March 2018 Newsletter
Greetings! Last month we as a family were in the US renewing my Venezuelan visa and my son’s visa. (My daughter was born in Venezuela so she doesn’t need a visa. She and my wife have dual citizenship.) I had to drive to New Orleans with all the paperwork. It takes less time to process if you take the documents in person rather than sending them in the mail. There is no way to renew the visa while in Venezuela. This time I opted for the family transit visa because it will create an easier pathway to citizenship for my son and I. When back in Venezuela I am going to Caracus to do all the paperwork for my citizenship. I have been trying to get my citizenship since my residency ran out in 2014. I had a 10 year residency from 2004-2014. I’ve been living in Venezuela since 2000.)
I want to start out by sharing a testimony with you about an Indigenous Yupka named Jose Miguel who lives in an Indian tribe called Sarapay in the mountains of Venezuela. This is what he said: “I was hunting so I decided to climb a tree to be able to see the game better. I climbed up approximately 50 meters. I had a bow and arrow. When I was very high up in the tree I saw a very big bird’s nest. I inched my way over to the end of the branch to see if anything was in the nest. (He was probably looking for an egg to eat.) When I reached the nest the tree branch broke. I fell from very high up. When I hit the ground, I felt no pain. I realized that though I saw my body on the ground, I was standing over my body looking at it. After looking at my body I looked ahead of me and I saw 2 paths. Upon seeing the 2 paths I heard a voice that said, ‘I’m going to show you hell.’ I was taken down the path that went to hell. When I arrived I saw people who were chained to each other. They were burning in pain and there were worms all over the people.
After seeing that I was taken to another place. There was a very bright light there and 2 angels were at the entrance. The one with the book in his hand told me, ‘Your name is not written in the Book of Life. You were brought here so that you could see hell, so you can testify about it.’ After they said that I felt like I was being taken out of that place. I was being taken back to my body. After I returned to my body I entered into my body and started to breath. Several Indians from my tribe were standing around me. When I was revived, they talked to me telling me that I was dead; that there were no vital signs of life in my body. They told me I was dead for 8 hours. My wife had been crying because she went to see my body also, and everyone knew I was dead. Thank God I got a second chance. I now believe in Jesus Christ as my Savior and I testify that heaven and hell are real.”
My stay in the States was a nice time to regroup. While in the states I made many new message series and recorded them for the radio programs in Venezuela. I am on 6 radio stations so I make a lot of messages. I also got my supplies that I cannot get in Venezuela. I bought an electric/acoustic 12 string guitar to take back. I’ve been playing a guitar (that’s not electric/acoustic) since I arrived in Venezuela in 2000 but I needed an electric guitar to connect to an amp when I minister at churches in the city. I will give away my other guitar. At the churches in Venezuela I minister with either my guitar, accordion, or keyboard. Music is a really good addition to the ministry.
I have planned my monthly Bible school for the Indians on March 22nd until the 26th. For my last Bible school it took a long time to find enough food for the Indians who attend. Because it’s 5 days and the Indians come down from their mountain tribe and stay with us, we provide all 3 meals. In Machiques, the town where we have the school, there were no basic staple items like rice. My friend who helps me out sent me a picture of the biggest grocery store in Machiques and it didn’t have anything in the whole store. So we went to a town about an hour away from there but we couldn’t find anything there either. But then, when we were done looking, we stumbled upon a person we knew who had stashed some rice. (If it wasn’t for that we wouldn’t have had any, because it’s a specialty that is very hard to find especially with the amount that we need.) But we found it. The desperate situation affects almost everyone in Venezuela. The only people who I see who live the same are the Indigenous people who live off the grid by sowing and harvesting their own crops.
It was also really difficult to find food for the teams that I send out to evangelize and disciple the mountain Indian tribes in Venezuela and Colombia. What we talked about before the trip was that we would buy them whatever we could find in the way of sardines or any preserved meat (there is a big hotdog type of bologna called mortadela that we found which for some reason doesn’t need refrigeration.) The Christians in the tribes where my Indian teams preach would have to provide them with the malanga (a potato like plant) to go with the meat. That makes it a win/win situation because the indigenous people at the tribes need to learn to sow into the indigenous missionary people’s lives, and because right now we can’t find rice or any of the staple foods, it helps my Indian leaders have sufficient food to eat.
This past month I started another water project in the Indian tribe named Chitakai. The reason for so many water projects in the jungle mountains is because clean water is the best way to help and cure many of the illnesses that the Indians have. Many Indians, especially the children, have parasites. The parasites come by drinking from an unclean water source, for example, from the river or streams. Clean water comes from springs but many times the spring is far from the tribe. The Indians need to build their palm leaf huts on flat land (which obviously isn’t easy to find in the mountains) and having a spring on the flat land is not usually the case.)
The springs are far from the tribes so it takes a great deal of effort climbing the mountain to get to the spring and taking the water back to their huts. Usually the women fill up 10 to 15 2 liter plastic soda bottles with water and then put them in a big weaved basket that they make from a plant in the mountains. They put the strap of the basket on their foreheads and wear the basket like a backpack using their foreheads to carry the weight, and also at the same time carry a baby. From carrying so much water using their forehead, many times the women have told me during prayer lines that after transporting water, they get headaches. Therefore we try to help these people by putting in a water system from the spring to their tribe. They really appreciate it. One tribe was so grateful they wanted to make me their Indian chief!
After we finish up the water project, we plan on rebuilding 2 church temples in the far away mountains. They both take around 16 hours of walking to get to. These were some of the first churches that we built. The tin roofs are still in good shape but the wooden structure needs replaced. We will rebuild the churches probably this month.
Well I want to thank you for your prayers and support. It makes all of my work here possible. God bless you.
In His service,
Doug, Veronica, James, and baby Ana