>My Bodyguards, My Friends

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When we moved to Honduras in 2006 I rebelled against being assigned bodyguards. I’m a very independent person and wanted the freedom to drive myself and go places alone. I wanted to go shopping and buy what I desired without another knowing. Not that what I bought was inappropriate; only that most was extravagant to one who lived on very little. They knew if my lunch cost $3 or $10 and waited outside every restaurant we frequented. If I went to the Dr., they knew and were concerned. They even knew how many times I used the bathroom while away from home!
Yet, with Mark being the General Manager of the largest company and exporter in Central America, I had no choice. Amidst the death threats he received, the constant kidnappings and other violence, plus Chiquita saying they would not take responsibility if something happened while I was out without my guards, I reluctantly agreed. Not that they weren’t nice men. The always treated me and my friends with the utmost respect and kindness.
Soon, Nicolas and Leo became my constant companions. I became grateful when one would drop me off at the door of the store and the other would wait in the car. I didn’t fear going to the bank to withdraw money. They watched my back constantly and I never feared being robbed. They carried in my groceries and helped me decorate for Christmas. They were like children wanting to use every light and ornament I had to adorn as much of the house as possible. The eagerly found a solution for every problem. I didn’t have to worry about my kids going out as they were well taken care of. When I trained for a marathon, that meant one of them had to run it with me and therefore shared in the special connection that only marathoners know as they train and run together. They even brought me more and more animals of every kind, knowing I loved any critter!
My ministry became theirs. They loved the girls at the orphanage in Omoa that I visited and took an interest in every little life. They accompanied me several times a week to Mario Catarino Rivas, the public hospital in San Pedro Sula. They knew every child’s case and would make sure I knew if there was another child or family that could use my help. They would anxiously await news on surgeries and mourn with me at the loss of one of the kids.
I began to have dreams that one of them would get shot while protecting me and it would be my fault. I would awake, my cheeks wet with tears, from visions of me holding one of them in a pool of blood.
Nicolas and Leo became a part of my daily life and were no longer bodyguards, but friends.
When news came that we were getting transferred our three body guards (Mark’s included) and the house guards gathered around us and thanked us. They said we were the first employer that treated them as people; who took an interest in their lives and the lives of their families, who treated them fairly and lovingly and who trusted them with money and important tasks.
When Nicolas took me to the airport as we flew off to Mozambique, he said, “I’ve spent two years watching you and your friends as you serve God and help the poor. I now know that my life was meant for more than being a ‘guarda espalda’. I want to serve people too.
The day after we left he was employed by a missionary family with a mission station that hosts a church, a feeding center, and computer, sewing, woodworking and mechanic classes to help get kids off the street and away from the gangs. Nicolas is not only a bodyguard but pretty much runs the mission as the missionaries now spend about six months of the year in the US due to medical issues.
I made a list a few months after we left of all the things I missed about Honduras and just found it. Guess what was on the top of the list? You got it!!! My bodyguards!

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About shandaoakley

I am a MK and have lived most of my life in Thirld World Countries. This greatly influences how I think, speak and write. I love my husband of 25 years and my three kids, ages 18, 21 and 21. We recently moved to Southern California and have set up life back in the US. I love my home, friends, animals, teaching and mostly Jesus! I believe life is a choice so I choose joy!
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