Wednesday, August 6, 2014


Still somewhat clean before the fun started

After leaving Alto Corrientes, our next stop was Conambo, a large community located on the river bearing its name.  Though originally a Zaparo community it now is a mix of Quichua, Zaparo and Achuar families and, as you might expect, prone to differences.  Truth be told, I had mixed feelings about going to Conambo.  Jonas Lopez, the missionary with Compassion who accompanied us, mentioned how volatile the community can sometimes become.  He told me a story how a man had been murdered during one of his visits there.  It had occurred a number of years back and had happened as a result of one of the many disputes that occurred between families.

Conambo, a 35 minute flight from Shell

Apparently most of the community had been gathered one evening drinking chicha together when one man got up to go to the bathroom and never returned.  Part of his body (a leg, I think) was recovered downstream a few weeks later (I'm not quite sure how they knew that it was his leg, but anyways, they were sure that it was his).  He'd had an ongoing feud with one family over the marriage of one of his relatives to someone from this particular family.  As is common in these situations, the authorities are never involved as vengeance is sought out from the victim's family.

Honestly, I thought that Jonas was joking.  It wasn't until another missionary told me something more disturbing that I started to get a little anxious.  Jonas's boss, who is an American missionary that has served in Ecuador for decades and is well respected in the jungle, happened to be at the Shell airport when we flew out.  He mentioned that he'd been in Conambo a number of years ago and during one of the meetings of the village elders someone came up to and killed the man that had been sitting beside him.  He wasn't sure exactly why but knew that there had been a lot of disagreement and strife between this man and the rest of the community.  All of this was making me a little nervous, to say the least.

Lucia having her vision tested
What I experienced in Conambo was far different from what I'd expected.  This just goes to show how our opinions about people, places, or things are often formed before we have had any real personal contact with them and can often lead to prejudices.  What I found in Conambo was a diverse community that already had a few strong Christian families.  We were there for only 3 days so I know that I didn't get to see the friction that might exist within the community, but I did get to see a large group of healthy kids and a group of teachers who really took their job of mentoring and teaching the kids seriously.  What I found was not a dysfunctional community but one eager to hear more about ourselves and what God was doing in our lives. I got to meet and encourage one teacher who'd served as the Sunday school leader for many of the kids since there wasn't a church in Conambo.

Catfish and Hush Puppies, Conambo style
On one evening we were able to borrow a generator and some gas, plug in an old TV and VCR and watch an old movie about Joseph from the book of Genesis.  It was a real treat for the kids and it gave us an opportunity to share our testimonies with them and the adults that were there.  I shared with them the story of Paul and Silas is Prison in Philipi and how God had broken down the doors to the prison to let them escape but they remained to witness to the jailer and his family.  We shared how merciful and gracious our Lord is and how he constantly watches over us regardless of our situations or circumstances (Rom 8:37-39).  There were a lot of tired yet excited little faces that went home that evening.

The community that I thought would be 'together' was really the dysfunctional one and the one with all of the 'baggage' was the one that had a strong Christian presence. Please pray for Christian families there and especially for 'Jose'.  Jose is from Riobamba, a community in the Andes mountains, and teaches in Conambo while away from his family.  He's been doing this for 8 or 9 years now and has such a heart for the kids in Conambo.  He opened up his home to us so we could shower (a true rarity in a jungle community) and have fellowship.  After days of bathing in a small river our medical resident from Quito was very excited to have some creature comforts.

Jonas Lopez (a missionary with Compassion), Sara Zapata (a medical resident from Quito), and myself as we land in Conambo

1 comment:

  1. Praise and thank you to our loving Lord - we are thankful you returned safe.