She Said–A Day in the Life a Missionary on the Amazon

Ever wonder what it would be like to pick up and move to a third world country?  Does that sentence conjure up images of hiking the Andes, rafting the Orinoco, taking pack yaks up the Himalayas, or strolling through a quaint Medieval town in the Alps?  But what if you make the move for a reason other than an adventure.  What if you moved to teach others.  To spread GOD’s Word.  Would life be such a grand adventure?  The answer is actually “yes”, but the adventure isn’t rafting or hiking or strolling.  The adventure is navigating the lines of four different government agencies to have permission just to plug-in your phone.  The adventure is driving.  The adventure is trying to make your daughter’s favorite Mexican meal for her birthday without cheddar cheese, tortillas, or sour cream.  The adventure can be as crazy as trying to find a rake and get your laundry dry before the daily down pour.  Let’s follow Martha for “A Day in the Life of a Missionary on the Amazon.”

Friday, August 17, 2012

Living here,  I always say, you never know what will happen on any given day.

(This is a photo of Martha and her husband.)

Today I woke up at 5:25am, but didn’t get up til 6:00 am and started my Bible reading.  I am soon interrupted by “Can you help me?” from my husband.  There was a big rain storm in the night, and I remember thinking that I should get up and check the rooms for leaks–which is an ongoing problem right now.  A man came and fixed some areas, but then leaks came in other areas. Recently when it started raining, we had to jump up from the table as it was getting sprayed with dirty roof water.   Yuck!  Soooo, in the night the rain had come in and gotten a box of Bibles wet.  My husband was trying to move stuff around and dry things out.  After closer inspection, just the box had gotten wet.  The Bibles were dry, thankfully.  So all the stuff I had failed to organize in that room, is now waiting impatiently for me!  One advantage of a mess I guess!

Next I start a load of towel rags in the washing machine. 

I then haul some old (termite infested) boards to the street, which will go in the new and modern garbage truck later today.  (All they had when we first moved here was a dump truck.)  Or more likely,  someone will use it for cooking their lunch, since I put it out early enough in the day.   ….Sure enough, by the time I come out with the second board, a neighbor lady is hauling the first one away!!  I’m happy and she’s happy!!! 

7:00  By now, it is a rush to get breakfast on–granola and toast, fast and easy.  We don’t bother with the cold cereal here much.  It is too expensive and often a little soft as it seems the humidity affects it even if it is sealed.  Or we have to eat it up really fast before the humidity makes it soggy, yuck!

7:30  I cut up some garlic, an onion, and some potatoes and carrots to add to the lentils I started soaking last night.  I add them to the pot along with some spices and get them heating before I have to leave.

8:00  Time to hang the load of rag-towels that were used to clean up the rain mess.  I have to get my laundry out in the morning so it can dry by noon–hopefully.  If it is hung in the sun, it has to be off the line by 12:00, or it will probably get rained on with the usual afternoon downpour.  But if I hang my laundry under the eaves, I don’t have to worry about it getting rained on, however, it will take all day to dry.  The high humidity makes it take longer.  While in the back yard, I poke around in the ground with the machete where the posts are going for my raised garden.  I find that I am going to have to dig up a couple of red bricks that were put there by someone in another time or era.  So I begin digging and pull out the bricks. Thankfully, the holes will work for my garden bed posts.  Although the post holes are off a little I don’t want to bother with adjusting it anymore.  It will only make the fence a little bit off-center, so I pound the post in and push dirt and other rocks all around it.  Hopefully tomorrow I can call another missionary who has offered his truck to get some black dirt.  And then I can plant!!  Yea!!

(Fast forward a bit in time for the next photos.  Remember.  Plants in the tropics grow at an incredible rate.)

(. . .and they’ll grow, grow, grow. . .)

(. . .and they’ll grow, grOW, GROW!)

Now let’s cut back from our time warp.  Back to “A Day in the Life of a Missionary on the Amazon.”)

9:00  My husband, a missionary friend, my son, and I are on our way to look at and try out a boat that we hope to buy (from another missionary.)  I take my son on the “moto.” 

(Here is a photo of Martha with her niece on her “moto”)

 A “moto” is a motorcycle that only has 100 c.c., so it really is more like a scooter.  The “moto” can’t go over 25 m.p.h.  We battle the other “moto” traffic in the port and find a parking spot. 

The ‘port’ is where the market and small shops are.  It is also where people congregate–people bringing produce off the river, people waiting around for whatever, people who are drunk, etc. . .  Everything and everyone goes and comes from the river. 

We find a boatman who will take us to the boat we wish to inspect.  

The boat we are thinking of purchasing is there–attached to a launch.  It looks good, but is missing a gas line. (I think he takes it off on purpose so it is harder to steal.)  The gas line was retrieved from inside his “balsa”.  A “balsa” is a houseboat that is built on a big dock. 

The picture of the blue house dock:  A ‘Balsa’ – a floating house and boathouse

The other picture with white, blue and red large boat: A ‘Launch’ – a houseboat

During the rainy season it floats on the river, but right now during the dry season, it is sitting on dry ground.  We are ready to go,  his helper pushes us out so that we do not get stuck in the sand along the edge of the river.  The boat we are inspecting starts right up,. . .but does not stay running long.  Adjustments had to be made on the motor.  We have to get pushed back in for a tool, and then pushed back out to start it up again.  I paddle a little to keep us from drifting too far in the current–which, thankfully, isn’t too strong this time of year.  My son paddles for a while.  Finally with one man at the motor and another at the wheel, we are off–slowly.  We are churning up dirt, then the motor clears, and we shoot out at 30-40 mph.  We are off!

The driver has the presence of mind to swing around a man and his fishing net (don’t want to get caught in that, or ruin his net and catch of the day!)   We buzz around for a bit and go back in to the launch (houseboat), where the taxi-boatman is patiently waiting for us.  He takes us back to the port.  It has been at least 2 hours.  So what I thought was going to be an hour trip ended up being. . .well. . .well like I said, life on the Amazon has its own schedule.  So….I decide to grab a kilo of both flour and sugar.  I might as well since I’m down at the port. 

(This is the view looking up from the river.)

 I can only take home 2 bags of groceries at a time since I have to carry them.  (This means frequent trips to the store.)  We try to find a garden rake.   We ended up trying 6 small stores that had a menagerie of tools.  Finally we get to a bigger store and while wandering into the back nooks and crannies we find one!!  Yeah!.    A worker comes and sees us and shows us a smaller rake, and I choose that–as my garden is only 9’ by 2 ½’.  But it is only the rake part, and he disappeared to go find the wooden stick part for us.   With a complete rake, we head back home.

We arrive home at 12 noon–time to eat.  Thankfully, I had made up the lentils already and I only need to slice cucumbers and make egg salad sandwiches.

1:30   Thankfully today is a cooler day, as if it had been hotter, I would have been completely exhausted with just the morning events.  It is  only about 84 F today, but I take a half hour nap anyway.  .  It is better to have a nap in the heat of the day (as you will break out into a sweat if you do anything here–no joke!), and do stuff in the early morning or later in the day.  I also can get up earlier if I know I can catch up with a nap later.

Later we put together the rake, and I rake up the garden patch.  Then Hubby and I go to visit a handicap friend.  I buy her an easy puzzle every year when I go to the U.S. as she is in the house all day, doing nothing basically.   Must be so boring.

5:00 pm   Some kids are coming for a supper of “arepas” (sort of like a small fat corn tortilla) and bananas.  

 (photo from here.  And recipe here.)

Then a big rain storm comes through and there are more water drips to take care of. 

At 7:00 pm we have Prayer Meeting.  Only 7 kids come, as the rain prevents more from venturing out in the rain and mud.  (Not fun to slip in the mud when you want to look decent!). 

After meeting, we take a jug of water to Mari’s house as they are out of water and we have the water filter system at our house.

Friday night is movie night,  so we end the day with a movie we got when we were in the States entitled Your Love Never Fails.  Quite good.   We have seen all the decent ones at the video store here, but we can also borrow movies from other missionaries here–thankfully!  

To bed at 11pm.

Thanks the LORD for a good and safe day.

Bueñas Noches!


If you have any questions or just want to say an “hola” or nice to meet your or what do you miss most while living in Colombia, write it in the Comments section.  Martha will be able to see them and answer.  And remember, any typos and misspelled words are holy my fault.

And stay tuned for the next post in the series of “A Day in the Life of a ?????” 

If you liked this post, you may also enjoy

A Day in the Life of Ms. Dot–Soup Kitchen Volunteer

A Day in the Life of a Down Under Mum

A Day in The Life of a Canadian Farm Wife

A Day in the Life of a Newly Wed

A Day in the Life of a Mom of Seven

A Day in the Life of a NY Mom

Thanks for stopping by,


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7 Responses to She Said–A Day in the Life a Missionary on the Amazon

  1. Bel McCoy says:

    fun to read about how others spend their day!!! Now I’ll tell you my day… up at 6, read a bit of the Word, eat breakfast, be at my daughters by 8:15 to watch her 5 yr. old Downs boy (school off today) while she goes to a doctor appt. (yearly). Done after dishes, cleaning stove and sink (favorite jobs), fold some clothes…. read while Calvin is playing cars. Head home at 10:30, with a Martha Wash. geranium she doesn’t want to overwinter. Down in the valley, pick 6 corn and 2# of October raspberries…. good!!! Home for a load of wash and corn & salad lunch, and now ready to
    go to Seattle to visit my brother in a retirement home there. Will stay with him this aft. and for a good supper on fine white linen!!! That’s it for today for this old lady…82. Praising the Lord!!!


  2. Bethany Amsler says:

    thanks Mommy for the details of your day 🙂 Your garden is going great!!


  3. Bethany Amsler says:



  4. Jenn says:

    Very interesting day Mom! 🙂 Loved that time warp of the garden!


  5. Dad and Mom Whit says:

    Thanks for sharing, Martha. We think of you often and pray for you. Glad you made it back to land in that boat. It would be nice to have a garden growing any time of the year and yours looks great! Hello to all of you there! G. and M.J.


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