Almost 10…. almost a decade since a day that changed my life.
March 29th, 2001 I was sitting at home with my sister and brother, watching the Cosby show, which came on at 8 o’clock. Our friend Abby was in the kitchen cleaning something up. We heard Charlie, our trusty, old, turning-grey German Shepherd bark the alarm that someone had arrived. Mom and Dad were out for dinner with friends, so it wouldn’t be them.
Chris stood up, walked to the door, and then everything changed. Forever.
Panic washed over his face, he rapidly tried to lock the deadbolt on the metal grate between our glass front door and the inside of our home. He gave up after 2 seconds, looking at someone through the glass door, and put his hands above his head in surrender, shouting to Allie and me to “GET DOWN! GET DOWN!”
I grabbed Allie, who was 10 at the time, and raced into Chris’s bedroom, which adjoined the living room. In the darkness, unable to see what was happening outside in the main room, I hid her under some blankets, told her to stay VERY quiet and not to move, and I sat there, exposed. A lanky African man who barely spoke English eventually found me sitting in the dark, grabbed my arm and dragged me, smothering my blood-curdling screams with his hands, back into the living room. The bruises on my face would appear the next day. I saw a machine gun poised at me, as they dragged me into the kitchen where Chris, Abby, and our night guard were being held facedown on the floor. Allie was left behind, alone, in the dark, at ten years old…. it would be hours before we saw her again. I can’t imagine the combination of pure terror and innocent ignorance in her mind… she told us later that she imagined a whole escape plan for how she would run down the hill to our guesthouse, Matoke Inn, and be safe.
As I entered the kitchen and was forced onto the floor, one of the troop was standing over Chris, and slapping his face; they didn’t want him to look at them for fear they could be recognized. Meanwhile, they asked us for money and where “the Chinese man” was. We didn’t know where either were; we layed there helpless. I remember being terrified that I would be raped. I was wearing shorts, and I felt exposed.
Then deathly silence.
“Where is ALLIE?” asked Chris?
“I hid her in your room.”
“I don’t know….” I replied.
We couldn’t see into the rest of the house from the kitchen; we didn’t know if our assailants were still here, or were gone, were they cleaning out the house, had they found Allie?
My tear stained face and trembling body shook and shook and shook. I remember clinging as I’ve never clung, to the promise that the Lord “works everything together for good for those that love Him, who are called according to His purpose,” and that He “knows the plans He has for you, plans to PROSPER you and not to harm you.” over and over and over…. ran over those verses in my mind.
Hours passed. Silence, terror, horrific imaginings.
Finally we decided they must be out of the house. Chris locked the door, we ran to find Allie (what a blessed reunion!!!!!!!!) and went to hide in our office, which had a bullet proof door and windows…. and we waited. Chris called Mom and Dad and told them not to come home in case the men were outside still. Mom and Dad called the local mercenaries, who came back to the house with them. They determined the men had left…. and we were left to pick up our pieces. And i know there are still pieces of me in Kampala…. the part of me that slept peacefully, part of me that enjoyed walks at night… a piece of me that felt secure.
The story goes on…. but not here, today.
The next day, I turned “sweet” sixteen.
Its been 9 years!