Tuesday, October 20, 2015

When It Pays to Have a Sense of Humor!

I have learned to be very thankful for the sense of humor God has given me - especially since I live on the mission field.  The events of the following story are completely true.  Names have NOT been changed to protect the innocent.  This is a story that will not only have you rolling with laughter, but will also send shivers up your spine!  Without any further ado, I offer you the true story of...."When It Pays to Have a Sense of Humor!"
Life on the Mission Field is many things.  One thing it is NOT:  Dull and boring!  We missionaries each face our own set of challenges, fashioned and given to us by our loving Heavenly Father.  Recently the Lord chose to challenge me (and my family) in the area of ....well, let's just say "Pesky Critters" for now....
As some of you may know, about a month ago, we found a rather large lizard trapped in a corner of our bedroom.  This wasn't one of your cute, ordinary, insurance commercial geckos!  Nope, this was a bonafide lizard.  He was kind of pretty, actually, but he had to go.  Between the two of us, My Beloved and I humanely disposed of him, and it is to be supposed he has joined his own beloved and they are now living "happily ever after".... far away from my house!
Then one calm, quiet evening a few weeks ago, My Beloved and I were startled by SOMETHING scrambling about in the ceiling above our beds! Cue Mysterious Music, please.  After that I started noticing odd things in my big kitchen cabinet.  This cabinet is home to dishes, cups, pots and pans, and all our dry goods items.  First I noticed some rice spilled on the shelf.  Hmmm.... then it was a packet of dry soup mix. (Thankfully, my stash of Ranch Dressing Packets sent to us by a dear family friend was undisturbed!)  One morning we found milk (we get the milk that comes in boxes and can be stored on a shelf) spilled in the cabinet. ????????  My Beloved requested rodent bait when I went to the market that week.  In the meantime, we got plastic containers in which to store everything.  We had our suspicions, but had seen nothing....After my trip to the market, My Beloved strategically placed the bait in a package of cookies.  Did I mention that I had found some torn-open packages?  My poor Beloved, I blamed him!  I have since offered my most humble and heart-felt apology!
Monday (a week ago) night:  We are eating supper and I go to the cabinet to get some cookies for the   Little Persons - they had eaten all their supper.  As I slid the doors open, I heard a thumping noise.  Thinking it was the doors bumping together, I held them still....and still heard thumping.  I calmly called My Beloved over to the cabinet.  Just as I was explaining I heard thumping, I turned and started to reach for a container.  As I did so, a gray pointed face popped up over the back side of the container!  For a split second, everything stopped.  Then I came to my senses, and screamed!!!!  I ran screaming from the cabinet and just about knocked My Beloved flat in my haste to get away!  My Beloved stood in shock as he watched the acrobat hop up onto the container, flip himself up to the next shelf, and disappear.....we closed and secured the cabinet for the night.  Not sure where he came from or where he went, we called the "Handyman" to come in the morning to take a look!
Tuesday morning:  We found the hole where the beggar had chewed his way into my cabinet, and patched it up.  My Beloved set out more bait, and life went on....no more sign of the dirty rat!
Wednesday afternoon:  Two of our Deaf came for our Wednesday service.  Thinking about it now, I don't know why I did it, but I put Chula in our laundry area.  After a few minutes, I thought better of leaving her back there.....I had clothes hanging on the line, and we are still teaching her not to bite and chew on everything.  When I went to get her, I found something that had been chewed up by my precious puppy!  I was speaking rather unkindly to her on the subject as I opened the door to her "room" and deposited her onto her own blanket.  The last thing I remember saying was, "There!  If you want something to chew on, chew on your own towel!"  As I looked down at the towel, my eyes caught sight of something bunched up in the corner where the door closes.  I bent slightly for a closer look, wondering what that wad of fuzz could be.  (I am SO thankful now, I didn't try to just pick it up or kick it!)  When I bent over, I suddenly realized that it wasn't "fuzz" that I was looking at - the eyeballs staring up at me was a dead give-away!  Once again I started screaming!!!  When I screamed, the rat moved - toward me, then away from me!  I slammed the door and the last thing I saw was the rat's tail sticking out under the door!  In my panic, I didn't even think about bolting the door so it couldn't come in - I just ran pell-mell through the house, screaming like a mad woman back to My Beloved, who was on the patio!  I tried to explain in voice and signs what had just happened!  Suddenly, I realized that Chula had followed me back through the house - the door wasn't latched!!  Where was the rat?!?!?! My Beloved and the Deaf man went to see.  Thankfully, the rat was cowering in a different corner of the back porch!  My Beloved tossed some more cookies and bait out to it, and a day or so later, we realized the culprit had permanently expired!  Has there ever been a more thankful missionary wife?  In the middle of all the excitement, we had 4 more Deaf show up for our Wednesday service, giving us a total of 6 Deaf!
While I will admit I was far from pleased about having a "marauder" in my house, I can only imagine how hilarious it must have been to see me - both times - screaming and running through the house like a crazy woman!  Truly it pays great dividends to have a sense of humor - especially when God asks to you serve Him on foreign soil!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Living the Dream Part 3

Iquitos, Peru...what is it really that fascinates me about my city?  Is it all the neat and intersting things to do and see?  Is it seeing the Iron House, which was designed by Gustave Eiffel?  Is it the Boat Museum, which tells the history of Iquitos during the Rubber Boom?  Is it all the neat little shops and restaurants with delicious regional food, like "juane" and "tacacho con cecina" and "chonta" salad? Do I love my city because it has the distinction of being the world's largest city inaccessible by road and the world's farthest inland ocean port?  Each of those things is just one of the many bonuses God has allowed me to enjoy.
I love Iquitos because My Saviour loves Iquitos. He loves every single person who lives, works, or even just visits here.  My Saviour died for each person here. He wants them to be saved and grow in Him.  People like my friends Laly and Maria, who work hard every day to provide for their families.  People like the guard who works across the street.  People like Jessy, who is one of the cashiers at one of our grocery stores.  People like the men and women of the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force who help keep our city and country safe.  People just like me.
Yes, I may have a goofy grin on my face when I think about how I get to live here in Iquitos, the city of my prayers and dreams.  But my heart is full...full of love for the other people here who also call Iquitos home.  Yes, Iquitos is my home.  I am a local. And I love it.

Living the Dream Part 2

With my coffee cup beside me, I would like to keep telling you about where God lets me live!
The Amazon River...there are times when I feel like I'm living in a National Geographic documentary!  My house is about 15-20 minutes away from the Amazon River.  After a trip down river to see La Isla de los Monos (Monkey Island - yes, there are really monkeys there and you can play with them!) recently, I decided I needed to learn more about the river I live near.
Back in July, we went to visit Pilpintuwasi (The Butterfly Farm), the river was still up fairly high.  About two weeks later, I was on the river again, taking a couple of young ladies to visit the river.  I found myself thinking, "Is the river really lower, or does it just seem that way?"  About a week after that, our family was walking along "The Boulevard," the street/walking area that overlooks on of the the rivers.  I was shocked at how much lower the river was!  I don't know how to describe that feeling to you...it was absolutely astounding!  It is such a noticable difference!  Then just recently, when we went to Monkey Island, the river was down even lower...and noticably rougher, I might add!
As I did some studying about the Amazon River, I was startled to learn that the river actually rises and falls about 30 feet each year!  We saw the lines on the trees at Monkey Island that show where the rivers reaches at its highest point.  Incredible!  Those lines were higher than My Beloved's head, and he is 6'2"!
The Amazon is also home to some of God's most amazing creatures.  We have all kinds of fish that live in the river...from the famous Piranhas to the giant Paiches (Arapaimas), the bull sharks, the mantees, and the pink river dolphins!  Incidentally, we got to see some of the river dolphin jumping out of the water in front of our boat on that way back home from Monkey Island!
Because of the rivers, Iquitos is almost an island - it is blocked in on three different sides by the rivers.  Our main form of transporation is the mototaxi - a motorcycle with passenger space behind the driver.  There are also the "Colectivos." They are the "city buses."  They have certain routes and pick up or drop off people along the way.  Personal vehicles like cars and pick-up trucks are definitely in the minority here!  I love riding in the motos!  They are much like the "tricicads" I used in the Philippines.
We have two major supermarkets where I do most of my shopping.  Now please understand, when I say "major supermarkets," I am not talking about Krogers or Safeway or Price Chopper or any of those types of stores!  But they have what we need, and I love them!  Our meat is fresh, and you can purchase almost any part you want!  We have a bread company just down around the corner from my house....it smells wonderful if you pass by about 10 a.m. or 3 p.m.....fresh-baked bread!  We have certain streets in the city where certain businesses are located.  For example:  most of the pet/feed stores are located on Avenida Grau.  If you want medical supplies, they are on a different street, etc.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Living the Dream Part 1

Two of My Little Persons are in Science class with their Professor (a.k.a. My Beloved).  My third Little Person is playing with her brother's truck that he gave her to play with this morning while he is in school!  So I thought I would spend a few moments with you and a delicious cup of coffee!
You know, recently I talked about being normal (enough with the snickers of laughter, already!).  There is something liberating about realizing you are normal.  It relieves a whole mountain of pressure to know that you are normal - you are exactly who God created you to be, and that it is okay!  Honestly, I think we missionaries struggle the most with feeling "normal."  We feel bad because our "normal" is not the "normal" of main-stream Americans.  Our kids don't grow up playing football (mine play soccer), going to Walmart or Taco Bell (one of my Little Persons was recently talking about going to Taco Bell!), or getting their driver's license the moment they turn 16!  But they have their struggles and triumphs just like every other child - whether they live in America or not.  We recently celebrated Martha losing her first tooth!  On a recent field trip, we discovered that Ian has a wonderful sense of direction!  Phebe tried to join in with us as we did the Pledges this morning before we started school.  To be sure, we could hardly keep from laughing as she put her hand on her tummy instead of her heart, but let's give her some credit....she's only one and a half years old!
In honor of being normal, I have been thinking that I would like to share with you what is "normal" for us.  To do so, I would like to start with where we live.  We live in Iquitos, Peru, South America.  Let me tell you about our city....
Almost 10 years ago, I was introduced to and fell in love with the city of Iquitos, though at the time, I had never been there nor had I any idea that one day God would let me live in Iquitos.  You see, almost 10 years ago I began praying about a certain young man who was going to be a missionary to the Deaf in Peru.  Since I already had assurance from the Lord that this young man would one day be my husband (I'll tell you that story sometime soon, don't worry!), I decided I had better start learning all I could about Peru.  I was living in the Philippines at the time.  I can still remember sitting at my computer, with a notebook in hand, writing furiously, and trying to learn all I could about the country that would one day be my home.  It was during that time that I read about Iquitos.  "The world's largest city inaccessible by road...accessible only by boat or plane."  How it fired my imagination!  I began to wonder about the people.  Were there missionaries there?  What was their religion?  Did they have any Baptist churches there?  What would it be like to live in such a place?  I began to pray for the city of Iquitos along with that young man.....
Almost 10 years later....here I am, LIVING in Iquitos!  Not visiting, not just passing through, but LIVING in the city of my prayers and dreams!  Wow!  Now let's be honest.  Would I call Iquitos the most beautiful city on the planet?  No.  But to me it is beautiful, because this is where God has put me.  He has given me one (of the many) of the desires of my heart - to live in Iquitos, and try to reach the people for Him!  I find myself riding down the road with a goofy grin on my face when I think about the fact that I get to live here - a place most people only dream of visiting!
Iquitos sits on the convergence of three rivers:  the Itaya, the Nanay, and the Amazon.  We have military bases for all three branches of the Peruvian military:  the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force. Iquitos sits right in the middle of the Amazon Rainforest.  I read recently that Iquitos is the northernmost city in Peru.  It is hot all year long - oh, how I love that little detail (I hate being cold!)! We have people from all over the world either living or visiting here!  There is even a Jewish community here!  We have all sorts of interesting things to see and do - like the Manatee Rescue Center, La Isla de los Monos (Monkey Island), the Iron House - just to name a few!
Since this is almost a ridiculously long post, next time I'll tell you some things that I have learned about the Amazon River!