Wednesday, February 28, 2007

February 27, 1989 -- El Caracazo

18 years ago, on the 27th of February, we had a terrible uprising here in Venezuela. I had meant to post this yesterday, but was not able to do so. These are my memories of those days.

We had recently purchased a used, but new to us, van. The problem that day was that the electric window on the passenger side got stuck with the window down. We couldn't leave the car parked with the window open as it would be stolen. I had to ride around with my husband as he did some needed business so that I could stay with the car.

We went to a store where he had to run in to get something. I was sitting in the car, no keys, the window down, and started hearing the "mob". The "mob" has a distinctive sound, a low rumble coming your way that gets louder and louder. As soon as it registered with me that they were turning the corner and heading my way, I saw the stores guards quickly lowering the protective(garage type) doors over each entrance to the store. My dilemma was, I couldn't roll up my window and I didn't have keys!!! I was the only one outside. These student protest love to burn vehicles, and a van would be too good to miss!!!

I began to do some serious praying...now remember my husband is locked IN the store and I am locked OUT of the store! An older man came around the corner and saw me as I was getting out of the van...I don't know where I thought to go, but I knew I had to get out and away from the van.

The "mob" at this point was about 100 meters from me. The man was gesturing for me to come around the corner with him. He said there was an underground drainage ditch and that we could hide there. I remember thinking, "What? Am I a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle?"

At that same time my husband had begged and convinced a guard to raise the door enough for him to crawl out to me and the man crawled in. He yelled at me to get in the van.

As we took off, the mob continued on to the store. WHEW!!! CLOSE CALL!!!

We didn't realize at that time that in Caracas things were much worse! Another missionary family came over for dinner that night. We started hearing the tanks on the street and decided to turn on the news. We found out that there were terrible riots through out the country due to a raise in gas prices and public transportation, and that we were under martial law.

The government removed the "guaranties" this is like the Bill of Rights being revoked. We were not to leave our homes as the soldiers were shooting first and asking questions later. The family got stuck at our house for a few days because of the curfews. But it was good to be together! After a bit, the curfew was lifted to just 6 pm to 6 am. I think this was the first time I smelled tear gas. I remember Joshua having asthma problems due to it and being afraid to take him to the doctors. We had a nebulizer at home so we treated him as best we could.

They say over a thousand people died in the Carcazo. They have found mass graves and there are still people unaccounted for. Many were shot in their homes and many were killed with stray bullets. I remember putting the kids in a corner and standing a mattress up to the window. The kids liked to hide under the bed when the tanks drove by. They thought it was a game! It is one of those times you never forget.

The looting was rampant. We saw 2 guys with a double mattress between them on a motorcycle. We saw people carrying refrigerators out of the store. Our church was in a shopping center right down the road from us. The entire place was looted, but not the church.

With all the looting and shooting and the curfews, no goods were transported for a few weeks.

I had been using my last little bit of cooking oil and was down to a quarter cup when the curfew was lifted. We had to travel to Caracas to renew our visas which had expired during the Caracazo.

I entered one of the largest grocery stores in Caracas, and the shelves were mostly empty. On one aisle, both sides were empty, BUT I spotted 1 bottle of cooking oil. I quickly headed for it in great excitement. A man turned the corner and reached for the bottle the same time as I did. I surprised myself, by grabbing it firmly and telling him, "This is mine!!" He let go and backed off with his hands up in surrender. I was embarrassed that I had reacted that way! My husband was a few feet away and he looked to be in shock!

I turned the corner, and...I saw an aisle, both sides loaded with nothing but ...
COOKING OIL!!! The same man was picking up several bottles, now I was not only embarrassed , I was deeply ashamed!!

I learned a few things about myself that day,
1. I am selfish!
2. I am a fool!

Whenever I feel myself beginning to panic over something, I remember that day. What I wanted and needed was just around the corner, but I foolishly fought for what I thought was the only way left for me to get what I wanted!

21 comments:

Pam said...

Great post Rita! and--my favorite line was: "What? Am I a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle?" ROFLOL! It is so evident how God has cared for ya'll throughout the years. You supplied many testimonies to that in this post. God bless!

Yekwana Man said...

I remember being in the store when they started to close the gates and trying to get out. It was not a good feeling. I was worried. For the record...I was worried about you and not the van! Of course it was a lot faster to get away in the van than on foot. and remeber, it was a diesel so it took a bit to get it started and the mob was all headed towards us.

Janie said...

Wow! You guys will need to write a missionary biography for us folks back in the states. I can never read enough of those and you have some great stories to tell. Thanks for sharing this testimony of God's provision of both safety and cooking oil!!! God Bless and keep you today!

CONNIE'S THOUGHTS FROM THE HEART said...

Jungle Mom, It seems everywhere I go today, you have already been. I thought I would just stop by and say a big "HELLO." connie from Texas

CONNIE'S THOUGHTS FROM THE HEART said...

Jungle Mom, It seems everywhere I go today, you have already been. I thought I would just stop by and say a big "HELLO." connie from Texas

Ashley said...

Amazing post Aunt Rita! I never knew that happened!!! It just goes to show how naive I am to what goes on in the world...LOL I never knew things got so intense for you all. I am so thankful God protected you.

I loved the "Ninja Turtle" thing...that was HILARIOUS!!

Oh I've done so many things that afterwards I see what a fool I really am. I overreact in a lot of situations. LOL

knitty ~ in the south said...

Hey Jungle Mom! Thanks for stopping by to say hi. You are the visitor from the farthest away ~ and that is fun.

Your story was incredible. I will take my nice boring life thank you very much. God bless!

Kim said...

All I can say is ... I love you guys!

Winston said...

Sounds scary. I got stuck in 1999 uprising in Tehran and I for the first time smelled the tear gas. LOL

Ginger said...

Thanks for your comment on my post. My cousins were in Caracas for years as missionaries. They moved back to the states a couple of years ago. I was amazed to read your profile. I'm excited to read more of your blog. Feel free to stop back to mine anytime. God bless..

arod said...

I don't mind... the more the merrier! Thanks for stopping by again!

Ginger said...

My cousins names are Dale and Sheryl, but they were called by their middle names or something while in Venezuela. I know Sheryl was called Renee and I can't remember what the people called Dale. They were with Bella Vista Church and of course I can't remember the name of the ministry right now. They were there for about 17 years. They are in their mid forties.

Candy said...

Hiya! Thanks for dropping by my blog and leaving a comment :)
I Like your blog...think I'll sit here and read for a bit :)

Baptist Girl said...

Hi Donatello *S* hehe

Great story. I love your honesty and your humility. It must have been so scary. Thank the Lord He has Angels encamped around us!

Cristin

serendip said...

Amazing story and thank you for having the courage to admit your humanness. You definitely need to write a book. I can promise you, it will be a bestseller...

Carol said...

I felt like I was right there with you. Thanks for sharing your experience. It is an amazing testimony to God's protection and provision. The neat thing is it doesn't depend upon us doing everything perfect. HE still does His part! I loved the fact that he gave you friends and fellowship during the curfew times. Now that's cool!
--Carol

Penless Thoughts said...

Came here via Ginger. Boy what an experience. I'll be back to read a lot more on your blog. We serve a BIG GOD!!!! Loved your honesty.

Jungle Mom said...

Thanks everyone for your comments. it helps me to write if I know people are reading. However, everyday is not as eventful as that day. We have our boring days as well!! I am trying to recall things for THE BOOK.

luvvom said...

Thank you jungle mom for this testimony! I am encouraged by your willingness to tell it. I am also encouraged by the sequence of the events in this story. First God saves you from the mob and then He lifts the curfew for you to shop when you desperately needed to. All this He did for you when He knew that you would tell that man the oil was yours! Isn't He faithful to us when we aren't to Him? The way you panicked is that same way we ALL would have...we all have our sin nature. God uses times like this to sanctify our hearts. Thank you so MUCH for your story of His faithfulness...what an encouragement! You are an encouragement to us of your willingness to be in a dangerous country to serve the Lord. I run a persecution blog. If ever you want me to post something about persection for prayer let me know. It's important that we keep you all in our prayers. Thank you for your work.

Jungle Mom said...

luvvom: thank goodness His grace isn't dependent on my actions! As I mentioned in an earlier post, the only persecution so far has been to the Indian churches in the jungle and those of us who lived and worked there. In the rest of the country there has been no persecution. I personally feel it will come. Everything points to that. We are aware of some pastors receiving visit about supervision and others being sent papers and forms to fill out. So far this has only happened in the smaller towns that border the jungle. It begs the question...why do they want everyone out of that area?

Pat said...

Your testimony lends credence to the statement that "God's timing is right!!"

You certainly have learned the practicality of grace and provision!!

You are close in our prayers!!