Wednesday, February 20, 2013

"I'm Sorry. You're not Allowed in our Church." (Day 854)

First, apologies for not writing more.  My life has gone through a lot transitional things in the past month, and we'll get to those in a later post.  At the moment, I want to write about something only vaguely related to anything I do down here.

Here in Guatemala, I attend a church called Iglesia del Camino.  It's a bilingual, multicultural church which I started attending just over 2 years ago when I moved to Antigua.  It is now a half-hour commute for me to get to church on Sunday, but the people are nice and the preaching is good.  Every now and again, I miss a service due to translating or travel, and I try to see if I can get my hands on the sermon so I can read it.

There is no easy way to say what I'm about to say, no way to sugar coat it, no way to make a good story out of it.  So, to skip straight to the "punchline," I met a man.  I don't know if he started attending that church because he saw me in the street and followed me there or if he started following me because he was attending that church.  At any rate, during the course of the last 2 years, this man has been stalking me, the first five or six months without my knowledge.  During the course of the last year and a half, the church has been helping me with moral support and translation services to tell this guy to leave me alone.  (In the beginning, this man would always speak English with me, and because my Spanish was not yet what it is today, I would tell him in English to leave me alone.  That's mostly what I'm talking about with "translation services.")  And, for about the past six months, this guy has left me alone.  I deleted the giant list of numbers from which he has called me which I had stored in my phone.  I stopped watching my back.  I stopped having the closest male answer my phone for any unknown number which called, even if I had to ask some stranger.  I stopped taking extra buses so that he wouldn't realize where I lived in case he was following me to the bus station.

And then on Sunday, no more than 15 seconds after I got on the bus, he got on--I thought, "Oh no.  What are the odds that he'd have business in my town?"--and sat down next to me.  He told me that he would have talked to me at church, but I was with a friend and he didn't want to interrupt.  My friend had walked me to the bus station to take his own bus to his town.  And I sort of wish that I had gone with him and surprised his mother with another lunch guest.  However, if it weren't this week, it might have been the next week or the next week.  I know this because he told me that he had been there the Sunday before--I didn't see him--but could never get me alone to talk with me.  (Someone from my town had accompanied me to church, and someone else had offered us a ride home; so I didn't even get on the bus or go to the bus station.)  At any rate, he eventually got off the bus after I said something about "My boyfriend wouldn't like you sitting here talking to me."

I promptly called the church and talked to my contact there who has been helping me with the situation.  The last time this guy was bothering me, the solution was to simply change my phone number...because the other option is somewhat time consuming and stressful.  After what happened Sunday, and especially now that he knows roughly what town I live in, we are going with the other option.  Today I will be filing a restraining order against him.  This is not something I happily do.  Obviously this man is in need of help, and because church is somewhere where we would run into each other, it appears that church is somewhere that he will no longer be allowed to be.

And I feel bad.  And I try to tell myself "This is not your fault."  But I'm getting him barred from a church.  A church! And I call myself a missionary?

So, I'm asking for your prayers today, for me and this situation, for this man, for my peace of mind, for the ministry that God has given me here.  Thank you all for your love and support.


  1. God will forgive you; He loves you. If this man needs help, let him find it elsewhere, and keep yourself safe. You're right; this is not your fault. This man has been stalking you, and continued doing so after you painstakingly arranged to make doubly sure he understood that you wanted him to leave you alone. You are still a missionary. This situation and your choice does not change who you are. You're doing the right thing for yourself, and sometimes that's the best you can do.
    You can't save everyone.

  2. Thankfully, Annalisa, you are safe! And there are a lot of other churches that he can go to for help, if that is what he is seeking. Unfortunately, this has gone on for too long. If he really does want to participate in a congregation, then you are not keeping him from that. Wanting to talk to you alone and stalking you is not ok. Your safety is really important. You are such a kind and loving person, and you always put others before yourself. It sounds like you've made a wise decision, and it sounds like you have back up to help you. You have a good head on your shoulders, dear. Take care!
    Love y besos,