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Proclaiming God's Light in Man's Night
By Marlene Muhr
Afghanistan: Hunting in the Land of Babur, The Tiger
"Watchman, what do you say of the night?" (Isaiah 21:11b -French translation)
"Praise God! Here you are! Now let's trust Him to give us all the languages of this country." Before we could say a thing, Dr. Christy Wilson, our contact man, began to pray, claiming the languages in Jesus' name. When he finished, he looked at us with shining eyes, his face aglow -a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit! His inviting us to make recordings was, for him, another step of proving the Lord and believing Him for impossibilities. "How many languages are there?" we eagerly asked.
When he told us, our whole beings quivered with expectancy, and we thanked the Lord for skillfully guiding us to this landlocked country of Afghanistan.
It used to be a strategic part of the pathway between East and West, long before it was called a nation in the eighteenth century. Its center was known as the "Great Snowy Mountains," because of its deep valleys and dangerous summits.
Later, a ham radio message reached us in the heart of those mountains, where we were visiting a medical station. "Could you be back in Kabul in two days?" As there was no bus to take us to the distant local plane, a nurse sent someone to locate a truck going our way. He found one that was traveling by night. No good! But after much bargaining, and baksheesh, the driver was willing to change his schedule and go in the morning. He agreed for us to be the only passengers in the cab. Squeezed in the back of the truck, young turbaned conscripts waved their flags improvised from scarves, and sang during the whole five-hour ride over bumpy, sandy roads.
Our plane was to leave at six p.m. so we rested at the only hotel in the valley, about half a mile from the airstrip. When it was time we walked over, lugging our bags which became heavier with every step. The airstrip manager and some thirty tourists and nationals were waiting for the twenty-seat plane. An hour passed. There was no place to sit. Finally the manager announced that no plane was coming. "Of course not," snapped a German. "You knew the motor broke down yesterday and has to be replaced!"
Ann and I just looked at each other. Where will we go? Quick, to the hotel before it is filled!
We started back, luggage heavier than ever, when out of nowhere a car drove up. A robed, black-bearded driver got out, took our bags, and offered us a ride. At least, that is what we r thought he said. We jumped in, marveling at the miraculous provision of a taxi in this part of nowhere!
The stranger took us straight to the hotel and carried our luggage up the many steps to the reception desk. When we turned to pay him, he wasn't there, so we ran to the door, but there was no man and no car to be seen, anywhere. How could he vanish so fast? We had heard of angels, before. We will never know!
The other passengers sauntered in, but we had come first. "No, the hotel is full," the clerk told us, "but we will let you have the chief's room, since he is away." It had a private bathroom, nonexistent in these areas. It was doubly appreciated as I was sick all night. The late-comers had to sleep on the hall floor!
Next morning, the day of our mysterious appointment in Kabul, we returned to the airstrip in the company of an increased number of passengers. Would the plane be repaired by now? It landed! Everyone pressed forward but the manager dominated the situation. Only eleven of the twenty seats were unoccupied. He sized up the group. Then he singled out different people, saying, "You...and you..." "OH LORD, HELP US!" Only two seats were left...He took a deep breath, and pointing at Ann and me, "You...and you." "THANK YOU, LORD."
When we arrived at Kabul there were plumbing problems and no running water. We had dreamed of a cold shower and of washing clothes. Never mind. At least, we could sleep a little after our exhausting adventure. But there was a knock at the door. "Can you pack your bags and be ready to go in a few minutes?" called Christy Wilson. "I just received a phone call for us to hurry to a certain place." New life flowed through our tired bodies! No warm meal today. Never mind. We ate chocolate and cookies as we went down a tortuous road along a river gorge. It had been chipped out of solid rock by hand, during a period of over seventy years, before foreign help completed it in five more years. After two hours, we turned to the left, and bumped along on gravel.
It was dark when we approached a village in silhouette. We couldn't distinguish any houses. Christy got out of the car and shouted a name. No response. He called and called. Vague shadows seemed to move on several flat roofs. We tried to peer through the darkness. Nothing happened. We prayed some more. Then, not far from us, we heard a rattle of stones. Christy headed in that direction, and met...who? Were the "ghosts" friendly or armed? All of a sudden there was a clatter of greeting and chattering in a Babel tongue!
Before long we were in a courtyard full of cattle and donkeys. Everybody was taken by surprise -- the villagers, because they didn't expect visitors; the three of us, because our "phone contact" hadn't arrived yet with his two mountain men! What now? "LORD, HELP US!" Car lights flashed through the night. There they were! What joy, even if we couldn't quite make out their faces!
We all climbed the narrow stairway leading to the roof of a mud house -the reception room! We sat down on the rug cross-legged, wearing of course, trousers underneath our dresses, according to the custom of the local women. Pressure lamps were lit. At last we could see who was sitting opposite us -the two terrified men brought by All from their hidden villages. The first man was one of the handful who were recently saved, in the smoldering revival in his valley. The other was a soldier who was open to the gospel. They both were going to make recordings in their languages -- but nobody must know it.
When all the routine of hospitality was over, Ali, the elder of the clan, ordered everybody to bed who had nothing to do with our secret project. Without protest they disappeared in the surrounding small houses, leaving us ALONE. We entered an inner, unfurnished room and sat on the bare floor- where soon we began to scratch! The recorder was set up and the pressure lamps put out because of their hissing sound. We had only two small flashlights, one for the technician and the other for the interpreter to read the scripts. First, an aspirin was given to the Christian, and some ointment administered to the soldier's eyes which had suffered from the heat and dust of the trip. Then, sentence by sentence, the message of salvation was dictated and put on tape, while hour after hour crept by, with tensions mounting. Will we make it without being detected? Again, "LORD, HELP US!"
Four a.m. GLORY TO GOD! Our two speakers slipped back into remoteness -by taxi, a day by truck, and two days on foot. We lay down on string cots and had two hours of rest. By six a.m. we were up again and ready to go. Ali drove with us, bubbling over with praises. "Do you know," he said, "if my relatives had known what we were doing, they would have killed us!" We breathed a double thanksgiving to the Lord for His faithfulness and protection!
Christy kept reiterating the marvel of the Lord's wisdom. "My! He sent you at just the right time! Think of the possibility of putting something simple and clear like these recordings, into the hands of people all over this land, where we aren't allowed to preach!" For the last hundred years, regular, deep intercession, hours at a time, had been made by missionaries and others. He felt our records could become "songs" in the deep night of this country. He believed that many would listen gladly and turn to the Lord when they heard the Good News in their very own mother tongue.
Christy was God's man. He laughed with glee as he saw f speakers coming to his home nearly every day. "Well, we are expecting to make a record for every language group, so here they I come!" In spite of a very heavy schedule of his own, he gave himself unstintingly to the task of interpreting every talk that was recorded.
It was a wonderful experience to see him holding onto his prayer for "every language," and to stand with him in praise and anticipation. And one by one, the people turned up, often under cover of darkness. They came from all walks of life, representing fifty-one languages, only several of which were written, and only two of which had Bibles!
Some brought others who spoke different languages. The name of Jesus puzzled everybody. One admitted that he knew it was the name of a prophet. But when a national explained to him that Jesus "had died for me...and for you," the man said, "Really? Is that so? I never heard that before!" He worked with us in a sweet and open way, obviously enjoying it greatly.
An educated man who had assisted a language researcher in his province, introduced many speakers to us and watched over them so they would do it right. Quietly, kindly, he told them, "No, no, that isn't what we want, it's so-and-so," making them practice until they didn't stumble.
Once we recorded a government worker who showed great interest in the gospel. Since he was literate, Christy gave him a New Testament in his language. He took it to his office and read, until one of his superiors interrupted him. "What are you reading?" When he learned what it was, he grabbed it from him. "I'm taking it! It is mine now. I have been wanting one for a long time. I'm not giving it back to you!" Christy replaced it. And this he had to do four times! When Ann quizzed our national helper to see if this man had any thoughts toward the gospel, he smiled reassuringly and said emphatically, "Yes, oh yes indeed."
The same man also went language hunting for us. He would go to the market and watch for a different hat or costume, as each language group wore distinctive clothes. He would ask, "Where are you from?" And checking the list of those still to be recorded, he I would say, "Yes -I need you! Come with me!" He also visited the I Afghan army camps around the capital, Kabul. The country had i universal conscription and therefore there were representatives I from every linguistic group serving in the military. He would ask a I soldier, "Do you have any men here who speak strange languages?" Once the answer came, "Yes, there is a conscript who is a wild one." An appointment would then be arranged to record his tongue.
One day we had two students. Everything went smoothly until one of them questioned, "Why do you only talk about Jesus? Mohammed is the greatest!" Christy quietly discussed several of the prophets they believed in -Abraham, Moses, David. They knew, of course, how each of those men had yielded to temptation. The boys nodded. "But there is one Prophet who never sinned - Jesus Christ!" Christy gave them a summary of His life story. They listened in awe, and resumed their work without a word.
We were conscious that the Holy Spirit was watching over the recordings when a speaker asked to come back, after he had done his part with a very dull face and lifeless speech. He wanted to make some corrections. We wondered why. It finally leaked out. He had twisted the gospel application! He confessed, "When I was in bed last night I was thinking that perhaps it wasn't what the ladies had in mind. Maybe I did it wrong, so I decided to phone and ask if I could do it again and make the corrections. I knew the story was from the Holy Book, and I translated it word for word, but I thought the summary was different. Now that I know this was the meaning of the story, I will also translate it word for word. I didn't know it was from the Holy Book too. If that is what you want, I will get it exactly right." With the help of our interpreter, he concentrated on his work, and did it well. Before he left, he inquired, "Do you have any more of these studies? I like them."
A whole book could be written about how faith produced the substance of things hoped for during those four months in Afghanistan, the land of its ancient hero, "Babur, the Tiger." Later, there were fleeting signs of dawn breaking through its night. And the Watchman, the Holy Spirit, did not cease to warn the people: "The morning cometh, and also the night: if ye will enquire, enquire ye: return, come."* NOW...before it is too late!
Yemen: Posted from Arabia Felix
"When the Queen of Sheba heard about the fame of Solomon and his relation to the name of the Lord, she came to test him with hard questions." (1 Kings 10:1 NIV) "The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it: for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon's wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here." (Matthew 12:42 NIV)
Republic of North Yemen
Which of you has not been intrigued by the story of that wealthy queen, who, stepping out of the unknown, entered into world history at the most glorious time of Jewish prosperity?
Many legends have grown up around Bilquis, the "Queen of the South," as Jesus called her. According to the Arabs, she lived in the southwestern part of North Yemen. She ruled over the Sabean kingdom and empire, which included all the countries bordering the Red Sea and the high plateaus of Abyssinia. Her kingdom was like a watered garden, with sophisticated irrigation systems and reservoirs. The steep slopes of her high mountains were terraced for cultivation, and big darns were constructed in her oases. Her twenty-story palace was built of hewn, white stones, and so was Marib, her capital.
Today the whole site lies buried under the sands of the centuries following the punitive action of the Muslims against the Sabeans. This is mentioned in the Koran: "The inhabitants of Sheba had a celestial sign in the land in which they lived -two gardens, one on the right and one on the left. We told them, 'Eat the food was which your Lord gives you. Give thanks to Him. You have a beautiful country and an indulgent Lord.' But they turned away from the truth. So we sent against them, floods from the dams, and we exchanged the two gardens for two others, which produced bitter fruit."
Yemen -a part of Arabia Felix, or "Happy Arabia" -was well situated at the junction of ancient roads of commerce linking the East and West. Its products of frankincense, spices, and myrrh, and cargoes of precious stones, ivory, gold, and silk from Somalia, Ceylon, India, China and Siam -were carried on the recently domesticated camels. They travelled along the well-known incense highway through Shabwa, Marib, Quarnaw, Mecca and Medina, on their way to Mediterranean lands and seaports.
At about 950 B.C., the Queen of Sheba and her pompous retinue went north with her long camel train, bearing four and a half tons of gold, and large quantities of spices and precious stones. What caused her to undertake this three-month journey? Her empire had reached its supremacy during her reign. There was nothing left to be desired, at least outwardly. But inwardly she was seeking for wisdom which would lead her to truth. She had built a huge temple, but her worship of the sun-god and the moon-god left her empty. After talking with King Solomon she declared, "The report which I heard in my own country about your achievements and wisdom, is true. But I did not believe these things until I came and saw with my own eyes. Indeed, not even half was told me; in wisdom and wealth you have far exceeded the report I heard." (1 Kings 10:6,7 NIV) Her example was recorded in heaven, and Jesus quoted her on earth, a thousand years later!
It is from this land of legends that I am writing you, dear friends. Happy Arabia is no more. After nearly thirteen centuries of vacuum, a few Christians have come back, to live Love in the also midst of ruthlessness.
Ann and I never expected to come here. Missionaries had invited us to record in Aden, the former British Protectorate, at the tip of Arabia. We flew from Iran via Kuwait, where we were the honored guests of Arab Christians for five days. Landing at the Aden airport, I, being French, was given a thirty-day visa, but Ann was informed that now no Americans were being admitted. However, the authorities, wanting to be kind, gave her forty-eight hours, with no appeal. What a shock!
"Why do you want to work in Aden?" asked Dr. Lionel Gurney, a missionary of thirty years' experience and leader of the Red Sea Mission Team, the following day. "Go to North Yemen! They need you there, more than here!" He had just been visiting one of their newly-opened medical stations, where they face the language barrier. Through the years, a number of dialects, not mutually understood, have evolved from the Arabic. "What we I need is Gospel Recordings," he had told the nurses. They prayed that the Lord would make this possible. And here we were, the answer to their prayers!
So off we went to North Yemen, in a small local plane which didn't look too solid, but was extremely cheap. If the airline superintendent had not cancelled two other reservations on account of our extremity, Ann would have been put into jail!
In sharp contrast to the arid sandy expanse of Aden, this country presented a colorful spectacle of breath-taking beauty and variety of terrain. Flying over the towering mountains, we could see tiny walled-in villages perched on the summits, terraced fields clinging to the sides, tempting green valleys, and right above the horizon, clear blue skies.
"Welcome to North Yemen!" said the official, with a bright smile, as we disembarked -- the only foreigners.
We didn't know any Arabic, and nobody spoke English, but we soon discovered that the name of Dr. Young was the password for safe travel. We were among seven million people who had not emerged from their historic past. To get to Dr. Young's hospital, we crowded into a "taxi" with some of them, who were wearing the usual gun and the jambia, that long curved knife in a sheath. They also chewed qat, the green leaves of a mild drug. Up and down, round and round for hours we went through clouds of dust. Finally at ten p.m., we arrived at the hospital at an altitude of 6,000 feet.
Since there was no post or telephone service, no one knew of our coming. After hearing the name of Dr. Young, an armed guard opened the iron gate to us and led us to the nurse on duty. We were in! And immediately we were given warm hospitality, the greatest reward to weary, travel-worn strangers.
Dr. Young and his colleagues embraced our project with enthusiasm, and heartily cooperated with us. About four years ago he had built this seventy-bed hospital on the hillside opposite Jibla, whose thousand-year-old stone houses are replicas of those in the days of Queen Bilquis. Square, several stories high, they give the impression of layered fortresses that have not awakened to the present age.
The hospital already had the reputation of being the finest in the country. Once a man came from a long distance for a minor surgery, and when the doctor asked him why he didn't go to the government hospital which was nearer to him, he answered, "Because everybody in the whole world knows Dr. Young is the best!" Even gravel roads are very few, and people come from all over Yemen by crossing the mountains on small and sometimes dangerous trails. They may walk for several days. Recently a man came fourteen days by foot, carrying his sick wife on his back, with the hope that the doctors would be able to help her, and they did. But what thrills us most is to see that Yemeni people come under the sound of the gospel, and this for the first time in many centuries!
Fear is still gripping people, and Islam is still holding them prisoner. In other Muslim countries, we have noticed a definite lack of joy, but here, all faces seem sad -- grave little boys, and half-veiled little girls with a grown-up look who have never been taught to play. Recording in the various Arabic dialects is far from easy. However, we have already been able to get several of them, and hope.for more as soon as we go to Sanaa.
We continue to covet your prayers. Haven't we seen the Lord doing miracles all the way? After North Yemen, we expect to go back to Kuwait via Saudi Arabia, spending two days in Jedda, not far from Mecca! Then on to Lebanon and Turkey before landing in Geneva by March 19. Our one-year's trip will be over with seventy-seven languages recorded -we hope.
Yours in Him, Marlene Muhr
P.S. We are now in Sanaa, the capital, with forty-five mosques and twenty-four minarets! Modern times come to a stand-still as soon as you go through one of the eight gates in the mud wall, thirty feet thick, that surrounds the city. You immediately find yourself in the midst of the vestiges of Arabia Felix. Narrow la, dirt streets for people and donkeys twist between the massive he houses topped with flat roofs, whose white-washed borders cut geometric designs in the azure sky. The many window frames and he elaborate decorative fretwork, all white-washed, give a certain dignity and beauty to the old structures. The alabaster window- in panes have largely been replaced by stained glass and so has the motif of the Star of David.
All day, the souk (market) vibrates with people, smells, and colors. Panting bearers of over-sized burdens often bigger than he themselves, squeaking overloaded carts, and braying donkeys, move through the human density upon which the proud camel looks with disdain. Bargaining goes strong and loud, haggling over anything, interrupted only by the strident "qui-i-ichr" of the tea vendors. Men looking like Abram of old, in their long robes or pleated skirts, all armed of course, hurry to buy up their daily supply of "qat." And everywhere, there are scampering children and the walking tents that go briskly about their business, showing only women's feet.
Shops - those cubicles in the walls - offer a variety of trades and wares. The weaver sitting cross-legged on the floor in front of his primitive loom; the shoemaker sewing sandals with a long needle and heavy thread; the smith beating out jambias; the basket maker; the antique seller in the midst of Ali Baba's treasures --he says his alabaster oil lamps date back to the time of the Queen of Sheba.
And then the jewelers' corner, the place of the finest hand-made silver ornaments. If you search, you may discover the one or two shops where they sell rings with a small gold fish mounted on them -the emblem of the early Christians. These rings have been made ever since the third century A.D. At that time, the Jews were the only jewelers in Yemen, and they designed them to satisfy their Christian clients. After the expansion of Islam and the extinction of Christianity in the seventh century, they continued to make them until "Operation Flying Carpet," which, from 1941 to 1951 transferred some fifty thousand Jews to Israel. Their art was inherited by the Yemenites.
As I look at my ring with its little Christian emblem, my prayer is that the Yemeni nation may come to know the meaning of "ICHTHUS", and turn to Jesus Christ, the Son of God as their Saviour.
The Caribbean: Island Hopping and Jungle Adventure
"Sing to the Lord a new song, His praise from the ends of the earth,.. .you islands, and all who live in them." (Isaiah 42:10 NIV)
"I saw so many islands, that I hardly knew to which I should go first," wrote Christopher Columbus in 1492, from the Caribbean Sea. "The beauty of these islands surpasses that of any other land, as much as the day surpasses the night in splendor."
The problem of choice, which the first tourist had to face five centuries ago, remained the same for us in the Spring of 1973, as we set forth to the Bahamas, the West Indies, and the Guianas of South America. "We" -- a team of three: Joy Ridderhof, Ann and I. We had made tentative plans and contacted various missions before we left, but only the Lord could direct us to the right places. He had put the needs of this part of the world on our hearts, a result of Joy's survey trip two years before.
As we "hopped" from island to island which, from the plane, sparkled like emeralds lost in the blue immensity of the sea, we thought of the varied, colorful people, who loved their enchanting patois, though most of them knew English or French. How could we communicate the gospel to them in their own kind of speech, and in an atmosphere free from prejudice? Our recordings needed to be like the Balm of Gilead, which would heal their hurts and cleanse their souls.
Everywhere the missionaries chose their best qualified nationals to translate our scripts and speak them on the tape. The Lord was with us, leading us, controlling all our steps, and helping us to work faster than we expected. Recordings were made in the Bahamian dialect of Nassau. "When I hear these records, something deep inside my heart leaps for joy. I have gotten more truth out of them than in any other way," a Nassau listener exclaimed later. And a missionary added, "I have had similar responses everywhere I have taken them. In fact they are all gone already. They went like ice cream on a hot day!"
In Jamaica, young pastors and evangelists cooperated with us enthusiastically. "If only one soul would be saved through these records, the making of them would have been worth it," they said.
Haiti, a mountainous French-speaking country of six million people, recognizes its Creole as a second official language. It was like music to my French ears as I listened to it! In a country where illiteracy was over eighty per cent, Christian radio was very effective. Yet there was room for thousands of our gospel records to be placed here and there. A Bible school teacher shared with us: "I was born and raised way back in the mountains of Haiti. My people still live there, and miss me, and keep on asking me to visit them. Recently I decided to do it. So I drove my car as far as the road went. Then I started to climb up the high mountains. I climbed and climbed, for about six hours, until finally I reached my village, where I stayed two days. When I returned home to Port-au- Prince, I went to bed for two days, I was so worn out. Thanks to your records, when I see my people again, I will be able to leave a voice behind me, a voice which will tell them over and over again, the wonderful gospel message in their own Creole and in their own cultural setting. It will be a Haitian voice, telling them the gospel in a Haitian way, and they will love it!"
French Guadeloupe, English Dominica, French Martinique and English Saint Lucia were our next stops. Again the Lord had blessing in mind, as a missionary wrote afterward from Saint Lucia: "Last night I collected a shipment of your records. Within two hours, a third of them had been put to use. The neighbors, who have been showing cautious interest in the Gospel, received them with excited enthusiasm. I'm sure they will be played many times for friends and relatives. I am delighted with their clarity and quality. These records will do much to make 1974 a year of harvest. We have three new church buildings, and this extra assistance should contribute a great deal to our evangelism of the country people."
While in Martinique something went wrong with our tape recorder, and it couldn't be fixed. The prospect of further recordings looked dim. However, we trusted God and believed that His I hot promise in Romans 8:28 also applied to this situation. We were to go to Saint Lucia next -a very small island which wasn't as with advanced as Martinique. But it was in this place that the Lord wanted to do a miracle!
Upon our arrival we were taken to the government radio station for an appointment with the chief technician. He had read about this type of recorder. "It is a privilege to try to repair it," he said. During the hour and a half it required, we answered his questions about our island work, and played some recordings in the various dialects. He was thrilled to hear them because his radio station specializes in Creole programs. Could we send him copies of all our records, so he could play them over the radio? We surely could!
In Trinidad a big surprise was waiting for us -a call, through Mr. Schleppi's letter, to make recordings for the eighteen thousand Djuka Bush Negroes in the jungle of Surinam, once known as Dutch Guiana. Only two couples were working among them. We had to go!
The missionaries in Paramaribo, the capital, knew all about Gospel Recordings. Ten years before, Vaughn Collins had made recordings in most of the languages there, but not for the Djuka tribe, which was inaccessible. Like the eighteen thousand Saramacca Bush Negroes, they are descendants of runaway slaves, who fled from their masters nearly three hundred years ago and had found refuge in the deep tropical forests of Surinam.
How could we get to the interior? The MAF plane was booked months ahead, and besides, it was time for the rainy season who when planes can't fly as usual. Kamina Tabiki, where Mr. Schleppi's call came from, is an island the length of its airstrip, in the middie of the Cottica River which separates Surinam from French Guiana. During the heavy rains it becomes a black lake swarming with malaria mosquitoes, and the only contact the Schleppis have with the outside world is by mission radio.
Prayer was made by many; the rains were delayed; and the MAF pilot was able to fit one extra trip into his schedule -ours! Mr. Schleppi ran a small school of young believers, who had come to the Lord through listening to gospel records made by Vaughn Collins, though they were not in their own language. "Your Djuka While records and the phonettes (small hand wind players produced by across t Gospel Recordings) will be a solution to evangelizing these people, for yea scattered along the big river and on many tiny islands. They live in I fear and superstition from birth to death," said Mr. Schleppi.
He planned for hundreds of records and phonettes to be distributed in the next rainy season, when the water was high places enough, and the rapids and hidden rocks less dangerous. It was during one of these attempts that the boat turned over near rapids, throwing many records and players into the river! But the young men would not let Satan defeat them, and diving in, recovered them all! Then they spread them out on the rocks to dry in the sun.
We were just finishing the last Djuka recording when the MAF plane appeared in the cloudy sky. The pilot picked us up, to drop us off at another airstrip, carved out of the compact, steaming virgin forest. "This is it!" he announced. "God bless you! See you in three days! Go with this black man. He will take you to the Wycliffe ladies." And up he went again, into the infinite sky.
We re-read the note which was handed to us. "Ladies: Please follow this man that we have sent for you. Don't be afraid. He is a good boatman." Signed, "Catherine." Why did we need a boatman here? And what was there to fear?
We looked at our smiling Saramacca guide who, taking our bags, beckoned us to come along.
A trail led us between gigantic trees draped in liana vines, arborescent ferns, tall bamboo, and a green mass of interlaced rampant undergrowth. Then -a brown river! And no more trail! We hesitatingly stepped into the small quivering motor boat, with our guide at the prow. After gliding through a tunnel of wild foliage, we sped over the river, avoiding hidden rocks and dodging rapids, and from time to time passing a dugout canoe.
At last, a clearing! And some native wooden huts on the left decorated with carved or brightly painted geometric designs. This was the village of Catherine Roundtree and Naomi Glock, the Wycliffe translators. What happy greetings! Through them we learned a lot about Saramacca tribal life. They had begun working among these people eight years before, learning their language, reducing it to writing, and then starting to translate the Scriptures. While they interpreted for our recordings, they suddenly came across the right word for sin, which the natives had kept from them for years -their reward for squeezing us into their busy program!
Our two-month trip, which took us from island to island, to the heart of the jungle, was about over. Seventy-six messages had been recorded in thirteen dialects. The Lord had taken us to the high places which He had prepared, and the MAF pilot came just in time, before the tropical downpour started. The Lord had answered prayer!