Sunday, November 4, 2012

Halloween in the Amazon

I have never seen anything like it, but I got to celebrate Halloween in a whole new way this year.  While La Aljaba itself does not celebrate this holiday, I ended up getting trapped in it.  As it was the last day of the month, I had to go to the bank, so I headed into town.  As I walked in the burning hot sun, a new for Halloween, I began to see all kinds of creatures, princesses, pirates, army ´men´, and the like emerging and descending upon the center of town.  It was about 3:30 in the afternoon and I began to watch as all of the beautiful children stopped at stores along the way to their destination.  I finally got to the bank and discovered that I did not have my debit card with me, so I needed to walk to the house that I live in, about 30 minutes one way.  So off I went and as I walked, I was stunned that the entire way, I was meet kids all decked out in the Halloween attire.  I was neat to see all of the handmade costumes they wore.  The parents clearly took much time and care to work on these.  After walking to and from the house, I found myself back in the center of town, but I was not at all alone.  In the time that I had been gone, the streets were filled with people, music, and candy.  The entire city was having one huge party.  There were places that you could make photos as a family, places to get more candy and the park was full of fun for all ages.  It was clear to me that this was not a festival to celebrate the dead or scary things, I only saw 2 scary costumes, but one for the family to come out and enjoy time together as a family.  It was truly a joy to watch.  The only disappointment was that I did not have my camera with me for this great day.  Oh well there is always next year.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Best Morning Ever!

God is just so wonderful!  I woke up and felt His love, He reminded me of His promise to me (Isaiah 60) and I enjoyed Him loving on me and then I headed for the main La Aljaba house.  As I was paying for my mototaxi I heard someone screaming my name.  I look up and Jeydi and Danna were running from the left corner toward me with their arms spread wide and huge smiles on their faces.  I swear I saw the light of God himself on Jeydi's face.  They ran into my arms and hugged me tight.  We entered the gate of La Aljaba together and I was greeted by 3 running from the playground to great me with their hugs (Philipe, Andres, and Nicole).  Then I looked up and two tutors are there greeting me with hugs (Nancy and Alixa) and then others came out to love me.  I guess God just wanted to me to make sure that I knew He loved me today.  Thanks Daddy!

Monday, October 22, 2012

I simply remember my favorite things...

I am sorry I have not posted in a while.  Yes, I am alive!  I am trying to be as transparent as possible on this blog, and life here has been a struggle lately, so I have not wanted to post about things that are discouraging.  So I asked God, what should I post about.  He answered by asking me what brings me joy in life.  I thought about it for a while and many different things started flooding my mind.  So here you go, these things remind me of who God is and why I am here.

1) Darwin's laugh - He has the funniest, nasally laugh I have ever heard.  I love it!  When I hear him laugh, I can't help but to laugh myself.  I can also picture God the Father doubled over laughing.

2) Kimberly's smile - Her smile brightens up the entire world, not just the room she is in.  She smiles with the brilliance and warmth of her Daddy in heaven.

3)  Lucy's expressions - I love to see Lucy's face when she is complimented or when she finds something confusing.  She has a sweetness in her that I love to see and I love it when she shares that with other people.

4)  Angela's greeting - When I am visiting the main house and Angela enters and see me there, she runs up to me and yells my name.  Always asking for a hug and for some attention.  She is just a little snuggle bunny.

5)  Marlon's hugs - He hugs with a real warmth and love for the person receiving the hug.  He reveals his heart towards you in his hugs.

6)  Aline's passion - She is passionate about everything!  Good or bad in her life, she lives it full of passion.

7) Carmen's sense of humor - Carmen is always full of laughter.  She continually picks on me and draws my attention away from stress and into laughter.  Her pet name for me is "yellow chicken".  This comes from me wearing a yellow shirt one day.

8)  Manuel's love - Whatever is going on around us, Manuel is the one person that always looks to include me in what is happening.  He is full of the warmth and love of Christ all of the time and demonstrates God's love and concern for me.

9) Jeison's passion for music - I love to listen to Jeison play his music and watch his face as he plays.  It is clear that God has placed that passion in him and it is fun to see it flow out.

10)  Robin's attempts at English - He clearly wants to learn the language and it is fun to listen to his broken English responding to my broken Spanish.

Well, I could go on and on about the little things that bring me joy, but for now, I will stop and save more for later.

Everybody together...I simply remember my favorite things...and then I don't feel so bad!  If you don't know that song...SHAME ON YOU!  :)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Monkey See...Monkey Do!

We have had a great week here in La Aljaba.  The Mayor of Leticia has given approval for the children and youth of La Aljaba to swim in the public pool every week.  The kids are loving this as it gives them a much needed break from the heat of the sun.  The younger ones have very much enjoyed learning to swim.  They are pulled around the sides of the pool by a rope.  This however limits them to only the edges.  As I was joining them one day, I began taking them one by one into the middle of the pool as they clung to me for dear life.  They very much enjoyed this, but were very impatient in waiting for me on the edge of the pool.  At one point they all jumped into my arms to be carried accross the pool.  Later in the week as the teenagers at the house were looking through my pictures they realized a very surprising similarity between the pictures of me with the children and the pictures of me with the monkeys on monkey island.  See for yourself and enjoy a good laugh. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

What is that!?

I was in the jungle the other day and saw this animal coming towards me.  I did not scream as it was not charging me, but simply walking around looking for food.  The person who was with me laughed and said that it was a "chiguiro".  It looked like a wild boar, but he again laughed and said on no it is like a rabbit.  Now just imagine that a cross between a boar and a rabbit, but as I began to feed it out of own hand, I realized that it's teeth were very much like those of a rabbit.  They, more came up to be fed, were very docile and their coats were thick and course.  Their feet were webbed and they ate the plantains we offered with no hurry, just as was their pace in all that they did.  I did notice that they had a pig like tendency when they ate.  Their slobber was covering their faces and they had no can to clean it off.  The plantain that now covered their face was just leftovers for later. 

In the rest of my journey into the jungle on this day we encouraged monkeys in the wild.  I have been to monkey island several times now, but this was different.  The monkeys were simply happy to sit in the tree and watch us.  The were curious about us, but not enough not make an entrance.  They were happy just hanging out and watching.  There were several different varieties of monkeys that I saw.  There were tiny ones and large ones and spider monkeys.  It was great fun to just watch the trees and look for them.

Finally, I also saw a couple of scarlet macaws.  They were both beautiful and curious about us.  I took a lot of pictures of them and then I guess one of them got tired of me and decided he had enough, so he charged at me.  I almost peed my pants.  I just know he could break my finger in half had he wanted to. 

Oh well that is enough for today.  I will share more later,  Make sure you check out the new pictures
in the blog, you might even see a chigurio. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

A three hour tour...

Hello, it is Ginger here...

If you don't get that joke, you are way too young.  Ask your parents to explain it to you.  This past Monday I went with Arles and Manuel to visit Marasha.  It is the site of our camp for the teenagers this October.  BTW, it looks awesome and I covet your prayers for the camp.  I know that God has incredible things planned for these teens and I want all of us to cover the camp, the staff, the teens, and the team coming from Concord with much prayer.

Anyway, back to the song...ugh well I mean the story.  David, with Amazon Expeditions, graciously agreed to take us to Marasha on Monday.  He has a small aluminum boat that was perfect for the 4 of us.  The only problem was that the river was not agreeable on this trip.  When we were dropped off at the port we had to walk about a mile down river on the river bed in order to get to the water and David's boat.  The river is down a lot as this is the dry season.  Finally we get the boat and we were off.  We were flying along on the river well on our way to Marasha when all of a sudden I was in Manuel and Arles' laps on my knees.  It felt very much like we had hit a brick wall and I had been thrown from the back to the front.

Well, come to find out propellers do not do well when submerged in sand.  We had come across a sandbar without knowing it.  David quickly jumped out of the boat and we were in water that was just over ankle deep.  OH NO!  Stuck on the Amazon.  Well David worked hard to get us free and we finally were on our way again.

We continued on our way and just before we got to where we were going, we realized that it was impossible to get there the way we were going because the river was so low it had created a huge island that ran from side to side and we were not able to pass by at all.  Yeah!!!!!!!

We turned back around and carefully retraced out "steps" because we didn't want to get stuck again.  The island that we had been traveling beside ran the length of our journey on this day so we had to go back to the beginning and go around it.  Finally we made our turn and arrived at the boat dock for Marasha about 3 hours later than planned.   That's life in the Amazon!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Day in the Life...

I have been encouraged to write about what happens in my life here to give everyone a glimpse of what it is like, so I will just give you a run down of what it is like.

I usually get up about 5:30am.  Yes, close your mouths those of you who know me well.  This is very much a challenge for me, but life begins much earlier here than in the US.  I awaken to ensure that those that have school in the morning get up and complete their responsibilities and are feed before they leave for school at 6:00am.  After they leave, I usually shower and get ready for the day myself, I then go to the main branch so that I can catch up on emails and the blog.

I tutor English at 8:30 for those who are in the morning group.  The youth are very excited about English and are eager to learn it.  I get excited about it. Tutoring starts at 9:00 each day.  There are different focuses for each day; Cognitive, Physical, Pre-vocational, Spiritual, and Social-Emotional.  I am responsible for the Spiritual tutoring.  The tutoring ends at 11:30 for lunch.  I will talk about food a little later.  During the lunch 'hour' the youth finish their homework, they eat and prepare for school, getting changed into their uniforms and get there things together.  At the same time, those that had school in the morning, come to the house eat lunch, change out of their uniforms and begin their homework.  Then we as leaders run the same program in the afternoon as we did in the morning.

The late afternoon is usually a quite time for me as the youth are either in the school of music, Batuta, or school.  That is the time that I am seeking the Lord.  I also am writing devotionals for the youth at time time.  It is my desire that they learn to connect with God in a personal way each day.

The evening is spent with the youth that live in the house with me and my calendar depends on their activities, Monday nights, I watch the boys play futbol in the park, I help with homework, I listen to them practice their music, I prepare dinner for them and then I process the day with them over dinner and we have a time of prayer.  I am usually going to bed about 11:00 after preparing for the next day.

OK, now about the food,  it is different than I expected when I left the US.  We have a lot of rice and a lot of "soup".  The soup is made with all of the veggies and meat in it.  The meat is cooked and served in the soup with the bone in.  It varies from day to day, some days we have fish soup, beef soup, and chicken soup.  Of the 7 days of the week we have soup about 4 of those days.  We have fish about 3 days a week.  Pasta one day of the week and that is my favorite day.

One of the youth in the house celebrated his 17th birthday this month.  His mother invited Lucy, Carmen, and me to her house for lunch to celebrate.  I prayed beforehand for the ability to graciously accept whatever was presented before me as I suspected it would be different and I was guessing fish, as it is so readily available here.  I was wrong.  We were first presented with a HUGE plate of rice.  And then I was pleasantly surprised when I was presented with chicken soup.  This was not strange to me at all, I could handle this with no problem.  WRONG!  I stired the soup to get a soupful and came up with a chicken foot.  This was not the first time I have seen this in my bowl, but the first time, I was able to pass it to on of the kids without offending anyone, now, I had no way of doing that.  His mother was so pleased to be able share with us.  She had not celebrated his birthday since he was 9 years old becuase she could not afford to.  So I did not want to offend her.  So I prayed and took a deep breath, smiled and was gracious.  God is stretching me in so many ways right now.  I appreciate all of your love and prayers.