Have I lost everything?

I was really hoping my first blog of the new year would be about the little break I had for new years and my birthday, but rather….

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Being vigilant is something I’ve learned to do. Not just because of where I live now. But because of all the places I’ve lived. I had a man stalk me in Annapolis. He would follow me, he had a key to my car (I think he had worked at Jiffy Lube when I had my oil changed there once). He would leave notes in my car. It was creepy. I moved and changed jobs. I lost him. I had a crazy homeless man following me, living in my entry during the day. Even going as far as peeing on my door and my things to let me know I was his. This was in DC when I lived on of the most dangerous streets. I have been taught from growing up in Europe during the first Iraq war to be caution of your surroundings. Not in a paranoid way, but in a smart, healthy and vigilant way. This has stayed with me.

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But regardless of how vigilant you are, when you let your guard down for even 5 seconds… that’s when you’re attacked. In April I rolled my window down to talk to a street kid here. Then I got a text. I said good bye to the street kid, told him to be careful (it was dark already), and started to reply to the text. Just as I went to put the phone down, a hand reached into my car (I had dropped my defence to talk to the kid and not rolled my window back up). The thief was trying to steal my phone. I threw my phone, grabbed his arm and just after I pulled him towards the car, I hit him in the face with my elbow. I think he was too shocked that I was fighting back to do anything. So since then. I have been very vigilant here. I am in the car, parked and laughing, but I’m still checking all my mirrors and watching who is around, who is parked near us, who is walking or standing near us. Doors locked. Windows up.

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When someone is so evil and desperate to steal, there is nothing you can do. Just like a snake, they can sneak in unseen. Yesterday, I was very cautions of my things all day yesterday. I just felt very alert. I told Lauren to roll up her window when we were stopped, I had the doors constantly locked.  I even took my hard drive out of my back pack and put it into my desk. I remember thinking, “why am I leaving this here? I’ll take it home tomorrow.” I had even taken my ipod out and thought “just in case”. Why would I think that? So, Lauren and I were coming back from going out to a neighbourhood to check on a young girl who is having a hard time. On the way back we stopped for popcorn. We stop there a lot. Lauren got out, I locked the doors. I was doing my usual. Looking around. Noticing my surroundings. That’s when I saw a friend I haven’t seen in a while. I dropped my guard waving and saying hi. Then Lauren walked up to get in the car. I unlocked it. Before she could even get in the car, a moto had pulled up behind me by the back door, opened it, and taken my backpack. They were gone. I did try to follow them, but keeping up with a moto is impossible with traffic here. They lost us.

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It’s amazing to realize how many people you are connected to when something like this happens. The agonizing feeling of loss and violation is unstoppable. I kept thinking “this is just stuff”. We are ok. But my heart still hurt. I couldn’t stop the tears from falling after the reality set in and my adrenaline was still pumping. I called Esther immediately. Many of our staff and church members jumped into action. Our what’sapp group was sending out information about when, where, what it looks like, what else was in the bag. Today, so many people came to give their sincere condolences for what happened. In our daily staff prayer just before lunch, they all prayed for me, for the return of my stuff and for the conviction of the thief.

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Speaking of the thief. My Macbook Pro is large. VERY large. It also has one of my paintings on it. It is unique. It was low battery and the charger was not with my bag. I’m sure it’s dead now. New Mac chargers are hard to find here and very expensive. Bon chance Monsier! Selling a dead Macbook that half the town is looking for will be tough. We will find it. But, at the end of the day, what broke me… my bible and my journal. I can get another computer. My external can back up all my stuff, I can get another polaroid cube, I can have another shirt made, I can make new notes for studying French and Swahili, I can get new flash drives and new ibuds… My bible. But my bible. I documented my life there. I had notes from what God has said to me the past 10+ years. Verses and encouragement from others and the dates. Answered prayers next to the scripture I had prayed… I cried face down on the floor last night.

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I’ll just say it. The last 6 months have been incredibly hard. My private thoughts are in that journal. The pain, the joy, the hopelessness, the hope… everything I’ve gone through the last 4 months I’ve been writing in that specific journal. I can’t get that back. I can buy a new bible and start a new journal… but the sentiment and memories so clearly documented in that moment will never come back. You can’t buy that. But again… I tell myself, “I’m safe”. I was not attacked. Lauren is fine.

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This morning Lauren asked me how I was doing. I told her, as I tried not to tear up, I choose not to be sad. This will be redeemed. Later, I was getting ready to leave the house and I realized. I am choosing not to be sad, but I am not choosing Joy. These bandits stole my stuff, but why should I let them steal my joy. I can’t. I won’t. I must choose joy. “The joy of the Lord is my strength” Nehemiah 8:10… At this point, they’ve stolen a few thousand dollars of stuff. I’ve lost a few thousand dollars. Mostly expensive things given to me as gifts. But, if I let them steal my joy…I’ve lost everything. It’s just not an option to lose everything. I may not have a lot of choice in this situation right now, at least have that choice.

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I heard this song (Francis Chan’s 14 year old daughter wrote and sang it); it sums up everything:

I know your pain, I hear your cry, I’ve been there too, and I promise not to leave you.

Soon you will see what I can see, Child- keep your eyes on me. You’re right where you should be.

Don’t fear anything, I’m here and I can bring you joy. Even here, I can bring you joy

There’s a reason for everything and each season I can bring you joy, even here I can bring you joy.

This narrow road will lead you home, follow the faithful few, who have finished strong before you

I can’t promise you’ll be free from pain, until you see my face, but I’ll help you run the race.

So, don’t fear anything, cause I’m here and I can bring you joy. Even here, I can bring you joy.

There’s a reason for everything and each season I can bring you joy, even here I can bring you joy.

There is no power strong enough, to separate you from my love, there is no power strong enough to keep me from you….

So don’t fear anything, cause I’m here and I can bring you joy, even here I can bring joy

There’s a reason for everything, and each season I can bring you joy, even here I’ll bring you JOY.

This is not the worst thing that has happened in my life or, I’m sure, the worst thing that will happen. But I know that God is using me in this to show that He is a redeemer and He truly is my strength, even when bad things happen. I’m okay with that.

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Much love from Goma,

Jenni

About Jenn Eason

I'm typically an over sharer, I don't embarrass easily, I like gnomes (please don't buy them for me), Cat meme's (I don't like cats), laughing, cold espresso with milk, spending time with friends and family, and I enjoy a good sarcastic banter... as long as it's not at someone else's expense. I'd also eventually like to develop a sound absorbing toilet. How can you support my work you ask? If you are interested in financially supporting my work, please send checks to my church with "Congo Missions" written in the memo line: The Lighthouse Fellowship 5200 Eisenhower Ave, #200 Alexandria, Va 22304

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