M & M in Suriname

Our life with the Wajana indians

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.

4 juli 2019
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Vanessa’s shop in Apetina

When we fly to Apetina we often have extra capacity in the MAF plane. We use to fill this with cargo containing soap, toothpaste, fish hooks and other things the people of Apetina need and which is not available in the village. This way we assisted the people with the things they needed and they helped us by paying a small amount for each item we could sell.

The children are happy the river is declining

E.g. when someone buys a tube of toothpaste, they pay the price of the city plus 145 gr. of the price per kilo airfare. This makes us competitive with the chinese shops downstream where people would go to do their shopping. This means two days in the canoe, gasoline for their outboard motor and much higher prices than in the city. This all made that the goods we brought in, were sold in no time and we had to disappoint many who showed up too late.

Volleyball tournament in front of our house on July 1

We have been talking about the possibility to help the Wayana to start a shop in the village for several years now. This has been tried before several times and failed time and again. You need logistics in town, an amount of money to buy enough for a whole village, a place in the village where the goods can be stored and a shop. So it took quite a while to get all things and the players in place.

Marco explaines

Now everything and every one is in place.

We provided a ‘micro credit’ to start a grocery shop. In a few years the parties involved have to pay back their loan. The workers in the shop can earn a small salary. Monday July first the shop opened its doors. People were waiting long before opening hours already in line to see what they could buy in ‘their’ new local shop.

Situnka thanks the Lord for His provision

These days we are finalizing the administrative things that are needed for the shop. How does each player report to each other so all lines are clear and workable. In the mean time we heard that another village upstream would like to get involved as well bringing groceries from the Apetina store house to their village and sell things locally also. We’ll see if this will work out.

Vanesa learned how to run the shop

Baby Buddy Project

A few months ago we heard from the MZ doctor that there was one baby in Apetina malnourished because of insufficient nutrition by its mothers breastfeeding. He needed cans with powder milk.

We provided the first box with twelve cans while we were still in Lawa supported by MAF. Last month the nurses in the village told us there was another baby not growing very well, so we decided to help this mother also with cans with powder milk. You can’t help one baby and say no to another, can you? Now it seems to get above our financial capacity so we hereby ask if there are people who want to support us in this endeavor we call the ‘Baby Buddy Project’. Until now we received 400 US$, which is enough to cover the first three months. In September we’ll give a next update. If you can help please let us know by e-mail mjschuurmans@me.com


16 juni 2019
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Pentecost is more

The week before Pentecost we had 3 days of training for the elders who bring Gods word in church. Together we studied the Bible about the coming of the Comforter. For the students of the Bible school it was a review of their first topic: how to read and understand your Bible using the different lenses. The older elders really had a hard time when we tried to explain some grammar stuff. Another study object was using the concordance. Again for the older generation that never went to school, the alphabet and its order is like a jig saw puzzle. They have no idea where the pieces fit. It was pure joy for us to see them work and study together in small groups. The elders had decided to plan a three day campaign to celebrate Pentecost together. Every evening (3 in a row) we showed a new movie which had been dubbed in the Wayana language.Last year friends of ours brought a suitcase filled with Duplo cubes from Lego to Apetina. We thought the kids would love to build with these colorful blocks. And indeed they do! Some are standing in our doorway at 10 am, while our house is open for children to come and play between 3 and 6 p.m.

Just recently we experienced that things we don’t even think about, are just working every time. Until they don’t. We were going to wash the laundry one morning: so we put our washing machine in place, filled it with water, put the first batch of laundry in and Marjolein waited for the sound of out small generator… Marco was jacking it, but it didn’t come alive. Marco tried everything, and he knows quit some tricks, but to no avail. So that was the end of our laundry plan for the morning. We were very grateful for the village generator that evening to finish our laundry duty that evening.Last week on Monday morning Marjolein made a wrong move which resulted in a very painful back, also something you don’t think about, because you normally just move around, bending, streching, whatever you like. Until you can’t. We thank God for His healing so Marjolein was able to teach the women in church last Thursday. Marco watched our clock and thought that it should be later in the morning. He was correct, the clock didn’t work properly. He changed the battery but this hadn’t the expected result. The clock still wasn’t ticking.During those experiences you need to choose: are your natural emotions taking the lead in your reactions and you’re angry, frustrated and discouraged? Or do you choose to look up to the sky and expect God in your circumstances and experience peace of heart, joy and creativity?

Here you may watch a small video about the progress of our building team in the past four weeks. Building visitors lodge PT 2

The Sunday after Pentecost we dedicated our neighbor Pasikili (64) and his family to the Lord since they plan to leave Apetina Monday June 17, for a mission trip to 3 Trio villages. They know the Lord is sending them out to teach and preach in Kwamalasamutu, Sipalawini and Alalapalu, one month in each of these villages. They know the Lord wants them to encourage the churches in these villages. They hope to be back after the Bible conference in Palumeu in September. We are blessed to see the Apetina elders send out their workers into the harvest field.

1 juni 2019
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Projects, projects and a project

In Apetina the building of the visitors lodge, paid for by the TV fundraising project from the Dutch Christian Television Broadcasting Company EO (Evangelical Broadcasters) is full speed in progress. The last few months people have been cutting planks. These were stored in order to dry before being used in building the house. Now it is the time to build.

The first beams were put in place the last few weeks. Last week the building crew worked very hard to build the first floor with all the supporting materials.

Here you can watch a short video impression of the first week.

We were able to talk to several people in Apetina who want to be involved in starting a store in the village. Every time we visit the village we bring a number of goods to sell to the people. For a number of years we have been sharing our thoughts about having a Wayana shop under their own supervision. The right time seems to be now.

The local foundation Kuluwayak will take responsibility to purchase the goods in the city and store them in Apetina in a special warehouse. Out of this several shop owners can get supplies for their shop. We also will provide a special training in how to run a shop with administration skills etc. We have found a sponsor to provide the financial means needed to buy the goods. Both Kuluwayak and the shop keepers will pay back their loan in order to build the system of having some Wayana shops in Apetina. In the next few weeks we have several guests who will visit us. This means we have extra room for cargo in the planes so supplies will come to Apetina at low costs.

In December we mentioned a new project to provide 24/7 electrical power in Apetina in the near future. In a few weeks our Canadian friend Bruce will visit us again. Now he will check the soil used for agriculture and he brings a special device to investigate the bottom of the river at the location of the future power plant.

We ask your attention for this project since we would need to renew the power installation of all the houses in order to make the connections safe and ready to have 24/7 power in the village. Now the power is provided from 7 pm – 10 pm. During the day there is no power in the village which prevent problems with small children etc. who would touch things in the house even when they are not safely connected.

We are looking for sponsors who help us finance these house installations for both Apetina and Lawa. For US $ 250 per house we can build a safe power system in all the houses (fuses, switches, connectors, power cables etc.). Perhaps you’re willing to seek supporters who want to contribute to this project. Please let us know and we will seek a way to get your contribution to Suriname. (Marco.Schuurmans@WorldTeam.org)

21 mei 2019
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The visa are approved!

We’re so happy that after waiting for more than two months the visa of Melisa and Janak for our travel to Canada were approved. Now they need to be stamped into their passports. This needs to be done in Port of Spain. We’re glad they don’t need to be there in person but a representative can pick up their passports, so we’ll make use of a courier.

We booked our flights right away. Tuesday August 27 we will fly to Winnipeg, which will take more than 32 hours, due to a long layover in Trinidad. Sunday afternoon September 22 we hope to fly back to Suriname where we will arrive Tuesday morning very early. It is special we’re able to do all these things through internet while being far away in the jungle.

We still have three months to plan the details for this trip.

Meanwhile our house in Apetina is more or less as it should be. While we were away the bats and woodlice took over. So we thoroughly cleaned and Marco had to take out one of the kitchen cabinets to take care of the woodlice. He burned the wood in our drum designated for all litter to be burned there. Next he sprayed around and under the house to prevent more woodlice to come and eat away our house. The bats are not happy with us opening up the house since they’re so accustomed to their dry and mostly dark places. They’re not easily convinced to move to another place.

It is the rain season which means that it rains (a lot) every day and the river is very high. With the rapid current it’s no fun to bathe in the river, so we’re very thankful for a good working shower in our house.

Next Sunday we’ll hope to visit Tutukampu by canoe with some elders to see how the small church is doing.

We hope to give two trainings in June: one for the elders about the task of an elder, we’ll do this together with the elders, looking for answers in Gods word. The second one for the Bible school students in preparation of the three day campaign with Pentecost. Next to this Marjolein is asked to prepare some Bible studies for the women. So, we still have no time to start writing our memoirs…

7 mei 2019
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Be Flexible

For months we have been planning to visit Canada with two Wayana couples. The two visa we need to enter the country haven’t been approved yet, so last Friday we all decided to cancel the trip. We hope the visa will be approved so we can visit Canada later this year. We trust God has a better plan.

We see how our time in Paramaribo is profitable for our ministry. Last week we could assist with the recording of an audiobook in the Surinamese Dutch language. We could record it in two days, which is really a blessing from God.

This week we have time to give some movies a Wayana voice over. We’re so glad that Michel has time to translate and record it.
Next to this we can invest time in a project proposal for Twinning. This is a Dutch program which brings Surinamese and Dutch organizations together to exchange knowledge and expertise. We work together with Foundation for Farming. We would like to teach the Wayana their way of farming and protecting the soil. The Twinning program helps us to finance this project.

We hope to fly to Apetina next week Wednesday, May 15th.

20 april 2019
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The Lord is risen from the dead!

We wish you all a beautiful Eastern Weekend.Wajana’s celebrate this with an Easter Conference of four days. One in Apetina , where Trio and Wayana from Tepu and Palumeu en various other villages along the Lawa river flew into or came over by canoe. And one in Lawa, where the people from the villages along the river come together. We feel very privileged to be part of this.The flights to Apetina took quite some effort to organize. MAF made six flights over two days to bring the people from Lawa to Apetina. We needed a list with the names of the passengers and to decide who would be on what flight according to the weight of the people and their luggage. Then we made nice lists for the pilot to know who would be on which flight.The days of the flight we helped to weigh both the passengers and their luggage. After each flight the plane needed a refill of AFGas. This works by filling a number of cans and lift them up to fill on top of the wings. We had fun helping out with a number of activities to make things work smooth.

Next week we have the same operation but now the other way around when people have to be brought back to Lawa again. Perhaps the pilot will stay over one night, so we have a guest to take care of, extra fun in the process.Last week we were busy having an in-house Bible school preparing the Bible school students for preaching during the conference here at Lawa. We repeated some of the lessons they had before in the Bible school and helped them to focus on the chapters 22, 23 and 24 of Luke. Some of them came over to get assistance in their preparations to see if the explained the passage they would preach from well. We now are listening to their messages and enjoy to hear the things we tought them in the week. What a precious investment in these future leaders in the churches.For the coming weeks we focus on our travels to Canada that are due from May 7. For this we had to fly to the city on April 1 with two Wayana to visit Georgetown in Guyana in order to have their biometrics registered at the Canadian office there.First we drove over to Nickerie for a one night stay. The next morning we had an early rise to catch the ferry to Guyana after which we drove to Georgetown to be in time for our appointment in the office there in the afternoon. After we arrived we learned that the power was off, so we had to wait extra time I order to get things fixed. So we were only able to drive back to the ferry later in the afternoon. Now we had to look for our place to sleep in the dark, which was quite a hassle.

At this moment we still are waiting for the approval of two visa applications from the Canadian office. Quite a thing since we are due to fly to Canada in only two weeks…

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.