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Monday, February 18, 2013

Scrambled Egg Ninja

I did not feel like an easy target.  I was walking home from the grocery store just three blocks from our house with grocery bags in each hand and a black leather purse strapped crosswise in front of me.  I was also taking a slightly different route than usual. 

At 4:30 in the afternoon the street was quiet and bright with sunlight. I saw at least two other people walking by on the cross street ahead.  Living in Costa Rica for a year taught me to be aware.  Always.   

As I was walking down the middle of the street to avoid some construction work, two men riding a motorcycle passed me on the right. Subconsciously I took note of them as I moved out of their way and stepped back onto the sidewalk. 

The sound of a motor has been a red flag ever since our orientation class at the Spanish Language Institute in Costa Rica.  The trainer explained that often men will use motorcycles to rob people. One will ride in the back and jump off to commit the robbery and then jump back on the bike with the stolen goods.  

After a year and a half in Latin America, this was the first time I heard a motorcycle turn around and head back up the street behind me.  At the approaching sound, I felt a heightened sense of danger.  I knew I was in trouble, and, without even thinking, I gripped the bags tighter and walked faster as adrenaline pumped through me. 

Strangely, despite a heightened sense of sight, I couldn’t hear as well.  I didn’t even hear him run up behind me.  The young man was suddenly in my face, both hands on my purse, yanking with all of his might to snap the leather straps.  I resisted and started swinging the bags in his face and over his head.  I screamed “no” as he yanked hard a second and third time.   

I kept hitting him in the face with the bags, screaming, until he finally gave up and ran off in front of me where his partner was waiting on the motorcycle.  I yelled, in Spanish, to an older gentleman across the street to get the number of the plate since he was closer.  But he just stared at me!   

The rider in the back looked over his shoulder at me as I pointed at him accusingly, chastising him without malice.  They turned the corner and were gone. 

At times I regret that I didn’t drop the grocery bags immediately and execute an awesome, painful, self defense move…  Something I could brag about.   

But I only created an inglorious, “old lady” smokescreen of blinding plastic bags and ear piercing screams.  I humbly give God the credit for multiplying the effectiveness of my weak efforts.  

The trainer at the Institute encouraged us to resist thieves if possible.  And since both of the man’s hands were yanking on the purse, and not wielding a gun or knife, I acted in self defense without a second thought.  I wonder if the “fight” instead of “flight” response is something that had been growing in me over the last year of pounding the pavement. 

Intentionally, I travel light.  My purse contained a cheap cell phone, change from my recent transaction, hand sanitizer, and a Uruguay ID card, but I acted like I was defending my life’s savings. I think I was fighting against the injustice of it all. I was really angry.  I was fighting for every person’s right to walk home undisturbed. 

This all happened only two blocks from our house, but some friendly neighbors and bystanders were there to make sure I was OK and help me make a report to the police. The neighbor who used my cell phone to call the police for me thought it was funny that I scrambled all but four of the 15 eggs I had just bought. They dripped through the grocery bag, leaving a trail on her kitchen floor and making her toes stick to her flip flops.  But she chuckled as she lit a cigarette.   

Back at the house, Julia put the groceries away and wondered at the dented can, smashed up dish soap, and mutilated butter.  After hearing the story, she rewrote it in her journal and illustrated a few of the scenes.  The details were exact.  It saddens me that my children are living this gritty lifestyle, too, but I know God is giving them the strength to persevere.  
Just this afternoon, Julia and Isaiah witnessed a similar occurence in front of our house, but this time, the men knocked the woman to the ground and stole her purse.  I believe that living in such close proximity to a shopping area is part of the problem.

Today I read from Mark 4 & 5 and found that Jesus often told people, including his own disciples, not to fear and to just believe in Him. I do believe if God wants us to minister here, then he will provide for us.  Therefore, I am not afraid.    

It really is that simple.   

Jesus’ disciples were afraid of the storm that was about to capsize their boat, they panicked, and they woke their Master.  But these seasoned fishermen were even more terrified after Jesus calmed the waves and wind with the words, “Be still.”  His power was stranger and more terrible than the storm itself.  (Mark 4:35-41) 

I fear God, and I have a reverent fear of His power.  And as long as I am walking in His will, I am at peace.  The violent storms around us pale in comparison.  It is well with my soul.



  1. Thank you for sharing this. SCARY! We are praying for your safety! Love and miss you ALL!

  2. WOW! What a terrifying experience! I'm so thankful for the Lord's protection, you Scrambled-Egg Ninja!!! :) - Tera

  3. Jeni,
    Thanks for sharing the story and your godly perspective. God has prepared you to be in this spot, at this time. Think of all that God protected you from and grew you through as a child. He will do the same and more for your children and for you and Mark.