I emailed my sister this weekend to tell her all about the past few days and she wrote back and said, “Well, now you have interesting missionary stories to tell!” Not quite how I thought she’d perceive what I told her, but I guess she’s right. Course, she was somewhat joking… these are by no means on the bar of Elisabeth Elliot missionary stories. However, they’re the Biegert Missionary Stories and probably about as good as they get. Here goes.
It all started last Monday. We woke up early Monday to the sound of a mototaxi (a motorcycle with a cart attached to the back used as a taxi) driving down the road behind our house – at 5:30. When it left, we started hearing howling. And barking. And whining. By 7, the howling was incredibly loud and right at our front door. Brian came running up the stairs to get the camera and said we had a giant dog, looking in our front window. We’re pretty sure Mr. Mystery Mototaxi Man left his dog behind Monday morning. She’s giant. Some mixed breed German Shepherd thing. Big enough to stand on her back feet and look easily through our front door’s window. BIG dog. It was raining, so she was muddy, wet, stinky, and, like every other dog down here, covered in fleas. Brian had pity and made his first mistake: he gave her leftovers.
Now, we seem to have acquired a dog.
Granted, this is by no means a dog we actually want.
I am a huuuuge dog lover. I grew up with dogs. I felt like no home was complete without a dog, so as soon as we bought our house, we got Gunther, my faithful Dachshund who passed away this year (moment of silence). I have no fear of dogs, although since moving to Peru I have a healthy respect for them. Here, they’re wild. They’re not pets, no matter if they’re kept inside sometimes or not – it’s just not the same. They’re not safe and they all carry some form of disease. Rabies is not uncommon down here (I was convinced THAT’S what I’d die from before we moved here). Dogs run in wild packs – like they’ve reverted back to their “old self” before man ever trained them to wear coats and beg for biscuits.
All that to say – under normal circumstances, she’d be sleeping at the foot of my bed by now. She’s beautiful, young, smart, and easily trainable (Brian got her sitting on command within a day). However. We don’t know her background, where she came from, how she was treated before she got here, or what diseases she’s carrying. She was obviously handled roughly and she has no clue how to “play nice.” She can’t possibly be more than a year old, so you have GIANT puppy with no control. Her way of greeting Brian and I is to jump all over us. If I wasn’t pregnant, I wouldn’t care other than the nuisance of dirty dog and the fact that she’s 80lbs (at least) and not gentle. But, I’m almost 9mo pregnant. Having a giant dog jump on me over and over in greeting is just not a good idea.
So, for the first few days she was here, I had to have someone walk me home and I couldn’t leave the house without Brian being here to distract her. She will literally run you down and jump all over you if she sees you. Brian has had an achy back for a few days now since she’s planted her man-sized paws in the middle of his back more than once. He finally found some thick rope and tied her up, away from the house. At first, everyone wanted to keep her. The night guard thought she’d make a great guard dog (which she would) and wanted to chain her up behind our house to guard our end of the property. My house cleaner thinks she’s adorable, although is scared to death to go near her. She IS trainable, but who here has the time to do so??
Then she started her jumping routine. On the night guard’s daughter. Not cool. Oh, did I mention she also bites? Yeah. Since we don’t know what she’s carrying, you really don’t want her to bite hard enough to break the skin… preferably not biting at all would be good. She’s just not safe.
Brian wants to put her in a car and take her to another district and let her go. Someone will take her in if a pastor over there doesn’t want a guard dog. Now that everyone knows she’s not this great idea, everybody wants to be rid of her, but naturally, no one wants to lend their car in order to do so! She won’t run away… strange dog… and she’s too smart to just walk her to town – she’ll come right back. So, she has to be put in a car and nobody wants to have their car be the one, but nobody wants her here.
Saturday night, I was on my way home from a banquet we held (which goes with Story #2 – yeah, this will be a long post). It was totally pitch black down by my house except for the one light on our door, as usual. I was almost home and I thought I heard something. I looked to my right and there’s this dog barreling full-force directly at me. It was so dark, I couldn’t make out if it was her or another dog and in the panic in my mind, all I could think was, “Rabid Dog!”, especially since I knew she was securely tied up. Or so I thought. Thankfully, it wasn’t a rabid dog. Unfortunately, it was jumping bean herself. I was holding things as well as watching my footing in the dark, then I had to protect myself from this giant, leaping, lunging, excited, 80lb puppy as she leapt towards my giant, pregnant belly. I managed to mostly catch her so my belly didn’t take all the brunt force. But, I had to twist and pull to hold her away from me, keep her from biting, prevent the jumping paws (with super long nails, by the way) from hitting my baby, all the while screaming for Brian to get downstairs and help me.
I didn’t think I was hurt, but within five minutes of being inside, I realized I couldn’t stop shaking, was incredibly tense, and was in so much pain I wasn’t sure I could move. However I moved to hold this dog away from me did not go over so well with the rest of my body. Brian got me upstairs and made me sit down. I took a hot, hot shower, he rubbed muscle rub all over me, I somehow got almost comfortable in bed… all of that took well over an hour. Just moving from the bed to the bathroom made me cry and took about 10min. I haven’t been in so much pain… ever. Lifting my left leg was nigh unto impossible.
I missed the rest of the ladies retreat on Sunday because I literally could barely get out of bed. Brian forced me to stay upstairs, in bed, resting all day. By evening, I made my first trip downstairs and by nighttime, I was able to move more normally. Today, I’m still sore. Stairs are my nemesis. My side is swollen from where a rib has moved or something. My back hurts. BUT, my baby is moving! However, Brian has sworn off much activity for me for the next few weeks and I’m not allowed to do hardly anything, which is driving me nuts. I did laundry today and got chewed out. He doesn’t normally get upset with me. I think he’s worried.
And the stupid dog is still here. After Brian’s reaction to her Saturday night, which was not pretty, we really thought she’d leave. But no. Idiot is tied back up and whining every time Brian walks by. Brian chewed me out as well when I expressed that I was worried about her being outside all alone Saturday night. The dog is now Brian’s enemy. Can we say, “Protective Daddy”?
That is Story #1.
This weekend was the annual ladies retreat here at camp. I was actually really looking forward to this year. I understand more Spanish, therefore I feel more sociable. I enjoy running the kiosco (concession stand). I was looking forward to being around women all weekend for once. I thought it would be fun! Then, of course, the dog thing happened and I only got to be around for Saturday. SO upset about this. Just figures.
Saturday, though, turned out to be pretty eventful in and of itself. First off, the ladies that come don’t come from exactly wealthy areas. They come from our church plants which are in some of the poorest areas around Lima. The majority don’t come from good home lives. Some are married, but most of the married ones don’t have good marriages – unsaved spouses, abusive or alcoholic spouses, etc. A whole chunk of them are not married, but have a bunch of children. Many aren’t real sure how to handle their children, so they just run wild. For pretty much all of them, a prerequesite for being able to come is that they can bring their children with them. So, we had about 30(?) women with a whole bunch of kids – never did see exactly how many kids there were.
We are always prepared for this and have a whole children’s program for Saturday and Sunday to keep them occupied. They eat all together so no kids are disturbing the mealtimes – the women can honestly feel as if they’re on a retreat, and yet know their kids are safe.
WELL, that’s at least the idea.
This year (I don’t know if it was the same in other years – I didn’t notice last year, to be honest), a bunch of kids just plain did not want to be in the classes. Did not matter that they played games and watched movies – they did not want to be in there and no one was going to make them. Their moms didn’t care. They let them run wild. We have a nice, child-friendly campus, but by no means is this campus child-safe! We have a lagoon that’s enough water in it for kids to drown if they fall in. We have a playground that’s really high with just enough areas that kids can fall off and get seriously hurt. You know, kid-friendly, not kid-safe. There’s a difference. But, the moms just honestly did not care that their little ones (and I’m talking 2-3yr olds) were running around literally unsupervised all over this big campus.
We were in our very first meeting with the special speaker, almost at the end, when the inevitable happened. Two little ones were playing on the balcony in front of the girls’ dorms. Then they decided to come downstairs. First one, then the other, fell. The little boy could not possibly be more than two years old; the little girl maybe three or so. The little boy fell with the little girl literally on top of him the entire way down – head over heels, hitting every single METAL step before landing on the concrete at the bottom.
The women all screamed and ran to the window. I actually did not see it happen, I was in an area where I couldn’t see out the window. And that is perfectly fine with me. I saw him afterwards and that was bad enough. It’s amazing how much blood can come from one little child.
Praise our Father in Heaven – he was okay. The cut that was pouring blood was near his eye, but he had missed his eye – just barely. The nurse that was here checked him out and said that was the only thing she could find wrong. However, she thought he needed stitches and should go to the doctor’s office in town to get checked out more thoroughly, just in case something else was wrong that wasn’t visible. Everybody here offered to drive the mom and boy up there (it’s literally 2min away by car) and help her from there as well.
All she wanted was a band aid. Her reasoning? “He does this all the time! He’s always falling! He’s been hurt worse than this. He’ll be just fine.” A band aid and a lollipop to keep him awake – that’s all she wanted.
I thought I was going to be sick. I’ve had a serious head injury before and so I know a lot about them. One thing I learned is that whenever the head is damaged, you always get it checked out – especially if it’s a child. Their skull is not fully fused yet, so the brain has more opportunity to get damaged. And even if the damage doesn’t show up now, in ten years when that part of the brain is developing, it could show up then. Seriously – the doctors all told me when I was 14 to watch for concussion-like symptoms when I was in my mid-20’s because parts of your brain don’t finish developing until you’re an adult and they were worried I’d damaged parts that I wasn’t using yet. Imagine a little, little boy? OH the odds of having brain problems are just huge. Besides that, there’s internal injuries. He fell down an entire flight of metal stairs with a little girl who’s bigger than him on top of him. Internal bleeding can take awhile to show up; it’s not visible right away. The very least this mom could’ve done was take him to the doctor’s office just to be sure he really was okay.
But no. She did not care.
It just… I don’t know… it’s hard to explain how I felt. It was like – you want so badly to help these single moms who so desperately need assistance. But when you offer it, they refuse. It was free! It was no problem! It was important, even urgent! And she refused.
I’m still just baffled. How do you help someone who doesn’t want help?
It honestly reminded me of the Gospel. Here God is, holding out His hand to us saying, “Just take it! This is all you need! Salvation is free! It’s a gift! It’s urgent! It’s important! Just take it!” And yet, we refuse. We say it’s no big deal. We say we can handle it. We don’t really care enough about the future to want salvation now. We’ll seek it out when things get worse. But for now, we can handle it. Oh the patience of Almighty God to be holding out that gift for generations because He doesn’t want even one to perish.
If you think of it, you can pray for this little boy and his family. I don’t know the home situation. I don’t know if there’s a dad on the scene, or husband. I really am not even sure how many other siblings there are in the picture. I don’t know his name or the name of the mom – honestly, none of the missionaries did. But, if you could, just say a prayer for his health – that everything really is okay. Pray for his mom; she needs help… but I guess you have to be willing to take it when it’s offered or it won’t do you any good. Pray for our pastor’s wives. This situation is typical, especially in that particular church plant. This is the second year I’ve attended the ladies retreat and my respect for our pastor’s wives increases every year. Being a pastor’s wife is never easy, but somehow, here, it just seems that much harder.
SO these weren’t your typical missionary stories. They aren’t book-worthy and chances of lots of people reading them are pretty small. But, it’s our life none-the-less. At least we’re not bored. 🙂