Posted by: calloftheandes | May 24, 2017

A Special Visit to Nate Saint Memorial School

by Gary Meier

Nate Saint Memorial School was one of the all-time favorite stops of the many (up to five a year) Reach Beyond (formerly HCJB Global) tours to Ecuador. We were told that the students considered a visit one of their highlights of the year.

The group usually congregated on the concrete play area to meet the principal and receive an orientation. Then each student—even the first-graders—were assigned a visitor to whom they gave a personalized tour. The school was named after missionary pilot Nate Saint who in 1956, along with four of his fellow missionaries, was martyred in the Ecuadorian jungle by a tribe then known for savagery.

Before departing their homes in Shell for the last time, the five men and their wives gathered for a time of prayer and praise. Then before walking out the door, they all sang their favorite hymn, “We Rest on Thee.”

Early learning days in Shell with Charlotte Swanson as teacher. (photo compliments of Don Davis, in front in striped shirt)

As our guides concluded their tours, everyone eventually ended up in the assembly room. There a presentation by the children sometimes consisted of a skit, a special story and of course, singing. Before the tour left, they always sang, “We Rest on Thee.” There never was a dry eye in the place as the tour members filed out to their bus.

On one tour as we stood on the concrete play area, the sun beating down on us unmercifully, everyone was drenched with sweat. The principal gave a talk on the history of the school and its education philosophy. As group members squirmed from the heat and shielded their eyes from the intense sun, she explained that one day they would erect a roof. With careful planning, it would cost about $6,000, she stated.

The group then met the students assigned as their special guides. This was followed by the program in the much-cooler meeting room. After everything had concluded, it was imperative that the group board the bus for the other scheduled tour activities. As usual, it was nearly impossible to pull the group away as they wanted to see more of the school, visit with the kids and ask the teachers more questions.

Finally they began heading to the bus. Before getting in, however, they gathered in a circle and asked me to come into the center. The appointed spokesperson handed me a wad of checks and cash. You guessed it … $6,000. God’s people had again responded to a need. The children, and all the subsequent tour groups, enjoyed the covered play area for many years.

Kathy and Gary Meier

*Gary Meier is a retired Reach Beyond missionary living in Young Harris, Ga.

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