The Toilet Ring
After 10 years of avoiding relationship, not answering my letters or having correspondence with me, Dad broke the ice by visiting me in India. I was thrilled! He was annoyed by my letters which detailed stories of how God had provided and saved us through this and that. He truly thought I was nuts. He is a psychiatrist, who generally should know who’s nuts —but he got me wrong (I think).
When he arrived, we wanted to show him around the “neighbourhood,” which meant traveling about 35 km in both directions of the road to meet our friends. We showed him the village and the city of Dehradun, rather than daily bore him with our unfinished brick house where we lived with about 40 boys. Plastering needed to be done and some of the floors weren’t finished, including the hallway Dad had to walk through to get to his guest room. By our standards, the guest room was very nice; not too large, but everything one needed was there, including the luxury of a private bathroom. (Of course, it lacked running water and electricity, which meant no fan in this very hot season.)
In order for Dad to reach his room, we had to buy him a pair of rubber flip-flops. Both ends of the hallway were dammed up and filled with water daily to make sure the cement set properly. It was August, the middle of monsoon, so water was everywhere, inside and outside; flip-flops were quite handy. It was considerably hot, and dear Dad was truly a trooper, as he doesn’t like the heat and sweats like crazy. I thought the visit was going in a positive manner, but something spectacular was about to happen that would change my relationship with Dad forever, as well as Ken’s —something just prescribed for a doubting Thomas.
One day, we took Dad and Bess to visit our doctor friends and see the Mission Hospital 35 km away. It was certainly a “primitive” hospital to my father, an American doctor, but when he saw their work and compassion with the villagers, his respect was won and he was in awe. He had deep respect for our friend who had studied to be a doctor the same place as he did. It was a good day, but dark by the time we piled into our crank-up little ’64 Willies jeep to head home.
In monsoon everything is green, and everything grows long and wild. Grass gets out-of-hand but stands out beautifully with all the rest of the greenery. With our large amount of land, 22 acres, there was no chance to keep up with the grass cutting. When we arrived home, Ken aimed the jeep lights towards the back door so he could see to unlock it and asked us to “Wait in the jeep.”
I watched Ken as he reached the door, but instantly, he bolted backwards. He yelled at us, “Stay in the jeep!” I knew immediately what was going on. He disappeared around the corner of the house and went in the other door and woke the boys. Soon, everyone was outside, stomping and thrashing here and there around the area brandishing long sticks, trying to find that snake. Alas, it was nowhere to be found.
Ken was about to call the snake hunt off, when one of the boys spotted a tail hanging from the drain hole in the guest room bathroom. Ken shouted for a couple boys to follow him. He grabbed a three-foot stick and a candle. The boy behind him held the candle while Ken entered first through the guest room and into the bathroom to find the snake. Not knowing how long the snake was (compared to his 3-foot stick) made it rather perilous. Ah ha! He spotted it, nicely wrapped a few times around the base of the toilet in a nice ring. Ken made a wild but successful jab. He pinned it to the floor while one of the boys killed it.
Dad could not believe it! He imagined himself going in to have a sit on the toilet to relieve himself in innocence, oblivious to the sinister presence ready to terminate him. What if the snake had not been found? What a shock that would have been! Now it dawned upon him what we were talking about when we talked about miracles and how God saved us time and time again. In Dad’s mind, Ken had always been the pot smoking, long-haired hippy. Now he had a chance to see Ken in action and learned to respect him for the amazing person he is. From that time, after many deep talks, Dad realized just how smart Ken was, and how hard we were working to do what we felt God was calling us to. It was the toilet ring that changed everything. My goodness, the toilet ring changed our relationship and brought us back into love. What a weird way to see that happen. The saying is true. God works in mysterious ways.