by Lynn Turner
On a hot, sunny day in a small Emberá village, Russ and I started a week-long seminar. After teaching my morning class, I decided to visit some ladies in their homes. I rummaged through the back of the vehicle for a special gift – reading glasses – that our ministry partners had provided, grabbed a small New Testament (a great testing chart), and set off on a trail to the first house. I was anxious to get started fitting glasses.
Even with poor eyesight, due probably to working in low lighting, the ladies constantly amaze me by their creativity. They make the most intricate and beautifully colored baskets of all different shapes and sizes. One basket can take up to six months to finish. They gather and dry the fiber used to weave the basket, and make dyes out of different nuts and roots. The colors are outstandingly vivid. They also create beautiful jewelry. Since the village doesn’t have electricity, this work is done with very poor lighting. The ladies’ baskets and jewelry are truly works of art, and by selling the art, they feed their families. In the past, glasses were given to the pastors for reading, but what about the ladies? This time, I had glasses for them too!
I first approached Lorena’s house. She looked over the rugged banister. “Come on up,” she called. I climbed into the house that stood about six feet above ground to avoid floods and to make it a little more difficult for wild animals to enter. She smiled and introduced me to her sister-in-law who was also visiting. We sat down to talk.
After a few minutes, I pulled out the box. “I have some glasses that have been donated,” I said. “Would you like to see if we can find a pair to help you see better?”
“Yes, of course!” replied Lorena. I handed her the New Testament. “Open it to whatever page you wish,” I said. She opened the Bible. “Can you read that?” I asked. “No,” she replied. “The print is too small.” We tried different glasses with different strengths. On the third pair, a huge smile broke out on Lorena’s face. “I can see the letters! I can read this!” she exclaimed. Immediately, she read the passage. What a joy to watch!
I repeated the process many times that week. The reaction was the same each time a lady found the right prescription. What a tremendous privilege to help in such a simple, but profound way.