If I had to describe last weeks government upheaval in one word it would be: SURREAL. Your going through all the motions of evacuation, fear, anxiety and your hearing outside your window the sounds of "war" yet it still seems like in any minute you will wake up from this nightmare.
I must confess that my morning started with a very bad attitude towards the culture differences we face on a daily basis. As I was out and about in the city getting errands done I was continously reminded of these things that so annoy me. Little did I know how petty they would be in a couple of hours. As I normally do I set out to pick up Aiden from pre-school but there was something not normal about my drive over, I just couldn't put my finger on it. People were out in the street everyone with a panicked look on their face and it seemed like everyone was running "home". Once I got to Aiden's school they briefly shared that something happened to the president and we needed to get home soon. Still confused I now new enough to also wear that panicked and worried look on my face. Maria who watches Aiden on the days I work was waiting for me at home and told me there was a strike on the street and that something was happening to the president. I told her to go home because things may get worse and I would hate for her to be stuck here away from her family at this time. Ben calls me and says "the school is in lock down mode and I want you to come down here. I need to go." Once again all these bits of pieces of information are only feeding my anxiety. I get to school and everyone has a serious, horror stricken face. I try to smile as I walk with Aiden so he won't ask me whats wrong. I go and get Ethan out of class and then I go find Ben. Ethan is full of questions and I try to find ways to explain to a 6yr old what is going on. As I try to explain I find myself holding back my emotions in order to be strong for them. Finally, I see Ben and I feel relieved. I wanted to get the kids home because I felt like we would be safer there but that meant Ben would have to walk home after all his kids were picked up. Feeling torn between my "mother bear" instincts and the need to stay together, we stayed until every child from his class was picked up.
As we waited at school we heard reports about the situation outside: police and miltary have seized the airport, looters and thieves are out taking advantage of the situation, people have already gotten robbed on our street, the president was taken hostage and much more.
Ben was finally released from his teacher duties and we packed about 6 other teachers and our family in the car so that no one had to walk home in this unsafe situation. Ben rode in the car holding his handy dandy ax he keeps in the car. The streets seemed bare and we saw no sign of looters or thieves. We made it home safe! For the next 7hrs we kept the news on to keep abreast of the situation. Our family gathered to pray for the country, the president and our safety. Though I am sure the boys didn't totallly comprehend I think they sensed that something wasn't right and they chimed in with their sweet innocent prayers for this country and the president.
Trying to keep calm and normal in our home for the sake of our children was relatively easy until night came and the "war" against the military and police began. I sat there watching the tv screen recalling all those horror movies where there is gov't upheaval and I thought here we are living it. The news showed shots of looters, empty stores that had been robbed, people breaking into places. The shooting was only a couple of miles away so we could hear it all, what we saw on tv echoed in the street into the windows of our home causing me to feel somewhat uneasy. I just kept thinking what if this doesn't end soon, I am pregnant, our boys are so young, the airport has been seized we can't even leave, how long will our food last.... I had countless horrifying thoughts not having experienced this before in any form or fashion my imagination ran wild. I just kept praying and was thankful that we felt somewhat safe at home and that we had internet and phone connections so that we could communicate with friends and family in this time.
At 10:30 p.m. the president was rescued and though the shooting between military and police didn't seize I felt comfortable enough to put my mind and imagination to rest for the night.
Morning came and the mayor came on the news and in a very calm way said "we will proceed with this day as any other normal Friday, the police are back to work and businesses are up and running". We still felt a bit uneasy so we layed low and didn't do much or go out. Since then things have settled though the U.S. Embassy sent an advisory letting us know that this country was still in the "state of exception" until Oct. 8th and to take precautionary measures as we go out and about. As we spoke with seasoned veteran missionaries they said they couldn't recall a time the school was evacuated or a time that a strike led to shooting between armed forces and police or that the airport was seized. They said this was the first time they felt the most present danger because usually it was strike and people were upset and transportation would close down but they never felt the effects of it.
This was just a recalling of events from my perspective: an unseasoned to the third world, pregnant, missionary woman. I am sure Bens perspective would be very different and a lot shorter than mine:).