Monthly Archives: March 2010

The nobility of man

Editor’s note: There are other writers who can write better than I. That fact is not that amazing considering my own lack of success in the realm of writing. And although the following could read like something that was written from my hand, currently I don’t have the time to write such eloquently.

The perceived nobility of man….  


Man in the best of his intentions perceives a act of nobility or divinity; and in the worst of atrocities perceives a deed of goodwill and charity.  Hitler as an example, was duped into believing that he was acting on favor to society by eliminating the Jewish race and varied other forms of “hereditary deficient” humans.  He was performing an act of charity to those in society that were of a superior stance.  


Through rendered services of good, man strives to attain some form of beneficence; always man strives.  Through him being a benefactor to either society or some higher power he is convinced of righteousness.  A god would not willfully destroy a being that rendered such honest and good services to those whose lives he affected.  Certainly he obtained some form of merit, some honorable rank through his deeds.  This can be pictured as Sisyphus, eternally pushing a rock up a hill but never achieving the apex.


We are told by God that he needs nothing, that all that exists is his, that we can not possibly give anything to him that is not already his by right.  And yet, we strive to earn our salvation.  We work all our life to become holy enough to squeeze into heaven.


Man’s confidence is the channel through which he perceives worth.  If man is not confident that he is doing something to benefit some cause he perceives himself as a failure.  Likewise, if man is not working to secure his eternal reward he becomes fearful of losing it.  With no confidence in himself man’s self-worth becomes negligible and his mind and life unravels.  Man’s self-worth is the center cog of the mind machine, without it the machine spins uselessly.       


Through many repetitions does man procure factual context, whether the statements be truth or fallacious.  The subjugation of humans to torture is sometimes for the simple purpose of acquiring information, but is more often used as a tool to cause compliance to a preconceived and “correct” doctrine [morality] or for punishment for failure to adhere to an imagination, doctrine, or moral issue.


The conscience is the framework and filter of all human morality and ethics, regardless how corrupted , twisted, or deceived it be.  If others succeed in convincing the central heart and conscience of failure then the structure of man’s ethics is shifted.  Perception is reality in the mind.


In all instances man acts on varied impulses that make perfect sense to his mind and are morally and/or intellectually defensible.  The said piece of behavior that accomplished the result is hinged to a ethical block that is located in some region of the framework of that conscience.  That block was placed there for the reason that the indicators upon learning and the space alloted aligned perfectly with the block.


Imagine with me that we had a block; on the top and bottom it was colored yellow, side one was green, side two was red, side three and four were black.  Now suppose all the blocks around it corresponded with equivalent colors on intersecting sides.  In the intellectual field it matters not where said block came from, for if the shape and colors are right, it belongs there.  It matters not if it has dynamite inside, or dead corpses, or that the colors change intermittently.  It matters not the source; to the mind, if the shoe fits wear it, to use a popular cliché.


Not only is the problem of blocks being corrupted a possibility, but the framework of the conscience can be distorted through various means.  The framework can be added to, causing additional unrequited moral matter; an overactive or grotesque conscience.  It can be subtracted from resulting in moral impairment.  It can be twisted to enlarge certain areas and diminish or virtually eliminate others.  Then we have the issue of the complex derivatives of the heart and the methods it uses to interpret this so called “DNA” framework of the conscience, but I do not endeavor to frustrate this article with that subject.


A man’s nobility is perceived in his mind as a predestined, defined attribute of humanity which is attained by strict adherence to the rules of doctrine. The perception itself is a solution to a complex formula.  We should assert that the rules of doctrine vary greatly among people groups. Said formula consists of in larger or smaller quantities these main functions, additional main functions, and some secondary ones.


The grandeur or vileness of a deed is entirely contingent on how accurately it patterns after our preconceived notions of morality….                               ….So much for the nobility of man.


This has been a guest piece that was written by a friend and posted for that friend by his friend(for mental health, unravel that one a couple of times). And I will do so in the future, should said service be required. Now, I must be off on my next adventure…retrieving fish that are buried 2 feet in mud.

I must be off, EJ

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Rain, Friends, Lightning and more Rain

This past weekend, Joby hoped that it would rain ‘cuz he’s going to Belleza. He got his wish; it dumped and the roads, according to him, were as bad as he’d ever seen them. Mark, the two Marys and I left in the afternoo to go to Duane Penner’s up in San Pedro. They’re a Holderman couple that used to live here in Camp 9. I’m not sure of all the connections but they met Mark somehow. Mark had wanted to visit them sometime before he leaves and this was the weekend to go. Duane had called about a week and a half ago and said that they would have room for more people so that is how the rest of us got ourselves invited.

We left Saturday at 1315 for San Pedro. For reasons unknown to me, they moved from Camp 9 to San Pedro to begin a church. They are fully supported and in the time that they have been at San Pedro, they have about 7 people that actively attend. On Sunday, there were 5 people there, 3 guys and 2 ladies. Children’s class was comprised of all 5 of Duane’s children. It’s kind of pitiful but one has to realize that they haven’t been there for very long.
Food: Mark and I agreed that the food was fabulous. Saturday night, we had pizza. The sauce that Brenda used was some kind of zingy bar-b-que and was really good. There was also a ‘nona’ fruit on the table as well. This is where ‘Noni’ juice comes from. Interesting stuff. The taste grows on you. Sunday morning, hot chipas, bananas and ensalada de fruta. The chipas were hot and crazy good. For lunch, we had a slightly different type of haystack. A type of corn chips, a rarity down here, was topped with a type of meat sauce. It wasn’t beef; more like chicken, I think. In describing it to the staff after we got back, the description was something like this, "It wasn’t beef. More like chicken; only different" which they thought was funny. Hey, we’re guys. We get along great with all types of food. After lunch, we sang for a while before we, that is Mark, I and the two Marias, left to come back.

Last night, before I went to bed, I stepped past the lights of our place into the inky darkness that exists outsid of the lights. The stars were non-existent, their brillance obscured by the clouds. And although their light didn’t penetrate the clouds, the clouds gave an abundance of sheet lightning, some call it heat lightning. Whatever term you apply to it, it was a magnificent sight. Sheets of light rippling in, out and among the various cloud formations. The entire south-southwest quadrant was lit up at times in a massive outburst of light. Some times, a far-off flicker to the sout would cause a ripple affect as the light danced further and further west. I saw few lightning bolts but the display was still electrifying. And even long after I went to bed, this light continued to flicker. Gradually during the night, it drew closer and closer. Around 12, I could see it above me. This was actually the advent of a storm. It broke around 0400 with sheets of driving rain. It awoke me, fortunately because my south window was open. Even then, I felt drops of water coming through….somewhere. If I knew, it wouldn’t happen again. It kept pouring for the next 2 hours and we probably received around 4-5 inches since the time it began to rain this morning. Some of the shops along the side streets in Camp 9 had water on the inside. My favorite cyber cafe was closed. Bummer, I wanted to spend the better part of the morning in there. Oh well, I tailed Mark through a few shops and stores.

All this rain should make for a fun ride to Bellaza. Which currently is my next adventure. This afternoon at 1330. Mud slicker than….I don’t know what. Or that’s the forecast anyways. Like I said, should be fun.


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A Creed for the Discouraged

Now, if I would have written the following, people who know me would have labelled me as being conceited and cocky. This would be nothing new, having already been told that in the past. And reading this ‘creed‘, I could see where one could get that idea. But I still like it. A lot. It reflects my view on life. The view that I can conquer life. This is only reinforced by the fact that I hold the hand of the One that knows it all. With Him, I can and will conquer life.

A creed for the discouraged:

I believe that God created me to be happy, to enjoy the blessings of life, to be useful to my fellow beings and an honor to my country. I believe that the trials which beset me today are but the fiery tests, by which my character is strengthened, enobled and made worthy to enjy the higher things of life which I believe are in store for me.

I believe that my soul is too grand to be crushed by defeat; I will rise above it. I believe that I am an architect of my own fate; therefore, I will master my own circumstances and surroundings, not to be their slave. I will not yield to discouragements; I will trample them underfoot and make them serve as stepping stones to success. I will conquer my obstacles and turn them into opportunities.

My failures of today will help guide me on the morrow. The morrow will bring new strength, new hopes, new opportunities and new beginnings. I will be ready to meet it with a brave heart, a calm mind and an undaunted spirit. In all things I will do my best, and leave the rest to the Infinite. I will not waste my mental energies by useless worry. I will learn to dominate my restles thoughts and look on the bright side of things. I will face the world bravely, I will not be a coward. I will meet my God-given birthright and be a man; for I am immortal, and nothing can overcome me.

Virginia Opal Meyers


Thanks, Mrs. Meyers

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Martes Crema Hielo

I’m not sure if a ‘de‘ belongs in between crema and hielo but for now, it’ll remain like so. Translated, today’s title is "Tuesday’s Ice Cream".

Tuesday 16: I barely got any sleep this morning. Mark Eichorn called Monday night and wondered if one of guys wanted to go with him up to Durango on a ice cream run. It didn’t suit Mark and Joby was still gone. I took the opportunity to get out and see more of Paraguay. So I woke up at 0110 and biked over to Marks. We left at 0130. Right away, I was introduced to something new…mate. I thought it varied more than terere but all it is is hot water and terere instead of the usual cold water. Bummer, gimme a cup of casida or cafe instead.

Durango is north and west of Camp 9 and I did manage to stay awake until the last 45 minutes or so, which was the worst possible time to fall asleep. The last 30 kilometers is traveled on unpaved roads and as I slept, my head, because of all the jostling and bumping, kept raising a inch or 2 and falling back against a uncushioned part of that Isuzu truck. My head still has the bump and the accompanying pain to prove it. It finally got to the point that I couldn’t sleep so guess what I did? I stayed awake. Seems simple enough, no? Well, within 10 minutes of rousing myself, we were at the store to deliver the ice cream.

Durango is actually part of a Old Order Mennonite colony or Mexican Mennonite, whichever you prefer. The native tongue is Plat Deutsch and the men also speak Spanish, having a need of it when conducting business. I’m not sure what the percentage is however not all of the men would speak Spanish. For me, I was intrigued by the sound of Plat Deutsch. The basic sounds can be found in the PA Dutch but it sounds like they put a German tail onto every word. It sounds wondrously cool language to learn. Maybe I can work on learning it despues yo aprendido Espanol, or after I’ve learned Spanish. Then again, I have said that I want to study Guarini to. This language bit didn’t faze Mark in the least. Armed with a fluent mastery of 6 languages and a workable Portuguese, not to mention being able to understand parts of Swiss and Afrikaans, he had no trouble conducting his business. I was only along for the scenery, not much of it on the way out, and for the muscle. We were done in 20 minutes and after loading up a old freezer headed back to Camp 9. Mark has lived in Paraguay for over 40 years and knows a lot of interesting particulars among the conservative and German colonies. We got back around quarter till 2 and I biked back to resume my studies of Spanish. But not before claiming a half-liter of ice cream, for which my taste buds are still thanking me for doing.

Be back with more,

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Toiling in Spanish

This past week was very quiet. Or so I thought. After checking my journal, I discovered that even if the week seemed tame, looking at it retrospectively, my taste buds were electrified by various culinary creations. On Monday, the staff went to Hildebrand, a local
restaurant. Unlike many of the restaurants around here, Hildebrand is not a churrasquieria. They specialize in fish. I’m not sure that I fully understood what the occasion was. But I didn’t ask questions, I just ate.

On Tuesday, Mark and I went to a local family for supper. This was genuine Paraguayan cooking and Nelson, the head of the household, warned me that I would get fat if I ate there too often. In my broken Spanish, I told him that I don’t see that being a possibility. Afterward, I could see what he meant. The food was excellent. One of these days I think I’ll be going back.

On Wednesday, the maintenance guys went to Mario’s for lunch. And the menu was…fish soup! They raise tilapia in a couple of ponds there on their property and fish seem to be plentiful. Tilapia is on the expensive side of dishes at restaurants in the States but down here, it’s one of the cheapest meats on the market. But there is nothing cheap about the taste. It’s very tasty; compares with walleye.(I can hear Dad protest over that.) Normally, toothpicks aren’t necessary when you eat fish but in this case, the toothpicks came built-in with the meat. The fish were not filleted and were as bony as a Canadian Northern Pike. Not complaining, only saying…good eating! Again, I’ll go back again if I knew that that item was on the menu.

But please, don’t assume that all I do is eat. Most of last week, I studied in Rosetta Stone. If my tally is right, I put in over 30+ hours last week. All this studying does a number on the body. Headaches are normal and one works up a appetite akin to a morning’s worth of physical work. Indeed, it’s appropriate that a blessing is prayed on the food. After studying all morning, I have no blessing in mind for the unfortunate articles that make their way onto my plate.

Back to language, it seems to be coming easier. At least 3 people have commented that I’m learning fast. (Thanks, but I’ve been known to pull wool over people’s eyes.) All in all though, I don’t think I have it as bad as Mark Twain claims he did when studying German. But as I think about it, I see more and more similarities between the two languages. However, it must be kept in mind that there is a reason why Twain ranks among modern literary greats. It’s his mastery of the English language and his ability to keep his audience involved in his subject. Now I don’t doubt his frustration with the ‘awful, German language’ as he calls it in his book. I could write such a book for the Spanish language. But it has to be kept in mind that he was a master story teller.


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On the edge, clinging to the rocks

I wish I had the picture here. Unfortunately, to save my SLR, I took Mark’s point and shoot with me to Garagant de Diablo, translation: Throat of the Devil. This was during my trip to the Igaucu Falls. My consolation is that it was a Olympus point and shoot. Nevertheless, I still don’t have the pictures of that particular walk. What I found particularly interesting, is that right at the edge, where the waters crash 225+ feet into mist, was life. Lush, green, verdant life. Not the type of life that exists in us as humans but life nonetheless. Clinging to the rocks were patches of grass. I didn’t measure them, for to do so courted death and needless to say, I desired life. But anchored to the rocks, they were free to wave and dangle in the mists and breezes that blew out from the falls. Not merely surviving but with the sub-tropical sun that is so plentiful in this part of the world, they thrived, being constantly fed sunshine and water.

But when one finds life in unexpected places, it seems to be that more remarkable, especially when directly contrasted with death. Running right beside one of those clusters of life was a stream of water not more than 3 inches deep and maybe 8 inches wide. Innocent right? No harm in it. This stream trickled for less than 2 feet before it slipped over the edge, where it merged into the mist. And I thought, how innocent it looks and how utterly damaging to one’s health is its end. Lo, this I considered and departed the wiser for it.

And that is all my studifried brain can contain. By the way, that is a new word, comprised of ‘study’ and ‘fried’. I do have one more thought. Supper. Yes but not just any supper. Genuine Paraguayan style. Don’t know what all it will consist of but I WILL taste everything that is put in front of me, even if it is oviduct (if you don’t know what it is, look it up. It’s in the English dictionary).

eh-hota, a.k.a, EJ

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The week in review — March 6th

I’m still working on a way to condense my life down here into a sensible post. One on hand, to make individual posts of events, such as this week’s trip to Argentina or Isaiah’s accident, would give me the space to go into great detail. The disadvantage to this is the need to constantly be writing my next post or next several. I am keeping a journal but the complete contents of that piece of literature are not to be divulged in a public manner. Or, I could do what I’m attempting to do here. For the first time on this space is “this week in review”.

Monday and Tuesday: This past weekend, Rosalyn, a Belleza staff member, was here at the main clinic along with her 3 guests, her 2 sisters and a friend. What brought them was the moon. I kid you not! If you give me the space to explain, I will, provided your laughter has subsided. Okay, have you desisted from you convulsions of mirth? One of the main tourist attractions here in our part of Paraguay is the Igaucu Falls. These falls are located on the borders of Brazil and Argentina. Once upon a time, Paraguay owned all of this but as part of their losses following the War of the Triple Alliance, they lost it to Brazil and Argentina. We maintenance men, who double as tour guides, would wish that Paraguay would own it. It would make border crossings, and the hassle that goes with them, a non-issue. These falls are open year round to visitors. They stretch out and seem to bigger than they actually are. The rate of water is only a 1/7th of the flow of the Niagra Falls but they are about 20 meters higher. Due to the recent rains, the rate of water was twice its normal flow, about 3.1 million cubic meters of water per second. But back to my explanation. About 4-5 nights a month, they allow visitors to tour the falls at night during the full moon. This tour is only for the Garanga del Diablo walk, which takes you right into the heart of the falls. Think Terrapin Point at the Niagra, except right in the bend of the Horseshoe. As I write, I realize how long it’s been since I’ve been there. It was this tour that Rosalyn and her guests wanted to take in. We, that is Mark and myself, Rosalyn and her company and Sharon, from here, left at 0430 on Monday morning and were at the falls a little before 8. Technically, I wouldn’t have had to have gone along but it provided me a opportunity to learn this part of my job description before I have to learn it on the fly. Yes, tour guide is part of my duties and as such, the majority of my trip was paid for. In light of that, why not? Plus, Mark was still recovering from a infection in his leg and held down a number of park benches during the day. He was saving his leg for the night tour. After touring the falls by day, we found a cheap hotel in the nearby town. The combined affects of getting up early and walking all day in the sun put most of us into a siesta for a couple of hours. Around 7, we left, heading back to the falls. Part of the cost of this tour included supper at the park’s restaurant. We were there in plenty of good time and after supper, we waited close to a hour before we left for the tour, which left a little after 2200 (btw, time is kept on the 24-hour standard and I will be using that standard in my writings). Before supper, we had seen some clouds moving in and prayed that it would be clear when we went out. It would be a disappointment to go out at night and not have a full moon to light the way. All said, I think it was worth our time to do that tour. But don’t time your trip down here just specifically for that.
Coming back to our dinky hotel, we promptly disappeared into unconsciousness. In the morning, after a breakfast of bread and your choice of coffee or tea, we crossed via ferry back into Paraguay. The better part of Tuesday was spent shopping in Ciudad del Este. Of course, the fabric stores were in demand but purchases were low due to the high prices. It was on our way back from C. del Este that we found out about Isaiah being run over by the Galloper, the clinic’s SUV (see the previous post). That night, a number of us staff went in to visit Maynards at Luz y Vida, the hospital here in Camp 9. It was a relief to see Isaiah in such good spirits, considering it could have been much worse.

Wednesday: The highlight of today was Isaiah being released form the hospital. He’s back in high spirits but one can see that he is sore.

Thursday: Had language class today. My frustration with the book that we are using as a course book is still there. What doesn’t help that frustration is that studying is hard work! After about 2 or 3 hours, one hits a metnal wall and just cannot think. For one who is normally quick of wit, this feeling is maddening…that of staring at a book, understanding the words but not the statement that those words create. But, today I started Round 2 of my Rosetta Stone program and it seems to be coming easier. Also, I’m making myself flashcards. This seems to further cement verbs and their various tenses into my cranial matter. So…maybe it is possible.
The staff played v-ball for about a hour. But the evening was hot and muggy and we soon quit. The dust on Primalina is getting bad and there wasn’t a solitary breeze to blow away the dust. It just hung around like a hazy mist. The pavilion was cleaned before supper but by the nights end, one could write in the dust that covered the picnic table.

Friday: Language class did go better today. It’s maddening, knowing, that I know more than I can grab a-hold of at a moments notice. Today is Friday, which means that it is youth night. We played v-ball at Walter Schlabach’s. Due to all the Hillcrest guys that are here, we had close to 40 people and it was a relief to play with 2 nets instead of the usual solitary one. Had some great games. After studying most of the day, the release of energy was sorely needed.

Saturday: Teodocio, my Spanish teacher, was under the impression that today was the last day of class. Quite frankly, I wouldn’t have minded, as I’m almost ready to study on my own. With the multitude of Spanish verb conjugations, my limited understanding was, if it already isn’t, beginning to spin. But toward the end of class, I reminded him that it was only the 14th day and I was 4 hours short of the agreed upon time of study, which is 60 hours. So next Saturday, we’ll recap what I’ve learned so far and go over the 3 main tenses of verbs. Sounds good, as I need some clarification.
Drank terere with Ramon, one of Mark’s friends and the son-in-law, we think?, of a man who did a lot of work with our herd. This
drinking-tea-with-locals-business is expected of the workers here. Tonight, I went to the Quincha, the thatched roof pavilion here on AMA’s property, to study. Without realizing it, I grabbed the wrong book and was too lazy to return and get the proper book. So I slept. Mark came out to read but it got dark and he took a nap to. We didn’t get back till it was dark. The lack of nearby city lights makes the stars exceptionally bright. Wow! And to think that this was done by chance?? I can understand the drive to try to reason that way but I don’t think so. The firmament is the work of His fingers and we, the work of His hands. Amen.

Okay, so I have given up on trying to be precise and concise. How can I? How do you put a week of your life into 1500 words or less? Fyi, at this point I’m under 1400 words. I think I hear my brother saying it’s possible in 2 pictures. I mean, I have lived this. Like I said, to write about the individual events takes time that I’m not sure I’ll have. I intend to enjoy life down here. So, don’t expect the majority of my posts to be less than 300 words. Life is just too big for that. It’s too complex It’s too delightful. It’s too full of God to be expressed in pat answers and snippets here and there.

If you have reached this line, thanks for staying with me. And do me a favor, shoot me a line, either as a comment at the end of this post or a email and tell me your preference. A weekly review or event by event? Also, if anything is unclear or you want further details or clarification, all you need to do is ask.

the Ericulean Edit,


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a miracle

Once again, we’re made to realize the dearness of life. I was on a trip to Argentina and wasn’t around here when this happened. No matter, I’ll attempt to be as accurate as possible.

In brief,

yesterday, around 8:30 – 8:45, Joby had a need of a vehicle. Exactly what is still unknown to me. Not giving any thought that the children might be around, he jumped into the Galloper and backed up. Feeling a bump, he stopped to investigate. I can’t imagine what he felt when he discovered that the bump was 18 month-old Isaiah. Isaiah, from what I gathered, didn’t make a sound. Immediately, a backboard was procured and Isaiah was placed on it. (here I’m growing restless, not having all the facts and yet using this space as a outlet for events that happen down here in Paraguay). Who all exactly took Isaiah initially to the hospital is unclear to me. As I have said, I was in and coming back from Argentina. By the time I heard about it, around 4:00 in the afternoon, the news was that there were no broken bones. That alone was a relief but what about internal injuries? This was not
immediately known.

After we got back and had eaten supper, a group of us went to Luz y Vida to visit Maynard and Cynthia. Really, I don’t think any of us knew what to expect as we stepped into the hospital room. But I don’t think that any of us expected to see Isaiah out of his bed and in very high spirits. His eyes had regained their sparkle and, although he might have looked a might pale in complexion, his mouth was turned into that mischievous, welcoming grin. He recognized all of us and made gestures accordingly. He still didn’t have the strength to stand on his own and he wasn’t running around like we are used to seeing him. But, wow, God is good and it was good to see him grinning and being completely oblivious to what could have been.

Today, he was released and is back at the clinic. He still can’t run around and seems to slightly resent it. But he doesn’t have the strength to play like he did this past weekend. Currently, he owns only a few bruises on his thighs. In a couple of weeks, barring anything unforeseen, he won’t even have those.

God is good!!!

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