Wednesday, May 27, 2009


The time to leave Brazil came sooner then expected, but the simple lessons of a listening trust continue to guide me forward into the unknown horizons of the future.

Yes I am back in the states - I was able to return in time to surprise my family and sister for her graduation - a priceless treat!

God answered a very specific prayer to show me that I am supposed to be working at Camp Cherokee again this summer and He has been opening alot of doors to make it happen, which led to me returning about a month earlier then planned.

Here is a thought that I read this morning that sums up the journey of the past few months and the direction ahead.

"Everyone needs to have a personal experience in obtaining a knowledge of the will of God. We must individually hear Him speaking to the heart. When every other voice is hushed, and in quietness we wait before Him, the silence of the soul makes more distinct the voice of God. He bids us, "Be still and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10 Here alone can true rest be found.

And this is the effectual preparation for all who labor for God. Amid the hurrying throng, and in the strain of lifes intense activities, the soul that is thus refreshed will be surrounded with an atmosphere of light and peace. The life will breathe out fragrance, and will reveal a power that will reach men's hearts." Desire of Ages p. 363

To hear His voice - to always be listening - to be willing to follow - this is my prayer.

Future updates and pictures of my life will be found on

Please continue to pray for the Brazil Medical Launch program (Known in Brazil as the Luzeiros). God is providing in miraculous ways to show that He wants these boats on the rivers providing full time care for the people as soon as possible.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

My Burden Bearer

"Whatever your anxieties and trials, spread out your case before the Lord. Your spirit will be braced for endurance. The way will be open for you to disentangle yourself from embarrassment and difficulty. The weaker and more helpless you know yourself to be, the stronger you will become in His strength. The heavier your burdens, the more blessed the rest in casting them upon your Burden Bearer."

Ministry of Healing p. 21

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Your ears shall hear a word behind you saying, This is the way walk in it, whenever you turn to the right or the left.
Isaiah 30:21


Fellow pilgrim, we are still midst the shadows and turmoil of earthly activities, but soon our Saviour is to apear to bring deliverance and rest. Let us by faith behold the blessed hereafter as pictured by the hand of God. He who died for the sins of the world is opening wide the gates of Paradise to all who believe on Him.

Soon the battle will have been fought, the victory won. Soon we shall see Him in whom our hopes of eternal life are centered. And in His presence the trials and sufferings of this life will seem as nothingness. The former things will not be remembered or come to mind.

Cast not away therefore your confidence, which has great recompense of reward. For we have need of patience, that after you have done the will of God, you might receive the promise. For yet a little while and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry. P K o.732

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. ~ Romans 5:5

Clinic during March

Sleeping quarters

My stethescope - I love seeing peoples face when they hear their own heat for the first time!

Sunrise from the boat.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Frog Sightings:

My hand automatically jerks back away from the cool clammy something inside the bag of clothespins – then I laugh at myself as a little green frog leaps from his hiding place and bounds off to a new hide-a-way.

A frog hopped out of a toilet when visiting friends.

There is a little frog who lives in our kitchen - I only see him when I turn on the light at night as he darts out of sight.

I found one the size of my thumbnail inside the lid to the water filter.

There is one who lives in Brad and Linas bathroom.

A fat grapefruit-sized frog hops along the side of the house / patio every evening, I named him Fredrick – when I rescued him from the too curious Luzeiro (puppy)

Barefooted Home

Sacks of oranges and tucumá landed near me as the disembarking passengers swarmed off the large double decked boat; a woman carrying a very much alive chicken, another with a white kid goat on a blue string, men are carrying loads of cargo, a thin mother carries a little girl with cerebral palsy in her arms… and I wonder where she is going.

Paulo has negotiated a price for our passage across the river and he motions me to enter the little boat nearby. We are traveling with two of his friends across the Rio Negro to a small community where they have done evangelism in the past. The metal bottom smacks the choppy water as we cut our way between the sea going vessels anchored near the middle of the river and the busy port shrinks behind us into the horizon. Entering a connecting waterway, we cruise for about twenty minutes past little farms with saggy-necked cows on marshy flatlands that will soon be conquered by the rising river.

Abruptly, the driver slows, turns, and nudges the nose of the boat directly into the soft clay bank. Following the others past the patch of cucumbers, down a little dirt trail, and past a couple wooden houses, we come to a pretty school on stilts. It is on stilts like all the other buildings because the river will soon overflow to meet the lake on the other side of this stretch of land. After chatting with a few of the teachers there we set out to visit the families and invite them to a special program Thursday evening.

We wind our way through the maze of little dirt trails that crisscross between wooden houses, and the raised rows of cové, cucumbers, and green onions that are planted in mass quantities in the loamy soil. The wooden houses are clustered in by banana, cupuaçu, açerola, and cacao trees. Around some of the houses pretty flowering bushes have been cultivated, and small plants bloom out of old plastic bottles tacked to the side of the house.

Nearly every family invites us with the simple hospitiality of the ribeirinho culture, but in order to invite as manyas possible we just chit-chat and invite them to the meeting. There is a plastic fuel container at the steps to every home, the top has been cut away and it is filled with river water for washing muddy feet before entering the house. This is my assumption due to the flock of flip-flops that gathers outside. The work boots, muddy from field work, get turned upside down on sticks in the mud.

“Are you the Adventists?” A woman calls out as we pass along side her house, “The ones with a doctor?”“Yes, is someone sick?”After ascertaining that it wasn’t an emergency we promised to try to bring a doctor and medical supplies with us on Thursday when we returned.

Further down, we came along a group of kids playing an odd game involving two broken boards used like base ball bats, a ball, and two empty Guaraná bottles… maybe an amalgamation of baseball and kick the can? Sitting down near a young girl with dangly earrings and a pretty smile, I watched the game with curious interest and listened as Antonio explained about the meetings. When he asked her what topics she would be interested in hearing about she told him that she wanted to know about the end of the world. Another boy walks up dangling a baby alligator by a string tied behind his front legs. The poor thing is tired and angry from being jerked about so much, the wry thought of ‘I would grow up hating humans too’ flicks across my mind.

The next house is the home of an elderly couple bronzed skin and silvery hair, warmly insisting that we enter and visit because the husband can´t attend meetings at the school - it is to far for him to walk. Leaving my flip-flops on the wooden steps, I climb up to greet them. As we talk, I can feel my heart glowing.

My dusty feet belong here - barefooted on the wooden floor beside theirs... at home.

Monday, March 30, 2009

For Wild Orchids

Friday evening I wrote a list of the days blessings - and I thought I'd share!
A highly recommended habit - once you start listing it's hard to stop!

Thank you for waking me up with a chorus of parrots.
And for company on my run.
Thank you for showing me the kingfisher catching a fish.
For the morning sun sparkles on the lake.
For worship and morning hugs.
Thank you for enough sun and wind to dry my clothes today.
For fire ants because they remind me that my nerves are in good condition.
For puppy pounces and wiggles.
For brooms and bleach to scrub away the mold.
For filling my heart with music.
For clean drinkable water in my water bottle
And that the pump of the well is working.
That the little cucumber plants are blossoming already.
For cracks in the floor to sweep dirt through.
Thank you for good food and the energy it gives.
For wild orchids.
Thank you for showing me the big scorpion in time to kill it.
For the small window of internet to read emails and know what to pray for.
Thank you for the rich colors in the afternoon storm.
That my violin is surviving the tropics.
For the questions of a three-year-old to make me think.
For the blessing of Sabbath rest.
Thank you for the little wooden church, and for play-dough to keep Levi occupied.
For the little kids who ask for lullabies every night.
Thank you for the lullaby’s of frogs and night critters
And the bats and cocharoaches in the roof.

My soul shall praise You as long as I live!
Thank you Lord for life.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Go Catch Little Coconuts!

Portuguese Expressions

a.) Is we in the tape! = É nóis na fita.
b..) Tea with me that I book your face = Chá comigo que eu livro suacara.
c.) I am more I = Eu sou mais eu.
d.) Do you want a good-good? = Você quer um bom-bom?
e.) Not even come that it doesn't have! = Nem vem que não tem!
f.) She is full of nine o'clock= Ela é cheia de nove horas.
g.) I am completely bald of knowing it. = Tô careca de saber.
h.) Ooh! I burned my movie! = Oh! Queimei meu filme
!i.) I will wash the mare. = Vou lavar a égua.
j.) Go catch little coconuts! = Vai catar coquinho!
k.) If you run, the beast catches; if you stay, the beast eats! = Secorrer, o bicho pega, se ficar o bicho come!
l.) Before afternoon than never. = Antes tarde do que nunca.
m.) Take out the little horse from the rain = Tire o cavalinho dachuva.
n.) The cow went to the swamp. = A vaca foi pro brejo!
o.) To give one of John the Armless = Dar uma de João-sem-Braço.

A Safe Path

Febuary 17

God in His providence brought the Hebrews into the mountain fastness before the sea, that He might manifest His power in their deliverance… He chose this method in order to test their faith and strengthen their trust in Him. The people were weary and terrified, yet if they had held back when Moses bade them advance, God would never have opened the path fore them… In marching down to the very water, they showed that they believed the word of God as spoken by Moses.

The great lesson here taught is for all time. Often the Christian life is beset by dangers, and duty seems hard to perform. Imagination pictures impending ruin before and bondage or death behind. Yet the voice of God speaks clearly, “Go forward.” We should obey this command, even though our eyes cannot penetrate the darkness, and we feel the cold waves about our feet. The obstacles that hinder our progress will never disappear before a halting, doubting spirit. Those who defer obedience till every shadow of uncertainty disappears and there remains no risk of failure or defeat, will never obey at all. Unbelief whispers, “Let us wait till the obstructions are removed, and we can see our way clearly;” but faith courageously urges an advance, hoping all things, believing all things.

The path where God leads the way may lie through the desert or the sea, but it is a safe path.

- Patriarchs and Prophets, Exodus p. 290

Friday, March 20, 2009

Uncharted Prayer

Stooping to add my face to the collection peeking into the thatch house, my eyes adjust to the dimmer light. A small room easily crossed in a few steps, a battered wooden table, and a red hammock strung crosswise halfway into the hut. Swinging there in the hammock is a small girl playing a black guitar, unperturbed by the intruding audience at her doorway. Smiling at me she continues her original praise song, strumming with ease as she pushes off the center pole of the hut with her left foot.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

“Izailda” She pronounced again, her black hair falling back from her amused face – amused at my attempt to remember and correctly pronounce her name. I sat down beside her in the beached canoe for the promised lesson in Santerén.

We are surrounded by the simple music of a jungle village. Little brown bodies fling out into the brown water, their laughter the color of tropical flowers. Women scrub and slap their clothes clean along the margin of the river – the ribbon that ties all their lives together. It is their water source, washing machine, bathtub, pool, and only mode of transportation. It is a long and winding corridor through wild greens - their only connection to the outside world.

“So pé,“ she tugged on my shirt.
“So pé,“ I repeat in Santerén, verify in Portuguese, and then write a phonetic version in English for reference.
“Meh top, é vmeh, vwako.” Our giggling duet crescendoed with the difficult words, and my frustrated attempts to write the unusual sounds on paper. For example - ú-e-i which means ground or soil. Most of the words are two syllables with an earth-toned guttural pronunciation.

“How do you say ‘love’?”
“Ámor – the same as in Portuguese.” Her dark eyes glow with a simple fire, and mine ignite in response; some things are always the same.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

The cool night air blows in across my face, billowing my mosquito net and drying the clothes I washed in the river earlier today. Purring along, the motor of the launch rumbles a steady pattern, and I can hear the swoosh of the water as the wake peals out around the boat. My hammock swings slightly in cadence with the forward momentum of the boat and I can see out between the white board railings that curve around the deck.

The moonlight tosses a shimmer path across the still dark water - so still, so smooth that it reminds me of polished pewter… a mirror reflection of the quiet sky, with an ebony border of jungle between. Even the moonlit clouds are perfectly reproduced on the liquid canvass. There is a holiness in the stillness, as if our boat is traversing through an uncharted prayer.

Behind us several hours is the indigenous village of Ponta Alegre where we have spent the last four days holding clinics for the community. Behind us are the smiles, honest eyes, impulsive hugs of a hundred little brown bodies. Behind us are hearts; pieces of ours and pieces of theirs.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Three-year-old Logic

“If a whale came out my nose you would have to take me to the doctor!”

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


My eyes open to the symphony of bird songs swelling outside my widow, the light is still in soft grays. A fresh breeze is coming up from the water through the silowhetted trees. Running shorts, Tee-shirt… and then with socks and shoes in hand I quietly nudge the screen door open, not wanting to awaken Maria.

Luzeiro bounces over, leaping up at my knees, and tripping over himself like only a puppy can. Nipping at my socks, he nearly absconds with one before it gets on my foot. Then it is the shoe laces, I can hardly tie them down, “You silly dog! Come Here, yeah that’s a good dog! Oh, you’re so sweet!” As I stretch muscles, he chases his little tail – nearly two circles and then flop! He trips and hits the tile, but his tail is gripped victoriously between his little teeth and he gives it a good knawing before a beetle distracts his attention! I climb over the fence a ways down from the entrance because I don’t want him to discover he is small enough to fit under the gate. “I’ll be back!” I respond to yipping pouts, and my feet pick up rhythm along the dirt road.

Doves with rosy tinted feathers scatter into the overgrown edges, Kiskadees flash yellow breasts in the sunlight that is now slanting golden through morning clouds. Something like a sore-throated turkey with a hiccup calls from within the jungles curtain, and other groups of this funny bird answer in a chortling greeting. My thoughts modulate into prayers matching the steady pattern of my steps - thoughts of hope, love, and protection for those I love.

Descending the rumpled road that curves down into the little town of Puraquequara, a motorcycle turns onto the road in front of me – two guys and probably 50 pounds of Tucumá headed to the market.Asphalt, a curve, a slope, a dip down past the garbage dump. Awkward vultures hop out of the way, to lazy to fly. Their funny warted heads and dusty feathers seem at home with the stench of trash, and dirty water trickling across the street. I pass a small girl dressed in the government school uniform, an elderly man carry a bag of fresh crusty buns from the Panderia, a little boy chasing a rooster. Brazilian tunes bounce out from the radio of a corner store.

People are not accustomed to seeing a girl jog through the streets. Running is for soccer fields, catching chickens, buses, and taxis. They pretend not to stare, and I pretend not to notice. “Bom dia,” I puff to an elderly woman walking with her granddaughter toward the bus station. “Bom dia,” she grins. The bus squeals to a stop and the people scramble aboard, it passes me twice on the next few roads as it picks up people headed for Manaus. Cresting one of the higher points in the loop I can seen the Amazon river in the distance.

Circling back through the streets I pass the dump and the little sitios on the edge of town. The bumpy road climbs the steep hill, my toes strike at the clay, my lungs grasp the air. There is little flat ground in this region, it is either up or down or water. I follow the clay road to its end - to home. The lake is beginning to take on the blue of the sky, and two pairs of parakeets chatter their way across the sky. The day has begun.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Fruit n Such

Taperiba - good for juice
I forgot the name - but you boil it and make what ever you imagine the smells match... for example - scalloped potatoes for Sabbath dinner! Everyone liked it :) But forgot to take a picture of the final creation...

Brazil nuts - straight from our tree!

Tucuma' - super good with bread n soy mayonaise

Recent Sightings of More Feathered Species

Wattled Jacana - Jacana Jacana intermedia
Great Egret - Ardea alba egrella
Yellowheaded Caracara - Mibrago chimachima cordatus
Chestnut-bellied Seedeater - Sporophila castanuventris
Smooth-billed Ani - Crotophaga ani
Common Ground Dove - Columbina passerina albivitta
Forked-tailed Fly Catcher - Tyrannos savana monachus
White-winged Swallow - Tachycineta albiventer
Least Grebe - Tachybaptus dominicus

Birthday to the Past

Photo flashbacks to the miracle filled years of when IAAI Instituto Adiventista Agro Industrial was started by my grandparents and a team of other dedicated people with a vision of providing education to the children from the interior areas of the Amazon.

Below is a clipping of when the govenor of the state awarded the SDA church with 25,000 acres of land for this agricultural school to be constructed!

In the height of their program, the school had 100 greenhouses among other productive industries where the students could earn their tuition, and gain an education in practical skills.
As a birthday gift, I met with my Grandma and traveled out to IAAI. It was a privilege to visit this special place and hear the miracle stories firsthand.

This is the Paraiba, the little river that runs through the jungle down behind the school.

The road down to the swimming hole in the Paraiba, where they used to trek down morning and evening to bathe, do laundry, and haul water up for cleaning, cooking, and drinking.

Exploring the old road that Papa blazed out to where the school was to be built through what was virgin jungle at that time. Now - half puddles - due to the rainy season.

Pe de Moleki - an typical Indian food made from Mandioc root and baked in banana leaves. A yummy treat!

The first house Papa constructed here on the land. There were thatch roofed shacks before, but this was the first wooden house - still in good condition after many years.

Rio Preto, the river through the little town several kilometers away.

Looking to the future - Inspired by the past - Content in the Present

Monday, February 9, 2009

Brown Goo Gives Peace

"You should come visit my church sometime, I think that your grandfather could find healing there." Martin's German-accented English seems odd in the middle of this Brazilian hospital hall, like a clownfish in a school of Tambaki.
"What church do you go to?" I keep one ear tuned to the cubbyhole of a nurses station where a specialist Dr. from the Adventist hospital is going over Papa's chart.
"It is the church of the Amazon. We meet out in the jungle and drink a special drink made from the leaves of a certain plant cooked with fibers of a jungle vine. And we sing beautiful music – hymns."
"Why do you drink this stuff?"
"So you can talk to yourself."
I burst out laughing and then bit my lip trying to stifle my rudeness.
"Really. So what does this stuff do on the molecular level?" Surely an educated man such as he would have put some thought into this.
"It enables you to connect with your inner self, to gain knowledge and insight. You need only five ingredients; the leaf, the vine, fire, water, and time." The more serious I realize he is, the more I begin to pray. "When you drink it, you connect with yourself, from deep down to your higher self and the higher spirits of the world. To find out where you came from and what is important in life."
"Those are questions that every human asks at some point in their life," I comment trying to gauge when I can mention the hope of my heart.
He nods gravely, "I was in Nepal for a time and I know the beliefs of the Buddhists, Hindus, and many of the other Eastern religions. They are good, but now I have found the true religion. The ancient religion of the Amazon it dates back hundreds of years to the indigenous tribes of this area. We also pray to Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary."
"And this religion gives you peace?" I ask. God, a little more time please, I can see the Dr. heading my way.
"Yes, more and more it does."
"Well," The Dr. begins, "I have looked over everything and there is no necrotizing tissue so there is no need to operate. The culture and sensitivity results have returned and he has been switched to the specific antibiotic to combat the infection. Here is my name and number, if you need anything call me."
"Thank you very much," I take the paper with his number and hear one of the nurses calling me to go check Papas' IV. Excusing myself I head towards the room, God how can people actually believe this stuff! So sad, empty – brown goo? Lord, I haven't had a chance to explain, but please plant one of your plants in his heart.

24 Hours in the 28th of August

(The past week I have spent over 100 hours in the hospital with Papa, 24-hour shifts, and night shifts. It was an amazing learning experience that really helped me appreciate my education, and enhanced my understanding of how Brazilian healthcare works. The following snippets are a small selection God's blessings.)

"Oi! Senhora!" A hospital employee waved Papa's cane at me. "You forgot this."
Embarrassedly expressing thanks I retrieved the cane and turned back to the wheelchair. In strongly accented Portuguese Papa was praying for the tropical giant. The transporter was the largest Brazilian I had ever seen. On our way to the new room when Papa commented on his height he said that he was 1 meter and 95 cm. Yet in spite of his strength he was battling a force stronger then himself, the addiction of nicotine, and for this release Papa was praying.

"Wait here please," the man disappeared around the corner and I wilted onto an empty seat near Papa's wheelchair. The hallways of the government hospital 28th of August were lined with gurneys, make shift IV poles, and people waiting with their loved ones. There was a muted drone of voices, punctuated by the hospital staff scurrying in and out among the masses, and framed by brown uniformed security guards at the entrances. God, it would be nice to be inside a room tonight – instead of this crowded hallway.
Minutes later, two sisters I meet at Graças'clinic rounded the corner nearly stepping on us. They were both nurses who worked at this hospital come to find us after their shift finished. Familiar faces, greetings, and helpful assurance.

Shoving a plastic sack under the metal frame I tried not to feel the roomful of nearly 20 pairs of eyes watching us. This was the 3rd room that evening and it was nearing midnight. The communication system of the hospital is still a mystery to me.
"Where is my cane?" Papa looked up at me with bewilderment as he transferred from the wheelchair to the bed. "I've got to have my cane."
"I don't know, I'll go look for it." I dumped his sheets beside him and retraced our steps through the crowded halls where we waited and could not find it anywhere. God, a cane seems small, but I know that you know where it is… and ummm… it's nearly midnight.
I barely sat down to explain temporary defeat when Martin, a German patient with a broken arm from our second room sauntered in swinging the renegade cane.
"I thought you might be looking for this." He grinned at my relief, "He left it in the bathroom."
Papa smiled with appreciation, "You just helped to answer my prayer."

The small room was lit by a small light on the side, and now after 1 p.m. most of the 10 patients in the room were beginning to drift off. There was barely room for a plastic lawn chair to fit between each bed. Nearly 20 people in a room less then the size of 2 hospital rooms in the States, and one bathroom at the end for us all and all the beds in the hall. Protocol seems to be if you need another place for someone you just tape a number up on an empty section of a wall. Papa smiles, squeezes my hand, and closes his eyes.

I zeroed my hearing onto the guards voice, trying to make my neurons synapse faster to decipher what he said . . . something like "do you need something?"
"No, I'm just waiting."
"You're not a Brazilian are you."
I shook my head, wishing that it wasn't so obvious.
"Where are you from?"
"The United States"
"Do you speak English?" He asks in English, grinning at his own attempt. "Sometimes I just feel the need to speak English."
Then he switches back to Portuguese, "Jesus loves you. You did not come to Brazil to become weaker. God is with you, and He will bless you."
Then he disappeared down the crowded hall. God, you knew that I needed to hear that. Thank you.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Divine Expression

I have been reading through the book "Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing."
It has been an incredible journey so far, with many views into the divine heart.
The following quote is a thought that challenged and inspired me recently:

“There are many to whom life is a painful struggle; they feel their deficiencies and are miserable and unbelieving; they think that they have nothing for which to be grateful. Kind words, looks of sympathy, expressions of appreciation, would be to many a struggling and lonely one as the cup of cold water to a thirsty soul. A word of sympathy, and act of kindness, would lift burdens that rest heavily upon weary shoulders. And every word or deed of unselfish kindness is an expression of the love of Christ for lost humanity.”

Mount of Blessing p. 31

Endless Source

“Happiness drawn from earthly sources is as changeable as varying as circumstances can make it; but the peace of Christ is a constant and abiding peace. It does not depend upon any circumstances in life, on the amount of worldly goods, or the number of earthly friends. Christ is the fountain of living water, and happiness drawn from Him can never fail.”

Mount of Blessing p. 24

Of Work and Play

This is the soon to be garden spot on the western border of our property. A group of young people from one of the churches volunteered to come and help us. It was such a blessing to have their help here.

The pathfinders from the group practicing their marching skills, as the afternoon rains rumble towards them. The poem below describes the soccer game that sprung up with the rain just a few minutes after this picture was taken.

Dash! Splash! Crash!

Thunder crumbles,

Wind snaps sharp

Rain soaks down and through.

Sprinting! Sliding! Diving!

Taste of rain,

Barefoot thwacks,

Bodies hit the ground!

“Vai! Vai! Vai!”

Dancing feet,

Hammering head,

Bouncing knees, thumping chest!

“Ladrão! Ladrão!”

Laughter crescendos

Shouts of endorphins,

Zinging ball, stinging toes!

Slam! Spin! Goal!

(Vai = go, Ladrão = theif)

Saturday, January 17, 2009



January 15, 2009

“You’ll be able to see the river just ahead,” Brad motioned towards the right as the combi surged forward out of another pothole. We had escaped the sprawling capital behind us, and now there were simple sitios (farms), jungle on either side of the road, and massive clouds sagging with rain in front. A moment later the view opened expansively and I could see the Amazon itself, collecting the colors of the sky to float down through its jungle.

“We’re coming into Puricaquara, this is still in the district of Manaus, but it is one of the poorest barrios.” We bounced our way through the winding streets of the simple town, “Tomorrow we are going to go to the little Adventist church here.” The combi charged up a dirt road leading out of town and past more sitios.

“That is our land there.” Brad pointed towards a white fence bordering land that leaned gracefully down to the waters edge. The charcoal clouds on the horizon held their prisms towards the setting sun and struck such a stunning chord of colors that they echoed into a double rainbow.

The air was pungent with the scent of rain, the sun electrifying the colors, and my thirsty heart soaking it up like watercolor paper. Then two pairs of scarlet macaws flew overhead, chattering out their own blessings to the earth below.

Species of Amazonian Birds Identified

14th of January

(These were identified with the help of my dear Grandma (an expert birder), a 5 lb. book of Birds of Venezuela, which includes 1381 species – 800 some are in Brazil. There is not a good bird identification guide for the Brazilian Amazon area – there are simply to many species.)

These are the most recent editions to my life list:
(The Purple Honey Creeper is my favorite so far)

Red-capped Cardinal – Paroaria gularis
Blue Grey Tanager – Thraupis e. mediana (Amazonas)
Southern House wren – Troglodytes aedon albicans
Great Kiskidee – Pitangus sulphuratus
White Throated Toucan – Ramphastos tucanus
Bico de brasa – Monasa atra
Neotropical Palm Swift – Tachornis squamata
Silver Beaked Tanager (also known as Crimson Tanager) – Pamphocelus carbo venezuelensis
Purple Honey Creeper – Cyanerpes caeruleus microrhynchus
Swallow-winged Puffbird – Chelidoptera Notharchus

Plus an assortment of squawking Parakeets, Parrots, and Parrolets that are flying to high to be identified. They’re mainly green. Many swallows, little brown things with two wings, and other flying objects yet to be identified!


“Now I’m a flower and I’m going to sing!” She stood still for the first time in the whole five days since I arrived, her head tipped slightly down.

I sat in a white chair near the edge of the Chapeu (A round structure open on the sides) and cocked my camera for documentation of this theatrical performance.

She stood near the center dressed in a simple white dress, headband, tights, and shoes. Looking kin to the white Jasmim that grows here, she began to sing and dance with eight-year-old grace of innocence.

The song can not be translated as poetically as she phrased it, but it described the life of a flower swaying gently in the wind, spreading it’s fragrance, and living through seasons – rain, sun, and spring.

Lesson in Massage

January 13, 2009

“This is Caitlin, the grand-daughter of the Pastor. Her father is one of the greatest physical therapists in the United States, and she would like to come learn some from you.” With that, Doctora Graça shuts the door behind me. With an embarrassed gulp, I slip in alongside the massage table across from the chiropractor / masseuse.

His head doesn’t even come to my shoulders and he grins up at me with bright eyes as his knarly hands work steadily along the spine of the man on the table. The middle fingers on each of his hand are permanently torqued inward, proudly he holds one out for me to see, a mark of the profession, I guess. The muscled energy of his body is encased old leathered skin the color of dark walnut heartwood, and creased more than an old glove.

His deft fingers read the muscles of a body like the fingers of the blind read Braille. Amused by his facial expressions and intrigued with his hands, my eyes try to observe both at the same time. The body on the table grunts a little as his fingers dig deeper into a spot near the shoulder, “Doi! Doi!” (pain) He mouths to me with delighted eyes as he points to the spot. With instinctive skill he loosens the spot to allow for better range of motion.

“Is it better?” The pain left, the patient replies, and he grins victoriously.

Natural Wisdom

“Cravo de funto,” Doctora Graça snaps a leaflet from the brightly flowering plant at the entrance to the Terapia - the building where the hydrotherapy and clay treatments are given. “It is good for dengue fever.”

“Do you make a tea with it?”
“Yes,” She hands me the leaflet. “Boil water, then add these leaves, cover and let it sit until cool. One liter of water – all tea is made with 1 liter of water.”
“How many leaves?”
“10 per 1 liter.”

I follow her around the corner of the building and into the empty lot of land nearby, it will belong to them eventually because in this area of Brazil brazilians can acquire (and lose) land by squatters rights. Here in the shad of jumbo, mango, and palm trees many common medicinal plants are growing.

Saratodo is for inflammation, Pião Branco is good for ulcers in the mouth and also for getting rid of Canida albican.s Mastruz gets rid of intestinal bugs of all kinds. Mamão leaves are good for malaria but they must be very yellow. I scribble notes as coherently as I can and try to mark the way they look in my mind – I need to come back and take pictures of each one.

“It is good for you to learn these plants and how to use them.” Her silvery hair makes a striking contrast against the deep greens of these jungle plants. “For when you go far out to other clinics and on the launches you will not always have what you need.”

The Faith of Grace

January 11, 2009

She took his wrinkled hand firmly in hers and closed her eyes with the trust of a child.
“Lord, here is Carlos. He knows you and I know that you know him, everything about his family, where he lives, and all of his smallest thoughts. I pray that you will bless him, and this treatment, and us as we help. In the name of Jesus, Amen.”

No one could possibly question the conviction of faith expressed in Doctora Graça’s practice, or the sincere love that she has for each of her patients. Her viola-toned voice is full wisdom, propelled by optimism, and leaves no room for foolishness.

The title of Doctor does not reference her medical experience, but the loving respect that those who come to this clinic have for her. This clinic is the passion of her soul, and armed with faith, and an arsenal of natural remedies, she is routing all sorts of diseases including cancers – and restoring a richer quality of life.

No, not everyone who comes receives the physical miracle that they are seeking – but everyone encounters a love that heals their hearts.

“Many times I am brought the left over pieces of a life, after they have tried everything else.” My heart marvels over something in her eyes - all of the suffering she has seen reflected into a pool of stubborn hope. “But every human needs to know that someone cares about me, someone is not afraid to touch me, someone still loves me.”

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Clean Crocks?

Brazilians are very clean about everything. 
Always mopping floors, and cleaning everything thoroughly. 

I took my beloved and well worn crocks out of my suit case, and left them on the floor beside it. 

Later I returned and found Tia Sueli scrubbing them with an old toothbrush! 
"What are you doing?" I asked
"I was mopping the floor, don't worry."

They look new!
A bit embarassed - but what can I say?

Bits n pieces

It is the rainy season. . .  

I’m staying with the Contes for a few days. . .

Brad and Linna arrive today. . .

Lemon grass tea is superb. . .

A flash drive is a “pen drive” here. . .

I learned that the first airplane was built by a Brazilian in France.

I’m trying to improve my vocabulary and grammar as quickly as possible. .

Steven Conte, the son of Salvador and Sueli Conte, is extremely talented with technology and is the proud owner of one of the only MACs in Manaus. He is also tinkering with my lap top to enable it to use internet again – on the occasions when I find service.

I asked Tia Sueli what she was making for lunch, and she replied bife de jacaré (alligator meat), but the twinkle gives her away. . . and the contents of the bowl – clearly oatmeal patties!


Manaus is the capital of Amazonas, the largest state in Brazil, and is home for 2 million people. However there are only 3 million people in the entire state, 2/3s live in this one city. Yet as large and sprawling as this city seems it is a village when it’s population is compared to some of the larger southern metropolises – São Paulo has 17 million. 


My nose nearly touches the glass as I peer out. Grey clouds, grey cement, gray terminals, framed by an airplane window. My heart reflects the widening space of brightness in the sky above. My toes scrunch inside my moss green tennis shoes as if somehow I can squish the excitement jiggling in my heart to a more manageable level.

The ground begins to roll underneath the grey wing of the plane, the air vents modulate a note higher as they pressurize the cabin. The scruffy winter grass is partitioned off by grey strips of runways, and the skyline of Birmingham is smudged in the distance.

Bounce, surge, lift, banking at a sharp angle to merge into the highway of clouds. Swallowed by an opaque grey… lurch, my stomach always comes down last. Brighter, brighter, slicing upward through the cloudscape as the sunlight bleaches the cotton white again.

While my heart is tumbling ahead of the plane across the cotton clouds, my mind remembers the grey dyed world below. It is always hardest to be left behind. Looking out the grey window of the terminal, a school room window, salt-stained glasses… wondering, with two feet on the ground.  The frame from which one looks makes the difference.

It is important to recognize the frame of reference that I am viewing the world from, and to acknowledge the degree of difference between my reality and the reality of others.  I wonder what windows the people I will meet will be looking through. I must remember to try to see and understand, for this realization is the catalyst for sympathy and tenderness for humanity.

Last Minute Advice

Last Minute Advice

Mommy: “I love you so much! Hug Papa and Grandma when you see them. . . and if you help clear jungle or do heavy work please don’t try to out-do the guys.”

“Mommy! I don’t do that anymore!”

“Well, you used to.”

“Not as much anyways”

“And don’t fall in love while you’re down there!”


“Email me when you get there.”

Christy: “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do. . . or maybe I should say don’t do anything you wouldn’t do – cause that encompasses more!” (I love you my dear crazy Christy!)


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Ends of the Earth

"You need not go to the ends of the earth for wisdom, for God is near. It is not the capabilities you now possess, or ever will have, that will give you success. It is that which the Lord can do for you. We need to have far less confidence in what man can do, and far more confidence in what god can do for every believing soul.
He longs to have you reach after Him in faith.
He longs to give you understanding in the temporal as well as in spiritual matters.
He can sharpen the intellect He can give tact and skill. Put your talents into the work, ask God for wisdom, and it will be given to you." - Christ's Object Lessons p. 146

As I munched on breakfast this morning God showed me this beautiful assurance.
.... I need to leave home in an hour.

Thank you for your prayers!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Destination: Manaus, Brazil

Here is a satelite view of where I'm headed! Manaus is the capital of the state Amazonas and is just north of the point where the Rio Negro and the Rio Solimoes meet to form the Amazon. You can see these two main tribuitaries joining below. Even from outer space the color difference is quite distinct!

Here is the capital city:

Sunset out on the river.