Monday, 28 July 2014


Sometimes I struggle with discouragement. I feel frustrated that the people I
work so hard to disciple still constantly make poor choices and don't follow
Christ! I feel like there's a basket of bountiful fruit one moment but then you
realize one piece is rotten and the next thing you know the whole bunch is
inedible, and you feel like your time's been wasted and you have to start all
over again!

Don't get me wrong, I have a burden for these people! There's a deep sadness
and a pulling of the Spirit of God for the old woman in Tuba (a village west of
us) and the children with charms and bells on their feet to ward away evil
spirits in Thuguru (a village east of us), for my friend Fakira who lives next
door, and the pounding feet dancing away outside my hut even as I write!
Okay, I'm getting off track...

This story is about a monkey and about how God can use the every day
happenings to penetrate profound lessons into our hearts.
I was feeling especially discouraged one morning. It was one of those days in
which all I wanted to do was curl up on my bed and eat imaginary chocolate
and cry. Unfortunately, it was also one of those days where there was a list of
things that needed to be done, so I got up and began to accomplish my 'to do'

Suddenly, I heard a commotion. A group of children were playing, or rather
abusing, a baby monkey. I don't know why the children here like to torture
animals. They are normally sweet children but when it comes to animals they
burn them, tease them, pull their tails and enjoy the reaction they get from the
poor creatures. It. Makes. Me. Angry! I've been known to raise a child to level
of the eyes and say, "How would you like it if I treated you the way you're
treating that puppy!" I told them to "leave the monkey alone!" One of the boys
picked up the almost now limp baby monkey and brought it over to me and
dropped it into my hands. "It's yours! " he said as he giggled and ran off to play
soccer with the other hooligans.
 So here I was with a whimpering, adorable, little baby in my hands. There was
only ONE thing I could do... claim her as my very own! (Hey, I have a pet
monkey, how cool is that!!!)

After asking some questions I found out that this particular monkey (a Red
Patus) lived in the lower lands, a pretty far distance from Nagishot. Some men
had shot her mother and carried the monkey for three days, during which time
the little thing didn't get any food or water. :( Upon finding a group of boys,
they left her with them and continued their journey. The boys pulled her tail and
threw her back and forth between them until I came out and yelled at them.
After hearing this sad story of the poor monkey and the cruelty of people, I
named her ChaLee. A word sandwiched from two Didinga words. The first
being Chaman. (Happy/joy) and 'ah Leelee' meaning (sad/anger/sorrow) and
just like that, I had a pet monkey who I pretty much adored! But it was more
than that, I felt like ChaLee was a gift from God. She was a little bit of my own
Giligins Island, right here in South Sudan!

Within a few days ChaLee was a normal screaming, disease carrying, food
gobbling delight! Well, I thought so anyway but before I took on this monkey, I
forgot to do some very important missionary things. 1: Pray. I didn't pray. (Not
very missionary of me) 2. I didn't ask my fellow missionaries if they would mind
me having a screaming baby who would one day turn into a living terror. (Not
very considerate of me) 3: I had NO clue the amount of work and attention a
baby monkey required. (I'm not ready to become a mommy!) I was up every
night with my baby monkey every few hours giving her food, singing her 'rock a
bye monkey' and somehow in the day still trying to keep up with teaching,
chores, Bible study, meals etc. My attention became divided and my eyes had
dark circles under them. My fellow missionaries shook their heads as ChaLee
screamed through dinner times and I would smile at them sheepishly.
She took a lot of time, she was a sleep deterrent, and was a distraction to
ministry. Yet, I was reminded that God has placed so many wonderful things in
this world to enjoy, many gifts and these things can either be just a distraction
from my ministry or they can be the very avenue to which my ministry has it's
greatest value. Even though the monkey seemed at first to be a distraction to
ministry, I determined to make it an opportunity be a faithful example of how to
be kind and a good steward with whatever dropped in my path.

It was a surprise that the monkey lived through her first day, let alone the next 
two weeks. She had days on which she was rambunctious and screaming and 
days where she seemed lethargic and sad. I wondered nervously if she would 
live. I sometimes left her outside on her own when it was sunny. She was very 
good about staying close. Well, one day I fell asleep in my hut for about thirty 
minutes and when I came out, she was nowhere to be found. I began to call 
her and I went searching.

Then the clouds above became darker and the wind started to blow. I was 
panicked. My monkey was out in the rain and I couldn't find her! She would be 
cold! She could die! My neighbor heard me yelling, and she came coming out of her hut to help me by screaming 'ChaLee!' The woman was flaming drunk. She did look half concerned, but the other half was giggling while stumbling and grabbing my 
hand for support. I started asking around the area until one boy confessed that 
the monkey had been stolen and was about a half of a mile down the path. 

I was fuming mad and thankful for the long walk to where the monkey was said 
to be. I knew the monkey would have been handled roughly, and anger toward 
the whole Didinga tribe rose up in me! "I'm so done with the Didinga!!!!! " I fumed in my mind. "I'm just going to leave these mountains and tell them 'that's what you get for stealing my monkey!' That will show them!"

I'm ashamed for how shallow my love was at that moment. I placed a monkey 
and my hurt feelings over a whole tribe of people who don't know Christ. 
Thankfully, I realized this before I happened to pass a hut where I heard the 
frantic screams of ChaLee. She had escaped her captors and ran to a nearby 
hut and was crawling up the grass roof. I was able to get her down and hold 
her poor little trembling body. The woman of the hut felt terrible for what the 
boys had done and offered many apologies. 

I walked home with the monkey in my hands and my drunk neighbor hanging 
on my arm, telling me that my monkey would now die and that I must give it 
breast milk and that I owed her soap for all the help she gave in finding the 
monkey. I ended up giving her a little soap (since my monkey did spoil her 
clothes) but rejected her other suggestions. ;)

ChaLee seemed content to be in my arms for the rest of the evening and fellow
missionaries took turns holding her. She seemed to perk up that night and ate
and drank. I was encouraged and thought she might be alright. I wrapped her
in a blanket and placed her next to me as I slept. I awoke around 4:00 A.M.
from her little cry and realized her breathing was shallow. I hoped she would
live and yet if not, I prayed that God would let her die quickly. Within the next
30 minutes she died.
I sat there in the early hours of the morning thinking about creation and
suffering and death; the effects of man's sin. I began to long to see the creation
around us redeemed. I began to long even more to see the Didinga redeemed.
Oh, that they might be freed from sin and bondage to know joy and peace! I
began to think about Jonah and his little plant whose shade he cared more
about than the millions of people who didn't know their right hand from their left
in Ninivah, and I began to see how my love needed to grow for the Didinga

I buried my little monkey in a small nearby forest in the drizzling rain. I laid her
gently in the ground, wrapped in her little blanket and I went on with the day's
activities, but it left me with so many thoughts.

 I know this seems like a sad story, but I am very thankful for my little monkey.
She was like a precious gift from God that taught some very important lessons I needed
to learn. She taught me about faithfulness to everything your hand finds, about
a love for people that does not alter when hurt, about letting things go because
love is an action best shown amidst adversity. And one day....not even creation will suffer the effects of our sin.

"There we shall make songs out of our sighs and music out of our
mourning...only let us be patient."
Charles Spurgeon.

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