October 8, 2010
Today was the scariest day of my life. We had been on the river for 3 days doing medical clinics at different villages along the river. Everything had been going well- we’d been roughin’ it and getting a taste of what living in the jungle is like, and getting to help people. I had been enjoying my time very much. The doctor had promised us 3 days of work and then one free day. Our plan on day 4 was to get up, eat, pack up and leave. Well, things got started late as usual and then the motorcar didn’t come to take our stuff down to the boat so we had to carry all our huge trunks and our personal bags down to the boat. That was hard work in itself! We finally had everything loaded and left at about 12.Our group was spilt into 2 boats. Steph, Hanna, Laura, Doc, Shirley and I were in one boat and everyone else was in the other. As we headed down the river we were just chatting about how excited we were to be going home to a shower and a clean comfy bed and to see the guys that we’d missed all week and meet the new SM. There was just so much to look forward to! About an hour down the river I had to go to the bathroom really bad. About that time the doctor wanted to know if any of us wanted to swim. We all said no to the swim, but I asked if we could stop so I could go to the bathroom. The doctor laughed at me of course, but had our driver pull over and I did my thing and we were back on the way. About 3 hours into the trip we passed one of the villages that we done a campaign at the second day we were there. At this point the river opened up some so we headed toward the middle of the river. I was sitting on the bow of the boat facing backwards and all of a sudden we feel a thump on our boat. I look up to see 4 armed men with masks and painted faces. One man is pointing a gun directly at me. My heart stopped. A sense of incredible fear flooded over me. It felt like I was in a movie or a dream. Not knowing what to do I jumped down and sat on the floor by Steph and Hanna’s feet. They start yelling at us and are pointing their shotguns at us (The guns were huge and double barreled- and I think they were automatic. Whatever they were they were terrifying). They yelled at us to keep our eyes down and to give them our valuables. They just started taking things- digging through our luggage looking for valuables. They didn’t even bother looking thru some bags, like mine, they just took the whole thing. The man who appeared to be the leader was standing right in front of me and he came down and started digging through our pockets- he even took the 20 centimos that was in my pocket. This entire time I am just praying with all my heart that God will keep us safe. I’m thinking about my family and Mitchell and praying, praying, praying. At one point as I was praying I felt my heart slow way down and I felt this calm sense like God was telling me it was going to be ok- it was about a 2 second feeling and it was amazing. I was bracing myself to either get shot or kidnapped. I was SOOOOO incredibly scared. They asked if we had another boat and what we were doing. The doctor told them that we had just been doing medical clinics and he was a doctor. Then he told them that we did have another boat but it just had meds in it. They asked if there were soldiers in it and the doctor told him no, but there were angels guarding it. The men just laughed and continued to search us for valuables. At this point, I’m just praying and trying not to make a sound as I’m sobbing in fear. I told God that I was here to serve Him, and if it meant dying for Him that I was ready but I really, really didn’t want it to be that way. But I said my life is yours- do with it what you want. This whole time felt like an eternity but I would assume it took all of 10 minutes. They jumped off our boat and took off in theirs very quickly. We were all in complete shock of what had just happened. We looked back and all of our things were gone except for the 2 bags and a few things that they had dumped out of a few peoples’ bags that they didn’t want. Unfortunately, I think my bag must a have been at the end when they were running out of time so they just took everything. All my stuff is gone. My bible, my camera, my journal, my money, my DL, my debit card, all my clothes….everything. The only thing I had left was my Nalgene and the clothes on my back. Hanna, Steph, and I just huddled together for a long time after that as we drove. I felt numb and I just couldn’t believe what had just happened. The rest of the time as we were on the river I felt so nervous like they were going to come after us again. They had driven close to the other boat and then drove away without harming them- I think they saw the angels that were around that boat. Some people may say differently, but I believe the angels scared them off. As we continued on we talked and cried and just tried to encourage each other and stay strong. When we were almost back to the Peru Projects base our boat ran out of gas. They had stolen our extra gas too, and we had already borrowed some from the other boat. We decided to pray. We said Lord, you have brought us this far, you’ve protected us and worked miracles please somehow give us enough gas to get back. While we were praying the driver had tried to start the boat and it wouldn’t work. Right after we said Amen he tried it again and this time is worked. ONLY God could work a miracle like that. When we got back to shore I immediately felt a huge sense of relief- land had never looked so wonderful. One of the couples that work at Peru Projects was there to greet us and brought us water. We unloaded our stuff and waited for Alfonso to bring us the spare key to the truck because that had been stolen too. We shared the story with the rest of the group and shared hugs all around. When everything was finally loaded; all of us who had been in the boat headed to the police station. We were there for a while as the doctor wrote out the incident. They asked us a few questions and then we left. I think we’ll have to go back tomorrow or Monday but who really knows, everything is so crazy right now.
When we got back the guys told us that Jenni had called and our parents had been calling. Word travelled fast at home and all our parents knew what had happened by the time we got back to the base. I’d never been so happy to hear my parents and sister’s voices than I was tonight. I was so scared that I wasn’t going to hear them again… God is so good. He saved all of us. I don’t even care about my stuff- I have my life. And I owe it all to God. My favorite Psalm is Psalms 91- I read it again and it has a whole new meaning to me now, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.’ Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings will you find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand will fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes the punishment of the wicked. If you make the Most High your dwelling- even the Lord, who is my refuge- then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways…” That’s not even the whole chapter but I just cried when I read it. I know God saved my life today. And another God thing- when I talked to my mom she said she felt a very strong burden on her heart to pray for me around 3 in the afternoon. She said she felt worried about me and all she could do was pray. We were robbed at exactly 3 o’clock in the afternoon. If that doesn’t show you how big God is and how much love he has for all of us then I don’t know what does. My faith has certainly been tested and strengthened these past 2 weeks. With the fires and all these jungle experiences- I’d be glad for life to be boring for a while… :)
Thank you so much to everyone for all your prayers. They made it to Peru today. And every day no doubt, but they were certainly felt in a huge way today. I can’t tell you how much the support means to me. God is in control, and that is the most comforting feeling. And even though I have nothing, I have my life, and my God. My faith was strengthened today, I’ll never forget this.