Island Life: My First Criminal Lineup

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In our early days of marriage and parenting, Nathan and I packed up our two young children and moved to a small island in the West Indies to get Bible stories into a language that had no written verses of scripture. This is a story about that season of my life. You can read more about our island days here.

After a couple of months on the island of St. Vincent, I started noticing that I couldn’t find a few of our clothes. Then one day our clothesline that had been full of laundry was suddenly empty. Someone was stealing things from our yard. They even took a precious little pair of red ladybug rain boots off our front porch.

That was a bad feeling. We started taking our clothes down quickly, and creating a make-shift spot to hang laundry inside the house too. But that was only the beginning.

One day I walked into our kitchen only to find a man in there loading up food items from the cupboard into a sack.  As soon as I entered the room, he quickly left the house out the door from the carport to the kitchen where he had entered to begin with. The door was kept opened, as were all our doors and windows as this was the hottest house I have ever been in. (And I have lived in some hot places.) We had a conversation where he tried to act like he had been in the carport to clean our car, as though I hadn’t seen him in the house. I tried to keep him engaged in conversation and was speaking really super loud, trying hard for Nathan to hear in the other room. It didn’t work, and I’m not sure how that would have helped anyway except to make me feel a little safer.

The guy finally started running off into the woods behind the house and I screamed. Then Nathan came but the guy was gone, and chasing him into the woods unarmed didn’t seem like a good plan. Even if Nathan could catch him, did he want to be known as the missionary guy that came and took down some poor homeless man that was in search of food?

Another day soon after, we found our sliding door just  barely cracked opened to the spot where the stick on the track caught it. There was a giant hand print smear, and this was a door that we didn’t use. So Nathan started sleeping in a bed we moved by that door, and we decided we’d better go to the police.

I had to describe the man. I then later had to go back and look for him in a criminal lineup. I remember how nervous I felt because I wanted to be so very sure that I wasn’t identifying an innocent person.

One thing I don’t remember much is fear for our own safety. As I recall this story and think about the emotions that seem they should go with it, it’s like this didn’t happen to me.  Because how did I not live in fear?  Someone had discovered that we were foreigners with really cool imported items that they wanted, and they were persistent in trying to get them. At night, we had our two sweet children tucked away in beds beside us while someone repeatedly tried to get into our home. We had computers full of hours of work on the project that we would not be able to replace if stolen.  And yet, I don’t remember fear. I remember sleeping well at night, closed up in that room with a very loud air conditioner, not giving much thought at all to who might be trying to enter our home.

I can only give credit to our great God. He is the one who gives peace. He was and is our protector. He kept us from living in fear and brought us through that season.  He brought peace and calm to my heart, despite the circumstances. He will do it for me and for you anytime we will let him.

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