Jungle Missionaries

Waramadong Mission

Leona and Mother sat by the side of the trail for a few minutes. Finally Mother stood up. “I guess we better keep going. We can walk slowly for a while.”

“Wait.” Leona looked back down the path. “I thought I heard something.” They stood still and listened for a moment. “I do hear something,” Leona said excitedly. “But it’s coming up the path.” She turned to Mother with wide eyes. “Are there wild animals in this jungle?”

Mother looked very afraid, but there was nothing she could do. Then around the corner of the trail came a big Indian. And there was Dad right behind him!

“What have you been doing!” Dad exclaimed. “We’ve been trying to catch up with you for almost two hours.”

Mother explained in a rush, “Mrs. Brooks wanted to feed the baby, and when we couldn’t find you we thought you had all left us. We hurried as fast as we could, and Mrs. Brooks is still headed up the trial to find you.”

Dad shook his head. “We stopped at the stream, and Elder Brooks fed the baby. She’s doing fine. Then when we went to look for you, we found out you had left us. We’ve been trying all the time to catch you, and you thought that you were trying to catch us.” He laughed and then looked at his watch. “Anyway it looks like we will be able to go a lot farther today. That will make up for yesterday, when we were so slow. Now I guess I better go on and try to catch Mrs. Brooks. You can come along slower. Almost everyone else is quite a way behind us.” Dad hurried on up the trail.

Leona felt a lot better knowing that they were on the right trail, with Dad in front and Indians behind her. She and Mother hiked along slower now.

That night Dad was very pleased with how far they had traveled. “I guess we will have to have someone think they are lost every day.” He smiled. “That way we really keep moving.”

The next morning everyone had damp clothes to put on again. “This is horrible.” Leona pouted.

“At least there is only one more day,” Dad said. “I think we will make it to the creek tonight, and by tomorrow afternoon we should be at our new home.”

Just after noon that day, the family reached the top of the last hill. It had been raining off and on all day, and the trail was very muddy. “We just have to get down off this hill,” Dad said. “Down there is the creek where paddle boats will pick us up again.”

“But it looks like it is straight down,” Mother said. “With all this mud it is going to be very slippery.”

It was very slippery. Leona held onto vines and branches at the side of the trial. They all slipped and slid getting down the mountain that afternoon.

The sun was just starting to set when they finally reached the small jungle shelter by the little river where the paddle boats would pick them up in the morning. Leona was glad that it wasn’t dark yet. She hated the idea of walking in the jungle after dark. It was bad enough having to sleep in the thatched shelter with no walls around you. She went to find Mother.

Mother was busy looking for the Indians with the camping gear. Half the Indians weren’t even down off the mountain yet.

Dad decided they weren’t coming. “They had to go extra slow because of the mud. They will probably camp where they are and come down tomorrow.”

“But how will we sleep tonight?” Mother asked.

“We’ll just have to do the best we can,” Dad replied.

“Well, we won’t have to put on soggy clothes again tomorrow,” Vivian commented, “since we can’t take them off tonight.”

It was a long night, but when Leona awoke, the sun was streaming through the jungle leaves. The Indians and boats showed up to take them on the creek.

Just about noon, the little paddle boats pulled up at the mission station. Everyone helped unload the boats. The Brookses were going to stay for the weekend, and then they would travel on up the river to another mission.

The four girls ran happily through the big log house, looking it over. It was one very long building. One half of the house was a big room that was used for the church, with part of it being used for school when they had a teacher. The other half was divided up into rooms for the mission house. The whole building was built up off the ground on poles like all other jungle dwellings.

“Here’s a room with two bunk sets in it. This must be our room,” Vivian called. Leona and Viola ran into the room to see.

“Yes, it is a good thing you are all girls,” Mother said, following them in. “There is only one room for all four of you.”

Leona climbed up the rough bunk. She could touch the thatched roof. She looked out the window. There wasn’t any glass, but there was a shutter you could let down when it rained. So this was the mission house they would live in, she thought. Now she would see what it was like to be a missionary.

“Now that you’ve seen the house,” Mother said, “please help carry in some of the boxes from outside.”

Dad was in the front room area, piling up the boxes that he had already brought in. The girls began to bring in more boxes through the front door area. Suddenly Mother asked, “Why isn’t there a door here at the front of the house?”

“There aren’t any real doors,” Dad replied. “None of the Indians’ houses have doors on them.”

“But couldn’t we have a door anyway?” Mother pulled shut what looked more like a gate over the opening. “I don’t think this would keep out anything.”

“I’m afraid not” Dad told her. “You see, the Indians might think we were trying to shut them out if we put a regular door on the house. So we will just have to use this gate. Since they don’t have doors on their own houses, they wouldn’t understand why we should want one. We don’t want to offend them and make them think that we want to shut them out from anything.”

“Don’t they know that we’re here to help them?” Viola asked.

“Yes,” Dad answered. “But we have to help them in their own way. Sometimes trying to help in the wrong way ends up being worse than not helping at all.”

“Like when Vivian tried to carry the soup pot when we were camping and ended up spilling half of it on the ground?” Muriel smirked at her younger sister.

“Something like that,” Dad replied. “Vivian wanted to help, but she didn’t realize how heavy the pot was. Someday she will be able to carry it and do it right. You don’t always know until you try. That is one reason we came out here to the jungle. There wasn’t anyone else willing to try.”

“I hope we can be good missionaries.” Leona picked up another box.

“We’ll try and do the best we can,” Dad encouraged them. “That is another way you can know about God’s plan for you. If you see a job that needs to be done, and you can do it, then God expects you to at least try. I felt there was a real need out here in the jungle, so that’s why we are out here ready to work.”

Dad looked at the last few boxes. “Let’s see how fast we can get the rest of these into the house. All right?” He carried in another box and handed it to Mother.

Mother looked around the rough jungle house again, and then she said, “I am just going to have to do something else and try not to think about this house. I was going to spend a few days getting settled, but I think we will go ahead and start school on Monday.”

“That’s fine with me,” Dad said, carrying in the last box. “I was just going to go down to the village to talk to the Indians and let them know that we will be having church as usual. So I will invite all those who want to learn to read to come to school on Monday.” Then he went out and shut the gate behind him.

On Monday morning most of the little boys in the village appeared at the mission. Leona helped Mother pass out little shirts and shorts from the mission boxes to all the boys who came.

“Let’s give them all different colors of shirts,” Mother said. “That way we will be able to tell them apart until we get to know them better.”

“Why haven’t any of the girls come to school?” Leona wondered.

“They may come later,” Mother answered. “Right now the Indians think it is more important that the boys learn to read than the girls.”

“Well, I hope some girls come soon,” Leona said. “I want to have some friends that I can tell about Jesus.”

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