M & M in Suriname

Our life with the Wajana indians

28 november 2021
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Back on track

At the end of August, we left Suriname to support Marjolein’s parents after her father’s heart attack. Fortunately, they are doing well, but as the saying goes: ‘old age comes with flaws’ and that requires a lot of energy. It was really good to visit and spend more time with them. In addition, we were able to meet a lot of people and we enjoyed that too. We were present celebrating the 40th anniversary of our sending church in Veenendaal. At such a moment you have extra time to reflect on God’s faithfulness through all these years.

November 9th we boarded a plane back to Suriname. The intention was to fly on to Apetina after about ten days, but a loose crown changed our plans. We have now made reservations with MAF for Monday 6 and Monday 13 December. We depend on the speed of ‘aunty mail’ from China for Marco’s crown. We experienced a number of times how convenient it is that we have extra time in the city. We are networking again. We also found a number of contacts near Paramaribo that are valuable in relation to future events for Foundations for Farming.

We already called a number of times with people in Apetina. We would like to organize a training session for the whole village before Christmas. We are curious if that will work, especially if we don’t arrive in Apetina until 13/12. During our leave in the Netherlands, Marco was asked by the Dutch board of Foundations for Farming to become their coordinator for future projects in South America. We see this as a great opportunity to train with the Wayana trainers in other countries of South America and to share God’s love for His people.


28 augustus 2021
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Wayana Training Foundations for Farming

From August 10 – 25 we had a group of 9 people from Apetina visiting Lawa. They came to participate in the Foundations for Farming training. In the weeks before we had been busy with Asiloikë and Temikailoe preparing for this training. They would be the trainers for both theory and practice. Together we translated the PowerPoint presentation in Wayana, after which laminated sheets were produced in the city on A3, so that they can also be used while visiting the villages in the coming months.

The beginning of a proving ground in the middle of the village had been built and now the students could come. We enjoyed the enthusiasm of this group and the trainers. The discovery that a number of Bible stories contain principles that can be applied in their lives today made them extra motivated to work in everyday practice. It was hard work, but many hands made light work. Working together, eating together and enjoying each other’s company, we enjoyed it as much as they did. We set up the first proving ground together, where we regularly gave instructions. This also applied to making the compost heap. A totally new way of dealing with garden waste and grass clippings! The surprise on their faces when we took the iron bar out of the compost heap to check if the temperature was already rising and they could feel that the bar felt quite hot. The time to turn hope. Two days later they were able to redo the whole process. After a week you already see how hope is dwindling. The second proving ground was set up in Babun Olo by the students and the trainers. Now we were not allowed to help except mowing the grass and carrying wheelbarrows with grass. The Wayanas started to build the garden independently so that they could get the picture and would be able to do it later in Apetina by themselves. Great to see that they claimed ownership for their own learning. Nice detail was that they decorated their faces with red stripes as they do during parties. One of the people from Apetina is a Tareno. During the training weeks he was able to translate the PowerPoint presentation into the Tareno language. We now plan to train Wayanas and Tarenos along the Tapanahony River at the end of this year and early next year.

25 augustus 2021
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Flight rescheduled

Saturday morning Marjolein looked in her WhatsApp and read that her father (87) had been 
hospitalized with heart problems. That is scary news. All the more so because, together 
with a number of signals we received earlier, an acute demand for care has arisen. The messages 
from Marjoleins siblings confirmed this. They have done lots of work and care in recent days. 
At such moments you feel the distance.
Sunday morning we decided to change our KLM tickets from September 23 to August 30. 
We can stay in the apartment of dear friends in Veenendaal for the first few weeks. 
We can rent a car from day 1 through 'Cars' (especially for missionaries on home assignment). 
We are so grateful for this help!

We will find out in what way we can be of assistance. 

It appears that Marjoleins father had a heart attack. He made it through very well and has since 
been released from the hospital. How thankful we are to have him home!

An update of what we have experienced in recent weeks will follow shortly.



31 juli 2021
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New Church

Thursday July 29 we visited Solonam Pata. There the newly built church hall was officially inaugurated. In recent years, efforts have been made to send the believers in Lawa to the various villages along the river so that new communities of believers would start in the small villages where the people live. This is now the fifth new church that has been started from this method.

prayer in front of the church building

the interior of the new church

Message from the new pulpit

You show your joy by wearing bright colors on your head. The brother on the left has used some alternative material…

cooking for a crowd

meals ready to be served

tomorrow more meat needs to be provided

This weekend a Bible conference takes place in Solonam. Due to the Covid situation we decided, together with a number of people, not to stay there all weekend. At the beginning of the service last Thursday Marco was asked to share a message from the Bible. That reminded us of Roy Lytle’s advice, ‘always be prepared, because these kinds of questions often come in the last minute’. On Sunday we will visit Solonam Pata again to take part in the final day of the conference.



17 juli 2021
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Holiday season

Looks like we’ve been quite busy the past few weeks. Another month has flown by. Today our grandchildren are having their summer holidays in the Netherlands. In Suriname, after months of school lockdown (many have not had any online lessons), the children are finally allowed to go to school for another month. In Suriname holidays start mid-August. In Lawa the children have their holidays now since they visit the school on the French side of the river.

Games on the airstrip

jumping in a ricebag

With the proceeds from the clothing sale, we were able to provide the church’s sound system with new tweeters and a bass speaker. One morning of tinkering yielded a number of well-functioning speakers.

Our neighbors have a rabbit as a pet for one of the kids. As we see, it is still growing rapidly. The grass around our house is a favorite. Every morning the tame animal skips around our house.

In the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany they suffer some severe flooding, but also here. It continues to rain much more than usual. Many vegetable gardens have been flooded and they are still under water. The cassava is rotting in the ground. Normally, the new vegetable gardens are cut open in July so that new cassava sticks are planted in time. This year, meteorologists expect heavy showers here until mid-August. The new planting season will therefore be late. We notice that people are quite concerned about their food supply for next year. This year shortages are expected also.

‘Cats and dogs’ pooring down 15 min

In this context, we are grateful for the Foundations for Farming project! We see that some of the people who received online training last January are already putting their acquired knowledge into practice on a small scale. They are very enthusiastic about the result. Their plantings grow much better with the advice they have received. They like to share their knowledge with the people in the other villages. Over the past few weeks, we have set up a testing garden together ‘in the middle’ of the village so that everyone can see the result.

The fish farm pilot project in Lawa has now been completed. The results are impressive. The small fish that have been bred in the breeding ponds now weigh more than 1 kilo. We are so grateful for this result. This fish has grown up without the risk of mercury pollution. They also learned some important lessons. The breeding ponds will soon be covered with a layer of cement. The plastic sheets that were used perishes in the strong sunshine. The roof will also soon be made of a sturdy leaf roof. There are already other villages that have expressed an interest in the project. We are grateful to EO Metterdaad (Dutch Christian Broadcasting Company) in the Netherlands for their contribution to the costs.

The Covid situation in the country is still serious. We hear little about new infections in the villages, while all regulations are not taken into account at all. In the jungle town of Maripasoula, the leader of the Baptist congregation died in the hospital in Cayenne last week from Covid. We understand from Anneke Kempeneers that more church members have Covid, fortunately not so serious that they need to go to a hospital. We are seriously taking into account that one of the variants will soon be circulating among the Wayana. At the end of this month they want to dedicate a new church building upstream to the Lord and have a three-day conference that weekend. We know that the health workers and the Medical Mission are concerned about this, especially since many refuse vaccinations.

12 juni 2021
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10 years ago…

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.

21 mei 2021
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So much satisfaction

We are pleased to inform you about the achievements of the last few weeks in Apetina. Friday May 21st 5 men and 5 women received their certificate. They have shown that they have mastered the theory and practice of electricity for building a home installation. In addition, 5 men have received a certificate of participation in the theory of electricity. We hope to be able to do the practical part with them next time we visit the village. We are so grateful for the large turnout of students.

We expected a lot of visitors so the day before Marjolein and a number of our lady students prepared 350 cookies

A great morning that ended in backing pancakes to feed the hungry workers

many guests came to join in our festivities

Students explain about the training

How we connected those lights

Johan Neni, chairman of the Piya Foundation adresses the group

Our co-trainer via ZOOM speaks online

a drink and … a cookie


look at the bright lights on the balcony

A certificate to show the training was completed successfully

This is the first step in the entire electrification process of the village of Apetina. In Canada, a hydropower turbine is being built so that the village will have electricity 24 hours a day in a while. At the moment there has been no power at all for several months because the village generator is broken and can only be repaired by a mechanic who has to fly in from the city. When electricity will be provided 24/7 the power grid must also be safe. The students presented various situations where the net is very unsafe. They now can see where it is unsafe. The training has always focused on safety, safe working and a safe electricity grid.

The official opening of the guesthouse by the chairman of the Piya Foundation together with the chairman of the Kuluwayak Foundation

In addition, the guesthouse is now officially opened. What a milestone for the village. A number of people have worked hard on this in recent years. Now it is almost finished. An additional incentive to complete it quickly is the arrival of the Minister of Regional Development. He will probably be the first guest in this beautiful building in a few weeks’ time.

Our plan is to fly to the city next Wednesday. We have a dentist appointment and other things next to shopping. Within a week we hope to fly to Lawa to start our ministry there for the next 3 ½  months.

10 mei 2021
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One of those days …

Early Monday morning the mother of Jaliwana (and a large number of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren) died. We saw it all coming because she had not been out of her hammock for a few weeks and she hardly took any food and drink for the past week. Around noon she was taken to her final resting place. You feel the sadness in the village.

At 10:30 that same morning, a MAF plane full of boxes of Wayana Bibles landed. People have been looking forward to that for so long, so they were so happy to receive all those boxes. Now it was quite exciting whether the plane could land. Visibility was not very good with the rain showers. Fortunately, it went just right. It would not be the first time that an aircraft had to return to Paramaribo due to heavy rainfall and insufficient visibility. In fact, that happened to the MAF pilot who took off from the city in the morning towards Lawa. During the flight it rained very hard in East Suriname and the various runways were closed. This pilot had to return to Paramaribo with his cargo. Together we thanked God for His goodness and protection. The Bibles are still in our study for a while. In the coming weeks, the Bible room in the church will be prepared to store the boxes.


8 mei 2021
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Installation Technique Online

This week we had a group of 12 youngsters in the house every afternoon to take lessons on installing an electrical installation. This is one of the projects financed through EO Metterdaad in the Netherlands in which we train young people to install a safe switch box in the houses and also to connect cables, sockets, lights and switches. The project provides for the training and installation of the switch box, the people themselves bear the costs of the cables and other parts according to their wishes for their homes.

We issued an open invitation to see who would be interested in the training. This week we had 12 young men and women who came every afternoon to participated. For the next week, 5 more names are on the list who, after hearing the stories of the current group, have signed up to be trained as well. We are very pleased with this interest.

We show a number of photos to get an impression of the training. Our remote trainer is Evert van Klompenburg, an electrician in the Netherlands, who came over December 2018 to think along and work on the power project with Bruce (from Canada). This is part of the project to provide 24 hours electricity in the village. It will be very important that the power installations in the houses are up to date and safe.

The first days we mainly explained how a home network functions and how the switches, sockets and lamp bases must be connected.

the switchbox


blue and brown wires


cable stripping


Evert online

This was followed by getting the picture in the church. Marco had installed a switch box there and the students now could see what it should “look like” in real life.

better on a chair to see the details


taking turns

Then we went to the guesthouse. Here the students had to take different measurements. They work in teams of three. Together you know more than on your own. It has also been agreed that each team will call another team to check their work when they have finished their job. Safety first! How much cable is needed for each of the three power groups that we will be connecting. Everyone will do a practical internship in this building the following week. Then we will see if they really understood what has been thought.

floor plan on paper


measure  the lenght


where will the cable be?


how much is this wall?

everything notes

Last item on the list was how to build the switch box. Everyone built their own box. The switches were interconnected with a blue and a brown wire.

look at the details




pay attention


no end to fun things

Strip cables and connect them properly. And check each other’s work again. The cabinets are back in the box, ready to be built into the houses. In the coming weeks, the groups will visit the people in the village to provide the houses with a switch box and to collect the wishes of the residents so that they can make an estimate of the costs to be able to connect the desired cables, sockets, etc. in the houses.


6 mei 2021
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Sunday, May 2, was a day of special celebration for the Apetina church. But not only for them, also for the Schoen family in the USA. After 61 years of translation work, the first copy of the complete Bible in the Wayana language could be presented to Nuwahe Aptuk, the headman of the Wayana, but also Ivan Schoen’s language helper for all those years.

Due to the pandemic, it was not possible for anyone from the Schoen family to be present at the ceremony. Fortunately, we were able to use modern technology and that way the ‘whole’ family could be present via ZOOM.

We have experienced unique and moving moments together. What a joy and what a gratitude to the Schoen family, but above all to God. In the church we sang a number of songs together for the family in America, who got up early to attend the Apetina church service online. Each of the elders thanked for the loyalty and dedication of Ivan and Doris, as well as for the generosity of the American brothers and sisters who supported this work over all these years.

Due to Nuwahe Aptuk’s poor health, the official handover was at his home. The family was also present, again via ZOOM. A life’s work has been completed. It is a great legacy for generations to come.

The following Monday morning we woke up and saw ‘no service’ on our phone. Now it often happens that during the rainy season we have no range in the morning for a few hours, so we were not to worried yet. A number of ZOOM appointments were scheduled for the first 3 days of the week. Only on Tuesday afternoon we had coverage again. We are depending people. If you experience this, our gratitude for the good connection last Sunday is even bigger.