Sunday, August 31, 2014
Friday, August 29, 2014
|Sunset in Masaramu|
For many, the month of July is a time to take a much needed break - fourth of July picnics, days on the lake, long afternoon naps, etc. The list is long. For us, it was an opportunity to visit a few more villages but this time with some of our summer interns. By the end of the month we'd spend roughly 3 weeks in the jungle in ten different communities. Joining us were two college students from the US, Hannah Borsheim from Minnesota and Trisha Carr from Chicago. For both of them it was their first time to Ecuador and the first time into the jungle. We'd prepared a pretty rigorous schedule so we were praying for two individuals that were flexible and eager to experience new things and were fine operating outside of their comfort zones. Luckily, our prayers were answered. Both did extremely well, even when both were sick in the jungle.
|Hannah (L) and Trisha (R) getting to know the kids in Jandiayacu|
|The Caravan truck|
For me it was a nice trip for 2 other major reasons - one, I was able to bring Bella with me and spend some time with her and two, I was reunited with a patient that I'd help care for in the hospital when he'd suffered a severe brain injury a few years back.
|Bella in Pandanuque|
|Stymied by an overflowing Villano River causing a long delay|
|The Villano River when passable.|
|Visiting with Bruce and his family in Rayayacu last month. Their story was detailed in our current newsletter.|
|Bruce, shortly after his surgery to remove the wood from his skull and brain from a fall from a tree in 2012. You can see what was removed in the jar.|
Monday, August 11, 2014
|Copataza as it sits on the Pastaza River|
|Heading to Copataza from Achuar|
On the day that we were to fly in I learned that he'd moved to another community so I didn't think that I'd get to see him. It would still be a few days before we arrived in Copataza as we were going to spend a few days in Achuar first. When we did finally arrive in Copataza and as we were unloading our gear from the plane one of Pedro's daughter came up to me to greet me. I told her how excited I was to get to see her, as I'd heard that she and her family had moved to another community. What she said floored me. Pedro had apparently left his wife and daughters for another woman and moved to another community. Pedro's estranged wife was not in Copataza but was in the hospital in Puyo with complications from her current pregnancy. Pedro's brother, Pablo, and his wife were taking care of Pedro's girls while their mother was in Puyo, all eight of them.
|Examining a 'patient' in Achuar - a little wild pig that was 'rescued' by an Achuar family.|
In the Achuar culture it's not uncommon for men to have more than one wife and Pedro badly wanted a son. Frustrated that he was the father of eight girls, with another one on the way, it was too much for him and he left. What he left behind was a family in shatters and a very real testimony to the community of what sin can do in our lives. How do you tell his disillusioned children that this is all part of God's plan for them? How do you tell a community that is already skeptical about Christians that He is in control? These were things going through my mind as I tried to take it all in.
|Pedro's daughter and I, taken during a happier time several years ago.|
I did get to spend a lot of time talking to Pedro's brother, Pablo, who was tasked with trying to provide for his small family in addition to helping out Pedro's wife and daughters. What was worrisome to me was seeing how burdened Pablo was and hearing some of the struggles that he was facing. Pablo has two young daughters but had lost a son a few years back from a drowning in the Conambo river. The boy had been his first and only son and Pablo was still definitely grieving. My fear was that he might follow his older brother's footsteps and leave his current family, as having sons in the Achuar culture is very important. Being a somewhat new Christian I was worried that he didn't have a strong body of believers to fall back on. I reminded him that we would keep him in our prayers but left Copataza with a heavy heart.
|Reach Beyond missionary nurse Linda McFarland taking the temperature of a young Achuar girl with a severe kidney infection in the community of Achuar|
A week after we left Copataza, Pablo and his wife came to Shell and were able to share a meal together in our home. We gave them some of Sebastiao and Bella's clothes and I took Pablo to Puyo to buy him a new fishing net so he could have an easier time feeding his family. They were grateful and vowed to stop by again the next time that they were in Shell. They left the next day and we're eager to hear how they're doing.
Please pray for Pablo and his family and that the Lord may provide for them and fill them with his grace to get them through this difficult time. Please pray for Pedro and his estranged family and especially for his daughters as they try to understand all of this. And especially pray for the community of Copataza as it tries to reconcile Pedro's struggles with what they've heard about Christ. Some have mentioned that they didn't want to be a Christian if Christians lived the way Pedro did. Ouch!
Recently I've heard rumors that Pedro has left this other woman and is trying to reconcile with his family in Copataza. I hope that this is the case but I've also heard that this other woman had already given birth to a child fathered by Pedro. No one could tell me what sex the baby was but I wouldn't be surprised if it was another girl.
Wednesday, August 6, 2014
|Still somewhat clean before the fun started|
After leaving Alto Corrientes, our next stop was Conambo, a large community located on the river bearing its name. Though originally a Zaparo community it now is a mix of Quichua, Zaparo and Achuar families and, as you might expect, prone to differences. Truth be told, I had mixed feelings about going to Conambo. Jonas Lopez, the missionary with Compassion who accompanied us, mentioned how volatile the community can sometimes become. He told me a story how a man had been murdered during one of his visits there. It had occurred a number of years back and had happened as a result of one of the many disputes that occurred between families.
|Conambo, a 35 minute flight from Shell|
Apparently most of the community had been gathered one evening drinking chicha together when one man got up to go to the bathroom and never returned. Part of his body (a leg, I think) was recovered downstream a few weeks later (I'm not quite sure how they knew that it was his leg, but anyways, they were sure that it was his). He'd had an ongoing feud with one family over the marriage of one of his relatives to someone from this particular family. As is common in these situations, the authorities are never involved as vengeance is sought out from the victim's family.
Honestly, I thought that Jonas was joking. It wasn't until another missionary told me something more disturbing that I started to get a little anxious. Jonas's boss, who is an American missionary that has served in Ecuador for decades and is well respected in the jungle, happened to be at the Shell airport when we flew out. He mentioned that he'd been in Conambo a number of years ago and during one of the meetings of the village elders someone came up to and killed the man that had been sitting beside him. He wasn't sure exactly why but knew that there had been a lot of disagreement and strife between this man and the rest of the community. All of this was making me a little nervous, to say the least.
|Lucia having her vision tested|
|Catfish and Hush Puppies, Conambo style|
The community that I thought would be 'together' was really the dysfunctional one and the one with all of the 'baggage' was the one that had a strong Christian presence. Please pray for Christian families there and especially for 'Jose'. Jose is from Riobamba, a community in the Andes mountains, and teaches in Conambo while away from his family. He's been doing this for 8 or 9 years now and has such a heart for the kids in Conambo. He opened up his home to us so we could shower (a true rarity in a jungle community) and have fellowship. After days of bathing in a small river our medical resident from Quito was very excited to have some creature comforts.
|Jonas Lopez (a missionary with Compassion), Sara Zapata (a medical resident from Quito), and myself as we land in Conambo|