Read a short Christmas story of hope and joy as a family is reunited for Christmas.
In the 12 years they’d been together, Jane Dunbar had never spent a Christmas apart from her husband, Rod. But it was Dec. 21, 1999, and Rod and seven other United Pipeline Systems workers had been missing in the jungles of Ecuador for more than three months.
Dunbar and his colleagues were being held for ransom by armed guerillas. They had already killed one person. The company was negotiating for the men’s release. Every day, at home in Edmonton, Jane fought her fear. She lay in their comfortable bed at night, tormented with thoughts about where Rod was sleeping. But through stress-aggravated migraines, a panic attack, and constant worry, she remained strong. The Dunbars’ seven-year-old daughter, Krissy, needed her.
Rod had often been away for months at a stretch laying or repairing pipelines in foreign countries. He’d missed some holidays – but never Christmas. Jane clung to her conviction that Rod would make it out of the jungle alive. “I just thought he was coming home, no matter what,” she says.
As Christmas approached, Jane and Krissy kept the faith. They bought presents for Rod and decorated the tree. But Krissy stopped Jane from placing their hand-made angel on top of the tree. That was the job Krissy and Rod did together.
Four days before Christmas, the phone rang. Racing upstairs, Jane missed the call. She was in time to hear Rod’s voice on the answering machine. A few minutes later, he called back – and Jane knew he was free.
On Dec. 23, Rod Dunbar stepped through the door of his Edmonton home. Seconds later, Krissy dragged him down to the recreation room where the Christmas tree stood. Calling on all the endurance left in muscles weakened from his imprisonment, Rod hoisted his daughter above his head – and she placed the Christmas angel atop their tree.
By Laura Eggertson