Missions Trips Chapter 24: Getting the Dirt Out

To read this story from the beginning, click here.

Tuesday, Day 11 (Part 2)

We continued our sight-seeing, sometimes driving, and sometimes stopping to get a better look. Kawal took us to the hospital he prefers to visit when the need arises. First we enjoyed the beautiful pavilion and waterfront, then we went inside to meet two of the nurses. He also stopped by the clinic where the doctor checked and redressed the wound on his toe.

At lunchtime, we stopped at a roadside vendor for doubles. I’m not sure why they are called “doubles,” but I saw them for sale pretty much everywhere we went. We were given two pieces of roti, about the size of a tortilla. On top of the roti the lady placed a mound of cooked chick peas in a light sauce. Then she had other things she could add to it. Kawal told her only to put one other item on the doubles, as he does not like all the “extras.” I have no idea what the other thing was, but it tasted amazing! We stood there and ate at the vendor’s booth, washing our doubles down with carbonated beverages. Pat got a banana drink, and mine was mango. I don’t remember what Kawal had to drink.

With our bellies full, we returned to Trincity Mall because Pat wanted to buy a souvenir ball cap for himself. We had budgeted a certain amount for buying souvenirs, and most of that was spent, but we looked around a bit further, just out of curiosity. The necklace I had wanted to buy Anne was gone, so I’m glad I didn’t hold out for a chance to return here, though I do wish I had bought it when I saw it.

I took a picture of a plaque that explains the significance of the steel drum so I could tell the Sieglers about it later. Evidently, the steel drum was invented right there in Trinidad, the only musical instrument created in the 20th Century, and it is also the official instrument of Trinidad & Tobago. I found a plate to give Mom that was decorated with a turtle and the word “Trinidad.” We would be returning on her birthday, after all, so it was only fair to spoil her with two gifts. Besides, I wanted something I could not pick up in the Miami airport. ☺

At some point in the day, we stopped to meet a pastor friend of Kawal’s, who also happens to be a used car salesman. His wife arrived while we were there, and they graciously agreed to stand for a photo.

Several times during our stay, our travels had taken us past the open-air crematorium. Kawal had told us about the practice and significance of cremation, and today we stopped for a closer look while some cremations were in progress.

The first thing I noticed was that the bereaved all wore solid white, more as though they were celebrating the life of their loved one rather than mourning the death. The large white structure we could see from the road seems to be a pavilion. I’m not sure what its purpose is, as when we arrived, the bereaved were seated around tables and on benches in the vicinity of the four pyres. Fires still burned on at least three of them. Kawal explained that a sort of tunnel is fashioned of sticks, and the thin wood casket is placed inside it. The fire is started on the top of the casket and burns all the way down into it, consuming the box and its contents. A set of cement steps led away from the pyres to an area I could not see from where we stood. Kawal said the steps lead to the water (whether a river or the gulf, I do not know). Tomorrow the ashes from today’s cremations will be scattered into the water. The Hindus believe that then the water will wash away the sins of the departed.

Apart from the religious significance of cremation, the practice is clearly quite practical on the island, as there is precious little room for burial of remains here. I mentioned earlier that I have noticed only two cemeteries in all our travels, though I’m sure there are others. While some graves are obviously marked by headstones, Kawal told us that the location of burial is not officially recorded. The bodies and their caskets decay rather quickly, and in three years’ time someone else may be buried in the same location. When his brother passed away, and he went to the cemetery to bury him, the director said, “Pick a spot that looks level, and we’ll put him there.”

We eventually made our way back to the church, where we quickly discovered a horrible mess in the sanctuary. While Kawal is careful to lock the back rooms of the church, where we live, he never locks the sanctuary. People are always welcome to come in. People, yes—but not dogs. I remembered that I had left the door open because we were not quite ready to leave yet. But obviously none of us remembered to close the door, and Rusty got inside and wreaked havoc. He is only three months old, and he did what puppies do. He pulled Kawal’s Bible down off the chair and scattered both it and the contents of his Bible case (which had been left open). There was a box of assorted items sitting in the back of the sanctuary. That box had been upset and emptied all over the floor. I also discovered a pool of yellow water near a floor-model fan in the back. We all worked to clean up the mess, and Pat got out the mop to wipe the floors when the debris was removed.

When that bit of excitement was over, Pat and I packed our things while Kawal rested. We ate dinner, then regrouped in the sanctuary again for the midweek service. I was not prepared to sing again, as there had been no special music the Tuesday before. But Andy looked my way and indicated that he wanted me to sing. So I picked up the hymnal sitting next to me, and it fell open to “I Know Who Holds Tomorrow.” Perfect! I thanked the Lord for leading me to that song, and got up and sang it when I was told to do so.

Andy followed up with a message from Judges 3:12-23. To summarize, the nation of Israel has been conquered by Eglon, king of Moab, a very fat man. (This is important.) But they cried to the Lord in repentance, and He raised up a man to deliver them. This man was Ehud, and he was left-handed. (This is also important.) Ehud fashioned a two-edged dagger a span in length (from elbow to fingertip) and attached it to his right thigh, out of sight under his cloak. Then he went to visit the king and bring him a gift. Ehud presented the gift to Eglon, then told him, “I also have a secret message to you from the Lord.” So Eglon sent all his servants out and shut the door behind them.

“What is the message?” Eglon asked eagerly.

Then Ehud came very close, and whispered in Eglon’s ear, “This.” And with that, he pulled the dagger out of hiding and sent it deep into Eglon’s fat belly. The folds of fat covered up the entire dagger—blade, hilt, and handle—and then his guts came out. The Bible literally says, “The dirt came out.” (This is extremely important.)

We read the passage right off, and curiosity was piqued. Why choose this passage for a Tuesday night Bible study? What can we learn from this bizarre scene? As we sat down after the reading of God’s Word, Andy said, “The title of my message tonight is: ‘When the Dagger Went In, the Dirt Came Out.’”

To emphasize the details of the story, Andy had brought along a dagger of his own making. It was not quite a span’s length, but it was about twelve inches long. It looked to be made of cardboard and covered in aluminum foil, but it had a blade, hilt, and handle, to represent the one Ehud used. Then he called upon his pastor, who was visiting from his church on the other side of town, and had him sit in a chair facing the rest of us. The pastor was the second largest man in the congregation, Pat being the largest, but Pat was wearing a polo shirt, and that would not work for the illustration, Andy explained. 🙂

With “Eglon” seated in his summer palace, Andy (a.k.a. Ehud) walked us through the scene again in a role-play. When he got to the stabbing part, “Eglon” stood and “Ehud” stuck the fake dagger into his shirt, between the buttons, making the entire thing disappear, even the handle.

“And then the dirt came out,” he said abruptly, as he dropped a handful of “dirt” onto the floor. He thanked his pastor for his cooperation, then moved on with the point of his message.

Ehud’s dagger had a two-edged blade. The Bible is compared to a two-edged sword.

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.

Hebrews 4:12-13

The blade is used for cutting; the handle is used for control. The dirt did not come out until the whole dagger went in. Likewise, we need to apply the whole Word of God. When we do, it will control us.

Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to Thy Word. Thy Word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against Thee.

Psalm 119:9-11

When you let the Sword—the Word of God—pierce your heart, the dirt will come out of your life.

The Word isn’t pointed, but it will point out the dirt that needs to come out.
• It points out the devil.
• It points out the Savior.
• It points out the solution to every problem—Jesus Christ.
• It points out the right, dividing it from wrong.

I went away from that message under conviction. The two-edged Sword in God’s hand was poised and ready to pierce my heart and let the dirt come out.

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