William Carey  (1761-1834)

     Carey loved plants and the soothing effect they had on him. He found the time to cultivate and care for them in spite of crushing responsibilities. His requests from other botanists were shameless in their scope. While on his indigo plantation at Mudnabati he wrote Dr. Roxburgh in Calcutta for the scientific names of 117 different plants. "I have a thousand questions," he bubbled. He begged for specimens. "My desires are unbounded!" When his son Jabez left for the Spice Islands in the East Indies Carey gave him specific instructions on how to pack and ship back to India tubers, bulbs, seeds, nuts, shells, rooted plants, parasitical plants and "every possible vegetable production". But why stop there? He loved all nature. "Send me…live birds…small quadrupeds, monkeys, etc. Beetles, lizards, frogs, serpents…" he urged Jabez. Once in Serampore Carey emptied a bag of botanical specimens from England, then cautiously 'shook the bag over a patch of earth in a shady place.' "…a few days after," he wrote, "I found springing up to my inexpressible delight…
this English daisy…not having seen one for upwards of thirty years, and never expecting to see one again."
     In his later years at Serampore his 'garden' covered five acres. He had aviaries so large that trees grew in them. Four enormous tanks nourished aquatic plants. His garden grew the second largest botanical collection in India: thousands of different plants, from the wispiest grasses to mahogany trees! He was one of the world's authorities on the Amaryllidaceae family. When he heard his colleague and dear friend Joshua Marshman had chided him for not wearing a wide-brimmed hat while he worked in his garden Carey retorted in mock anger, "What does Marshman know about a garden? He only appreciates it, as an ox does grass!"

William Carey: Father of Modern Missions by S. Pearce Carey, 1923]

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Amy Carmichael  (1867-1951)

     Friends often called Amy 'Wild Irish' to explain her 'zesty' sense of humor. One incident during a 'retreat' in the forest - when she was nearly 50 years old - illustrated it. This forest really was primeval. Amy's own description read:
          Elephants haunted those uplands, and bears and tigers, sambur,
          wild pigs, deer, the ever-fascinating monkey, the huge monitor
          lizard like a toy crocodile, and countless furred and feathered
          marvels. Life was all gladness there. Once the children, entranced,
          saw a tigress at play with her cubs… Later, we were to meet panthers,
           wild dogs, bears and other forest people - not every day, but often
          enough to lend zest to life…
     And what to Amy was zest? She gleefully related the following:
          One evening we gave the Family a shivering half hour. Four of us
          were returning from a walk up the forest, when we saw the others
          coming back from the river, and we hid behind a tree and growled.
          There was a wild rush up to the house, and then, to our immense
          gratification, we saw the whole household turn out with sticks…
          horribly alarmed but valiant….
     Amy and her three co-conspirators then sauntered out from the tree. "Whatever is the matter?" Amy asked innocently.
     "Bears! Bears!" screamed the hysterical victims.
      Amy's youngest co-conspirator doubled up giggling. The 'zestful' trick was over.

Gold Cord  by Amy Carmichael, 1932, and Amy Carmichael of Dohnavur by Frank Houghton, 1953]

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George asked, "Why did you make the universe, Lord?"

George Washington Carver  (1864-1943)

     Carver was a very gifted speaker. His most popular story was the following:
          I asked God, "Why did you make the universe, Lord?"
         "Ask for something more in proportion to that little mind of yours,"
     replied God.
         "Why did you make the earth, Lord?" I asked.
         "Your little mind still wants to know far too much. Ask for something
     more in proportion to that little mind of yours," replied God.
         "Why did you make man, Lord?" I asked.
         "Far too much. Far too much. Ask again," replied God.
         "Explain to me why you made plants, Lord," I asked.
         "Your little mind still wants to know far too much."
         "The peanut?" I asked meekly.
         "Yes! For your modest proportions I will grant you the mystery of the
     peanut.  Take it inside your laboratory and separate it into water, fats,
     oils, gums, resins, sugars, starches and amino acids.  Then recombine
     these under my three laws of compatibility, temperature and pressure. 
     Then you will know why I made the peanut."
         And that was what George - highly skilled botanist and chemist - did.

[various versions in many sources, including
George Washington Carver by Rackham Holt, 1943, and George Washington Carver by Linda McMurry, 1981]

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In 1921 when George Washington Carver testified on uses of the peanut before the Ways and Means Committee of the House of Representatives the Committee Chairman grudgingly granted him 10 minutes. But not only was George a spell-binding speaker - mixing humor and fact with perfect timing - he had developed 300 uses of the peanut. Two hours later George finished his presentation to thunderous applause!




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