Monday, June 08, 2009

Story in the Soot

This morning, Pedro and I took a couple of hours to ourselves and headed downtown on a mission of multiple purposes. First we visited the bank and deposited the monies for our electric bill into our house owner's account (he has it debited automatically each month.) Then we visited the post office and picked up a few pieces of mail, mostly birthday cards for Isabel (which she will be delighted to receive!) And finally, we stopped at the Cioccolata cafe for a brunch of sandwiches and yummy ice cream melted into coffee/hot chocolate (his was the former, mine was the latter.) We looked over the calendar, chatted about the kids, discussed goals for our personal spiritual growth and devotional times, and talked over the upcoming ministry events and changes we are facing. It was a much-needed break for just the two of us!

Along the way to the post office, we made another stop as well. It turned out to be quite a fascinating one. On one of the downtown streets there is a dusty little store full of a drab assortment of American gadgets - mostly used sports equipment and kitchen wares - and I like to joke that whatever you put out for that garage sale ten years ago has probably found its way down to this store by now! I seriously don't know who would buy half the stuff in this place; in fact, I visited it once before but walked right out within a minute or two. It is aptly named "Cachureos Americanos" (American Odds-and-Ends) and according to the lady at the store, they buy the items by the pound off the container ships that come into Iquique's harbor.

What I missed on my last visit but discovered on this one was a delightful pile of old English books tucked away in a back corner. I found early editions of Gothic suspense novels by authors such as Phyllis Whitney and Victoria Holt, as well as books of various and sundry religious persuasions. As I perused the books, an aged leatherbound Bible caught my eye. The name written in cursive on the inside cover was E.T. Gackenheimer. I deduced from the writings on the front and back covers and throughout the Bible that perhaps it had belonged to a pastor, since there were texts for weddings and texts for funerals and even a short story about Spurgeon's preacher boys, if I remember correctly.

Although I didn't purchase the Bible, I wrote down the name to look up when I reached home. Finding such a personal piece of someone's history intrigued and strangely saddened me. It didn't seem right for this special Book to be lost amidst the dusty novels and outdated Reader's Digest anthologies. Imagine my surprise when I returned home to do a Google search and found a whole internet page dedicated to the story of Reverend E.T. Gackenheimer and his life and ministry. I've not read it all yet but apparently he was an Adventist preacher who served for 40 years in places around the world, including Africa and the Caribbean. I was delighted to know the Bible had belonged to someone interesting and special. Who knew that we would find such a "story in the soot" of a little shop in downtown Iquique, Chile?

I was even able to find an e-mail address for Rev. Gackenheimer's granddaughter. I wrote to share the story with her and look forward to her response. It is a small and curious world, indeed!

1 comment:

Terri Fisher said...

Amazing! Maybe she will want the Bible! Wouldn't that be a cool ending to the story!