Memories from the field


Here are a few of our special memories in random order…

Where is the salida?

I “discerned” from my travels the word restroom meant salida. It seemed everywhere I went the word salida was always around a restroom. The word actually means exit. I was at a restaurant on Saturday night asking a worker where the salida was. I was standing in the exit when I asked him.

He politely pointed toward the door. I wondered what he thought about a guy standing in the exit asking where the exit was. When he pointed out the door, I was confused. The door led out to a plaza where hundreds of people were milling around.

This did not make sense to me, so I threw down another word from my vast restroom vocabulary by asking where the toilet (toe-lay) was. And I spoke louder because if you talk louder to someone who does not understand you, they will be able to understand. He pointed in the opposite direction, toward the restroom.

I eventually did find the restroom. What a great way to learn Spanish. I did muse, though, how this is just like home: if you have to use the restroom, you go outside.

Fanning flatulence

During one of our teaching sessions I noticed one of the missionary wives fanning herself in a way that unmistakably meant her husband had passed gas. Of course, I could not let that go without drawing attention to it.

Her husband happens to be lactose intolerant and he inadvertently downed some milk, which caused immediate flatulence. Within seconds the smell had wafted its way to me as I was teaching. They were sitting the closest to me.

The wife was embarrassed and the husband–a man after my own heart–seemed to be okay with it, as though he was a pro in such matters. The whole room was bursting in laughter. In all my teaching life, that was a first. I laugh even now as I write this. To be with a group of folks who do not take themselves seriously and can give themselves over to hearty laughter is a beautiful thing.

Toothless salesladies

Going to the Anaconda Restaurant and the La Jungla Zoo in a low-riding boat was fun. The highlight was probably hanging with the toothless old ladies selling beads on the dirt streets. They had no inhibition about soliciting anyone and they would not take no for an answer.

I did not want their bracelets, but I did want to give them money, so I did. I gave three of the ladies a piece of money. They wanted to give me a bracelet for the money, but I would not take it. Once they found out the money was gratis (free), they then proceeded to sell me something.

I could not understand a word they were saying and they had no clue to what I was saying. I then begin laughing at them and calling them selfish. They laughed with me. I told them how I couldn’t believe what they were doing and how they should be grateful to receive money from me and should cease from persisting to sell me something.

It was all in jest because they could not understand a word. Even as I “rebuked” them, they were smiling and waving beads in front of my face. I asked Kyle to let them know–in all seriousness–that I wanted to give them money to bless them and it was not necessary for them to sell their wares. They could sell them to someone else and double their profits.

And what did they do? They smiled and persisted on selling me some of their bracelets. In a way it was totally charming. In a way it was sad because of their poverty and desperation.

Happy little girl

The compound of Mission Tec is out in the jungle where all the roads are hard and dirt unless it is raining. Then they are sloppy-muddy and dirt. Because we were closer to the sun, being near the equator, the heat was extremely hot and muggy. It was kinda like stepping into a sauna–something some people do on purpose to sweat.

In Pucallpa the entire day and night was a muggy, hot sauna. Therefore, I called our walk outside the compound our “sauna walk”. David, Mary, Lucia, and I took a sauna walk one day to checkout the village. During this walk there was a little girl who was about 5-years old trailing us, hoping to receive something from us.

My kids made a bunch of the now popular loom bracelets before we left for Peru to give to the missionary kids and anyone else we met. I happened to have one around my wrist and offered it to this little girl. She was happy and grateful to receive it.

This bracelet was in our business colors so I began to tell her to go tell all her friends about our business and to get them to become members of our site. You know, like John 4 where the woman at the well left her water pot and went into town and said, “Come see a man…”.

Like the ladies selling me their bracelets, she did not understand a word I said, but was ready to smile and go on her way.

I told my children about this rendezvous with God and the girl and how it blessed her. My children were pleased to know this. I also told them it probably made this girl’s year to receive such a nice gift as a .50 cent loom bracelet. I can still see her happy, sweet face.

More memories forthcoming…

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About RickThomasNet

Rick Thomas leads a training network for Christians to assist them in becoming more effective soul care providers. RickThomas.Net reaches people around the world through consulting, training, podcasting, writing, counseling, and speaking. In 1990 he earned a BA in Theology, and 1991 he received a BS in Education. In 1993 he was ordained into Christian ministry, and in 2000 he graduated with an MA in Counseling from The Master’s College in Santa Clarita, CA. In 2006 he was recognized as a Fellow of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).