Here is Part 3 to the Operation Restoration: Life Edition. This is the story of the family I am helping as part of Operation Restoration: Home Edition. If you missed part 1 and part 2 you might want to read those before you start this one so you are all caught up.
That summer the kids and I spent some much needed time with family and friends back in Indiana. We soaked up as much of them as we possibly could. Patrick joined us for a week and we made our rounds. It was such a great visit. I had missed those people terribly and was so grateful for touch home base so to speak.
Soon after we got back to Arizona Patrick informed me that one of our supporting churches in Colorado had invited us for a visit. They knew of our financial troubles and the toll it had taken on the staff. They not only invited our family but about 15 other staff people as well. We packed up and off went the caravan to the San Juan Mountains. These people were so incredibly generous. They housed us, fed us, and gave us the use of their ATVs and pontoon boat. This gave us the time we needed to focus on the new school year together, pray and play together. We left with renewed spirits and grateful hearts.
The school year started and we were off to a great start. Our two children were in their fall routine which meant school and soccer. We had found a new way to watch the games – by tailgating and watching the field down below. On many occasions we would take some of the mission kids with us and picnic as we watched them play. I’m so thankful that on this one particular night we hadn’t brought any of them with us. It was a beautiful evening and all seemed to be going smoothly. Our oldest was playing her heart out and our youngest was in yet another sword fight or Jedi duel, I’m not sure which. I am just glad he was oblivious to what was going on around him.
At halftime Patrick went to throw our trash away and didn’t return for quite some time. I thought he probably just stopped to talk to someone. When he came back there was something wrong. He was pale and he spoke slowly. His eyes looked like he had seen a ghost. I immediately asked what happened and I couldn’t believe what he said next. “He said he was going to kill me,” he said. What in the world had just happened? There we were at my kid’s soccer game enjoying the night and my husband’s life had just been threatened?! You have to know that normally in situations like this, I am not a person you want around, I seem to forget anything of importance and freeze. That night was different; I changed modes quickly and knew action had to be taken. He sat and told me how he was walking back to our car and a truck barreled up to him, narrowly missing him. A man got out and belligerently started yelling at him and told him to get on his knees and that he was going to kill him. At least 3 more times during the altercation he said the next time he saw him he would kill him. This man was a former coworker. You see, when all those shifts happened at the mission not everyone was on board. This man had resigned or had been let go, it doesn’t matter, but obviously was very disgruntled and Patrick was going to pay. I immediately start asking questions. Did anyone witness this? Did he touch you? Where did he go? Patrick called the police and they were on their way. In the parking lot I spoke to a couple who had witnessed the whole thing. They heard the threats and couldn’t believe how well Patrick handled himself. They and Patrick didn’t know if the man was going to pull a gun out at that moment or what he was going to do next. Apparently he got back in his vehicle and sped away. The couple gave their report to the police. By this time, the game was over and our children sat in our truck totally clueless as to what just went down.
The next day, I went to school and Patrick got a restraining order against the man. Apparently while I was gone in the summer there was another situation with this man. He had passed Patrick on the highway and cut him off so closely, Patrick nearly ran off the road. Thankfully Patrick had people in the car to witness that as well. It was because he had two separate instances with this man that he was able to obtain the restraining order, like a death threat isn’t enough!
Needless to say, that changed things at our house a little bit. I really didn’t want Patrick going into town or anywhere by this man. But more importantly, it changed Patrick. He began to close up a bit. If I gave the impression that we were a perfect couple and always communicated well before than I gave you the wrong idea. We loved each other greatly but we were not without fault. Communication was something that went in cycles. At times I felt like we were great at it, and other times we stunk! I wasn’t sure how to help Patrick. I wanted to talk about it and he just wanted to act like it didn’t happen. This situation bothered him a lot more than he let on. He had always hiked for sanity, but now I didn’t want him traipsing around in the mountains alone (not that it is ever a good idea to hike alone). So, we did what each of us does every day and just tried to move on and live life.
But this experience caused us to live in a fearful state and both of us handled it differently. Communication was breaking down and we were on two different pages on how to handle this situation.