missionary to South America
1ST PLACE || 2016


by Rebekah Taepke


I was entrusted to deliver a package to the other side of the riverbanks when suddenly, I was confronted with the dilemma of a serious drought.

My name is Aaron. Ministering for twelve years in Brazil’s Northern Village, my parents have had to make some tough decisions, but none quite as hard as this one.

Last week, my parents were heading back to the clinic when a messenger from the Western Village came running to tell my dad that in his village men, women, and children were starving. After a few moments, my dad spoke something to the messenger, then with a slight wave of his hand, the messenger jogged away. My parents discussed how to help with the messenger’s request for food for his village since our family only had two weeks supply of food left. They had three options: ignore the plea for food; buy them some food from our depleted village market; or send them half of our food supply.

Late that night, they reached their decision. The next day, they sent me in the afternoon to deliver half of our food to the Western Village. I excitedly began preparations. I filled my thermos with cold coconut water and grabbed an energy bar. With my thermos, energy bar, safety kit, and the large package of food, my backpack was filled to the brim.

My dad stepped outside with me and told me how to find the village. “Mom and I are entrusting you with this package of food,” he explained. “The village’s chance of survival is partially based on the safe arrival of this food.”

I set out down a path in the rainforest. Time passed quickly as I listened to the different birds, like the parrots and toucans. I noticed that the light didn’t dim as much as it usually did after I entered the rainforest as the trees were drying up in order to conserve water.

As I neared the river, I thought I saw some undergrowth rustle. Suddenly a native jumped out and glared at me, spear poised. He spoke in a dialect, which I didn’t know. The dialect indicated to me that this native was from the Southern Village, which had an ongoing feud with our village and had been hostile to the gospel and missionaries.

Using signs, he indicated that he wanted to see my backpack. Thoughts flashed through my mind. The precious life-giving food was in my backpack, and this hostile native was armed and I had nothing to defend myself with, and, worse, more natives might be lurking about. I gave him the backpack and he opened it with great haste. The large package containing the food immediately drew his attention, like a bee attracted to a sweet flower. He untied the twine and was surprised to find so much food. I spoke although he didn’t understand me, and using signs, I indicated that he could keep the food. I turned around and headed for home. My dad would be surprised to see me back so soon.

The next afternoon, at two o’clock, a long processional from the Southern Village arrived at our village. Chief Agu, from the Southern Village, approached my dad and since my dad knew several dialects, they were able to communicate. A buzzing from the sky interrupted their conversation. It was an airplane! Earlier, my mom had told me that she had sent a request for an emergency supply plane. Now there’d be plenty of food to share with all the villages: Northern, Southern, Eastern, and even the Western Village, where the messenger had been sent from.

My dad asked me to run and alert our village chief, Chief Quim, that Chief Agu wanted to make peace with him, but Chief Quim was already on his way, armed with twelve bodyguards. Before Chief Quim could order his men to fight, my dad explained that the Southern Village had arrived in peace.

Reluctantly, Chief Quim began talking about peace with Chief Agu. Chief Agu explained how I had given one of his people a large parcel of food, and how he could think of no better way to thank me than to make peace with our village. Chief Quim, who was already a Christian convert, realized that Chief Agu had good intentions and soon enough, they were talking like old friends.

My sister asked several village women and girls to help my mom cook a feast to celebrate. Five women and three girls arrived, and as was custom, they brought what few supplies they had. They did not know that a supply plane had flown in and all afternoon, the women prepared a large feast, enough to feed two whole villages.

That night, both villages feasted together harmoniously around large bonfires. Chief Agu stood up and made an announcement. He began to feel Christ’s love through me by my having given one of his people some food. His heart had been softening and there, kneeling on the sand, he prayed and accepted Jesus into his heart. This was a very happy night for us all. Chief Agu even invited us to set up a hospital, school, and a church in his village. Since then, we have felt that we have two homes.

The day after the supply plane delivered its load, we got rain for an entire week, which made everything green and begin to grow again. As with every experience, I have learned something. I learned to trust God and understand much better what Romans 8:28 says: “For those who love God all things work together for good.”

Rebekah is in 6th grade and enjoys reading, writing, camping, playing board games, playing with her dog, and riding her bike.