Chapter 22 - Guadarramas, State of Barinas

Chapter 22 - Guadarramas, State of Barinas

Once whilst the Turkingtons, my wife and I were having meetings in El Baul, a man from Guadarramas called in to see me. He was a fisherman who had brought his monthly statement of the fish he had caught to the government fisheries office. He said that the people where he lived had heard of our meetings in El Baul and wanted us to visit them. We told him that we would advise him when we were free to go, but within a week from his visit, we received a telegram saying that he would be coming to get us in his canoe. He arrived on the Sunday so that we could leave next day. Joe Turkington, my wife and I packed our baggage and got together the necessary household goods, provisions, Bibles, gas lamps and camp stove, with Gospel literature. When we arrived at the river’s edge we got an eye-opener. It was a small old dugout canoe without seats or keel, and an outboard motor. When it was loaded with ourselves and baggage, the top edge was only about four inches out of the water, at midships. The bow of the canoe was split and had been plugged up with mud, and as we sped along the spray reached us.

All went well until there was a shower of rain, and as the motor had no cover, the ignition got wet and the motor stalled. Our friend managed to steer the canoe with his paddle to the river’s edge to let us out, whilst he attended to the motor. He told us to go up the bank to the nearest house and tell the people about the Gospel. We found them friendly and willing to listen whilst we sung a hymn, read a portion and explained the Gospel. Before we finished, word came from the next house that the family also wanted a visit. We thanked the Lord for this opportunity to be able to take the light of salvation to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. It was the first time and perhaps would be the last that they would hear the glad tidings.

By the time we got back, the boatman had all ready to start off again, but just as he was pushing off from the bank, his outboard motor broke away from its place and he was just in time to grab it before it sank in the river. With his pliers he then cut off a length of barbed wire from the nearby fence and wired the outboard to the boat. It proved to be a very scenic trip with many items of interest for us, strangers to those parts, but we had to keep very still as the slightest move would rock the canoe and make us panicky. Our attention was drawn to a large species of birds that the natives call Chenchena.  They build their nests on branches overhanging the water. The birds were in pairs, seated on branches, and the single ones had to sit well apart and alone. They seemed to spend so much time making love to one another that they had no time to build a decent nest! This is sometimes true of young people who spend so much time courting that when they get married they have made no provision for a decent home, and some even have to move in with the old people, contrary to the scriptural order: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife,” (Genesis 2:24).

We wondered why these birds built their nests low down over the water, but later discovered the reason why. The snakes hunt for young birds and when these helpless creatures are born they have no plumage so cannot fly, but God has provided them with a claw on both elbows and sharp claws on their toes, and they also can swim from birth. When a snake is climbing up the tree to get them, the parent bird gives an alarm call and the young fledglings dive into the river. There they stay till the snake retreats and they get another motherly call to return, and so with their claws they climb the tree back to the nest. God not only thinks of the sparrows but also of these tiny chicks of the wilds. “His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me.”

 

Sample Image
Rustic foot bridge, used during wet season floods on the plains
 
 
Upon reaching our destination, we thought we would get a bite to eat and retire for the night, as we had been seven hours on the trip and felt cramped and weary, but this was not to be. A crowd of people were waiting for us; a large room had been obtained to preach in, and we just had to start right in. Most of the benches were occupied by women, with men and boys standing inside and out. The civil authorities were present so there was good order. Just towards the end of the meeting a boy standing at the back gave a yell. The reason for which was that a poisonous snake had crawled in at a side door and was wending its way be-hand a long bench which was against the wall, where women were seated. The snake eventually reached the back where it began to crawl over the boy’s bare feet, but it was killed before it could do any harm.

Most of the people seemed friendly and we learned that our Gospel paper, “El Correo Evangelico,” specially for postmasters and mistresses, had always reached the post office there and was being read, not only by the postmaster, but also by other interested persons. We stayed about ten days and had the joy of seeing one woman confess Christ as her Saviour. She was the midwife for the place and greatly respected, but two or three years later she took sick and passed away, as there was no doctor available.

On our next visit to Guadarrama we went overland from El Baul in the dry season, a very rough, dusty and slow trip. Water courses had to be forded and as the trail serpentined through palm groves, our speed had to be reduced to about 5 MPH. For several years in succession we made the trip, carrying with us benches, tables, household necessities, Gospel literature, gas lamps and provisions. We rented any place that was available that had capacity for meetings. The Turkington family accompanied us sometimes and our son-in-law, Joe, could take a big load in his GMC station wagon. Friendly people in one home offered us their roomy corridor for the meetings and good numbers would attend. The man of the house combined fishing, hunting, agriculture and hog raising to support his family. Along the river some distance from the village, he had a corral of pigs but a tiger began to prey on them, so he and a companion started out one night, the latter with a machete, and he with his double barreled gun and a flashlight. As they walked over the plains they saw the tiger coming towards them. The hunter turned his flashlight sideways, which caused the tiger to turn its head in the direction of the light.

 

Sample Image
A night marauder shot not far from where we were having meetings on the plains. Sidney Turkington at Jaguar’s head.
Photo by E. C. Saword
 
 The high powered bullet hit the tiger one inch behind its eye and it instantly dropped dead. We saw the dead tiger next morning when they unloaded it from a canoe, and my wife took the snap shown in this book, with our grandson standing beside it.

In that same corridor one night, a snake crawled out of the roof and stretched itself across the top of a large picture on the wall, unnoticed by anyone. I usually stood near that picture showing the people to their seats, but that night I was standing at the back. As the meeting proceeded, a young man noticed the reptile and raised the alarm. A man skilled in killing snakes gave it a death-dealing blow without damaging the picture, and the meeting proceeded in peace. On another occasion when I was preaching under a palm thatch shelter near the river, I noticed some of my hearers looking rather alarmed, so turned my head and saw a snake coming up behind me. Nocturnal snakes are invariably poisonous so one has to be on the watch against them.

We cherished the hope of seeing a nice work done in that place, but for economic reasons, a number left for other parts and amongst them were most of those who had shown an interest in the Gospel. However, the good Seed was faithfully sown in that town and the surrounding country, and we believe that in due time God will give the increase.