“Tell the daughter of Zion, Behold, your King comes to you, Humble, and riding on a donkey, On a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (Matthew 21:5 WEB)
I like most animals. During my formative years we enjoyed the wonders and the chores of having a dog in our home. Throughout my life I have provided food and shelter to various dogs, cats, snakes, fish, hamsters and mice. Moving to the mission field you experience another set of animals. Sometimes we get along fine like our cat, Popcorn.
Why Popcorn? When she was a kitten she liked to sit in my lap and eat popcorn from the bowl. The name sort of stuck. Popcorn also sported a hook tail. It was supposed to be a type of cat but we thought it looked funny. The end of her tail curled around in a sharp hook, like the letter “J.” Occasionally it would become entangled on various things about the house.
One Christmas season Popcorn was hiding under the Christmas tree waiting for a victim to stroll by unsuspectingly. I was the victim. As I passed the decorated tree out she sprang. There was a rustle of pine needles, a shivering of ornaments and a look of amazement on her face. As Popcorn’s body cleared the lower branches on a trajectory for my leg I noticed the fine green chord caught in her tail. She had hooked the Christmas light wiring and it was securely hooked to the tree. Crash, boom, bang, down came the cat, short of my leg, followed by the Christmas tree which I caught in my arms.
Popcorn’s antics were a source of entertainment to the family. She was a constant companion for Evan when James started school. When Evan went up the hall, along went Popcorn. When Evan went down the hall, Popcorn followed. When Evan took a bath, Popcorn sat on the back of the toilet watching like a guard.
Other creatures from the island had less than friendly relationships with our family. Joel remembers one day when Beth was working on the laundry. Our washer and dryer were outside on the covered porch. Joel writes:
“One day Mom and I went outside to do the Laundry. When she looked into the sink she found a nest of Gnats who are carriers of Dengue Fever. She screamed and ran to grab a can of Bug Spray. With much screaming, smashing and swatting Mom eliminated the nest. Satisfied with the results she went back to the laundry.
“Reaching into the washer Mom pulled out a towel and saw a lizard. Screaming once more the towel hit the floor and she ran into the house looking for me. Even staying home with Chicken Pox I had to eliminate the lizard.
“I walked out to the washer and looked for the little lizard. I found a foot long Chameleon freshly washed sitting in the machine. I laughed so hard I could barely control myself. Removing the lizard from the washer in a towel I went inside to show my prize to Mom. She screamed and Evan was excited and wanted to touch it. We let it go, squeaky clean and ready for a new life.
“Walking back into the kitchen I tossed the towel on the counter. Later I walked out to find Mom cleaning the counter with the lizard towel and I screamed, Mom screamed and the towel hit the floor. I would call this day a real scream!”
Lizards were not the only creatures on Guam to entertain our family. A host of geckos, Carabao, snakes and miscellaneous flying insects were part of our daily routine. Joel remembered another incident:
“Has your car ever been chased by a dog? My Mom has had more excitement in her life and, as always, some fun for me. Some days Mom takes James to H.S. Truman Elementary School and then Evan and his friend Deborah to J.P. Torres Elementary School in Santa Rita. Finally, she takes Neil and me to Piti Middle School on her way to Mail Day at the mission. On these days she takes a road less traveled. Several times we’ve enjoyed watching a Carabao family foraging on the edge of the jungle. The mom, dad and teenage Carabao were fascinating to watch.
“One week it wasn’t quite as much fun when the teenage (a mere 400 pounds) Carabao lowered his head and started chasing the van. Mom yelled and tried to avoid the lumbering beast. Like a roller coaster the van went up and down the twisting road with the beast hot on her heels. Finally the Toyota out ran the weary water buffalo and Mom continued to the mission. She doesn’t like to take that route from school to the mission anymore.”
And I’m not immune from the impact of critters in our home. Joel reminded me:
“This summer, as the rainy season began, a cricket found its way into a door frame in my parent’s bedroom. After two nights of non stop serenading, my Dad reached his limit. Around midnight he decided to kill the cricket. He moved furniture and all sorts of stuff around until he found the critter. Finally he gassed the varmint, silencing his chirping. When Mom got up to do something my Dad said, ‘Watch out for the . . .’ THUMP, ‘desk?’ From that night on, my family and I have called him Dances with Crickets.”
We still have pets in our home. When we departed from the tropics the massive number of insects and small creatures we encountered was reduced but occasionally bugs can be found in our home. Animals are found throughout the Bible. Some are food, some beasts of burden, some talk, but all have a purpose and part in God’s plan.
When I think of the donkey Jesus rode into Jerusalem I’m amazed. This common beast was God’s choice to demonstrate Jesus’ triumphal entry into the Holy City. I’m sure the donkey had no idea what was to happen and wondered at the glorious reception as he carried his sacred rider into the city. He was available, God called and he did his job carrying something on his back. The same thing he was destined to do throughout life.
How often do we miss God’s blessing when we’re called to do our routine work? We buck and bray and complain about the burden. God knows better and carefully determines our burdens and our calling. We need to respond with willingness and wait to see God’s glory revealed. Just remember what Jesus said.
“For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:30 WEB)