Volunteering in the Amazon to escape a broken heart, an American nurse re-examines her life’s calling as she confronts hijackers, malaria, and her attraction to a certain missionary pilot.
Today on The Diamond Mine, we're welcoming author Lee Carver. Hi Lee! It's great to have you with us. You’ve said this book is the book of your heart. You lived in Brazil for more than twelve years, and as a missionary in the Amazon for six. Did you have a specific purpose in writing this story?
My eyes were opened to a new world as a volunteer missionary in retirement. We gave a few years of service whereas the others in the missionary group gave their entire lives. I came away with a huge respect for them, and at the same time an appreciation for them as real people with conflicts, dealing with their doubts and difficulties, and even marital problems. I wanted to write a fictional story which portrayed these remarkable servants of God.
What struck you most about your time in Brazil?
I hardly know where to start on this question, because our lives spun on a different axis. The heat, humidity, and disease contrasted with jungle beauty, tight friendships, and the joy of being on God’s mission. The very most? How much I loved the people and felt loved and accepted by Brazilians and expats alike. Brazilians come in all colors, shapes, and sizes, and accept others openly and freely.
They sound wonderful. In Love Takes Flight, you painted some very vivid images of Brazil. How would you describe the culture there?
The culture in the Amazon is even more casual than in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. People function on “rubber time.” Manaus has some wealthy people, but many of its nearly two million inhabitants live in DIY shacks of found materials. Beggars and street vendors abound. Traffic is terrible, with scrambled one-way streets. Outside of the Christian context, Americans are assumed to be rich and easy prey. One has to be wary and take reasonable care.
How has the experience affected your perspective on life and faith?
Our years in Brazil were the hardest and best of our lives. My husband Darrel often described it as the dessert of our lives. We saw God working every day making His mission possible and answering prayers continually. My resulting perspective became that only what is done for the Kingdom of God is lasting. Nothing builds more faith like stepping out on your confidence in God and feeling that support and answered prayers.
Well said! That's encouraging to hear. What takeaway value were you going for in this novel?
One buried message is, How can you know if you’re called to the missionary life? Such a decision refutes every desire for self-importance and material gain, and thus, deep in the gut, seems unwise. How can you be sure this call is real?
Are your characters anything like missionaries you knew in Brazil?
Some of the characters are combinations of specific people we knew. The history of the pilot, Luke Strong, would probably be recognized as a certain person. The teenager Jessica, who volunteered on the early missions in the novel, is ever so real. I love this precious woman, who has grown up, become an RN in the US, and is about to return to the farthest reaches of the Amazon with her husband and baby son—as yet unborn. Part of the message of the novel is that dedicated missionaries come in all personality types.
What do you miss most about Brazil?
The people. Those in the mission, those in our church, and all the volunteers who lodged in our home on the way to and from missions into the jungle.
What advice do you offer to people going on a foreign mission?
Be flexible, pray a lot, and especially pray aloud every day with your spouse. Cast all your fears on God and leave them there.
Beautiful advice. What was your most memorable experience or experiences as a missionary?
The week I served as translator for American college kids on a large mission ship plying the Rio Negro. For the complete picture, go to my website and download a free PDF copy of Flying for Jesus. It’s also available in print and Kindle without profit added on Amazon.com.
What are you working on now?
I’ve found novels with a foreign setting to be hard to sell, which was a major disappointment. Currently, I’m writing a contemporary romance set in a small Texas town, a fun story that’s relatively easy after the WWII and Brazilian novels. As always, it has an inspirational thread and is based within the Christian worldview. I’m also collaborating with five other authors on a romance novella set, as yet unnamed, which should be out in June.
Lee, thank you so much fro spending time with us at The Diamond Mine. It's been inspirational to learn about you and your experiences.
Okay readers, don't forget to leave a comment for Lee, and you'll be entered in the free drawing for a copy of Love Takes Flight! Now, here's an excerpt from it. This excerpt of Love Takes Flight comes from the fifth chapter, after you’ve gotten to know the main characters and the situation:
Morning broke bright and hot. When Luke came to haul a barrel of medicines to move the clinic to the next village, Camille approached him with a frown.
“I’ve been thinking all night about Pedro. I need to stay here. Any number of things might still go wrong with his leg.”
“You can’t stay if Dr. Flavio goes with us. You’re only legal to practice medicine in Brazil as his assistant.” Luke mopped his face with a worn bandana. Camille didn’t seem to understand the laws they had to obey.
She planted her feet apart, hands on her hips. “I’m not practicing medicine. I just want to stay with Pedro long enough to make sure the artery holds and he doesn’t contract a massive infection.”
“That would still be illegal. Pedro looks good. He’ll be okay.”
Camille shook her head. “The pregnant woman, Josamil, had light contractions yesterday, and the baby is transverse. Dr. Flavio wasn’t able to turn it. If labor doesn’t push the head down, she could die screaming for help.”
Luke tracked on a boy carrying a load down the bank to the plane. “You have to stay with the team. How are you going to get back if we leave you here?”
“Josamil’s husband can deliver me to the next village by boat.”
Luke snuffed a laugh. “It would take two weeks.”
“I thought you said it was only fifteen minutes away.”
“By air. It’s on the other side of this finger of land. Going around by boat in dry season takes forever.”
“Can’t you stop back here on the way to Manaus?”
Luke could, but he didn’t want to admit it. Leaving a volunteer—one who didn’t speak the language—involved unnecessary risk.
The social worker, Angela, was team leader for this mission. He found her packing hygiene instruction posters. “We’ve got a problem. Camille wants to stay here by herself while we go on to the next village.”
Camille followed him over, and he fell into a pattern of translating between her and Angela. As he explained the nurse’s concerns, he watched Angela’s resolve melt.
She waffled. “We can’t take Pedro back to Manaus with us. There wouldn’t be any way to return him for months.”
“I’m not suggesting that. I just want to keep treating him here. The antibiotic doesn’t prevent all the possible infections.” Tenacious as a junkyard dog, Camille uncrossed her arms, hands up as if insisting Luke agree with her reasoning. “He may need a different type. The wound will probably have to be debrided—trimmed and cleaned—or he may develop gangrene. And if he doesn’t stay in bed, his artery stitches may not hold.”
Angela rolled her big eyes.
Camille jumped back into the space. “And then there’s Josemil.”
Sensitive to the whole idea of motherhood, Luke winced. “But we don’t know when she’s due. It might be another week.”
Camille shaded her eyes from the brilliant sun. “I don’t think so. The baby had dropped before we arrived. If it doesn’t move into the correct orientation, her labor will be rough. Maybe deadly.”
“Doesn’t the village have a midwife?” Luke looked to Angela for the answer.
“They do, but what they call a midwife out here is usually only someone who’s been around for a few births. She’s not necessarily trained and wouldn’t observe proper sanitation.”
He translated to Camille, beginning to understand the danger.
“Lucas, you come back in two days?” Angela used two fingers and bits of English. “When we return to Manaus?”
He sighed, shoved his hands in his pockets, and glanced at kids playing with a small monkey.
Camille assumed victory without his confirmation. “I’d better pull out the medical supplies I’ll need. And unpack my hammock.”
“How are you going to communicate?” Surely she realized the impossibility of her proposal.
“I’ll use the books I brought. I’m learning more words every day.”
Maybe she had a gift for languages. Some people did.
Camille dashed a few yards away toward the pharmacy and equipment tent still set up under a palm tree. “Jessica, wait a minute. I need some supplies.”
Decisive and aggressive, this woman. A Brazilian nurse would never do that.
Now, here's a short bio about Lee and some of her social and purchase links:
Lee Carver lived in the Brazilian Amazon for six years, the hardest and best years of her life. She and her husband served in retirement as volunteer missionaries with a Brazilian organization, Asas de Socorro (Wings of Help), formerly MAF-Brazil. Her husband flew the amphibious ten-seat Cessna Caravan over jungle area half the size of the United States. Their home in Manaus—the largest city in the world with no road to it—was a free guesthouse for missionaries, pilots, mechanics, and medical volunteers. She went on missions, speaks the language, and knows the people whose story she tells.
Lee lived in Brazil a total of twelve years, including two transfers to São Paulo while her husband worked for Citibank. Other foreign postings were Greece, Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Indonesia, and Spain. She studied nine languages and visited over forty-five countries. The Carvers now reside in Texas and are still active in Brazilian aviation missions.
Lee is a member of ACFW and president of its local chapter, DFW Ready Writers.
To locate the book on Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/12nRfpk
It's available in both print and Kindle version at this address. I do hope you'll enjoy the novel, and even return to Amazon and post a comment about it. Those reviews are so important to its success. And if you use FaceBook or other social media, sharing this release with your friends would be tremendous support. Thank you for your consideration.
To locate the book on Goodreads.com: http://bit.ly/15mjTrv
www.amazoncurrents.homestead.com (Hundreds of photos of missions in the Brazilian Amazon)
www.amazoncurrents.homestead.com (Hundreds of photos of missions in the Brazilian Amazon)