Leah and I are a husband and wife team. Since 2000, we have owned and operated Amazon Rodent & Wildlife Control, in Austin, Texas; an urban wildlife removal service that humanely traps and relocates wild animals from homes and businesses. In our free time, we have (collectively) organized and carried out independent humanitarian fieldwork in Sudan, Chad, Nicaragua, Turkey, Romania, Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, and the United States.
Instead of providing a résumé of academic and professional accomplishments (and failures), Leah and I have chosen to offer a glimpse into the four human interactions that most profoundly affected how we think, live, pray, and work. It is our hope that your introduction to these experiences will inspire you to re-design the remaining chapters of your life. We could write extensively about each of the following chronological events, but chose instead to provide only a synopsis of each.
- I encountered orphaned Guatemalan children who lived exclusively within the confines of an enormous municipal landfill. These children constantly orbited giant bulldozers as they sifted through refuse for sustenance.
- A hurricane destroyed the roof of a prison in Nicaragua that held indigenous residents of the Mosquito Coast who had been unjustly imprisoned for over a decade. During my interaction with one of the men who had escaped on account of the storm, I witnessed what years of torture can do to human skin.
- Five days after Hurricane Katrina made landfall, we found dead Americans floating among tree limbs and debris. Some of the deceased even lay on dry streets, in plain view of children. Since it is important for relatives of the deceased to have proof-of-death for the purpose of closure, our team of six civilian volunteers respectfully loaded bodies into our privately owned (decommissioned) 5-ton military vehicle. We soon learned there were still surviving flood victims of all ages and physical conditions trapped inside their homes. We immediately headed to a military drop-zone on an overpass to transfer responsibility of the bodies to city, state, or federal authorities; none would accept the bodies. As our group debated the ethics of photographing the faces of the deceased (for identification) and allowing their bodies to float away, we came upon families who desperately needed immediate evacuation. We quickly covered the body bags with layers of old quilts and assisted the families into the bed of the truck. Minutes later a young black boy said, “Mister, it stinks bad in here.” With the composure of a collapsing concrete building I replied, “Son…I’m sorry. It must be something in the water.” How could I tell that precious little boy he was sitting on a dead man?
- We interviewed a young African woman who had fled her home with thousands of others due to widespread, systematic human slaughter in Sudan. She walked through the Sahel Desert to a seemingly safe U.N. refugee camp in Chad, only to be shot in the chest after refusing to have sex with heartless beings who routinely entered the fenceless camp at night to prey on women.
Each situation required independent, unconventional action that extended far beyond raising awareness of the victim’s plight. Some think a life of involvement in such matters is a life filled with constant sadness. It is our experience that a self-absorbed existence, purposely insulated from the struggles of others, is the life that battles constant sorrow.
Please support our effort to share the burden of Pastor Saeed. Our proposal is a viable solution, but we cannot accomplish it without your help. We need your prayers, your voice, and your financial support. For more insight into our motivation, please read Leah’s blog post “Shackled by Faith.” God bless you.