Story of Our Attack.

November 21st, 2008

            This has been an overly eventful week.  We have survived a home invasion. Last Sunday at one o’clock in the morning we woke up with the dogs barking ferociously.  We had been dog-sitting a beautiful German Shepherd named Brisa (pronounced “Breesa”), and that night was the first night that we left her outside to sleep with our other two dogs (another German Shepherd and a Chocolate Lab).  Vann heard Brisa bark ferociously, and then run down the steps as though chasing something, and then her barking stopped and the other two dogs started barking loudly as if alarmed.  Vann went out to check on things with our big flashlight, and shone it around from the porch, but didn’t see anything. Brisa wasn’t answering his calls, so he set the light down and went downstairs to look for her.  He noticed that the door to the garage was open, which was strange. Thinking that possibly he had left it open the night before, he went in and turned the light on, and called loudly for Brisa looking around and under the truck.  When he couldn’t find her he walked out the door and turned to look around the left side of the house, and saw in the full moon’s light two armed men running at him 10-15 feet away.  He quickly turned and ran up the steps four at a time, got into the house, and closed and bolted the door behind him.  He grabbed his pistol from the hook by the door and quickly backed up the steps to the loft. He crouched on the top step where he had a good view of the door and was well protected.  He told me to call somebody for help. Both of our cellphones had been left downstairs, so the only phone that I had to call our neighbors at SAM Air was on the phone that he had just installed that day. Our God is so good.

          After I made the phone call I grabbed my pistol, and stood behind Vann.

          The men outside began to beat on the door. Vann yelled at them to go away and leave us alone. They said “NO! There are 20 of us and we are staying!!” They then began kicking the door until they had kicked the bottom panel out of the door. It was a hole large enough for a human to easily come through. Vann fired a shot through the door into the deck to let them know that he wasn’t kidding about being armed. The men outside returned fire. They fired 7 to 10 shots into the house spraying the living room and kitchen with bullets. It is unheard of to build a loft into the roof structure in the tropics as we have, and we believe that as it was completely dark, they thought that they were firing into where Vann was hiding. Vann saw that they were firing with intent to harm, and aimed at their muzzle flash and shot. The gunshots stopped, and there was silence. 

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          We waited upstairs for the next few minutes until our friends drove into the yard after having busted through our fence with their truck and cleared the yard and garage. It is amazing to have neighbors that will come running in the middle of the night into a gunfight for us! We found a piece of the perps' pistol butt, several unspent bullets, and a significant amount of blood on the porch. The blood trail led off behind our tractor shed and back into the uncut part of our property.       

      Our Indian neighbor friends tracked the trail that the perps left, and they said that there were certainly not 20 men, but more like 6-10. No doubt that there were more than the two that Vann saw running at him. Also, they knew their way through the back of the property which is dense jungle. They had either scouted it out before, or they had a guide. Either way, they were most likely hired guns. We don’t know who it was, but we do know that they were here to do us harm. It was not a robbery. They had plenty of opportunity to steal what they wanted without breaking in our door and shooting at us. By God’s goodness, and my brave Vann Damme, we didn’t end up being as soft of a target as they thought!  

      One thing about the whole episode stumped us. How was it that those armed men with a running start didn’t just shoot Vann in the back as he was running up the stairs? In the morning light we discovered that several protective stakes that were around my baby palm tree planted at the corner of the house were pulled over as if someone had tripped over them. I had asked Vann to put those stakes around my plant earlier that week, and they had just saved his life. Our God is so good.

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            The police came after several hours of being called and inspected everything. They didn’t have their own camera, so Vann had to use our camera to take the crime scene photos, and will have to print them out for the police. He then had to go to the police station where he has spent the last several days trying to convince them not to put him in jail. The gun that he used did not have a license due to the incompetence and procrastination of the police. They had lost all of the documents that we had turned in to apply for the license, so there was no proof that the process had ever been started. Fortunately, Vann had developed a friendship with a high-ranking police Colonel who had previously been stationed here in Pucallpa. (The police here are a branch of the military) They used to play soccer together weekly. Vann called him when he saw that these local cops were trying to use his fear of being put in jail to extort money.  The Colonel told Vann to wait just a few minutes before going back into the police station, and he would fix everything.  When Vann went back inside, he was told to sit and wait. One by one, the officers involved in our case came out of the chief’s office looking rather like whipped puppies. The police chief handed Vann his pistol, and said that he was free to go. As Vann turned to leave, the chief asked him who it was that he knew in Lima. It’s all who you know here! Our God is so great. 

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           The children seem to be doing well. They had awakened screaming and crying with the gunshots going off in their bedroom popping their ears. They obediently stayed in their beds through the whole ordeal, but once it was over they wanted to come down to see the hole in the door. Unfortunately that included the pools and spatter of blood, but they went willingly back to bed when I told them that it was OK to go back to sleep because God and Daddy would keep them safe. Corynn responded by saying “That’s ‘cause God is powerful, right Mommy?” Our God is so very good.

            I have had the first, and hopfully the last, panic attack of my life a couple of days ago when the Police were about to throw Vann in prison and throw away the key. By God’s grace, I am doing well now. Vann on the other hand is struggling. He is experiencing a lot of fear that is uncommon to him. It is difficult for him to go outside after dark – even in the early evening. (It always gets dark here on the equator at right around 6pm) Every little noise startles him, and he has not been able to sleep very much as any sound wakes him. We have been talking to our good friend, Barney Davis who runs a missionary care ministry called Godspeed. He assures us that all that we are experiencing is in the range of normal. The missionary community has been an incredibly wonderful support. The men have been coming over to spend the night with us so that we could have an opportunity to rest better, and the women have been sending meals. The Swiss Mission men have been taking turns patrolling the property at night to keep watch for a return intrusion, and to help us feel safe. We feel so very loved by the body of Christ.

 As in dealing with the aftermath of any traumatic situation, we are trying to do what we know rather than trusting our emotions and feelings. 
Please continue to pray for us as we try to follow what our Heavenly Father would have us to do, and that He would give us wisdom as we go through the process of assuring our continuance in the work He has called us to do.  May our Great, Good and Loving God bless you all. 

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