On the Subject of Cheese, Triage, and Blogging

A while ago, Seth’s best friend gifted him with a stack of old issues of Credenda Agenda, a magazine put out by Doug Wilson and friends (and family). What a nice gift. We’re still working our way through those, sharpening our brains and hearts with thoughtful words, some new to us, some old. One issue was entitled “Wood.” Every article was somehow related to wood: the article written by Doug’s wife Nancy on the family table (theirs was pine, by the way), the article on music had to do with wood, another theological article on the cross…it was kind of neat seeing how they tied all these different categories of thought into the subject of wood.

Then there was the issue entitled “On the Subject of Cheese.” Um, some of those articles were a stretch. I do get what they’re trying to do—all knowledge is related in some way, and Christ is Lord over everything, and all, but, cheese?

IMG_2359This last year has been anything but “easy cheesy” for us. Last year this time, I was staying up late nights to help a new single mother from a different culture deal with her colicky baby—in the newly remodeled homeschool room that I never envisioned being used immediately for that purpose. This was followed by a 10-day stint myself as a single mom, as Seth was gone; he came back with an international visit by a family member. We took another trip, preceded by a bad leg break for my two-year old. After that I had a miscarriage.

Caleb right after surgery

Caleb right after surgery

Then came the momentous attack on our home, followed by two different exhausting international trips (they were also nice!), a new troubled pregnancy, a rushed move to a new-to-us but not-as-nice house, a horrendous arm break for my 7-year old, ministry changes, many ministerial discouragements, a new-to-us car and puppies, and more.

For a while after the attack, I was unable to even think about blogging. When you’ve had a gun pointed at your head and at your child’s head, it seems sacrilegiously unimportant to spell out the contrasts between two spelling curricula. I couldn’t even bring myself to read books (my hobby). No books seemed important enough to engage my attention, yet none seemed unimportant enough to take my mind off of our dilemma.

On occasion that issue title “On the Subject of Cheese” came to mind, chewing on the edges of my comfort like the mice over here chewed on our bookshelf (yes, a bookshelf!) Finally I dished out a couple of my thoughts on the subject of “the subject of cheese” to Seth—went something like this:

Me: “You know—you really have to have peace to be able to write a whole issue on the subject of cheese.”

Seth: “Huh?”

Me: “You know—that issue by Doug Wilson, where the whole thing was about cheese? You can tell he’s not a missionary. You really have to have a lot of time, and PEACE, to be able to write like that. And nothing else more immediate to write about, either.”

I’m not trying to pick on Wilson. I’m trying to point out why I haven’t been writing lately, and why I still may be spotty for a while. I told my mom that I felt like I was living in a state of triage, assessing where urgent care was needed most. Even without the trauma of our last year, a missionary lives closer to the battlefield, closer to the smell of gun smoke, the cries of the wounded and dying, and the cares of immense spiritual struggles in others who don’t care for themselves.

The Christian Martyrs' Last Prayer by Jean-Leon Gerome

The Christian Martyrs’ Last Prayer by Jean-Leon Gerome

I guess the Baptists have always tended that way—running for their lives, manuscripts being burned along with their martyrs’ bodies, unable to have enough peace to write down their thoughts. Doesn’t mean they didn’t think them. Bunyan’s writings came from his jail cell.

Anyway, when you’re in that state of the urgent and necessary, it seems really unimportant to write, especially when you doubt that you ever had anything worthwhile to say at all. When there is so much to be done, and only so much of “mom” to give to your scared, needy children, and the only constancy in your life is upheaval, well, the last thing on your mind is how to relate a theology of family to cheese.

It takes time to write well. It takes peace to write thoughtfully about minute details under Christ’s sovereignty. I’m glad someone has both; I haven’t. When I do, and when I can, I will enjoy writing again.

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An Unexpected Return

Seth wrote this letter yesterday about the recent “goings-on.” Thank you for your prayers.

UNPLANNED “FURLOUGH”
Though unlooked for, we are nevertheless compelled to return again to the US as you may have already heard. A few weeks ago, I heard from an immigration lawyer who opened our eyes to a new law that just took effect in 2014. Owing to a legal technicality enmeshed with the dates of our December return to the US, we may now only reapply for new visas from our “country of origin.” Though I have contacted just under a dozen lawyers, this is the only way Providence has opened for us.

Regardless of these plans that we would not have chosen for ourselves, we rest confidently that God has good purposes for moving us this way. Hopefully, we will visit six of our nine supporting churches as well as see a number of families. Our flight arrives on 8 May and departs again on 29 June. Please send me an email if you’d like to get together during our two-month sojourn.

Those dates are blocked on either end by some major family news as well. Caleb’s broken arm will be freed from six pins and a cast next Monday, 20 April. He should be healing nicely by the time we get on the plane.

The other end of the trip is clamped in by the good news of Amy’s fifth time to unpack the maternity clothes. Since she is due in August, we have to come back by the end of June or face the dire consequences of paying American health care costs.

We fear that needy people can be exhausting, nevertheless, I must ask if anyone knows of a donkey cart with six seatbelts for rent or sale that we might use during May and June.

LEAVING OUR CHILD BEHIND
Owing to the expense of plane tickets we have decided to leave one of our children: Elim Baptist Church. One of the ways we anticipate God glorifying Himself is by using this trip like vitamins and a workout regimen for EBC. Already the members have divided up the ministries during those two months. God has given us a humble and competent man to serve as pastor-teacher during most of the weeks with another college student also helping one or two Sundays.

Recently, we have also seen two 26-year old men in our church take demonstrable steps of character. Both of these men are showing evidence that they are willing to follow Christ rather than culture in marriage and work. In the past, we have entered the first or even second levels of church discipline with both of these young men.

OTHER CHURCHES
On Easter Sunday three Tsonga churches met in Mbhokota at Trinity Baptist Church for a thrilling service. The highlights of the day included the public testimonies of three young people from EBC who were baptized as well as a unique confession from a member of Paul’s church. In 2013, this man fell away from the faith. Over the long intervening months and years, he had been hardened toward Paul, but in answer to the fasting and prayers of the church members God granted repentance. Two Sundays back, he surprised many of us by publicly humbling himself and submitting to the Lordship of Christ. May a deep longing be created within those poor churches in Africa or America who do not know the unusual pleasure of seeing church discipline work out like this.

You may recall that Justice Sebola, an LBI graduate, served at our church in December and January. He and his new wife have decided to plant a church in a rural village in Zimbabwe about 4 hours away. Helped by his brother, who also graduated from LBI, they have already gathered a small group of believers in a village much poorer than most of those in SA. Please pray that a Baptist church in Wunga would flourish.

About four hours from the Sebola’s village, the attached picture shows the Rock Baptist Church planted by Wastemore Sarireni. On Easter Sunday, a large gathering of people they have been evangelizing from different villages all met on the large rock that gave the church its name.

For the Church which He purchased,

Seth and Amy

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Little Miracles for the Meyers

Bun in Oven

It’s time for some good news from the Meyers family! Our little Meyers Miracle Number Five will be arriving mid-August.

I don’t use the word miracle lightly. I consider three of our five children to be miracle babies. Indeed, every child is a miracle of God’s creativity; but I felt that three of mine were special gifts that “shouldn’t have been” by natural standards.

After my firstborn, Caleb, I suffered two miscarriages. I wondered if I would be able to have any more children. I discovered I was expecting Colin during a time of intense personal and ministerial trials. Having been through two miscarriages already that year, as well as other trials, my emotions were fragile. So afraid that God would actually give me more than I believed I could handle, and that this baby would be taken as well, I went on bedrest and tried to cast my cares on the Lord. I thought of Colin as my gift of hope, a miracle baby, born as a reminder from the Lord that He is good, and that every good and perfect gift comes from Him alone.

Colin

Colin

I fully expected to lose my fourth child, Carson. He came unexpectedly close to my third child, and I prepared myself for another miscarriage. All the signs were there. I stopped nursing my small baby Callie, went on bedrest, and tried to save him; but I told myself my efforts were futile–that it would end the same way as before when I had weaned Caleb in order to try to save a pregnancy.

Carson

Carson

For five weeks the pregnancy threatened to terminate itself, until finally, fully into the second term, we began to believe that Carson might actually be okay! To me, Carson truly was a miracle baby. Even my friend, a midwife, thought I “should” have miscarried him. My memories after his birth have disappeared down a black hole. I have no memories of that time trying to raise four children ages five and under, but looking back I have nothing but praise for a wonderful Maker.

 

Four kids 5 and under! What a number of blessings!

Four kids 5 and under! What a number of blessings!

And now, number five.

2014 was a stressful year because of our neighbor’s continued thefts and hosting a long-term guest in our home. We wished for another child and were disappointed to miscarry after a time of bedrest in October.

When the attack happened on December 2, I was hit hard in the stomach by a rifle. The way my body reacted to the stress of the event and my injuries actually confirmed to me something I wasn’t yet sure of–I was pregnant again. Had I not miscarried in October, that child would have been about five months along and would have been in more danger from such a hit. But now this new pregnancy showed signs of danger right from the beginning. I prepared myself for another miscarriage.

But that was not God’s will! Again at eleven weeks along, while in America, I thought I was miscarrying. A crisis pregnancy center gave me a free ultrasound and confirmed that the baby was growing just as it should be. There was a heartbeat and obvious movement. The technician, my mom (who had never before gotten to see an ultrasound after four children of her own and sixteen grandbabies!), and I were excited.

Through all the stresses of this time in our lives–the attack, international travels, packing up and moving to a new house, Caleb’s broken arm and surgeries–this baby has survived and grown. Again I thought to myself, “If any baby should not have survived, it should have been this one!” I am so grateful that I did not miscarry again. We are looking forward to meeting our miracle baby in August…

If the Lord wills. This I have learned to say: If the Lord wills, we shall do this or that. Praise the Lord with me for the miracles He has given us!

bun2

Posted in Memories, Weekly Report | Tagged , , , , , | 15 Comments

A Bad Break for a Good Boy

After months of change, I had hoped that we could settle into a more usual routine in March, including blogging. Last Monday on March 2, we began our first day of homeschooling for the year. (We usually start our new school year in mid-January, like the rest of South Africa.) I planned for one week of homeschooling just the three Rs, and then adding in the content subjects (Bible, science, history, etc.) the following week. This would allow us to ease into our routine and give me one vital week in which to prepare our content materials for the year (and continue organizing our new house after the move).

A special breakfast for our first day of homeschooling.

A special breakfast for our first day of homeschooling.

One day! That’s all we got before disaster struck again. Not even enough time to hope for the settled feeling blessed routine can give. That Monday night, Caleb fell from a tree he was climbing and broke both bones in his lower left arm terribly. What a horrific sight! We could see at a glance that he would need major repair work; a cast wouldn’t suffice. We rushed to an emergency room, and then Seth drove him an hour and a half away to a bigger city with an orthopedic surgeon while I stayed home with the three littler kids and cried through the night instead of sleeping.

Caleb right after surgery

Caleb right after surgery

They operated almost 24 hours later (a distressing time delay to this mother). The operation took three hours, and the surgeon said the break in the wrist was the worst he’d seen in 35 years as a surgeon, that he “struggled” to set it. He used four wires to connect the bone at the wrist, two wires at the elbow, and a metal plate in the middle of the other bone. They were concerned about swelling and other issues, but the surgery was successful: Caleb came home the next day around dinner time. Oh, I was so glad to see him! He was disoriented and hurt, but he was home.

Caleb has broken nearly all of his appendages by now in his short lifetime. Enough already, Caleb! Third time’s the charm.

Our little robot! X-rays after surgery.

Our little robot! X-rays after surgery.

This Tuesday I went with Caleb to see the doctor again. Neither of us was prepared for what this visit would involve. Because of swelling, Caleb does not have a plaster cast yet. He needed his bandages changed to remove the dried bloody ones put on after surgery. The removal opened some of his wounds again, and I saw his arm, still swollen with ugly stitching up both sides. It was difficult and painful. It will scar, but not too noticeably, according to the doctor.

Next week we go back to the surgeon. He will remove the current “backslab” and bandages and put on a plaster cast if the swelling goes down more. Caleb will endure more surgeries in the future to remove the wires, and after about six months if the healing is going well, to remove the plate. Adults often just leave them in, but since he is growing, they need to come out apparently.

One big concern is the “growth plate” in the wrist, which was in the area of the very bad break. If it does not heal correctly, his arm could grow deformed. The surgeon will have to watch that area over time. Please pray that his arm will heal well and grow correctly in the next few years.

But may I share with you a bigger concern? Bigger to me than a deformity… Caleb’s life was threatened during the attack on December 2. When the gunmen temporarily left him, Seth encouraged him, “Pray to Jesus!” Caleb immediately began praying aloud, “Jesus, save them! Open their eyes! They are blind and cannot see!” What a wonderful response. He seemed to handle the trauma remarkably well.

Now our child who has always shown spiritual sensitivity is struggling with questions that I struggle with as an adult! Why is God allowing so many bad things to happen to us? To Caleb? How can this situation be “good,” by any definition?

Our teammate tried to encourage Caleb by purchasing him a pet, a singing canary, for Caleb to watch during his convalescence. He named the bird Matthew to remind Caleb of Matthew 10:29, the verse describing how God knows of each sparrow that falls to the ground. It was such a thoughtful gift, and the children loved the bird. Unfortunately Matthew was found dead in his cage this morning. :(

Caleb’s discouragement is real, and not to be judged as less simply because he is a child. Please pray for Caleb’s faith as Jesus prayed for Peter’s: that his faith would not fail. Pray that God would strengthen us all to continue our course with energy during a time when we are so tired that we’d like to never think of “fighting” or “running in a race” again. Again, I thank you for your prayers on our behalf!

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BMW Blog Hop

I’m participating in a “blog hop” of BMWs–Baptist Missionary Women, hosted by the blog for which I contribute my Missional Monday’s musings. We’re writing five fun or interesting facts about ourselves, and if you follow the links at the end of each post, you will get to hop around to several expat missionary women’s blogs. Many give interesting personal pictures of ministry, culture, and homeschooling around the world. Check them out, and you may find a thoughtful writer who challenges and blesses you.

Since most of my readers know me, I’ll try to think of five unique things:

  1. I’m the baby of four girls and always thought I would not make a good “boy mom.” (I now have three boys.)
  2. I wanted to be a missionary’s wife but always added the mental parenthetical disclaimer, “Just not in Africa!” (I wanted to go somewhere cold, not hot and buggy.)
  3. I bought my wedding dress at a thrift store for under $100 (three years before I was married!)
  4. When I had my fingerprints taken in order to renew my visa for South Africa, they said my prints were quite worn down and might be rejected by the FBI. Interesting. Why would my prints be worn down–all those years of playing the piano?
  5. I finally learned how to pump gas this last January 2015 at age 32.

It’s my privilege to introduce another contributor to the BMW blog, always a thought-provoking, humorous writer, Charity. I’m guessing she’ll come up with some really fun 5 facts about herself. Hop over to Road Schooling to check out life in Asia!

Posted in Missional Monday | Tagged | 9 Comments

Our Decision: For Now

Long time no write.

Thank you for your patience and kindness, which so many people have shown to us in the last few months.

Two supporting churches raised the funds to fly our family home to visit America from December 18 through February 11. We relearned how to sleep through the night, basked in the safety of family and Christian friends, participated in the fellowship of an influenza epidemic, and sought counsel for our decision–whether to return to Africa or find a new ministry elsewhere (probably in America). I hope to soon share some of the counsel we received, as well as Scriptural thoughts that have touched my heart during this time.

Well, we came back.

February 12th we arrived in Johannesburg, South Africa; on the 13th we drove the 5.5 hours to our home that we built in Elim village (in a 20-year old truck with an oil leak, loaded with luggage and two German shepherd puppies); and on the 14th, we began a move to another rental house in a nearby town. We hadn’t packed one thing for the move, nor was it private as one to five people watched us for most of the move. Two weeks later we are “settled” in a still disorganized fashion in a smaller, not-as-designed-for-us, less beautiful house–that God has graciously given to us for a wonderful price. We are thankful.

We are still not at peace, however. On our upcoming agenda:

  • start homeschooling on Monday (with very little prep!)
  • renew our visas (we are looking into “permanent residence,” which is gumming up the process a bit–really there is SO much more to say on this topic)
  • renew our ministry here and begin some new ministries
  • sell our house in Elim, if possible
  • (contingent on some of the prior points) purchase a new home
  • many other more minor details

In short, here were the options that we discussed for our future after the attack:

  1. Continue ministry in Elim, living in our house in Elim, with upgraded security.
  2. Continue ministry in Elim, living in a nearby town (under half an hour away from Elim) with upgraded security.
  3. Go back to America and join or begin a new ministry there.
  4. Switch fields within Africa, which would allow us to minister in a potentially safer place with a not-too-drastic change in the language group.
  5. Switch mission fields completely to another country, probably one where we could use English.

We did not seriously consider number 5, as it was too big to think about, and seemingly couldn’t be settled unless the other options were already canceled out.

We did lightly consider other fields within sub-Saharan Africa. We thought we could maybe go to a lesser reached area, and still use our knowledge of the Bantu language group (the family of Tsonga and Venda, the languages we’ve already invested in here in S. Africa). But when we would discuss a place, inevitably we would hear from other missionaries in that country or area who had been through armed robbery or something almost as scary. So I wasn’t interested in going to a less safe position at that (this!) point.

While we thought more seriously about going back to America permanently, my husband is gifted with the desires to evangelize the least reached. He is a missionary, and we still thought we could work out a way for him to continue in that calling without hurting our children or my personal sanity. Seth had to answer how to balance two Scriptural principles: to provide for one’s own household (1 Tim.) and to endure all things for the elect’s sake that they might be saved (2 Tim.) He wrote a thoughtful answer to that difficult question here.

At first, we were leaning towards staying in our house in Elim. Eventually we decided to move to a nearby town. Part of that decision is related to the interesting demographics of S. Africa. Part of that decision happened because of our particular demographics directly around our house in Elim.

First, the latter: our house. In 2014, threats to our security intensified greatly. Until that time, we were only troubled when we were away for furlough. However, our neighbor directly to our north not eight meters from our house has been growing up since the first time he stole from us eight years ago. This year he turned 18, and he broke in several times this year, including during the night while we were there sleeping (twice), and stole valuables and not-so-valuables (don’t ask why he took my rose-printed valance?) The police can’t (or more likely) won’t keep him locked up. He’s the reason we installed burglar bars on all windows, alarms on the doors, a lock on the gate, and…almost bought a dog. He is always watching.

In July a new neighbor moved in to our west, not ten meters away. He was in prison for thirteen years. For what, we ask? “Oh, I take things. Everything. Whatever I see.” Great. His sons, the age of our neighbor to the north when he first began training for a life of crime, stole our children’s bikes and other things. I wasn’t too concerned about him though, as he’s a harmless sort of crazy now…

Then our final immediate neighbor, ten meters to our south, moved her convict brother into her house to “watch it” while she was away in Joburg. We didn’t know it. He moved in two days before the attack, and apparently according to some news I will spare you for sake of length, was watching our house instead of hers. It seems that he called his gang to come attack us that fearful night. The lady later returned, and when we confronted her that either he needed to leave or we would, we were given no assurances that she preferred us to him, nor that the village would kick him out (which they have done with other undesirables). So…

Put that way, we were surrounded on all sides (okay, the east side is a graveyard!) by criminals who had a criminal record or had directly stolen from us. The next layer of neighbors after them included a person who was also damaging to my psyche after a personal attack made on us at the end of our first term here. So I felt that we were layered in enemies “devising wicked imaginations on their beds” towards us. Oh, and the police are no help. Many are corrupt.

But add to that the more general S. African demographics: no whites live in the village (to my knowledge, except for ourselves and our teammates). All whites live in European-like towns, where blacks may live as well (and there is no problem here using the terms “blacks” and “whites”); but no whites live in rural areas. When we live in the village as the only drop of milk in a sea of chocolate, it’s like we paint ourselves with a blinding neon light: “Money! We have money! Come get it!” In town, we would be one of many neon lights. :) And not the brightest. So even though we did not have the nicest house in the village, and even though we had more security than other nicer houses in the village, we were still the major target because of our skin color and nationality. “White man, give me…” were his first words. And then, “U.S. dollars!”

I am hoping that by moving into town we will be less noticeable as a target, and that we at the least may be removed from our immediate neighbors who make it their daytime and nighttime job to figure out how to get past our security and think of us as a never-ending well of resources from which to dip; whereas, our job does not allow for constant thought on who might be watching us and wherein our security is weak.

I hope that gives you a small picture of our decision. It was an incredibly difficult, emotional decision. It was difficult to move. We had made our house in Elim beautiful. Just this year, we remodeled our garage into a pretty new homeschool room (that I never got to use!) and had a well drilled for consistent water. Our garden is gorgeous, thanks to years of effort by Seth. As we carted our stuff out of the house in the seeming safety of a warm African summer’s day, we found ourselves asking, “Why are we moving?” But we think we are doing what God wants.

Please friends, do not cease to remember us in our prayers. And we thank God every time we remember you.

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Grace at Night

One week ago our family went through a harrowing, life-changing experience. This is how my husband described last Tuesday evening in a prayer update:

Last night at about 9:45 pm at our house, Caleb announced to Amy and I as we worked on a paint job in the children’s room that three men had just entered our back door. When I got to the door, I saw two guns brandished among the three criminals. Though we offered all our money and goods to them they beat me and hit Amy twice.

We are praising the Lord that after about 15 minutes wherein they tore the house apart, we were able to chase them away. They took some material possessions, but our lives and honor were spared because of the good hand of our God who placed a wall between our lives and their weapons.

Tomorrow, we are taking a leave for our family. Please pray that we would be comforted the way the apostle Paul was comforted when he was in pain (2 Cor. 1:5). We also need wisdom as we consider how best to honor God in light of our family (1 Tim. 5:8) and the gospel (2 Tim. 2:10).

Trusting God,

Seth and Amy

Seth dislikes sensationalism, so he didn’t include some details in that prayer update. Since then, we have received a flood of support–prayers and well-wishes–from friends and family. We’ve also gotten more questions, which I will try to answer about some of the details that rattled us that night. Seth and I made a list of ten factors that can make an incident traumatic. Eight of the ten happened to us:

1. In your home
2. In the presence of children
3. Prolonged
4. Death and rape threats
5. Guns
6. Theft
7. Beating
8. Shots fired
9. Rape
10. Murder

You may remember the other break-ins that have occurred here this year by our teenage neighbor. Because of those, we had burglar bars installed on all of our windows, alarms on our doors, and we locked everything, including our gate, nightly. This one night as usual, we had locked and alarmed everything. But we were painting the kids’ room, so we had moved the kids across the house to sleep in the school room for the night. Seth unlocked the side door and turned off the alarm an hour before the incident just to clean paintbrushes at the outside tap. We planned to lock up again when we were done (we were almost done when the thieves came!)

Armed robbery has never happened in our village. It happens lots in the cities, but we always told people that the village was safer. We thought it was. Everyone knows everyone, and break-ins usually occur when the owners aren’t home. We were completely unprepared for this. Our neighbors are completely shocked and horrified. That’s one reason this was so terrifying, is that we totally did not expect it.

Another reason we were so scared is that the kids were separated from us. When Caleb told us that men were in the house, they were in the room right next to where the kids were sleeping on the floor and would have to come right past the kids to access the rest of the house. I stayed frozen in the kids room with paint all over my gloved hands and listened. I assumed it was our teen neighbor again, with some friends. Seth ran yelling, “Get out! Get out!” I’ll never forget when his tone completely changed. He shouted, “Whoaaaa! I’ll give you anything you want, anything!” He begged on his knees. Then I knew they must be armed.

I heard repeated shouts for money and U.S. dollars, with death threats. The men ran past to our room where we kept some cash, and Seth yelled for me to get down. I hit the floor, hiding behind some furniture. Footsteps came in the room, but left, not seeing me. Then I heard them beating Seth with a hard object (a rifle) as he was getting the money for them. Seth tends to faint under extreme emotional, physical stress, and I began praying fervently that he wouldn’t pass out. God kept him conscious.

I would have remained hidden if it hadn’t been that our children were in danger. I heard the men pass out of the bedroom into the study where Seth was offering a laptop and our phones. He told Caleb and Carson to sit on the couch, so I knew my oldest (7) and youngest (2) were out in the middle of the fray. At the same time, one of the men began demanding, “Where’s the mother?” I came out, and the man with the rifle asked me where money was. I said I didn’t know, that my husband had it, and he punched me in the stomach with the rifle. I hit the floor again and covered my head. Seth ran over to protect me.

Then the scariest moment of all happened: the man with the handgun held the gun at Caleb’s head and said, “I shoot this boy.” My heart stopped. Seth pleaded, and Caleb (and Carson) screamed. The men didn’t like the noise, so they left the boys alone. Seth distracted them by offering more stuff. For a moment I was left unguarded. I motioned to the boys to come to me and instructed them to hide under their bed. They obeyed immediately.

The next second, Callie came to the school room door crying. God helped me to get her safely hidden away as well. Now I was only missing one child. I ran to get Colin. I thought about leaving him sleeping, but was afraid he might get hurt later and wanted all my children together, covered. The rifle-holder followed me jabbing and demanding money, but I begged to move my child. He allowed that. I am so grateful, as the men later left that way fighting and angry, and I’m afraid what they might have done in their spite as they passed that way, had Colin still been in bed.

When in the past I have heard of being “held up at gunpoint,” I always imagined a more passive thing, where one guy holds the gun on you, while the other searches the house and takes things. This was way more physical and prolonged than that. I thought they would never leave, and I was despairing of our lives. They were unhappy with how little money they were getting, and also asked where our safe was. (They probably thought we had guns as well.) They never left us, and beat us throughout. My back still shows two round wounds from the sawed-off rifle end, and my stomach has a large bruise from the rifle handle. Seth is bruised too many places to name.

They tore our house apart, taking money, laptop, phones, our pellet gun, keys to our house and car, and even Caleb’s savings for Christmas presents. However in general, they were lazy thieves. They wanted to beat and intimidate us into doing all of the searching for them. They missed our iPad, a Kindle, didn’t take our desktop, our bank cards, or our passports which had been sitting right on the desk, as Seth has to renew our visas this month! They dumped out my purse, but didn’t open my coin purse with money and bank cards. I didn’t think to offer it.

They cursed us the entire time in four languages. When nothing more was forthcoming, they repeatedly threatened to rape me. I was praying constantly. Then everything happened at once. One man came at me to drag me away, and my shirt ripped in the struggle. Seth began fighting him, took the rifle from him, pointed it at his head, and pulled the trigger. There were no bullets!

Seth shouted that they were fakes and fought harder, which encouraged my fighting; for at the same time, another man came for me, and I began fighting. Up till that time, we had been passive and humble. I think now that that was a big factor in keeping us alive. I made no conscious decision. God brought to my mind to use the office chair I was hiding beside, so I picked it up and helped to ram the men out of the study.

The leader with the handgun then shot. We all froze. He said, “I shoot.” I thought it was real, but Seth still believed it was a cap gun. I had had time to grab a plank from our desk that held our keyboard. I walloped one man on the head with it. Then Seth fought them out of the house. Even then, the gunman returned chasing Seth through the house. Chairs were overturned, and a door slammed right off its hinges to the floor. For some reason he did not shoot again, but left. Seth locked the door behind them; the keys were still in the keyhole on the inside from earlier in the night. Then we managed to call for help using Skype on our desktop.

I’m sorry if I have desensitized people with violent descriptions. My simple goal is to explain why this was such a horrific event, and why it is life-changing. The gunman shot not four feet away from Seth. He threatened to kill my child. They beat me and threatened worse. And the main reason they did it is because we are the sole white people in huge cluster of black villages. We are a prime target, with our “U.S. dollars.” We need time to think about how God would have us to protect our family now and what our future ministry should be.

We thank God with all of our hearts that He sent them away in the end with no great harm to us. He spared our lives. Since then God’s people have been so comforting. Here is my most recent Facebook update:

We praise the Lord for the kindness poured out towards us by our Christian friends. We can’t thank you enough for your prayers. We still cry daily, we are still sleepless and stiff physically, and very uncertain about our future here. Our sending church has offered to bring us home for as long as we need to recuperate physically, emotionally, and spiritually, and to make decisions about our future ministry. We are planning to come to the States next week if we can get the tickets and stay for a number of weeks. When I think of our supporters and friends in the States, those “holding the ropes” for us, my mental image right now is that we are hanging by a thread. And you have remembered us in your prayers unceasingly. I can’t tell you how much we need your prayers right now, and how thankful we are for your care for our family. Thank you so much.

I will write more as I have time to explain our options for the future. For now though, I feel incredibly blessed to have so many people praying for us. Thank you, our friends.

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