The Take-up Reel


On about the third medical team trip down to Honduras, I got this neat idea.  After our labors in the heat and humidity all day and from the pressures of the mass of people, everyone is just exhausted at the end of each day.  However, as I have related several times, we want to show the Jesus Film on the night where we have had the clinic that day.  But like I related, everyone is so tired at that point.  I send them back to rest-up for the next day.  When we are staying at the old United Fruit compound in Tela, they can refresh in the nice clear waters of the Caribbean and they can get rehydrated with the great limeades they serve there made from the local limes. 

Since Onelia and I have to stay at the clinic site without all those amenities, I thought it would be a great idea to have someone like an electrician go with us on the trip and be in charge of getting all of the electricity set up, and other preparations for showing the film.  Then it would be great for him to run the projector and change the reels and keep the speakers working and set up the string of lights for the people to come out of the dark and stand under who wanted to make a decision to have God in their life.  So, before we left I called the pastor of the church that was to sponsor that trip, and asked him to recruit an electrician from his church or from his community.  I volunteered to pay his way.

The pastor understood and recruited what he said was just the right man.  I called back three different times before we left to ask if the man was bringing extra extension cords, extra wire to splice if necessary, adaptors in case we needed to go from 220v to 110v for the projector.  And I particularly wanted to know if the man had practiced with the projector we were to take and knew everything about running it and changing the reels.

The pastor assured me that it all had been taken care of.  On the third call, the pastor said in exasperation:  “Ronald, just don’t worry about it.  He is ready!”

On this trip we had a whole day to get everything ready for the clinics.  Everyone prepared for their assigned tasks.  A local carpenter had made nice reclining chairs for the dentists which worked great.  However, that morning the pastor and the electrician fellow came to me with this dark look on their faces.  After all the fellow’s preparation and my exhortations, he had forgotten to bring a take-up reel for the projector.

You can’t show the film without a take-up reel.  The 16mm film has four reels.  You run each reel onto the take-up reel and then run it back onto its original reel.  If you have only one take-up reel, you run it back right there and have 3 intermissions during the showing for the people to go to the bathroom or discuss what they have just seen.

I said that:  “You must find one!  Make one of you have to!  I have paid your way down here just for this!   Do something!  David has invited all the black Garifina people in this area to his church to see the film tonight in Spanish!  We have to show it!”

That afternoon I asked them if they had one.  They said they had scoured the whole town without success.  I had told them to check with the two local theaters, but they said that the equipment at the theaters was all 32mm and would not fit.  They said that they could not find anything to make one with.  I had suggested that they check with the manager of our hotel facility, but they found him of no help.

That was the afternoon I had promised the group of doctors and nurses and dentists that I would take them off to the village where our clinic was to be the next two days.  It was also the evening that the truck stopped in the village and miraculously started again.  So, before I left with those medical folks standing up in the back of the truck, I told the electrician:  “You have got to do something!”

Several hours later, when I got back to Tela, I drove straight to the new Garifuna church after dropping off the medical folks.  Mirabile dictu,  they were just finishing the film.

Of course, I was anxious to know what had happened, and this is what the young man related to me after the film was finished:  He said that as it was getting late in the afternoon and time to leave for the church; he still had no take-up reel.  I said: “But you were going anyway!”  He said: “Yes, but I was praying like I had never prayed in my life.”   He said that just as he was reaching down to the handle of the car door to open it, the manager of the hotel called to him from up at the office and motioned for him to come over.   He went over and the manager said:  “Tell me once more what you are talking about.”  So, the young man explained.  He said that the manager then got a chair and pushed it over to the counter where you check into the hotel.  The manger then crawled up onto the counter and stood up.  He reached along the wall, way up to the ceiling.  The young man said that there was a space between the edge of the ceiling and the wall. 

The manger reached up into that space on top of the ceiling and pulled out and old take-up reel all covered in dust and cobwebs.  It must have been left by the United Fruit people years ago.  The manager had been reaching up there for some reason long ago and had felt of it there.

You can say that this was a very fortuitous coincidence.  But the young man and I considered it and all the timing involved, an overt, miraculous act of God.

Ron on the Beach at Tela the Day this Happened

P.S. This is a note to my many friends in China who are reading these stories:

我为中国有多少人在读我的故事感到惊讶。 它们是我即将出版的书的摘录。 因此,这是给我在中国的新朋友的一封信:如果您不介意,请给我发送一封电子邮件,写上您的名字,并向我介绍一下您自己。 我只会给您一些中国的特殊故事,这是世界上其他任何人都看不到的。 我的电子邮箱……


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