June 1, 2011 we had our first presentation about our plans to move to the jungle of Suriname. Who could have imagined then what has happened in our lives in the past 10 years, at least we could not. We are still so grateful for the place where we are allowed to live and serve.
Wednesday, May 26 we flew with MAF to Paramaribo. We left 2 hours later than scheduled because of heavy rain in the city. For a change, it had remained dry in Apetina that night and morning. Due to the government-planned lockdown weekend, we wanted to do as much shopping as possible on Thursday and Friday. Elsbeth and Quinn came to stay with us for the weekend because otherwise we wouldn’t see each other at all during our short stay in Paramaribo. We enjoyed each other so much, it was a very successful weekend. We were surprised by the announcement that the entire country would go into total lockdown from May 31 to June 18. Would we be allowed to fly to Lawa or were we ‘stuck’ again in Paramaribo, just like last year. To our relief we heard that returnees could be flown to their village. Now we had to wait and see if the weather would cooperate because Wednesday June 2 the Lawa runway was closed due to heavy rainfall. How would it be Thursday?It is Thursday morning June 3rd and today we hope to leave for Lawa. First, we waited for the announcements about the status of the Lawa runway. Just after 07:30 am the phone rings and Sjaak from the MAF announces that the strip is open. We can fly. We quickly wrap up our last things and drive to the city. It is quiet on the road because only people with an exemption letter are allowed to be on the streets. Due to the increasing Covid19 infections, the entire country has gone into a strict lockdown from last Monday. We are grateful that we are regarded as returnees and can therefore return home. It’s been 13 months since we were left Lawa last year.The jungle around our house shows that it has been a long time ago. Marco just needed to get the water pump going so we could fill the top barrel. After some tinkering it worked. Then we enjoy together again the technical talents that Marco has. In the coming weeks, he will gradually transform the jungle around our house into a lawn again. He knows what his workout will be in the coming weeks.
In the house ‘the mess’ is not that bad because Anneke Kempeneers and Melisa already cleaned up quite a bit a few weeks ago. This was urgently needed because the woodlice were building nests in the boxes that were waiting for the cloths market. Fortunately, only 3 boxes were infected, but what a job they had to sort everything out and clean it. We asked for prayer for a good internet connection for Sunday 6 June. That day the new Wayana Bible would be dedicated in Lawa. Just like in Apetina, the translators and their families would join the meeting via ZOOM. We also invited Roy and Margaret Lytle. They worked in Lawa for over 40 years. Roy would preach via Zoom. We can’t quite put into words what went through our minds during the service. It moved our hearts that the first missionaries for the Wayanas were present via ZOOM. Deep gratitude that we have the privilege of witnessing this. We are moved as we hear the elders ask for a blessing for the spreading of His word now and in the generations to come. Gratitude for the visible sign of God’s faithfulness over the past 60 years. The circle is closed for the first missionaries. Their job is done. We can follow in their footsteps. In short: it was one big celebration! And … we had a good internet connection for the entire meeting of more than 3 hours!
After the service, people lined up to buy a Bible. That also touched us deeply.
On Monday, a MAF plane landed with another shipment of Bibles. They were neatly stacked in the ‘bible room’. Young and old helped out. The rest of the week was mainly dominated by the clothing market. Many personal conversations took place during these days, usually at times when there were not many others in our house. It is also great for us to be able to strengthen and deepen relationships with the people.
Saturday June 12 was the first English lesson after last week’s scheduled lesson had literally fallen into the water. Because of the heavy rain, one couple did not come at all, another couple came 1 hour late and the third couple came even later. That doesn’t work if you’re working with a ZOOM meeting. On Friday it rained all day, but Saturday started very promising with some sunshine after the fog had lifted. Very special to be able to have long-distance education via ZOOM from Canada into the jungle with modern technology. We are very curious how quickly they will pick it up. ‘Good morning’ and ‘How are you’ they already know.