Lost in the Jungle


(A true story)
The prayers of the faithful shall be heard (2 Ne. 26:15).

Christine (8) and Spencer (6) Harris and their family saved their money for a long time so that they could be with their grandparents in Rarotonga at the end of their mission. One of the Cook Islands in the Pacific Ocean, Rarotonga is part of the New Zealand Auckland Mission. It was a long distance to travel from their home in Seattle, Washington. In fact, the family flew on three different airplanes to get there. First they flew to California, then to Tahiti, and then on to the beautiful island of Rarotonga. They had not seen Grandma and Grandpa Harris for nearly a year and a half, so it was wonderful to be together again.

On the island, they explored the sites, including the wonderful beaches and warm, blue lagoons. Christine and Spencer liked to snorkel within the coral reef and see the thousands of colorful fish. They had fun collecting seashells and coral. The children also enjoyed eating the unusual, but delicious fruits and fresh coconuts on the island.

Meeting the many nice people to whom their grandparents had taught the gospel was heartwarming for the children and their parents. On Sunday, they attended church. Christine and Spencer found it comforting to sing the familiar Primary songs in the unusual setting of an open-walled church with exotic birds and chickens around it.

When the children found out that their father and grandfather were planning a special hike that included them, they were thrilled. The hike would take them across the island, through the tropical jungle, over some old volcanoes, to a sharp mountain peak called Mount Te Manga (The Needle). Even though it was a difficult hike that was ordinarily just for adults, their father thought that the children were prepared.

It was a perfect morning for a hike—clear and sunny, but not too hot. The children were up early to help make lunches and pack their gear. The four hikers said good-bye to the other family members, who would spend the morning at the open market and then pick them up on the other side of the island in the afternoon.

The hikers walked along a scenic valley road, past a papaya plantation and a lush farm, to the trailhead (the place where a trail begins) at the base of a volcanic mountain. The trail led them through a large green forest of ferns, across several streams, and then up a steep stairway of tangled tree roots. Christine and Spencer took turns leading the hike and had a contest to see who could spot the most lizards along the trail.

Eventually the group entered the heavy overgrowth of the dense, tropical jungle. The gigantic leaves and vines that surrounded them were amazing. But they soon realized that they were no longer on the trail! Everyone looked all around for the path but could not find it. They tried to backtrack to where they had come from, but it seemed like the more they hunted for the path, the steeper and thicker and more difficult the jungle became. Father and Grandfather were very frustrated. Eventually they found a stream and started to follow it down the side of the mountain. But the vines and jungle growth were so dense that it soon became impossible to travel any farther.

Although they didn’t complain, Christine and Spencer were not having fun anymore. They knew that they were lost. To make things worse, Christine had stumbled on a root and hurt her leg, and Spencer was tormented by swarms of mosquitoes. The group searched for the missing trail for about two hours and were getting scared.

Grandfather said, “We need to pray. We need Father in Heaven’s help to guide us back to the path.”

Everyone humbly knelt in the steep, thick jungle by the stream with the mosquitoes buzzing around them. Grandfather prayed, asking Heavenly Father to help them find the trail. Everything became quiet and peaceful. Grandfather rose to his feet and started walking. Christine, Spencer, and their father followed. In less than five minutes, they were standing on the hiking trail! In astonishment, they all shouted for joy. Everyone knew that they had been guided by an answer to prayer.

It didn’t take long for them to hike up the ridge to a spectacular, breathtaking view of The Needle. At the base of the peak, they stopped to rest and have lunch. But first they prayed again to Heavenly Father to thank Him for guiding them to safety.

After lunch, they hiked down the trail and along the rugged mountainside and on to the other side of the island. They met the rest of their family by a beautiful waterfall. Christine and Spencer told how they had lost the trail in the dense jungle and how, through an answer to Grandfather’s prayer, they had found it.

[photo] Photographed by James B. Harris