Dear Readers, I’ve loved every one of Lee’s novels, especially those set in the Brazilian Amazon. I did a final read-through of Rebecca’s Redemption for Lee. It’s my favorite of the Brazilian novels. The multi-layered characters dealt with issues that will touch the lives of many readers. They drew me into their lives and kept me there long after I finished reading the book.
BIO: Lee Carver lived in
for six years and then in the Brazilian Amazon for another six. She and
her husband served as volunteer missionaries with a Brazilian organization,
formerly MAF-Brazil, in which he flew an amphibious ten-seat Cessna Caravan
over jungle area half the size of the United States. Their home in Manaus 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
Welcome Lee, you’ve been a guest on this blog several times before, for such diverse novels as Counterfeit—a European art world suspense—and Retreat to Shelter Creek—a schoolteacher’s life restart after divorce. During 2017, you self-published a trilogy set in
you lived for twelve years. How did that come about? Brazil
A publisher specifically requested through my agent that I write a missionary romance novel with a foreign setting of 50,000 words—longer than a novella but short for a novel. Later, that request expanded to a series of three. Two weeks after I turned in the whole series, that publisher was sold out and the line discontinued. I was distraught. I’d put a year into the effort. Unable to sell the series to another publisher due to its unusual parameters, I decided to expand and deepen the novels and publish them myself. I’m a freelance editor, and I format and upload books for other people. I could do this.
So you did your own editing?
No author can read her own composition for the first time. That’s a mistake many independent authors make. This series has been proofed by professional editors, my critique group, and beta readers.
You wrote a traditionally published missionary romance set in
Love Takes Flight. Is this series
similar to that one? Brazil
Katie’s Quest and Piper’s Passion also have missionary flight in their plots and handsome pilots as the love interests, but Rebecca’s Redemption is different from anything I’ve ever written before. Airplanes and pilots only provide transportation. The main characters are a nurse and doctor for a hospital deep in the Brazilian jungle. As the tagline states, “A nurse seeking redemption for past sins joins a doctor contending against the jungle. Both healers need healing.”
This novel has lots of internal conflict because it deals with issues such as guilt, the motivation for medical missions, and a possible distracting romantic interest. And sweet little girls, Mara and Keila, the daughters of Dr. Ed. Throw in the orchids, the monkeys, and a few tropical diseases, and you’ve got a genuine tale of the jungle.
Call to the Jungle
Rebecca Singer once was the kind of nurse who partied all weekend and closed the bar with the last karaoke tune. Then she met the Lord and vowed to make up to Him for those wasted years by serving in the worst place in the world. She determined to earn her redemption in the Brazilian Amazon jungle.
Dr. Ed Pierce, a widower with two young daughters, operates a Christian hospital in the Brazilian Amazon. A lifelong believer, he struggles with the tragedy of losing his wife—his love, the mother of his children. When the mission board agrees to hire a nurse, he requests an American who can split her time between the hospital and home schooling his children.
The floatplane hit an air pocket and dropped suddenly toward the jungle. Rebecca Singer thought she’d die as a martyr for the Lord before arriving on the mission field. Riding beside the mission pilot in the small floatplane, she saw more than she wanted to see.
“Don’t be afraid.” His calm voice came through the headphones. “It’s just like riding over holes in a bumpy road.”
The smart khaki pants and shirt she’d worn, with prayers for safety stuffed in every pocket, wouldn’t impress the mission hospital administrator if this nausea worsened. Having never needed motion sickness medication before in her life, she came unprepared.
“We’re almost on top of the village now.” He nodded toward a break in the clouds. “We’ll descend there. It might get a little rough.”
A little rough? They’d been bouncing around like a roulette ball for three hours, which described her odds of arriving safely. Her first flight in a light plane, terminated by her first water landing, terrified her.
She clenched an armrest and placed the other hand on her stomach as the pilot, Kyle, pierced the cloud layer and descended sharply.“See that? There’s your new home.”
She peered out the window as the pilot dipped his wing for her to look down on the village. The maneuver gave her the absolute certainty that she’d fall out of the plane, like spilling from the top basket of a Ferris wheel. Below, sunlight flashed off tiny tin roofs, and ant-sized people scurried about. Only a few houses stood near a long wharf into the river, so the rest of the town must be covered by trees. A wide boat floated beside the wharf, and several people had gathered there. She strained to see if Dr. Pierce might be waiting for her arrival, but her line of sight changed before she could spot anyone who might be him.
“Now we’ll head upriver a mile or so to check that the landing area is clear . . .” He banked over the
. “Let me know if
you see any boats or debris.” Madeira
He expected her to offer an opinion on safety of the landing? Like a copilot? Twisting to check out the river and jungle rising to meet her, she prayed this wouldn’t be the end of her budding career as a missionary nurse.
The motor sound decreased so much that she thought it had stalled. Her head whipped around to the pilot, whose calm smile seemed out of place. Then the floats dragged on the river, and a glistening wall of water sprayed up on both sides of the plane. It rocked, settled, then chugged toward the main wharf of downtown Arçelos, a medium-sized river town with a population edging toward ten thousand.
They hadn’t crashed. Spots danced in her vision for a moment. She was light-headed with relief. Then stifling heat blanketed the cockpit.
“Pop open your door for the prop breeze to cool us off.” Kyle’s instruction came as he opened his own. “Keep an eye out for kids, logs, or anything in the water.”
Rebecca pushed open her cockpit door, admitting steamy tropical air. She scanned the surface for any danger to the plane or others, realizing her inability to do anything if a threat appeared.
The plane drew closer to the center of the settlement and the pilot cut the engine. They drifted straight for the wharf while Kyle hopped out on the float and unclipped an oar from its holding place.
He pushed against the wood with the oar to break their drift and tossed a rope over a strong pillar. The prop had stopped entirely, so she opened the door wide and climbed with trembling legs down the three steps to the float. Kyle pulled the plane around by its tether to allow her to cross onto solid wood. Her legs shook so badly, she wasn’t sure she’d make it. She gripped the post for stability.
Pungent, wet wood and the odor of stale fish and tackle affronted her nose. On the other side of the wharf, villagers bartered with men on a market boat, what looked and smelled like dried fish for bags of rice. She didn’t understand the rumble of their arguments as the drama played out.
Kids swarmed the wharf, running down from town as fast as their legs could take them. “Tio Ky-lee, you came back!” Shirtless, barefoot little boys in shorts surrounded the pilot, who picked up one and swung him in a circle. The brown, wooly-haired kids laughed and, if she understood their Portuguese as well as their actions, they begged to fly in the airplane. Or maybe that they would fly like the airplane if he swung them. Her newly-acquired Portuguese often left her confused. They’d told her at language school that from this point forward, she would be immersed in Portuguese and rarely speak or hear English at all.
Kyle broke away for a moment to haul out Rebecca’s two duffle bags.
“Thanks so much for the ride.” She extended her hand for a farewell handshake. “Say hello to your lovely wife for me. I enjoyed the dinner in your home last night—”
In the moment her attention turned to the pilot, four larger boys had run down the wharf and grabbed her two duffels. “Where are they going with my bags?”
Kyle looked up and shouted something in Portuguese, but she didn’t grasp it.
She took off running behind them as they swooped away with everything she had packed to live in Arçelos. “Hey, guys, come back here.” Her yell in English got her nowhere. They didn’t look back or even pause. “Espera. Wait, you guys. You can’t take—please, don’t take my stuff.” Her plea ended in a whimper.
The boys reached the end of the walkway and climbed the cliff steps to town, not pausing until, at the top, they approached a red dirt road. Panting hard, they turned back with wide smiles. The largest stuck out his palm when she huffed up to them.
Oh. They were helping her, and now they wanted a tip. She looked back toward Kyle, who had been surrounded by villagers at the market boat. He looked and pointed toward her, and the back-slapping, happy group let him go.
Breathing hard, Rebecca swiped at her hair where it stuck to perspiration on her face. She zipped open her canvas purse, wondering how much she should give them. Despite her fear they were stealing everything she’d brought, they had done her a huge favor. Scrambling deep in the bag, she came up with four coins of a half-Real each. She had no idea of the proper amount to tip kids in a river village.
Judging by their shouts and smiles, she over-tipped. They ran off toward an open, grassy field where kids kicked at a ball that had no bounce. While studying the language in
she’d seen how poor children rolled up fabric scraps bound by string.
Brazilians just had to play soccer.
Her attention turned to two girls tittering and pointing to the plane. Dr. Pierce had two daughters, but these girls looked Brazilian, barefoot and wearing tatty shorts and T-shirts. Then again, she didn’t know if his wife had been Brazilian or American. Without a mother to care for them, they might be running loose.
A beat-up truck rolled down the dirt road, more of a worn path, coming to a stop in front of her. The driver leaned across to the passenger-side window. “Senhorinha Hey-becca?”
She recognized the Brazilian pronunciation of her name. Surely this weathered, brown man wasn’t Dr. Pierce. He turned off the truck, opened its rattling door, and rushed around it. “A Infirmeira Hey-becca?” he asked around missing teeth, adding the title “the nurse” to her name. “The doctor Edu sent me for you. I take you to the hospital quick.”
Flexing wiry arm muscles, he loaded a duffle in the pickup bed and returned for the other. Dressed in worn, elastic-banded shorts and a weathered T-shirt, he opened the door for her. She balked, looking back toward the plane.
Kyle jogged her way, leading with a wide smile. “Ola, Samuel.”
“The doctor Edu, he needs her now. Is emergencia.”
“Okay, thanks for coming to meet her. Tell the doctor hello for me. I plan to return this way in three months.” He turned to Rebecca. “This is Dr. Ed’s helper. He’ll take care of you.”
“Thank you, Kyle. I appreciate the flight.” She especially appreciated arriving alive. She climbed into the truck, and Samuel did a tight U-turn. Then her greeting carriage chugged away as if it didn’t understand the concept of an emergency.
Just past the main settlement of crude, wooden houses stood a low, concrete block building that used to be white. Its bottom edge, stained by the splatter of red mud, appeared as if the structure had rusted from the ground up.
The driver crunched to a stop at the center door. “You go quick. I take your bags.”
A woman in a clean skirt and blouse, better dressed than those she’d seen on the street, motioned her to come in. “Dr. Edu is in surgery. A young boy has a ruptured appendix.” Her talking hands made a bursting motion from the region of her lower right abdomen. “He says you come assist him operate. I show you the gown.”
Rebecca hurried down a hallway behind the woman to a primitive scrub room. Its wide window looked into a surgical area, where one gowned man administered anesthetic at the head of a boy, and the back of another person bent at his side. The anesthesiologist nodded at her and said something to the surgeon.
With no time to shower or have a bite of lunch, she launched right into a dire situation. She relished the idea of being needed. The mission people said they had to have someone flexible who could adapt. She wanted to be that person.
After quickly slipping on disposable shoe covers and a gown, she started scrubbing. Doubts assailed her. The
training hospital where she’d worked encouraged cross-training, but she hadn’t
done any surgical nursing for a couple of years. No time to argue today. She
popped on gloves and pushed the door with her shoulder to enter the surgical
room, maintaining her hands above her waist for sterile technique.
“Good morning. Take the other side. I need some suction.” The surgeon didn’t look up to administer his terse greeting. “Welcome to Arçelos. How’s your Portuguese?”
She got into position and picked up the suction device. “Not as good as my English.” She didn’t want to kill this kid due to a language misunderstanding. The doctor had already cut away the distended appendix and was now cleaning up the abdomen. His moves, careful and sure, came from wide, thick hands. A glance at his upper body indicated solid shoulders.
From that point, he instructed her in Portuguese first and followed with English. In little time, they were ready to close. His shoulders relaxed. Naming the supplies he required, he looked up at her, and his incredibly crystal blue eyes shined beneath bushy eyebrows.
Distracted by the beauty of his eyes, she lost a beat in time. He motioned to the suture materials to one side.
“Oh. Right.” She hastened to prepare what he wanted and handed the specified items to him.
Conferring with the anesthesiologist, the surgeon checked the condition of the patient again. “I think he’ll be fine.” Still on the opposite side of the table, his mask in place, the surgeon held his stained, gloved hands above the abdomen while she bandaged the area. “I’m Ed Pierce, or ‘Dotor Edu’ locally. This is Marcos, a nurse with special training in anesthesiology.”
They nodded at each other and exchanged greetings.
He continued in English. “In our little shop here, you’ll go with the patient to recovery across the hall. Give me a minute, and I’ll join you there. Marcos will clean up after the surgery. Welcome aboard.” His eyes crinkled above his mask.
“Thank you, Doctor. It’s a pleasure to be here.” What a jump start to her arrival.
Together they transferred the boy to a gurney, and she rolled him away. Her mind filled with doubts and questions as she scoped out the rather basic work areas and the obvious lack of modern equipment. The general job description of “all-purpose nurse” hadn’t prepared her for emergency surgery. She would study up on her techniques—or better yet, learn how they did things here.
Her patient, maybe ten years old, had good color in his lips and nail beds. Few American boys his age had the muscle development of his arms. She rested a hand on his chest and prayed for his full recovery, one of the privileges she enjoyed since her conversion.
Glancing around the room, the size of a large coat closet, elation came over her. The hospital was even more primitive than she had imagined. She could earn a lot of Brownie Points with God for working in a place like this.
Thank you, Lee, for sharing your new book with my blog readers. I know they’ll love it as much as I do.
Readers, here’s a link to the book.Rebecca's Redemption (Call to the Jungle Book 3)
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