David Lansdale - Ecuador, 2006

Sent: Thursday, June 15, 2006 
From Quito, Ecuador
Well, our poor friends here had a terrible experience last night in the Wednesday night bible study...4 armed robbers came in during meeting.  I'll paste David Lansdale's letter below to give you details of what happened.  There are 2 Wednesday night meetings here in Quito and I had been planning to go to the other one in the south last night, but when it got closer, I realized that I just didn't have the energy to go, so stayed home to rest.  I didn't find out what happened in the north meeting until this morning.  Some of the friends called to tell me about it and said they were so glad I wasn't there.  It seems that the outside gate was left open which was an open invitation to thieves and the inside door was also unlocked.  I'm sure they will be more careful in the future, but what a frightful thing for our dear friends.
April P

Letter from David Lansdale:  (the word "colaboren" means "co-operate")

Dear family and friends:
Ecuador celebrates their victory over Costa Rica in their quest for a world cup today, and the world takes note, but I´d like to share a quiet little scene, unnoticed but by a few who were there, that touched my life last night.
We gathered for a weekly study at the home of the Almeidas at 7 p.m., about 30 of us, including about 12 young children. We had sung two hymns, and in the middle of the third prayer, there was a sudden commotion in the hall.  Four young men burst into the room, brandishing handguns, and ordered us all to drop to the floor.  I appreciated the first word of advice my neighbor, Ramiro, cried out: ¨Colaboren!¨
A hush fell over the room, except for an occasional muffled sob of a child or mother, as the thieves worked the room, taking cell phones, wallets, cash, whatever we were willing to hand over.  Three of the men then went upstairs to see what else they could find, clearly disappointed by the lack of jewelry in the take. During the next twenty minutes, the leader who kept watch over us in the living room, on five different occasions, commanded:  ¨Agachen las caras¨ (¨bow your faces¨).  And each time, my dear friend Ramiro, in a quiet but firm voice, would follow up with:  ¨Colaboren.¨
An interesting phenomenon occurred as the moments ticked away.  I could tell that those of us who could were quietly praying.  A gentle, quiet spirit drew over us, and what struck me was that the voice of the leader of the group, each time he gave an order, became just a little bit softer, gentler.  Finally, one of the fathers present asked them to please get it over with, as the children were clearly upset.  The leader then asked his companions to finish up, and as quickly as they had arrived, they were gone.  The house and the room were a mess, and we were all shook up, but no one was hurt.
Our studies have been in the book of Matthew, and last night it was chapter 20.  Time and again, Jesus has been encouraging his disciples, who have been asking who would be first among them, to become as little children.  We didn´t follow through with the study, as the police arrived to make out a report.  But I did go home last night, thankful for a Father who was watching over us, and in the midst of the darkness (at one point, the lights were turned out), the quiet, gentle voice of encouragement and assurance:  Bow your faces, collaborate, be as little children...
I lost my cell phone in the process.  I can´t now call at will, but I sure can pray, if only I will!  And I came away all the more encouraged by what I gained from the experience, an object lesson in submission and obedience, and an ever greater assurance that the One Who promised is ever a very present help in time of trouble.

Gratefully yours, from Quito,