God's Hand on Joel and the Survey Team

April 17, 2017

As we’ve mentioned before, JungleMaster places a high priority on partnering with others as we do God’s work in the jungle. One project currently in progress is a survey of community leaders in numerous villages along the rivers near Nauta. This project was born out of a desire, shared by Tom Clark and Joel McGee of JungleMaster, Laura at the Christian training center in Nauta, and a local pastor, William Sifuentes, to learn more about the communities they are serving in. Together, they decided on what information they would include in the survey. Because they wanted to get unbiased information, they thought it best that the survey be performed by someone other than themselves. Two students from Oregon, Steven and Daniel Lindstrom, who were looking for a month-long mission project in the jungle were available and eager to do this, with Joel providing the transportation. The survey, funded entirely by the students, is helping to gather information about the needs of everyone in the villages rather than just the Christians living there. A side benefit for JungleMaster is that Joel is discovering villages back off the rivers that he wasn’t previously aware of and is visiting villages he’s never had the opportunity to visit before.


The survey team at work in a village


The story that follows is an example of God’s help and guidance throughout a very difficult situation during this survey project. It is evidence that God is holding Joel and the survey team in His loving hands.

During the second phase of the survey project, Joel, the two students, and their interpreter had headed 2 hours up the Tigre River and were surveying villages on their way back down. They were near the junction of the Tigre and the Marañon Rivers, still around 40-45 miles from Nauta, when, with a “clickity-clack, bang, crash,” the lower unit of the boat motor froze up, the gears stripped, and “all things nightmares are made of” happened: They were dead in the water and at the mercy of the current!

Joel knew there wasn't much that could be done at that point to fix the boat, but the village of Miraflores was in sight. So, they started paddling. About halfway there, a man in a canoe with a peci peci motor on it approached them. He graciously asked if the survey team needed him to tow them down to Miraflores. When they gratefully accepted, he tied his canoe to their boat. Surprisingly, in spite of his tiny motor, he was able to move them along at a pretty good pace.


Being towed by the canoe with the peci peci motor

They successfully got the boat to Miraflores, where Joel was able to remove the lower unit, but the unit was so badly damaged that repairs were not possible. The team would have to leave the boat there. How would they get themselves back to Nauta? There was no one in Miraflores with a fast boat to take them there. However, they were told that in the next village, about 5 minutes downriver, there was a boat they might be able to hire.


Arriving at the village of Miraflores

JungleMaster's disabled boat at a dock in Miraflores


Thus, the same man who had pushed the survey team downriver to Miraflores also gave the group a ride toward this next village. On the way, they spotted a ferry heading down the Marañon. Knowing that this boat would take them to Nauta, they tried to catch it, but try as they might, the little canoe was not fast enough. The distance between it and the ferry was quickly growing. At that point, about halfway into the Marañon River, they saw another ferry coming. Thank God, they were able to catch this one! And so, the four men made it safely back to Nauta.

The breakdown of JungleMaster’s boat was a bad situation. Some might even have considered the trip a failure. But things could have turned out much worse! In spite of the difficulties, God had Joel and the group in his loving hands. Joel knew that He would guide them and work things out. God had a plan, and all would be okay as long as they were walking in that plan.



Since the trip, a missionary friend arranged for a small ferry to tow JungleMaster’s disabled boat back to Nauta. The bad news is that the lower unit, which was purchased used, is in very bad shape at this point and will need to be replaced. (The cost is $2800.) The good news is that the smaller 115HP motor from JungleMaster’s original boat is available as a temporary replacement until a new motor is purchased so that the survey project can proceed.

We at JungleMaster are thanking God for His loving provision for the group on their trip back to Nauta. Please pray for His continued physical and spiritual provision as the group continues the survey and for financial provision for the repairs to the boat.


Thank you!

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