More Than One Way to be Like Jesus

written in the village, on November 5th

Love these girls!  We have way too much fun together!

This morning, Juliana and Wellington were busy, so I poured milk and buttered  homemade bread for Lorena and Isadora.  As they started eating, I told them I would be right back to keep them company at the table.  I had brushed my hair quickly before going to the kitchen to make coffee for everyone.  But I still needed to put my hair into a bun, as I do every single day, because that is the best hairdo for a tropical climate.  Not a big fan of sweaty hair on my neck all day.

When I told the girls I needed to go fix my hair quickly, Isadora said, “Okay, because you’re like Jesus.”

That seemed like an encouraging comment, since my heart’s desire is to truly be like Jesus.  However, I had a sneaking suspicion that Isadora was talking about something else.  So I responded, “That’s great!  What do you mean?”

“It’s because your hair is all messy and you look like Jesus that way.”

Wonderful.  The only thing missing was a beard and tunic.  Guess I should have put my hair up before emerging from the bedroom.  Having messy hair was definitely not what God was talking about when He said that we are to be conformed to the image of His Son.  But it certainly made for a good morning laugh, and a story to share with all of you!


Disturb Us

written in the village, on October 24th, 2016imgp6340

While organizing old documents on my laptop, I came across a prayer, written by Francis Drake, apparently, although I do not remember who he was.  It was on a document called “Whole Milk Yogurt”, oddly enough, which contained a yogurt recipe, two paragraphs of a journal entry from 2013, and this prayer.  The only more random document I opened this week was named Staff Meeting, in a folder entitled Head Start (my former workplace).  The “Staff Meeting” document contained only a recipe for Salmon Cakes, with absolutely nothing related to work or staff.  I am quite sure that Head Start never held a meeting teaching us how to make Salmon Cakes.

Hopefully this little anecdote about my poor organizational skills will make you laugh and feel better about your life, because I can’t imagine that any of you have documents more randomly named and ridiculously filed than I do.  Will you please also pray that I will learn to be more organized and disciplined?  Especially concerning my notes and archives of Neno language and culture.  I want to organize my photos, documents, notebooks, and scraps of paper well, so I can learn faster, share data with coworkers, and find information later, without spending hours paging through notes or searching through files with names that are unrelated to their content.  Without further ado, here is the previously mentioned prayer.


“Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves, 

when our dreams have come true because we have dreamed too little, 
 when we arrive safely because we sailed too close to the shore.  

Disturb us, Lord, when with the abundance of things we possess,
we have lost our thirst for the waters of life, 
having fallen in love with life, we have ceased to dream of eternity, 
and in our efforts to build a new earth, 
 we have allowed our vision of the new heaven to dim. 

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly, to venture on wider seas, where storms will show your mastery, where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars. 

We ask you to push back the horizon of our hopes, and to push us into the future in strength, courage, hope, and love. 

This we ask in the name of our Captain, who is Jesus Christ. ”
―  Francis Drake  ―

Reading this touched and challenged my heart deeply, because sometimes I become too well pleased with myself and where I am.  A dream comes true, I fall in love with my “new life”, and start to sail too close to the shore, avoiding the storms which often beset those who venture into wider seas.  I become content with where I am physically and spiritually, forgetting that the Captain of our salvation risked everything to bring us life.  This Captain, Jesus Christ, who saved me from sin, is now and forever the Captain of my boat as I sail through life.  What does He want me to risk for Him, and for the sake of the Gospel?


Please don’t misunderstand.  I’m not talking about “missionary stuff” – leaving my beloved family and church, moving to the jungle, living with 2 hours of electricity a day, and tackling a language much harder than Portuguese.  Those are just the externals after all.  It would be possible to accomplish that list, yet completely miss the point of what God has in mind.  This prayer has challenged me with deeper issues that apply to all of us who say that Jesus is our Saviour and Lord, no matter where we live and work and navigate the sea of life.  Can I share with you some of the questions that have stirred my soul this week?  Please examine your own heart and dare boldly along with me by asking yourself these or similar questions.  Pray that the Lord will disturb you as well.

  • Lord, what are the dreams you have for my life?
  • Will you lead me to deeper waters of faith, and of your Word, to truths which will expand the horizons of my knowledge of You, and the depths of our relationship?
  • In what ways are my dreams for life and ministry too small and possible, limiting the scope of what You, the God of the Impossible, desire to do?
  • Is my biggest focus on the material aspects of life (things and money and job and food and house) or on the Word of God and my relationship with Jesus?
  • Do I love my life here because of eternity, and the potential to make a difference for eternity, or is life here distracting me from eternity?
  • How does God want me to live more boldly, venture into the deep, find the stars, and see Him work more powerfully than I have ever experienced?
  • How can I sail out of my comfort zone today, not in a reckless or foolhardy or haphazard way, but intentionally, for Jesus and His glory?
  • Am I sailing my own ship, with Jesus as the co-captain, or have I given the helm of my life over to Him as Captain, Lord, and Boss?
  • As Jesus our Captain sacrificed everything to rescue me from drowning in the sea of sin, am I willing to sacrifice whatever is necessary in order to be part of His rescue plan for others?imgp6012

Little House in the Jungle


Learning how to “pasap peget” the thatch for the roof.  Each individual “leaf” has to be bent backwards to break it, leaving it hanging by just a thin fiber, then extended straight down, away from the stalk.  This process has to be repeared for the other side.  Fairly simple, after getting the hang of it.  You use your right hand for one side, left for the other.


Front of the house.
West side view.
Back of house.  Bathroom door and windows.
East side view.
Thankful new homeowner!  Still seems too amazing to be true.  This house is absolutely adorable!  It is better than I could have dreamed.  And, best of all, it is a gift from God, the loving Heavenly Father who blesses me with more than I ask or imagine or deserve!
Front view from inside.  Sliding wooden windows, with screens.


Thatch roof from the inside.  So pretty, and it truly keeps the indoor temperature much cooler than other types of roofing would.  I think of it as natural air conditioning.  
Hungry?  You’ve come to the right place – my new kitchen!  The table was handmade by Juliana’s dad, Don.  
Bench for visitors.  The typical Neno bench is a bit more rustic (often a board resting on two slices of tree trunk), yet similar idea.  Don likes making things well, and sturdy.  
“Office” and study corner. Desk made by Don. It’s the biggest, most beautiful desk I’ve ever had – plenty of space for language study, writing, Bible reading, and much more. The chair was the only piece of furniture I had to buy.
Dirt floor in the kitchen/living/study area!  And my excited feet.
Leaving the kitchen to enter bedroom.  Bathroom lies beyond.
Not-yet-organized bedroom.  The blue thing hanging over the bed is a mosquito net, jungle necessity for much of the year.  Neno people use them too.
In the bedroom.  To go to the kitchen- exit door on the left.    To go to the bathroom – exit door on the right.  MORE PICTURES BELOW THE BIG WHITE SPACE!  I cannot figure out how to get rid of the space, so please keep scrolling down.  








The bathroom!  Extra space is for a future laundry area, hopefully.
Closeup of the most modern conveniences in my house.                       Shower, flush toilet, and sink!  Hooray!


Lying on the bed to take pictures of the thatch roof, I saw this cross.  May glimpses of the cross always remind me of Jesus, the first missionary, who left everything behind and gave His life.  He suffered on a cross of wood, a cross of love, so that all who believe could be forgiven and become children of God.  May the cross remind me why I am here in the jungle, having left my family behind to begin a new life among the Neno, so that they too can understand how to be born again and live as children of God.  I did not come for the sake of adventure, but for the sake of the cross, the sake of the call.  More than anything, it is for Jesus, the One who called me.  Oh, may He receive the glory of His suffering!  And may my life honor Jesus each day, even in the little things and daily activities, as this little house, my new little home, is used by Him and for Him, for His purposes.

A Tower, Grammar, and Non-Existent Sisters

Written on October 6, 2016

Good thing the Neno language doesn’t have masculine and feminine objects.  For those of you who have never studied Spanish, French or Portuguese, these languages (among others) have an odd and annoying characteristic which I have not yet discovered the reason for.  The only explanation I have heard was the following from Danilo, my oldest Brazilian brother, “It’s because, a long, long time ago, there was a tower.  The people started building it, trying to reach all the way to heaven, and then…”  At which point I usually interrupted him, because he had told this story many times, every time I asked a question related to grammar or pronunciation.

If you have never read the history of why there are different languages in the world, check it out here in Genesis 11:1-9.  Did you know it was God who confused the one language which originally existed in the world, so that people could not understand each other anymore?  This might seem like a detrimental act, but there was actually a very good reason for it.  Mankind was heading in a bad direction, a slippery slope towards self-destruction, by uniting their forces and intelligence for evil, disobedience, and trying to live life independently of God, the Creator who loved them.  So God stopped them in their tracks, for their good, and for our good, as their descendants.

Anyway, what happened at this tower, Babel, is truly the underlying reason for all the grammatical differences between the languages of our modern world.  Nevertheless, this fact (and it’s telling and retelling by my dear and entertaining brother) did not help me master the use of gender terms in Portuguese any faster.  Instead of having a generic word for “the”, there are two different words, one used for women, the other used for men.  No problem there, right?  It’s normally pretty easy to tell who is a woman or girl and who is a man or boy.  The problem comes when you want to talk about “the floor” or “the wall” in Portuguese.  Is the floor masculine?  Yes.  Is the wall feminine?  Yes.  You must know this, and use the correct form of the word “the.”  Why is the floor masculine?  Why is the wall feminine?  No particular reason.  Just refer back to the tower account.

Thankfully, Neno does not have this arbitrary object gender designation. One less thing to challenge our brains.  Hooray!  Good thing, since this morning, at 8:15, as I write this during a quick interval between “class” at a friend’s house and compiling and organizing all the notes, my brain is already threatening to explode, due to the new ways it is being stretched.  Yes, days in the village start early – I am sometimes “out and about”, already observing and learning before 7 AM.  This morning’s lesson seems simple enough – learning about sons and daughters and brothers and sisters and sons and daughters and how to ask how many of each that someone has.  Ha.  Not so simple.

From what I can tell, there is NOT a Neno word that would be the exact equivalent of the English “sister” or “niece” (among other family terms).  None of you need to speak Neno, and sharing my current conclusions would be premature, so I will not waste time explaining the data collected up to this point.

Of one thing I am certain.  With this challenge to face, the best approach is a quick prayer asking God to smarten my brain, followed by a banana with peanut butter and another cup of coffee.  Then nose to the grindstone.  And hand to the plough.  No turning back.

“And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62

The Grubs We Love: Neno Marshmallows

Written on September 17, 2016  

Today I finally ate a grub. For those of you who have never had missionary aspirations, and may not know the significance of that statement, please understand that this was a personal rite of passage, a long-awaited milestone, a career checkpoint. Friends and countrymen, I have arrived.

Disclaimer: Please note that many, many missionaries work on foreign fields for years without ever letting grubs or insects or monkey meat cross their lips. In many countries and people groups, such things are not eaten. So if God calls you to be a missionary, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will have to eat things that make you say, “eww.” But God created a few special people, myself included. We are the ones whose adventurous side manifests itself on random and odd occasions. Instead of awakening feelings of disgust and an upset stomach, the idea of snacking on grubs stirs up a sensation of curiosity and anticipation. New culinary and cultural experiences supersede whatever mental or digestive obstacles might have existed in our former way of life. Who cares if it is literal “grub” – bring it on!

To be completely honest, the only major personal disappointment in Brazilian culture was that the most “exotic” common food items were chicken feet and pigeon eggs. Which were definite novelties, but not really all that exciting. Everyone knows that real missionaries eat grubs. Or monkey brains, or something that makes everyone back home say, “Gross!” Don’t worry, getting a reaction from all of you is not the reason I am here. Nevertheless, it is one of the perks of this life. I have to find amusement somewhere, after all, since my nephews and nieces are far far away, and my former hobbies of piano, sewing, and ice skating are not possible.

So how did I manage such a yummy morning snack? In an outdoor kitchen, I was spending time with the chief’s wife, one of my many teachers, using natural opportunities to ask “What is this called?” and taking photos of the objects, to learn new words.

Some of these objects were obviously from plants, and seemed like they might be fruits. So when I pointed to one and asked if it was for eating, the chief’s wife laughed and said no. From the way she drew on her arm with her finger, it seems that they use “wesuat” for body painting.


But another “fruit” (pictured above) was for eating. Imagine my surprise when she hacked the end off with a knife and four large white grubs squirmed out into the sunshine for the first time in their wriggly little lives. I didn’t have a specific expectation of what would be inside, but I sure was not anticipating grubs. It turns out that the object was actually the fruit from a nut tree (Brasil nut, I think). After a certain amount of time, if the nuts are not harvested, apparently these grubs grow inside the fruit, one in each “nut-shell,” feeding off the nut until there is no more nut, and just a large grub.


The chief’s grandson, a cute and mischievous 4-year-old, became super-excited when he saw the little grubbies. He picked them up, started carrying them around as tenderly as a small boy can, dropping them in the dirt a couple times, then picking them up and squishing them a bit more. Finally his grandmother confiscated the grubs, skewered them, and placed them over the cooking fire.
There I sat, watching these “jungle marshmallows” roast on the teeny tiny skewer, wondering if they would be offered to me. I sure hoped so, because I don’t know if it is polite to ask for food in the Neno culture. Besides, I haven’t learned any phrases to do so.

The doting grandmother handed the little skewer to her grandson, who seemed just as thrilled as most North American 4-year-olds would be if handed a skewer full of real marshmallows. The boy’s mother asked if I wanted to try one. Did I ever! I said yes, but expressed my hesitation at taking one of the treats from the little guy, who obviously was ready to chow down. But his mom told him to give me one, so the game was on. The comment made by the little boy’s dad was, “You won’t be able to eat that!” to which I replied, “I sure will!”

It wasn’t even gross or yucky, as I had formerly thought grubs would be. It was nicely toasted, and tasted exactly like a Brasil nut. Which makes a lot of sense, considering where it lived and what it ate. Probably pure fat and protein.
Did I mention it was delicious? Like, I seriously wanted to eat the other three grubs right off the skewer. But since I love four-year-olds, I would obviously not rob him of his entire treat. I think I need a language and culture lesson in polite hint-dropping so I can make sure everyone in the village knows that I would like more roasted grubs sometime very soon.