We are so very grateful for all the adventures we got to have on the Mediterranean cruise, for the places God allowed us to see and explore that we would have had a difficult time getting to otherwise. We thank the Lord for the time we had together as a family to make memories together.
After 12 days of massive activity, we were exhausted and ready to head home. We knew our travel day might be a little stressful, but we were unprepared for what greeted us when we arrived at our house. We knew something was wrong immediately as we heard the "click, click, click" of the house alarm that indicated it had been going off long enough to run the battery down. When our breaker tripped a year and a half previous while we were on vacation, we heard the same noise when we returned and found everything in our fridge and freezer ruined. So we were on the alert immediately.
But this time it was worse than power issues. Muddy footprints, open doors and windows, items thrown all over the floor, and the strong smell of cat urine told the story: we had experienced one of the negative aspects of Napoli life, a break-in and burglary.
It was a surreal feeling. I remember having the thought, "We can't have been robbed--the big TV is still here!" And yet it became clear that other things were, in fact, gone. God's gracious hand prevented it from being so much worse than it actually was. As we pieced together the evidence, we figured out that the break-in had occurred a number of days prior to our arrival (as proved by the utter ruin of everything in our fridge and freezer, the cats having moved in and made themselves at home, the extremely cold house, and the alarm battery having died). Apparently the alarm went off long enough to annoy a neighbor, who yelled at Ted for "allowing" the noise to go on for so long. Gee, thanks, Signor, for your help. :-/
The items taken didn't value more than approximately $3000 total. Unfortunately, a number of them had more sentimental value than monetary value, such as the guitar Ted had had for 20 years, plus his violin from childhood that Charis had been learning to play. While I had some of my most valuable pieces of jewelry with me on the cruise, I lost several necklaces that simply cannot be replaced, such as the made-to-order cross necklace that contained the middle ruby from my grandmother's engagement ring, the ruby Ted had taken out so he could put a diamond in the ring for me to have for our engagement. Charis's jewelry was also taken, as was the Wii (all components except the sensor), some bottles of homemade wine given as a gift from a new Italian friend, Bose speakers, and I'm forgetting what else at the moment. We also lost probably $500 worth of food in the deep freezer and fridge because they flipped the breaker, probably trying to turn off the alarm.
At any rate, we had much to be thankful for, including the fact that we hadn't been at home when the event happened AND the fact that the thieves never returned to clean us out, which they definitely could have done since a number of days passed between the break-in and our arrival. We had a mess to clean up, to be sure, but good friends swooped in immediately to help take care of the food mess and sweep and mop the main floor anyway.
Over the next days we did a LOT of laundry, as we not only had 12 days' worth of dirty laundry from the cruise, but Ted and I also had to launder every item of clothing that had been in our dresser drawers, since the thieves emptied out the drawers and tromped all over everything with their muddy shoes. Additionally, we had to locate the various sources of cat urine and either wash/clean/disinfect or, in some cases, get rid of ruined items (such as a few beanbag chairs that were beyond saving).
It was a rather depressing way to end such a lovely vacation, and certainly not how we would have chosen to spend the remaining days of the holiday season with Ted's mom visiting us. The drama didn't quite end there, as we realized we had left a small toiletries bag at the cruise port in the chaos of making sure we had all our people and suitcases--somehow we all forgot about the little red chest that, unfortunately, contained the rest of my jewelry and some special souvenirs we had accumulated during the trip! The good news is that after a number of phone calls, emails, and severe headaches, we were finally able to pick up the chest in person a month later!! Ted's mom likewise had multiple problems getting home to Denver from Italy, having to spend the night in Rome and then also having to track down her suitcase, which went missing for nearly a month as well!
But we can say without a doubt that God is good all the time, and while we were sad about some of the items with emotional value to us, ultimately we realize that all material things will pass away. This world is NOT our home, and everything we have is a gift from God, who gives and takes away according to His plan. We spent time praying for those who broke into our house, that they would find God alone to be their provider and their salvation and seek to know Him. And we praise the Lord, too, for protecting the hearts of our youngest, who never did experience any fear or distress as a result of what had happened but rather seemed to just accept it and trust that no "bad guys" would return to harm us or take any more items. (Although Lucan did spend a couple of weeks blaming the "bad guys" for taking any of his items that he happened to be missing at the moment, such as his flip-flops or stuffed animals!)