A few weeks ago we were robbed. The men came while we were sleeping and stole our tv, computer, and some cash. Thankfully no one encountered them and we are all safe. We were most disappointed to lose some of the pictures on our computer because we hadn’t backed it up in 3 months, but overall we were very fortunate that not much was stolen. What really rattled us all, though, is the fact that strange men with malicious intentions were in our house while we were here.
We have been robbed a few times before. First, we had friends have their phones stolen while out and about. So being out in crowds started making my kids nervous. Then we had two incidents where we were robbed in our car (including a window being smashed). So the car immediately became an unsafe place. And now, with this robbery in our home, the one place left that was safe for my kids is no longer safe. And we are all feeling it.
Obviously my instinct as a mother is to protect and shield my kids from all things dangerous. Living in Peru, though, has taken away most of my ability to do that. We are vulnerable here, not only because we live in a developing country, but because of the color of our skin and the neighborhood that we have chosen to live in. We have a lot going against us in terms of safety and sometimes I wonder how we can put our kids in this situation.
We do what we can to make things more safe for them. We put non-breakable laminate on our car windows and we are getting bars on the windows of our house installed this week. But we can’t pretend that we’re safe. We can’t say to our kids, “I promise that you are safe.” They know the reality of our situation and, honesty, if they could choose, the majority of them would want to move back to the US.
One of our kids especially has PTSD symptoms and we wonder how much more he can take. When we take the bus he has to be on the inside seat away from everyone. When he’s in the car he has to sit in the middle seat away from the window. He makes us wake him up in the middle of the night so that he knows he hasn’t been kidnapped. Really anytime we are out in public he is visibly nervous. It is heartbreaking.
But we have chosen to stay where we are. My husband and I have weighed it all out, prayed about it, and we will stay. We love what we do, we have amazing housemates, and we’re just not done yet. Our kids are having a hard time (heck, we’re all having a hard time), but we haven’t hit the place yet where we feel it is too much for them. We would leave in a minute if we ever thought the damage to our kids was too high.
Plus there is much to love about where we live. To experience not only the culture of Peru, but also to live among the poor is powerful. My kids’ neighborhood friends consist of kids without bathrooms and running water. Living here, doing life among the poor, gives us life. It connects us with God in ways we have never known before. So, we continue our life here in Peru and do the best we can with what we have.
How do you handle the lack of safety on the mission field? Especially with kids?