to pull out the potty insert...except that either he wasn't quite finished or there was some poo stuck to his rear that fell on the floor.

Of course he stepped in it.

Several times.

I finally decided to just pick up the entire mess (literally) and take it all away. My plan was to place him in the shower, take away the potty chair insert, dump the poo, and then clean up the child. But the toilet is on the way to the shower and as his hand holding the potty insert passed over the toilet, he dumped.

From a height of about three feet.

Yeah, we both hit the shower after that one...

What struck me at that moment, though, is that I was laughing. After four kids and countless years of potty training, the sanctification must be kicking in after all.

Praying for a Friend

This last Sunday night, a Mexican friend of ours from church accidentally hit a lady with his car...unfortunately, the car behind him hit her as well as it was swerving to avoid rear ending Isaac! As is the law in Mexico, Isaac (and the other driver, too, I imagine) is now in jail waiting for the whole thing to get sorted out. He might possibly even be moved to a maximum security prison! Sounds a bit harsh, but that's the way it is...

The latest news is actually in his favor, though, because it turns out that 1) the accident victim was drunk, 2) at the time of the accident, she had suddenly run out into the street during an argument, and 3) the accident victim did not die and is not in critical condition.

All of this a very good reminder to be so very careful while driving here in Mexico! Like Miguel said, if we see him driving slowly, we should not be annoyed, it's for our own good!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Simple Mom Giveaway

Simple Mom is having a great giveaway this week over here to celebrate the launching of her company Simple Living Media. Simple Mom, Simple Kids, and Simple Marriage are some of my favorite reads, so go check it out! I also look forward to checking out Simple Bites, Simple Homeschool, and Simple Organic. I believe that all of these blogs have giveaways this week, too...giveaways end this Saturday!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Picture Fun

Remember those boxes I like to make? You can check them out here and find out how to make them here...anyway, somebody gave me an idea of a new way to use them. So I tried it out today! At this point, I have placed them unimaginatively in straight lines down the hallway (which Miguel recently painted a lovely shade of green!). I will probably rearrange them if I can figure out some other creative way to place them...they also look a bit crooked, which will bother me, too! lol

Old family pictures from when there were
just four of, those kids were cute! :)
Funny to see me with that long hair!

Aw! My sweetie and me...

Friday, February 5, 2010

JD's Birthday

I realized the other day that I completely forgot to post about JD's 17th birthday, which was January fell in the middle of a very strange couple of weeks of sickness and busyness, thus the forgetfulness on my part! I wish we could have planned something bigger, but at the end, it was JD's choice to only have a family celebration...maybe next year. I made vanilla ice cream in our new ice cream freezer and baked pound cake; all very yummy!

Sorry the picture is a bit dark, none of them turned out too well and this one was the best. Interestingly, Jkaile ended up being quicker on the draw than JD when it was time to blow out the candles! He just loves to blow out "fire"! We all had a good laugh at that. At any rate, I think JD enjoyed his birthday celebration and was pleased with all his presents. :)

To give a bit of background...JD (short for José David) is Miguel's youngest brother. Miguel has another brother and one sister, but the older siblings were all in their early 20s when JD was born. JD spent a year living with us in 2005-2006 while we were in Venezuela, where he caught up with his schooling (I taught him at home during that time) and learned English .

Jojo had a special place in JD's heart!

Two brothers...

JD came to live with us again this last summer. Our hope is that he can stay with us until he graduates from the MK school here in two years. His dream is to attend college in the U.S. and probably study something to do with computers, graphic design, and/or engineering.

Family picture, 2006.

One of my favorite pictures of the boys...

The boys with their cousins Daniel and Luis
at a park in Venezuela

Monday, February 1, 2010

Jkaile Knows His Colors!

Well, for the most part anyway...Jkaile
goes around the house naming just about
every color he sees these days! He just turned
2 1/2 last week. Smart little guy, isn't he? :)
(pardon the runny nose, seems to be a
constant companion this winter...)