Sunday, September 28, 2008


Sunday, September 28, 2008

Yesterday we celebrated Micah’s 2nd birthday along with one of his good friends Timmy Bowen. We had it at the SIM guest house in Asuncion. The theme was “airplanes”, so we played pin the pilot in the plane, had a paper airplane throwing contest, decorated with airplane shaped balloons, ate luggage brownies and airplane cookies, and Lizet (Timmy’s mom) made an incredible airplane cake. The birthday boys were pretty oblivious that all the fuss was for them but they did have fun.

Two birthday boys

Birthday party

Luggage brownies and airplane cookies made by Lizet

paper airplane throwing contest


Gift bags with an airplane activity book, crayons, balloons and candy

Thursday, September 25, 2008


September 7, 2008
(The pictures below are not for the weak-stomached)

Jeff was asked by Pedro if he could do a house call on his neighbor, a 75 year old man who has “bumps all over his body”. Come to find out, after Jeff paid him a visit, the bumps are the least of his worries.
For 1 ½ years Karai Sixto has been developing sores all over his body. Jeff diagnosed him with leishmaniasis, a skin infection characterized by nodular and ulcerative skin lesions caused by sand flies. (FYI: leishmaniasis can also infect dogs. We have had several mission dogs put down because of the disease). The lesions on a human can vary from small, non-ulcerated papules to large ulcers with well-defined, raised, indurated margins (Karai Sixto definitely has the latter). If left untreated, leishmaniasis can spread to the nasal passages and roof of the mouth and utterly destroy them. He already has signs of advancing disease in the nose and the palate.

Karai Sixto lives alone and because his hygiene is less than adequate (no running water or well on his property) and his mental status is altered, the sores have had no chance to heal and every chance to get infected. Jeff describes the wounds as crawling with maggots. The bottoms of his feet are covered with piques making it difficult for him to walk. A pique is a small, 1 mm flea that burrows under the skin and lays eggs. We get them all the time and they are easy to pick out with a needle if you find them when they are small. But if left alone it will keep growing under the skin. Someone will need to take a needle to his feet and remove all the egg sacs. Karai Sixto also has scabies all over his body. It would be useless to treat him until he has his clothes and sheets washed in HOT water.

Leishmaniasis can be treated with routine IV medication over a four week period. Monday Jeff went to Caazapa (45 minutes away) to bring pictures of Karai Sixto to SENEPA (the department of health that gives out the medicine). They said that they cannot give the medicine to anyone over 60 years of age unless they see them personally and even then they may not be able to help. Since it is a huge ordeal to get Karai Sixto to Caazapa Jeff asked SENEPA to some to San Francisco. They agreed. His neighbors said SENEPA did come and said they’d be back later. I hope that is a good sign.

In the mean time, some of the church folks went to his house last week to clean his yard, spray for bugs and burn his trash. Jeff went to clean out his maggot infested wounds and properly dress them. We have heard that the doctor in charge of the national leishmaniasis program will be in a town 25 miles away at the end of the week. We are hopeful that he can make it out this way to visit Karai Sixto, or at least Karai Sixto can be put on the bus with a family member. This will be his only hope of getting treatment.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Fruit, Fruit and more Fruit!

It is citrus season! For several months now our trees in the backyard have been laden with tangerines and lemons. The kids love to eat the tangerines and I am thankful for the healthy snack. Jeff and I are enjoying freshly squeezed lemonade. People that stop by to visit bring grapefruit, oranges and guava by the bagfuls. When go visiting we receive fresh squeezed juice and then we’re handed sacks full of fruit to bring home. I have a soft spot for the people that sell things door to door. I can’t resist buying a dozen oranges for 16cents! Needless-to-say, I am thankful for my juicer and find it even therapeutic at times to juice fruit.

I have found some wonderful new recipes: Lemon Poppy-Seed Bread, Citrus Crepes, Sunrise Pancakes with orange syrup, Lemon Baked Chicken, Lemon Bars, Orange Spice Cake, Orange pork, Orange Butter Frosting, Orange and chocolate muffins, Lemon and Garlic Grilled Chicken, Lemon pound cake, and (my personal favorite on a sunny day) Strawberry lemonade slush.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Rainy Weekend

It rained all day Saturday so we had to cancel the Sunday mobile clinic. We were a bit disappointed but we know who is ultimately in charge of our schedules and we trust Him completely! Thanks for all your prayers and we will plan to go out in two weeks.

We did enjoy our visit with the Bowens who came from Escobar, Paraguay to visit. Andy taught Jeff and I (plus others in our mission) Guarani.

Andy, Lizet, Lucas and Timmy Bowen

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Paraguay Pre-natal and Post-natal Customs

In San Francisco there are 3-4 midwifes who do home deliveries. They have had some schooling and training, and some are nurses at the local health clinic. They bring absolutely nothing as far as equipment or medicines, and they charge between 100 mil and 120 mil (about $16 which is quite expensive for the people out here), depending on whether the delivery occurs during the day or at night. It is a flat fee, and amount of hours spent with the patient has no bearing on the cost. In contrast, an uncomplicated hospital delivery can cost as little as 70 mil, but the bus ticket of 10 mil each way per person means it’s basically the same as paying a midwife, without the hassle of leaving your home and family.

The only medicinal herb we have been told of for postpartum use is culantrillo (the maiden hair fern). It is supposed to diminish post-partum blood loss and prevent infection.

Soon after birth, a red string, called a trapo pytã (red rag), is tied around the wrist of the baby to protect it from mba’asy akãmegua “head sickness”. The baby must be protected from any sound (yelling, singing, or talking) coming from someone who doesn’t like the baby, especially drunks. Some say the child must wear it for 7 days while others say it must be worn until the baby is baptized. If the child is spooked, scared, or hears any sound from a drunk or from anyone who does not like the child, the baby will surely come down with a “head illness” and symptoms of fussiness, colicky crying lasting all afternoon and all night and an inability to breastfeed well. If these symptoms occur, the child must be taken to a medico (curandero…witch doctor). The child is taken inside the médico’s house and a secret prayer is prayed over the baby. If the baby does not soon recover, it must be taken to another medico who specializes in this sort of thing. There are 4-5 medicos in San Francisco. A baby must not pass under a wire fence or risk it's stomach turning bad.

On the morning of the 7th day, before sunrise, the baby must be taken out of the home by a parent to go and visit friends or relatives.

Infants should be baptized soon after birth. The price is 20 mil ($5). This cost prevents many poor families from having their children baptized. The parents and godparents must together attend 7 classes at the church before the baptism is allowed to proceed.

After giving birth, a mother must no lift heavy things, do strenuous work or wash her hair for 40 days. If she washes her hair, she is sure to get a fever or go crazy. She cannot bath for 15 days. She may also not use a knife for 3 days after giving birth. If she does, it is said that she will start bleeding again.

Zulma's baby who now has a name, Elias

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What Should I Give Her Rich As I Am?

September 17, 2008

Zulma comes to my house regularly to visit. Often at the end of our visit she asks for meat or clothing in exchange for mandioca. Yesterday Zulma had her 7th baby. Zulma is 30 years old and her oldest, 15 years lives with her mother. Life is hard for Zulma and Pedro and the 6 kids (ranging from 9 years to newborn) in their care. Pedro works on someone else’s field and brings home just enough food for that day. They gather and drink water from the nearby creek (where they also wash their clothes); they cook all meals in one pot over an open fire, and the have a dilapidated outhouse. They live in a dirt floored 14x14 foot house that is divided into two rooms. Pedro plus two kids sleep on one of the beds, three kids sleep on the other bed and Zulma and baby sleep together on the third bed. The only other furniture in the house is a small round table where a TV sits. What little clothes they have are stuffed into chicken feed bags or are hanging in plastic bags mailed to the walls.

Jeff and I and the kids went to congratulate Zulma and welcome the newest addition who doesn’t yet have a name. In the states I always liked to sign up to bring new moms meals – a warm main dish and a side dish, plus salad and dessert. I brought Zulma dinner too, but I brought it in a different form. As a baby gift we gave her one of our chickens - alive! They can use it for eggs, sell it for cash or eat it. They were very happy with the gift and said they would eat well tonight.

Ginny carrying the baby gift - the chicken is inside the sack

Zulma and her new baby boy

Taken at Zulma's place

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Ginny Says....

“Can you get the nuts out of my hair?” (knots)

“Don’t let the egg shelf fall into the cake.” (egg shell)

“I love Asuncion because we can go to Pizza Hunt.” (Pizza Hut)

“I want a Buzz Like Year.” (Buzz Light Year)

“Is he called Dark Vador because he is black?” (Darth)

“I put my cup on the corner top.” (counter top)

“I want to play the comp-piano.” (talking about the piano but I think she was confused with the com-puter.)

“Joshua, if you don’t give that to me then I am not going to marry you anymore.” (We had a talk about that one.)

As we were getting ready to go to a funeral I told all the kids to behave – no running, laughing or loud talking. I mentioned that it would be appropriate to look sad. As we got out of the car Ginny turned to our friend and said, “Mommy wants us to pretend to be sad.” During the funeral Ginny saw tears in my ears and she commented, “You are a very good pretender.”

“Snow Rabbit is my pet, just a normal pet and not to eat.” (like our ducks and chickens)

Ginny: “I wish I had a broken leg.”
Mom: “Why?”
Ginny: “Because then when Joshua and I pretend to have broken legs then I would really have one.”
Mom: “But it would hurt so badly. It would itch under your cast and you’d be uncomfortable. You wouldn’t be able to do a lot of things that you enjoy like ride your bike, run, climb, swim and even walking would be hard.”
Ginny: “Ok, I’ll just wish for a broken arm instead.”

The Dental Mouse

September 14, 2008

Joshua found an old dried cow jaw bone on the road yesterday and brought it home. He worked for a long while pulling out the 8 or so teeth still in the jaw. When I asked why he said that he was going to put them under his pillow and see if the “dental mouse” (Paraguay’s equivalent to the North American tooth fairy) will come and bring money. Sure enough, that night Joshua slipped those cow teeth under his pillow. Jeff thought it would be funny to replace the teeth with monopoly money. Needless to say, this morning Joshua was disappointed to find fake money and did not see even the slightest bit of humor in the exchange. Jeff’s point to all of us at breakfast was – you cannot pull a fast one on the dental mouse!

My Joshua - crazier in more ways than one!

Friday, September 12, 2008

About Water

September 8, 2008

It was the second time this lady had visited our house for medical help. Her symptoms were the same as before: tachycardia (very fast heart beat). Her pulse was 220 beats per minute and as a result she was dizzy, weak, and out of breath. Three months ago, because Jeff has no medicines to lower the heart rate, he tried a few “different” techniques. First he explained the Valsalva maneuver – “plug your nose and a close your mouth and try to blow out both”. That didn’t work so Jeff massaged the sides of her eyes. And then, since those didn’t work he had the lady lay in the fetal position and he did an anal sweep (yes, it is just what it sounds like). Can you imagine what she was thinking about this crack-pot of a doc? Her heart rate never did go down so he sent her to the nearest hospital in Caazapa (45 minutes away).
I was surprised to see her today - back for more torture! Paraguayans are naturally fearful of being in water so I am sure her heart rate jumped even more on hearing the news that Jeff wanted her to plunge her head in a bucket of ice water (to stimulate the dice reflex and lower the heart rate)! This lady was a good sport and she did it (after several false starts)! She came up after a 10 second count she said she felt so much better – “Like I just woke up.” Her heart rate went back to normal.

Wednesday September 11, 2008

The water spot on the wall under our quincho (thatched covered outside area where we eat all our meals) kept growing and growing. Now not only does a grey cloud span the entire wall but water is also seeping into the brick floor leaving a five feet damp and moldy perimeter. Two other walls (one in the kitchen and one in the hall) that touch the bathroom are also affected leaking pipe. We had had this problem “fixed” twice before – once before we moved in and once about one year ago. Here goes round three…..third times a charm!

The outside wall under our quincho

Wednesday September 11, 2008

Matthew 25:35, 40 “….I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink…..whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”

It isn’t uncommon for a stranger to stop at my gate, clap to get my attention, and ask for a glass of water. I’ll fill up a cup and hand it over the fence. The person drinks 3/4th of it and pours the remaining water on the ground (a custom). The person will hand the empty glass back and head on their way.


When Jeff has afternoon clinic at our house I set out a bottle of water and some cups for those who are waiting on our porch. It can get pretty hot here and no one stays hydrated. It is something simple that I can do and I really didn’t think much about it until a couple months ago when I went to visit a family. The man said, “I know you. I went to your house for medical help. You were so sweet and gave water to everyone.” He began talking to his family going on and on about how hot it was that day and how wonderful I was to give out water. I pray that one day he will know the Living Water!

John 4:10 – Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

Patients waiting on our front porch for medical help


This afternoon Jeff had clinic at the house. About 5:00 a woman and her two year old toddler entered the gate and sat on the porch to wait for Jeff. Micah had just woken up from his nap and walked outside. Within a couple seconds he brought me the bottle of water and a cup that I had sitting out for patients and said, “Agua”. I poured him a cup. Instead of drinking the water, he headed outside. I watched as he handed it to the little boy. Next Micah came in and took a bowl from our cabinet and pointed to the bread sticks. I put five in his bowl curious as to what he was going to do. Sure enough he went outside and passed them out to the boy and his mother.

Micah - two weeks from turning 2 years old

Sweet Treats

Thanks for the cake pans, Carol. The sports balls were a hit with the kids and easy to do.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

To Tell or Not To Tell

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Many people in our town have cancer and don’t know it. It isn’t because they haven’t gone to a doctor or because they haven’t received the proper tests, it is because once a diagnosed of cancer is made family members do not tell their suffering loved one the news. They think it is better they do not know. Just today Jeff made a house call on a man with urinary problems. The family confided in Jeff that “grandpa doesn’t know he has prostate cancer”.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Girl Time

Saturday, September 6, 2008

God has put several pre-teen and teenaged girls in my path and I have really enjoyed getting to know them. A few months after we moved to San Francisco I invited a handful of girls to my house to bake and decorate cookies. Since then I have had a couple UNO matches at the house and a have showed Cheaper By The Dozen I and II. Today 11 girls came over. I did not have an agenda and I soon realized that I didn’t need one. Those girls can talk! We talked for 2 ½ hours. I’d like to have them over once a week for fellowship. I am praying about introducing a Bible study in the weeks to come. None of the girls who come are Christians and I would love for them to feel that my house is a fun place to go and hear about God.

Making cookies - June 2007

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

One Room School Tent

September 9, 2008

Today Ginny and Joshua were playing so well while I helped Ryan with his school work that I hated to break up the fun to call them to school. The two had made a “hotel” (tent) out of chairs and blankets on our front porch. Instead of bringing them inside for school I decided it was easier for me to crawl into the “hotel”. So there we three sat for an hour while we talked science, did an art project, and read Charlotte’s Web.

Planting the Garden

Today I worked in the garden. I planted carrots, cucumbers, lettuce, green peppers, and tomatoes. I had great helpers. While I hoed the ground Ryan dug the holes and Joshua put in the seeds and covered them again. I will probably have to spend just one more morning planting the rest – squash, onions, green beans and watermelons.

Dental Hygiene Class

Tuesday September 9, 2008

A father brought his three year old to our house. His complaint was that her teeth had rotted. Sure enough, Jeff said, the poor kid had not one tooth that wasn’t rotting away. Jeff asked if the little girl ever used a toothbrush and toothpaste. The answer was no. Jeff explained about sugar and cavities and that she needed to have her teeth brushed a couple times (at least) a day. The father then asked, “So it isn’t good that she goes to sleep each night with a bottle of sugared tea?”
People’s teeth here are so bad. I cannot imagine what pain goes on in their mouth on a daily basis! We have a dentist here in town but I have no idea what he does (some say he just knows how to pull teeth - $4 a tooth) or how he is qualified. Inspired by all the toothless smiles, I decided to do a dental hygiene lecture at the kid’s school. A few months ago I taught in Ryan’s class. Today I presented in Ginny and Joshua’s class. The kids were great listeners and had fun answering questions. They also laid the toothpaste and toothbrush I gave out at the end.
You know you have lived in the culture too long when…..Ginny said, “When I grow up I want a gold tooth like some of my friends at school.”

Teaching in Joshua's class

Ryan's class holding up the tooth brushes and tooth pastes I gave out

Ginny's class liked the tooth brush and tooth paste I handed out

Some of the smiles around town

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Happy Birthday, Nathan!

August 27, 2008

Yesterday we drove 1 ½ from our place to town called Yuty where we spent the night with the Reiches: Dan and Christie and their two sons, Nathan and Samuel. They have been church planting and discipling in rural Paraguay for 7 years. It was Nathan’s 9th birthday and we wanted to help him celebrate. We had a wonderful reunion. Dan and Christie had just come back from a year furlough so we had much to catch up on.

Folklore Festival

August 29, 2008

Friday was a folklore festival here in our town. It began at 8:00pm (well, that is when it was suppose to begin but being South America it didn’t begin till just before 9:00). Apparently it went until 5am! We left at 10:30 because our children were so tired and begging to go to sleep (that doesn’t happen too often). It was fun to see typical dances and here Paraguayan music and songs. Years ago they use to also have storytellers but it is a lost art now and no one does it.

Lapacho Trees

These beautiful lapacho trees can be seen in pink, white and yellow during July in Paraguay.

Friday, September 5, 2008

One Little, Two Little, Three Little Indians....

The kids have great imaginations and it is fun watching them play together. A couple nights ago they were Indians complete with face paint and a made up language (a lot of "ugg" and "how").

Tiger Lilly
Chief Salad (Yes, that is lettuce in Joshua's head-dress)
Brown Indian (Tyler)
Little Shorty (Micah)


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Announcing the Arrival of....

On September 1st baby chicken, Snowflake, was born to...well, actually we aren't too sure who she was born to because both Birdie and Snow Chicken were manning the nest. Ginny says that Birdie THINKS she is the mother but really she is the baby-sitter. It is always exciting to have little baby animals around.