Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Nameless Woman

Thursday Night ~   Service was done and we were on the bus before 9pm.  "Wow, looks like everyone might get showers tonight before the water gets turned off!" It's dark in the mountains on the drive back into town. Really dark. For the first time all week there is no moon or stars. Instead we've been praying God's hand to hold back the rain. I'm passing out waters and snacks. We talk of how we'll miss this place, and try to mentally capture the final memories of our last trip down this road. Out of the darkness we see a headlight and soon find our bus nose to nose with a motorcycle headed back to the village. Several men enter the bus. We recognize them as the Pastor of the Fray Church, the local District Superintendent and a few others. The tone quickly changes. No smiles, No laughs. We can't understand a word, but we understand enough. Something is wrong.

I ask Simone - she says she doesn't want to tell us now, no need to worry.
Guess what? We're already there.
There's a problem.

There is a dispute between the local taxi owners and the town mayor. The road has been closed to traffic. There are roadblocks, and fires and protesters. The word they use is "riot", but there is not violence. We cannot stay on this road. Time for a group vote. Stay on the bus as a group for the night in a nearby field and try and get back to the hotel (and our passports) in the morning OR leave the bus and walk in the last 30 minutes of the trip - through the protesters - and back to the safety of our hotel compound.  It's unanimous. We walk. Pastor, Matt and Jacob divide up the cash. And I pray and I pray and I pray. We get as close as we can to town in the bus, then we roll to a stop the engine goes still. We have flashlights but are asked not to use them. We are asked to walk quietly. As we got off the bus I watched our sons, now both nearly grown men, step out into the darkness that awaited us all. I am completely powerless, yet I know we are in the care of the Almighty God. Matt is there, and he takes hold of my hand as my foot touches the path. We'll face this together hand in hand. That's just how we roll.

My Kingdom Sister
I have never experienced the love of the church as I did in this moment. The Pastors, their wives and their children along with church families from Fray and Miguela surrounded us. Literally. In Front. Behind. On the side. As we walked it was clear we were not locals. Some in the crowds shouted and scoffed in our direction, but the church people would speak back, explaining that we were Christian missionaries. Several times taxi's and motorcycles sped past. No street lights. No moon. Simone and Lizzy near the front. Seth, then Roxie and Jim who held hands and walked, Jay, Matt and I (also holding hands) Pastor and Lee. Others from the district were with us, my guess would be there were 30 or so in our group. We came to a spot where we'd have to step around a burning roadblock. Matt let go of my hand and went ahead to shine his light for all to see where it would be safe to step. As he held my hand and helped me step over, he said "it'll be ok, keep going, I'll be close."

 For the first time I felt panic. I felt alone. I am a big girl. I clearly remember thinking...breath and walk, breath and walk. It couldn't have been more than 10 seconds. She took my hand.  I'd seen her around the village all week. She was quiet, yet kind. We never spoke. Not even once.This sweet Guatemalan Christian sister, old enough to be my mom, took my hand and smiled. I will never know her name, at least not this side of heaven. But her face will be forever imprinted on my heart. I learned so much from her. About life, about Christian love, and about the benefits of being a member of the family of God.  A few seconds later another woman, probably about my age took my other hand. They did not let go until I was safely at the hotel. Once in the compound our group held hands and praised God (any several languages) for his protection in all things. Matt and I walked the boys to their room, and hugged on them for just a bit. Then we went back to our room, held each other and wept.

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