Washday in the jungle was an event, not just a necessity! It required a trip to the river with two little ones in tow, a washtub (like great-grandma used) full of clothes, diapers, sheets, etc., soap and a washboard. Finding a rock that wasn’t already being used was the next challenge after descending the 12’ bank! The swirling river was the agitator and the most difficult part of the whole exercise was wringing the clothes tight enough so they would dry after being hung.
The Kuna women would laugh at me, while their little ones entertained mine by chasing, splashing and diving around us. Those were the “good ‘ole days”. One blessing, and their were many, was that my girls learned to swim like little fish very early, against the current!
If it was dry season, the wash would dry in 2 hours. During rainy season we might hang the clothes two times or more in one day. Most garments were mildewed and never really dried completely until dry season returned!
One spring day my clothes carried an unwanted visitor inside the house. We had open wooden shelves and as I lifted the last clean sheet, I caught something moving in my peripheral vision. Now…let me be clearly understood…I will take a snake, any size, over a spider any day!
This particular spider was a creature of undeniable presence! I screamed so loud that half the village came streaming through my front door. One look at the intruder and my husband and Arturo, our closest neighbor, told us all to get out! Apparently, this venomous arachnid was dangerous! I could not understand their hesitation in just eliminating it. I wanted that spider dead…I did not want him alive for an encore another day…
Earlier that month our cat had found a huge, and I mean huge, scorpion under our bed. I picked up my husband’s size 14 army boot and squashed it’s 12” body dead, in one fell swoop, as our 8 month old daughter came crawling into the room! Now, “hear me roar”…I’m not kidding…I REALLY wanted that spider dead!
Fear is our friend…it is an emotion induced by a threat, which causes a change in brain and organ function and ultimately a change in behavior. “Courage is being scared to death…and walking through the door of fear to victory”. (R. J., my husband) In the book Hind’s Feet in High Places, I would clearly be little “Much Afraid”. Shortly after being challenged to carry the name of Christ to unreached tribal people, I read in Luke 10:19 where Jesus sent out the seventy-two with the promise, “ I have given you authority to trample snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you”! That verse immediately came pounding into my consciousness and I claimed that promise, given to those who take the gospel into uncharted territories. As jungle living became my daily experience, I would often return to those precious words that brought peace that day. Over and over again during those years of the unexpected, I would claim its truth when I was tempted to yield to panic.