Thursday, March 6, 2008

Thoughts from a Demolition Site Near the Rain Forest

Walking last autumn amid the wall studding with ceiling joists overhead, I found nostalgia edging into my conscious thoughts. Afterwards I wrote:

These are hallowed halls. Inaugurated as the TheodoreEpp Memorial Hospital in Shell, Ecuador, this facility had served people of the rain forest. The building later was converted to a guesthouse, and this was where our family liked to stay.

On our last visit, we’d had the long hallways and spacious rooms to ourselves. My mind plays the sound of footsteps of our kids running the halls as they do battle with plastic pellet guns. (With this, I wave good-bye to any future bookings at guesthouses.)

Actually, we only thought we had it to ourselves; there were other guests. “The termites holding hands,” the saying goes, and it fits the scene around my feet. I thought sawdust was littered about; it was termite droppings.

(A 3:45 minute audio interview from the demolition site is available. Please click here.)

I’ve seen a black and white photo of Roger Youderian nailing roofing to the structure. That was late 1955. The photo doesn’t reveal his discouragement but he’d journaled, “We might pass Christmas here, finish the hospital in Shell, and head home.”

Not long after, he and four other young men were speared to death while attempting to evangelize a yet unreached tribe, the Aucas, with the gospel. Now known as the Waorani, they count many Christians among themselves. Many follow and teach God’s carvings.

Christmas. A finished work. And heading home.

A final Christmas for one . . . introduces the celebration of Christmas to many.

(hospital photo: D. Birkey)


Anonymous said...


I love your stories. Is the blog of the demolition only audio or is there also one with photos?

You know, I don't look at that statement of Roger Y as discouragement, rather a statement of purpose and determination. What he started he wanted to see finished. However, I loved the way you finished the article. He did finish and he went home. What a testimony!

We love you.
-Lois F

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed hearing about and seeing an update on life in Shell. What you presented brought back many wonderful memories. I have had been blessed to have so many experiences.

Thanks for the reminders of how blessed I have been.

When / if you move back to the States you will be blessed to hear people say “What an interesting life you have lived.” I have heard that from people whose lives I find intriguing.

Barb B

E-Update said...

How great to hear Art and Chuck discuss with you the process of the old hospital demolition. I'd be so interested in photos!!