“Look for the helpers”

Last Friday our car was stolen.

We were out for dinner in a safer area of Durban and when we returned to where we parked… it was gone. Obviously of greatest importance is that no one was hurt. And we are very thankful for that. There were some other “up sides” to it as well. All of us have started many sentences since with, “At least…” (we didn’t have the passports/cameras/Elsa Ruth’s doll/the violins/iPad …etc.etc.)

But it is also ONE BIG HEADACHE! The keys and remotes to open our home, security gates, and garage were inside. (If you saw the security post you know why we don’t carry that big thing around with us!) Amy’s wallet was in the glove compartment. (Unfortunately that included credit cards, cash, and maybe worst her driver’s license -required to drive a car or obtain a rental here). There are the inconveniences related to replacing things and claiming the car with insurance. “And how will we get back to Pietermaritzburg when we can’t rent a car without showing our passports which are back there!?” But let’s not belabor the difficulties any more than necessary!

How are the children? I know you’re wondering that and we’re thinking about that a lot too.  There was an initial panicky time during the confusion of contacting authorities, calling the hotel about the lost room key, separating while Scott waited for the police and we got a ride back to the hotel. And we’ve all been rattled, anxious, worried, and down at various moments since. But on the whole, we each seem to be taking it in stride.

Scott and I discovered that we had each independently been drawing on the wisdom of Mr. Rogers’ mom that first day: “Look for the helpers.” His video about this circulated the internet some years ago in response to a national tragedy I believe. It’s a simple idea but powerful, and one that stuck with us both.

This wise advice has been a guide in consoling ourselves and in parenting the kids through this. There have been plenty of helpers to notice – people who made calls or commiserated.  Complete strangers offered and gave rides, and one even urged that we borrow his vehicle for the weekend! There were the friends who provided transport and then brought pizza, wine, chocolate and fellowship at dinner when we made it back to Pietermaritzburg.

I sense how easily bitterness, fear, suspicion, and resentment could creep in. But focusing on the helpers is one way to keep that at bay.

It’s not a post I wanted to write – but I do want to keep honest here about what is happening in our part of the world. We are grateful for the helpers we encountered in this instance. May we each have the courage to step up when it is our turn. Just think, more than the benefit of the help offered the act may be the key to someone’s long term healing.


12 thoughts on ““Look for the helpers”

  1. Pole Sana to you my family for having your car stolen. How stressful and difficult. Grateful you are all ok and that you could make a lesson out of this for all your readers to be conscious to reach out and be the helpers. Thank-you for a challenging but wise post. Mom/Grandma Nancy


  2. So sorry to read this post….thanks for sharing in such a positive way! Leave it to you two to find the best in the situation. Hears hoping that things resolves themselves as positively as possible. Thinking of you and sending Minnesota hugs.

    Sent from my iPad



  3. You said you left your wallet in the car??? Amy!!!!!????? Not saying you got what you asked for, but….
    Other than that, SORRY TO HEAR.
    When I lived in Nairobi, one night I had to deliver the car keys at gun point. At least, the hard thing on my rib cage most likely was the barrel of a gun. No wallet involved, but house keys.


  4. Oh, Amy, Scott, Simon, and Elsa, I’m so sorry for the difficulty and stress this has caused you. I hope all can be sorted out as smoothly as possible, including credit card and driver’s license issues. Oddly enough, exactly at the time you were posting this, I was doing some yard work outside and thinking about this very statement made by Mister Rogers: “look for the helpers”, a propos to nothing except remembering that moving video of his. May your Monday be bright, dear ones. You are loved.


  5. Dear Amy, Scott, Simon, and Elsa,
    Good morning from MN! I am so sorry that you had that unfortunate experience of having your car stolen. Though it is a major inconvenience and a horrible feeling of violation, you are so right that there can be gifts gleaned from the experience. Sometimes the helpers are most visible during times of need though they are all around you as you also serve in that way to others! Thank you for this important life lesson shared with your readers!


  6. So sorry to hear about your misfortune, but I admire the spirit and tone of your message. Harboring anger, as you well know, is counter- productive! Uncle Mark


  7. Ugh! Sorry to hear it. Most importantly I’m relieved to know you’re all ok. And I’m not sure how I’d handle it if I were in your shoes. I’d like to think I’d remain calm enough to look for the helpers and to encourage Will to look for the helpers, but I have a tendency to be more … emotional. Haha. A simple and important message nonetheless. I’d be willing to bet that this will be one of the stories your kids will recount for years to come — and they will remember, perhaps most importantly, that life moved on. It always does! Onward and upward! Keep the great posts coming!


  8. Hi Amy and Scott and Simon and Elsa Ruth,
    We were sorry to hear about the upsetting experience of having your car stolen and certainly wish it hadn’t happened. Uff da! Quite a shock and very disturbing to have to go through. You write about it so well and thoughtfully, Amy, that it becomes an inspiration for us to handle whatever our struggles are with some of your grace and strength! It sounds like you have all managed to cope with the frustrations and challenges as well as possible. I liked what Julie (right ahead of me) said about the kids learning that life moves on – we can all use that lesson.
    Speaking of good writers – I’ve been meaning to reply to Simon’s post about the Close Encounter with the rhino. What a great story, and so well written, Simon!! We enjoyed it immensely!
    Love to all of you – we miss you and think of you often!! Diane W.


  9. Pingback: After the car theft…and other updates | sevennorthdakotas

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