February 26, 2013

one month in guyana

Paruima log

Day 8: Arrival
From the back seat of the small - but very full - mission plane, I could see both the altimeter and the time remaining on the GPS. We were getting closer. We started to descend about 30 minutes out. I watched the altimeter, 7,000 feet, 6,000 feet, 5,000 feet. Soon I was no longer watching the instruments on the panel, but looking out the window upon my new home for the first time. From the air I can see the village, the school, the black rivers, and what looked like an ocean of jungle. No roads, no cars, no power lines.

We landed on the soft grass strip smoothly. Once all our belongings were out of the plane and into the canoe, we stopped first in the village to check in at the police station (a small wooden structure with a man who records every foreigner who comes and goes) and then rode in the boat to the school. 

As our canoe pulled up to the river bank, we were greeted with beautiful music from the primary students who shyly hid their faces as they sang. It was a very lovely welcome. We were then taken to the Brooks' house where we will be staying until ours is fixed up enough to move in. Laura had a lovely meal of curried-potato soup and corn bread waiting for us. 

After a tour of campus, we settled down for the night. 

Day 9: House hunting
We woke up this morning to a symphony of parrots, frogs and howler monkeys. The water from the spring that supplies water for the house is cold. Our showers were quick this morning. Breakfast was leftover cornbread and fruit. 

We went to look at our new house again. It needs a lot of work. Fixing it up will be a big, but worthy, task. We are writing home for supplies that will make our house more secure for our family. 

The children love it here. Not only is there endless outdoors for them to explore, there's also endless wildlife (some more welcome than others). As I was making lunch today a bat came in for a little hello, and (thankfully) left as quickly as he came. I thought bats only came out at night!

Our lunch is nearly finished (I'm making garam massala with chick peas), and then we will head out to the grass airstrip to meet the plane today and take some video. The plane only comes once a week normally, but there are more foreigners that are visiting today. 

Day 10: Sabbath trials
Our first Sabbath in the village has not been an easy one. The children we both awake in the night and we did not get good sleep. I awoke to my alarm clock and then listened to the jungle song as I reclined in the hammock reading my Bible. If I don't get up before the children are awake I most likely will not get another chance to spend time in the Word. We are not unpacked, and we left late for Sabbath School, which turned out to be ok because the children's class starts later than the adult class. The children are unaccustomed to sitting on a bench and not participating. There is a lot to adjust to here. Both the children ended up needing to leave early because they were disrupting the class. Church didn't go any better. Todd took Samuel out during prayer, and I took Millie out shortly after. We decided to just go home because they were so overwhelmed that they weren't able to settle back down. Did I mention it's a mile hike to church? Through the jungle and village on a small trail. Coming back it was harder because the sun was high and hot. We were very happy to make it back and rest a while. 

I want to tell you about the birds here. There are SO many birds! I would guess that at any given time you hear no less than 10 sounds from nature. There are birds that sound like bells, birds that sound like a ringtone, and one that sounds like a video game. The parrots chatter together and I keep thinking they'll start speaking anytime. There are hummingbirds, sparrows, swallows, and finches. Birds that build their nests on branches, hanging from branches, on the side of trees or buildings, in buildings, and on the very tippy-tops of trees. 

Add to that bugs, frogs, lizards, monkeys, and other unidentified sounds, it's the song of the jungle. 

We went swimming for the first time today. Well, I did. Todd got in for a quick dip yesterday. Today Millie and I ventured out to almost the middle of the river. The water is black but clear, if that makes sense. It's colder than I expected, but we got used to it quickly and had fun. Looking up the river from where we were, it's totally unreal to me still that such a beautiful place is our home now. 

Day 11: Sunday Rain
Today it rained. All. Day. Long. It let up for no more than a few minutes before it rained some more. We did laundry, with hopes that the rain would let up. No such luck. Our clothing is still out hanging under the covered porch - not dry. We made use of the day by organizing our belongings, cleaning, and doing some chores. Nothing really exciting enough to write about - unless you count the frog. :) Todd practiced his photography skills with his "new" camera (my old Nikon) while I played with my new baby (my 6D). Our subject - a little frog the size of Millie's fist. 

I call these frogs chameleon frogs, but that's my made up name for them. They turn white if they sit on something white or light, and turn green on dark things. It's fun to watch, we keep saying how cute our little bathroom dweller is… until he starts to jump. Then it's every man for himself (or herself). There is something unnerving about an unpredictable jumping frog. 

Day 12: Just another rainy Monday
Today it rained. All. Day. Long. The plane came in and brought supplies and a teacher for the school, and took Laura out (she is returning to the US tomorrow for a time). 

Day 13: Tuesday Blues
Today the loneliness hit. I wasn't expecting it so soon. But, here it is. To help I'm writing lots of emails - I write them on a document and send them out on a flash drive for the missionaries in town to email for me. It helped a little. I also made bread, which also helped. 

Day 14: Wednesday - Answered Prayer 1
I began my day with a prayer that someone would visit me today. I don't know anyone out side of DIIC yet, save for the few people I've met very briefly at church or in passing. Still, I was feeling so lonely I really wanted someone to come for a visit. God waited no longer than about an hour before he answered my prayer in a mighty way. Christine, a lovely lady from Canada, lives in the village with her husband, a Guyanese man. Her husband works on the farm on campus and she is going to teach a class when classes start up. We chatted most of the day away, and we both are overjoyed to have each other nearby. They are moving into one of the houses on campus and will be living quite near! I'm very excited about this development. To have someone come over and sit and sip tea and have a good chat was just what I needed. My spirits are higher than they've been since we arrived. 
Some of the other missionaries here found out today that there was a problem with a visa issue and there is concern that Laura won't be let back in the country for 12 months. We are praying that this isn't the case. There is also talk about other unexpected changes might be happening - which for us are not for the better. I wish I had internet so I could ask for prayers. So many complicated thoughts to end a simply lovely day. 

Day 15: Thursday Monkeys
I woke up this morning to the sound of monkeys. Then, without warning, there they were across the back lawn in the trees lining the river. We watched them for a while, and after a few fruitless photograph attempts, I threw on jeans and ran down. I ran through the jungle after them. It was so much fun. Once I caught up to them, they were all around me in the tall trees. They were very curious about me (confirming our belief that all monkeys are curious) and stopped to watch me and talk to me. These are howler monkeys, so they don't make the typical "monkey noise" that Curious George makes. They moved quickly and I turned the auto-focus on, because they didn't sit still long enough for me to focus, which turned out to be sad because my camera focused not on monkeys, but on branches in front of them. Lesson learned - learn to focus faster! This was one of the best experiences I've had in Guyana so far - standing in the middle of the wild jungle with monkeys. 

Today is bread day. I made a double batch. I made 3 loafs of bread, a pan of cinnamon rolls, and rolls for Sabbath potluck that will be at our house. Between baking bread and cooking for my family, little else went on. I gave away most of my baked goods, and got a hefty supply of produce, both Christine and the DIIC gardens. Until now, we've been lacking produce as much as I would like it. 

Day 16: Friday Blahs
Today I'm not feeling well. My stomach is all turned up and and I just want to lie around and let my tummy settle. Ugh. 

Day 17: Sabbath Adventures
Today we skipped church, under the pretense of a muddy trail (which WAS true, but mostly we are just feeling exhausted and overwhelmed and needed some time just as a family). But we hosted potluck for the DIIC staff and afterwards went to swim at the river. I can't tell you in words how beautiful our new home is. The afternoon on the river was just what we needed. We were just downstream of some rapids, which the boys all played in a bit. We swam across the river to a large rock in the middle and the view was amazing. 

It's so, so, beautiful and peaceful here. I still can't believe this is my home now. I already love it here, and as I meet more and more of the people here I fall more and more in love with this place. I want to live here forever. 

A little after sundown, the Fuller guys came back and we played games until late (11:00 is late for us!). 

Day 18: Sunday Toodles
Today I felt sick most of the day. But I got to talk on the radio to Cyndi in Georgetown for nearly an hour and that brought much joy to my day. I also made bread again and I cooked it for longer on a lower temp and it came out the best bread I've made yet! I'm getting pretty good at making it. Which is quite convenient as these guys like to eat is as fast as I can make it. 
Towards the evening I took 2 doses of charcoal and went to bed feeling a little better.

Day 19: Mexican Monday 
The rain is back. Since I knew we'd be inside all day, I made tortillas for the first time ever. It was a LOT of work, but well worth it! I am longing for a tortilla press. I made 40 tortillas by hand. If you have never made tortillas, let me tell you, at first it's much like making bread or something, you mix up similar ingredients, kneed the dough, make little gold-ball sizes of rough, and then let it sit for an hour. Then, you press them out. I used a rolling pin and they aren't super thin. It was a lot of work on my arms, then I stood and cooked them (because they are not super thin they didn't cook as fast as they are supposed to). It was about a 3-hour process - 4 including hour I let them sit. 
We had the Fuller guys over for burrito-like-food and they'll be back for lunch tomorrow to help finish it all up. 

The plane was supposed to come out today bringing some engineers to work on our soon-coming satellite internet set up. They were going to use their equipment to determine where everything should go, angles, all that. The flight was canceled due to the heavy rains, which is a good thing because we also had heavy winds too. They are rescheduled for tomorrow.

Day 20: Tuesday… maybe?
I have no recollection that this day actually happened. This is what happens when I don't write each day...

Day 21: Wednesday hike
Today Todd and I, along with Dan, hiked up to the spring that supplies water for the DIIC campus. It was quite a hike! To get there, you like up campus, pass the farm area, pass the garden area, and hike through the jungle on a small trail that in parts, is overgrown with jungle and had to be cut back before we could continue. I filmed as I went, collecting footage for a video I'm going to do on the water system. We are in need of a new water system

Day 22: Thursday Updates
My monkeys came back today. Even better is that one of them decided to stick around for a closer look. I got some almost good photos, but between how fast they move and the fact that they are very high up in a dense jungle, it's hard to get a good focus. But still I sure do have fun watching them. While I was taking photos 2 local boys came up to me. 
"Ma'am, what are you picturing?"
"I'm taking photos of monkeys!"
"Oh! Monkeys!… Uh, why are you picturing them?"
I tried to explain that we don't have monkeys where I'm from and I wanted to show my family back home what they look like. He was unconvinced it was worth picturing. 

Today we also did laundry - the first time in about a week we were able to. Finally the rain stopped, the sun came out, and the water cleared up (when it rains a lot it gets muddy). 

Samuel is growing leaps and bounds here. He is starting to talk and he constantly is cracking us up. Some of his favorite things to say are, "I no know," "ah go" (for here you go), "nigh nigh," and "issy" for sissy. I'd like to say he's eating better too, but for the most part he hasn't changed too much in that regard. He is currently eating watermelon with Papa, so he's at least eating some things. He won't get in the river yet, but Amelia will. She has gotten in every time we've gone. Samuel protests at the suggestion of more than his feet and legs going in the river. He also loves to shake hands, climb on everything, and run. 

Amelia is growing as fast as the vines in the jungle. She reminds me daily of how big she is. "Look how big I am today Mama!" Next month she'll be 3 and a half. I can hardly believe she's growing so fast. She is right at home in the jungle with all her creatures. She loves almost all of them. The other day she asked where she could go where there are no bugs. I told her no where as long as we're in Guyana. 

Day 23: Flyin Friday
Today I will be flying out to a nearby village to use the internet. I'm very excited about communicating with the outside world. 
I woke up around 3:30 and couldn't go back to sleep. Eventually, I got up, made tea, and watched the sunrise and read my Bible. It was a lovely start to this day. 

Day 24: Sabbath rest
Today was a very low key day. I stayed home with a feverish Sam while Papa and Millie went to church. Sam fell asleep on me in the hammock and I just rocked and snuggled my sleeping boy for an hour. We hosted lunch again and then the Fuller boys, Millie and I all went up the river and floated back to the DIIC landing. Such a beautiful place. Popcorn and games ended our day.

Day 25: Sunday 
Sunday is the day before Monday. I'm sure it happened… I think it happened… 

Day 26: Movin' Monday
Millie and I flew out to Georgetown today. It makes for such a long day, but she did great again and had the back seat of the little 4-seater to herself. She curled up and slept most of the way. Great for an easy flight, hard for mama when she then didn't go to sleep until 11 pm at night. 

Day 27: Tuesday
I have now experienced the local hospital here. And what an experience that is. I came into town because I've been feeling very off and we suspect that my thyroid is going crazy again. So I went over for a blood draw to get levels checked. One night away and I'm already ready to get back out to my husband and son. We'll be here until Friday.


Kelli Jean said...

The picture on day 21 is kind of interesting. It looks almost like you are a giant, or the man next to you is a midget. Must be the perspective, and depth, I suppose. Love all these posts!

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