Resilient Narrative

[Excerpt from my memoir coming in November 2020]

When I was 15 years old, my sister Pearl was 16 years old. We were doing an errand for my parents. We lived in the capital of El Salvador. We were walking behind the American Embassy on a sidewalk. The Embassy took the entire block. Two large black SUV’s blocked the road. Two men jumped out of the SUV’s and pointed machine guns at us. It all happened so fast, we didn’t have time to react. We froze.

Pearl and I were the only people on the street.  What’s going on? Will they kill us? My heart started beating wildly. One man with a machine gun is muscular and dressed in normal clothes, so he’s not a soldier. Everything moves in slow motion. He is looking straight at us and pointing the machine gun at us. The other man is facing away from us.

Oh, these guys are bodyguards. They are protecting the people who are in the SUV’s. Whew! I take a deep breath and take a step. Pearl has locked her arm in mine. We start walking.

For a second there I saw Pearl and I getting shot. In my head, I imagined it. We are going to die here on the street. How will our parents find us? The next moment Pearl and I are walking down a street again, running an errand for Mom. That’s how life was for the 2-1/2 years we were there. One moment I’m a kid swimming at the lake, the next moment I’m trying to survive.

What do you tell yourself in life-or-death moments? It felt stupid to react with so much fear. But then, I tell myself the truth. Just last week there was an assassination in front of the University. Every eyewitness was killed. So, no, I’m not stupid. I’m in a dangerous place. But like Mom says, we’ll get through this.


I am more of a storyteller than a writer, but still, I write.

Why I write?

To strengthen people who are going through change, or suffering. To call the Christian Church, and myself, up to an identity that doesn’t include condemnation, exclusion and toxic relationships. To encourage authentic connections. To think and process freely using these methods: explore, question, and wrestle. To nurture resilience.

In my memoir I describe the narrative I told myself that gave me resilience. If you are interested in hearing more about my book launch, please send me your email address to: belindamcdanel(at)

I promise to do four things with your email. 1) Safeguard it. 2) Let you know about the book launch. 3) Not send emails too often. 4) Send you promotions and free gifts.

I hope your holiday season is full of good food and great connections. My next blog will be posted in January. Enjoy!

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