Chapter 6 -

Chapter 6 - “Two Are Better Than One”
Ecclesiastes 4:9

On August 15, 1925 Miss Eleanor Christina (Nellie) Scott, R. N., arrived in Venezuela, having been commended by the Fairview Assembly, Vancouver and the West End Hall, Winnipeg, for work in this country, in connection with her profession as a nurse. In due time we both discerned the Lord’s guiding hand as to His purposes for us, and after a short engagement our marriage was arranged for May 6, 1926, sooner than we intended but this on account of the Johnston family having to leave for Canada, and their desire was for us to take over their home during their absence and at the same time look after the press work. We were married by the civil authorities in the old Gospel Hall, Puerto Cabello, but just as we were about to sign the register a terrific thunderstorm came on and the light went out so we had to sign with the light of a candle. Brethren Johnston and Fletcher preached a good word to the large number present and then the believers were invited into the large kitchen to enjoy a dish of ice cream. It was suggested that each one in turn should quote a verse of scripture and this proved very profitable. No snapshots were taken as flash bulbs had not yet come into popular use. As we review the many years of married life, we can sing from the depths of our hearts:

“How good is the God we adore; our faithful, unchangeable Friend; We’ll praise Him for all that is past, and trust Him for all that’s to come.”

In the trials and crises of family life we have abundantly proved God’s never failing goodness to us, in spite of all our own failures and faults. Like Joshua we can also testify: “That not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spake concerning you,” Joshua 23:14. Our marriage union has been blessed with three daughters and two sons, all of them saved in early life and they have been a great comfort to us. When they were young we used to spend the school holidays in country places where there were assemblies. We had meetings every night, and during the day the children could enjoy the pleasant environments. Our meals were native style but with good appetites they were enjoyed by all. On one occasion we all went to Nirgua for a few weeks, staying in the home of Mr. and Mrs. John Wells. When the time arrived to commence our return journey, a brother came with a mule to carry our baggage, which was quite bulky. As the stuff was being piled on the mule’s back, I noticed its knees were beginning to double up so I notified the owner. He set my mind at rest explaining that once the mule’s back got warm it would give no trouble! A horse was available for my wife, and our youngest child was able to ride with her. The rest of us had to go on foot, a distance of about 10 miles or more, to Miranda where we could take the bus to Valencia. Our girls had a large doll which was too heavy for them to carry so far, so it was tied on top of the mule’s load. As we were going through the town of Salom, the doll began to slowly slide down the side. A woman standing in her doorway thought it was a baby, and rushed out to save it from falling to the ground! We all got a good laugh out of that.
In the early days of the work in San Carlos; when Mr. and Mrs. Williams and I were there, and we were making a special effort to establish a permanent Gospel testimony, a telegram arrived from my wife saying that our little son, Jacky, was down with a high fever which seemed like an intestinal infection. I began at once to pack my suitcase in case of being called home; then sent a telegram asking to be advised if there was a change for the worse; and we gave ourselves to prayer. The next word received was a great relief: the fever was under control and the doctor was showing a special interest in the case. We acknowledged the Lord’s good hand in it all, and when the sick boy was able to get around again, my wife brought him to San Carlos for a change. As we got him out of the bus he was so weak he could hardly stand. Upon returning to Puerto Cabello, I saw the doctor, who had faithfully attended Jacky every day, to ask him for his bill, but he just replied: “Forget about it”, so all we could do was to thank him, and also our Heavenly Father.
In the extraction of teeth my wife and I have worked together a good deal. She has a kindly way of holding the patient’s head and inspiring confidence. It has always been our practice to ask the Lord’s help ere extracting a tooth. One patient was so comfortable in the chair with my wife’s hands supporting her head, that even without an anesthetic, she remained seated after the extraction and seemed surprised when we assured her that the tooth was out!

During one of our visits to Santa Rosa, my wife noticed that an elderly sister was suffering from sore gums due to so many old roots imbedded in them. We both tried to persuade her to let us extract them but she was horrified at the very thought of it. However, I made an agreement with her that if she would allow me to begin the extractions, I would stop at the first sign from her. To this she agreed, so after a word of prayer and a mouth wash with Chinosol, we started very gently. Some of the roots were completely buried in the gums but one by one they yielded to the forceps until eighteen had been removed, some blackened by tobacco smoke and home remedies for toothache. On our next visit the old lady’s gums were healed and she could eat her morsel without discomfort.

A number of years ago, when home on furlough, my wife received a few lessons from an aunt on text painting. Since then she has been kept busy in her spare moments painting wall texts for Gospel Halls and believers’ homes, both in English and in Spanish. So in our case we have proved that “two are better than one.”

 text


Home industries. Scroll texts for Gospel Halls made by Mrs. Nellie Saword.
 
We are firm believers in displaying the Word of God, in the form of wall texts in the home, the Gospel hall and other parts. We recently made a gift of a large framed picture, with a text of scripture painted on it, to a brother who was bringing us a quart of milk from his cows each morning. He has a barber shop and a family of fourteen children, the oldest of which operate the dairy farm. He at once told us that he would hang the text up in his barber shop, which is in the centre of the city. This will be in contrast with most other barber shops where calendars with pictures of female models are on the walls.

Fifty years ago a young man walked into a Gospel tent and his attention was attracted to one of the Gospel texts hanging on the canvas side curtains with the words: “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin” (I John 1:7). This so impressed him that it eventually led to his conversion, and he has been very useful for God ever since. We have often noticed that when strangers look in at the entrance of our Halls  they begin reading the large Gospel wall texts, and we are assured that God’s own unadulterated Word will not return unto Him void.

When we lived in Valencia, friends one day brought an old sister to us who had suddenly been smitten with deafness. Her people had tried different remedies without success. No obstruction was visible externally so we decided to syringe the ear with warm oil, and then by careful probing the cause was discovered. A cockroach had crawled into the ear and could not get out again so had died. My wife was able to remove it intact, and the old lady went away with her hearing restored. How often people are deaf to the Saviour’ s voice because of obstructions caused by the “cockroaches” of worldly ambitions and carnal pleasures:
“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Luke 8:8).

THE EVENTFUL BUS TRIP TO MARACAIBO
After the Second World War we were due for a furlough but it was not easy to get accommodation for a family of seven. After a great deal of enquiry we were told of a small ship due to call at our port on its way to New York, so we were able to obtain reservations. We proceeded to make the necessary arrangements with the authorities and had our passports stamped for leaving. Then we were told that the ship would not be calling at Puerto Cabello but at Maracaibo. The head man of the local Office of Identification and Aliens assured me that our documents were in order and that there would be no difficulty in leaving from another port.

We had a long cross country bus ride before us and a brother, an old soldier, said he would like to accompany us to help with the baggage, as we would be transferring several times to different buses. In fact, sooner than we anticipated, as the first bus broke down on the long upgrade to Barquisimeto, so we had to wait for another bus and pass a few hours of the night in that city. Before daylight we boarded a third bus which got us as far as Carora, and then began to give trouble also. It was now almost sunset and the conductor was underneath trying to adjust the unit that was giving trouble. Most of the passengers were walking around outside and at last we wondered where our youngest son, Jacky, had gone to. He could not be found amongst the passengers and as a last resource I got down and looked underneath the bus, and there he was, lying beside the conductor watching him at work. His inclination for motor mechanics showed itself at an early age, but after qualifying in that line of work, finding a good wife and being blessed with two children, the Lord called him to the more important business of service in the Gospel and his life is now dedicated to winning souls for Christ in El Salvador.

It was dark ere the bus was ready to continue and most of the passengers were finding the trip irksome, so I suggested to my wife and family that we should begin to sing some hymns and we wondered what reaction there would be. There were no dissenting voices, and most seemed to show their appreciation.

Some mountainous country had to be crossed that night and the brakes were not in good shape so that some of the passengers were nervous. However, the Lord preserved us and we had to leave that bus in a small village at 3 A.M. and wait for a fourth bus to take us to Cabimas. From there we made a trip into Maracaibo to enquire about our sailing. The agent told us it would probably be a week before the ship could leave; then we went to the Office of Aliens to show our passports and permission to leave. The man at the counter said he did not wish to see them until the boat was ready to leave, so we concluded that all would be well.

By the time we were through with our business it was noon and we were all hungry, so the question was where to get a meal. As we walked along the street a man stopped us and asked if we were looking for something. We asked him if he could recommend a decent restaurant. We did not know a soul in that big city of half a million people so were glad of this man’s recommendation. As we were sitting in the restaurant a man came along and stopped to look at us. Then he asked me if I was Mr. Saword. He had been a Bible Society colporteur years before and he had called at our home in Puerto Cabello. I recalled his visit and we were glad to meet someone we knew. After lunch we wanted to see a residential district of Maracaibo called Bella Vista and we stood still at the corner of the plaza wondering which way to go. An elderly policeman was crossing the plaza and came over to us. We asked him to direct us and he invited us to go with him and he would put us on the right bus. As we walked down the street together he suddenly stopped and asked me: “Are you evangelical Christians?" Upon replying in the affirmative, he told us he could see a distinguishing mark in us, and that he himself was a born again Christian. We bid each other a hearty farewell as we boarded the bus and thanked him for his help. Later we embarked in a large launch carrying passengers to the other side of the lake. We were sitting together and I was preparing some tracts to distribute to the passengers, when a man came up to us, calling me by name, and was so pleased to see me as he had been distributing our Gospel paper for a number of years. Before we realized it he had paid all our fares, and we had a nice little conversation together on the way over. After that we had to take two local buses to reach the home where we were staying in Cabimas.

UNFORGETTABLE EXPERIENCES IN MARACAIBO

“This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of his troubles” (Psalm 34:6). The saints in Cabimas wanted a week of meetings so I started in. Several days later a brother told me he had to make a trip to Maracaibo, and asked if he could be of any service to us there? As we had no telephonic communication with the steamship agent in Maracaibo, I asked the brother to enquire at that office about the boat. He got back in a great hurry at noon saying that the boat was to sail at 5 P.M. We hastily packed what we could, then my wife, our two boys and I started out for Maracaibo, leaving our three daughters to finish packing. The agent was very excited and said the ship would be leaving at 7 P.M. My wife and I went to the U. S. Consulate to get visas on our passports, then she went back to bring the girls and baggage over; whilst the two boys and I went on to the Office of Aliens to get the necessary official permit to leave the country, and that office was to close at 5 P.M. I presented our passports to the man at the counter, and he asked for our cedulas (identification card). This was something new, in force in Maracaibo but not in Puerto Cabello. I tried to explain the situation to him, but he simply replied that there was no hope of our leaving the country until we had those cedulas. My only recourse seemed to be to ask for an interview with the head official. This was granted and I was able to state my case before him. He was silent for a few moments and I gave myself to prayer, as did Nehemiah in chapter 2:4. The chief then ordered someone to phone the steamship agent to find out the hour of sailing. The reply was 10 P.M. Then he consulted his office staff and came back to tell me that they had all agreed to work overtime to prepare the necessary cedulas for us. My next concern was about my wife and girls getting back on the last ferry. If they missed that we would certainly be left behind. So we kept on praying. One of the staff was a young man who had received lessons in English from one of our daughters. The last ferry was supposed to get into the dock at 9 P.M. The hour arrived; I enquired from a passerby if the ferry was in, and he answered, “yes, sometime ago”, so the suspense was very great. About ten minutes later the rest of the family arrived, and the battery of typewriters started up, making out the forms for each one of us; then the photographer was there to take our pictures; also our thumb prints were taken and revenue stamps were affixed to the black cedulas. Two hefty fellows were acting as our guides, as they “knew the ropes”, and through them we bought refreshments for the staff and gave them all a tip. It was 11 P.M. ere we were through with that office, and had to go down to the Customs office for the stamp and signature of the Administrator. When we got there we were told that he had gone to his hotel apartment and there was no one else authorized to sign for him. No one could tell us his address, but one of these two men seemed to know so he hailed a taxi and we jumped in. There I was sitting between two big, strange men, with my hand bag and money, going out to the suburbs of the city almost at midnight. I certainly needed Divine protection, and it was not lacking. We found the place, and the administrator was in his pajamas about to retire. He signed the papers and we went back to the docks. Meantime, our old soldier friend had been to the place where our trunks had been stored and met a boy on the street at that late hour, who had a home-made four-wheeled trolley; so he was able to get the luggage to the ship just in time. The next problem was to get the trunks on board. There was a discussion between the seaman on watch and my two guides as to who should do it, but finally one of the men heaved the trunk on his shoulder and went up the gangway, then came back for the second one. I willingly gave the two men the fee they asked for, as they had certainly helped us out. It was past midnight when we went on board and upon reaching our cabin we just flopped on the little sofa, having been so busy from noon till midnight attending to matters that we had not even had time to take a drink of water. How thankful to the Lord we were to see His hand of deliverance in all our difficulties!