Copyright © 2012 Frederick E. Hosen
All rights reserved, Wild Child Publishing.
“I hope that our reports on Panama have been satisfactory,” Reverend Wilson said as he looked past the director and out the window at the building across the street. To fix his eyes on his overweight and overdressed superior would be, for him, an aggravation. He was sure that Wellington IV never paid attention to the reports that were laboriously prepared by the missionaries. Somewhere in the archives those unread pages sat quietly gathering dust. At some point they would be trashed to make room for the words from the next generation of God’s workers.
“Superb, superb! Yes indeed,” the director praised. “You are to be congratulated for your excellent work. You too Mrs. Wilson,” he added. “The Panama mission showed extraordinary results. It’s not often that more than half of a village can be converted on the first try.”
“The Lord was with us,” Sally said.
“Indeed He was,” the director replied. “Let’s see?” He leaned back in his chair and looked toward the ceiling to indicate that he was thinking and figuring. There were seventy-six adults in that village in Chile...”
“Panama,” Reverend Wilson corrected. He had a sneaking suspicion that the director had spared the reports he and Sally had submitted barely a glance, if he had looked at them at all.
“Yes, yes, you’re so right, Panama. Now where was I? Oh, umm, seventy-six. Of the seventy-six, the two of you converted seventeen the first year.” Picking up a sheet of paper from his desk he continued, “Our statistician figures that to be 22.3684 percent. Anything over ten percent is good you know. Now let’s see, by the end of the second year you were up to 36.8421 percent and the third year 56.5789 percent.”
Reverend Wilson gave a slight cringe at the six digit numbers that, in the pea brain of the director, were measures of the value of salvation. Hoping that his distaste for such statistical tripe had not been noticed he said, “I’m sure we’ll get the other forty-four or so percent to see the light when we finish here and return.”
“We’ve never calculated salvation,” Sally said curtly. John knew that the director’s callous analytical approach rubbed her the wrong way also, and she was not going to act as nicely about it as he had. “If we bring only one person to the Lord, so be it. Maybe we would have completely struck out and shown no results, but just the fact that we were there, and cared, might be the seed planted, the only seed that the Lord expected of us.”
“Uh huh,” muttered the director as if he had been bothered by a pesky fly, “that brings us to the matter that I wish to speak to you about. You won’t be returning to Chile.”
“But, we must return to Panama,” Reverend Wilson said as he stood up with a puzzled look on his face. “We have much more work to do.”
“Panama,” the director said quietly. “I meant Panama you know. I’ve always confused Panama with Chile. Always have since I was a child. I think it’s because my geography teacher in grade school was not all that clear about which was which. She was an older lady and sometimes difficult to understand when she didn’t have her teeth in. She would give us an outline map of South America, Europe, Africa, and so on, and have us fill in the names of the countries and color them while she took a nap on a cot that was behind a folding partition at the back of the room.”
Sally looked about to explode. “Those people await our return! They need support and guidance or they might fall back into their old ways. They are not yet ready to follow the Lord on their own.”
“Uh, yes,” the director said nodding his head, “but the board has decided to send the two of you to Brazil, to the Amazon.”
Neither John nor Sally knew what to say. After some moments John was the first to reply. “I don’t think the board understands. We have work to do in Panama. There is still a lot to be done. We have built trust among the people. The board,” he repeated, “just doesn’t understand.”
Sally was almost in tears, “They’re like our family. They’re like our children. They need us. They wouldn’t understand if we didn’t return. We promised that we’d be back soon. How can we abandon them? We must return! We must!”
“I understand,” Wellington IV interjected, “but you, we all, must do what needs to be done.” The director stood and, for emphasis, raised both hands to about shoulder height and announced, “The Lord is our guiding light, and the Society is merely His tool.”
John just could not grasp what was happening. It seemed like a nightmare that he would certainly wake up from, but he knew that it was not. He and Sally were, in fact, sitting in the Society’s office in New York hearing what they could not have ever imagined.
He looked at his wife and she at him. In her face he saw mirrored his feelings of puzzlement, confusion, and shock. She reached over and took his hand, which was limp, and though just an appendage, seemed beaten down and subjugated.
They could do nothing. “Amen,” they both responded, subdued and disheartened.
The director pulled a map out of his desk drawer and pointed to the location of the village that the pilot had spotted.
“When do we leave?” Reverend Wilson asked.
“The travel office is already at work. I don’t think it will be more than three days before you are on your way. You might as well start packing.”
“We haven’t unpacked,” Sally pointed out.
“Of course,” the director replied and lamely added, “You two are truly soldiers of the faith. Always at the ready.”
John and Sally held their tongues and quietly left, seeking fresh air.