When we got married, they had already taken up a collection from all the villagers to buy building material for our house. Soon after we were married, they began building our house.
But the first months that we were married, we lived in that little room in the clinic. What precious memories we created there!!! The room was only big enough for a twin bed and a table; Andrew had an electric (single) burner on which I cooked. We had to walk about 160 yards (I counted one time!!!) to use the school bathroom. But we were happy. We were SO happy! I learned many things during the months that we lived in that little love nest.
San Antonio is a village that is nestled between other villages, many of which were occupied by Zapatistas. (The Zapatista Indians rebelled against the government in 1994. They are characterized by bandanas or black hoods they wear over their faces, and they are usually armed.) As you get off of the main highway, onto the dirt road that leads to San Antonio, there is a training ground for Zapatistas. Many times we would walk by and I could see boys as young as 12 years old being trained with real weapons. It was quite frightening for me (who had lived a very sheltered life!).
Our little room where we lived was right next to the road that led into San Antonio. Our window opened up to the little dirt road which was the main entrance to our village. At night, we would hear bats flying around the roof, or mice crawling around in the rafters above. (I would bury my head into my husband’s arm to be able to go to sleep!)
But one night, around 11:00, I heard what I thought was a pack of horses trotting by. I said to Andrew, “Who would be leading their horses out at night?!” (And in the village, by 8:00 p.m., everyone is usually in bed, and everything is quiet.) He said, “Those aren’t horses. They are the Zapatistas.” I shiver even now as I think about it. There must have been 200 of them! I was too scared to peek out the window, afraid they’d see me. I didn’t want to make the least bit of noise; I was so scared!
Andrew had lived back there long enough to know that if you don’t mess with them, they won’t mess with you (generally). But I had only heard scary, horrific things about these people. I had only lived there, perhaps, for a month.
I remember that night as if it were last night. I could not sleep. I just knew that any minute, one of them (or several of them!) would bust through our door and kill us. My imagination went wild. I began to cry softly. Andrew very tenderly said, “Please don’t worry. Try to go to sleep. The Lord is watching over us.” I remember repeating the verse in Psalms that says, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee,” over and over until I finally went to sleep. The Lord watched over us and got us through the night!
I remember hearing, on several occasions, the village men telling my husband about an attack by the Zapatistas on these villagers. Many times, they’d come warn my husband, “Don’t stay out after dark tonight. The Zapatistas have attacked a certain village.”
One day, I accompanied my husband by foot to a far-away village to treat some patients. We came to a tree that had a sign nailed to it which read, “You have just entered Zapatista territory. We are not a people under the government.” Andrew said, “Look around. Do you see anyone?” I said, “No.” He said, “But in this area, there are eyes everywhere. They are watching everything we do. You can’t see them, but they see us.” These villagers refused Andrew’s medical treatment; but we had to walk through these Zapatista villages to reach the ones who needed and accepted his help.
Many times I felt fear knowing that we lived so close to these rebels. But in the 7 years we lived in San Antonio, surrounded by them, they never once hurt us. On one occasion, one of the village chiefs asked Andrew to come preach to a group of these villagers! I know there were many unseen dangers surrounding us from which the Lord kept us.
“Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;”