Looking back on it now I can see it was a time of maturing and developing as a human being, but I cared nothing for that at the time. All I wanted was to GET OUT!

It was dark and wet where I was, but not too cold, thankfully. I couldn’t see a thing, so I spent countless days with my eyes shut tight. Due to the cramped quarters, I spent my time bent forward in a prenatal position, my head tucked down and my legs curled up against my chest. I no doubt would have gone mad had I been even the least bit claustrophobic, because the tight confines I found myself in kept me from doing little more than flailing feebly with my feet and fists from time to time. When on rare occasion I was able to muster the strength to strike out with force at the walls surrounding me, it would elicit little more than laughter and excited chatter from those on the outside.

Just exactly how I came to be there in the first place is a question best answered by others, but one thing was clear – I had to escape. I couldn’t breath, my only sustenance came through some sort of hose-like contraption, and I hadn’t seen the light of day in practically an eternity.

This all took place in the year 1967. I’m pleased to say that since that time, things have improved considerably. Only a few short months after my release from these nightmarish circumstances, my missionary parents took me from Canada to live among a fierce, stone-age tribe deep in the Amazon jungle. There the village warriors conceived a plot to ambush and kill my older siblings in an effort to draw my father and his coveted shotgun into a war with an enemy village.

Inexplicably, this conspiracy was never carried out, and to this day no one remembers exactly why. Instead, we four children were accepted into tribal society. The three elder ones were given the names Twiggy, Sunburned, and Squirrel. To me was given the name of a powerful enemy warrior from a neighboring village, not as a symbol of respect but simply as a convenient way to keep the hatred of their enemy fresh in their minds. Thanks, guys. Glad I could help with that.

Reaching school age, I boarded a Cessna airplane and flew off to a far-away boarding school, having opportunity to be with my parents only during vacations. The school staff served as educators and interim parents to me and dozens of other missionary kids. One might think that an arrangement such as this must surely result in a plethora of long-term psychological trauma, but I’m happy to report that my teachers and dorm parents suffered little lasting damage and today lead fairly normal and healthy lives.

Having grown up seeing firsthand the hunger that many tribal people have for God’s Word, it wasn’t a stretch for me to decide to be a missionary myself. After attending New Tribes Bible Institute for two years, I went on to study linguistics and cross-cultural communications before joining in the effort to bring God’s Word to the Wilo people.