Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The boat

Someone thought that the boat featured in an earlier post was the boat we were on. No, we were on a much larger boat, the J. J. Mesquite, with two stories (not counting the roof) and about 10 cabins or so. It had recently been refurbished, and this was the second time the boat had been used since then. I don't have a picture of the whole boat but here are some parts. First, one of the hallways on the second story:

Here's the main common room, where we eat and hang out:

Then the place where the captain steers the ship. The captain, Capitão Rai (pronounced "hi"), is on the far left:

Edit: Blogger is having trouble loading this picture for now. I'll add it later.

The schedule on a typical day. The actual times vary quite a bit depending on the situation.

6:00 am: they turn off the AC in the rooms. This is enough to get most people up in the next 30 minutes.
7:00 am: Form a bucket brigade in the common room to bring the food from the kitchen (downstairs) up to the tables. Grace, and then breakfast. Two people clean dishes (rotates among everyone in the boat)
8:00 am: Group worship time
9:30 am: Start duties: Medical team starts seeing patients, Vacation Bible School starts for kids, teams go to visit homes
11:30 am: Return to the boat. Same routine as breakfast, for lunch.
12:30 pm: siesta
2:00 pm: Second round of duties (medical, VBS, house visits)
4:00 pm: Soccer with the locals
5:30 pm: Return to the boat, dinner (same routine as in Breakfast, lunch)
6:30 pm: Devotional
7:30 pm: Hang out, play cards, watch the stars, chat about life
10:00 pm: Most people go to bed by now

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Amazon river

As I said we traveled by boat from Manaus. Our first stop was at Autazes, just for picking up supplies. To do this we went downstream and back up a tributary. Below is a map from Google Maps. Manaus is in the upper left and Autazes is in the lower right, labeled with a red A marker:

The rivers flow from left (west) to right (east). Note that some rivers are blue, and others are black. The blue rivers actually look brown up close, and are full of sediment; the black rivers actually look black in real life and are full of organic matter. Manaus is actually at the crossing of two rivers: the Rio Negro in black on the top-left and the Solimões river (the Amazon proper) in blue on the bottom-left. As you can see, the rivers maintain their color for some distance even after they merge. This is apparently something you can see when you're there but we missed it because we got there at night.

We visited several villages: São Félix, Igapizú, Murutinga, and one place that we had church services at that I didn't get the name of. I did find Murutinga on Google maps (the others are probably too small, but are in the area of Autazes and Murutinga):

We came at the peak of flood season, so there was more water and less land than is in the map here.

For Igapizú, we couldn't bring the boat in to shore but took some smaller boats in. In the previous post there was a picture of locals taking a boat. That was at Igapizú, and that shot was from our boat.

More about the boat next.

Friday, June 24, 2011

What we did

We started in Manaus (the capital of Amazonas) and together with Manaus Presbyterian Church went on a boat to various villages along the Amazon river.

I mainly worked with the kids, helping teach Bible lessons. Here's a school in one of the villages:

Here is Ketyb (one of the translators from Manaus) running the Bible school in our first village, São Felix:

Here are some kids after class. They're playing with balloons they received at the end of class.

Boats are the main mode of transportation to and from the village:

Besides Bible school, there was providing medical care (I didn't do this so I don't have pictures) and visiting homes (often lay leaders of the local village church and the sick). We also had worship services, prayed for villagers, and shared our testimonies. But mainly we were there in union with the Christian community in the villages.

More later about the boat and the Amazon.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I'm back!

I've returned to the US now. The trip was amazing. More details to follow.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Going to Brazil

I haven't updated this blog for a number of years, but I figured this would be a convenient way to share with my friends and family what is going on with the mission trip to Brazil.

Unfortunately I won't be able to update this blog while I'm on the Amazon--there's no internet access--but I'll post a few things beforehand and maybe while we're in Manaus I'll find a way to update it, but most of the updating will be when I get back home.

First, what the trip is: This is a mission trip with my church, Malibu Presbyterian Church, to support the work in the Amazon by Manaus Presbyterian Church, located in Manaus, the capital of the Amazonas region of Brazil. They send medical missions up and down the Amazon river to villages that are mainly only accessible by boat. Our role is to support and encourage that mission by joining one of these boats, helping with medical work, help run what needs to happen on the boat, work with locals on what they need, sharing our lives with them, doing a Bible program for kids, and in general, help with whatever the regular year-round team needs to do their work.

We leave this evening. More specifically, I leave for the airport this evening, and our flight leaves at 2 a.m. from LAX, connecting in Panama City, to Manaus. We'll arrive at 4:17 p.m. local time (I think it's 4 hours ahead of us, considering we're on daylight savings and they're not) and go to their evening church service. Monday through Friday we'll be on the river. Saturday and Sunday we'll be in Manaus, and Monday early in the morning we leave for Panama, where we take a tour and leave for home.

Here is our team, mostly (photo taken at a group meeting at Gary's house this past Sunday):
From left to right: Gary Isbell, his daughter Haley Isbell, Nicole Schussel, Brett Schussel, John Lawrence, Kevin Iga, Tim Jones. Not pictured: Jonathan Fast, who is Tim's friend from somewhere else, who will be flying into LA today and meet us at LAX.

Monday, September 01, 2008

New Chinese characters

[Sorry for those who've been waiting for another blog post--I've mostly abandoned this blog but I "needed" to post something on Language Log, and this seemed the way to do it.]

On the MTR (the Hong Kong subway system) there were random signs like the ones below.

The sign purports to define a new Chinese character, newly coined, though constructed from pieces of other characters. A HK native informant tells me that the cultural reference is to Shaolin Soccer, a very popular comedy about a Kung Fu group that comes together to fight evil and win soccer tournaments. Apparently they had some made-up words there, and this was one of them.

Immediately below, in white, it gives a character dictionary entry, with sound "kwen2" (the 2 refers to the tone), and then a mock definition.

In black, it mentions that 3,529,000 people will be learning this in three weeks, and that you can advertise.

The sign appears to be advertising the concept of advertising on the MTR--I'm not sure, but I can't figure out any other purpose.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Conference in New Orleans

I've been at a math conference in New Orleans.

I haven't really had time to go see the city much. We're in the French Quarter, which was never really hit particularly hard. But there are tours to the other areas. I didn't go. Around here there has been some visible damage, but most of it is back up and running. The other areas are still without electricity.

The talks here have been really interesting. I've also unexpectedly run into people I've met before. And people I met before but they remembered me more than I remembered them.

Just got through judging an undergraduate poster session. Quite a wide range, from very impressive to pretty good. In each case, I think the students really got a lot out of it.

I also went to the talks sponsored by the Philosophy of Math group, which I'm an officer of. Quite a wide range of ideas there too.

One of my colleagues got food poisoning, so he's recovering in my room. We check out in about an hour and head to the airport back to LA tonight.