M & M in Suriname

Our life with the Wajana indians

29 maart 2019
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Time flies!

Three weeks have flown by since our last update.

The clothes sale was a great success. It is so rewarding to see the people enjoy their new clothes. The quality is so much better than what they can buy in the Chinese shops along the river. Unfortunately there are just a few items available for men and boys. Do the men in the Netherlands wear their clothes until they are ready to become rags?

After the first morning Marjolein spent a few hours to fold and organize the clothes again, because everything that was neatly folded became just a big pile in moments. It looks so much nicer for the new visitors the next morning when everything is sorted and stacked.

With the result of the sale we bought primer and paint for the sink roof of the church, some barrels of gasoline for the evangelization outreaches to the villages along the river and a new propeller for the outboard engine they use for the outreaches.

We’re busy with all the preparations for a mission trip to Canada in the beginning of May. We’ll be visiting some reserves of First Nation people to get to know them and their culture and share the gospel. To obtain the needed visa is a real challenge. We thought we had it all figured out since we applied for Ipomadi in 2017, but in the meantime the requested papers etc. changed. If you apply for a visa now, you need to give your biometrics in person within a month after sending in the application at a Canadian embassy. The nearest embassy is in Guyana.

In between all our activities we were able to renew the floor covering by putting a new layer above the existing one. We now have a fresh new floor which feels a lot better walking bare feet everyday. Marco also painted both doors we’re using to enter the house. Both had quite an old layer of paint. Before seeing them fall apart in this humid climate and making us need to buy new doors, he first gave them a good make-over. Paint and some flat metal did a great job.

When we were on furlough in the Netherlands someone gave us a nice new guitar to give away to anyone who would need it in Lawa. Setipan, one of the elders, is practicing quite some time now with a simple instrument he bought at the Chinese shop. He was exited to receive this new instrument when we asked him to make an exchange for his old one. The old guitar we will pass on to one of the teenagers who wants to learn to play the guitar also. He can start to practice and we will see what will come next.

In Apetina the building team has finished cutting all the beams and planks that are needed to build the visitors lodge. Through pictures they inform us about the progress of the project. Enjoy them with us.

We went up-river for a weekend again to Solonam pata. It always is special to visit this new congregation and see the progress during the last few years. On both Friday night and Saturday night we showed a movie, dubbed with Wayana language. Sunday morning, after the service the leaders of the church received a special blessing showing their dependence on the Lord in the future development of the church. We are blessed to be part of these events.

2 maart 2019
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House, garden and…..

Coming back to our house, after being away for several months, we search for unwanted guests. This time we saw a termites nest in our dry-room, just at eye level so beautiful in sight. We cleared out some shelves, sprayed with anti insecticide and had to wash some items, but that was it this time.

During our furlough last year we collected several strollers for Wayana babies at Lawa. They were able to choose them on internet, what a rapid change this is, working with the world wide web in the jungle of Suriname. Of course we had to pay with our credit card because we don’t see any Wayana’s using a card like that. We shipped the strollers from the Netherlands and had them flown in to Lawa. The day we arrived the women came inquiring when they could pick up their orders. That was a little too quick, we first needed to unpack and assemble them. We sent pictures of the Wayana women and their children to the Dutch families that sold us their strollers and back carriers. The back carriers are used when the women go to their garden.

Saturday March 2 the 9 bible school students returned from their second module in camp Weejo, upstream from Palemeu. They have been studying the introduction to the Old Testament. On Facebook we see Wayana’s and Trio’s listening very intently to what is taught. We love to hear their stories.

Last weekend we went with several canoes filled with people and their camping gear to Kayode, a village in French Guyana, to encourage the young church over there. While we were there a volleyball tournament was held by the young people of the village. Saturday night we were almost blown out of our hammocks by the loud music until two o’ clock in the morning. We never experienced something like this at Lawa. A lot of adult Wayana’s of our group were complaining about headache the next morning because of the lack of sleep. We really need a youth worker, not alone in Kayode but in all the villages along the Lawa river. So we’re really excited that a youth worker is coming from the Netherlands soon. She applied for her visa last week. Now she, and we, need to wait for another 3 months to hear if her request is approved.

Marjoleins days are also filled with unpacking and sorting boxes and more boxes filled with clothes, shoes and toys. Everybody wants to know when we have the sale, because they all want the first choice. March 8 and 9 are the set dates for this event, so there is enough time left for preparing this event.

11 februari 2019
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Patience is a virtue

After our return from Manaus we needed extra patience.

We hoped to fly to Lawa on February 7th, but because of a minor skin operation on Marjolein, we had to postpone until February 14th.

What do you do with an extra week in the city when you want to be with the Wajana’s at Lawa. It has been 5 months since we have been there and we long to see them.

We visit friends and of course our youngest daughter and her family. We Skype with family and friends in the Netherlands, but also with partners in missions. We’re working on a project proposal for Foundations for Farming with an Indigenous Surinamese counterpart. Then it is very convenient to have face to face meetings in the city.

Last Saturday we went with our daughter and our grandson to Wiren the movie. It is a Surinamese production about inclusion of children and people with a disability. Our grandson starred in the movie as the young Wiren who wants to go to school and have the right to study. It is not possible for a deaf person to go to university in Suriname. The producers hope to create more awareness in the Surinamese society about this topic with this movie.

We also now have the opportunity to visit In de Ruimte, a home for physically challenged people. We’re connected with this organization since 1989, when we first came to Suriname, serving with them. The founder of the work came over for a short visit and we haven’t seen her for years! So we’re happy with the opportunity to meet her.

Marco had a very good time in Florida last month. He enjoyed the annual World Team Americas conference, where this year leaders of three pioneer teams were attending. He also had time to spend with Roy and Margaret Lytle. He could visit a couple that is preparing to join the team in Manaus. It was good to meet them face to face and meet their families as well. He was also able to attend the memorial service of Don Richardson. It was a very full, blessed 10 days.

In Manaus we had a good time with the Brazilian team. Last year was our first visit and everything was new. This year we felt much more at ease although we still not speak Portuguese. We were welcomed very warmly and we enjoyed their annual conference and all the plans for 2019 presented by the different teams.

In Brazil December and January are holiday months. The new school year begins in February, so end of January all flights are full because people are coming back from holidays. This also counts for the various team members. They’re returning now to their places deep in the jungle. It was very encouraging to hear how God has blessed and helped them this past year. There are a lot of parallels with our mission.

About not speaking any Portuguese Marco experienced a special effect. He decided to visit a local hairdresser to give his beard a better look. He also needed a haircut, so he asked the person who took care of him to do his best. Inspite of his good intentions he ended up having no beard at all. Well after a week or two you won’t see the damage anymore…We hope to be in Lawa until the end of April. The prayer team is again praying daily with teenagers who struggle with evil spirits. We also heard that Wayana teens are being used as drug traffickers from Cayenne to Paris. At least two teens are in prison in France. The police warns for a new drug named Pokemon. Every time the Wayana leaders learn new things where they need to deal with. We’re so happy that we don’t go alone, but that we know that God comes with us.

13 januari 2019
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A Good Begin

The elders of Apetina decided  Thursday January 3, during their elders meeting, that they would like to start the new year with a three day conference, starting Friday January 4! We’re encouraged that after a period of drinking and dancing, the elders want to lead their people back to their life in Christ. All preaching elders shared from the book of Acts.Monday January 14 an elders couple will go upstream to Tepu and Palemeu for an evangelistic outreach of two or three months. The journey by canoe takes at least two days over 7 rapids where they have to drag their canoe.Every morning there were three sermons and every afternoon two. Marco was asked to preach one sermon every morning and afternoon.  The other elders preached the other times. Sunday morning he was invited to lead the Lords Supper.It was beautiful to be encouraged by Gods love and faithfulness from the book of Acts and to see how many people took part in the Lord’s supper. It was a great wrap-up of our time in Apetina.The next morning Monday January 7 we flew to Paramaribo. Marco traveled to Orlando Thursday January 10. He stays with the Lytle’s until the beginning of WT’s LEAD meeting, which will be held from January 15 – 20.Marjolein is staying with our youngest daughter and her family  in Paramaribo until she flies to Manaus, Brasil, January 15 to assist Janet Burchett while Kamron is at the LEAD meeting.

Marco will fly to Manaus on January 20. Together with the Burchett’s we’ll attend the annual WEC Amazon team conference January 22 – 26. Afterwards we’ll have a couple more days to share as World Teamers. We’ll be flying back to Paramaribo on January 31.

Please pray for good contacts with the Amazon missionaries, since most of them speak only Portugese and we do not. May Gods love conquer all barriers.

23 december 2018
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The past few weeks we’ve been busy with various preparations.

Preparations for Christmas in Apetina: The people have been saving money for a new keyboard for their church. We had the privilege to buy this ‘Christmas ‘ gift and bring it along in the beginning of December.The day after our arrival we had an elders meeting about the church Christmas dinner which is for the whole village. The grocery shopping needs to be done in Paramaribo and there was not enough money. We received some gifts in the Netherlands so we could help with purchasing the groceries and transport by plane. Today the men will go hunting to provide the fish and meat. Everywhere we come in the village we see pots on open fires to make their drink. The women are busy baking cassava bread. It is a joyful time of preparations without forgetting what this season is all about. King Jesus coming from heaven to earth as a babe in a manger.

Preparations for the building of a hydro turbine in the Tapanahony river: After research we found the best spot in the river to build the system. The people approved this to be a good place also. We measured the speed of the river and this is good, also in the dry season. We made drawings of the system and adjusted them time and again during various conversations. Now the designer and builder is back in Canada where he will start to work on the machine the next few months. The day before we left to fly to the city the village leaders signed a declaration in which they stated to support the idea and ask the government officials to cooperate and assist in getting things accomplished.

Preparations for reconstructing the electricity system and grid: All the time we stayed in Apetina we lacked village power since the generator had been broken again. This time the starter engine failed. The day before we left another starter engine arrived from the city so the generator was fixed and ready to run. While we were in the Tukusipan to sign the declaration our friend Evert, who works as electrician, had to run for the generator to shot it down, since in one of the house a fire got started caused by a melt down of the wires. It appeared the people had been putting wet clothes over the electrical wires that had been connected on the wrong side of the breaker. Before we can provide electricity 24/7 we need to educate and train the people about the safety issues concerning electricity in the home. This was a wake-up call and another element for our to do list.  In this we are depending on the cooperation of the government. In the 90 houses of Apetina we can install safe connections, but, without consent from the government officials we can not do anything concerning the grid in the village. The last few days of the visit of our guests from Canada and the Netherlands we spent time in the city investigating several suppliers on availability of tools and equipment for the new system in Apetina. We also met the sub director of the Directorate of Development for the People living in the interior. He promised to support our plans wherever possible because from his point of view this plan is essential for future development of the interior of Suriname. Really a climax for Bruce and Evert in their visit. We can only say ‘Thank You LORD! You opened this door for us. We are so grateful. This is a (Christmas) present for real!”

8 december 2018
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On the top of the world

We received a children’s bible in the Wayana language today in Apetina. While we were waiting at the airstrip it seemed that the MAF plane couldn’t land because of an overcast sky. We heard the plane coming and heard the sound going away again. We phoned with MAF in the city and heard that the plane would fly to Palemeu. We saw the sun shining through a hole in the clouds. Marco could reach the pilot by radio and Jafeth said he would try it one more time. Everybody at the airstrip started to pray that God would provide a hole in the clouds. While praying this we saw the plane coming through the clouds. We cheered of joy. We thanked God for His provision by making the impossible possible.

In church we thanked God for the love of the body of Christ in the Netherlands who made the printing and transportation of these children’s bibles possible and affordable for the Wayana’s and Trio’s. Our hearts are overflowing with joy and gratitude.

Kinderbijbels in PT – SD 480p

Our MAF pilot was in Apetina for the last time because he’s going to fly for MAF in an other country. The elders wanted to thank him for his service to the community these past years and asked a blessing from God for him, his wife and their children. It touched our hearts.

November 27th we arrived safely back in Suriname after our 7 weeks furlough in the Netherlands. The next day we picked up our city routine: shopping for our stay in the interior.

Next to this Marco had to prepare a workshop about project management and a sermon for the C&MA Suriname mission weekend. It was a privilege to serve them in Paramaribo. We also had to pick up Bruce, a Canadian friend, and Evert, a Dutch friend of ours, from the airport to fly with us into the interior December 4th.

Together we prepared the festivities for receiving the children’s bible in the village and preparing a new project to produce electrical power out of the velocity of the river water. Every day we discuss a number of technical details that need to be taken into account.

Yesterday we had a meeting with the village leaders in which they proclaimed their consent in this project plan. The coming days we work on a letter of intent we can also present to the government in the city. After we return to Paramaribo we hope to have a meeting with the minister in order to get his approval. Marjolein listens to all the technical stories and in the mean time takes care of our physical needs. It is fun to see how our guests do the dishes after every meal they enjoy.

4 oktober 2018
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Almost there!

This past week we have been busy in Paramaribo to get ready for our time in the Netherlands. Thursday October 4th we’ll be on our way!

The first weekend of September two Dutch families, living in Paramaribo, visited us, together with their lovely children. We had a great time together. Visiting to Maripasoula by canoe, a barbequeparty, walking through the jungle to visit a waterfall and bathing in the river. The MAF plane stayed the whole time next to our house, since one of the guys is a MAF pilot.

Almost two weeks later Gilbert Plante from Canada came over to visit us. Last year Ipomadi and Marco stayed with him, while visiting Winnipeg (Canada). Now he returned the visit. Together with Ipomadi and his family we showed him around along the Lawa river. He tasted a real Wajana meal: anjoemara with pepper gravy. They even served him yellow peas! Together we flew to the Bibleconference in Tepu. What a joy to praise the Lord for four days together with brothers and sisters of all the different villages in Southern Suriname.

A delegation of the Suriname Bible Society was also visiting the Bibleconference. They were deeply impressed that this kind of conferences are organized since 1972. They were also astonished to see that we were ‘normal’ participants and didn’t organize a thing! Indeed beautiful to see how well they organize children-, teens- and adult services.

After the Bibleconference we had one more week in Paramaribo to finish our business (doctors- and dentist visit), sorting out our stuff in our container, enjoying time with dear friends and with our daughter and her family. We also planned ahead and booked our tickets to Orlando and Manaus in January 2019.

Coming December Bruce Rempel from Canada will pay us a visit. He visited us before ande he wants to help the people of Apetina with 24/7 electricity. He needs to measure the velocity of the water when the river is at its lowest.

At this moment a group of 20 (young) men is working hard to make beams and planks with the Lucas saw mill in the neighborhood of Apetina. They don’t only work in order to build the visitorslodge but they also cut wood enabeling them to build their own houses. The first beams and planks are already nicely stored to be used in a couple of months.

6 augustus 2018
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It is Summertime for most of you. We hope you have the opportunity to relax and enjoy Gods’ creation.

The last weekend of July we had our summer Bible campaign at Lawa. It was very special to sing, study and listen to sermons about the Holy Spirit. A few years ago Roy Lytle taught a Bible school course about the person and the work of the Holy Spirit. The elders used this material to teach the whole congregation. It was a blessed time with approximately 500 guests in the village of Lawa, coming from villages up stream and down stream. Every night we would come together to sing praises to our Lord. 

The contractor of Builders Connect has completed the construction work. Since last Tuesday we were able to have the mechanic training in the new building. It’s nice to see how everyone enjoys the workspace and how people appreciate the project as an asset in the village. We see the motivation among the team grow. They are so proud of what they have learned and can apply in practice.

The first customers already arrived and with the engines that were brought in, we were able to add an new dimension to the training. Now everything gets ‘real’. Pay attention, do not make mistakes, the customer expects good service and expertise. The trainers look for leadership qualities in some of their trainees, who will be a ‘first mechanic’, ‘assistant mechanic’ and apprentice. We enjoy to see how our trainers are very experienced in taking care of these trainings.

People who had no idea about three decimals measurements 5 weeks ago now work confidently, with a correct workshop manual in hand, and complicated repairs. Marco remembers the time in the Netherlands when he has repaired an old landrover as a hobby project. That was also something he had to do by the ‘book’. Then you get a good result. Here it is the same with the outboard motors. The guidance by Yamaha experts makes it even better. We are proud of our team.

Next week the board of the local foundation Mulokot becomes involved. We will hand over the entire project to them. Then the training is over and the real work begins. This week a specialist on Quick Books will visit Lawa in order to teach the administration team to use the computer program for all the financial issues.

The system will be connected to a central computer in the city and an accountant will keep an eye on how things are going. This high-tech contribution gives an extra impulse to work well. A number of people on the team are not yet living in the village. They’re making plans to move over to Lawa. This gives the workshop an important place in the village. We are happy and grateful when we see how everything develops. The official opening is planned for Saturday September 8th.

The whole process requires a lot of reflection time and consulting together, but also with the trainers. The past week we have constructed the water system together. This coming week we will work on the electricity via the solar panels. After another full day of work we’re tired in the evening, but we are very grateful that we’re able to do this and can participate!

13 juli 2018
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Holiday season

It is holiday time in Lawa. Many teenagers returned from Maripasoula and Cayenne in French Guiana. Since the soccer field is in front of our house, we see them play every day. They don’t care when it rains or when the sun is hot, they play. Only when the World Cup matches are on TV you don’t see anyone, you only hear the cheering. With Brazil out of the games, they all cheer for French Guiana. Some of the teenagers have a French ID, since French Guiana is still part of France.

For the parents this isn’t holiday time at all. They need to travel extra in order to obtain the needed documents for the coming school year. They travel by canoe or by plane to Maripasoula, Saint Laurent, Cayenne or sometimes even to Paramaribo. It is expensive to let your children attend school. In the rest of Suriname school ends half of August. They’re still working hard to prepare for tests and exams.

Our grandchildren in the Netherlands enjoy their vacation time after graduating to the next class. We wish al of you a great holiday season. We hope you’re able to find rest and new inspiration for body and soul.

At Lawa we see daily progress in building the repair shop for outboard engines. We see some of the Wayana men come over to see how the building crew from the city works, hoping to learn some new tricks they can use when building their own houses. This is one of traits we love of the Wayana: they’re always open to learn new things. We experience the same thing at the training for outboard engines. They take in all the new information, but it is really difficult for them. They are taught in either Dutch or Sranan Tongo, which is not their mother tongue. They learn to measure in micrometers, which is totally new for most of the trainees. While working on an outboard engine, they soon discover why all those tiny measurements are important. This gives new motivation to keep trying.

A number of documents have been produced for the financial administration. We teach the people to work with the computer and printer, how to make a budget and a price quote for the customers. They also have to learn how to deal with the money in the shop since there is no bank around.At the end of the second trainingweek the participants had a test. Everyone was anxious to see if they would pass the test and were able to do the exercise. We are happy to see that everyone passed and the trainers are confident they will be able to complete the training with all on board.

Next week Monday and Tuesday MAF will fly four times from Lawa to Sipaliwini to bring a group of some twenty people over. They walk from there across the mountains in two days to the nearest airstrip in Brazil, in order to fly to the city in Northern Brazil for a big Bible conference. It is the first time they take this route. Please pray for safe travels and a blessed time in Brazil.

Here we’re preparing for the annual July conference. This time it will be at Lawa. We’ll be meeting from July 26th-29th. The theme will be: the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the believers. Every evening the choir is rehearsing in church. So by the time the conference starts, we already know the new songs by heart since we live opposite of the church.

26 juni 2018
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On the job training

The last week of May we had two funerals in two days. One was an expected one because the doctors told the man he had stomach cancer. He didn’t want to be treated in the hospital so he returned to Apetina to die. The second one was an unexpected one, an older lady was bitten by a snake in her hand while working in her garden a few miles from the village. On the third morning we prayed again with her and she was in a lot of pain. A few hours later we were informed that she passed away. A great shock for everyone.

Last Sunday two babies were born a boy and a girl. The cycle of life goes on.

In the meantime we moved again to Lawa.

Heather and Sean Christensen, our World Team colleagues from Haiti, came to visit us from June 4-11th. Together we flew from Apetina to Lawa. We had several conversations both in Lawa and Maripasoula, to see if there is a need for a graduated, French speaking bibleschool student from Haiti, to support the various churches on the Lawa side. We talked about this a few years ago with Sean and it was so good for him to get the picture while being here. We had time to be ‘real tourists’ and visit a waterfall in French Guyana. We really enjoyed our time together.

Heather and Sean and Marco flew to Paramaribo Monday June 11th. Heather and Sean flew back to Miami the next morning. Marco stayed in town to prepare for the outboard engine training. He drove all over town to get everything ready in time. He even had time to celebrate Fathersday with our youngest daughter and her family. Very special for both of them.

Monday June 18 the trainers and Marco arrived safely at Lawa and Tuesday the training started with twenty attendees. We changed our downstairs into a classroom with some benches of the church. Our beamer, whiteboard and other equipment turns out very handy. It is very encouraging to see the enthusiasm of the young men and women. The women will eventually take care of the administrative unit, but they need to know all the parts of the outboard engines. During the training so far they turn out to be first in line to understand the technical issues and quick to understand the use of various special tools.

We are pleased to have attendees of different villages: Lawa, Apetina, Awarahpan, Solonam, Tutukampu and Palumeu. If they all receive their certificate in August, the villages and the outboard engines will benefit their skills and knowledge.