Yesterday morning (7th), David, Karl, Jim, Natasha and I headed to Bishkek to spend a few hours sharing in the men's prison. The ladies - Ruby, Casaundra, Debbie, Kristine, and Corrie along with translators headed to Kemin to the seniors to spend their last day with them . We left the prison about 2 pm and headed back Bishkek to catch the road to Tokmok - we received a phone call that there was trouble in Bishkek. Then the road ahead was blocked with a large crowd - we detoured and managed to geta round them. we made it to the edge of Bishkek - gased up and prepared to head for Tokmok. By now we had received phone calls indicating riots, revolution and major looting as out of control crowds were storming government building - not just in Bishkek, but the riots were spreading.
We had an excellent driver - he used his skills and knowledge of backroads to get us back to the safetl of Mercy Foundation - meanwhile the ladies who had Essar as a driver made the same dangerous trip from a different direction and all of us were in safe quarters by 4:30 pm.
Now the challenge - the team was due to fly out the 8th at 6:30 am - that meant leaving the security of the Foundation and heading down the road at 2 am. We scambled to find reliable information - were the roads open - was the airport open - were flights cancelled. At 7:20 pm we received info that a state of emergency was being declared and all roads would be shut down from midnight to 6 am - this is to last 30 days. We were able to contact the airport - they indicated the Moscow flight - which the team was booked on would arrive at 8 am and leave at 9:30 am ( 3 hrs behind schedule) all other flight were cancelled. We made the decision to make the run to the airport - 90 minutes.
We took Essar - a very experiened driver- he used a variety of bumpy back streets to get us out of Tokmok unseen. About 15 miles down the back road to the airport is a resort called Hawaii - as we approached it we could see it was in flames - we began to pick out a huge crowd along side of the road - we were blessed that they were fixed on the fires they had set (after murdering the owner and his family we found out later) - Almost though the back of the crowd we were spotted by a number of men who turned to block our van jumping out in front - they were fast, but Essar was faster - turning sharpley and accelerating we made it through - hammer to the metal Essar swiftly moved us out of harm's way.
The rest of the journey to the airport was tense but Essar was always peering into the distance and making adjustments to the route.
We ushered the team into the safety of the airport - about 9 pm. We found some chairs in the back and hunkered down for a ten hour wait. A bit uneasy, we noticed there were no police - anywhere. We were told they had left - apparently afraid of the crowds - we were assured that neither side in this fight was wanting to damage the airport - after a copula hours men began arriving and they were putting on white arm bands - we were told the government had fallen and these men were part of the new government and they were there to protect us and of course the airport. It was a long night - a coffee shop was open and we managed on bottled water,coke, coffee and mars bars.
The counters opened shortly after 7am and the team checked in - the flight from Moscow arrived at 8:10 am and the changeover took place on schedule and they were airborn headed to the safety of Moscow at 9:30 am. We were told the only reason the flight came in was to get the Canadians out. Praise God!
Then Ruby, Natasha, Sophie and I headed back to the van and Essar did his "thing" again weaving us through the back roads to get us back to the safety of out apartment in Tokmok.
In retrospect I think we would have been safer to stay in prison yesterday.
Nonetheless, God had His way - we are all safe and secure and anxious to see what we can continue to do to serve.
Thank you for your prayers,
As I write this the team will be about to land in Moscow. Apprarently the government has changed - there has been HUGE damage to people and building. No stores are open and almost all government buildings have been ransacked - computers and files destroyed. We have been only able to catch bits of the news but it is ugly. We will see tonight if the violence continues or the crowds are satisfied enough to move behind the new government (again this is what we hear - not absolutely certain.)
We thank God for His hand on us as we travelled through the midst of chaos and violence. The team was in heavy prayer thoughout our trip - our hope and prayer was to move unseen through the crowd - God granted our request.
Just across the street and down a bit from us is the government building in Tokmok - it is (was) quite beautiful - the crowds surged on it yesterday breaking all the windows and destroying whatever they could. File shots on the TV showed police in Bishkek firing automatic weapons on the crowds - vans being over turned and burned and so on. It has been reported that over 40 people have been killed and many hundreds injured.
May God restore order and peace to this desperate country.
Lynn and Ruby
PS our blog has been blocked from this end so updates are few and far between.