M & M in Suriname

Our life with the Wajana indians

5 februari 2020
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Vulnerable People

Monday, January 20, the GumAir plane would arrive early. Marjolein wanted to clear up the last things in and around the house and Marco had to spray under the house to keep the termites out of the way. When Marjolein was organizing all the things in the house she suddenly heard Marco shouting from below: “Marjolein, come quickly, please come help me”. Marco had hurt his back when lifting the spray tank on his back. Then the entire schedule had to change. Marco had to be helped out of his working clothes while every movement hurt him. Marjolein thought by herself “How will I fix every ting in time to be ready when the plane arrives”. She realized right away “Let’s deal with things when they arrive, now I work first on the things that have to be done before that time”.

Marco gave instructions on how to use the sprayer while Marjolein, in Marco’s work clothes, was fiddling with the machine. You’re never too old to learn new things, but things never go as fast as when you have experience. Spraying really had to be done because in the previous days we had seen several traces of termites in the storeroom downstairs and in our spare bedroom downstairs. It was the first time in the last 8 years that Marjolein still had to store the wheelbarrow in the storeroom while Marco slowly climbed the steps of the plane and the pilot waited patiently for the last passenger to enter. That is another advantage of a small plane in a small village. In this way we notice how vulnerable we are, but also how God time and again provides in our needs.

Before we left for the city, we met with the team with whom we went to Canada last August. We made arrangements to visit all villages along the river in the coming months to report about our experiences during the 2019 trip. In the meantime, one couple already stated that they would like to come along to Canada on a following trip.

Wednesday, January 22, we celebrated Marjolein’s birthday. In the morning with a Dutch coffee and cake celebration in our apartment with a number of dear friends. In the evening with a dinner at a Chinese Restaurant with Elisabeth and family, with Jiska (who had arrived that afternoon in Suriname to visit for a week) and with old-time friends (who had just arrived from Denmark) and some Surinamese friends. We were so very blessed!

The last week of January we took part in the annual LEAD meetings of World Team Americas in Orlando, Florida. It was a pleasure to meet colleagues from all over the America’s and to be informed about their work.

We really wanted to visit friends from Suriname, who we met in the nineties, who live in Michigan now. So, after the LEAD meetings we flew over to Michigan. We enjoyed recalling our memories and to be able to share what God is doing in the jungle of Suriname.  We also enjoyed some snow and low temperatures.

In the coming week we will be visiting a WT candidate couple who are preparing to be part of our team in Manaus, Brazil. Other dear friends who we met several times in the nineties in Suriname, will also visit us in Florida and the last few days of our visit we will stay at Roy and Margaret Lytle’s, who taught us all the things we needed to know for our ministry among the Wayanas.

Next week Thursday, February 13, we hope to arrive in Paramaribo again to fly to Apetina after a few days of shopping and preparing in the city.

10 januari 2020
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Christmas and New Year’s Eve in the jungle

After celebrating Christmas and New Year’s Eve with the Wayana’s eight times, it remains very special for us that we can do this.

On Tuesday afternoon 24/12 the Christmas celebration started with the arrival of a number of canoes from other villages. A lot of work is done every year. This time ‘Joseph’ and ‘Mary’ had traveled with them. The Schleppi family, son of the former Aloekoe missionary, unexpectedly came to visit that morning and could enjoy the spectacle.

Father Helmut showed his children where he used to live. The day before we already received a visit from Anneke Kempeneers. She came from Maripasoula with the taxi boat and would stay until the beginning of 2020. We ate a Dutch Christmas dinner that tasted very good, also at 25 degrees.

Christmas in T-shirt and (short) pants / skirt but with church services and worship songs in Wayana. Seventy years ago these people did not yet know the gospel of a God who loves them and sent His son to earth to become human like us. They lived in fear of everything inexplicable in their lives. It touches our hearts to see how they look to the future with confidence because they know that God loves them and cares for them.

Friday December 27 Marijke and Hannekie came over for a short holiday. They work with the youth in Powakka, a traditionally Arowak community near Zanderij. We had a great time with them. Together we visited Anneke’s house in Maripasoula and were the first to come and visit and have a cup of coffee since she moved in last September (Isn’t this a typical Dutch thought?!). We prayed together for the Wayana youth and the Arowak youth and for each other. Very precious to experience the unity with each other.


Anneke Kempeneers, our youth worker, has coached a number of youth leaders to organize two youth evenings between Christmas and New Year. Great to see 3 Bible School students in action. In addition, she has found a young song leader willing to organize a volleyball tournament on December 30th. She has learned a lot again about living in another culture.

Up to 3 times she was asked what time the tournament would start: 9 a.m. Anneke and Marjolein were there at 9 o’clock, no youth around. At 10 o’clock the megaphone announced that the tournament would start. Still no youth and no tournament management. The first group came to report around half past ten. Eventually the first game started just after noon, in the heat of the day. Still learning…

The 6 groups have turned it into a real sporting event until 5 pm, loudly encouraged by the village community. All in all it was a successful event, but it is difficult to keep on waiting and not take the initiative. They are allowed to do it their way.

The turn of the year did not miss the oliebollen and apple flaps (another Dutch treat). Marijke and Hannekie brought icing sugar and apples from the city, so we enjoyed a delicious meal together. We like to honor some traditions.

We wish you all a special, healthy and blessed 2020.

18 december 2019
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Enjoyed and enjoying

Our time in the Netherlands went by in a flash! We really loved our time with our (grand)kids, friends and supporters. It was so special to visit lots of them. Our rental car from Foundation Hand, an organization that supplies missionaries with good cars for a reasonable price, brought us everywhere without problems.

Saturday evening December 7th we landed safely in Paramaribo after a pleasant flight. Sunday morning Marco had the privilege to share from Gods word in Beth Shalom, one of the churches outside Paramaribo. Afterwards we could visit a Dutch missionary family from our home church, Rogier and Willine Andes.

Normally we are very busy to get our to-do-list done in just a few days. In between we like to visit our WT colleagues and friends and of course our daughter and her family. When we flew with MAF last Friday to Lawa/Kawemhakan, we did succeed in getting everything done. It is so good to be home again, meet the people and get into our daily routine. Our house was nice and tidy because Anneke Kempeneers, our worker for the Wayana youth, had just a few days before left for Maripasoula.

This week 3 Bible school students came every morning to our house to prepare for their Christmas sermon. This morning two of them had to be called out of their hammock. They had been hunting all night, so they involuntary overslept. We studied the Bible verses from Matthew and Luke about the birth of Jesus Christ. They learned at the Bible school how to study their Bible, but this method needs thorough practicing, so that’s what we’ve been doing these past few days. We enjoyed ourselves. It is so good to see what these young guys already know.

The people in the village are preparing for Christmas, not with decorating their houses and the church, but with organizing which men will go out to hunt for everybody so there will be enough food during the Christmas celebration of two or three days. The treasurer will visit every hut to ask for a contribution for shotgun shells, gasoline for the outboard motor and for other needed groceries like rice, salt and sugar.

Monday, December 23th, Anneke Kempeneers will come over for a week or two. She will assist Melissa and Susina with childrenswork during the Christmas celebration and with a game afternoon December 26. We think we will be part of that too.

Still enough to do here.

We thank you for your prayers for us and for the Wayana’s.

We wish you a Merry Christmas with your loved ones. May the Lord of the harvest bless you.

11 november 2019
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Not being smart, but ended well.

We had a very good time in Lima, a mega city with over 13 million inhabitants. We had good contacts and nice conversations about how we can be active within World Team in reaching out to the 200,000 Chinese in the city.

MOU is signed

After another good meeting in Lima we drove back to our apartment with an Uber (a taxi). Talking and thinking about what we still want to do in the last two days we get out. Jacket over the arm because for us it is pretty cool here in the morning. Just too late Marjolein realizes that she has her coat on her arm, but not her bag. What a shock because in that bag are the passports. Marco tries to get in touch with the taxi driver and with the central. This is not possible. We pray that the driver will find the bag and bring it back. We call our Spanish-speaking friend Miguel and our colleague Tony. They come over to us to discuss together and to see if Miguel can reach Uber in Spanish. While we are waiting for them while praying in ourselves, a gray car stops in front of the door and the driver waves with Marjolein bag. In rapid Spanish he says that the next customer had found the bag and that he immediately thought we were the owners. After he had dropped off his customer, he drove back to us. God answers prayers! We are so happy and relieved. In our mind we went through all the steps that we would have to take to have an emergency passport the next evening to fly back to the Netherlands. Miguel and Tony arrive a little later and together we thanked God. Miguel says that this is really a miracle because in Peru things hardly ever are returned.

TEAM Meeting

We enjoyed the view of the South Pacific, for Marjolein the first time she can remember. We allowed our eyes to enjoy beautiful buildings, colorful people, beautiful parks, but we were also confronted with the poverty and the many slums in the suburbs of this city.

Women Biblestudy

We have learned that it is often foggy in Lima because of the encounter between sea air and desert air. Although we were in an apartment building on the 16th floor with an ocean view, we have never seen the sun sink into the sea because it was already covered in fog and clouds.

Pueble Libre Church

Los Olivos Churchgroup

Now we are “home” again in the Netherlands. The last leg of our furlough, until December 7 we leave again to our Surinamese “home”.

28 oktober 2019
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It is time to go… for a while

… to Lima to meet with the team there. As overseers of this field we want to encourage the workers there, who work hard to reach the Chinese chifa owners. They partner with the Chinese C&MA churches in Lima, so we will meet their leaders also. We feel very privileged to be able to work with different fields of World Team. The days in Rome were very inspiring for Marco. To talk about the future of our organization with the global leadership, to meet informal with or without meals with each other sharpens the vision for the future. It’s special to see people in person who you normally meet through Skype. The past weeks we enjoyed visiting our supporters. We enjoy to listen to their stories and see how their kids grow up. It remains very special to be able to visit every year, hear what’s going on and share our stories with a lot of people. During Fall Holidays we had time to visit a museum or two with our grandchildren which was a lot of fun.

30 september 2019
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Fly and fly some more.

Our time in Canada has flown by. We have been warmly welcomed and have been able to visit a lot of people. We have to do some praying and thinking about all our impressions. It is also good that everyone has arrived at his / her own family again after being away for over 4 weeks.The week in Winnipeg was also very varied. We drove to a reserve about 300 km from Winnipeg. This time with 2 cars because we had returned our rental car in Edmonton. It was very special to see how we could encourage people by praying with them, singing in Wajana, and reading from the Bible. Since the distances in Canada are very differently experienced by the Canadians than by Wayana’s and the Dutch, we drove home after the service. Around midnight we got into bed, tired but satisfied. We participated a few days at the Family Life Center in the North End.

Women from the neighborhood come to a meeting on Wednesday, after which they all get a hot meal. Afterwards, they can go to a room where they can choose clothing and household goods. They also receive a bag of food. After a certain time the next group was allowed. Our Wayanas recognized the system as we use it in our clothing sales also. Thursday we did a prayer walk through the neighborhood. What a sad and hopeless situation it seemed to us. It really touched our hearts. In the evening we also shared this with others during a meal. On Saturday we prayed with the Plante family and our group for Winnipeg and the First Nation people at the Forks, the place where two rivers flow together. This has traditionally been an important place because in the past this was where the First Nation people and the white traders would exchange their goods. Again a memorable moment for all of us.On the way back to Suriname we had a long layover in Trinidad. The evening before our arrival, the island was hit by hurricane Karen , which meant that there were still many roads flooded. Our trip to the beach was canceled for that reason, but this meant that we could catch up on some sleep. We made a brunch of breakfast. In the evening we shared during a meeting in church what we had experienced in the past few weeks. This was the last translation moment for this trip for Marjolein. It went well, but because translation had to be done simultaneously a lot of times, it was quite strenuous. She has clearly experienced that God has given her strength and wisdom to do all this translating.Last Thursday we were again waiting at the airport for our next flight, this time to the Netherlands. Friday morning we landed after a good flight. Now we are recovering with children and grandchildren. Marco will be in Rome from 5 to 12 October for a Global World Team conference and a short visit to his only brother who lives in Northern Italy. Marjolein will be ‘babysitting’ the grandchildren when the parents have some days away from home together.

15 september 2019
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Two weeks later

We experienced a lot the last few weeks

It was good to be at Bruce’s house for the first few days. We were able to acclimatize and we were given the opportunity to relax after the exciting trip. Bruce had visited Suriname a number of times. Now it was nice to be at his home and experience all kinds of things that he had already told about. We visited our first reserve of First Nations in his area and talked to a number of people there.

After that first weekend, the journey continued. We had a day of sight seeing in a nature reserve in the Rockies. After Ipomadi and Marco’s earlier visit in 2017, it became clear that a ride up the cable car would not be fun. That height was much too scary. So we stayed with our legs on the ground and visited a waterfall and a glacier. Breathtaking and unbelievable for our team that they could stand with a large piece of ice in their hands. It was chilly, but the sun was shining so we could have a picnic outside. An amazing experience. The following days we stayed in a village just above Edmonton with friends who welcomed all seven of us and took good care of us. We visited a number of reserves where one of them had a harvestfest just that day.

We also made a trip with overnight stay to a reserve further north where we met with one of the founders of the network of NEFC (Native Evangelical Fellowship of Canada). He told us at length about how things went at the time, why and how this organization was founded. We also visited his reserve and our picture of First Nations in Canada was colored in a little further.Then the journey continued to Calgary where we first had a very good meeting with the current director of NEFC. He had come to visit us with his wife and our lunch appointment took four and a half hours. The fact that we had come as couples now worked out a cordial meeting where we invited them to come and visit us in Suriname next year.

The rest of this week a number of reserves were visited, with surprising meetings and conversations. It was striking to see how strategic and substantive our contacts turned out to be. Our travel schedule was partly filled in with appointments made out of Suriname. The details on the spot ultimately yielded a full program that we think will be a good preparation for our visit to Winnipeg in the coming week.

We were tired at the end of this week after two and a half weeks of traveling. This weekend we have some needed, and longed for, rest. We stay in a village below Edmonton from where we fly to Winnipeg on Monday for a final week there.


1 september 2019
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Bruce, our friend from Canada, came the end of July until mid August to continue with the preparations for the hydro electric power plant of Apetina. He needed some more measurements of the river bedding and the water speed. As an experienced farmer he is also interested in the planting methods of the Wayana.

We took soil samples at different gardens to test the PH grade of the soil. We also took a soil sample to Paramaribo to have several tests done by a lab of the university.

The third week of August a Wayana – and a Trio elder went along with Marco to Colombia for a conference of the Trans Amazon Network in Bogota. The past year the Network did a survey about all the ind*genous peoples in the country. They reached 90% of the different groups. The goal of the conference was to strategize the evangelization efforts to the unreached people groups with local churches and mission organizations. It is the vision of the Wayana and the Trio to accomplish a survey like that of all the ind*genous people groups in the Guyana’s in the coming years.

While Marco was in Bogota, Marjolein stayed with our daughter Elisabeth and her family. It was great to spend time with them, especially with our grandson Quinn. It was a special time of bonding.

August 27 our journey to Canada began. The first stop was a day long layover in Port of Spain, Trinidad. We seized the opportunity to meet several people we met last year during our regional World Team Conference in Trinidad. We were surprised to see quite a few people showing up for lunch and being interested in our team. Together we decided to meet again on our way home at the end of September when we will have a long layover again. We look forward to give them a first hand report by then.

We are writing this blog at Bruce’s, 500 km north of Edmonton. We already have our agenda filled with quite some appointments for the coming weeks. We’re looking forward to what God has in store for us!


29 juli 2019
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For some years now we’re talking about, pray for and think about a connection between the French speaking Wayana youth and French speaking Bible teachers and a French speaking youth worker. The last two weeks we felt so priviliged to receive both ‘parties’ in our home at Lawa. Anneke Kempeneers, a youth worker from The Netherlands, was commissioned on June 6th to the Lawa youth. Onze World Team colleague from Haiti arrived with two teachers of the MEBSH Bible school in Cayes July 12th in Paramaribo. After a weekend with several visits to Haitians in and around the city, we flew on Monday July 15th with six persons to Lawa. Very nice to have so many people around our table. We were happy that the conversation was in English because our French is a bit ‘rusty’.

Tuesday we went by canoe to Maripasoula to see if we could meet some Haitian people and to see if there was any progress in the search for a house for Anneke. She hopes to have even a choice from several houses by mid August. Our Haitian guests enjoyed this daytrip very much and so did we.

Thursday the 18th of July the Chairman of the Baptist Union arrived in Lawa to join us for the Bible conference in one of the villages along the Lawa river from July 19-21. What a joy to be part of this festive gathering and to share from Gods word. We all slept in hammocks under the house of one of the elders. In the morning we had breakfast with our small group. After the morning service we ate together village by village. In the evening our host invited us every evening for supper. What a hospitality! We were so happy to see a lot of Wayana’s after being in Apetina for several months. We feel how our life is connected with the Wayana’s. What a privilege to be part of this conference.

After the conference our Haitian guests held a mini Bible school from Monday until Wednesday in Lawa about the book of Daniel and Revelations. It had to be in a nutshell, but there is appetite for more. The Wayana’s are looking forward to the return of the two teachers and in turn they also would love to come back. We’ll see how this will be continued.

Thursday July 25 Anneke Kempeneers stayed behind in our house in Lawa where she waits for Ilse van Dijk and Anneke Kempers to arrive to train youthleaders first and after that lead a youth week from August 12-16. A great opportunity for Anneke Kempeneers to get to know the teenagers. With the rest of our group we flew back to Paramaribo, where we picked up Bruce, our Canadian friend, at the airport. Right before his arrival, Anneke Kempers arrived from the Netherlands. It was good to see her for a moment before she leaves for Lawa.

Early Saturday morning Marco brought our two Haitian brothers to the airport. We did our shopping for our week with Bruce in Apetina and we enjoyed the company of our daughter and grandson.

Monday July 29 we fly to Apetina. We’re looking forward to meet the people and see what God has in store for us.