M & M in Suriname

Our life with the Wajana indians

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.

24 mei 2018
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Be flixible – happy birthday

After a very successful World Team LEAD conference we returned to Suriname on April 29th. We thought we had Monday for shopping, Tuesday a national holiday and Wednesday, May second would fly back to Apetina. That was our plan, but our MAF pilot got ill, so our flight was delayed until Friday, May 11th.
We could stay in our World Team colleague’s apartment, which was a huge blessing. We could use our extra time in the city to prepare for the projects funded by a Dutch broadcasting company, that is funded by Dutch donations. We don’t know the exact amount yet, but it will be around US$ 115.000,– ! We’re so thankful for this outcome. With this money we’re able to realize three projects:
1. A training for young boys and girls to learn how to repair an outboard engine at Lawa in cooperation with trainers from Yamaha from Paramaribo. Three trainee’s will be coming from Apetina and nine from Lawa and surrounding villages. 2. The printing of a Childrens Bible in the Wayana and Trio language. 3. A dormitory in Apetina for the Education Centre.

Happy birthday!
We thought we would have a quiet birthday May 24’, but around 10 o’ clock the schoolchildren and their teachers came over to sing for Marco before the kids went home for their breakfast during the morning break. We invited the teachers over for lemonade and ‘boterkoek’ (a dutch treat). Marjolein was very glad she baked a big batch! It was a very pleasant surprise.
Once in a while our house needs maintenance. During our stay in Paramaribo woodlice found their way into our cupboards. So we needed to thoroughly clean our house. One of the cupboards was so infested that we threw it out to be burned. Before we had a chance to do so, one of our neighbors asked if they could take the cupboard home. We warned them about the woodlice, but they thought it was no problem. There went the cupboard, on it’s way to a new home.

For quite some time Marco wanted to renovate our watersystem. He planned and calculated and planned some more. During our long stay in the city he bought all the materials. If he would miscalculate, the whole project had to wait for a next time because there is no store around. Luckily he calculated well and now we have a smooth working watercloset again. Time and again we thank the Lord for the gifts he has given Marco also in the practical realm.
Our waterbarrels need a more sturdy foundation. In the beginning of next month we want to do this. On the flight of Sean and Heather Christensen, our World Team colleagues who come to visit us, 3 more bags of cement (21 kg) will fly in. It will be a hot and sweaty job because everything will be done by hand.
Last Wednesday we could officially hand two hand sewing machines and a spinning wheel over to the women of Apetina in their women’s centre. We’re looking forward to see what they’ll make with these and other machines. They also received two electrical cassava grate machines that day.

15 april 2018
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Bible school and Bible translation

Last week Thursday, the Granman of the Wajana’s, Nuwahe Aptuk, his wife and an elder from the church of Apetina flew to Paramaribo. On the same day, Ivan and Doris Schoen arrived from the USA. Ivan and Doris are the first missionaries among the Wajanas. They put the grammar and language of the Wajanas in writing in the sixties. In addition, Ivan translated almost all the books of the Bible into the Wajana language. He is now eighty-six. He and his wife have now returned to Paramaribo to correct the four last books recently translated by him from the Old Testament together with three Wajana language helpers. Nuwahe was also Ivan’s language helper in the sixties. Now they can work together again on the completion of the remaining books. How faithful God has been that these men still can work to complete God’s word in the Wajana language. We are deeply impressed.
The Easter conference has been one big celebration! Six canoes with about 80 people came over from Tepu and Palumeu. A lot of young families. In addition, two canoes and three MAF planes with people from the villages around Lawa came over. Many young people came along with them too. This time the elders decided to ask all speakers to present a portion of Pauls letter to the Ephesians. This turned out as a beautiful palette of various messages by the Trio- and Wajana leaders. The atmosphere in the village was great. Eating together, in the evening a movie and of course there was a lot of singing. New songs were presented from all villages. These were all recorded by the audience on their mobile phones.
A special feature was the screening of a video produced by the mission group from Lawa in 2016 of their trip to Brazil. For the first time a video report in which everyone got a wonderful picture of this trip. You bet that this motivated many to take part next time.
Last week Tuesday the Bible school for the Indigenous started. It was quite challenging in terms of logistics because of the rainy season in Suriname. Could the MAF land her aircrafts on all airstrips to pick up the students? It all succeeded and the elders are now studying in How to Study the Bible. Lessons are given in the Surinamese language, followed by translation in Trio and Wajana. We are curious to learn how the leaders experienced this training. We have to be patient, because when they come back, we are in Paramaribo to fly to Trinidad and Tobago for a conference of World Team. There we hope to meet our colleagues who also work in the Americas. Together we hope to learn more about handling conficts in different cultures.

16 maart 2018
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Visitor, visitors and more visitors


In February Hanneke Kottier came for a period of 2 ½ months to live with us and the Wayana tribe. She is the youngest daughter of a longtime friend of Marjolein. We enjoy her kind spirit, her love for children, her laughter and her love for our Lord Jesus very much. She assists the headmaster of the local school with teaching some of his topics so he has time for administration etc.

Shortly after we arrived in Apetina John and Kathryn Baak, friends from the Netherlands, came for a three day visit. We immensely enjoyed our talks, canoe trip and prayer time with the sick and a lot more.

Before they were able to get into the MAF plane to fly back to Paramaribo, Bruce and Julie, two Canadians, got of the plane. Julie, the daughter of Bruce stayed only one week, her father returned to Canada just last Saturday. Bruce came to visit the Wayana tribe because God told him to do so. He had no idea why he should come and meet life in the jungle.

The end of February Jetteke came to visit for a week, after teaching at a bible school in Paramaribo. After Jetteke got of the plane, Marco and Bruce got in to fly over to Lawa and visit the people and see what God is doing there. So in Apetina we had a women’s week, while Marco and Bruce had a men’s week at Lawa. It was a very blessed week, really a gift from God we really treasure. In the middle of the week we had an outing to the Tebutop. We never climbed such a steep and naked rock, but our great guides pulled us up with their ropes. A swim in one of the rapids was a great cool down moment. An unforgettable day it was indeed.

Marco and Bruce had a special week at Lawa followed by a couple of days in Paramaribo. Bruce left for Canada with a head full of possibilities how he could be of use for the Wayana tribe. Just in the days they were in the city, our youngest grandson Quinn turned two. Very special that grandpa could be at his birthday party and… his new sandbox really needed a bulldozer. Last Monday Marco flew back home to Apetina. With Bruce we look out to our Lord and expect His guidance for the follow up of this visit.

Every time Marco leaves the interior and Marjolein stays behind, one of our ‘tech’ stuff breaks down. This time it was a little before he left, so Marco could fix our washing machine and a couple of hours later our laundry was hanging on the lines. Sunday night I was charging my telephone and all of a sudden the phone broke down. Marco came late in his hammock that night after he tried several things to make the phone work again. Later in town it appeared a software problem that was easy fixed in the shop. On such moments we have to choose not to let our peace be robbed.

Next to the school the men are working hard to build a building for the women. In our luggage we brought two sowing machines and a spinning wheel we had send from the Netherlands. Now we could show it to the women. We plan to train the women to work the spinning wheel in order to improve their processing of the cotton. After more cotton has been planted they will be able to produce hammocks to be sold to the tourists. In the women center a number of cassava mills will be placed in order to help the women process their cassava more easily. They will also build a number of ovens to improve the backing facilities of cassava bread. The smoke will be led through a smokehouse in order to smoke fish and meat. An ingenuous system as far as we can see, build by a number of 15 men working daily in order to finish the project.

The village is working hard in order to be prepared for the coming Easter Conference. Roofs are constructed under which the guests can put their hammocks. The women are busy backing cassava bread. Next to this we brought 100 kg rice, 50 kg sugar, coffee, thee, onions, garlic etc. in order to feed the people. We expect this again to be a great celebration in which we remember the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.



2 februari 2018
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Just before we left Lawa people came by for last minute shopping. This happens every time. A last time to buy beads for the coming months, or a last due payment of the clothes sale. Mothers come with their children. While mother is talking with Marjolein the little kids wander off to see what there is to play with. A few photos to show how a little boy entertained himself.


As usual we want to fit as much activities in our Paramaribo days as possible. We already bought some of our supplies for Apetina. Some boxes had arrived from the Netherlands containing 4 hand sewing machines. These needed service but a friend gave Marco a quick lesson how to do it himself. One machine needed more attention so we took it to the repair shop. It hopefully will be ready next week. We learned some new addresses in the city to fix the sewing machine.

On our flight to Manaus we celebrated Marjoleins birthday. After arriving we first attended the four day conference of our partner organization. It was our first time and a very good experience. So good to get to know the local leaders and the coworkers. Marco gave one of the devotionals. Earlier made agreements were affirmed in a face to face meeting. Building trust is key when partnering cross culturally. Portugese is not a language we master, so sometimes we felt frustrated not being able to communicate well. This week we have been planning and working with our World Team workers here. We wanted to encourage them in building their ministry. We also have been working on a recruiting video. Tonight we fly back to Suriname. Our time here flew by realy.



31 december 2017
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Happy New Year 2018

The time with our son André and his family flew by. Was it really ten days? It means we had a great time together. They all slept in a hammock, which surprised us from the children. We went fishing and hunting for a day by canoe with Vankeina and his son in law. A real jungle experience next to bathing in the river and celebrating Christmas with the Wajana’s. A very special time to create memories with our grandchildren.

We look back on a busy year with a lot of traveling to different countries, having a television crew over to make videos of the Wajana’s and of us for four programs by the Dutch Christian Broadcasting Company, teaching and praying with and for Wajana leaders, a furlough period in which we could meet a lot of family, friends, supporters and churches. We surely are blessed people. We look forward to the new year in which we may visit missionaries of World Team in Manaus, Brazil, we expect visitors from Canada and Holland, hope to see the launching of the Bible College for indigenous church leadership and much more.

We’re sure it will be a special year because we serve an awesome God. We celebrated New Years Eve with the Wajana in Lawa. We enjoyed a meal together which was a gift from the government. This is also Suriname. We wish you all a happy, healthy and blessed new year with new adventures.