Wednesday, February 5, 2014

~ "The event that shocked the world, changed a people and inspired a nation" ~

It was 4:30pm on Sunday, January 8, 1956. The radio at Shell Mera on the edge of the Amazon Jungle in Ecuador stood quiet. Marj, Betty, Barb, Olive and Marilou stood waiting in Shell Mera, Arajuno and Shandia. Waiting for the crackling sound of the radio. But it remained quiet. The next morning missionary pilot Johnny Keenan spotted Nate's yellow piper cruiser torn to pieces on a sandbar in the Curaray River, but he found no sign of the men. Immediately the news spread across the world, a rescue team was organized and prayers were sent heavenward in hopes that maybe they were in the jungle making their way slowly back to Arajuno.

The story above is true. It's the true story of 5 missionary wives who found themselves widowed after their husbands attempted to make friendly contact for the GOSPEL with a stone-age tribe of known killers. It's the true story of Nate Saint, Jim Elliot, Roger Youderian, Pete Fleming, Ed McCully and the Waodani people. It's the true story of 5 missionary families so devoted to seeing the GOSPEL of JESUS CHRIST given to every nation, tribe and language that they were willing to die and to sacrifice in the biggest way imaginable.

I was first introduced to the story of the Ecuador 5 and the Waodani when my mama took me to a church service in a town about an hour from where we lived at the time. I was in 8th grade. My mama, grandma and older sister went. And we heard Steve Saint, the son of missionary pilot Nate Saint, share the story of his father's death, his growing up a missionary kid and then his ministry as an adult to the same people who killed his father. Then the really amazing thing happened. We got to hear Mincaye, one of the Waodani men who attacked the 5 missionary men, share the story of his people and how they were a changed people because of the 5 men, their wives and the saving grace of Waengongi (GOD in the Wao language). It was an incredible few hours listening to those two men and being transported to the Curaray River in the 1950s. And was topped off by my Grandma buying me a few books and getting to meet Steve and Mincaye in order to have them sign the books.

I was hooked.

Over the years, I have collected more books about the missionaries and the Waodani people. I traveled to Ecuador for my first mission trip because of my desire to see the country that changed my life in 8th grade. I have written papers and blogposts about the events of 1955-1960 that changed the lives of the Waodani people. I have followed Steve Saint and his ministry ITEC - Indigenous People's Technology and Education Center - over the years. And I have dreamed about going on a Wao Vision trip into the Amazon Jungle to meet and experience the life and culture of the Waodani people.

For the last few months I have been longing to re-read my stack of books on these families and people. So I decided February would be the perfect time to do that. And so far since the 1st, I have read 3 of the 9 that I have.

The Fate of the Yellow Woodbee by Dave & Neta Jackson (a great book for young readers)
Dayuma: Life Under Waorani Spears by Ethel Emily Wallis (a book from the perspective of Dayuma... a Waodani woman who escaped to a hacienda after an attack on her people)
Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot (a book written by one of the widows about 
Operation Auca... the actual planning and actions that lead to contact with the 
Waodani and the deaths of the 5 men)

All of them have made me cry (like always). All of them have made me shiver and shake because of the power the story holds. All of them have transported me back to the days when I was in 8th grade and first learning about this story and dreaming of the Curaray River. And all of them have had me dreaming of the day when JESUS returns and I find myself worshipping before the throne with the 5 men, their families and the Waodani people. United as one family, one people through the saving grace of Waengongi. 

"Following God's carving, we live well."
Mincaye and Kimo - 2 Waodani elders

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