Happier Hands

Just a quick post, to show you how my hands look right now.  Well, it is actually how they looked at about 11 AM today, which is when these pictures were taken.

Thankfully, the infection and it’s effects are gone.  During the last three weeks in the village, I di not experience any infections, sicknesses, or injuries of any kind.  Even the bug bites were much less, since we are still enjoying dry season.

As you can see, the fingertips are dry and chapped, due to the allergies, but this is normal, and a manageable condition which does not prevent normal, daily activities.  Last week, the fingers actually looked and felt even better than currently, which lines up with research that says allergies and their effects can increase or diminish from day to day, back and forth.  Hoping and praying that the allergies and their effects will disappear, I am using some supplements and natural remedies to improve my general health and support specific areas which may help my allergies.

During our next trip to the city, at the end of November, I plan to see the dermatologist for a follow-up appointment, to make sure everything is as it should be.  In the meantime, I am thankful to God for answered prayer in this matter, and for His continued protection and guidance in all of life, it’s problems and questions.




This is the Way We Build a House (Words)

Well, this is the way that the men are building the house.  (If you missed yesterday’s post, with pictures of the construction process, please click here) The only help the men have allowed me to give is cooking for them and cleaning up after them.  And I did offer to actually participate at the building site.  Between the work ethic instilled by my parents and a few church work/mission trips, I was ready and willing to try to help, and even felt a bit sad about not joining in the fun.  But in Brazilian culture, ladies don’t help out as much with things like this, and my house-building skills (and muscles) are rather limited anyway, so it’s probably all for the best.  Sadly, I didn’t think to ask Juliana to take pictures of me busy and hard at work in her kitchen to feed this crew.  So please imagine the large quantities of rice, beans, meat, salads, bread, cookies, brownies, cake, and granola, which have been made and eaten in the last week and a half.

That’s right, less than 2 weeks so far!  It has been amazing to see how quickly and suddenly God has opened doors for the construction of my little house.  (Note on size, since many have asked about this: It is 5 by 8 (meters), which is about 16.5 by 26 feet).

First, through the generous giving of churches last October through January, reliable monthly financial supporters, and surprise one-time donations last month, God has provided money to buy everything necessary until this point, without having to wait for more funds to proceed.  If you are one of the people who contributed in this way, or prayed for God to provide my needs, thank you for your generosity and participation in building my little house in the jungle!

Second, God provided a great team to do the work!

  1.  Wellington
  2. Don, Juliana’s dad
  3. Ouripio, a missionary who is responsible for maintenance of mission base in Ji-Pa.
  4. Dario, a missionary on staff at the training institute who was one of my professors.
  5. I_, one of the Neno men, who despite his daily responsibilities of hunting and planting crops this past week, has put in many hours of hard work on the house.

A few other Neno men helped on River Crossing Day, bringing all the construction materials across the river by canoe, and up to the village.  Borrowing the truck pictured below, which just happened to be available at the right time, made this process much faster and easier.  That was great planning on God’s part!  We sure appreciated the generosity of the truck owner in offering to let us use it.

Juliana, the girls and I are now back in the city, since Sunday night.  She has had her new hearing aids for a month, which is the time when they must be re-adjusted.  Since I couldn’t stay at Wellington and Juliana’s house with just the men, and I didn’t feel comfortable asking any of the Neno families to let me impose on them for five days, I came along.  This was also good planning on God’s part, because He knew that one detail of the visa process, which I thought was all set, needed some further and immediate attention.   After a few hours of work on that issue, it is now resolved, and the paperwork is on its way for me to apply for a permanent visa in November.

The current plan is to head back to the village on Friday, with Juliana’s parents in their car.  Don wants to help out for a couple more days, before bringing Dario back to the city to catch his bus to join his wife and little girl in southern Brasil for the next part of their furlough.  After the whole family visited us for a few days in the village, they changed some of their plans so Dario, who used to work in construction, could help build my house.  What a gift!  I am so grateful and humbled by the sacrifice they made, Dario by putting in two weeks of hard labor, and the whole family by spending that time apart.  It is so amazing to have friends and family in Christ, who choose to serve the Lord by serving me, and making it possible for me to have a home and ministry in the Neno village.  As as a sidenote, Dario is living proof that furlough does not mean vacation!

After the team finishes with the walls, rafters, doors, windows, and ceramic tile flooring, they will work on the plumbing if time allows.  (The septic tank was halfway dug already when I left the village).  Afterwards, the Neno will make a thatch roof for the house, which could take a day or a week or a month, depending on how many people get involved and what other activities are going on in the village.  Electricity will be installed at some future date, but since the village generator normally only runs for 2-3 hours each day, lack of electricity isn’t a big deal.  I am sure Juliana will let me charge my laptop, camera battery, and flashlight at her house as long as necessary.

On Friday, I plan to take all the ingredients to make pizza for the team, and a cooler with plenty of ice, a big bottle of Coca-Cola, and a tub of ice cream.  They deserve way more than that, however, so please pray that God will bless them all abundantly for their willing hearts and hands.  I’m so excited to see the finished house, move into it, and share more pictures with you on our next trip to the city!


This is the Way We Build a House (Pictures)


September 15 – Unloading supplies.  River-crossing day.  
September 19 – Taking the roof off a vacant, falling-apart house.  This is my building site, decided by the chief and his eldest son. 
September 19 – Demolition complete, ready to build a new house.  
September 20 – Working on the foundation, and mixing cement.
September 20 – Sand to mix with cement, brought by motorcycle from the riverbed.  
          September 22 – Foundation finished.  This house is growing fast – last night’s rainstorm must have helped. 
September 22 – Cake and juice break for the Faithful Five!  
September 23 – Cement poured in bedroom and bathroom.  Woodwork started too, ready for the walls to be nailed up.  
September 24 – Check out this fantastic future bedroom!            Note the dirt floor behind us, in the kitchen/livingroom/study.
September 25 – Construction team and a few “extras”.


Living the Life

(written Thursday, September 22, in the village)

I am undoubtedly one of the most blessed women on the face of the earth.  Why would God be so good to little old Paulette Lynn Cross?  Some people strive for and settle for “the American dream,” never realizing that there is so much more.  They are missing out on the dreams of God.  Personal dreams, cultural dreams, and economic dreams all fade when compared to the bright, glowing realities of what God wants to do in this world and in our lives.  He has dreams and plans for you that are much better than anything you could ever dream up.


For example, this morning, walking down the jungle trail just after 6 AM, following the Neno couple who would show me how to plant manioc root, I was hit with a dose of reality.  I, a Lewis County native (think cows and corn and snow), am now a resident of the Amazon rainforest!  Here we are surrounded by fresh, unpolluted air, with monkeys, parrots, macaws, and exotic butterflies as neighbors.  The fish in our river would definitely hold their own in a worldwide competition for both size and deliciousness.  And I get to live here?  Working alongside an amazing missionary family who loves God and considers me their honorary sister and aunt?  Forming friendships with people who have welcomed me warmly, patiently teach me their language, and are hungry for the Word of God?  What a life!  It seems too good to be true!  Yet the hike at break of dawn was so vivid and beautiful that it couldn’t be the result of an overactive imagination.  I really am here, right in the center of God’s will, living out His plan.


I love this people.  I love this place.  I love this life.  But more than anything, I love the amazing God who brought me here.  This God, the Creator of heaven and earth, of jungles and rivers and all people everywhere, is my Father and Friend.  He is everything I ever wanted, supplies all that I could ever need, and gives me incredible blessings I never thought to request.

Psalm 16:6, 11  “The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage…Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”  Take a couple minutes to read all of Psalm 16.


Has it ever crossed your mind that serving and obeying God in a sold-out, radical, wholehearted manner is a sacrifice?  Have you felt pity for Christians in general or for missionaries or those who in some way seem to get the short end of the stick because they obey God?  Please think again.  There are challenges in this lifestyle, for sure.  But if you were to do a cost-benefit analysis, those who serve God come out on top every single time.  We are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.  Romans 8:37  We who follow Jesus wherever He leads are the most blessed, happy, thriving people on earth.



If you are already living this life, you know exactly what I am talking about.  If not, won’t you come along?  It doesn’t necessarily mean you will end up hiking jungle trails, learning a tonal language, and eating grubs.  But it does mean you will set out on your own extraordinary adventures with God, living through His exceptional power, and delighting in His extreme grace poured out on you and those around you.  Life will be more intense yet more wonderful than you ever dreamed, as you realize that living for Jesus and His kingdom is far better and more fulfilling than anything you live for presently.


Eweka and Flexible Planning

Eweka is a multi-purpose word in Neno and its sister language.  Juliana’s dad said that is useful in a wide variety of situations, including the one we found ourselves in Friday evening.

One of the men from the village (let’s call him Andy) had told us to inform him via radio when we were ready to return (not sure if I have already mentioned that the village has a radio to communicate with the city in case of medical emergencies.  It is a blessing, and helps in other situations also, such as scheduling rides, doctor’s appointments, or asking base missionaries to send supplies).

Well, we were all ready to leave, and found out that Andy would be coming to Ji-Pa three days ago, on Thursday.  Since the Neno normally stay in the city for as little time as possible, just long enough to accomplish whatever is necessary, we expected that he would leave Saturday or Sunday, with us on board.

Friday, we heard through the grapevine that no more passengers would fit in Andy’s vehicle, but that he might have a bit of space if we wanted to send anything along.  Since this information did not come directly from him, however, we continued getting ready as if we might leave yesterday.  In between their multiple last-minute errands, while I worked on my last-minute to-do list here, Wellington and Juliana went twice to the Neno “home base” here in the city, but no one was there.

At about 8 pm, Andy called Juliana’s dad, to tell him that he was headed back to the village, but with a vehicle packed to capacity (his family of five, and another family of six!).  Definitely no room for the five of us.  Disappointing, but not the end of the world.  Similar situations have happened before, so it was one more chance to practice flexibility and patience.  And it was not Andy’s fault, or lack of desire to help.  Originally, he had expected another guy from the village to come along on this trip, bringing his vehicle as well, which would have provided enough space for all of us.  But that guy changed his mind.  That’s just how it goes.  Eweka.

So Andy is coming back again, just to pick us up, and we will be returning on Wednesday, paying his gas for the whole trip.  With this arrangement, unless some extreme circumstance happens, there should be no further delays.

It seems Juliana was right last week, when she said we should start seriously praying as a team that God would provide us with our own vehicle.  It would make it much simpler to plan ahead and schedule trips between our village home and the city.  We would also be able to visit other Neno villages, which would open many doors for ministry, once we speak the language.

On the other hand, there are definite advantages of travelling with the Neno, as this provides more opportunities for relationships and spending time together, and helping them out financially with the cost of gas.  Plus we avoid the expenses of car insurance and repairs.  Will you pray with us about this situation please?   Pray for God’s wisdom and direction concerning a vehicle for our team, if and when we truly need it, and also His timing and provision.  Thank you!

This post would have ended there, properly and predictably, with a thank you.  However, that is such a perfect and irresistible (because it was completely unintentional) setup for one last language tip for today.  When someone thanks you in Neno, the correct response is, “Eweka.”