Aaron’s Journal Entry: First night on the river
Very dark now. We are traveling upriver by flashlight. We haven’t found the tribe yet but can’t stop because it’s too dangerous to sleep in the open jungle. Hoping to see tiki torches soon.
Getting later and colder. Still no village. Hoping the flashlight batteries last.
Getting later. Heavy fog building on water. No village in sight.
On the boat now for 12 hours. Spotted a faint light on the shore. It was a indigenous family that has lived on the river for 43 years. They saw our desperation and told us we could set up camp for the night on the river bank. Got a few hours sleep when the boat captain woke us up. He wanted to be back on the water by 5 but we slept in until 6.
Aaron Palmatier is the Ministry Director for Asia, Mexico and South America with Missions Door. His ministry takes him all around the world to encourage and support other missionaries and also to complete work of his own. This summer, Aaron was presented the opportunity of a lifetime—to travel by boat down the Amazon River to remote tribes in Bolivia.
This journey would take him where most people can only dream of going. The many tribes, nations, and tongues of this region are just one obstacle. Aaron and his team had to receive both government permission and tribal permission to visit and work at these sights. The captain of their ship was not only in charge of navigation of the vessel down the Amazon, but also had to know the specific dialects of all the tribes the team visited. This intense, dangerous, exciting, and wonderful adventure was documented through video and shared in an article of Mountain Valley Living by Molly Barber, a friend of Aaron’s. (Link to the video and article here.)
The team of 13 included Aaron, Molly, Pastor Elmer Terrazas and Mark Jones of Missions Door, a few doctors, a cook, and the boat crew traversed the river amongst piranhas, pink dolphins, alligators, jaguars and many other dangers to provide medical care and fellowship with the people there. In doing so, the team realized that these momentary dangers for them, were just a part of daily life for the people there. Molly wrote in her article, “One thing I know is the people who live out there in the tribes we visited are a tough, strong, and resilient type of people. It’s a hard life on the river but they were so kind to us and willing to help in whatever way they could, even if it was as simple as giving us fresh oranges or a place to sleep for the night.”
The team was able to give clothing to the children in these villages, they provided countless hours of free medical care, but above all, they shared in the beautiful moments of their everyday life, singing songs and giving praise to the Father.
Though dangerous, the river was peaceful. Though difficult to find, the villages were welcoming. Though hidden in thick foliage, the villagers were so open. And though the trip was meant to impact these Amazonian tribes, it affected 13 people all the more. God is willing to take us on a great adventure. We see over and over in His word that…
The journey is dangerous, but I will protect you.
It is uncomfortable, but I will provide you comfort.
The waters may scare you, but I will carry you through.
When you need a place to rest your head, I will provide you a loving stranger’s home.
When you are hungry, I will bring my people to share with you.
And while you may think this journey is about you helping others, I will reveal how it is the other helping you.
Photos and video by: Molly Barber
How Can You Help
The Great Commission is what spurs us to do indigenous ministry. Around the world, Christians are making disciples in their hometowns and bringing the gospel to their people. How will you be a part of that?