Missionary Report: Becky Gates

Well, I didn’t think I would have so much to write about this month, but I guess it has been a rather exciting month (for us anyway).

It rained all night Monday, and most of the next day. We are having a terrible time keeping the battery charged when there is no sun, so we only use it for talking on the radio.

Two little house wrens made a nest in my closet. I love hearing them sing in the morning–reminds me to Praise the Lord along with them. Tuesday morning I heard some little chirps, so I guess their babies have hatched.

[Boys play as rain falls]
Boys play soccer (football) in the rain.

Wednesday: What an exciting day this turned out to be! I should have known something was about to happen–the termites came out by the droves, leaving their wings everywhere. It rained hard most the night; kept waking me up! In the morning I ran down to the river to check on the canoe. The river was way up and Carlos had to dive down to undo the chain. During the morning it kept raining and the river kept rising. By midmorning the river had overflowed its banks. We brought the canoe up to ferry people across the path that goes over the creek. Soon my whole garden was under water. The children of course were having a marvelous time, swimming, paddling around or playing with little boats. I don’t think any of them had gone to school because of the rain. Since we had never seen the river this high, we snapped a few pictures of it.

We kept pushing sticks in the ground to document how high the water was reaching. Half an hour later we’d find the stick under water. We took all the clothes off the clothes line and moved them to the lines by the house.

By lunch time the water had reached the front door, so as soon as we finished eating, we began emptying everything out of the storeroom onto the dinning room benches. Surely the water wouldn’t reach past that, I reasoned. Uncle Claude and Uncle Joe moved our stove upstairs, and took the sewing machines over to the other house. Water was now sloshing around the storeroom, so I was glad we had moved those things. To be safe I decided I better move things from the benches to the table! We snapped a few more pictures!

Midafternoon. Things were looking serious. Water was past my ankles in the kitchen. We didn’t want to take a chance leaving our things downstairs. It took a little work, but with everyone’s help we moved things upstairs: food, dishes, books, medicines, radio, battery, etc., etc. Katie paddled the canoe though the front door. We took some more pictures!

Across the river, Jorge had sent out an SOS to move the things from his store to higher ground. Fortunately it was no longer raining. Surely the river wouldn’t keep rising. We heard that Mavis had evacuated to higher ground as well as Albert’s parents. We wondered how others along the river were doing. I ran up to the runway to take care of Lillian’s sore. When I got back I was shocked to see the water had risen and was now almost up to my knees in the kitchen. Bro. Phillips had tied a big rope around all the boards that had been cut to finish the house. I’m so glad he did that or they probably would have floated off during the night. He also advised me not to sleep in that house and to move everything off the top shelves as he remembered a time when the water had risen above his head.

Helpful neighbours helped us move the remaining things upstairs and we hauled our bedding over to the other house. Then we ran next door and helped them evacuate to higher ground. Again we took some pictures. It was so hard to belive this was really happening.

I sent a message over to Bertina inviting her to spend the night with us, as their house was now several feet in water. The kids were too keyed up to sleep, but I felt exhausted. I don’t know what time they finally went to sleep. I slept like a log. Crazy Leyland–he had his stereo blarring most of the night, turning ot off only long enough to move the equipment to higher ground. It is rumored that he and his buddies danced in the rising water.


[Boys and rainbow]
The rain and ballgame over, God places his bow in the clouds.

The next morning I found out that Uncle Claude and Bro. Phillips didn’t sleep all night. They paddled up and down the river helping people. The water kept rising until around 3 a.m.

When I woke up I looked out on an eiree scene that reminded me of one of Uncle Arthur’s Bedtime Stories. The water had reached the bottom step of Betsy and Ted’s house and the door of the “Tourist Office” (our outhouse). I was so thankful that it stopped there! I dread to think of the contamination if it had reached higher.

We jumped in the canoe and actually paddled into our house to survey the damage. Later we measured, and the water came up to my armpits. It was touching the edge of the roof of our cook shack, and totally covered our rain barrel. The night before I had stacked the benches up on the table, but now everything was floating around the kitchen, along with the shelves from the bookcase. We looked out the front door. The clothesline was barely visible. It was incredible! By now we had finished 2 rolls of film!

We were grateful to the Lord to learn that no one had been hurt, and that no major damage had been done. As the water slowly went down over the next 2 days we found all sorts of things missing, washed away by the flood: our compost pile, the fence Daniel and Zenobia had so laboriously made around my garden, the wonderful papaya picker my dad made, the stick to move the solar panel, the over prop, the mosquito net covering I had made for the rain barrel, that wonderful wood pile by the cook shack, and aything that could float in our trash pile! Poor Amrita, she had left a tub of clothes soaking down by the river–I imagine it is down by San Juan by now!

Some of the things we rescued in the nick of time as they were beginning to float away: Ted’s great shoe scrapers, Grammie’s famous wooden walkway, Poppie’s barrel of wood shavings, and the dish drains.

Katie and I had fun paddling way up the creek to that big pool you can see from Poppie’s trail, down the path to Mavis’ house, and across our neighbour’s garden to the bamboo patch. It was so strange to see everyone’s house standing in water. Poor Jorge, he had a strong current pouring into his house because of the location. Uncle Claude was so tired. He strung up a hammock in the cook shack only inches from the water. There was a nice breeze through there, so he got a good little nap.


[Our little house]
Our little house about to get flooded almost up to the second floor

We spent one more night in the other house, waiting for the water to go down. We had a big job putting the house back in order. We have some wonderful friends here, and several came to help us srubb the house. There was slippery mud everywhere. The wood had swollen and we couldn’t get into our silverware drawer for awhile. All sorts of creep-crawly creatures, including scorpions, had taken refuge in our homes. I was amazed to find that some of my garden (the yard-long stringbeans and okra) actually survived. But the rest of it (pumpkin, watermelon, green beans, tomatoes, peppers, papayas, cassava) has died or is dying.

The one regret I had was that I didn’t have Ted’s rain measurer set up. After the flood I set it up again. A few days later it poured cats and dogs again–3 1/2 inches in 1 1/2 hours! The river started rising and I started worrying. It was Kris’ turn to pray for lunch. He said, “Dear Jesus, please let the river get high enough so we can have fun again, but not so high that we have to do all that work again!” About this time I was able to make radio contact with David in the US. He was so disappointed that he missed out on all the fun. Katrina and Kristen are hoping for another flood!

Not too much has happened since the flood. I helped co-ordinate a medivac with military helicopter to pick up a patient in Arao. Of course it had to happen on Friday, so I spent most the morning running around the village.

We are all staggering around like drunks–I suspect the malaria prophylaxis we are taking. David claims it hasn’t affected him, but I almost toppled into the river while rinsing clothes. I’m ready to take my chances with malaria!

Caterpillars, big and small, are attacking the farms. Someone was telling Katie that the 10 plagues are already falling on Kaikan: sandflies, snakes, tigers, malaria, locusts, draught, fire, flood, caterpillars…not sure yet what the 10th will be! I do feel the Lord is trying to wake us up. Time is short, and it is so important to have that special personal relationship with God, so that we can trust Him to take care of us no matter what might befall us, knowing that everything is in His hands. Please help me pray for these people. I feel certain they will go through some difficult times in the months ahead as far as the food situation is concerned.

Well, that’s the end of this month. I hope you all had a great month. Until next time, Lord bless each of you.

Love, Becky

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