Monday, April 18, 2005

faith stories: elka of the wai wai -part 6

(Conclusion of Chapter 8: "Into the Pit of My Stomach" from the book Christ’s Witchdoctor by Homer Dowdy © 1963).

[Introduction] [part 1] [part 2] [part 3] [part 4] [part 5]

part 6

On Thursday of that week Elka went fishing with Kirifaka. They followed the stream that bounded Kanashen under the sunset and emptied into the Essequibo at one side of the village landing. Threading their way up the creek, they shot many fish with their arrows.

"Why have we caught so much meant, Little Brother?" Elka asked Kirifaka. "Who is giving us so much food?"

"God," Elka continued, answering his own question. Kirifaka looked bewildered. And then Elka bewildered him even more: "I think I’d kind of like to receive Jesus.

"Why do you want to receive Jesus?" Kirifaka said with some scorn.

"Be quiet, Little Brother," commanded Elka. "Bow your head and close your eyes. I’m going to pray."

Kirifaka did as he was told, partly in obedience and partly in fear of the strange things that Elka was saying.

"Father in the Sky, this is Old Elka. You are good, Father. Look, You have given us our meat. We didn’t have any before and we haven’t had to go far to get it. You showed it to us. You are good Father."

He had meant to ask Jesus to enter his life. Somehow this was the prayer that came out. That night he dreamed he was teaching God’s Paper to the people at Yaka Yaka. The next day he told his wife about it.

"Kofi! How scary!" exclaimed Ahmuri. "Why are you like this? Why don’t you work your charms any more? You’re a witchdoctor, but you don’t sing your songs. How do you suppose Kworokyam likes that?"

Elka said nothing, but he noted Ahmmuri’s deep frown. He had noticed that she often frowned. He hair might string down from the knot in back, but it didn’t have the happy snap as when she used to swing her head about so saucily. He didn’t think of her long, though, for other thoughts fillede his mind.

The night before lesson time, Elka again dreamed that one like Bahm appeared before him and said,

"Let go of your sins. Say to Jesus, ‘Come in.’ If you do, He will come in."

Elka got up early on Sunday. He told his dream to his wife.

"Maybe that was God’s spirit," she commented, not knowing what else to say.

It was time for Elka to come to a decision.

Here he was, a chief, a witchdoctor, a handsome young man, his body and limbs well filled out, his features clean-cut and pleasing. He was one to whom not only his own villagers were looking for leadership but others as well; one ripe in the ways of forest and field, in weaving hammocks, in many other skills.

And he was torn by indecision.

Before others began to stir in their hammocks he left the big house. He strode across the clearing and entered an abandoned field which was being rapidly overtaken by jungle growth again.

"Father in the Sky," he said aloud on reaching the middle of the field and looking up as if he saw God sitting in His heaven, "Father, I want to know You. So make Yourself known to me forever. What do You think about that? Old Elka wants You to come into the pit of his stomach, Father and make his spirit strong."

He sat on a charred log, still intact after the burning so many seasons before. He no longer looked up. He spoke as if the One he talked to sat next to him on the log.

"Here I am Father. I’m a witchdoctor. This is what I am. I’m a bad person, too. I get angry. I scold my wife. And I’m sad about those things. But this is the way I don’t want to be. So my old being, take it out, Father. You can because your Son died for my badness, in order to take it away. Fix me to be another kind of person. I want to be like You."

In contrition the young Indian bowed his black-crowned head which even at this early hour was decorated with the downy white feather of an eagle. One by one he named his sins: hatred, lust, envy, foolish pride.

"This is the way I am Father," he prayed quietly and sincerely. "Fix me to be like Jesus. That’s all I have to say this time, Father."

That afternoon Elka went with his family to the lesson at Kanashen. As he sat in the main room of Kron’s house he drank in the teaching of God’s Paper.

"I’m really beginning to hear it with good ears," he said to himself, smiling at the happy thought. Things were beginning to fit together. He saw now why the missionaries could live as they did. It wasn’t they who were good. It was Jesus living in them. He understood, at least a little bit, the peace they possessed. If they let God into them, they were good and had peace. If they didn’t let Him in they weren’t good and were miserable. This was the way it fitted together for him.

A few days later, Elka faced the issue at an onhariheh. The eat-and-drink session took place in a hut at the edge of the clearing at Kanashen. A sick child was there, and a number of villagers had congregated in the shelter to find out how he was doing. Someone had brought a pot of fish broth. They were about to dip their cassava bread when Elka told them to wait.

"I’m a companion of Jesus now," he said. "I want to tell you that. So let us talk to God. Let us all be telling him it is He who gives us our food. Bow your heads and close your eyes."

Mawasha would not bend that towering head of his. Neither would others bow their heads or close their eyes. Alone, Elka closed his eyes. He did not see Achi approach the little circle with a hypodermic in her hand for the child.

"We will now talk to God," Elka said.

Achi, believe he had called for prayer because she had come, started to pray.
"Dear Father..."

It was as far as she got. Another voice was addressing the God of heaven. She opened her eyes to look, though she knew the voice. Elka was leading a group of people in prayer!

"Father in the Sky," he prayed, "You give us our food. You are good to us. Jesus is the good one. Fix the ones here to know You. That’s all I’m saying now."

He was slow in opening his eyes so did not see Achi run from the hut toward Kron’s house.

"Claude!" she cried, running up the stairs to the gallery of the kitchen. "I just heard Elka pray. Do you suppose it can mean he has received the Lord?"

Kron learned of Elka’s faith in a talk they had about a forthcoming dance.

"The people want to lift up drink," Elka reported to Kron. "They told me, ‘We’d like to make strong drink and catch women We want you to call a dance.’"

"What did you say?"

"I said, ‘Hnnn. I don’t know about that. I have received Jesus.’ But they just said, ‘Gicha! You received Jesus. That’s bad to us. We like strong drink. That’s the way we are.’"

Elka related how he had told them then that if they made strong drink he would not drink it. If they asked him to dance and take women, he would refuse.

"Hnnn," they had said, "why are you like that? We’re surprised at you."

Only Kirifaka, Elka went on, had said that maybe Elka was a good one.

In talking about the people’s desire to have a yamo dance, Kron and Elka decided that a time of games, with sweet drink and much meat, would be a good substitute. Elka left Kron to talk about it to his people. Kron went to the radio to report to Bahm in Georgetown that Elka had become a Christian.

Elka, witchdoctor without equal and witchdoctor still, but now Christ’s witchdoctor!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...