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Of Sparrows and Lost Things

By Jennifer Wolf

At the Nate Saint House in Shell, Ecuador, I was trying not to panic as I texted my co-worker, Lem: “I can’t find that cloth purse that has my wallet and passport in it!”

I knew I had it with me when we stopped for lunch on the drive from Quito. Did I leave it in the restroom at the restaurant? Maybe I had hung it on the door.

“What if I left it at the restaurant?” I texted again. The restaurant was two hours away.

“That could be a problem,” he messaged back from the other guest house—the original MAF hangar that had been converted into a family home.

We would only be in Ecuador for a week, to do interviews with key partners and staff so we could share about the impact the MAF team is having here. Would it even be possible to replace a passport in that amount of time?

It was stressful enough traveling internationally, not being able to communicate in the local language, relying on others for help, and now, losing my passport!

I looked everywhere in my apartment. Where could it be? I sent a message to the gal whose father had driven us to Shell, thinking maybe I left it in his car.

But I must have had it when we arrived at the MAF property around 5 p.m., because I had my phone with me now, and I had been keeping that in the purse too.

What am I doing, thinking I can travel across the world like this? I’m not cut out for this, my panicked thoughts swirled.

The enemy was wielding an ugly sword trying to cut me down.

I was already feeling muddleheaded after a full day of travel the day before, arriving in Quito just past midnight. Then, a four-plus hour car ride to Shell, starting at 10 that morning. I was running on five hours of sleep.

Even my excitement over discovering that I would be staying at the Nate Saint house had started to wane just a bit. The constant traffic on the main two-lane road through town droned on just outside my windows. I realized my idea of a small, quaint base with a quiet street running through it was a bit outdated—like 75 years outdated! The MAF team had recently celebrated that milestone anniversary.

I blame all the vintage MAF photos I’ve seen, and the current snapshots that can’t show the whole picture.

Jennifer, just after arriving at the Nate Saint house in Shell, Ecuador. Photo by Lem Malabuyo.

But I was here and excited, for the most part. Surely, I would feel better after a good night’s rest. But what about this passport issue? It was 9 o’clock in the evening at this point. I felt the panic rising, so I did the most logical thing …

Father God, this is really bad. I cannot find my passport! I’ve looked everywhere and I just don’t know where it is. Please help me! In Jesus’ name.”

Nothing fancy, just desperate.

A split second later, He put this thought in my head—front porch.

I raced down the stairs with the old, frayed carpet, past the radio room and the original kitchen—where five wives had received the worst news—unlocked and threw open the front door.

There, resting on an emerald-green bench on the front porch, was my colorful purse with my wallet and passport inside.

It made sense now. Lem and I had sat there while he connected my phone to the MAF internet before we had each gone to our lodgings. I had pulled my phone out of the purse and set it next to me.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Jesus! You’re so good to me, my quieted heart sang.

Bugs danced around the streetlights and cars and trucks buzzed by the chain-link fence out front as I turned and ran back inside, bolting the front door behind me.

Lighter now, I jogged back up the steps to the apartment.

An old window with stick-on words and an image of a bird hung on the wall across from the kitchen. It held new meaning to me now in this place that holds so much history. It read:

His eye is on the sparrow
and I know He loves me.

I knew there was a Bible verse related to this but couldn’t remember where it was. So I Googled and found it:

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? 
And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 
But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.

Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Matt. 10:29-31, ESV).

At the same time, some videos popped up, and I learned there was a hymn. I played different versions until I found one or two favorites, and then I listened to them over and over again.

God has His eye on me. He had His eye on my passport. He cares about the minute details that matter to me—and you.

He’s always with me, always sees me, always loves me … even when I’m far from home.


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