Up the River

A Missions Matter! blog giveaway post!

Debby is another classmate of mine and she wows me with her planning and organizing abilities! Last year she was one of the ring leaders for our 20 year class reunion, and it was wonderful! Debby lives in Wheaton, Illinois with her family. She stays at home with her 4 children, and her time is spent caring for her family, volunteering at school and church and attempting to keep up with the family scrapbooks. Debby just might be the reigning scrapbook queen of our class! I loved watching her with her children last year, especially the one that is a carbon copy of herself! (Her older daughter is missing from this picture, but they definitely have four children.)

When I sent out a plea for testimonies and pictures, Debby sent me parts of a children's presentation she did this summer, and I love this! I remember Debby's mom as being a very calm lady--and now I know why. It wasn't just that she was then in the capitol city of Ecuador, without a river in sight, it was the river of Life that flows within her.

Here's part of Debby's children's presentation:

I live in a suburb of Chicago and have four children. They take the bus to school, come home, do homework, play soccer, swim and are involved in Awana clubs. One of their great fears is that some other sibling will get a bigger piece of dessert. I guess that makes them ordinary kids. Some of my biggest fears are that they’ll get run over by a car or get abducted by a stranger. On a more serious note, I worry, too, that they might be led astray by friends who do not love Jesus or might decide upon reaching adulthood to abandon their faith in Jesus. Fears like these prove I am a mom, I guess, and maybe they also reveal that I am a mom who grew up in a different country!

My mother had some of these same fears – and others besides. As a missionary mom, she had good reason to be concerned at times. One day, when I was 3 years old, my mom couldn’t find me. She asked all around the village and, finally, a Chapalachi mom calmly said that I had gone up river in a canoe with two 5-year-olds. How do you think my mom felt? What do you think she did? All the canoes in the village were being used. My mom couldn’t even go find me. Imagine knowing that your 3-year-old daughter was in a canoe with two other children, wearing no life vests, paddling through snake infested water. My mother did the only thing she could do. She prayed. Jesus brought the three of us safely back that very same day. My mother celebrated and worshipped her Lord.

Our family moved to Ecuador in 1970, to tell people how much Jesus loves them and wants to be their friend and release them from their fears to live in freedom. We began in the jungles in northern Ecuador where my Dad travelled up and down a tributary of the Amazon river to reach people who had never heard about the love of Jesus. The jungle was a two-day trip from civilization. We used latrines and had a generator which gave us electricity a few hours a day.

While in the jungles my mother, a nurse, ran a dispensary. Aside from the witch doctor, she was the only medical personnel for miles. On several occasions men with chain-saw related injuries came for emergency medical attention. Once, a man had cut his ankle so badly, my mother did not know how she would repair the cut. She was a nurse, after all, and not an orthopedic surgeon. Once again, she turned to Jesus to ask for help. While she was praying, the villagers heard an outboard motor. Most villagers could not afford to buy a motor, so that could only mean that someone wealthy was heading our way. The villagers ran down to the river bank to meet the canoe and in the canoe was none other than a doctor from John’s Hopkins Hospital. He came unannounced once a year to vaccinate villagers. It was miraculous timing. The doctor sewed up the ankle. Once again, my mother thanked her Lord for His provision.

What do these memories teach me? They remind me that no matter where we are, God is with us. He hears our prayers and we can trust Him. Remembering how God took care of our family and those we lived with during those years in the jungle, helps me to lay down my fears for my own children today. I keep praying for them and leave my worries at the feet of the Lord.

Ps – And yes, I do let them ride their bikes on the street – even if I do worry just a teeny bit about their safety when they do so!

Missions Matter! ~Blog Giveaway coming November 12th!


  1. Your mom deserves a medal for not having a heart attack that day!

    Thanks for the reminder that God has no "home turf." He's wherever we could possibly be, and then some!

  2. I'm sure those Ecuador mothers must wonder how we can let our kids live in cities.
    Thanks for sharing this, Peej. It's stories like this that our children need to hear. God is alive and working, answering our prayers.


  3. That is awesome. I am LOVING these true stories of the faith that you're getting through your contest. SO glad you are doing this!

  4. Another rich and powerful testimony. Wow. It's so amazing to me how God can be everywhere at once. even after all these years of being a Christian. He is with us when we need Him, even when we think we don't. Thanks for posting this!


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