Life Begets Life

Holding my new, squirmy, squeaky granddaughter reminded me of two flights.

The first flight raced against desolation. A teenage girl, struggling to deliver her first child, lay beneath a tree. Her young husband paced the mud alongside. His eyes darted down to her. Up to the sky. Back to her. The village airstrip, their one connection to the outside world, remained empty, broiling in Amazon sun. Her moans offered the only counterpoint to the silence as every village ear strained. The dogs caught it first, heads suddenly up. The tiny buzz grew until kids heard too. Then adults. All stirred, looked northwest. The husband’s eyes widened. He inhaled sharply. Hope?

Little sound morphed into big noise and then to sight. The village crowd watched the red and white Cessna 206 circle overhead, descend, land, and taxi to a roaring halt before them. I jumped out. The village health promoter reported details—30 hours fruitless labor, mother exhausted, hardly able to breath let alone push. Her husband watched others lay her prone on the airplane floor. I fastened her straps, then buckled him into the seat next to her. All quiet while I prayed. Then I closed doors, strapped on harness and helmet, completed checklists and roared back into the sky.

A week later the second flight proclaimed God’s mercy. I circled again. Same descent and landing. Same roaring stop before the crowd. I hopped out. The husband followed, red and yellow toucan feathers atop his head framing a wide grin—despite stoic attempts. He turned and accepted a small, wrapped bundle. His wife stepped down next and reclaimed her prize. They gazed out, amazed at what they held, awed by what it meant. Then she smiled and opened the blanket to reveal the gift only God can give—new life.

The new parents return to an Atshuar strip in southeastern Ecuador. Photo by Jim Manley.

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