|Peter, the detective, who was an instrument used for revealing God's goodness|
On Friday, April 27th, we were returning from Brugge, Belgium, after celebrating our 29th wedding anniversary, to Amsterdam Central Station to join the bus tour group that originated from London on the same day. It was a 3 and half hour trip and everything seemed to be going well... only until I realized that our two backpacks disappeared from the rack above our seats on the train. We were getting close to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol and many people were standing to get off the train. I got up from my seat to pull out the information about the hotel where we were supposed to go.
A passenger tipped me that a guy took the backpacks as if they were his after the train left the previous station. A thought came to my mind that they must still be on the train then. At this tip, I took off and started rushing through the passengers standing in the corridors waiting to get off in thin hopes of spotting the thieves. But my efforts ended in vain as the train arrived at the station and people started deboarding the train before I finished the search.
My wife went into a panic because she had everything in the backpack, including her high blood pressure medication, her passport and all cash we were going to spend for the next 2-3 weeks on top of all credit cards and some electronic gadgets that she was using. I also had a computer, 3 USBs that contain a lot of information that I cannot afford to lose, a day-timer that has a "half of my brain" according to my daughters, and of course, a credit card, driver's license and some cash. It would be a huge loss.
But, I am a pragmatist. I am able to adapt to situations pretty quickly. I can easily say "Let by-gone be by-gone" and move on. I believe that regret is always too late. Moreover, my reasoning ability starts working far better when a crisis occurs. I suppose I have inherited this attribute from my dad who retired as a police officer, It is known that his analytic and investigative insights were superior to others, thus handling many tough cases.
I immediately started thinking of follow up actions to deal with the situation and consequences. First, report to the police of the theft. Whether they will be able to catch the thieves or find the backpacks was only the secondary question. Second, pull out the information about the hotel where we are supposed to join the bus tour from e-mails. Third, pull out the information about the credit cards to report the theft and to deactivate them. Fourth, find a way to get a temporary passport for Kristin. Fifth, ask a friend of mine in the U.S. to send us some money via Western Union because we were getting into a long weekend in the Netherlands.
I do not intend to bore you with details, but while we were traveling to the hotel, our God Almighty was already working on this case that resulted from our carelessness of not keeping the backpacks in our sight and in good custody. He turned our mistake into a wonderful opportunity for us to experience His power, goodness and abundant grace.
When we arrived at the hotel, one of the owners, called Lusie, welcomed us and informed us that the police caught the thieves in Den Haag, 60 km away from the hotel, and everything we thought we lost had been recovered, including computers, Kristin's passport, credit cards and even cash. We could not believe what we were told! How could the police catch the thieves so quickly in such a large city and recover everything we thought we lost? It did not make sense at all. To us, it was a miracle and we had no choice but to say "Hallelujah!"
This is the account of the police detective, called Peter, who caught the thieves. Den Haag is a city where many people (120 people groups according to Peter) are living, including many criminals. Two thieves got on the train we were riding and stole our backpacks, exchanged all US dollars into Euros and came back to Den Haag. In a residential area where they are supposed to be living, they were sorting out what should be thrown away and what should be kept. Also they were discussing how to divide the harvest. A neighbor felt suspicious of their behaviors and reported to the police. A detective, Peter, happened to be right around the spot and arrested them immediately even before they finished their discussion. They were arrested approximately within two hours after they stole our backpacks. That is an unbelievable and incredible story!
How did they find us? Kristin had all the trip information in the backpack. The police contacted the travel company in London and the travel company contacted my daughter living in New Mexico and left a voice mail message on my Skype call. Also, the police called the hotel where we are staying now and left a message that the thieves were caught.
Last night, when we arrived at the hotel, it was a moment of jubilee when we were informed of the news. While I was talking with Lusie, the police officer called and right after our dialogue through Lusie our daughter Amanda called and we were able to talk also. A series of accidents? No. It was a miracle.
Today, Saturday, we went to the police station in Den Haag and reported to the police officer through a registered interpreter for two hours about what happened and what we lost in details. After that, we recovered everything we thought we lost, even all the cash and credit cards!
For the past two days, we experienced God's goodness through so many good people who were exceedingly good to us. Lusie was helping us out as if it was her own matter. She talked to the police officer and answered our questions in the middle of receiving several groups of clients. Her attitude was genuine and we thanked God for her. She even helped us by asking one of her own staff to drive us to Amsterdam Central Station this morning because it was raining heavily. Also, the hotel staff, a 29-year old Polish young man, was kind and good to us. The taxi driver who took us from the train station in Den Haag to the police station was also very good to us. The police officer, Peter, was exceedingly good to us with extreme patience. God's goodness revealed through many people made us humble and immeasurably grateful. How great Thou art!!!
It was a drama, a miraculous drama that was performed in less than 20 hours in Amsterdam.
On the way back, we could not stop praising the good and faithful Lord who demonstrated His goodness even through the mistakes that we made. It was a miracle to us and we gained even stronger conviction that God is good and He works even now strongly in our very lives to manifest His love, goodness and power. May His goodness be proclaimed to all nations forever! May we worship Him, honor Him and glorify Him through our lives as blessings to others! Amen! - Jeffrey