RATS and more RATS
by Lynn Turner
I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time co-existing with rats and mice. Even though I’ve lived outside the USA for most of my life, I have a mice phobia. I’ve killed coral snakes, tarantulas, cockroaches and scorpions, but the sight of a mouse sends ME scurrying.
In the Indigenous world, animals, birds and insects are a natural part of life. Homes are open. In many cases there are no doors or windows and only partial walls protecting from outside elements. So, naturally, anything and everything can enter. When visiting villages, I sleep in an enclosed mosquito net; as a matter of fact, I insist on it. It keeps unwanted creatures off of me, although it doesn’t kill the noise of the creatures running or flying around. (Bats are a pain, too.)
On a recent trip to the Amazon where Russ and Stanley were teaching a seminar, they stayed in a typical wooden house on very high stilts. The houses are all built like this because the river floods every year. Most people sleep on the floor or in hammocks, so Russ and Stanley tied up their hammocks and mosquito nets and settled down for the first night. A few hours later, they woke up to sounds of rustling and squealing. They shone their flashlights, and Stanley saw a rat standing on his hind legs watching him. Stanley called him the sentry sent to guard them. He sat staring at Stanley without wavering while rats the size of cats ran all through the room, over the rafters and up and down the walls. They scavenged through all the bags searching for anything edible.
Russ, having encountered similar situations before, has developed a crude trap to catch the rats. He uses a bucket with bait so that the rat will fall into the bucket when it goes after the bait (usually peanut butter). The next day Russ set up his trap to get rid of the pests. These rats, however, were so big that they climbed out of the 5-gallon bucket. Since the trap didn’t work (after falling into the bucket once, the rats would no longer go near it), Russ tied all their bags from the rafters in an attempt to protect some of their food. It was a feeble attempt as there was nothing the rats didn’t get into. Night after night they listened to the devastation. On the fourth day, after three nights with no rest from the squealing and rustling, Russ prayed, “Lord, please do something with these rats so that we can get a good night’s rest.”
From that day forward they rested. The rats just disappeared.
“How did they get into the house so high off the ground?” was my question. “Climbing those stilts was nothing to them. They ran up and down them as if they were squirrels”, replied Russ.
God knew that I wasn’t needed on that trip!
I sometimes wonder when I am teaching if it is actually hitting the mark. The ladies whom I teach are timid; they don’t make eye contact with the teacher during teaching. It takes time for them to build up courage to speak their mind.
In a recent seminar we studied 10 different women in the Bible. We studied and contrasted two different ladies each day – one that made good decisions and one who made wrong decisions and how the decisions impacted their lives.
It was amazing to watch flickers of understanding. Even though they may have heard or read the Bible stories, they had never thought about how the same principles could apply to their own lives.
After each class I asked for comments and/or questions. Very few spoke up. They were digesting what we had studied. After the last class, Ángela (name changed) asked to talk to me. She said that the class had impacted her life. By her own admission, she is a person who holds a grudge and will take nothing without reprisal. In one of our studies we saw that vengeance is of the Lord, and we should forgive and wait for the Lord to defend us. This is the story of how she is putting that into practice in her own life.
“My son’s teacher sent a note from school saying that he had done something wrong. It made me mad. When I asked my son about it, he confessed that he had committed the wrong. I wanted to go directly to the school, fight the teacher, and defend my son. I decided to pray about the situation and wait. The next day I went to the school to see the teacher. When I walked into the room, I immediately showed her the note and admitted that my son was guilty and apologized for his bad behavior. The teacher was completely taken aback. She expected a fight from me, and in the past, that is what she would have gotten – a fight! However, this time she was disarmed, and we had a good conversation. I even had a chance to witness to her, and she asked me for a Bible.
Even though he was in the wrong, Ángela’s first reaction was to support her son and defend him. However, by obeying a Biblical principle, she taught her son a lesson. He had to pay for his wrongdoing, and she also received the reward of opening his teacher’s heart to the gospel. What a difference it makes to do things God’s way! Needless to say, her testimony brightened my day. There is joy in serving Jesus!
By: Lynn Turner
“I am your son. You teach me, and I go to other villages and teach them what you teach me. I am your son”. These were the words of a village chief as he was taking us upriver to his village. As we traveled he quoted concept after concept that Russ had taught in previous seminars. I was amazed at his memory, because he could quote Russ word for word. The villages that he visits are places to which we cannot go.
Américo’s story is a unique one. “I was a drunk,” he said. “My wife accepted the Lord and would talk to me about receiving Him. “Be quiet, Woman”, I would tell her. I didn’t want to hear about God. For several years she prayed for me, but I refused to listen to her. One day I was alone in my garden patch working. I felt bad for my sins. I cleared out a patch of ground, took off all my clothes, lay down spread-eagle on the ground and cried out to God for forgiveness of my sins. He forgave me! He gave me the desire to learn more about Him and tell others the Good News. Many of my people in more remote villages only speak Emberá, so I can teach them in our language.
Américo travels from village to village with the gospel. He has made many changes in his own village, and as a result, has faced opposition and persecution. As chief of his village, he has hindered the liquor and drug trade. This angers the bootleggers and narcos (drug traffickers), but he remains a faithful witness for Christ.