The Heavenly Howler...
Howler monkeys of Central America are not particularly attractive creatures ~ certainly not how anyone would imagine an angel to be.
And they are among the noisiest, most annoying creatures in the wilds, capable of seemingly meaningless, earsplitting howling and chattering. But to a french aviator and his wife whose small plane crashed in the dense Panamanian jungle in 1935, the howler monkey they encountered wasn't the least bit offensive of annoying.
In fact, they owe their lives to the mysterious monkey who guided them through a nerve~racking ordeal after they were totally lost in the most dangerous of jungles.
A MONKEY FROM HEAVEN?
Missionaries Jacques and Jacqueline Deviers were convinced their jungle protector was a guardian angle sent from heaven to lead them to food, water and salvation.
The full story of their amazing rescue was told in the Winter 1937 issue of Missionaries and Miracles: A Journal for Christians Today, and it has been reprinted many times since.
The Deviers were flying Bibles, school books and medical supplies to a remote missionary camp when the engine of their airplane sputtered and stopped, started again, then permanently shut down.
Jacques, who was piloting the plane, looked desperately for a clearing among the thick canopy of green beneath them. But there were no meadow and no rivers just an unbroken sea of tall trees.
Marie reached for her husband's hand as they both said a quick prayer, asking God to spare their lives so they could return to the 18 month old daughter they had left at home.
A TILT ON TREE CANOPY
Then Jacques set the plane down as gently as he could gliding to a stop on top of the canopy of trees.
The impact of the crash knocked them out. They were unconscious as the cabin of the airplane slammed through the trees.
What seemed like a death plunge was halted a few feet from the forest floor. the cabin came to rest on top of a second growth of thick underbrush that cushioned the impact.
Jacques was roused into consciousness by the gentle pressure of a tiny hand patting and stroking his face.
As he groaned, wiped at his bloody face, and opened his eyes, he may have seen a flash of fur, but he wasn't sure. He was more concerned with the agonizing pain that throbbed all over his body , his injuries, and concern for his wife.
The Deviers were in their 20's and in good shape, which probably saved them from more serious injury. However,both were convinced that the sure hand of God, responding to their last minute prayers, had shielded them from certain death.
And as a bonus, they were soon to believe that God had also sent an unlikely guardian angel to watch over them.
Jacqueline regained consciousness a few minutes after her husband. Like him, she was a mass of cut and bruises. A broken right wrist was her most serious injury. So the two were quite blessed and lucky.
Left with no food or water and no idea where they were, the young missionaries were totally depressed and disoriented.
They salvaged a couple of flares, a few bandages, iodine, salt tablets and a few other helpful items from a medical kit in their wrecked plane
The plane's compass was shattered beyond repair, so their only means of determining directions in this thick forest was by the heavens.
But the sky, however, was almost totally obscured by the thick canvas of foliage of trees overhead. So it was hard to even use the sun as direction. There was sometimes an exceptions for brief sunlit spots here and there during the day, the forest floor was shrouded in a permanent twilight.
All they knew was that they were somewhere near the Colombian border. But with no landmarks such as rivers or mountain near by from which they could take bearings, it was impossible even to guess at their exact whereabouts.
The jungle around them was oppressively hot, teeming with dangerous wildlife ranging from deadly scorpions to crocodiles and jaguars.
Despite all those dangers, plus the lack of food and water, they decided they might be able to survive if they were lucky enough to run across an Indian native and enlist the help of local tribesmen.
But where to go? They were debating which direction to set off in when they first heard the howling. Hidden from sight high in the trees, a howler monkey was creating a terrible din. As the couple listened, the monkey moved off, still hidden in the foliage, but it continued howling. A few minutes later it returned, stopping almost directly overhead the lost couple. The monkey was difficult to spot through the dense foliage, but they could certainly hear it. Again it let out a few ungodly screeches, then it took off in the same direction it had gone before.
"It was so strange," Jacqueline Devier later recounted to the magazine writer.
"Somehow we knew the way we were going to survive was to follow a monkey that we couldn't even see.
"My husband and I didn't need to speak the words to each other. We both knew that this strange jungle animal was sent by God to rescue us from our desperate straits. It was His answer to our prayers."
The Deviers grew increasingly hungry and thirsty as they followed their unseen guardian angel through the jungle.
Their clothing and bodies were soaked in sweat from the sticky prickly heat that clung to them like a moist blanket.
Screeching and howling, as if barking out directions, the monkey eventually led the hungry couple to a tree, which was surrounded with rotting fruit.
They ate the overripe fruit anyway. They stuffed their clothing with more palatable fruit that their unseen protector showered down around them from the branches before continuing on their way.
Later that day, the howler monkey angel led them to a rocky area where small pools of fresh water had collected.
There they quenched a raging thirst. The couple spent the night settled uncomfortably high in the crotch of a tall tree, safe from jungle predator roving in the darkness far beneath them.
Early the next morning, the Deviers were awakened by the shrieks of their noisy friend. Again they set off through the jungle.
NO DANGEROUS ENCOUNTERS
Halfway through their second day of travel, it dawned on them that they hadn't seen as much as a snake of any other obviously dangerous animal during what should have been a more perilous trek.
"It was as if Howler, the name we gave our angle , was clearing the way of all danger in our path,"Jacqueline said,
"After we realized he was the Lord's messenger, we were never afraid. We know our prayers were being answered and we would see our little girl again."
Late that afternoon, the Deviers were found by two Indians armed with bows and arrows.
Ironically, they were hunting for monkey meat, and had been attracted by the howls of the couple's personal guardian angel.
Incredibly , the earsplitting screeches, which had become familiar and comforting to the Deviers, stopped the moment the Indians firs loomed out of the forest gloom.
Later, after the two were transported from the riverside Indian settlement in canoes for treatment at an American Army hospital in Balboa, they meditated on their miraculous rescue.
Friends found it hard to believe the important role played by their personal protective howler monkey in saving their lives.
BELIEF NEVER WAVERED
But the Deviers never wavered over the years in their belief that the screeching simian was a gift from God.
"We never hard from Howler again," Jacqueline said, " But we know he is our angel, assigned to us in heaven, and he is still watching over us.
"He will be there for us when we need him maybe not as a monkey, but in whatever form is most appropriate."The Howler Monkey.....