Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Missionary (10/19/06)
TITLE: Fools Rush In ... But Only Once
By Lynda Schultz
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I hadn’t seen Betty for years, so I asked about her girls, studiously avoiding any questions about her husband. I knew him well enough to suspect that the answer might be embarrassing for her.
Betty’s the perfect wife for a man who attracts trouble like a dog attracts fleas. She is unflappable and unfailingly loyal. I never suspected how unflappable until the Friday afternoon when he got arrested by the Colombian police.
My roommate needed to go to the bank. Since she taught at the missionary children’s school, Marg didn’t have a lot of time to spare to go downtown, so Greg volunteered to drive her down after school. I offered to go with them to translate for Marg while Greg drove around the block — there was no parking anywhere near the bank.
Friday afternoon was not a good time to go into downtown Medellin. Student protests were common in those days and usually ended up with cracked heads, burnt buses, and numerous arrests. This Friday was no exception. As we left the downtown area and turned toward the main highway heading home, running students, pursued by police in full riot gear, batons at the ready, suddenly surrounded us. Following the car in front of him, Greg skillfully maneuvered through the crowds. It looked like we were going to make it.
At the intersection, an officer directing traffic urgently motioned us through. As we drove past, Greg couldn’t resist the impulse to call out to the soldier. He said something to express his sympathy for all the difficult circumstances the man was facing. The officer “heard” an insult to his mother — a phrase which missionaries aren’t taught in language school — now forever engraved in our minds. A few yards down the road we were stopped by military police, arrested and thrown into jail.
When I was finally able to make our one phone call, our colleagues who worked in prison ministry sprang into action, making their way down to the jail to see what they could do to help. If anyone knew the ins and outs of the Colombian prison system, the Browns did. They asked Betty if she wanted to go along.
“No, Greg will be fine — he always is. I’ll stay here.”
She was there to answer the door when one of my students from the Bible Institute raced up to the house in a panic. He had just heard the news and was desperate to play dashing knight slaying dragons in honour of his fair lady.
“We’ve got to do something! I’m going to go down there and rescue Señorita Irma!”
Jorge had a “thing” for me. Never in all my educational experience has any male carried my books — until I arrived in Colombia. Jorge was one of a few carriers. He grew more and more passionate and agitated. Betty tried to calm him, assuring him God would look after everything, reminding him that the best thing he could do was to pray.
He was resolute. Seeing that Plan A wasn’t going to work, unflappable Betty moved on to Plan B.
“Well, Jorge, if you’re convinced that this is something you need to do, I can’t stop you. But, before you go, why don’t I make a cup of coffee. You’ll something to sustain you.”
The young man agreed, (maybe his “thing” for me wasn’t so deep after all!) and within a short while, Betty returned with a cup of tinto, Colombian espresso.
Jorge fell asleep on the sofa.
She called down to the men’s dorm and asked two of Jorge’s friends to come and carry him down to his room and tuck him into bed. Then she rinsed out the coffee cup, removing the dregs of the tranquilizer she had slipped into it, and sat down to wait and pray.
Hours later, Marg and I returned to the Institute. Greg had to spend the night in jail in order to placate the officer whose mother he had supposedly insulted. The next morning he returned, smiling and relaxed. He came up to my house later with his camera under his arm.
“Hey, I’m going downtown to the jail. This is going to make a terrific prayer letter and I want to get some pictures. Wanna come?”
Someone once told me that the Lord protects fools and single women. Since only one of those terms applied to me, I declined the invitation.
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