Today I have a special treat for you all. A good friend of mine (also a missionary kid and currently residing in Brazil) wrote this short story. You may know her as R. Franklin because she haunts a few of your blogs. B-) Yes, I have trained her well...
E-mailing back and forth was a little complicated, but I still managed to squeeze this story in before Thanksgiving was embarrassingly past. I mean, it's still November, right? ;) #pocrastinatorforever
Long introduction short, I think you're going to enjoy this story...hence this post. Read on and let my good friend know how much you loved it!!
P.S. THIS REALLY HAPPENED TO HER AND HER FAMILY
By R. Franklin
What a way to spend Thanksgiving! But before I actually begin the story, let me introduce you to everyone.
First off, my family has six members: Dad, Mom, Ruth, Becky, Renee(that's me), and Grace. We are missionaries in a South American port city where my Dad teaches at a Bible school, SIBB. When this story takes place my maternal grandma, Aunt Rose, cousins Katie, Jean, and Sammy were visiting. My Aunt Rose is a photographer and as such walks around with a bulky camera, bag of lenses, and . . . whatever else photographers use.
It was the last day of classes (the school-year here goes from January to June, then August to November with many holidays in between) and Ruth, who had been taking a few classes at SIBB, was going to take the final exam. So without her and Dad, the rest of us took off for Areia Preta, meaning Black Sand beach.
We parked the old green pickup and gray sedan then clambered out in a blizzard of flip-flops, sunscreen, boogie boards, and the ever-present camera. The sidewalk was falling in at several places where the waves had erroded away the foundations. After climbing down a staircase onto the red sand, we kicked off our flip-flops and bee-lined toward that scintilating-blue web of light that some have called an ocean. We had to walk down the beach a little, and finding out that there was a path up to the road, created by a promontory of rocks, Mom went back up to re-park the sedan closer to where we were. She saw several policemen up there.
Meanwhile, Katie, Becky, and I exploded into the water with the boogie boards. To our left was the rock barricade where several fishermen took advantage of deeper waters. To our right was open waters puncuated by several black teeth and gums that defiantly rose up out of the water closer to shore, sometimes being drowned by saliva. It was to our right, deeper into the water, where three teenage boys were surfing (or rather, attempting to).
Mom came back and began talking to a JW teen named Anderson.
I glanced behind me; a perfect sized wave wobbled and whitened. Kicking up from bottom, I leaped in front of it and leaned slightly forward. Water crumpled over my face, and the sting of salt tried to assail my eyes. I edged my weight on one side and guided it toward where I saw Becky standing. The familiar grating of sand scratched beneath.
Becky was crying!
The wind carried away her words. I asked again.
"Someone stole our camera!"
She held up a thin camera strap that shivered dilapidatedly.
This took some thinking. Becky pointed up to where the three surfers were messing around in the bushes that grew half-way up the hill.
Becky kept pointing to the sky, her eyes, then them.
God sees you.
I do not know if they understood because later Grandmama said that it looked like Becky was beating her fist in the air like she wanted revenge.
I walked over to my mom. The Anderson guy was talking on his cell phone.
"Mom, someone ran up behind Becky and stole the camera. She was facing the waves and he just tugged at it. The string broke, and he ran away yelling voce perdeu like it was her fault.
Becky told Aunt Rose what happened, Katie came in from the water, and soon all of us were gathered together. Jean, Sammy, and Grace were playing the shallow water nearby.
One of the teens (not the one who stole the camera) with curly dark hair dotted on top with a blob of died eggy blonde sauntered up with another pal. Both had earings that looked like large red sewing pins in fashion of the Quechua. There was black writing on the first boy's arm. The second boy stood a little behind the first.
"Do you know that guy," Mom asked the first, indicating the teenager that was still messing around in the bushes.
Aunt Rose suggested that if we paid him, he might convince his friend to return the camera.
"If we give you twenty reals will you return the camera?"
The two went of to discuss something then came back.
"That's not enough money."
The guy in the red shorts inched closer to Aunt Rose, glancing at the camera. Feeling nervous, she went to sit down on her big black bag and wallet where they lay at the base of the rock dike.
He sat down next her, then suddenly lunged at her neck, tugging wildly at the camera. The thick canvas strap held.
In the blur of those first few seconds, she landed on her knees. Quickly she decided to fall down and shield it.
From there it's hard to remember.The boy in the red shorts began beating her. I recall punching him only to get the same treatment to my stomache. I grabbed the hard plastic boogie board and began ineffectively hitting him on the back. Katie and Rebecca did the same. Grandmama rammed into one and that well mannered dude slugged her in the mouth, cutting her lip. At one point, one of the teens (the second one who had mostly stayed out of it) landed near to where the younger ones had been playing. Jean grabbed Sammy and took Grace farther into the water.
The teen in the red shorts picked up a large rock, dribbling his feet with a vicious look in his eyes.
We then realized how very, very dangerous this was.
I dropped the board and screamed with terror, with rage that they'd try to hurt us.
Mom took up the call.
Inwardly I was sobbing: go away! Go away!
They took off running, and relief, gratitude replaced their presence.
The boy mom had been talking to was up on the dike, yammering on his cell phone. Several fishermen rested up higher on the beach, staring at the scene they'd just witnessed.
"Let's go now," several of us cried. We grabbed everything in reach and scrambled up the rock promonitory. None of us voiced our concern: they might come back.
"I think my flip-flops are still down there," Jean said.
"I don't care," my aunt yelled.
"They've caught him! They've caught him," people squawked, leaned out of their apartment windows like gawking birds. We stuffed everything into the car.
"Over here," a man in a light blue coverall told us.
We debated whether to follow him; we were not in the mood to trust anyone, but then we caught sight of a group of policemen. The teen in the red shorts had his hands in cuffs, his head against a wall scrolled with grafiti. A man in a blue and white T-shirt also claimed his camera had been stolen.
A few people gathered around, staring at this interesting event.
After asking a few questions they told us to go to the police station. We didn't want to go up to get the truck right then, so the police offered to give us a ride. We saw red-shorts getting into the police car.
"I am not riding in there," I said.
Thankfully there was another police car nearby, and Grandmama, Becky, and I scrambled in.
Then we got into the truck and followed the police. I kept cracking jokes, while Katie was crying. I never have been good with channeling nervous energy into better expressions such as wiggling my foot.
We got to the tourist police, but after waiting thirty minutes they told us we'd have to go somewhere else.
When we got to the other station at 10:00, the interrogater was at morning college, and when she did get there, then the police had to go on lunch break. We didn't try to find a restaurant as this section of town was rather rough. Katie and Becky thought they saw two teenagers who looked like red-short's cronies.
Dad, Ruth, Pr. Reubens, and a young man from our church (who also studies at the seminary) came and brought some lunch. The receptionist let us use the small station kitchen. We feasted on watermelon and leftover turkey. After a few minutes, Ruth, Pr. Reubens, and the boy left.
The trains rumbled by each hour, shacking the station.
After the police came back, they interviewed Mom, Becky, Aunt Rose, and Grandmama. Then it was my turn. Red-shorts was in the same room, so I tried to cover half of my face with hair. I didn't have much to add to the report so I was soon ushered out.
The police came in with two boys who fit the description of the other two theives. We weren't sure; they were released.
By then we had found out that red-short's name was Alan. His family came in, and we were able to give them gospel tracts.
It was already dark when we drove to the police hospital to confirm are "injuries".
We finally got home at seven o'clock, thirty minutes before the graduation banquet began. Dad, Mom, and Aunt Rose only left at eight.
The next day the police requested photos to confirm our story; we were able to find the three teenagers in the background of some of Aunt Rose's pictures. Alan was denying charges, resulting in more than the normal twenty-four hour penalty. I wonder. . . what is his story.
"Six Americans attacked me and tried to steal my surf board."
But now I certainly have a story to tell. A story of gratitude. Our feast that Thanksgiving may have been watermelon and cold turkey, but I don't think I've been more grateful on a holiday.
Grateful that he didn't have a knife or a gun.
Grateful that he didn't throw that rock.
Grateful that none of us were hurt beyond several cuts and bruises.
Grateful that God was in control, and that He is always in control. . .even when we do get things beyond "cuts and bruises."
God is in control! And that's something to cling to and always be grateful for.