Slain missionary's daughter tells about life in the jungle

Saturday, September 15, 2012
Charlie Butts (

The daughter of a slain missionary has written a children's book about her life as a youth in the jungles of Ecuador.

Valerie Elliot Shepard was only ten months old when Ecuadorian Indians killed her father, 29-year-old Jim Elliot, and four other missionaries. But Valerie and her mother returned to the jungle later, and the former spent several years with the tribe that had killed her father. Now, the Auca Indians are predominantly Christian.

"[I] picked up the Auca language, just immediately started playing with the kids, had a ball in the river, and they taught me to do the things they did, which was spearing little insects or catching little fish with their hands or catching crawfish," she recalls. "I was just generally happy as a clam, if you could say that. I was perfectly happy with the jungle."

Pilipintos Happiness (book cover)Shepard was given the name of Pilipinto, which means "butterfly," because "she was flitting around from one thing to the next." Based on those experiences, she wrote a book, Pilipinto's Happiness: The Jungle Childhood of Valerie Elliot.

"One of the main things I want to convey is that God took care of us there," she accounts. "He absolutely was a kind and tender Shepherd to us, and I only got bee stings one time and nothing more dangerous than that ever bit us or hurt us. So, the Lord was protecting us, and that's a big theme in the book. But just the contentment that I had, and my mother did learn, too, from the Indians. She saw that they never complained. They were perfectly happy with whether it rained or the sun shined. That was life."

Since then, Shepard has returned twice to visit with the Auca Indians.

We moderate all reader comments, usually within 24 hours of posting (longer on weekends). Please limit your comment to 300 words or less and ensure it addresses the article. Comments that contain a link (URL), an inordinate number of words in ALL CAPS, rude remarks directed at other readers, or profanity/vulgarity will not be approved.
Former soldier tells amazing story of redemption

A Sudanese pastor and former South Sudan Army soldier is in the United States telling his story of restoration and redemption.