Elaine and Ted held hands as they cast quick smiles at each other. How odd it seemed to be acting like teenagers in love!
The funeral had been only four months before. Elaine was there to comfort Ted as he paid his final farewells to his wife of thirty years. She grieved with him the loss of Diane who had been a strong friend to her over the years as they served on the mission field in Brazil. Elaine’s ministry was in the Sao Paulo region while Ted and Diane ministered to the native people deep in the jungle. To find herself in love with the husband of her good friend was a strange place to be. Still…one look in his eyes and she knew she was where God wanted her.
The truck they were in crawled along at a painfully slow rate of speed as they inched their way further and further into the jungle. “I am so excited for you to meet the Korubo tribe, Elaine! You are going to find them most interesting!” Ted’s love for his tribe came through as he instructed Elaine in their culture and traditions.
After travelling for several hours by truck, they finished the trek into the jungle on foot in order to reach this tribe that was so isolated from the rest of the world.
“Welcome, Ted!” the man who appeared to be chief spoke in a foreign tongue as he came towards them, bowed in respect, and then held out a trinket as a form of welcome glancing at Elaine questioningly.
“Please, I wish to introduce you to Elaine.” Ted pushed her forward and waited while she bowed in respect as he had told her to.
The chief returned the gesture but still seemed a little bothered by the newcomer’s presence. “Come! We are preparing to eat – you need food.” The chief commanded them as he waved his hand toward the fire that was burning in the center of the village.
Elaine, while trying not to stare at the spider monkey which was slowly sizzling over the fire, listened intently to Ted as he fluently spoke the native tongue of the Korubo tribe to those around them.
Suddenly, the tribal chief stood up and approached the fire. With a loud yell, he raised his arms. The tribe joined with him as they chanted out a phrase growing louder and louder with each repetition. As quickly as he started the ritual, the chief ended it by lowering his arms. He then removed the monkey from the fire and placed it on the ground in front of him.
Ted leaned in close to Elaine. “Everyone will take a piece of the monkey now. They will pass it around – just rip off some and eat. You have to do this – they will be greatly offended if you do not.”
Elaine looked around the circle anxiously as the monkey was tossed in front of her. The painted faces glowed eerily as the fire flickered in the midst of them. All was quiet – they were all waiting for her.
“Please, Elaine, you have to do this!” Ted whispered through gritted teeth. The strain in his voice was clearly audible.
Elaine knew that what she did in the next few minutes was critical to Ted’s ministry to this Korubo tribe. Offending the Indian chief and his people was simply not an option.
The monkey’s lifeless beady eyes stared straight through her as Elaine gingerly picked the creature up. The Indian chief grew impatient at the delay, and with a grunt, he reached out, grabbed the monkey from her, ripped off the front leg, and presented it to her with pride.
Elaine thanked him in Portuguese hoping he would understand. The whole circle of Indian warriors watched and waited. Holding the leg in her hand, she brought it to her mouth and bit off a huge chunk of meat. A loud cheer went up from the circle and the monkey was quickly passed from one native to the next as they all tore off sections and ate heartily.
The Indian chief said something to Ted and then tipped his head towards Elaine and offered her a brief smile. Apparently she was now accepted as a friend of the tribe.
She was grateful no one noticed, when moments later, she carefully removed the monkey hairs that were lodged in her teeth. “This must be love,” Elaine mused, “It must be love!”
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