Each story is written in the form of a letter from one of the Matthews’ children. There are seven of them, (but the baby can’t write yet!). Haha.
I write these stories so readers can learn about missionary life in Africa. The MKs (Missionary Kids) will tell stories about cultural differences (and similarities) such as eating DEAD MICE in the first MK story. I hope to entertain and inform children, but mostly I want to quietly teach them truths from the Bible, God’s Word, as it pertains to their everyday lives.
So, here is the next story! (Scroll down, or check the list on the side bar to begin the with the FIRST story and meet the kids in order.)
Big Black Dogs!
Are you all “over”your gross-out from the mice-eating story that my (pretend) MK Melody Matthews told you? I do hope so! THIS story is by Melody’s next-to-the-youngest BROTHER. His name is Gus, but I will let him tell you all about himself.
Sometimes I like to hold the last letter of a person’s name real long. I can do that with my sister’s name. Sometimes I say Melodeeeeee when I call her, even if she’s in the same room. She turns it around and calls me AUGUST! And then I try to punch her – but not really.
You see, my name IS August, but I don’t like it very much. I wouldn’t mind Augie, but most of my friends call me Gus. My Mom named me August Hope Matthews, because I was born in the month of…… can you guess??
I got my middle name because of something sad that happened. Between me and my next older sister, April Grace Matthews, we had another brother. I wasn’t here yet, but they told me about him.
Freddie was born in February, but he was SUPPOSED to be born in May like Melody. If he had been born in May, his name would have been Mayson Michael Matthews. Instead, he was born on the last day of February.
February has 28 days most of the time, but every four years, in Leap Year, it has 29 days. It has something to do with how our calendars are made. We have to add an extra day in February every four years or the seasons will get all mixed up. Christmas might come in the summer!
Anyway, Freddie was born on one of those 29ths that come every four years. He would have been 8 years old this year, but he would have had only TWO birthdays (and parties) by then. Think of that!! Totally weird, I know.
Well, maybe he didn’t like that idea, so he decided to go back to Heaven to be with Jesus. That’s what I think, but, here’s how my Mom and Dad tell it.
A week after Valentine’s day (February 14th) Mom got really sick. She had forgotten to put on bug spray when they went to the Mr. and Mrs. Floreen’s house (that’s another missionary here) for a “Sweethearts Dinner.” Remember, she was still “carrying” Freddie then and she didn’t like to use too much bug spray. But this time she forgot it altogether.
She must have gotten bitten by a mosquito that had Malaria (not all of them have it). A week later she started feeling very sick. She got SO sick that Dad took her to the clinic. I think there is some medicine you can give people who have Malaria, but it’s dangerous if they are expecting a baby.
Everyone was worried about her, especially Dad. (Remember I wasn’t there yet, but they told me.) Everyone at church prayed for her – really hard. But she just got sicker and sicker.
Finally on February 28th she started feeling better. But Freddie didn’t want to stay inside any longer. (Was it too hot for him with that high fever she had?) He was born the next day. They took a picture of him. He was soooooo tiny, but soooooo perfect! I’ve seen the picture so I know. He stayed with Mom in the clinic for six hours then he went back to God, who made him.
ANYWAYYYYYY….. I know this is such a sad and looooong story, but that’s how I got my middle name. After Freddie, Mom and Dad were “hoping” for another boy. At that time, there was only our oldest brother, Marshall and four girls.
They hoped and hoped, and when I came in August a couple years later, that naturally became my middle name. It’s not a girl’s name, it’s a “feeling” name. I guess I’m okay with that.
Okay, okayyyyyyy!!! Melody says I need to tell you my story – the one about dogs.
Have you ever had a dog? A big, big dog? A big, big, black dog? How about TWO big, big black dogs? Well, we do. You HAVE to have them here in Malawi if you live in a big house like us. (There are NINE of us, remember!)
Our dogs are part Great Dane and part Rhodesian Ridgeback so they are big and have short black hair. Some people here are afraid of black dogs, so they make very good guard dogs. But ours are gentle with kids like me and my sisters and brothers.
We have a 2-year old brother, and sometimes they knock him over. But he’s fat and just plops down and laughs. Then he grabs hold of one of their collars and pulls himself up again. They don’t mind.
Our dogs’ names are Gideon and Goliath. Goliath is bigger.
Well, one night very late, I heard Gideon and Goliath barking really loud, like they were very angry. It was on the side of our house where me and my baby brother’s bedroom is. I heard some quick sharp talk and then the dogs got quiet for a few minutes.
I peeked out the window through the mosquito net and saw Goliath eating something on the grass. Gideon looked like he wanted some too, but he was not so big and couldn’t take it away from Goliath.
That was a good thing, as I will tell you later.
Finally Goliath picked up whatever he was eating and went around the side of the house with Gideon following him. Then I saw a head peeking over the top of our wall. It is very high, so he must have had a ladder on the other side. He was watching our two dogs go.
“Gus-ie. Watz wong?” said my little brother from his bed. He was awake too.
“Shhhhhh, Deek!” I said in a loud whisper. (His real name is Deacon, but that’s another story.)
Our windows were open because it was very hot and I didn’t want the man to hear him. Oh, no!! Now there were TWO men!! One was hacking at the wire on the top of the wall with a machete (that is a huge knife used to cut tall elephant grass). The other one was starting to climb over where the wire was gone!
Kids, sometimes in Africa, very poor people don’t have enough food for their families. The men can’t get work because they don’t know how to do much. And the women, who take care of their kids and work in the garden and sell their peanuts and squash and tomatoes and cassava, don’t earn very much. And they have a LOT of kids to feed – sometimes more than we do.
So the men think that if they can just steal something from one of the “big houses” they can sell it and get some money for food…. and other things. THAT’S what was happening now to us!!!
I was just about to run and tell Dad – who sleeps on the other side of the house, when Gideon came running around the side of the house, barking his head off and growling like a mean wolf or something. He jumped up against the wall, higher and higher and caught one of the men’s pants’ legs. The man let out a little yelp and pulled back.
He bumped the first man who dropped the machete into our flower bed.
“Yay! Gideon!” I whisper-yelled. “Good boy!”
“Ayyy Giddy!” said Deek.
But then, Gideon did a weird thing. He stopped barking and ran back around the house.
What was he doing?
The men looked at each other, then down at the machete. I guess they thought if one of them could jump down and get it before…..
But then Goliath came running around the other side of the house. But wait…. it wasn’t Goliath. It was Gideon again. Where was our biggest dog? Was he still eating? Bad dog! Bad Goliath!
Gideon grabbed the shoe of the man who was starting to climb down and jerked it real hard. He twisted his head back and forth and the man started yelling real loud now.
The lights went on in our gardener’s house in the back, and pretty soon he came running and shouting. A few minutes after that Dad came out too with a….. a mosquito zapper???
That was enough for the two intruders. They thought two big dogs, a guard with a gun (Our gardener really had only a shovel) and another man with a…. what WAS that??…. was too much to handle.
The one kicked off his shoe that Gideon had in his mouth and then both scrambled back over the wall and ran off into the darkness.
By that time, Mom had turned on the outside lights and Marshall (our oldest brother) had come outside too. But the emergency was over.
Or WAS it?
“Where’s Goliath?” asked Marshall. He was petting Gideon and looking around. Usually our two dogs are together all the time.
They started looking around and calling. They went around the side of the house and I couldn’t see them anymore. I ducked under the mosquito netting and ran down the hall. In the screened in porch I could see them all in the driveway, crouching down beside a big black pile of something.
“Poisoned meat,” I heard our gardener say. “Robbers do that. They throw poisoned meat over the fence to keep any dogs from attacking.”
Oh, no! Was Goliath dead?
“Li-ath sick?” asked Deek who had followed me to the porch.
I could feel tears stinging my eyes, as the men all stood up. (Marshall is fifteen and almost a man.) Gideon started pushing against Goliath’s chest with his nose and gently pawed his shoulder.
“What’s happened?” said Mom behind us. “Ohhh, noooo!”
Dad turned then and said. “He’s not dead, Audrey, but he’s very sick. We’ll take him to the vet. Can you call and tell him we’re coming?
“Good thing the big one got the poison, Mr. Matthews,” said our Malawian gardener, Ngunda. (Nnnn-GOON-dah) “He can take it. If he let Gid-yan here have it, well, this one would be dead.”
While Dad and Ngunda took Goliath to the vet, we all prayed that God would make him better. We needed two guard dogs – wasn’t that obvious from what happened tonight? And where would be get another one?
Well, Kids, I know this is a long story so I will just tell you that the next afternoon we picked up Goliath. He was still pretty weak and wobbly, but he was our Hero Dog! He took the poison instead of Gideon, after trying to scare the intruders away at first. Dad said that was kind of like what Jesus did when He gave up HIS life to save people in the world.
And Gideon was a Hero Dog too. All by himself, he stopped the men from jumping down into our yard. They might have stolen something from our garage, or… or… or even broken into our house!
God was protecting us, first, when we got those two big dogs, and then that night when they were heroes. People in our church back home pray for us, Mom says. (They send money to help us too.) She says she and Dad are very thankful for all our “supporters.” She says they are “holding the rope.” (I’m not sure what THAT means. What rope?)
Anyway, that night, God heard all their prayers to keep us safe, even though our supporters didn’t know about the robbers right then!
When Mom wrote the newsletter to all our friends and family at the end of the month, she told them about Gideon and Goliath, and how good God is to us all the time. She thanked them for praying.
Oh, I almost forgot! We got another machete and the ladder that was against the wall that the robbers forgot. Ngunda fixed the wire on the wall – he’s good at fixing things. And Gideon and Goliath got an old shoe to play with!
Goliath is all better now. He thinks he is some special dog with all that extra good treatment and snacks he got. But he is ready again – with Gideon – to guard “his” family.
And that’s MY story. Maybe next time, my biggest sister, Julie Joy will tell her story about some “eyes” that she saw at the bottom of a deep, dark well.
See ya! Gus
Do you have any questions about the (pretend) Matthews family? How do you think Africa is different from where YOU live? Do you think you would like dogs like Goliath and Gideon? Do you know other missionaries that you can pray for?
PS: In this photo, do you see the tall wall and the wire on top? Which dog do you think is Gideon? Do you remember the Matthews’ gardener’s name?
“Come, my young friends and listen to me. And I will teach you to honor the Lord.” ~~~ Psalm 34:11 Good News Bible