December 19, 2014

Musical Interlude: Feliz Navidad Like You've Never Seen It

I was traveling without the laptop this last week, so silence has reigned here at the blog.

And I can't think of a better way to break the silence than with this...

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December 9, 2014

Further Adventures of Missionary Max: Boat Ministry

Chapter 5 of the second Missionary Max book. You can read the previous chapter here, and buy the first book here.

Boat Ministry

Fog shrouded the beach as the small band set out for Emerald Island early Monday morning. Besides Max, Ilana, and Mary Sue, there were three young Yamani warriors--one representative from each sept of the tribe. They travelled in two long dug-out canoes, Ilana, Mary Sue, and one of the warriors in one, and Max and the remaining two warriors in the other.

Mary Sue was not especially pleased with this arrangement, nor was she happy with much else that had happened that morning. In the pre-dawn darkness Ray had taken her back to Bernadinho’s house to change. Meanwhile, Max raided Ray’s military surplus stash. When Mary Sue returned, Max was dressed in camouflage fatigues, his face covered with black and green paint. A machete in a leather case was strapped to his back, and a canvass knapsack--containing radio equipment and other miscellaneous supplies--was slung over his shoulder.

Mary Sue, on the other hand, was wearing a crisp blue blouse and navy culottes. White tennis shoes completed the ensemble.

“Really?” Max asked. “You’re planning on traipsing through the jungle in that?”

“Well, Maxwell Sherman,” she said in her lecture voice, “what did you expect me to wear...”

Her voice trailed off as she saw Ilana standing behind him. The native girl sported the same dress she had been wearing as she and Max had scrambled pel-mel through the jungle just ahead of a howling horde of Yamanis. It was made from the skin of a jungle cat called an onça pintada, although the spots caused many to confuse it with a leopard. Her face, arms, and legs were painted in the camouflage of the tribal hunters. It was different in form from the Ranger-style camouflage paint Max wore, but the purpose and net result were the same.

“I… I do not approve of this!” Mary Sue huffed. “What she is wearing is totally inappropriate!”

“For where we are going, what she is wearing is much more appropriate than your--whatever that is.”

“Why, Max...”

Max was not about to endure another lesson. Not now. “Listen, Mary Sue--after fifteen minutes in the jungle, you’re going to wish you were wearing something less… balloon-like. Now, you have a choice. You can accept the reality of what we are doing, or you can stay here and wait for us to come back. Your pick.”

Max was secretly hoping she would choose the latter option, but instead she plopped herself back into seat of the VW and sat there in pouty silence until they arrived at the beach.

Now, as the sleek dugout canoes knifed through the choppy waves, Max glanced over at his girlfriend. Her long blonde hair was soaking wet and matted to her head. Her clothes were drenched. She huddled in the middle of the canoe, obviously miserable, and yet her jaw was set and her brow was furrowed--she was stubbornly determined to follow through with her decision. Despite the headache it was causing him, Max couldn’t help but admire her for that.

At the bow of the same canoe sat Ilana, her arms glistening as she helped to row. Beneath the black war paint her eyes shone with a sense of adventure. She leaned forward, eagerly peering into the fog. To Max, the contrast between the two women could not have been greater, and the one he called his girlfriend came up seriously lacking.

The two way radio in Max’s canvas backpack crackled to life, interrupting his thoughts. “Nursing Home, Maxie Pie. Nursing Home, Maxie Pie. Do you read me? Over.” They had let Ray pick the call signs, which had been a mistake.

“Talk to me, Ray. Over”

“Everything OK out there, Maxie Pie? Over.”

“So far so good.” Max replied, ignoring the dig. “I think we are about half way. Ocean’s a little rough, but nothing these Yamani guys can’t handle. Over.”

“Good. What about ‘Jungle Princess’? Over.”

“Ilana is fine. Over.”

“And ‘Blond Battle Axe’? Over.”

Max cast a furtive glance at Mary Sue. Thankfully, she didn’t seem to have heard over the sound of the waves. He held the radio up to his mouth and hissed, “She’s miserable, and this is the last time I let you pick out the call signs. Over and out.” He placed the radio back into the knapsack. Looking up, he found he could just make out the cliffs of Emerald Island. He wondered what they would find there. What kind of reception would they get from the Shadow People? What remained of Ichi Kahn? What had provoked this sudden attack on the Yamani people?

These questions and more swirled in his head as they drew inexorably closer to the forbidding cliffs.

* * *

A man clad head-to-toe in black stood at the edge of a cliff on Esmeralda, looking over the ocean in the direction of Cabrito. With steady hands he held a pair of high-powered binoculars to his eyes, and watched as the two canoes approached the island. On his shoulder, a patch depicted a lightning bolt in a clenched fist.

After a few minutes he put down the binoculars and turned to another, identically-dressed man a short distance behind him.

“Sergeant, get señor Santana on the radio. Tell him we have company, and that we await his instructions.”

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The Ebenezer Congregation Sings "Days of Elijah"

Here in São Luís our churches have the custom of hosting an "Anniversary Conference" every year. Of course, at the conference of our founding church, the Ebenezer congregation shows up in force.

This year we sang the Portuguese adaptation of the song "Days of Elijah". What I most love about this video is when the instruments cut out and the people--especially the kids--belt out the chorus at the top of their lungs.

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December 8, 2014

Musical Interlude: I'll Have a Blue (bass) Christmas Without You

We begin the Christmas season with this nostalgic number.

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São José de Ribamar at Nightfall

São José de Ribamar is one of the four cities on the Upaonaçu island. Recently I was there just as night was falling, and took some pictures. The lighting, combined with the relatively low resolution on my iPad, made for some Van Gough-esque images.

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