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Stories from the Amazon - Twitter Pitter

There is a type of bird in Brazil that is very pretty, and sings beautifully. They are called Palm Tanagers. One day my brother, who was probably 9 or so, was playing with his friends at one of the mission base houses. There was a palm tanager nest in the rafters of their porch. One little baby bird got scared and fell out of the nest. For some reason they didn't, or maybe couldn't, put it back in the nest and my brother John brought the baby home to me, since everyone at that time knew me as the animal person who would take in anything and care for it.

We weren't quite sure what a baby palm tanager would eat but we figured that fruit was probably a good option so I began to feed the baby chunks of papaya and banana and other fruits.He loved the fruit. He would sit there doing a happy dance with his mouth open as I shoved small chunks of fruit down his throat. We named him Twitter Pitter.  Twitter Pitter grew his feathers and bonded greatly to me. He could be anywhere in t…

Stories from the Amazon - Took the Toucan

When this story happened, I was a teenager and well known on the mission base as being the crazy animal lover kid. Actually, when we left the mission base and moved into the city, our old house became known as the Farm House, which really tickled my funny bone.

My parents and almost all the other families on the mission base were full time missionaries. However, occasionally, other people would come on short term mission trips. Some would stay a year, some only a few weeks. We kids, always looked forward each summer to seeing if any new people would arrive and what they would be like. Some of them we really liked, like the short termer who would always fix my toy horse's broken legs, or the other one who would cook up some tasty homemade tortillas for the gang of kids. One summer, an older lady arrived and she went to one of the Indian villages to spend a few weeks. We kids never really got to meet her because she didn't spend much time on the base. When she arrived back to th…

Stories from the Amazon - Horse in the House

Foxy was my beloved second horse, a chestnut fireball, full of energy, challenging, fun and I loved her maybe more than any other horse I've ever had. She is probably the horse who made me the rider I am today and taught me so much about communication between horse and rider. We had many adventures together. This particular one happened after probably a year or two of owning her when I was around 17 or 18.

Every year in our town, before the annual state fair,  there would be a parade down main street. They would usually always start by the train station by the river. Our town was a river town, right on the banks of one of the larger tributaries of the Amazon river. It was called Rio Madeira, or Wood River (translated). Years before I was born they harvested rubber out of the jungles and there was a train that carried the rubber to wherever they took it. This was long before my time though and all that remained was a train station museum and some old tracks and a few really old tra…

Stories from the Amazon - Swamp Kids!

Missionary kids are a very unique type of people. There are actually books and studies out about them, although I haven't read too many. Actually any kid who grows up in a country that isn't their parents' native country is called a third culture kid. Missionary kids understand each other. They have a special bond that only they have. We didn't fit in except amongst ourselves. We weren't Brazilian and we weren't American. We didn't have the new clothes, the boyfriends, the shopping malls, the cliques, the video games, the tv and the school clubs. We had experiences that nobody else had. We had depth of knowledge, character and maturity. We knew several languages from a young age. We had seen things and experienced things that most people never would. It was very hard as a kid trying to fit in and find my identity, purpose and destiny. (I finally did, I think)  Now I appreciate that childhood and everything that I experienced. Then, not quite so much.

But th…

Stories from the Amazon - Rabid Honeybear

I was around 14 at the time this story takes place. I had my first horse, Nathaniel, at the time. Every day I would ride him. We went everywhere together. Sometimes I'd pretend I was Alex Ramsey from the Black Stallion and he was my firey Arabian stallion galloping along the beach. Sometimes I'd just sit on his back while he was grazing and read whatever book I currently was on, always a horse book. Usually we would discover trails in the jungle that nobody else knew of or I'd practice my equitation and dream of riding in the Olympics some day. He was a wonderful first horse and patient with all of my learning about horses.

Our house was being remodeled and we were living in what the mission base referred to as the Children's Home.  It was called that because sometimes during the school year a missionary family would live there and take care of all the missionary kids so that the parents could spent time in the Indian villages. My brothers and I stayed there in that pu…

Stories from the Amazon - The time I almost became an Indian...

Ok, maybe not quite an Indian but almost! But let me start from the beginning.

My parents were missionaries to Brazil. They went there in 1974 (I think) and their objective was to work with native Brazilian Indian groups to translate the Bible into those languages. After working for several years with several hostile Indian groups (a story for another day), they were finally assigned to work with a very small group called the Banawa and my dad had gone on a few trips into the village without the rest of us to start making contact with the people. This Indian group was very excited to have us come live with them and they eagerly started building us a house and we started preparing for a long boat trip and a long stay with them. Now you have to put out of your mind any sort of modern luxury or convenience and think of America in the 1800's or something like that. There were no toilets, no stores, no doctors, no running water, nothing anyone of us today is used to. But my parents lov…

Stories from the Amazon - The Blind Dog Sees!

Crime was very prominent in our town, being the gold rush city that it was. Houses were close together. As in, close enough that you could hear your neighbor's argument, or see in their kitchen window to see what they were making for lunch and you'd better have curtains on your bedroom window. Everyone had tall brick walls (except our neighbors had a short wall) and most walls had shards of glass sticking out of the top of the wall to help prevent thieves. And everyone had a big, scary dog or two in their back yard.

My choice in dog, since I was the only dog person in the family, was a Great Dane. I got my first one for a Christmas present when I was 14 years old, shortly after I got my first horse. Her name was Mandy. I guess my family thought that with all my daily rides on the horse, I needed some extra protection. And she was a very loyal protector, defending me from anything (or anyone) she thought was a threat. Actually, she was quite aggressive and my later Danes never …