M & M in Suriname

Our life with the Wayana indians

10 mei 2024
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Different worlds

Time flies when you’re having fun!

In April, we spent two weeks in the Netherlands for Marjolein’s father’s 90th birthday. It is very special to still have him with us and being able to celebrate this with the direct family.

Together with a Dutch missionary who has been working in India for years, Marco was invited to present an introduction on “Trends in Mission” for ‘MissieNederland’ – a network of Mission Agencies in the Netherlands.

A special detail was that Marjolein remembered this missionary’s name from her teenage years. In the car on our way to the meeting she asked him about it. He asked if Marjolein’s father had been imprisoned in a Japanese POW camp, for then he was thinking about that very same family. When Marjolein confirmed this, he shared some things from his childhood, which Marjolein shared with her father at his request. This way the circle became complete again. Very special to experience how an unexpected conversation turned out to bring things together from long ago!

Pacific coast in Lima

17.000.000 People

From the Netherlands, Amsterdam is a great starting point for travel to Peru. KLM provides a 12-hour direct flight to Lima. From Paramaribo, this would require several layovers, making it more cumbersome and often more expensive. As we write this, we are spending 5 weeks in Peru, visiting several projects and locations.

Last week we had a team training for World Team’s workers among the 200,000 Chinese in Lima. This was a good, intensive week since we work with a multicultural group of colleagues. As we keep experiencing, communication then needs extra attention. Getting to know each other’s culture takes time. That is why we are happy to have some follow-up meetings in the coming weeks to further build relationships within the group and their vision for this work.

Last Sunday, the Chinese association in Lima already celebrated Mother’s Day. As the only non-Chinese, we were allowed to attend. Quite a spectacle with a lion dance and lots of gifts handed out via a tombola.

This week we visit Pucallpa, a city of some 350,000 people, on behalf of Foundations for Farming. We are conducting training at a rehabilitation center for former addicts. Some 100 boys/men and 20 girls/women are now in the program. The founder of this work has been homeless and addicted himself, but he was saved by God. Our hearts broke when we saw some boys and girls the age of our grandchildren! What a different world. Our hearts overflow with gratitude when we see the opportunities our (grand)children have. We enjoy the privilege of sharing God’s message of hope also very practically with this farming method in this facility.

24 maart 2024
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On our way to Easter in Apetina

Arrival in Apetina

“You are here again. How nice”

“We thought you had gone back to your own country.”

“Did you bring, soap, toothpaste, batteries, reading glasses and more?”

Just a few greetings when the hatches opened at our house. For us, it was wonderful to be back in Apetina after a year. The cleaning of the house went faster than expected. Very nice. Because of the arrival of the MAF crew of four who stayed overnight, one day after we arrived in Apetina, we also had to speed up the cleaning.

MAF crew in the house. Tom Schoen came over for a visit.

They brought a lot of fun and for us it was nice to be able to be hospitable to them for once. Next Wednesday we will even have 6 MAF people visiting us. They will be halfway through the two-day shuttle to fly the Bible school students back to their villages. This time we are better prepared. We pre-cooked cassava fries yesterday. There are several pieces of meat and fish in the freezer, so a nice meal should be arranged in no time now.

Students in the Weejo Bibleschool

Speaking of the freezer. The village generator has been broken since last November. That’s how long the whole village has been without power. We are extra grateful that our solar system is still doing well and providing us with power. By now, with a number of replacements, the system has also been running for 12 years.

Let’s first DO beads

Too little rain has fallen for months. This means that cassava, the Wajana’s main food, is not growing well. Many people have little to eat, besides the fish and meat they catch and hunt. This also means that there is less cassava to make drinks from…. from our point of view, a positive development caused in unpleasant circumstances.

Long waited for … RAIN

Last Saturday, a government crew came to visit Apetina to register the names of the children, for child benefits, of the elderly, for their elderly support benefits and of the people with disabilities for their benefits. They were staying with our neighbors, so we could enjoy all the fun. This registration started Sunday morning so we saw very few people in church.

This week the church started practicing in the afternoon for the Easter Conference. All the songs resound through the village. The girls and women are practicing the dances so it will be nice in sync next week.

Kids built Helicopters out of Duplo

Good Friday a MAF family will fly our way to celebrate Easter here with us and the village. Easter Monday we will then fly back to town together.

14 januari 2024
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Great start of 2024

Since a week we are back in Lawa again. It is so good to see familiar faces and hear people’s stories. On the first Sunday of the year Marco was invited to share Gods Word in church. Since ‘Foundations are Forever’ he was asked to make a number of schedules in our computer for sermons, cleaning the church, etc..

Yesterday a team of elders returned from visiting the Trio village of Kwamala. They were there to support the church leadership during the preparations for Christmas and New Year’s Eve. We are curious about their stories. It is quite an undertaking for them: first by plane to Paramaribo, spend a few nights there and do some shopping. Then take the plane to Kwamala. After 3 weeks or a month, the entire journey takes place in reverse order. The costs for such a trip are also quite high. We salute them as they arrange this all among themselves.

Marjolein arrived last week after hurting her back. A few days of rest in the hammock and some Paracetamol served her well. Fortunately, she was able to lead the Bible study for the women last Thursday. Wonderful to notice that her Wayana appears again effortlessly. She will also give another study for the women next week. Since Marjolein would like to listen to the studies that the Wayana women give, she was discussing her role in this… Then two women came asking if Marjolein would train them to also bring God’s Word. This will start next Monday. These are moments that make you very happy!

We were also able to have a Board meeting with the elders of Lawa. They now plan a river-wide elders meeting on Saturday, January 20, to discuss the church plans for 2024. This concerns planning for the church-wide celebrations and the budget that each village has to contribute. We see a huge difference in planning compared to ten years ago.

Then will also be decided who will be the new students of the Bible school in the interior. It is very special that the Chief of both the Trio and the Wayana will enlist. If everything works according to plan the first module will be taught March 18 – 28, 2024.

It is great to see that Anneke Kempeneers, who now lives in the mission house in Lawa, has mastered many skills. To the Wayana’s surprise, she mows the lawn with the lawn mower and bush cutter. That’s a man’s job here. Well Anneke stands her ground!

Last Friday we loomed with some teenage girls. That caused a lot of pleasant chatter. At the end of the evening, we practiced English together. It is still difficult to ask a question or give an answer. Saturday the English as a Second Language class was online with the teacher from Calgary. It is currently -34 degrees Celsius there. For us, we can’t imagine this kind of temperature! It is very special that Marilynne has been freeing up an hour every Saturday for two years now to teach Ame and Susina and Ipomadi and Melissa.

 

16 december 2023
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On the eve of….

This year we celebrate Christmas with our youngest daughter and her family in Paramaribo. For the first time in years we are not celebrating the birth of Jesus together with the Wayana in Lawa or Apetina. We see the necessary preparations taking place via Facebook. For example, an elder from Apetina went by boat to Albina, a town on the coast, to do Christmas shopping for the community meals during Christmas. We were able to help him purchase some of the groceries in Paramaribo. This shopping costs him about a week of travel time. Just a different perspective on the long lines at the checkout 😉.

Our health is well. That’s something we’re very grateful for. The vulnerability of Marjolein’s mother remains a point of prayer. Fortunately, we know that she and Marjolein’s father are safe in God’s loving hands.

Marjolein has recently given very special answers to questions from Marco. Given the fact that her father and his sisters all wear hearing aids, reason for an appointment with the ENT specialist. Last Tuesday we were told that she indeed suffers from hearing loss. It is her choice whether she wants to start with hearing aids or whether she wants to wait a little longer.

During our time in the Netherlands, Marjolein had already started translating some parts of the interviews that were made in 2022 with the Wayanas in Canada. She was 4/5 of the way through, when her iPad crashed. An attempt was made to remove the documents from the machine. Unfortunately, that did not work out. She hopes to have all parts translated in the coming weeks, so that the video maker can continue with his work. Fortunately, Marco also has an iPad and she uses that one now.

House, garden and kitchen

We get up early every morning and then spend more than an hour removing weeds from the creek. Now that the long dry season has ended and the rains are bringing in the water again, it is a race against time to scoop out all the grass and the thick layer of leaves at the bottom before the creek is completely full. The materials are good to build a compost heap and we use the leaf layer to raise the garden floor. The sand in the creek comes from the garden, so we will have to do this more often in the future. At the same time, this is a nice work-out.

We just got started here

After a few days we see nice results

We have also been busy further organizing the kitchen cabinets. Here and there a shelf to put things on. The new doors and drawer finally got a coat of paint. The other doors are also due. The kitchen looks like new again.

Foundations for Farming Suriname meeting

The last few weeks, we worked hard to prepare everything for establishing a Service and Training Center of Foundations for Farming on the premises of the Lob Makandra foundation. We received a contribution from EO Metterdaad, in the Netherlands, to finance the first phase of this project. First, the road to the entrance of the site was constructed. This required a number of culverts to be placed in a drainage canal. The road was extended over this to the entrance of the site.

Then we had to find out whether or not the dam on which we planned to build a driveway would be strong enough to fulfill its purpose. Fortunately, that turned out to be the case. Immediately after the machines had done their work, we were able to drive the car over the dam without any problems. The first part of the plot then was scraped in such a way that excess rainwater would run to one side.

The first test fields were set out last week. We will cover the fields with a layer of ‘mulch’ to ensure that no weeds can grow. We will then plant/sow the fields to demonstrate the effect of the principles we will train here.

Friday, December 8 was marked by a special meeting on the site with more than thirty interested participants. We invited pastors from churches and a number of government representatives. The Minister of Territorial Planning also came especially, to hear about our plan.

The many questions that were asked after the three presentations showed that there was great interest. The question also came up how quickly we can start our training. People see the usefulness of what Foundations for Farming has to offer and would like to participate in the training that is (still) in the preparation phase.

Christmas

We would like to thank you very much for making the work at the Wayana’s possible this year through prayer and financial support.

We wish you all a Merry Christmas and a hopeful 2024.

17 november 2023
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Just before we leave

The suitcases are packed. The last shopping has been done, including seasonal goodies and a Christmas loaf that will go into the freezer for another month in Suriname 😁.

We are very grateful that Marco is doing so well. The blood thinners have dissolved the clots and the support stocking should prevent clots from occurring again. We bought compression stockings for flying. Despite the fact that we have been flying regularly for years, that idea had not occurred to us. You’re never too old to learn!

We have used the last few extra weeks to visit Marjolein’s parents a few more times, see other family members, enjoy autumn (although the many rain showers did get in the way of walks), and assist our son a few times in his building project.

As much rain as has fallen in the Netherlands this past month, so little has fallen in the entire Amazon region for months. The people have been praying for rain for months because the Wayana and Trio now have to use river water for drinking. We hear of (children with) diarrhea and vomiting symptoms. One of the elders of Apetina called us to ask for intercession for his youngest son who is very ill due to these symptoms. Last Wednesday they flew with the MAF to Paramaribo, where mother and son are now in a hospital.

Our daughter Elisabeth told us that it is raining today in Paramaribo and we hope that this is also the case in the interior of Suriname.

Tomorrow, Saturday, November 18, we will be in the car to Schiphol at 5.30 am. If all goes well, our plane will take off at 8:45 am. We look forward to meeting everyone again on the other side of the ocean!

6 november 2023
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Things change

There are days when it seems like your heart isn’t big enough to contain all the joy. Last October 8 was such a day for us. Our grandson Jayden was baptized and Marco, as grandfather, was given the honor to serve in the baptism. For us another sign of God’s faithfulness through the generations.

Every time we enjoy to connect with the Wayanas deep in the interior when on leave. We keep well informed of important developments. For example, on October 17 we heard from Johan from Apetina that the Grand Chief of the Wayanas at the Tapanahony river had passed away at the age of 85. Nuwahe Aptuk leaves a great legacy to his tribe: the Bible (all 66 books) in their own language! From the beginning of the translation process he has been involved as the helper of the translator, Ivan Schoen. It is their life’s work. What a privilege that we were able to attend the official ceremony in Apetina at the time!

“Things change” a famous poet in the Netherlands, Joost van den Vondel, said centuries ago. We experienced that last week Monday when our lives suddenly became all about visiting the medical doctor, having blood samples taken and a lung photo taken in a local hospital. After the results reached the doctor, an emergency visit was strongly adviced to the ER in Ede a few hours later. The outcome is that Marco has a thrombosis in his left knee and, given the severe shortness of breath during exertion, also a pulmonary embolism. The treatment has started immediately on Monday evening with blood thinners. We were also told that Marco is not allowed to fly for at least 2 weeks.

We have now rescheduled our flight to Paramaribo to November 18. We are extremely grateful for this quick diagnosis and the adequate and pleasant treatment from doctors and nurses.

 

18 september 2023
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Republiek

In our previous blog we wrote that we would travel to Suriname again on August 26. That was over 3 weeks ago.

This time saying goodbye to our (grand)children was not so difficult. It looked like we were going on holiday to Suriname for a month. That holiday didn’t happen, because there was and still is plenty to do: check-ups with the dermatologist and dentist, visits to family and friends on this side of the ocean and the necessary online meetings. We also spent hours in the garden battling the weeds. We hired an expert to cut down a number of dead trees before one of them would fall on our roof or the neighbors’ roof in a flying storm. We felt some tension about the outcome, but the trees were pulled in the right direction and fell just right. In our home Marco has  installed three kitchen drawers and a new toilet.

Carefull nothing falls the wrong direction here

In Suriname the main holiday period is from mid-August to early October. We went to Commewijne for a day out with our daughter and her family. Canoeing together on the Peperpot plantation, walking to the lookout tower, which has unfortunately already been overtaken in height by a number of giant trees, drinking coffee together with a delicious syrup waffle baked in Suriname and then eating the famous saoto soup in Tamanredjo. We enjoyed it all, but most of all each others company.

Cannoe ride in Peperpot Plantation

We have been making several phone calls to the Netherlands to arrange our appointments for the month of October.

figuring out the right size here

This week we give another training for Foundations for Farming near Paramaribo on the premises of Lob Makandra in Santopolder. Very rewarding to do.

Using wood we cut down to make a rack for garbage on the side of the road

This coming weekend we will look after our daughter’s 7 dogs, so she is able to go away for a few days with her family. We use those days to visit some friends in the city.

Monday morning 25/9 we were able to make an appointment with our dermatologist on her first day after her holiday. After our appointment we will travel on to the airport to fly to the Netherlands.

Marco will fly to Singapore on 29/9 for the annual meetings with the directors of World Team.

18 augustus 2023
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Training succesfull

Last Thursday, Amepun and Susina safely reached their village in Suriname after their three-month Canada trip. They want to thank you all for your support in so many ways!

Of course, there were some bumps in the road when they wanted to fly from Toronto to Trinidad and then on to Paramaribo. The system said no suitcases were booked for the way back. Susina and Amepun were so happy with the help of their host family in Hamilton, who made sure that their suitcases could be taken back to Suriname.

They had a good flight and a great stopover in Trinidad, where a local missionary couple showed them around. This couple could hear the difference in the English conversation Amepun and Susina could have.

They have learned a lot in so many ways. We have found it very special that we were able to stay in touch with them via WhatsApp in recent months, while we traveled around the other side of the world.

The last part of our journey was in Northern Thailand, Mae Hong Son. Together with Dick and Johanna de Koning we drove in their car from Chiang Mai to Mae Hong Son on a beautiful, but winding road. Fortunately, Johanna brought tablets against motion sickness, otherwise Marjolein would certainly have become motion sick. Before we went to our Airbnb, we stopped at Bee and Kè’s farm. This way we could get acquainted and make arrangements for the next day.

What a special time we had during the training. The interpreter is Buddhist but listened very interested to the Biblical foundation of the Foundations for Farming technique. For Bee and Kè, the pieces of the puzzle now fell into place.

It was moving to hear how happy and blessed they were with this training and to see how enthusiastically they got to work with the new principles. For us, Dick and Johanna and M&M, it was special to think that when the plans were made for this training last September, Kè did not yet have a personal relationship with God. At the beginning of this year, his life has changed radically, and he and his wife have really become a team.

Bee and Kè’s farm is located in Thailand’s poorest and most backward province. It is special that the training of Foundations for Farming could be given here.

With a grateful heart we said goodbye to Dick and Johanna last Wednesday, after we had completed the training the day before. After a bus trip with 1864 bends we spent the night in Chiang Mai. Thursday, we flew to Bangkok and Friday, August 18, from Bangkok to the Netherlands.

We will be in the Netherlands for the next week. Saturday the 26th we hope to leave for Suriname.

6 augustus 2023
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Who travels far …

We were impressed while visiting missionaries from our home Church in the Netherlands who live and work in a closed country in South-East Asia. Great to see how they live, what they do and to meet some of their team members. Without them, our visit would have been quite a challenge because not many people speak English. We don’t speak a word of the local language. The tropical warmth, the well-known fruits, scents, and vegetables, also gave some sort of a ‘home feeling’.

After this, we moved on to World Team’s first global conference held in Thailand. We were together with about 400 people in a beautiful environment. We enjoyed the conversations during meals, praying together at different times during the day, the inspiring workshops, and the various presentations from all places where ‘WorldTeam-ers’ are called to work.

3 C

Great place to spend the conference

We celebrated 150 years World Team out of RMBU and WIM

We also made a trip to ECHO, an agricultural NGO where we received a very interesting tour.

Seeds ready to be distributed

Monday morning, July 25, we boarded a plane again to land in Brisbane the following Tuesday morning. There we could relax in our cozy Airbnb and enjoy the beautiful surroundings for the next few days. On Friday, July 28, we were able to share with students and staff of the Brisbane School of Theology about God’s work in various places around the world, showing them that there are quite a few opportunities in our World Team fields.

Great hikes

Japanese flowering cherry

Cheese …. really?

In the meantime, we also had regular contact with Amepun and Susina in Canada. What a blessing modern technology is at such a time! We are so proud of them as we watch them learning and serving in Canada for a period of 3 months. During the conference in Thailand, we also brainstormed with our colleagues from Canada about the next steps for the coming years as the Wayana outreach in Canada continues to grow. Amepun and Susina arrived safely in Suriname last Saturday morning.

SMBC

After this, we enjoyed our time in Sydney last week being ‘missionaries of the week’ at Sydney Missionary and Bible College representing World Team. Our desire was to encourage and challenge the students to serve elsewhere in the world. We have received feedback from various people that our enthusiasm and stories from our own lives have been very encouraging. We already live and work in so many beautiful places in the world, but this place and its people have certainly also got a place in our hearts!

 

Outing to the East Coast at Redcliff

Now we get to work on the last part of this journey. We have exchanged the winter in Australia for the tropical warmth of Thailand. We arrived safely in Chiang Mai yesterday morning. Tomorrow, together with Dick and Johanna de Koning, fellow missionaries from C&MA, we will travel to Northern Thailand to give Foundations for Farming training for the next 10 days. We are looking forward to this!

10 juli 2023
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From West to East

After the last training at high altitude in Peru, Marco arrived safely in the Netherlands on June 29.

The following days were devoted to reporting and preparations for the next trip to Asia.

We are writing this blog in the departure hall of Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam and hope to board our flight to Bangkok in less than an hour. The coming weeks will be full of activities again.

We are visiting a missionary family from our home church, we will join a large World Team conference, we are going to visit two bible schools in Australia to promote the work of World Team and last but not least, we are going to present a training for Foundations for Farming in the north of Thailand with fellow missionaries of C&MA.

Our travel schedule brings us back to Dutch soil on August 18 to travel to Suriname a week later.

We plan to post a number of photos on our blog every week so that we can share our adventures in pictures.