The Bomb that Went Off at my Friend’s House


One day growing up as a missionary kid, I saw smoke rising from my neighborhood when a bomb that went off at my friend’s house caused the street to be blocked by the police.

Let me give you some background information so you can understand what happened.

As an MK, I had an interesting mix of education. Between bilingual school and boarding school, I had one semester doing paces at ACE. I absolutely hated it. I was in a cubicle all day (a wall on 3 sides of me, boxing me in), doing thin workbooks in silence, and putting up a little flag if I needed something. I graded my own work at the end of each booklet, and then I would do another boring, mundane, black and white page. The day droned on and on in endless tedium.

One of my friends from that school lived in my neighborhood, and we had been friends for years. Her hair was blond like a barbie, and she even smelled like a barbie. A loud parrot lived at her house. I remember that after school sometimes, I would go over to her house to play, and one our favorite things to do was to roller skate on the roof. The roof itself was flat cement with a cement wall around it that was high enough not to feel danger. The roof was also smooth enough to roller skate freely.

We would also do plays together, along with my best friend and two younger sisters. I would write the scripts and then hand them out. We would make costumes, sometimes out of paper. One time my best friend insisted that I wear a paper skirt, even though she had a beautiful hoola hoop skirt that made her look like little Bo-Peep. Needless to say, the paper skirt tore when I sat down. Not happy.

That barbie-headed friend came to my birthday parties for years. We would always have a pinata filled with candy, and when we hit it, candy would fly in all directions. My dad would swing it around so crazy that you didn’t know where it was going to be, especially when blindfolded. We also played games like “Red Light, Green Light” and “Mother, May I?” My friend is in all the pictures.

Well, one day my neighborhood friend came to my house and said that her parents had gotten a note in the mail that was threatening. It said that if her family didn’t leave the country right away, they would be killed. So she said good-bye to me, and I never saw her again. I thought that was sad, because it seemed like I played with her almost every day. At least I still had my best friend, but she still went to the bilingual school, and she lived further away.

A couple of weeks after my neighborhood friend left, a bomb went off at the house where she had lived, exploding upwards into the sky. My whole neighborhood was blocked off, and a shoot-out was happening at my friend’s house. Some guerrillas were using that house as a hide-out. The police shot so many holes in the house and the gate that there was hardly a square inch without a bullet hole. It looked worse than a slice of Swiss cheese. So much smoke rose from our neighborhood that it was foggy. And I was glad that my barbie-headed friend was safe and sound.

But what I remember about that evening the most was that we were allowed to go out to dinner, which we almost never got to do. So I cheered with my sisters in the back seat, and we ate at Pollo Campero, fried chicken, for dinner.

If you liked reading “The Bomb that Went Off at my Friend’s House,” you will probably enjoy my other MK writings, which I post on my MK page on Facebook.
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10 Responses to “The Bomb that Went Off at my Friend’s House”

  1. What a heart wrenching story! Have you ever tried to find your Barbie headed friend? That would make a great story.

    • Susan says:

      Yes, I actually found her last year! Her sister found my YouTube channel based on a random search about an Ancient Greece Unit Study, and she wondered if it was me, because my name changed when I got married. But I had red hair and had lived in Guatemala, so she e-mailed me. Then I talked to my barbie-haired friend for an hour on the phone, and it was wonderful to catch up on our lives!

  2. Rachel says:

    Funny how you don’t seem to have responded with any fear! Why do you suppose that was so?

    • Susan says:

      That’s a good question. I was used to machine gun noise and other stuff that normal Americans haven’t experienced. Also, my parents didn’t seem afraid. Children look to their parents to know how to act, and my parents were calm.

  3. Amy says:

    I’ve always thought that missionary kids have the best growing-up stories! This one’s a great one.

  4. Melissa says:

    What an intense story to read with the understanding of an adult but I love the perspective that you remember from being a child.

  5. Julie says:

    Gosh, that sounds scary! You have so many stories to tell, Susan!

    • Susan says:

      It wasn’t as scary as you would think. When lots of scary stuff happens in your life as a child, you tune out the dangerous things as being normal.

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