This story is Eleventh in the Missionary Kids Stories about the Matthews family who live in Malawi, Africa. Each story is written in the form of a letter from one of the Matthews’ children. There are seven children. NOTE: This story is told from multiple view points, and even… 3-year-old Deek!
I write these stories so young readers can learn about missionary life in Africa. The MKs (Missionary Kids) will tell stories about cultural differences, such as eating DEAD MICE in the first MK story, or why guard dogs are necessary in Malawi – BIG BLACK DOGS, the second story. They will also show how they face the same temptations, emotions, and problems that kids everywhere do. My goal is to entertain and inform the children, but mostly I want to quietly teach them important truths from the Bible, God’s Word, for everyday life.
*** If you are new to the MK Stories, begin the with the FIRST story and meet the kids and their idiosyncrasies in order. Enjoy! http://bit.ly/2dnnrhD
“DEEK’S WILD RIDE!”
(Yep… that’s a greeting from Deek!)
This is Melody writing, but the story is going to be about our baby brother this time. (I bet THAT surprises you!!) Deek turned THREE years old on December 28, and Julie – she’s the one that takes care of him the most besides Mom – says that it’s HIS TURN to “write” to you.
Well, at 3-years-old, Deek can’t write yet. He can hardly talk! But I know what she means. He’s had in a little part of most of our stories, so it’s fair that HE should have a story of his own.
I’ll start, but we will all “speak” for him.
Deek was born right after Christmas, like you learned in June’s story about gifts and names and what “charity” means. Deacon, which is his real name, is kind of like “December,” don’t you think?
His whole name is Deacon William Matthews, like you learned in Julie’s story about the happy face pin when Uncle Will visited us. His middle name comes from the great missionary, William Carey, and NOT Uncle Will!
William Carey was a missionary to India. He is the one who told his friends that HE would go to that country and tell people about Jesus, if THEY would “hold the rope” for him. Gus didn’t know what that meant in his “Black Dogs” story, but it means that the people who stayed home while William Carey risked his life to go to India, would pray for him every day and send him the money he needed to live.
It’s like someone going into a dark cave or a deep hole. He might tie a rope around his waist and have friends hold the other end. If things got too scary, he would feel them there and know he wasn’t alone. They could even pull him out if he was in REAL danger. And they would have that “connection” with him and be helping to spread the Gospel in India by supporting him.
Anyway, that’s how Deek got his name. Umm…. I wonder what YOUR middle name is? Were YOU named after someone? I wish you could tell me YOUR story. You can write to me, if you want….
Actually, Deacon is a funny NAME for a person. In the Bible and in churches it is a JOB TITLE for someone who serves people in need. Like Deacon Stephen, who we learned about in Sunday School last week.
But right now, everybody else in the Matthews family serves DEEK, because he’s the one who needs all the help.
Thank goodness he doesn’t wear diapers anymore! Pee-yewww!!
Deek can eat by himself, but he can’t make his own cereal or sandwiches. Last week at lunch time he pointed at me and said, “Mel-ty, I want mel-ty.” I laughed and picked him up, thinking that he wanted me to carry him, but he squirmed and wanted down. Turns out, he didn’t want ME (Melody), he wanted a “melted-cheese sandwich!”
He can walk and even run around now, but he still likes to be carried a lot – and he’s getting so heavy! Julie is used to carrying him (she loves him a lot) and of course Marshall and Mom and Dad can do it pretty easily.
Deek (…if he could really talk): I’m SUPPOSED to get bigger and bigger, right? I want to be as tall as Daddy and Marshall. I want to drive the Rover and go to work and other places. I think driving the Rover must be the most fun of all!
Hey, Melodeeeeeee… it’s my turn to talk about Deek!
Hi kids, you remember me. I’m Deek’s next older brother, Gus, and we are buddeeeeeeeeeeeeeees. He likes when I play cars and trucks with him. He says, “vrooooomm,” and growls like the sound the Rover makes.
He likes when I push him high on the swing. He likes the bugs I show him – but sometimes he tries to eat them!!! (Well….. I guess I ate a fried grasshopper in the Village last time, so…..)
Anyway, he likes to play follow-the-leader with me too. When I walk funny – he copies me. When I spin around – he does too. And when I crawl on my hands and knees so does he…. or sometimes, he climbs on my back and wants a “horsee-riii.”
Ugh, my back!
Deek (…if he could really talk): I like Gus. He plays with me and shows me cool things. Sometimes I sleep with him at night when I get afraid of the thunder and stuff. I want to be like Gus – except NOT when he does dumb things, like hiding in the Rover and getting left behind at the village. I can say his name real good – Gusssssss. But… I DON’T LIKE IT when he calls ME……
Hey, Deeky-Boy, wanna go play? Why are you crying? Really Julie, I didn’t hurt him!
Hi, big boy! Why are you crying? Let your big sister give you a hug and a squeeze. C’mon – oh! – you’re getting almost too heavy for ME to pick up! Mmmm… let’s rub noses!
I’ve always loved taking care of Deek. He’s better than playing with dolls, because he is REAL.
I remember when Mom had him three years ago, just after Christmas. I was ten years old then and I’d gotten a very nice Journey Doll named Meredith for a present. She came with a suitcase and clothes for travelling. I liked her a lot and was playing with her when Mom brought Deek home from the clinic where he was born.
I took one look at his cute little face all scrunched up to cry and thought he was so much better than a doll. I gave Meredith to April and followed Mom around all the time just so I could hold him.
At first, she made me sit down with a pillow on my lap.
“Be very, very careful to support his head, Julie,” she said. “Babies don’t have very strong necks at first.” I was very careful! He was so warm and cuddly and had such big eyes! I love him so much. I hope I have lots of babies just like him when I grow up and get married. Girl babies too!
And you know what? Deek helped me to get over a bad habit. When I was younger, I was a real “scaredy-cat.”
“Scarey-cat! In da hole! Lotta wain!!”
Oh yes, you remember when we had that big storm, don’t you, Deek? I was so nervous when the water started going into the back yard instead of out under the front gate.
Kids, when I got scared, I would chew on my lower lip. It was a habit. Sometimes my lip got really sore, but I kept doing it. I couldn’t help it.
BUT….. Deek here, would remind me by gently patting my mouth. Oh, I could kiss you right now, my little Deek!
Don’t wiggle! You love it too. And I think I will tickle you too! What a precious sweetheart you are!
Deek (…if he could really talk): “I love my big sister so much – almost as much as I love Momma. She kisses me and hugs me and reads to me and lets me sit on her lap, and rocks me when I don’t feel good. I can even say her name… Jooo-lee!”
“My turn now! Up you go, Deek!”
Deek (…if he could really talk): “Whoooooooo-eeee! I’m way up high now, sitting on my big brother’s shoulders. Hahahahahaha! I love trying to touch the ceiling with my fingers. I almost can! I also love to put my fingers into his thick brown hair and hold on tight when he spins around, like right now. Hahahahaha! Hiccup. Hiccup!
“Marshall! Don’t make him dizzy or he will lose his lunch and YOU will have to clean it up!”
“Okay, Mom, but he loves it so much!”
Kids, I remember when Deek was born too. I was thirteen and I thought, “All this family needs is another baby!” But hey, Gus and I DID need another brother, right Little Bro? Us guys gotta stick together! Give me five!
Well, I put Deek down so his lunch would settle, and said, “By the way Mom, Dad left the Rover home today and took your car to work. He told me to get the tank filled up. You know how he HATES to wait in line at the gas station. But I don’t mind, and…. I get more practice driving. I think I’ll go now. Can I take Deek?”
“Oh, Marshall, I don’t know…”
“It’s only a mile away, and I’ll put his seat belt on. I’ll drive carefully!”
“Go Wover! Get gas! Go!”
“See, Deek wants to go too!”
“Alright, you two. Did Dad give you money? Okay. Here, take my cell phone…just in case.”
“C’mon, big boy, let’s go!” I said, and picked him up again.
“Go!” Deek shouted and bounced in my arms.
Ngunda opened the gate for us and waved at Deek. I turned into our street, drove to the corner and then out onto the road, doing a pretty good job at shifting, I thought. At the corner I turned left onto the main road. We passed the African Bible College where Dad worked.
“ABC! Daddee!” Deek called and pointed. All the while he was making that growling sound that really did sound like the Rover’s engine.
At the gas station there were five two-sided pumps, but all of them had several cars waiting in line. The main problem was that the pumps were sooooo slow. It took forever to fill up a tank. You also had to watch the gauge so you were sure you had enough money. The prices changed every day, and it took so many Kwachas to buy even one gallon of gas. The stack of Kwachas on the seat, that Dad had left for me to buy 12 gallons, had a rubber band on it and was an inch thick!
I unbuckled Deek and let him stand up to see all the people and cars. He laughed and pointed and babbled.
Finally I pulled to the pump and told the man how much I wanted…. or rather, how much money I had. As I was watching the pump’s gauge, a loud thump sounded on the roof. Deek cried out and ran to me. What was that? And then I saw.
“Maya! My old friend! What are you doing here? You scared us to death!”
Maya leaned in the left window (passenger side) and waved his fingers at Deek.
“Myyy!” my little brother cried and ran across the seat to him. Maya opened the door, took him in his arms, then slid into the seat.
“I have a job now,” my friend said in a deep voice that I still couldn’t get used too. “I drive the coffin truck for the coffin maker-man, Mr. Kapanda.”
He smiled a huge smile, and I noticed he was trying to grow a little beard on his chin. It almost hid the “medicine man” scar. I was glad. Deek noticed it too, and started pulling the hairs with his stubby fingers.
“Hey, little man!” said Maya gently untangling his fingers. “You want to come see a coffin?”
“Oh, I don’t know, Maya…. ” I said, sounding a lot like my Mom.
“Coffin!!!” said Deek.
About then the man came to the Rover window and held out his hand. I looked at the gauge and fanned the Kwacha. I took out two and handed him the rest. Wow, I thought, that went fast. It cost a lot to get around in Malawi. I nodded my head in a silent “Thanks!” to God for our faithful supporters.
When I turned back, Maya had slid out and was holding Deek. He bumped the door shut with his hip. “My truck is behind you. You pull up over there and park. I’ll take your place.”
Some horns were honking, so I put the Rover into gear and moved to an open area off the cement onto the dirt. I turned the engine off, and the Rover lurched forward like it always does when I forget to ease out the clutch. I grabbed the keys and trotted to the red truck with wood slats standing up around the bed and a sign on one side that read “Nice Coffins All You Need.” The station man had already opened the gas tank lid and was putting in the nozzle.
Maya and Deek were in the bed of the truck, walking around three new wooden coffins – just rectangle boxes, really, and not even painted. Maya was showing Deek how they opened. Deek was trying to climb in one.
“Maya!” I called, suddenly a little worried.
“Deek’s okay,” said Maya. “He’s one curious boy!”
“Watch out!” I said. In just the time it took Maya to turn and talk to me, Deek had climbed into one of the boxes. Startled, Maya had let the lid drop with a bang. I didn’t hear a yell, so hopefully none of Deek’s fingers or his head got smashed.
“Maya, get him out of there!” I cried, lifting my foot to the bumper to climb up.
But something was happening in the cab of the truck that neither of us had seen. A strange man had pushed the station man aside, pulled out the nozzle which was spewing gas on the cement under the truck, and had jumped into the driver’s seat. Maya barely had time to grab one of the slats of the truck before it lurched forward. I lost my balance and fell, hands splayed into the pooling gasoline.
The truck, engine roaring, bumped over the curb and out to the main road. It gained speed – I could hear the gears grinding – in the direction away from our home.
“DEEEEKK!” I screamed, getting up and trying to run after the truck. My shoes slipped in the gasoline and I fell again. The station man and others were yelling at me to watch out, but all I could think of was Deek. My brother. My baby brother Deek, in a stolen truck….. and in a coffin!
“God! Oh, God, help him! Show me what to do!”
I felt the keys in my pocket and ran back to the Rover. I jerked open the door and climbed in, gasoline soaked jeans and all.
“C’mon, c’mon!” I said as the engine took it’s time starting. It finally caught. Then I popped the clutch too fast and it stalled.
“Please God, help me!”
Finally I got the Rover moving. I steered around the pumps and the yelling man, who had not gotten paid for the wasted gas, and out to the driveway. Cars and trucks lumbered by. A guy on a bicycle was peddling a woman on the back who was loaded with produce. I honked, then pulled out, right in front of another car, who honked louder.
Where was the truck? I couldn’t see it with all the other traffic. Did it turn off? Did it get to the round-a-bout yet? Which way would it go? I shoved the gear stick into high and pushed down the peddle. I whipped around some walking people, then had a fright when I almost hit a kid who ran in front of me.
I slowed a little and watched in all directions…. but mostly ahead. Deek! Maya! Where were they?
Deek (…if he could really talk): “Weeeeee, this is fun! See me roll back and forth. One side – boom. The other side – boom. Maya makes me have lots of fun in this long box. Wooooooo… that was a BIG bump! And now we are going round and round. Hahahahaha! I wish Maya would come inside too! Maya? MAYA!! Where is Maya??
“STOP! DO YOU HEAR ME? STOP! STOP!!!” Maya screamed at the crazy man who was stealing the truck, stealing the coffins…. making him lose his job, and…. and…. worst of all…. maybe hurting his best friend’s baby brother!
He could see the man’s face in the mirror inside the cab. He was scowling. Soon the truck started to jerk back and forth and Maya was flying one way, then the other. Then the man made a fast jerking-right turn onto a narrow dirt road, and Maya’s hand slipped. He rolled over the tailgate and hit the ground hard, red dust choking him as he rolled to a stop.
He tried to catch his breath and felt a pain in his side. He got up on one knee and watched the truck bounce down the uneven road. The coffins were sliding from one side to the other and bouncing up and down like popcorn in hot oil.
“Deek!” he said weakly and coughed, managing to stand up.
I sat in traffic and pounded the steering wheel of the Rover. Why was everybody stopped? Why wouldn’t they go? How far ahead was the truck with Maya and Deek? I have to find him! I just HAVE to find him! I swiped angrily at the stupid tears running down my cheeks. I honked the horn, knowing it wouldn’t do any good.
“Please God, help me find Deek. Oh, please let him be okay!”
Then like a miracle the traffic started to move. I darted around a car loaded with people, their arms hanging out of all the windows, and just missed a donkey loaded with sticks. I finally got some speed and then happened to see a red dust cloud to my right on a small road. Could that be where the truck turned? No. But maybe…. Then I saw a black boy, hunched over, holding his side and limping as fast as he could down the road. Maya?
I jammed on the brakes and turned the steering wheel. The Rover slid sideways till I thought it was going to turn over. But then it straightened up. I pushed down hard on the gas pedal.
“Maya!” I called and bounced over the rutted road to where my friend was trying to run.
“That…way,” Maya gasped, pointing ahead as he crawled painfully into the Rover. The dirt road angled up into a steep hill and we could see the truck struggling to go the last few yards to the top. I stomped on the gas pedal and the Rover jumped forward.
As we got closer, we cried out at the same time, “DEEK!!” and “NOooo!”
The coffins were sliding slowly towards the open tailgate. One fell off and broke open. It was empty. Another one edged backward…. tipped… and tumbled to the road. Empty.
I got the Rover closer to the truck, which was almost to the top of the hill. The final coffin slipped back… further… further… A deep rut on one side of the road tipped the truck’s bed and made the coffin twist sideways, catching a corner in one of the slats of the truck. We both held our breaths.
The truck was only a few feet from the top when a rear wheel hit a big rock and the lid to the third coffin sprung open. We watched in amazement as a little figure stood up…. and waved!
We couldn’t believe our eyes! Words got stuck in our throats. We dared not breathe!
I got the Rover alongside the truck just as it topped the hill. Maya, already bruised and scraped from his fall and tumble on the road, leaned out the open door. He reached…. strained… and caught the last wooden slat on the side of the truck. He swung clear of the Rover and banged against the truck’s fender. He almost lost his grip! His face screwed up in pain and I heard him cry out.
As he grabbed a second slat with his other hand, I whipped the Rover around and in front of the truck. It swerved to the left, and came to an abrupt stop, the front wheel in the ditch on the other side of the road. I jammed the Rover’s brake pedal, completely forgetting to push in the clutch. It hop-hopped to a stop, killing the engine.
The thief and I jumped out of our vehicles at the same time. He started off across the field as fast as he could. I hesitated only a second, then ran to the back of the truck, my baby brother the only thing on my mind.
Maya had Deek crushed against his chest… inside the coffin… where they had fallen when the truck abruptly stopped. Maya was sobbing. Deek was laughing.
Deek (… if he could really talk): “Wow! That was so much fun! I was bouncing and bumping and sliding all over the place! And now, Maya came into the box with me! Let’s do it again! Maya! Why are you crying? Oh, you must be laughing. Hahahaha. Me too. Wasn’t it fun? Oh, there’s Marshall! Did you have fun chasing me? You were going soooo fast in the Rover! Did you see Maya jump on the truck!! Wooooweeeeee!”
It took a long time to get the big coffin truck backed out of the ditch. I hooked a cable from the Rover to the back bumper and pulled and pulled. Deek, now inside the Rover with me, jumped up and down and shouted “YAAAYYY!” when it finally came unstuck.
Maya checked it over real well. It didn’t look damaged. He carefully turned it around and coasted down the hill to where the coffins had fallen off. The second one wasn’t too bad, but the first one that had fallen – the biggest one – had a corner broken out.
“I can probably fix it,” he said, a dismayed look on his face. “I hope I’ll get the chance. Mr. Kapanda can be very stern when it came to spending money. I’ll have to work for free…. maybe for a long, long time.”
He climbed up into the truck again and slid behind the wheel. Suddenly his sad face turned happy. “Hey, at least we got the truck back, right? And Deek! We got Deek back!”
Once I’d helped Maya with the coffins, I started home. I’d given Deek a hug so long and hard that the little guy complained and squirmed to get loose.
“Legggo, Marshall, legggo! Hug too tii.”
Soon after I’d buckled his seat belt, Deek fell asleep, his little body sagging toward me, a small smile on his face. I swallowed the lump in my throat and touched his cheek. I sure did love him!
“Thank you, God, for making him safe.”
As I turned onto the main road and drove through the round-a-bout, I glanced at the gas gauge. It was half empty! My watch told me that two hours had passed.
“Whoa-boy,” I gulped. “How am I going to explain all this to Mom and Dad?”
I drove through our gate and parked the Rover, easing out the clutch so the engine purred to a stop. Mom came outside, wiping her hands on her apron… the apron she wore when she baked cookies.
“What took you so long, Marshall?” she asked. “I was getting worried.” She scowled as she looked down. “Why is the Rover so dusty? And… WHERE’S DEEK?”
Just then, the little boy sat up, rubbing his eyes. “Momma!” he said as she opened the door and picked him up. “See Myyy! Go for riii in box. So fun!!”
Mrs. Matthews looked at me curiously, then lowered her chin, and raised an eyebrow.
“I’ll explain Mom,” I promised as I got out of the Rover and shut the door. Wow, it really was dirty! I’d have to wash it before Dad got home. I also would have to think how to tell them about….about Deek’s “wild ride” so that they’d let me drive the Rover again… before I turned FORTY!
I ruffled Deek’s hair as we walked to the house. “But first, Mom, can I have a glass of milk? And…. maybe a cookie or two?”
“Cookieees, yay!” said Deek.
NOTE: Kids & parents, there are a lot of Malawians who have coffin shops along the main roads. They make very simple wood boxes – and sometimes fancy painted ones too. Sadly, a lot of people in the villages die from Malaria and AIDS in this beautiful, friendly country because they can’t get to the clinics or don’t have money for medicine. They have to ask for small donations even to buy one of the wood boxes like in this story. Medical missionaries – like Uncle Will – help them, but the village people are very poor. (Malawi is now the poorest country in the world.)
“Come, my young friends and listen to me. And I will teach you to honor the Lord.” ~~~ Psalm 34:11 Good News Bible