Violate: to do something that is not allowed (by law, rule, etc). To take away, interfere, or ignore (something, such as a person’s rights or privacy) in an unfair or illegal way.

Our fam is feeling a bit violated today. Ava’s iPod was stolen through the window of our living room in the middle of the night.

We’re not exactly sure how they did it. We live on the 3rd floor which is actually more like the 5th floor, because our ceilings are 15 feet high (ish). And there are gates & barbed wire and all kinds of stuff all around. There’s no easy way up (or any way at all that I can see, but I am not agile & fearless like Cambodia’s criminals). You can’t see inside our window from the street. We’re up too high and our balcony is deep.

Earlier in the day, there were some guys fixing our electricity inside our house. Our landlord’s son was with them, watching them. We had to leave before they were done, and he handed me Ava’s iPod to put away (it was on the table in plain view). I put it in our bedroom with our other valuables and locked the bedroom door.

Could those guys have reported back to their friends (or perhaps they are professional thieves themselves) and said, “Hey, these rich foreigners have an iPod, and we’ve been in their house and know an easy way to get up to their balcony and in”?

Maybe. We don’t know. We probably won’t ever know. Even so, what are the chances we’d be charging it by the window (we don’t normally do that)? It wasn’t by the window when they saw it.


On the positive side: No one in our family was hurt. Nothing more was stolen. They didn’t actually enter our home (we have a waffle-like grid of steel bars inside each window). An iPod is a replaceable thing.

On the negative side: Someone took something from our home that belonged to us. It’s no fun to have someone take advantage of you in that way. Ava saved her babysitting money for a long, long time to buy that iPod and has been counting down the days (23) until she turns 13 and gets an Instagram & Facebook account.

To go deeper, it feels a bit like betrayal. We’re in this country to love and help, and this doesn’t feel like a very nice way for people to say thank you. (Papa Bear is the one having the hardest time with the offense at the moment.)

But that’s when we’re reminded of a few basic (if not hard to swallow) facts: We aren’t here to be thanked. We aren’t here to get something in return for whatever love & hope & help we’re able to share. And we’re here to show people Jesus, people who don’t know him and his kingdom ways of living & not stealing what isn’t yours.

And also? Sometimes it’s not a bad thing to experience a little bit of injustice when you’ve decided to make it your life’s work to fight for justice for others.

This isn’t the first time it’s happened. One of the girls reminded me today that, when we lived at Abbey Lane, we got a whole great big mini-van stolen. Oh, yeah, I forgot about that. (A stolen van is much worse than a stolen iPod, eh?)

And I remembered what happened after that. Someone gave us their old mini-van. GAVE US their mini-van. I still can’t wrap my mind around that kind of generosity. Because of them, we were able to give that mini-van to a friend who needed it when we left for Cambodia.

And this morning? I put this on Facebook: Bummer of a morning. Ava’s iPod was plugged in by the window, and someone somehow climbed up to our third floor balcony, opened the window, took it, and left the charger on the balcony. My fault for feeling false safety & letting our guard down. Heartbroken for Ava who saved $ for over a year and is 23 days away from turning 13 and getting Instagram & Facebook. Trying not to cry in the tuk-tuk on the way to school. Not working.

And I was so, so touched (and not really surprised) by the outpouring of love & support & offers to help. In about an hour’s time, we were offered two used iPods and an iPhone 5. Two people asked if they could send us money, and two others just did it without asking ($150 total). One person asked if they could send her an iTunes gift card, and lots of people offered “we’re sad with you & we’re sorry & we’re praying.”

You people.

And the other crazy thing? Our friends, Chris & McKenzie, are hopping on a plane in 2 weeks and coming to visit us. And it will be no problem for us to get one of those used devices (or even buy a new one) and have them bring it to us in time for Ava’s birthday.

It really makes it a lot easier to forgive and move on when so many wonderful people are rallying around you and helping. Over the past three years, each hard thing we’ve faced has turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because we found out just how many people love us and have our backs.

I still have a bit of a yucky feeling in my stomach, but it’s good to get some perspective and be grateful for what you have.

And we have a lot lot lot. And it’s all the kind of lot that money could never, ever buy.

One thought on “taken

  1. Carrie

    Oh, Marla. I think the worst part would be the feeling violated like you said, and that’s amazing that you had forgotten about the van!! God really does work in those situations. I bet it’s harder to see something of your child’s be taken, though, especially something she worked for. So happy for the outpouring of love over your family, and I am praying for you!!

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