Friday, May 31, 2013

There's Nothing Like Fall in Texas

Ok, so for most of you, Fall in Texas means more sweating and maybe getting to wear jeans and a long sleeved shirt by Thanksgiving... maybe... for a few days before the shorts come back out.  However, since we have been living on the equator for 4 years, the thought of changing seasons is very exciting.  Don't get me wrong, if I have to choose on climate to live with all year long, 365 days of the year, the climate we have is perfect, but the idea of change..... well, change is good.

So, I am looking forward to getting to the states in August and getting to enjoy not only the holiday season, and football season but a change in the seasons.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The advance of civilization

Our destination is somewhere down there.
 Typically, when we travel to a jungle community it's usually by air.  You've seen a number of our posts where all that you see is an airstrip and a few surrounding huts.  With the increase in oil exploration and the government's promise to improve road access to these communities roads are cropping up everywhere. 

Which way to Pitacocha?

Recently I got "treated" to a road trip on one of these newer roads.  Our trip started in Shell and what would've taken 25 minutes in a plane ended up taking 4 hours.  It was a "treat" in the sense that we didn't have any weight restrictions so I could take a nice camping chair in with me.  It was a bumpy ride and involved several river crossings, one of which we couldn't ford.  As a result we had to ask the children from one community to walk to us just on the other side of the river where we ended up staying. 
Probably what's most important for the communities that are now connected by roads is the fact that people can enter and leave at anytime, day or night.  In the past, patients would have to wait for the next flight which had to occur during daylight hours and 'weather permitting'.  It was not unusual for patients who'd suffered some form of trauma or a snakebite to die while waiting for daylight for the plane. 

Trying to find the 'sweetspot' to get the truck across

 The roads DO help to save lives but also bring in bad influences.  While I was out on a walk in Pitacocha I saw what looked to be the local "Bar" with stacks and stacks of cases of beer.  I didn't see any fights while I was there but have treated many patients who come in with various forms of trauma suffered at the hands of a "friend". 
Our time in Pitacocha was uneventful and we were able to see around 70 to 80 villagers (both adults and kids) and got to spend some time talking to them about Jesus.  One thing that's great about these Compassion missionaries is that they will make several other trips into these communities in order to make sure that all hear the Gospel and nurture those who've made a profession of faith.  I was able to ask several of the kids that I examined if they had Bibles and many of them did.  I was also amazed at how many of them knew who Jesus was and why he was crucified.  As the Compassion missionaries continue their trips into these communities please pray for their safety and that their harvest be plentiful. - Joe

The river right before Liquino and the end of our road

Monday, May 27, 2013

Tião and I in Tiweno

Well, it finally happened.  I was finally able to take Sebastião into the jungle with me for the first time.  As many of you know, we've been going into the jungle communities (44 in total) and performing checkups on the kids sponsored by Compassion, and their fellow community members, over the course of the last school year.  As the school year comes to a close, I knew that my window of opportunity was closing.  After talking to Jonas, the Compassion missionary who coordinates the visits and accompanies us, we settled on Tiweno.  Tiweno is a Waorani community where Rachel Saint lived for a number of years and has a strong Christian presence.

It was hard to get him out of the water
I was able to see about 30 patients throughout both days while Sebastião played in the Tiweno River and learned to shoot his blow gun.  The blow gun was a gift from one of the men of the community.  Along with the blow gun he was also given a Wao name - Kemo, which, appropriately, means monkey.  We had fun swimming in the Tiweno River and got to meet many of the local residents.  One of them, Mincaye, is a wonderful Christian woman who has a big heart for her community and ministers to many of their spiritual needs.  Mincaye cooked lunch for us and showed us around.  For Sebastião it was an opportunity to see how many of those whom he's met at church live.  Afterwards we went for a swim and then settled down for the night.  It gets dark around 6:30 everyday and there isn't any electricity in Tiweno so I wasn't sure how he'd do having to rely on using a flashlight and candles, but my anxiety was unfounded.  After a restful night of sleep and finishing up my checkups we left for Shell.  We were a little tired (and sunburned) but had a great time overall.

Mincaye, Tião (and his blow gun) and Jonas

One tired boy.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Its Snake Season

Well, not really, but it did seem like Snake Day in our house today.  Joe was invited to speak about snake bites at the Health Center in Macas today.  Macas is a fairly large town about 3 hours further east,  which generally means closer to the jungle.  About 15 minutes after he left, the guys who were weeding the ditches in front of our neighbors house found this boa.  As usual, Sebastiao identified it within seconds, and as usual was correct- a Brazilian Rainbow Boa.  By the time I caught up, the snake was not very happy to say the least, but Marco (the brave guy who didn't have a heart attack when he found it) was kind enough to get the snake out and let me take a few pictures.

Ok, so this is the snake in its bucket-  all I could see was the head and the fact that Marco kept saying it was  in the position to strike.....

Then I couldn't see the head, which made me more nervous.... Marco was off trying to find a stick, but he didn't put the big ol' piece of wood back on the bucket......

So, then he dumped the snake out and it fortunately tried to get away.

But Marco pulled it back out and then it really got mad!  Yes, that is it's head in the bottom of the picture moving toward me.  I'm not sure if the blurriness is from how fast the snake was moving or how fast I was moving...

At this point, I had seen enough and was ready for Marco to put the snake away, but alas there was more.

It was about 5 feet long and a beautiful orangey color.

Then one of the maintenance guys made a suggestion that we should put it on our shoulders for a picture-  Marco was the only one to go for that.

The snake is back in the bucket, but now he has to figure out how to let go of its head without getting bitten....

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Prayer World

For those of you who don't subscribe to the HCJB Global publication Prayer World we are days 25 and 26 for May-  yes, you may now begin the jokes about us needing 2 days- and believe me, we need all the days they will give us.  You can follow this link to download the pdf document from the HCJB Global website.  Hopefully the May edition is up and ready to download.