Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Check Back Soon

No new post this week or the next.  This weekend our new pastor will be installed at our little congregation here in town. Getting ready for another big trip soon.  We'll be heading down to the middle of our state of Bahia looking at possible new places of ministry.  Check back soon for more IRL stories from Aunt Michele and Uncle Byron.

In the meantime, you can read about Uncle Byron's Amazon trip here -
Or if you can see Aunt Michele's latest devotional post on her blog -
Where to Go? 

Friday, October 20, 2017

Almost Drowned

Uncle Byron is home from his big Amazon trip so I was able to ask him about a story that he wanted to tell about his family when they lived in São Miguel do Guama in the state of Pará.  One day his mom and dad decided it was a good day for a family outing.  So they loaded their vehicle and headed off for a beach that is near the mouth of the Amazon River called Atalaia or Salinas.  


The beach area is very wide and flat.  The beach is very fine as it is made of silt washed in from the river and the sand from the ocean.  Tides are very strong that area, too.  As the family were all playing on the beach, Uncle Byron went back to their truck for something.  He doesn't remember why.  He noticed that water was coming into he area near where they had left the truck.  They had parked near some houses and little beach restaurants, but being a weekday, few people were there. As he looked around to see what was happening, He saw one man and asked what was going on as the water was rising quickly.  The man told him that when the tide comes in the whole beach is covered very quickly and water would come up to the houses.  

Byron quickly rain out to where his parents were still walking on the beach.  Where they were was actually a higher, sand bar and was not yet under water.  Quickly it would be surrounded by the incoming tide and then covered over.  Granny Atha couldn't swim and still can't.  When she was little she had problems with ear infections and was never allowed to put her head under water, so she never learned.  Neither one of Uncle Byron's parents believed his crazy tale and thought he was goofing around.

Then the water started coming up around their ankles.  Finally they got the message and starting moving in the direction of the houses and car.  By the time they got there the water was up to their necks!

I did some research about this beach and apparently even to this day, many people drive out to the water's edge when the tide is down and lose their cars when the tide comes in spite of warnings to the contrary.  Uncle Byron said they went back to that same beach years later and there was a large tow truck sitting near the houses.  On busy days the owner would come and wait for someone to come and get stuck and then ask a big price to "help."

This story reminds me of the price of sin.  Often others warn a person of the dangers of a certain sin, but few heed the words thinking they can outsmart the devil, so to speak.  Then when they are over their heads, they reach out for help.  Don't be hard-headed!  Heed the warning signs of the Bible, so you are not taken under in the riptides of sin.

Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.  Psalm 119:9

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Junk in a Box

Uncle Byron is traveling this week in the jungles of the Amazon.  Aunt Michele is here, that's me, working on cleaning out closets and sorting through all the junk of having been in the same house now for close to fourteen years.  I've come across some crazy stuff in the past few days.  This afternoon I found a white lab coat, a pair of white jeans and a white t-shirt?  At first I was a little stumped by the white items stuffed into an old fishing tackle box.  Then I remembered that the fellow that takes care of house when we are gone spent a few weeks working at a drug store.  I can't wait to ask him if the clothes belong to him.

I found a brand new Transformers gift bag yesterday with an unused boy's birthday card inside.  Also in the bag were the final remains of a dead lizard, little bones all dried up!  And I've found lots and lots of "nice" rocks.  William especially was quite the rock hound.  If the rocks look really good, I'm setting them aside for safekeeping.  The rest are getting thrown out back into the yard.  Whoever gets this house next is going to wonder about all the rocks back there.

Here's some "junk" I found in the bottom of a mostly empty fishing tackle box...




There's some memories wrapped up in the stuff I found.

The boys had a book with paper airplane designs.  All you had to do was carefully pull out the page and follow the directions to make the plane.  It was a big book.  Your father may have given it to them.  They shared the pages with boys that lived nearby and on several different days had fun flying them outside in the field in front of our house.











After the airplanes, there were crazy balloons and some kite making and flying with the neighborhood fellows and one girl!  Then the guys got everyone together to clean up an old BMX track.  They even had some races with entrance fees and prizes. 




Lots of good memories in that box!  

It's important to keep some of your "junk" from childhood so you can look back later and remember the good times.   Don't let your mama throw out all your junk.  Hide some in a little box somewhere for the future!

Much love,

Aunt Michele 

Thursday, September 28, 2017

An Uncle Byron Tale


Uncle Byron is not at home this week because he is at a conference for missionaries near his old stomping grounds in the state of Pará.  I know that you boys have met Granny Atha and know that she had been a missionary once with Granddad Atha, but you probably have never heard that much about Uncle Byron's time in Brazil as a boy.  He could tell you all about his pet sloth that was so slow that never had to worry about it running away.  They just put it in a tree in the middle of the back yard every night.  Each day it would make for the back wall of their property, but never made it very close.


  He could tell you about some of their pet monkeys and the one time he carried a little monkey in his arms on a 24 hour long bus ride from Pará back to the missionary boarding school.  


He could tell all about the neighbor who had pigs that would all roll over whenever the man walked by.  He had them all trained to roll over and get their bellies rubbed. 
 

Or you might enjoy hearing about how he learned to ride a dugout canoe in the Guama River one afternoon...
 

If I remember correctly, Uncle Byron was home in São Miguel do Guama from the missionary school for holidays.  He had seen fellows riding in the river in canoes, so he decided to try it for himself.  The Guama River is a tributary of the great Amazon.  The Amazon River actually runs backwards when the ocean tides come in and so did the Guama.  So Uncle Byron tried to time his adventure to go down the river so far and then come back with the tide so he wouldn't have to row so much.  It was a pretty good plan, but he didn't count on how much time it would take to get a good handle on rowing a dugout canoe.

First he had to find one to use.  He offered a fellow down at the dock area of the city some money to use one and tried to explain his plan.  I wonder if the person smiled!  Then he managed to get a little bit away from the main stream of traffic to practice standing up in a shallow place.  It didn't take long.  Before you know it, Uncle Byron had flipped that heavy log of the boat by standing too far towards the end.  It went straight up and straight in filling up with water as it sunk into the mud.  All by himself he had to figure out how to get the boat out of the muck and get the water out.  Apparently it took quite a while and quite a lot of muscle, but he finally got it right-side up.  

Even though that first time wasn't real successful.  Uncle Byron did learn and went on to go up and down the river with the current and the tide on various occasions.  Interestingly enough, Uncle Byron is thinking of going back to the Amazon area of Brazil on our next term of missionary service.  Pray for him as he travels around the might river system over the next three weeks.

 


Thursday, September 14, 2017

Which Way Do We Go?


"Interior Tourism 101"

Let's face it!  There are lots of neat things to see all around our part of North East Brazil, but there are few signs, few pin points already marked on Google Maps or GPS maps.  There just doesn't exist any kind of organized tourism association.  If you want to find a certain cave or waterfall or museum, most of the time you have to know someone who has been there and ask for directions.   

A few years ago Uncle Byron, William and Greyson went with a fellow, who had already been, to see several caves in an area that has quite a few.  They also visited an unique oasis waterfall in the middle of our semi-arid region that was on the way.  Uncle Byron asked Dalton and Destinie while they were here if they would like to go see one of the caves and visit the waterfall one day for a little "interior tourism." They both said yes and off we went, after a little preparation!

To prepare for "interior tourism," you have to go prepared.  First you have to take all the water and food you might need for the day and a little extra just in case you get stuck somewhere.  Next you better check your facts about where the place is by asking people who have been there or know someone who has.  Then you better make sure that you know more or less where the place is on your GPS.  Also don't forget a well charged cell phone even though you might have to climb a coconut tree to get a good signal.  Fill up your fuel tank and check your tires and engine oil and radiator water.  Better take a few tools just in case and maybe a couple of extras like a spare water pump, fuel pump and a good air pump for tires.  When you are all prepared and haven't forgotten sunscreen and bug spray and snake bite kit, you can leave.

That's what we did on the day of our trip to see a cave and a waterfall.  


The trip to our first stop, the cave, was supposed to take about two hours.  Somewhere after we turned off the main highway (two lanes with holes but some pavement), Uncle Byron started saying things like:  I don't remember that.  Hmm, that doesn't look familiar.  I wonder where the little town we went through could be.  And I began to wonder if he really knew where he was going.  Once or twice he turned down a little dirt path, checked his GPS, and decided to turn around and take another path instead.  I think Dalton and Destinie may have wondered the same things as I was.


But we just kept going forward... finally when I was about ready to ask the fateful question - Do you really know where this cave is?  Uncle Byron saw some landmark that looked vaguely familiar and said we were getting close!











We spent about two hours at this cave.  Both Dalton and Destinie said it was worth the trip!  Afterwards we went hunting for the waterfall oasis.  It was a chore.  It was marked on the GPS and we even saw one sign, but dusty dirt roads change with the wind!  Several times we went down one little road, only to have to turn around and try another.  Once again, just when I thought we were doomed to turn around and just go home, but Uncle Byron forged ahead and made the day!





I was reminded over and over of Abraham when God called him to leave Ur and go to a land that would be shown to him.  No maps, no GPS, no cell phone!  He just had to trust God.  Traveling around the interior can be a lesson in trust for the passengers in a car and a lesson in faith for the driver!  

Maybe someday Bahia can map out all these great spots and become a real tourist trap!  But, in the mean time, adventurous individuals can pack their cars full of water and food, and just head out and hope for the best!  Just like Abraham was well rewarded for his trust in God, we were all well rewarded for our faith in Uncle Byron even though we doubted a few times along the way!




Thursday, September 7, 2017

Are We Lost Yet?


Have you ever gone somewhere where there were no signs to say turn here or enter there?  No mile markers?  No pavement or gravel?  And not even very many people to ask?  If your answer is NO, you probably have never traveled in a third world country.  If you said, YES - Congratulations!  You are an adventurous traveler!

This past month, Dalton came down to Brazil to visit us with his family.  Destinie got to go to several adventurous places where "no man has gone before."  On one of our trips we wanted to visit the old island camp.  Currently the water in the big lake is so low that it's easier to go to the island by car then to try to get there by boat.

To do this we had to go to a fishing village first where you can see the island out in the lake...





There are no signs on the "highway" indicating where to turn in to the fishing village called "New Cotton" or "Algodões Novo," but Uncle Byron remembered that the road was after the second bridge and just after a big curve.  From there we only have to remember to keep on the left hand of any forks in the road.

In Algodões Tio Naldo who used to live on the island and was visiting with us stopped in to see an old friend.  Before we left the village the old man gave us verbal directions for how to continue our trek to the back side of the island where we could drive over the now dried up inlet.


Every once and a while we would come upon an innocent bystander and ask for more directions...

Finally we came to the locked gate we had been told about and had hoped we would find open since Tio Naldo had talked to the owner of the connecting island over which we needed to pass.  It was all very odd since there was no water - just a very long fence and a very locked gate.  

Dalton thought about knocking it down.  Uncle Byron thought about picking the lock.  Tio Naldo wished we could call someone but alas there was no phone signal.  Destinie probably wondered what in the world!

It was decided that Dalton was the toughest and the strongest so he ran the 2 kilometers to the caretaker's house which was located in the middle of the former island.  I prayed there wouldn't be any ferocious guard dogs!  After what seemed like a good while, he came back with a key!



We made it to the island after stopping at one more caretaker's house who was very surprised to see two vehicles pull up full of people he used to know.  Graciously he allowed us to drive all the way through to the old campground area.  We had our lunch in the old cafeteria hall and the girls all went swimming on the beach.  Dalton and Destinie climbed up one of the mountains where he officially proposed in marriage and presented a ring.  



All in all it was a great day.  No maps, no signs, no GPS - but we found our way. God has certainly lead the way in Dalton and Destinie's lives.  And we were all glad to be a part of the excitement!

Before we left, Uncle Byron wanted to try to drive to the Crystal Beach which was located on the back side of the old island now peninsula.  We had to hike through some big weeds with lots of thorns.  The girls were considering giving up, but we found it (or Uncle Byron did) and were well rewarded with the find of quite a few nicely formed crystals.



We didn't get lost and we didn't give up.  Abraham listened to God's call to take a big trip with no maps and little information.  He decided to accept the challenge and listen to God's call.  God knows the way and there are rewards for those who heed His Word.

Next week I'll tell you about another trip with the Dalton Gang and how we almost turned back before we found the "gold"... Stay tuned!
  
But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.  Job 23:10
 

 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Sabbatical

You guys probably know what a "furlough" is.  It's that time when missionaries or soldiers "go home" from their field of service for a time of rest and reports.  Many people that we meet don't understand what a furlough is, but they have heard of sabbaticals.  The two aren't quite the same, but having a synonym can help explain an unknown word.  "Sabbatical" has the idea of a time of rest from a job to refresh and prepare to go back.  

Aunt Michele is going to take a rest from writing stories for a bit as we get things in order for Greyson to go to the USA in two months.  He has a lot of things to do over the next weeks like finishing up his school work for this year.  Pray for him as he gets all set to travel.

Meanwhile I'll try to keep a list of some new ideas for new true stories from Brazil.  Look for me again later this year!