I have been wanting to write about this but everytime I begin to type, words escape me. Even now, words inadequately tell the story. How do you put a miracle into words?
On September 21st I was at home taking care of my kids and my husband had left to go for a run. It was a mundane morning, nothing unusual until my phone rang. I picked it up and it was a message from a family member urging me to check my facebook.
I looked and saw a message from my brother-in-law. Tim's only sibling, Chris, lives in Kenya, Africa with his wife, Jamie (one of my favorite people on earth!) and their five kids.
Chris had gotten a message out to the world. It was simple and caused my entire body to go numb.
"Don't come near Westgate mall two grenades and hundreds of shots fired. We are hiding but safe. Pray! Shots still going on 10 minutes later. "
I stopped everything and frantically began calling family. I tried to get Jamie, Chris, anyone on the phone.
After a few minutes we were told: Chris, Jamie and the kids were all trapped inside Westgate mall in Nairobi, Kenya. The mall was taken by terrorists. And my precious family was inside hiding from the terrorists.
I dropped to my knees and heard my voice call out, "LORD!! LORD!! You see them!! Cover them! Cover them with your strong arms. Cover them! Make them invisible!
I called my husband. I NEVER call him when he's running. NEVER. It's understood. Unless there was a tragedy, running is a escape- our alone time. :)
I called him and choked out, "TIM!! come home now! Chris is in trouble. He's in a mall trapped and there's grenades and guns!!"
Tim gasped out something unintelligent and hung up. I knew the message was delivered.
I stayed on my knees and begged God. Spare them. Save them. ALL OF THEM.
The terrorists were there for them. Targeting anyone really, but westerners were a bonus strike in the terrorists eyes.
Tim ran home and said he couldn't remember a single step all the way back home, just his prayers. He too was pleading before the throne for his only brother. Tim, too, was led to pray they would be invisible to the guns, the terrorists.
My brother and sister and five kids were in the mall for approximately five hours. At the onset they had been separated. It was a terrifying ordeal. Chris hid with the oldest son in a store and said the terrorists looked directly through the glass doors and never saw them. Jamie hid behind pallets of stacked flour. At one point she heard someone calling them out of hiding saying they were the police. She did not trust the voice and stayed hidden. Others walked out and all she heard after they walked out was a succession of gun fire. Hours later she was able to make her way out.
This is the first image I received of Jamie and her kids after learning they were out of the mall. The only word that came out of my mouth when I saw her was, "Beautiful."
It was more than her appearance. It was the Spirit in me seeing her and seeing how God sheltered her. That is beauty.
She was reunited with Chris and her oldest son about an hour later.
My family was spared. God sheltered my family and heard our cries.
I've read many accounts and stories that have come from the mall. Many have stuck with me. There was another western family hiding in the mall. Here is an excerpt from that mother's interview:
For the next four hours, the family was trapped in a real-life hell, as blasts reverberated around the shopping mall where the only other sounds were screams and pop music playing over the mall audio system.
"My 2-year-old immediately, she just crawled up in fetal position facing the floor and just stayed in a ball, with her head kind of covered looking into the ground for hours," she said.
"She was so still that I kept touching her to check that she was still breathing as it was almost like she was asleep," despite grenade blasts shaking the floor, she added.
Katherine believes her group's survival was a miracle.
"I say God hid us in plain sight, as when I looked at the terrorists, it was almost like they were looking directly in our direction," and another watching from a floor up could not have missed them, she says.
Anyone who has a two year old knows that this is a miracle. That baby laid still and the mother says God put her into a sleep. The terrorists look directly at them and didn't see them.
My God is strong. He is able.
This song is on Jamie's play list as she walks through this with the Lord. It is now on mine. And those of you I go to church with, get ready...and know, when we sing this one, my heart is especially praising Him.