Cheney Free Press -


By Luella Dow

Telephone company career leads to adventure for Ed and Marylu Wade

Of Cabbages and Kings


In the early 1970s Ed and Marylu Wade attended a small church in Portland, Ore. and met Bob Griffin, a Jaars pilot. Bob told them he grew up in the Palouse area on a wheat farm. He got his pilot license as a teenager and started flying for Jaars.

Griffin told them Jaars was founded in Peru in 1948 by William Cameron Townsend. At first Jaars offered only jungle aviation and radio service, its name derived from the first letters in “jungle aviation and radio service.” The organization now brings many ways of communication and progress in Bible translation and literacy to the world. The Wades said, “This was our first contact with Jaars.”

Two years ago the phone rang. Jaars headquarters in Waxhaw, N.C. wanted to know if the Wades might be interested in supporting a boat project. The man on the phone also said, “We need a telephone man to help upgrade the telephone system on campus.”

Ed Wade smiled. Now retired, he had worked for Cheney Telephone Company for 25 years and had done this particular type of transition a dozen times. In October 2012 the Wades drove to North Carolina to look at the work and talk to communications supervisors. They told the Wades the project would begin in fall of 2013. At the end of November 2012 the phone rang again. The telephone transition would begin in January 2013.

The Wades were in a “whirlwind of activity” as Marylu expressed it, meeting family for Christmas in California, then on to Jaars headquarters in North Carolina. En route the hitch on their fifth-wheel RV failed and the truck engine quit. Marylu said, “We were sidelined for three weeks between Las Cruces N.M. and El Paso, Texas.”

During those days Ed Wade helped the manager of the RV park on many projects and the Wades met many interesting people. With the equipment mended the Wades made it to Jaars headquarters where Ed worked full time on the phone project laying cable. Marylu, a retired teacher, taught a class of six, two-year-olds while 30 families took cultural classes and communicative skills or jungle flight training. Meanwhile, back home in Cheney, the Wade’s son and others took care of the farm.

Ed and Marylu Wade learned a great deal about Jaars. This organization provides the airplanes and equipment for men like Griffin. Many translation teams travel by boat on lakes or even through swamps to reach their destinations.

Overland traveling in remote areas can be hazardous. Teams now have GPS to guide them. Listen to this: Computers, software, Internet, solar power, are available, even to people who formerly could not read nor write their own language.

An example is Wangarr Wutjara. She has taught herself to record audio programs and produced many multimedia products. Wangarr produced a video from the Bible story of Cain and Abel. She then heard that children were reciting her stories. She asked their mother how they had learned the stories. The mother said, “Every night my children fight over my cellphone because they want to watch the Bible stories before they go to bed.”

In remote Northern Africa people are on Facebook. In Australia an aboriginal pastor assigns Bible passages to listen to on cell phones during the week so the congregation will be prepared for the Sunday sermon. Literacy programs are available in places like India.

In a book titled “A Life Of Dignity” it says, “Plans for Bible translation go hand in hand with education initiatives – from community literacy programs to after-school learning centers.” In rural Ethiopia, audio scriptures travel from one phone to another by Bluetooth. Better hurry America, they’re gaining on you. Millions of people now have access to the Bible and educational advantages.

The Wades said, “We were immensely rewarded for volunteering and we are looking forward to future opportunities.” For more information or a chance to volunteer, email Luella Dow. In the meantime, stay close to the phone, Ed and Marylu. God bless.

Luella Dow is a Cheney-area author. She can be reached at


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