Tat-a-Tat-Tat was the sound last week that pierced the air at 6 p.m. in the evening. My friend and I looked at each other, as we were outside in our parking area loading the van with cleaning supplies. We tried to decipher what the noise was. Tat-a-Tat Tat-Tat-Tat. Liz, using her new English words, kept saying in Spanish what she thought the sound was. I was left guessing. After a minute I understood that she felt like it was fireworks. They are easy to confuse. Especially if you have not grown up hearing machine guns. That would be both her and I. A few more rounds of Tat-a-tats and we changed our minds and felt quite sure that it was indeed machine guns being fired from the valley below us. We were so disoriented. At last, we managed to shuffle our confused bodies inside. Liz decided she would scurry up the steep bank, in my backyard, to the safety of her husband. Our task at hand temporarily abandoned.
I looked at my phone and Darron confirmed that it was gunfire and was checking on my location and safety. He informed me that he would slip home, a quick 2-minute walk. I charge him to be careful. The firing seemed to be slowing.
I soon look out my window and saw the familiar, comforting sight of Darron, but also a group of 3 or 4 Muslim refugee ladies and small children that Darron was trying to talk with. They were clearly very distressed and afraid. I beckon to them, along with Darron, to come inside our apartment. With much encouragement one of the teen girls came inside and through gesturing made it known that she wanted wi-fi to be able to communicate with her family. I punched the code in for her. She was trembling with fear. About this time our neighbor returned home, speaking fluent Arabic, he was able to communicate and understand that the ladies and children wanted to go home. It was agreed that Darron and I could take them in our van.
I had just learned the Arabic words for left and right. So down the hill we went, turning “shemel” and “yemin” when told. Soon we were at their apartment building. Between many thank you and blessings they went on their way. We were all shaken, but those who escaped war torn countries more so.
Unbeknownst to us, a few neighborhoods over, my dear refugee friend was walking home when she heard the all too familiar tat-a-tat sound. She knew what the sound was. There was no confusion in her mind, having escaped a war-torn country. Running up the few steps to her one-room apartment, to check on her older sister, she slipped and broke her foot, adding to the confusion of an already terrifying moment. In addition to this distressing event, some local men then tried to threaten her.
The next day, the son of one of the women we helped to their home, found Darron and told him that his Mom wanted Darron to know how grateful she was for our help and while we prayed, she saw an angel outside of our car, protecting us. I do not remember praying, but Darron says he was as he drove. I was practicing Arabic and trying to make them comfortable, as only a nurse would do.
The story unraveled that the shooting was all over a misunderstanding between two families and an elopement. The fires being shot quickly settled, but the memories and fear it drew out in many was magnified on their past experiences. The air is somewhat tense as economic and political tensions feel unstable. Blessedly, we are protected by angels. Seen and unseen. Casts have been placed. Broken bones will heal. Crutches help hobble. Acts of kindness soften hearts. We pray that God will bring peace to the lives we touch. Inshallah He will!