Jackie's Journey: Final Farewell??

Kim, my companion, in those last days!

Kim, my companion, in those last days!

“On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night.  Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.”

Psalm 63: 6,7,8. 

The Darien is an earthy, steamy environment of thick rainforest.  The humidity was thick enough to slice and the heat was barely bearable.  With our return to Pucuro after my surgery came the responsibilities that we had left three months prior.  Our partners, Jay and Sue Gunsteens and their family, had gone on furlough and returned to the States. My strength had not returned and I tired very easily.  I started resting in the afternoon and within a few months I was having difficulty getting up. 

Ralph had fastened a battery tape recorder to the wall above the bed so I could listen to the Book of Psalms.  They brought me great comfort as I listened to David in his distress and God’s continual deliverance.  God became my refuge and consolation in ways I had never experienced before.  The isolation from civilization, the absence of medical convenience and the sense I was dying was exchanged for finding Him more than enough to meet all my apprehension.

How does God meet you in a tight spot?

 The daily opening of the clinic, delivering of babies in the night, homeschooling Christina, the care of Kimberly, the linguistic work and the daily opportunity to share Christ… all brought profound joy.  In spite of my physical state, my circumstances brought life-lessons I would never have recognized, experienced or understood apart from this plan God had for me.

“If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses?  If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?

Jeremiah 12: 5; Proverbs 24:10

We kept thinking if we could just persevere a few more months we would see our Kuna family in a spiritual place where we were comfortable leaving for an extended furlough and seek medical help.  We did not want both missionary families among our tribe to be on furlough at the same time.

The people would come and sit with me as I lay in bed.  Nangel, the village midwife, grandma, and precious new Christian, came daily and I looked forward to her visit.  One day she kept saying to the other women in our bedroom, “Purkwis tani!”.  Usually, that phrase is reserved for those who are dying.  It is translated, “Death comes!”  I remember thinking…it had been over a year since the surgery and I must look bad!  As a young mother, death seemed illusive, an impossibility…until my health failed and God began to speak to me gently, resolutely and unmistakably through His Word…

Did Nangel see something I couldn’t? 

Did Nangel see something I couldn’t? 

A few weeks later a couple on the field committee, Don and Pat Barger, came in by plane for a day visit. The look on their faces when they entered our home told me that what Nangel had said might be true!  They immediately encouraged us to leave the village with them and to take an early furlough and get medical help in the States.  I had one small round mirror interior, and I had watched my face become thin and gaunt over the months, but I did not realize how tiny I was all over!


Waiting in Panama City for our flight to the States

Waiting in Panama City for our flight to the States

I will forever be grateful for their divine intervention in our lives that day.  After a few days and friendly persuasion, we packed a few things, said our good-byes and headed to Scripps Diagnostic Hospital in the States.

As the plane lifted into the sky, I caught a glimpse of the entire village waving to us in what could have been our final farewell

Do you hear His voice daily speaking to you through Scripture?

Gently?  Resolutely?  Unmistakably? 

Are you listening?