Shortly after moving into our remote village, reality hit!
Jungle living is a challenge at best!
I was buried near the headwaters of a jungle river with . . . .
and a very scary outhouse!!
I regularly found myself at the river washing three dozen diapers and hanging them twice daily because we lived in a rain forest that lived up to its name! The river could swell 8 feet in a morning rain! Sweeping the village with the Kuna women twice a week plus sweeping my mud packed floor daily was a given. I had to keep my dirt floors “clean”, I had a crawling baby, after all.
My house was made with bark walls that had Indians peering through them day and night. I carried my 6 month old on my back and my 3 year old by one hand and with pad and pencil in the other hand, we would jot down phrases or words for a linguistic box (what I would have given for an iPad!). I would walk the village listening to the people talk, wanting to communicate, but not having the language yet.
I felt isolated.
I had confrontations with some of the largest spiders, snakes and scorpions known to mankind. In the first months of moving into our village, some kind of large black cat (jaguar) came in at night leaving huge paw prints on the path near our house and carried off a mama pig, squealing for her life!!...
You get the point…a lot of survival living!
One sultry morning, I sat down discouraged and burst into tears. I was tired, overwhelmed and realized I was a total failure as a mother, wife, teacher, missionary…you fill in the blank! Right on cue, our partners came walking into our house, asking what on earth had happened. I quickly explained my dilemma and to my astonishment, they smiled!! Now…I was thinking maybe a little word of encouragement and some comforting verses from the Word for all my effort was appropriate. BUT NO, they kept smiling and agreeing with me! “Yes, Jackie, you are a failure!
WHAT??? WHO SAYS THAT???
They went on…”You are NOW in perfect position to receive the grace and power of God!” I began to process the biblical truth…it was true! I could offer God nothing. APART FROM HIM, striving on my own, I am a failure! 11 Cor. 12:9 say, “HIS grace is sufficient for those who know they are a failure and weak and in need. At that point of agreement with God, HE makes HIS power perfect in our weakness”!
Failure had become my best friend!
As the years passed and I listened to other Christian women struggling and striving to live the Christian life, doing good things BUT apart from HIS empowerment, my heart broke with compassion to see them set free, as God had freed me in the jungles in 1972. Discouragement and the sense of failure are my “red flags” or signals that tell me I am striving in my own strength and I need to humble my heart and let HIM do it! “Faithful is He who calls us who will also do it”.
Today when I hear people choosing to “live off the grid” (a life of complete time-consuming inconvenience!) in remote areas (Alaska, for example), I am wondrously swept back to a time when I was driven by an intense desire to see an indigenous group of people hear the name of Jesus Christ…just once…