Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Our team traveling by dugout, in the jungle of Panama.

After working in Panama City, Panama for several days, our team was scheduled to head into the jungle.

This trip was not the kind one would take in the states. Safety issues that would be expected, like life jackets and weight limits are foreign concepts.

All 18 of us plus our translator and a company of others inflating our number to 23, made the two hour bus journey to a bridge at the jungles edge.

After arriving their, we negotiated with the "captains" of two dugouts. These dugouts are single trees, hewn and "waterproofed" for use on this body of water.

As we climbed in, I was not at all certain we would arrive alive. I carried with me the notion that others before us had made the same journey, and lived to tell about it.

All of our gear was stowed in dugout 1. All of us filed into dugout two (see pic).
As we pushed off of shore, barely 6 inches of wood separated the body of water from entry into our "boat."

A bit nervous, we headed off for our hour or so journey deep into a remote Kuna Indian village called Icandi.

The trip was unbelievably beautiful! There was no doubt, we had left civilization. Had we still been in the states, the shoreline would have been developed, and homes would have lined this tropical paradise, where parrots flew freely.

Not here. There wasn't even electricity. When night fell, it was bedtime. And night would fall around 6:30 to 7:00pm.

We unloaded at the shore, being told not to step in the water. Later, we would see why. Their form of a sewer were shallow troughs dug from the village to the water's edge. One needed to step carefully.

We unloaded our gear. The journey from the boat to our "hut" was approximately an eight minute walk. We huffed and puffed all the way uphill. Our captains and their first mates, passed us carrying the heaviest of our gear, never breaking stride, or exhibiting accelerated breathing. It was a bit intimidating.

When we arrived at our hut, I was mindful of the fact that we had displaced a Kuna family. They had vacated their home for our group of 23. This hut had a dirt and rock floor, angled downhill, with no level places for our tents/mosquito nets. Those who would sleep on the floor, would become acquainted with the contours of this experience.

The temperatures soared but the humidity was higher. For the next three days, we would not shower, and would feel like human fly paper... whatever we touched would stick to us. At night, it cooled down to a polar 85 to 90 degrees.

I instructed our team on who was in charge of set-up, and we began to make this home. As I stood there contemplating how I was going to string up my hammock, I must have looked as helpless as I felt.

Any hint of the outdoorsman demeanor I fancy myself to carry, was dispelled as this simple task was taken over by a woman who had come with us... to cook.

Without a word, she took my hammock from me and began to string it up from post to post. It isn't easy to look like you know what you are doing when you have just yielded the significant task of establishing a comfortable place to sleep to someone you don't even really know.

Boy, am I glad I handed my bed over... she strung it up quickly and securely. Next I took out my mosquito net to hang over the hammock. We worked together on this, but we both knew who was really in charge... and I was thankful for her!

We sent the team out to prayer walk this small of village of around 500 people. They were accompanied by children wherever they went. The picture of the Kuna children touching my head, from a couple of days ago, came from this experience.

After returning with awesome stories and encounters, we had dinner.

The gathering dark descended quickly. Before we knew it, we had to pull out our headlamps or flashlights, just to make a trip to the bathroom before turning in.

A team of students who are used to staying up very late, or should I say very early (in the wee hours of morning), were caught off guard when asked to go to bed at the unbelievable hour of 7:30 pm!

All was dark and quiet. We had arrived, visited, had teaching, and attempted to embrace this culture. Going to bed at such an early hour was a test.

I was ready. My team struggled to relax from being so hyped up. Trying to sleep with rocks and such poking your every muscle was an experience few had anticipated.

They would make it through. Tomorrow promised a morning service where I had been asked to preach in the 5 week old church building. Would people come? This animistic culture with it's brightly colored women, naked children always underfoot, and a scarcity of visible men, turned over and over in my mind as I tried to drift off.

What was God going to do among us?

I could not wait to see!



At 6:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you are probably glad you didn't have your Aunt Maralyn in that boat. I'm not quite sure what I would have done.
I always enjoy your posts from your trips. What a blessing.
Aunt Maralyn

At 8:14 AM, Anonymous Terri in Nebraska said...

This morning I'll begin facilitating DON'T WASTE YOUR LIFE. It's because of BJ that I was led to this book a few years ago. As I would read his journal I felt led to read this book!

It has changed my life and I look forward to seeing how the Lord will use it in the lives of eight other women.

Blessings to all of you.


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