Three weeks earlier Moises and Delfina, leaders in training and part of the Guanano church, had their only means of transportation, a boat and motor, stolen at night. Usually when that happens in this area you will never see them again. Listen to the rest of the story as our co-worker Lindy tells it.
Delfina appeared on my doorstep about lunchtime yesterday. Moise was in bed with cerebral malaria. She needed my help. An older couple from across the river had come to their house earlier and told them: Your canoe is sitting dry docked in a little stream across the river. If you go now, you can recover it. Your canoe and motor were stolen by a drunk who lives up river at such and such a creek. The head of that village is Carlos. It is his brother-in-law that stole your boat and motor. They are a mean bunch. They recently killed a man here in town by stabbing him 6 times. But they are going to sell your motor. You need to go now, and get it before they do.”
I was glad to help when I heard her story. I told her, “Let’s go get the canoe first. If we find it where this couple said, then we will know the motor is probably where they said it was too.” So I got Gustavo another Guanano church leader who was visiting from up river and together with him and Delfina we crossed the river. As we pulled up to the mouth of the stream the couple had indicated, we found them on the bank, ready to show us where the canoe was. We followed them into the woods and then down to the stream, and sure enough, there was Moise’s canoe just ready to be dragged out of there and taken home! How happy we were as we tied it up to our boat and brought it home across the river.
Afterward I told them, “It’s time to get the authorities involved. We have been warned these are bad people. If we go by ourselves, they may just laugh at us or something worse.” They agreed, so we went. When I told them our story and that we needed their help to recover the motor, they replied, “Unfortunately our boss is on vacation. Come back on Monday.” I said, “Monday will be too late! We have already gone and recovered the canoe. If we don’t go now, they will hear we have recovered the canoe and hide the motor where we will never find it. We have the name of the place where the motor is, we have an idea who has it, and we have the serial number of the motor to prove it is the stolen one when we get there. We have heard these are bad people. Can’t you send anyone with us?” That got a response. They rustled up a man and a woman, both in full gear, to come with us. As we headed back to the river in one of their cars, I told Gustavo, “The Lord is with us. It’s because of Him they took us seriously.”
When we started out on the river in our boat, I realized I had only a vague idea where this creek was, somewhere on the other side, behind an island. Fortunately Delfina knew exactly where she wanted to go. We went slowly because the river is low and there are lots of rocks. We finally found the mouth of the creek and zigzagged our way over logs and rocks until we pulled up to a little clearing. I had no idea what kind of a reception we would receive. Would we get stonewalled? “We don’t know what you are talking about?” Could it get violent? Maybe.
There were some ladies in the clearing. The authority had a clipboard on which was written the few details we knew. He announced to them he was looking for a man named Carlos concerning the matter of a stolen motor. One of the women admitted, “Carlos is my husband. But he’s not the one who stole the motor. It was his cousin. He was drunk and didn’t know what he was doing.” The policeman asked, “Where’s the motor now?” They said, “It’s not here. They went to fish and bathe out on an island in the middle of the river. That’s where the motor is.” Well, the two authorities searched the houses of the village, and then obligated one of the young men to serve as a guide to the island. When we pulled up to the island we pulled up right next to a canoe with Moise’s motor sitting on the transom. The lady authority checked it against the serial number we had given her, smiled at me, and said, “The very motor we’re looking for.” I about jumped in the river for joy! I wanted to laugh and jump up and down with Delfina but we had to contain ourselves because we were still in a pretty ticklish situation. The thieving bunch was sitting in the shade on the bank of the island. The authorities went up to talk with them, and shortly took into custody an 18 year old boy and his uncle. They plunked them in our boat and together we turned our boat towards town with the recovered motor in the prow! I was concerned about the rocks. I had already hit one, and didn’t want to hit any others. Just then a boat with another 15 HP motor on it (same size as ours) passed us and weaved his way down through the rocks to town. I just fell in behind him and followed him all the way to town. It was like we had a personal escort! I knew I was seeing the Lord in action in response to so many prayers!
The rest of the afternoon was spent in filling out official reports, locking up the bad guys, and coming home to tell the great news to expectant family and friends. For three weeks we had not had a glimmer of hope regarding the stolen boat and motor. Then in a matter of hours we completely recover both. It was like a dream! One I’m glad I’m not going to wake up from. It was God in action for all the Guananos to see!
One more amazing thing before I finish. I had been praying: “Lord, you tell us not to seek revenge; that you will take care of the people who do bad things to us. Don’t let these guys enjoy the things they have stolen. Don’t allow them to sell what You have given your people and use that money to drink and carouse. May the boat and motor cause them grief. May it be a source of big trouble for them so they are constantly reminded that what they did is wrong.” It turns out that’s exactly what the Lord did. The presence of a stolen motor in their village created great consternation. The women didn’t like it. The men were conniving about how to use it for their benefit. The women complained and nagged their men, fights broke out, men hit their women, and no one was happy. One of the women was really upset about being treated like that, so she came down and told the couple across the river the whole story, indicated where the canoe was, where the motor was, and then told them to cross the river and come tell Moise and Delfina. And now you know the rest of the story. The Lord is good. Blessed be the name of the Lord!