She asked if my dad was a doctor.
When I was eleven we moved from a big city in Venezuela, Barquisimeto its called, to a small Indian village named Chajurana. It was a two hour plane trip. Not a big plane, a small one engine 206 Cessna. Like a sardine can with wings. We arrived in the village and began the long process of settling in. The bats didn’t like that we were taking over their outhouse. And of course we didn’t like going to the outhouse by ourselves. So who ever had to “go” also had to convince a younger sibling to accompany them.
Josh – “Hey! Jewel! You want to go to the out house with me?”
Josh – “It will be fun!”
Jewel- “No, it will stink. The out house smells weird.”
Josh – “Please???”
Jewel – “Uh…no.”
Josh – “Uhm…Jayde! You want to go the out house with me??”
Jayde- “AAAA!! I hate bats!!!” (as she’s running away….)
You get the point. Well, one day, right at dusk, the Ye’kwana nurse came to get my dad. He told my dad they needed his help. A little boy had shot an arrow into his shoulder. Could my dad help the men get it out? My dad was ecstatic to help, he grabbed his flashlight, because his idea of “helping” was holding the flashlight so they could see better while they pulled the arrow out. Wrong.
“I don’t know how to pull the arrow out. You’re the nurse!”
“Yeah, but you’re the missionary.”
“All missionaries have to do medical stuff.” Of course this conversation did not take place in English, it supposedly took place in Yekwana, which my dad knew very little of at the time. So for all we know the conversation that really took place was…
“Pull the arrow out”
“Hi! How are you? What is your name?”
“What? I asked you to pull the arrow out. Here’s the scapel.”
“We will be here for three months, and Jesus loves you.”
“You missionaries get weirder and weirder.”
Most of our early conversations in Yekwana went like that, and I must admit that my grasp of the language never really got past that point! 😉
Long story short, my dad pulled the arrow out, and he was hooked. He loved medical work and went on to deliver babies,treat burns, stitch, pull teeth, etc. Just about anything you could think of, he could do. Of course his children did not put as much trust in him as the Ye’kwanas did. We were afraid to tell dad we had a toothache, cause he would want to pull it. Practice, he called it. We were not very excited about being his dental guinea pigs.
The Ye’kwana parents would threaten their kids…”If you dont behave, the missionary is going to give you a shot!” Ahh…the good old days. When penicillan could fix everything!