Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: TRIP (10/18/18)
TITLE: The Trip That Tamed The Teaser
By Mariane Holbrook
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As a teenager, he was one of the most popular boys in school, at least with other students. Teachers were a different story. At the opening of every school year, teachers rushed to check their student list, hoping against hope Merle's name wasn't on it. He was a handful, for sure.
He loved to slip out after fourth period to ride his motorcycle on short trips that would permit him just enough time to return to school for dismissal. Most times he got away with it.
His long-range plans were to travel across the United States and Canada on his trusty Harley Davidson BSA Golden Flash, not only because of its aesthetic appeal, but also because the bike had a 646cc engine. What more could a guy ask for?
True to his word, a week after high-school graduation, Merle emptied his bank account of the money he'd earned working at Big Bear Grocery for two years, kissed his anxious mother goodbye, and headed west. He sent postcards home from the St. Louis Arch, the Grand Canyon, and San Diego. Then he ran out of money.
Merle found a job at a grocery store in San Diego and shared a modest apartment with a roommate. A few weeks later, Merle accepted an invitation by the store manage to attend church with him. Having grown up in a Christian home, he was accustomed to attending church.
One Sunday morning, Merle found himself at the altar of the church. There he renewed his vows to the Lord and began attending a Tuesday-night Bible study at the pastor's home. Soon he began to feel the call of God on his life to be a missionary to lead others to Christ.
"Lord," he prayed, "I'll go wherever You want me to, but could you send me someplace where I could ride my Harley through the mountains? You know how I love these trips, and my Harley could take me places that cars can't reach."
Merle enrolled in a Bible College, married his college sweetheart, and four years later, the couple was assigned by a mission board to open a new church in Peru.
Arriving in Lima in the early 1950s, Merle and his wife, Thelma, rented a small store, held services in the front, and designed a one-bedroom apartment in the back. Merle, with his gregarious nature and winning smile, welcomed each visitor warmly, and soon the church began to grow. The members loved Merle's unique brand of teasing, his pranks, and the lively hymns he played on his accordion.
He took short trips on his motorcycle into the mountains behind Lima and began making plans to take Thelma higher up the dirt roads to a village where no missionaries had ever been. His members warned him that it was risky, that the various tribes were often at war, and he might even be harmed.
The trip was long and arduous, and the dirt roads were often built on unstable cliffs, but they continued on until they reached the first settlement of Indians. Remarkably, they were invited inside one of the villager's houses to visit.
After a pleasant conversation, during which Merle explained their reason for coming, the family invited the missionaries to share a meal and spend the night in their small stucco home.
Quickly, the father went outside to find meat for their meal. While the potatoes and other vegetables were cooking on the primitive stove, the father returned with a monkey he had just shot in a nearby tree. Speechless, the missionaries watched as the monkey's head was deftly separated from its body, and the top of the head sliced off to expose the brain.
With a flourish, the father placed the monkey head directly in front of Merle and explained, "The monkey brains are reserved for our special guests. We insist that you and your wife enjoy all the brains as a sign of our respect for you." With that, the father reached inside the skull to remove the raw, pink, round mass.
The next day, when the missionaries arrived back at their apartment in Lima, several church members were waiting. Hearing Merle describe in vivid detail the abject horror of eating raw monkey brains, the members laughed, hooted, and danced with joy. Their teasing pastor had finally met his match on a trip high up in the Andes mountains.
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