Written by my daughter, Jewel Vernoy
There is a legend among the Ye’kwana Indians that if you leave your house and are seen by the death spirit you will die that night. The Indians feared this spirit so much that they never made windows in their houses. A few people had become Christians and no longer feared the spirits in the jungles, but sometimes, in the darkness of the night, it is hard to hold on to that faith in God. Especially difficult when there is no light and you can have a snake an inch away from your face and not even know that it is there, until you feel the fangs pierce your skin and inject their poison into you. This night was no exception, there was no moon or stars to share their glimmer to give hope to the people of the morning, only a dark blanket to cover the village in. It was as though the darkness wanted to hide something, to keep it a secret, but what?
I had just turned 15 and thought I could handle anything but those dark nights could send chills through even the bravest man on earth. As I slept in my hammock, or attempted to, I heard feet running towards my house, and they were running quickly. Suddenly, someone was banging on the door crying out to us, “Please help! The baby has come, but something is wrong! Please, please come quickly!”
My father jumped up quickly, grabbed a flashlight and his medical bag, and ran out after the girl who had come to get him. While my father was running towards the small hut where the young mother was giving birth, the light of his flashlight shown on a large puddle of blood pooled on the ground. He stopped the girl and asked her whose blood it was? The girl replied in a gasp, “Sister had gone to the outhouse and on her way back the baby was born. This is where it happened.”
As my father listened to the girl and looked at the blood on the mud path his worst fears were confirmed, “Why God? Why now of all times? And, also, why to this woman? I don’t understand?” he thought to himself and he prayed.
When my father got to the hut he saw the parents of the new baby. His heart hurt for them. How could he tell them? As the man looked at my father with hopeful eyes, my father knelt on one knee and gently placed a hand on the husband’s shoulder, shaking his head. “How long?” the husband asked my father as tears ran down his face and he lovingly held his wife.
My father was heartbroken over this scene but replied, “I don’t know. It could be an hour or two…or it could be in the next five minutes, but I will try to make her as comfortable as possible.” My father administered some pain killers to the unconscious, hemorrhaging mother.
The woman had already lost so much blood! If only she was in a hospital, but even there it would be difficult to save her life. My father looked at the mother and the puddle of blood that was now forming under her hammock. Once again, my father shook his head. “Dear God, why? I don’t understand. She was healthy and this is not her first child so why did she have to hemorrhage?”
My father stayed with the family until dawn broke and the mother went home to her Savior. In the jungle a body must be buried as quickly as possible or sickness would plague the village. My father also wanted to make the coffin as quickly as possible because the carpenter of the village was also the husband of the woman who has just died.
As my father and the new widower built a coffin, others went to the burying ground to dig a grave. After her body was placed in the coffin, we took her to the church and held a service.
During that week we had been hosting a soccer tournament in our village. Because of the death in the village the tournament had been canceled. It was to be expected that the villagers would leave out of fear of the death. However, some villages stayed because they were shocked and could not understand the calmness that the Christians of our village had shown even when faced with a death. stayed and listened to the gospel being preached at the funeral.
As my father looked around at all the unsaved people, he remembered a prayer my mother had heard during a ladies prayer meeting earlier in the month.
“Dear God, please do whatever it takes during this tournament to let the other Indians hear about your Son. Amen” and then my father under stood that it was God answering a payer through this death. The simple prayer that the gospel would be preached, that prayer had come from the mother who now lay in the coffin.