The destruction of our home in TigrePlaya,

then building a new one in Betania.

Tigreplaya had been my home for many years. Mom and dad arrived here January 1970 and started to build their House (number 4 in the picture below). In 1972 the Wilhelm family arrived. Together they built up the mission base, and preached the word of God along the Maranjon and it's tributaries. Around 1980 the river Maranon started to eat away at the 300-500 foot wide sandbar that had formed years ago in front of the village. Tigreplaya had around 50 bamboo huts at the time. Slowly the sandbar disappeared, and in 1983 the river started to threat the mission base.

The mission base in TigrePlaya. Picture taken around 1980.

1 & 2 Houses built to accommodate all the sick Indians that arrived from all the rivers in the area. 3 the Church. 4 Agersten house. 5 Wilhelm house. 6 School hut. 7. The chicken coop. 8 The "motor-house" with the electricity generator and the outboard engines etc. 9 Storage for JAARS. 10 Mission's petrol storage. 11 Four element Yagi HF antenna on top of a 16 meter (53 feet) tower. The short-wave radio was our only means of communication with the outside world.

This picture clearly shows how the river ate away at the shore. In this picture you can clearly se that a half circle is formed, and the raft is floating in the middle of this half circle When the river started "eating", it could easily "bite" a half circle like this in around 20 minutes!

This picture is taken so that you are looking upriver, to the west. On the left, the roof of our house (Agersten's) is visible. It is obvious that the house is not safe anymore!


Christmas 1983, we left Norway for an other period in Peru. I had to finish up 9'th grade in a Norwegian school so that I could finish of the Norwegian equivalent of "Junior-High". The only Norwegian school on the South American continent was situated in Paraguay. So after dropping of my sister Maino on a farm in Evansville Indiana, we continued down to Atyra in Paraguay. There I attended 4 months of boarding school, and flew to Peru the summer of 1984. Due to some on going political quarrel between US airlines and Peruvian airlines, the intended direct flight from Asuncion Paraguay to Lima Peru did not run! So I ended up having to take a flight that included a night stop at Santacrus Bolivia. Here I was 16 years old at the time, and I had to pick up my baggage in Santacrus, find myself a hotel in town, get there and back to the airport the next day, find the right counter to check in etc. I had traveled a lot on international flights with my parents, so this worked out just fine.

June 1984 I arrived at Tigreplaya. Dad had already started to tear down the house. They had now moved over to the bamboo "school hut" (# 6 above). Bricks were terribly expensive at the time. So to afford building an other house somewhere else, we had to bring down the walls carefully with a sledgehammer. Then chisel of the cement carefully, and hoping the brick did not brake.

In the picture to the left there is not much left of the Agersten house. What is left is actually the toilet with shower. It was definitely the last thing to come down! Notice the HF Yagi antenna sticking up behind "the bathroom".

July 1984 dad and I traveled to Iquitos to by a "new" houseboat. Distance down river to Iquitos from Tigreplaya is about five days (traveling day and night) with a local merchant-boat. The boat had been used by a Canadian mission based in Iquitos. It was originally bought in Miami USA, and brought to Peru around 1974. (For more information check out my "boat page" that I'll post on the web some time. NB! It's not there yet!)


The Wilhelm family had already moved down river (east) to Industrial. They moved around March 1984. Industrial is usually not depicted on a "normal" map, but the location can easily be found. Industrial is situated where the Pastasa River flows in to the Maranon River. For me this was a sad time. The entire community that I had my childhood in was being wiped out by the river. The Wilhelm's and my parents had decided to split up to be able to cover the vast jungle area better. My parents had decided to move up river (west) close to a place named Sarameriza. In this way the word of God could more easily be spread to a greater number of people.

At the end of my summer vacation I helped load all the bricks into a "cargo boat" that brought them up to our new place, Betania. At this point I moved to Yarinacocha near Pucalpa to attend my first year of highschool.

August 1984 to June 1985: The lot that the mission had bought (Betania) was still covered with virgin jungle. With some help from the locals the trees were brought down, let dry in the sun, and then set fire to it. As you can see from the picture to the right below, the entire lot was now covered with huge logs crisscrossing all over the place. The logs did not burn up, only twigs, leaves and branches. The plan was to use the quality wood to build the second floor on the few house, and get rid of the rest somehow.

I suppose my mom is glad that this picture is pretty small, so that her outfit is not so visible. Wearing pants and skirt, was not the latest fad from Paris, but simply a must to escape all the blood sucking insects! Hoards of mosquitos by night and midge/blackfly by day. The "tropical-elmet" is worn to protect form the blazing sun.

Here she is unpacking a wooden crate with clothes for the local children. The crate was sent from Norway, and had picked up some moisture. Therefore the clothes had to be sun dried as they were unpacked.

Notice all the bricks in the front. They come from the house in Tigreplaya and have now arrived Betania to serve again in an other house.

This picture shows Betania's location with regard to the village Sarameriza. It is taken from the window of the JAARS Cessna 210 turbo. The view is from the east, looking towards the west.

As you can see, Betania was quiet place! Just a house alone in the Amazon jungle. The only way to get to Sarameriza was by boat. In the picture you can see the tin-roof of our house (as it looked like when it was finished) and a white little speck on the river side, which is the houseboat Doullos.

If you look at a map that is enough detailed, you will see that there is a dirt road that leads from the coast and all the way to Sarameriza. The last stretch of road to Sarameriza was often cut off due to bridges that collapsed in the raining season. The possibility of hitch hiking with a car to the "civilization" was something of a luxury! The trip was long and slow (days), but it was possible! Wow!


Upper left: Picture of sundown over the very first small hills in the horizons. This hills marks the start of the mighty Andes in the west. Obviously the sun goes down in the west, so this picture is taken in the same geographical direction as the picture taken from the Cessna 210 above. From this visible hills, and eastwards, there is nothing but completely flat jungle all the way to the Atlantic!

Upper right: Workers are cutting plank/boards (with a chain-saw) from the lumber on the Betania lot. This boards were utilized to build the second floor on the house. Using the bricks from the old house in Tigreplaya, and the lumber on the lot, the entire house cost only 1500 dollars to build!

Left: The boards cut with chain-saw are put up to dry on the Betania lot.

In my first summer vacation from Yarinacocha Highschool (1985) I spent most of my time helping dad build the house. Here the first floor, built with the "good old bricks", is taking form. We had to get sand from the sandbar across the river in a boat. Then carry it on our backs to the building site. Then carry water from the river. And finally mix the cement by hand and shovel. It had to be done that way for the entire house! I'm telling you, nobody had problems sleeping at night!

Maino came from the US on her summer vacation. She had just spent her first year (of two) at "Christ For the Nations Bible School" in Dallas Texas. She is preparing to sow peanuts.

That summer we sowed peanuts., cut weeds in the peanut-field, harvested peanuts., and finally made peanut butter! Now that is definitely what I call home made peanut-butter!

Family picture at the end of 1985 summer vacation. The first floor of the house is now finished!

JAARS picked up Maino and me at our "doorstep" with a Helio float-plane, and flew us to Yarinacocha (3 hour flight). Maino continued on to Dallas for her last and second year at "Christ For the Nations Bible School". I moved inn with the Barman family and started on my "Junior year" at Yarinacocha Highschool

Mom inspecting the view from what was going to be the kitchen on the second floor The view was approved.
And finally, the house in Betania is finished. It was nice for mom and dad to move in to a house after living in the houseboat. Dollos for almost two years!

To be continued.....