"Jesus Wept." -John 11:35
When God put this series on my heart last week, I had no idea how true to life it would become for me. Last week's blog post went out on Thursday. Late Thursday night, at around 2:00 or 2:30 in the morning, thieves broke into our home. Robb had been traveling so it was only Brian and I in the house. We were staying down near Kampala, planning to travel up this coming Friday. We had our dog Jackson outside in the compound. Unbeknownst to me, they poisoned our dog, then they broke in through our back door. Brian sleeps with his light on. I keep my bedroom door unlocked in case he gets scared in the middle of the night (especially when Robb isn't around). The three men, armed with machetes and bricks, rushed into Brian's room first. They threatened him to be quiet and tied him up. Then, after ransacking his room, looking for valuables, they ran into my room. I woke up to the door opening and a flashlight in my eyes. I thought it was Brian, that he had woken up scared or something. I sat up and said his name, but then I realized that there were three men, much taller than Brian and not responding to his name. Two of them started tearing everything apart, dumping out the closet, looking for valuables. They asked me several times where the dollars were. I told them I've lived here a long time and I don't keep dollars around. One of the men came up near my face with a brick in his hand and said he was going to fight me if I was hiding things from them. God gave me such a peace, and I wasn't afraid or anything in that moment. I calmly explained to him that they could take whatever they wanted, but I begged and pleaded with them not to hurt my son. They assured me that they wouldn't.
They took my computer, iPad (which had all of my commentaries, Bible study notes, and books on it), and my phone. They also took the projector that we have for our ministry's outreach program. We had taken out all of our money for the month because it's hard sometimes to withdraw money from the US, so we had it all in Ugandan Shillings. They took every last coin.
When they were about to leave, the guy who had been close to me said to me that because I was good to them, they weren't going to hurt me; but if I followed them as they left, they would kill me. I told him that I wouldn’t follow, but that I NEEDED to go see if my son was okay. Up to this point I had not heard a peep from his room and I had no idea what condition he was in. The man said to just wait for a few minutes then I could go check on my son. They left my room, removed the restraints from him, and left the house. I sat there in bed for about five minutes, which seemed like an eternity, not knowing if Brian was okay or not. I didn't know if they had broken into the other side of the house, either, where Robb's mom was staying with some other family and many children. I worried for their safety, too, as well as the dog (because I hadn't heard him bark once.)
I called Brian's name and when he answered me it was one of the most beautiful sounds I have ever heard. I went into his bedroom and found him quietly crying. I put my arm around him and asked if he was hurt. Then I took him into my bedroom and we locked the door behind us. We prayed and talked until it was light out so that we could go check on everyone else. I was worried that the thieves might still be around, but I felt confident when it was light that they must have left. We called out for mom. She had been sleeping. It was drizzling out during the night, and no one on that side heard anything. Thankfully, the thieves didn't try to enter there. Then as our eyes wandered, we saw the body of Jackson lying in the grass. That was the moment that I started crying.
Over the next few hours we had a bunch of police officers and investigators in the home and compound taking our statements, looking at the ransacked house, taking pictures, etc. Because my phone was stolen I couldn't call anyone, but thankfully Mom called Robb, who called in favors, and I was able to at least communicate with the US. And he rushed down on the journey right away. Friends sent money so that we could stay at a hotel and not have to be in the house. I can't express how grateful I am for the love we have received.
I am obviously still processing all of this and grieving over the loss of my sweet puppy. I have experienced tragedy many times in Uganda, but never as a mother. The fear that I felt when I didn't know if Brian was okay was worse than anything else. I am so very grateful to God for His protection and His faithfulness. It may be a long journey of healing ahead, but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is with us, holding onto us.
When Jesus walked this earth, and his friends wept and grieved, He wept with them. Even though He knew that He was going to defeat death and pain, He wept with them. He wept for the heartbreak that they felt. This comforts me so much today, because I know that He weeps with us also.
For those of you who have experienced recent tragedy, trauma, or heartache - please know that Jesus weeps for you and with you. He loves you. He is the God of all comfort. He gives peace when it makes no sense. He surrounds us with His love and puts us into His family where we find comfort from the love of others as well.
As I tell myself, Robb, and Brian, I tell you as well - hang in there. God is still in control. He will take these painful things and make something beautiful.