Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Week(s) (02/10/11)
TITLE: Get Out Of Town
By G Frank Miller
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It was about one o’clock Wednesday night when Helen woke me to announce we needed to get out of Mexico as soon as possible. We were in a hotel in Ciudad Valles where we have been working with a mission for eight years. This particular trip, we had come for a week to help with summer Vacation Bible School.
I reminded Helen that we had made a week’s commitment, and we still had two days to go. She persisted, talking about feeling like she was trapped and in jail. The whole time we had been there we had endured periods of heavy, tropical rain. Much of the time it kept us pinned down in the hotel. We had also been warned not to walk on the streets after dark because of the threat of violence from drug cartels. I figured the confinement was getting to Helen.
Reminding her of our commitment to work all week at the VBS, I argued for staying. Helen pointed out we really weren’t needed at the mission VBS like in years past. The local ministry team had matured and prepared the young people to be leaders. We were acting more as cheerleaders than helpers.
I realized that if we were going to get any sleep at all that night, I needed to agree with Helen. We still had two mission obligations we had put off to the end of the week. Working on these obligations during the next day we could be ready to leave Thursday evening. That would make this our last night in Mexico.
When I told Helen we would go to the bus station first thing in the morning and buy tickets for a bus heading to the border that evening, she was greatly relieved and we both got some sleep.
At ten o’clock Thursday night we boarded a bus headed for McAllen, Texas, where our car was waiting. Friday morning we crossed the border into Texas, retrieved our car, and started the long drive home to Florida.
Meanwhile, back in Ciudad Valles, for the first time in a week, Friday was sunny with no rain and the people were out enjoying a beautiful summer afternoon. Just the kind of day we had been looking forward to. Then the peace and quiet was shattered by what sounded like fireworks. People stepped out of their shops and stores to see what was going on. To their horror, it was not fireworks, but live gun fire, and it was coming from the direction of the police station that is up the boulevard and around the corner from the hotel. The noise then started to move closer. Speeding down the boulevard was a truck loaded with masked men with rifles. They were being pursued by a truck full of soldiers. All the men were armed and blazing away at one another as the two trucks roared down the boulevard. Cars were careening wildly to avoid the bullets, and pedestrians were diving for cover. Bullets from both the army and gunmen were spraying the street, hitting cars, buildings, and people.
The next day, as Helen and I were on the road to Florida, we got emails telling us about the gun battle. The press in Mexico as well as the police don’t report or give many details after one of these acts of violence. Everyone is afraid to upset the cartels because they have been killing reporters who write articles they don’t like. By piecing together reports I could find, I know that after the battle moved out of the city there were wounded people lying along the boulevard and on the sidewalk in front of the hotel we had left less than 24 hours before. If we had stayed to finish our week, this was the exact spot we would have been that Friday afternoon.
As soon as Helen and I realized the dangerous situation we would have been in, and our restless Wednesday night, we had no doubt that the restlessness was the Lord telling Helen to “get out of town.”
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