Saturday, June 8, 2013

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

 This is my friend ,Theda Dawson, in front of a Mission Aviation Fellowship plane
on the air strip in the village where she lived and worked at the time.

I  was reminded  by another missionary, Theda Dawson, of the time I had a root canal in her jungle home. That's right, a root canal in a mud and stick house with a palm roof in a Yanomamo village. You see, a dentist was visiting from Puerto Rico and he offered to do it for free. I needed it, he offered, so...

I sat myself down in the middle of a room full of half naked indians, chewing tobacco and spitting it on the floor as they chattered on. They spoke Guiaca, so I had no idea what they might be saying.

 It went quite well, considering. I did not have too much pain and after the root canal we loaded up in a speed boat and headed down river to a Ye'kwana village where we would spend the night. I did fine until night when the Novocain wore off. I spent the night in my hammock tossing and turning which kept everyone else up. In a jungle home built of poles which are all tied together, when one persons swings his hammock, the poles shake and everyone swings with them, others are not always appreciative!

The next day we loaded up in a Cessna, piloted by a missionary friend, to fly to the relative civilization of Puerto Ayacucho. As we began to climb to gain elevation...I knew I was in BIG trouble. The higher we  climbed, the more pain I was in. Tears began to squeeze out of my eyes and I began to bang on the door repeatedly in pain.

That was when I learned that one should not travel in an unpressurized plane immediately after major dental work. My tooth began to grow! and GROW! AND GROW! It was so big it was about to explode and take my head with it!

Eventually, I was able to make the pilot hear me and he tried to fly as low as possible. Unfortunately, the mountain ranges refused to lower themselves and we had to climb repeatedly to cross them. I began to consider the possibilities available for constructing a parachute and taking up sky diving.

About that time, I heard another pilot talking on the radio. He had a young indian girl on his plane headed to the same town. She was having complications with her labor and needed an emergency flight to the hospital. I could hear her screaming in the back ground. Poor thing! After hearing her, I refused to scream, but I did cry and kept right on banging that door. It probably still has a dent in it...

As we neared  town,  we descended to land and  the pain also became less intense. Even so, I went straight to the pharmacy for some pain medication and I never flew again for at least 3 days after I had any dental work, even just a cleaning!

I hate dental work under normal circumstances, and I can not recall why I would have decided to go through a root canal in one sitting, no x-ray machines, in a jungle hut. Maybe one of the witch doctors cursed me to have a lapse of judgment.? Or maybe I was just a poor missionary who really needed free dental work?

Whatever the reason, it seemed like a good idea at the time.


  1. Ouch that hurts just reading about it....I was looking in blog addresses this am and came across "Jungle Hut Rita"...I knew u had changed address so found a old post dated Nov 2012 with a new blog so tried it and here I am.. This is Don friend of Susan Joyce and we used to comunicate some "in the old days". Hope you are doing well.. and Clint too.. We (Barbara and I) are doing well and all the family too. None of the kids came for the 4th of July so we celebrated with traditional ice cream(homemade) grilled bugers, potato salad, baked beans with Barbara;s sister and husband.. had a great time.. home you did too... write sometime about your work whever ur at.. Don

  2. Good to hear from you! As you can see, 9 have not been blogging as often as before and have less reliable internet service, but I hope to get back to blogging more often!