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No Grumbling Here

By Jennifer Wolf

This is the second in a series of personal reflections from a field resourcing trip to Ecuador. If you missed my “Eyes on the Sparrow” story, read that one first, here.

Sunday morning at the Nate Saint house. We still didn’t have a plan in place for the day, and our connection to the local Waorani church we hoped to visit that morning fell through. I decided to enjoy an extended quiet time with the Lord, and continued to ponder what God had been teaching me the night before about how His eye is on the sparrow, and on me. I listened to the different versions of the hymn again and reflected on the verse (Matt. 10:29-31). Eventually, I made my way to the balcony that was just off my room and sat on the patio chair there.

I remembered that before the trip I had discovered an Elisabeth Elliot podcast. I opened up my phone and went to find it again. When I did, I scrolled through the episode titles, and guess what I found? An episode called “His Eye is on the Sparrow!”

So of course, I had to listen to it. I sensed that Jesus had something else to teach me. And as often happens when He is trying to make a point, it’s repeated two or three times in different ways—sometimes through a conversation with a friend, sometimes through a sermon. This felt incredibly personal, just me and His Word on a tiny balcony, and now an audio file.

If you’re not familiar with Elisabeth, she was one of the five wives I mentioned in Part 1 who were in the kitchen at the Nate Saint house when they received the news that their husbands had been martyred by a group of Waorani men. Elisabeth continued the ministry she had started with her husband and eventually was invited to live and work with the Waorani people in their village. She had the privilege of sharing the gospel with them, along with Rachel Saint, Nate’s older sister.

In this podcast episode, Elisabeth was talking about how to get rid of complaining. She shared about living in the jungle and how the Waorani never complained. She said they wouldn’t make a fuss about stepping on a thorn, a caterpillar, hot coals, etc. They would never think to grumble about the weather, for instance, including the torrential downpours that happened frequently. She said they didn’t even have a vocabulary for it. As if on cue, as I was listening, the rain started pouring down, making a glorious noise on the tin roof.

I tried to upload a video so you could hear it, but it didn’t work so here’s a snapshot.
You’ll have to imagine the pouring rain.

Elisabeth talked about how complaining is a learned behavior. I knew I had a tendency to be negative at times and grumble out loud or in my heart. Elisabeth herself said she was a born complainer. Well, I was in good company it seemed.

“Endurance is a learned behavior,” she continued, giving me hope.

She went on to say that the Waorani men viewed the women as physically stronger when it came to bearing burdens. Turns out when a man killed a large animal in the jungle, he would run and tell his wife where the animal was. Then she would go and find it somehow and carry it home on her back. Elisabeth says the women did so without a word of complaint and describes them as having “sheer dogged endurance.”

Throughout the episode, Elisabeth mentioned several verses or entire passages. So when it ended, I went and looked them up and camped out on one in particular that resonated with me.

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure,
children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them
like the stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the Word of life. —Philippians 2:14-16a (NIV)

Around noon, Lem, my co-worker (MAF video producer) texted me. He said his missionary friend was inviting us out to lunch. Turns out the Waorani church had been right down the street the whole time! We had no idea it was close by. We could easily have walked there.

We got ready to go and walked over to the couple’s complex. Then they drove us to a nearby restaurant. After a lovely lunch, we called Christina, our main MAF contact, and arranged to go grocery shopping that afternoon. Then she asked if we wanted to go out for dinner with the MAF singles that evening.

Why, yes. Yes, we would! This would give us a chance to meet quite a few of the staff before we walked into the hangar the next morning.

Mission Aviation Fellowship charity staff dinner in Shell, Ecuador.
Dinner with MAF staff and pilot Danny (right) trying to fit us all in a selfie. 🙂

I treasured the lessons I had already learned in my short time in Shell, Ecuador, and tucked them in my heart—God has His eye on me, and I could learn how not to complain. I was about to put these lessons to the test as I could be spending the next three days/two nights in the Amazon jungle.


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