Many of you know that I grew up a Missionary’s Kid in Bolivia. Here’s a picture of me in the jungles, around 1967.
My parents began their lifelong mission career working with the Ayoreos in Bolivia. What many of you may not know is that right before my parents started working with the Ayore tribe, 5 missionary men lost their lives attempting to contact the Ayores. You can read a summary here.
My parents were in the next wave of missionaries to go in after finally friendly contact was made with the Ayoreos in the early 50’s.
I wish you all had an afternoon to sit and listen to my mom share the early days of living in the jungles with the Ayoreos. It’s amazing and really speaks to the determination of my parents’ hearts to be willing to sacrifice the comfort of safety to live in a very vulnerable setting, willing to share God’s love with these people at all costs. I don’t get all the stories exactly right, but over the years the stories flood my memories and give me renewed courage.
Many times there were moments of intense fear for my folks, wondering if their lives, too, would be taken. There was also the agony of learning their culture – these people were bound in fear and due to the taboos in their tribe they had to bury alive their firstborn if it was a girl, or if the babies were twins. After suffering through this with several women, my mom was able to work with them to let her take the babies and my parents started an orphanage where they raised many babies.
All of us six kids except Tricia lived in the jungles for a period of time. I was there for the first three years of my life – then moved to the city of Cochabamba, but visited the tribal village of my birth, Tobite, a few times. My older siblings lived in Tobite into their middle school and high school lives. Mom home-schooled them all until they were in middle school – then they went to the Mission’s boarding school. Dad built our houses – no indoor plumbing – the outhouses were “fun”.
My dad was amazing – helping the men learn to plant sugar cane crops and how to process the cane, building a mill to sell lumber to the railroads and helping sell the bags the women made in the city. He was their doctor, lawyer, friend, mentor and teacher. He built the chapel where they worshiped, the school house where they learned, and more.
To me, my parents were the ultimate example that if you’re willing, God supplies all that you need to do His purpose wherever He sends you. Mom never finished high school and went to mission training after her junior year (she graduated with her GED years later with my nephew). She married my Dad (who followed her in to training) when she just turned 18 (about 2 1/2 weeks after turning 18). They eloped on a weekend from their mission training – she wore a borrowed Kelly Green suit, he wore a borrowed Maroon Sports Jacket. Their first meal was bought with all the money they had – a can of pork and beans. They had an inner strength that no one could break – determined to make it to the mission field at all costs and they served most of their adult lives there!
I’m proud to have this heritage and when I get to feeling overwhelmed today, I think of my parents early jungle life and the obstacles they overcome and realize – I’m made of that stuff! I can handle the hurdles in my life with the same strength my parent’s had – because, ultimately it’s not their strength after all, but it comes from the Lord! (Ephesians 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.)
Recently, my mom recently received an email from a good friend in Bolivia who shared something very special with her. A picture of a memorial to these men. Here’s the picture:
Here’s the translation of what it says:
In Memory and Honorof theEvangelical Missionary Martyrs
Cecil H DyeGeorge Y HosbachEldon L HunterRobert W DyeDavid R Bacon
All natives of the United States of America who through this route entered the jungles of the Tucavaca Valley to seek a peaceful contact with the Ethnic Ayoreos, finding death at the end of their mission.
There is no greater love than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.John 15:13