Thursday, September 25, 2014

Back in Uganda

I am back!  I arrived at the VOE yesterday afternoon. This morning I went over to the school to check on things. The classes were all finishing up their devotional time. 

Here is the Kindergarten class. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Dad is retired

Dad has been a minister/pastor/preacher/leader/counselor for 35 years- my entire life!
He is retired now but he will always be my pastor. 

Here are some photos from the past two weeks. 

This was his last sermon. He preached the same sermon as his first one when he came to PSBC 23 years ago. 

Jeremy and the kids came. 

Robert and MaryJane came to his last seonand his celebration Sunday

Granny and Pawpaw came for his celebration Sunday
Micheal, Jamie and the boys. 

Ed, Lynn and Christopher

Here are three of our AWANA kids. They were waist high last time I saw them!  L-R:  Andrew Smith, MaryJane, Justin Law, Jack Smith, Jessica

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A few Random Jungle Things

1.  San Lorenzo Radio

The radio in San Lrenzo is going strong.  This is a ministry of International Tribal Missions.  The radio transmits the Gospel in 4 languages:  Spanish, Chimani, Trinitario and Yuracare!  Ivan Lopez and his wife are currently running the station.  In the past, I have gone with Tony Murrin on trips to distribute radios to the people along the river so they can listen
The radio station

This shelter is used for Bible conferences for the the tribal people

2.   Helping Hands Foreign Missions is now partnering with International Tribal Ministries to continue the jungle work.

Tony Murrin, Brenda Kowalske, Ivan Lopez, Jessica Matthews
3.On our flight into the jungle, as we waited on the tarmac to get checked for drugs, we kept hearing a dog crying.  Finally, we found this puppy in a box in the back of the plane!  We were taking 2 men to another village and one of the men brought him to guard his house.  The dog was not happy to be in a box in a plane!
We flew in the Twin Engine from Cochabamba to San Lorenzo,
then transferred to the 6 seat Cessna from San Lorenzo to Ushbe

Poor Dog, he was scared!

Waiting for the drug dog to come

4.  This is a skinned and dried bird that Dilma made.  They caught the bird and were going to keep it as a pet.  The bird died.  So, what is the logical next step?  Skin it, dry it and turn it into a kitchen decoration!

I would go over to visit and each time that bird would be hanging from a different wire around the kitchen.  Ask Dilma or the girls about it and they start pulling the wings apart and playing with the legs, all the while saying, “It doesn't stink.”

One day I was studying the beak, you know, up close and personal.  Then my eyes drifted up and I jumped back when they focused on the empty, dried out eye sockets. 

Interesting decoration - original

5.  Christian - he was so cute!

He is the one that kept coming back for band aids.  He also followed
us all the way to the airstrip to say good bye.  In this picture, his pants
are too big and he had to hold them up while he walked.
6.  Here is Tito and his family.  Please pray for them as the work in Oromomo sharing the Gospel.

Lizbeth, Brenda, Dilma, Mariana, Tito, Jabez, Jessica

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Day 4 - Last Day in the Jungle

<Begin Journal Entry Excerpt>

Sunday, September 7, 2014

As I write there is a small boy, about 2 ½ feet tall with jeans and a white dress shirt staring at me.  His hand is tucked into his shirt like Napoleon.  His mother says I treated him last time I was here, he was very sick.  It is so neat that the people remember me and what I have done for them.  I hope they also know that it is for the Glory of God.

There were about 100 people in church this morning!  It was a great service.  Pablo preached.  The kids went out with Judith and the youth went with David; Tito’s brother that also studied at the PdV CED.
Church service, Tito is leading music

Youth class, led by David

Children's class, led by Judith
It is so encouraging to see these people coming to church.  I know they are not all believers, but just to know that they are hearing the Word – I know it will not return void.

After church we rested until 14:00, then people came for medicine.  There were probably about 15 patients again today, dropping in sporadically.

This little guy is Christian - we put about 5 band aids on his elbow!
We would put one on, he would leave, then a little while later, he would be back - without a band aid.

At 19:00 we went over to have dinner with Tito and Dilma.  We did this because Pablo and Puma said that they were told dinner would be ready at 20:00.  When I got over there, I found out that Tito and Dilma were not actually expecting us!  Oh, well, they grilled a 6 ½ K Dorado and a smaller Surubi for us anyway.  We tore that thing apart!  Just fish on a giant banana leaf, everyone picking from the same fish with their hands, dipping each bite into piles of salt that had been poured on the leaf.



It is still an adventure of sorts to sit around a table, everyone one grabbing at the same dead, charred fish – whole and intact – dogs underfoot, fly paper overhead, full of dead or dying, music playing, smoke billowing from the fire, mosquitos finding that one place where you didn’t spray and all the while licking the dripping fish oil from your fingers as you go back for more.

We fly out first thing tomorrow.  I will enjoy a hot shower and a soft bed, but I am going to miss these people. I consider myself so blessed that God allows me to do this sort of thing for Him!  This is my "job" - such a tremendous blessing!

Jabez, so cute!

Jabez and Mariana

<end journal entry excerpt>

We were able to visit and talk with Dilma and Tito while the fish cooked.  Tito shared his testimony with Brenda.  One analogy he made concerning his marriage was the following:

Puma, Tito and Brenda, sharing and talking while the fish cooked

“The river isn’t straight, it curves and when you go down it, you can’t go straight, you have to curve to avoid deadfall, the bank, etc.  Dilma and I are curing in our marriage too.  Sometimes she tells me that my decision is bad, so we go her way.  Sometimes I tell her that her way is bad, so we go my way.  It is like the river, always curving and changing.” 

I think this is such a great analogy of a marriage and the compromise it takes!  I am so amazed at what the Lord can do when He gets a hold of someone!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Day 3 - Visiting Areruta

Day 3

Saturday, 9-6-14

<Begin Journal Entry Excerpt>

We are in the boat again, heading to Areruta for the day.  Dilma cooked breakfast for us and we stopped on our way to Areruta to drift and eat fried fish, rice and banana.  It was great!
Always amazed at God's beautiful creation

Dilma and the kids went with us to Areruta

When we got back on our way, we suddenly turned around in the river to go catch a duck.  It was on the shore and couldn’t fly.  Puma caught it.  I held it – it scratched me – I passed it to Pablo, then Pablo to Dilma.  Dilma wrapped it up in a shirt and held it like a baby, laughing the whole time.  More blue and yellow macaws are flying overhead.


We left Areruta at 14:00.  We stopped once because the gas filter was stopped up.  Tito and Pablo either unstopped it with a pocket knife or broke it – either way we are on our way again, but our boat has a leak.
We did things  a bit different in Areruta.  We gathered all the people, Tito preached to all of them.  Then, as a group, we gave Paracetomol, Vitamins, Albendazol, Baby powder, cream and toothbrushes.  The idea was to save time and not explain the same drugs over and over.  But, doing it this way loses the personal contact.  I think maybe next time we can be more effective if we stay in one or two villages and spend time there – focusing more on relationships.  The time Claudia and I spent a week just in Oromomo – talking, eating and working alongside the women – was one of the most effective trips.

Tito is sharing the Gospel in Chimani

Brenda explaining some vitamins and the importance of boiling water

Our Pharmacy

It is a pretty hot day today – not many clouds.  Brenda’s thermometer reads 100 degrees!  I would say about 95, of course sitting in a canoe in the river, with no shade, it feels like 102 degrees – especially when the motor suddenly quits and there is no breeze.

<End Journal Entry Excerpt>

We arrived around 16:00 from Areruta. We were so hot!!  I convinced Brenda to go down to the river with me and cool off – we stood knee deep in the water.  I bent over and washed my hair, letting it hang in the water.  Tiny fish came up and started nibbling on it!

In the meantime, about 10 women came and were waiting to be seen by Brenda.  I helped her a bit and then went to go cook dinner.  I was exhausted!  The heat was really draining.

At 20:00 we had a church service.  It was mainly children and youth.  We sang some songs and then Puma preached.  There were probably 60 people there.  It is  so great to see the church being used and the Gospel being spread.  

The front step of the church in Oromomo

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Day 2 of Jungle Trip

Day 2, September 5, 2014

<Journal Excerpt>

9:01 AM   - As I write this, we are slowly drifting down  the river in a dugout canoe.  We left 10 minutes ago but only got 5 minutes down river and the motor quit.  Tito is draining the oil into one of my cooking pots to see if that is the problem.  I won’t be asking for the pot back. . .


This morning in Ushbe, about 15 women and children showed up outside the school house at 6:45 for medical care!  I cooked breakfast over the borrowed fire while Brenda attended to them.

9:12 AM – The motor has started again and we are moving faster.  We prayed that God would fix the motor.  One think I try to remind myself is that we can do all humanly possible, but if it doesn’t work, it is ok because God is in control.  He controls the motor, the weather, the river.  We MUST trust in Him.
9:32 AM – We are stopped again.

A pair of blue and yellow macaws are  flying around in the treetops, squawking and playing – so beautiful as we drift down the river.
<End Journal Entry>

We eventually made it to Agua Negra after about 3 hours in the canoe.  We were able to attend to about 40 people and share the Gospel with them.  We held clinic in the one room school house.  The entire school was smaller than most people’s kitchens!  We had lunch in the school teacher’s house, boiled rice and fish.  Then, back on the river to travel down to Oromomo where we will pitch our tents for the remainder of the trip.

Agua Negra

We had to haul all our medicines up a 30 foot bank - I dirty, sweaty and out of breath when I made it to the top.
You can see our canoe way down in the river.

Brenda and Tito are sharing the Gospel and giving some health classes

We arrived at Oromomo just before dark, which was an answer to prayer.  We REALLY didn’t want to be on the river after dark.  It took us another 3 hours to get down the river. We were very tired after riding in the canoe all day in the hot sun without any shade.  Our relief would come when we would get out and push the boat.  We had to get out and push several times because the river was so low.  We would be going along at a good clip and all of the sudden come to a sluggish halt – our boat would be stuck on a sand bar in the middle of the river.

It was great to see Dilma, Lizbeth, Marianna and Jabez.  The girls have grown up so much!  They just laughed, giggled and hid behind their mother until I snatched both of them up and gave them big hugs, then they decided to be my shadows.

Mariana and Lizbeth

  Judith Mendez and her mother Nasmine are here.  Judith is a missionary with International Tribal Missions, Tony Murrin’s mission organization that HHFM is partnering with.  Nasmine is 75 years old!  She moved her to live with her daughter and help her.  She has taken to it like a duck in water!  She is helping to tutor the  children, doing Bible studies, etc. 
Judith and Nasmine

We had a few luxuries in Oromomo I was not expecting.  The first was that Judith let us use her gas stove!  A real gas stove out here!  I was very excited!  We set up camp in the house that HHFM had built here.  It has two rooms.  The front room is used for Sunday School and the back room is where we set up our tents.  The second luxury was that in the back, I hung a shower curtain so we could bathe with a bucket.  I must say that I was  very, very excited about having a “shower” of sorts.  It is wonderful when you can bathe and then just go around the corner and get in your tent.  (I know, seems like something trivial, but it is HUGE)

Our house!  It still needs a door, some windows screened in, etc.  But it is so nice!

Our tents.  The shower curtain is hanging behind the back wall.
That area is going to be a storage/bathroom area eventually.