Once upon a time one out of every three kidnappings in the world occurred here in Colombia. As we traveled around building our support team you probably heard us say how much safer things are now in Colombia (especially in parts of the capital city, Bogotá). Nonetheless, big cities are big cities and crime, especially thievery, abounds. On Monday, we suffered a purse-napping, and a rather strange one at that.
Andrew grew up in a part of the States where locked doors were about as rare as hen’s teeth. So when we first heard the phrase “no dar papaya” (literally – don’t give papaya), we needed a lesson from some of our more city/travel-savvy amigos. No dar papaya means don’t put yourself in a situation in which someone could easily take advantage of you. And no dar papaya on Monday meant for us that you shouldn’t put your purse in your shopping cart at the big bed-bath-and-beyond-like home store. Apparently someone saw some vulnerable, papaya-giving gringos waltzing about Home Sentry and thought, “hey, if they’re giving papaya I might as well be taking papaya”. And so Laura Kate’s purse full of papaya (cash, phone, credit cards, and sadly on this particular day her US Passport) was sneaked, snuck, snucked right out from under Andrew’s potpourri-sniffing nose.
Every good story ought to have a twist, right? Well here it is. After despairing, scurrying to cancel cards, and rushing to the US Embassy to report the purse-napping and to get Laura Kate a new passport, we get a call yesterday from the thief herself. Losing money is a big deal, but losing a passport before international travel is a really big deal, so Andrew sent a text to Laura Kate’s phone shortly after the pilfering saying that we’d be willing to pay for the passport. We thought nothing of it until we got the call saying that some gal had “conveniently” found the purse in a restaurant in the north of the city. We would have had every reason to believer her alibi were it not for the fact that the only way she could have gotten Andrew’s number was that she was the thief or was in contact with the thief. The number was nowhere written in the purse and the phone was probably already in the hands of a satisfied, back-alley customer. Naturally, Andrew arranged a meeting with the thief to get the purse its precious papaya back. After an hour or so of changing the location (like your favorite crime show, right?) and amidst a tremendous hail storm, Andrew and team leader, Rick, finally meet the purse-napper. After realizing the thief was kind enough to have left the passport, driver’s license, and Fox’s graham crackers intact, money was quickly exchanged and we were off!
Every good story also ought to have a moral, right? Well this one has a couple. First, we learned that we need to be more careful with our papaya and that putting papaya in a shopping cart is a major “no-no”. Papaya should be firmly under your arm at all times. Secondly, we saw again the power of praying to our Father as we asked many of you on Facebook to pray that this might all be resolved. We weren’t praying in faith, but wow! Thirdly, and most importantly for us was how God encouraged us. Fox was with a babysitter during all of this and when we called to tell her what happened and that we were going to be late. She was frustrated like us, but not despairing. Her words were balm for our angry, hurt souls, “God is in control, and he’s in this somehow” (or however you say that in Spanish). What a comfort and what a great reminder that though we came to Colombia to serve the church, God is already at work here. Colombian Christians have encouraged and served us since the day we arrived.