Friday, December 14, 2007

Peruvian Ingenuity

Unfortunately these are not recent pictures; I wanted to show Brent a picture of my framing hammer. While I was looking for it I found a few other pictures and although anyone interested in them has probably already seen them I will post them anyways.

For lack of a plane to cut back the wood covering the door frame I become a machete carpenter (and you thought a jack knife carpenter was bad)

When one wants to be sure that their sewer drains away from the house and doesn't have surveying equipment... you us a string with a line level and then mark on a board to make sure that the depth of the ditch increases an inch for every four feet it travels.

This is a hinge I saw for the grate covering an electric meter which is made from two links of a motorcycle chain (you will notice that the grate itself is made of rebar)

This high tech paintbrush is made from a stick, good old duck tape, and dog hair... it served its purpose well.

And finally the picture that the post was made for, when one is faced with tough wood and big nails you need a framing hammer (Brent's blog isn't really about a framing hammer but his mention of the wood sparked my memory back to this bit of ingenuity of which I am quite proud)

Monday, November 5, 2007


A hitchhiker with a large pack was thumbing a ride one bitter cold afternoon. The gusts of wind were driving sleet and rain so that it stung his face when it hit and sent chills down to his bones. When he didn't think he could take any more, a kind hearted farmer stoped to give him a lift. He gratefully climbed in the cab of the farmers truck and took his seat all the while telling how thankful he was that he no longer needed to walk in the bitter cold. After a few miles the farmer asked why he still had on his heavy backpack; the reply came back that, since the farmer had already been so kind in picking him up and giving him a ride when the alternative was so miserable, it wasn't fair to make the farmer carry both him and his pack along on their journey.

Are you still carrying a burden that has already been taken care of?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


I have discovered that it is painfully difficult for me to learn something I can't apply. This Spring when I went through a week of training to work with the horses at camp I took a test to see how I learn best and came out as almost exclusively a kinesthetic learner - I need something that I can put my hands on (or imagine putting my hands on) and work with. Today in Circuit Analysis class the concept of a capacitor came to life for me as I realized exactly how it could be used - and how simply: just connect it to a power supply such as a battery for a few seconds and then bring it to whatever you want to shock (first I'll need to embroider our doormat with copper wire so that when little brothers come with their bare feet....). Another concept that was hard for me in Statics class two years ago was Inertia - but having it explained through demonstration in Physics class it is many times easier to calculate - even thought the formulas haven't changed a bit. I believe that it is for people like me that God has given us so many illustrations and symbols of who he is and what his nature is. Jesus spoke in parables so that, among other reasons, people could understand things of a nature that, had they been explained directly, would not have been understood or accepted. Since He continually pointed to things around Him with which his listeners were familiar, all could understand deeper truths than those who had studied the scriptures to great length outside the context of the nature and work in which Jesus had grown up. The more I experience God's creation in nature (and now even more so through the laws of physics) the more I am able to understand Him and His word.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Friction Stir Welding

The Andrews University chapter of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) took a field trip the shop of someone who designs friction stir welders. This welding process produces much less heat and doesn't produce an arc - watching the welding process is essentially like watching a pice of metal pass through a milling machine (the grandfather of friction stir welders) without sending off any chips.

a weld (approximately one inch wide and creating a depression of a few thousandths of an inch on a thick piece of aluminum alloy)

One of the welding tips - the screw-like point presses into the metal and between that and the plate above it exerting 100kN (about 11.2 tons) of force on the workpiece and spinning at somewhere between 200 and 1800 rpms creates enough friction to bring the workpiece just short of it's melting point and mixes material from both sides together creating a clean, uniform weld that is stronger than conventional methods for welding aluminum alloys, copper, and titanium.

They showed us a CAD (computer drawn) based video clip of how one of their machines will be used for a new rocket that NASA is building but were unable to show us the whole thing due to the fact that there were non-US citizens in our group and the tag of the video said "sensitive but unclassified". They also wouldn't let us take pictures of a number of parts they had in their shop that belonged to various customers. At one point I was asking some questions about the welding process on a particular part when one of the designers said he would show me one of his 'dirty tricks' . He took my notebook and began drawing, showing me how to take a particular bolt and, through use of a lathe, turn, drill, and tap it in a particular way making one of the welding tips (much like the one pictured above) that can be used even on a milling machine (given a big enough machine and some practice). He said that when customers wanted him to try out a new bit design this was how he did it, that way, when writing up his report he could just look up the Rockwell hardness of the bolt, give it's dimensions after turning and not mention how exactly he had made something with such a high tech job in twenty minutes from materials available at your hardware store... it wasn't 'till I was on the way home that I realized that this had absolutely nothing to do with the part I was asking about but rather had been a distraction from it.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Outdoor Activities


For the second geocache, my cousin(Terry Trecartin) sat for quite some time while his wife and I were looking for it - he kept laughing and saying that the gps was right on the money (there was not much place to hide it; a lawn and a chain link fence so we were thinking it might be a little farther away from the coordinates given), that he knew where it was, and that he couldn't believe we hadn't found it. After some time he began telling us exactly where it was... and we still couldn't find it. Finally, after telling me I had my had on it (and still hadn't discovered it) he pointed out a fishing line I hadn't noticed going down into the top of a post.

'Other' activities: (tin can + .22 ) x 10 min=

Monday, August 27, 2007

Spiritual Environment

A rising tide will lift all the ships in the harbor.
-quoted by pastor Larry Lichtenwalter

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Scripture memorization

Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD.
Amos 8:11

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
1 Peter 3:15

Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
John 5:39

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
Psalm 119:105

And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. and thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.
Deuteronomy 6:6-8

We might close the door to many temptations, if we would commit to memory passages of Scripture.
EGW doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.
Deuteronomy 8:3

Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee
Psalm 119:11

Memorizing scripture will put your spiritual life on steroids and help you to resist temptation. I started with a bible study group two years ago at Andrews and it has provided a bridge from my devotional time into the rest of the day where you can, as you work on memorizing a text, continually contemplate its meaning and life application. This summer I fell behind on my memorizing... or more accurately stopped completely. But now, as I head back to school I am determined each week to memorize at least two new texts as well as reviewing and sharpening the ones I had previously... and I am asking you to join me.

Monday, August 13, 2007


Cherokee Horse staff 2013... in the meantime they are excellent assistants
My fellow day-offer

Theere are certain people who can't leave a fellow alone when he wants to eat his food and look at the beautiful view over the lake... instead they bring good company and pleasant conversation to what was already an enjoyable meal.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

More Peaks

Our hike started at the end of a little spur off the road to Adirondak lodge (to save ourselves the $9.00 parking fee) The trail in to Marcy dam was a road at one time so the trail was smooth with no steep inclines and the bridges were strong and wide... after that we had more typical adirondak trails.
Take a careful look at the last line of the sign that someone scratched in. This, to me, is by far the most important.
(left to right: me, Joel , and Brian )

From on top of Wright you can see heart lake between us.

Our second peak was Algonquin and if you have a good imagination you can picture Iroquois behind us.
The last peak for the day was Iroquois where we got a good view of flowed lands, which, I must say I have a warm spot in my heart for. We stopped to take a dip in one of the creeks on the way back down (I think my feet were numb before the rest of my body hit the water) and then hiked back out by Avalanch lake.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

18 mile day off

From the top of Mt. Marcy looking down on the world... or at least the state.

Joel hiking down Marcy towards Skylight
From the top of Skylight with Marcy in the background.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007


Yesterday on my day off I went to Eagles Nest Cave with our maintenance director, Joel Kurtz, our camp cook Cassie, and our camp directors daughter Amanda. My first experience underground (except for a couple guided walks with electric lights overhead) was well worth the time it took to put a chinstrap on one of the camps hardhats and ask Joel a billion questions as to what else I should bring. The hike up was beautiful (as you can see above) and as we entered the cave we did not make many arrows pointing to the entrance because there were already quite a few there. Lauri, our maintenance director knew the cave and had the gear that we used but, once we got deep into it and decided to start heading out we discovered that we had followed arrows into a series of several vertical circles with many dead ends leading off of them that we went through many times before finally finding our way out. In one place several arrows pointed into a hole that ended within three feet and appeared to have been recently blocked up possibly by an earthquake or something. We finally found our way out when we stumbled upon the bottom of the rope we had rappelled in on and allowed to fall farther down a hole below us before going around a different way.
Joel Kurtz is helping Amanda off with her figure eight.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Canoe trip

This summer we were not able to do our usual trip due to too short a window of time and a two and a half day driving time up to where we would need to start - we should have made it down the Nottaway to James Bay but couldn't fit it in. We were, however able to go on a short, tame trip - not even quite a camping trip due to a lack of rain, bugs, and inclimate temperatures. We went 60-70 miles through a couple lakes and down a river with a bunch of dams on it into Lake Superior. It was just hot enough that we were able to go chunky dunking a couple times a day but the water was still quite "refreshing".

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Horsemanship Training

I spent last week at Camp Winnekeag in Massachusets for a equestrian instructor certification class so that I can work at Camp Cherokee this summer. My schedule was full from 5:30 A.M. to 10:30 P.M. but I was greatful for the knowledge I gained and the friendships I built with others who desire to use horses as an evangelism tool in our SDA summer camp programs.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Camp Cherokee Work Weekend

The following pictures (posted at the request of Christy) were all taken by my mom on her nice camera - which is why they are each loaded into a seperate post, since due to their size, I can't fit more than one per post and I don't know how to compress the files on the computer - only on the camera.

Build Your Foundation on the Rock

Trail crew

left to right: my brother Andrew, Christy, Justin,Ashley

Excruciatingly dull (the chain saw of course)

Highway construction crew

Friday, May 18, 2007

Difficult Doorhanging

It all started when Andrew told me that Ev Jhurs wanted a door replaced and wanted to know if I could do it. I told him that it would be no problem - I could come over and measure so he could get a new door and then return to do the installation when he got it. It was a small door with a rough opening of 32"x80". The next day he said he had the door so I went over and took out the old door. The board underneath was rotten, and as I was getting ready to replace it I took a look at the door he had gotten; the door itself was 32"x80" ... and it's casing was on the outside of that. I brought the problem to Mr. Jhurs and he decided that it would be better to make this door fit than to get a different one. So after a day and a half of tearing things apart, re-framing, chiseling out and then re-pouring part of the floor to make it level, adjusting the siding on the outside of the house, adjusting the carpet on the inside of the house, putting the door in, and rebuilding the wall on the inside of the house we finally had the door in place. Then for the doorknob. I knew I was in trouble when I saw an $8 price tag on the box... and sure enough after half an hour of fooling and actually reading directions (poorly translated - probably from Chinese) I determined that it could not be used for what we wanted it for and asked Mr. Jhurs if he would mind getting a different one. While he was going to get it I cleaned up most of my mess and when he returned with a "Quickset" I was able to finish within a few minutes using a doorknob of infinitely better quality.
The morals of this story are first, that if a rough opening is a certain size get a door that will fit - casing and all , and secondly, if you are paying someone to do something for you get quality materials - they will last longer and you will pay a lot less for the labour of trying to make something work that isn't fit to be used.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Pictures from the Market

Pig heads... at least i thought they were from a pig when I took the picture... but now that I look at them the nose seems far too long... something nasty nonetheless.

Turtles, turtle innards, and turtle eggs

The hottest peppers you would ever care to eat.


Here in Perú pollution seems to be quite rampant and few if any of the locals seem to care. There is no thought whatsoever given to littering, sewage treatment, or air quality - our emmisions standards here are that if you can get your old engine to run it passes the emmisions test even if it fills the street behind it with black smoke. I once watched horrified on a boat on Lake Titicaca while the driver emptied the trash can on board into the crystal clear lake just a few minutes from the port - probably trying to save himself the work of hauling the half pound of bottles and wrappers half a dozen yards across the beach when he came in. The boy in the picture at right I observed in Inahuaya throwing plastic cups into the river. In the picture he is still playing with the last of about half a dozen which he threw into the river one by one waiting 'till each one had sunk out of sight before throwing the next. I asked him if he had thought that putting trash in the river made it look ugly pointing out some of the litter along the bank. His innocent reply was that whatever he throws in here floats a long ways away and he doesn't have to look at it. I then asked him what he thought about the idea that enough trash in the river could start killing fish and animals and once again he pointed out what to him was quite obvious: that there are lots of fish and animals and that they would always be here.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


Here is a picture of the waterfalls we went to on our trip to Iquitos. As John's blog has a very detailed account of what we did and saw I will not repeat it here but rather show a picture of the main falls.
Take note that part of the falls is coming out of, rather than over the rock... this water is far to hot to get in and even the main part of the falls is warmer than your average hot tub.

Thursday, March 15, 2007


For some reason unknown to me it seems that, when a Peruvian sees a "gringo" they automatically assume that the gringo would like to obtain one or more Peruvian girlfriends and/or wives. Everywhere we go there are people trying to introduce us guys to young women they know... some of which are eligible. Shortly after we got here we were having lunch with the family of an Adventist pastor and I was asked whether or not I had a girlfriend at home (a common question along with such questions as do you want a Peruvian girlfriend? do you like to dance? etc.), before I could answer the pastor told me that it didn't matter whether I did or not that it would be good for me to have one here. Another time, while we were traveling in Ecuador I helped a lady hang something on a high nail outside her little store; immediately noticing my height she motioned to a girl inside (presumably her daughter) and motioned for me to take her and leave. As I was still chuckling to myself she noticed John who had been a little behind me and she called back farther into the store for another daughter. We continued on (without the girls) but I kept wondering what the mother would have thought had we taken the girls with us and she had never seen or heard from them again. Once again, just today I was told I should marry a particular girl, I looked over at the one being spoken of who was nursing a baby and had an older daughter clinging to her shirt. We were in the poorest neighbourhood I have seen since being in Peru and she was by no means the cream of the crop even there. Her rotten teeth protruded from her half-open mouth at about a 45º angle to her flat greasy face and she was significantly heavier than most people here. But once again, as I walked away with Eber (who I was accompanying to his bible studies) I questioned myself, what might her character be like? How would she look and behave if given the proper love, lifestyle, and home? And the scariest: what would I be like if I had grown up with the same disadvantages in life?

Sunday, March 11, 2007

John's Recorder

Last Friday night after the house was clean and John and I had both showered I sat down at our table to do some reading and he went to get his recorder. Often, during some of the more peaceful times of our week the sweet notes of favourite hymns from John's recorder float around our house and I was looking forward to listening to him play. He sat back down and got off about three notes before he made one of the most disgusted grunts I think I have heard. When I looked over, both his hands and his recorder were covered with large ants that were quickly exiting from all the finger holes. He went out the back door and tried to shake them off, in the process shaking his recorder apart onto the back porch. After each piece was "clean" he put them back together and proceded to play.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007


The trip between our project and Campo Verde (the nearest town) is one I make quite frequently. I have used such conveyances as sandals, a motorcycle, a motocar, a pickup, and once, the plush cab of a tandem dump truck owned by a Brazilain contracting company that recently paved the road past our project. Today it was a taxi. I had begun walking towards town and before long was able to flag down a typical Peruvian taxi: a Toyota Corolla with bald tires and numerous cobwebbed cracks on the windshield from before the road was paved. It was already occupied by six people (four short of what it "comfortably" seats even though there are only seatbelts for five) and so I figured I would probably ride in the trunk since nobody was back there yet. I soon discovered that the trunk had four chickens with their feet tied together and a gunny sack full of piglets as well as a few little presents left by the chickens. I smushed into the back seat and completed my short journey into town.

Monday, February 12, 2007


This past week the doctor drew what to me was a powerful spiritual lesson from a frustrating experience.

Last summer, before most of us got here, our tractor was stripped of all valuable parts that could be carried off. Since then a lot of work has been put into getting the tractor working again and this past week it was finally running. The doctor and I took it back into the jungle down a very uneven, winding trail to where a pile of wood is that we needed to haul out ( the same thing we were doing with the truck in my previous blog) . When we were nine tenths of the way there on our second trip we lost all steering cabability. Up to this point it had been very hard to steer but now the steering wheel turned freely without moving the tires. For the next eternity the doctor drove changhing between first gear and reverse every fifteen seconds or so and using the brakes to help steer while I pushed the front tires in the direction we wanted them to go. When we got about half way back the tractor stalled (probably due to using the breaks a little too heavily for steering purposes) and, as the starter was not working (we had pull started it with the pickup), we left it there and went to lunch. Later that afternoon we gathered everyone to come and push it out while two people steered the front tires. While we were taking apart and cleaning the steering assembly to see what could (or couldn't) be fixed the doctor said that the tractor is like our lives; we can put lots of work into getting our life running the way we would like it, but if our guidance system is lacking we will accomplish nothing besides making ourselves frustrated and tired. God is the only steering system for our lives that is of any value, at the end of John 15:5 He states "... for without me you can do nothing."

Monday, February 5, 2007

The Mission Truck

Last week we borrowed an old pickup from the mission with wich to pick up some lumber we had cut out in the jungle. It is a Cheverolet Silverado 2500 with a four speed manual trasmission, a four cylinder diesel engine (not original), and four wheel drive, which, as we discovered later doesn't work.
When the doctor got to the project with the truck he told us we had to return it by noon to the mission. We all hopped in the back, drove down a dirt path that borders our property, and then turned off onto a semi-cleared area over top of a gasline that bisects our property. When we got to the entrance of our trail into the jungle the truck got stuck and it was then that we discovered the four wheel drive did not work. After getting the truck unstuck the doctor decided he didn't want to drive back in farther but rather carry the beams, some weighing over 200 kg, out to where the truck was. Being the lazy person I am and not wanting to carry beams I asked if I could try to back the truck in where it needed to go, the doctor agreed and I tookthe wheel. Driving as I would in snow so as not to spin the tires and loose traction I got back to where the wood was and made several successful trips back to the houses as well. Something we hadn't counted on, however, was that the truck is built a little differently than the Jeep we had been using before in that the driveshafts have nothing protecting them from the tall grass through which we were driving. I was shifting the truck into low range* to get in and out of the jungle trail and on one occasion was unable to shift out of it. I made the trip back to the houses very slowly and when I returned I explained my situation to the doctor who also could not get it out of low. We decided to make one more trip and then the doctor would have to hurry to get back for the 12:00 deadline he had. As I was leaving the jungle trail I went to shift into a higher gear and the clutch pedal went to the floor without disengaging the clutch. I yelled out the window that I wasn't going to stop as I had no clutch and proceeded to "float" it into second. fifty yards later the truck quit and we discovered the cause of all our problems: we had previously cleaned off the grass that had wrapped around the back driveshaft but the front driveshaft now had
enough grass wound around it to disconnect the lever that shifts in and out of low range, disconnect the clutch pedal to the clutch and finally ripped a fuel line out of the engine. We cleaned the grass out and reconnected the fuel line and shift lever but still had several problmems; when a diesel runs out of fuel you don't just start it up again like you can with a gas engine but rather "bleed" the fuel lines (a process which I know nothing about). We also were missing several pieces to put the clutch back together with and we had a nearly flat tire. The other guys went back to try to find the missing parts to the clutch and the doctor and I tried to start the truck. Through some miracle, after cranking for a while the engine turned over without bleeding any fuel lines and I drove (once again clutchless) while the doctor walked behind keeping an eye on the ever deflating tire. We finally got back to the end of our driveway by half past one in the afternoon, ate lunch and then I went into town with the tire to get it fixed while the doctor and a mechanic who had been working on our "tractor" put the clutch linkage back together with the parts that had been found. By three in the afternoon the truck was in working order and on it's way back to Pucallpa only three hours late (which is good for Peruvian time).

*The problem with the four wheel drive was in the front differential and therefore did not affect the decrease in gear ratio when shifting into low. This is also the reason why the front driveshaft was still turning.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Grandpa's New Chainsaw

The last time I was in Pucallpa I got an email from my generous grandfather telling me that he had deposited money in my checking account for a new chainsaw for the project. We have been using a couple of beastly chainsaws to cut even very small bushes and they are very tiring besides taking a long time to sharpen and being harder to tighten the chain etc. John and I went to the bank where I withdrew the money and then while the rest of the group was waiting in line at the post office to get packages through customs I went and bought a Stihl 250 with an 18" bar (as opposed to the meter long bars on the other saws).

The first day working with the saw was wonderful I could freely walk through brush and could even cut things that were higher than my waist without expending an incredible ammount of energy. I finished clearing in the more open area that we were working and proceeded to the actual "Selva". While I was trying to clear my way in to the first tree I saw the tail of one of our friendly neighbours sticking out from some brush. Not knowing the difference between different types of wildlife here I made the foolish descision to kill first, and ask questions later. I traced the tail forward to the head of a 7+ foot rainbow boa (that we could have sold alive for $1000 USD) and after a fair bit of work was able to cut the head of with the chainsaw.

When I came out to where John and Jackson were working, John came running at me swinging his machete and had I not told him that the snake was already dead I am convinced that he would have started hacking at me in an attempt to kill the snake.

I learned my lesson though, and if I find another large snake I won't kill it... unless more than half of me is inside it - just think of the tools we could buy with an extra thousand dollars!

Monday, January 15, 2007

ants, wasps, and granadilla

My past week could be characterized by three main points - besides what I was actually supposed to be doing.

John and I have been clearing trees from a section of land at our km38 project on which we intend to plant fruit trees. What we hadn't bargained on was that each tree has either an ant nest, or, more commonly, one or more wasp nests.

We quickly found a solution to the ant nests with a little gasoline and a lighter after which the nest might smolder for several hours before it was burned completely up. Then, with the aid of some beekeeping equipment decided to try the same weapon against the wasps. Unfortunately the mesh which my veil is made up of is large enough for these little friends to enter through and leave small presents on various parts of my anatomy.

The best strategy I have found so far is to squirt the nest with gasoline, quickly run over to where the unprotected John is watching, ditch the little devils onto him, and then return to light the nest on fire.

Here is John after trying to give an unsucessful butterfly kiss to one of the friendly residents of our land ... such as the one seen at right.

One can't have all bad without any benefits and I
was blessed enough to discover a place where there are tons of wild granadilla growing. These are essentially passion fruit although different people make different distinctions between the various kinds. The appearance is something like that of the wasp larvae that we are killing but for those who can get past their looks they are delicious. John and I have probably each eaten twenty of them this week alone.