These are the thoughts of a Texas transplant in West Michigan who makes his living as a newspaper reporter by evening, and a struggling novelist by day.

Friday, December 02, 2005


my thursday night turned from an in-the-office working on a weekend story to rushing to get information on this zeeland missionary who was kidnapped in haiti thursday morning.

it was a mad rush at the office immediately after hearing the tidbit around 5:30 on the tv news. after a series of wrong numbers and information, krista suggested i call
channel 8 news (since they had the story). i did, got through to christine, a producer, and then forwarded on to jam, the reporter. he gave me the info and i called, setting up an interview with amber snyder an hour later.

phillip snyder had been kidnapped by unknown people, along with a child he was bringing back to the US for eye surgery. snyder is a missionary who works in haiti with an organization he cofounded called GLOW Ministries.

after securing the interview, things calmed down. however, the weather was nasty outside. snow blowing, roads icy. dennis and i were set to go. after driving back and forth down central ave. in zeeland with the snow falling and blinding, we find the house.

we conducted the interview in the basement while amber changed her six-month old son and her uncle dennis looked on as we talked. she described the details of how she got the call from phillip telling her he was OK nd he loved her. she had no clue he'd been kidnapped until she asked him. he said yes. he'd been shot in the arm, too.
kidnappers want $300,000.

twenty minutes later, we were back in the car and heading back to the office. dennis was still cranky (as he drank a root beer) because the second briefcase he'd bought that day wouldn't open. he had his computer and other stuff inside. he was furiuos and frustrated and couldn't stop thinking of it. it was both comical to see him going back to the subject of the briefcase and tough to see him. i can dig his frustration, especially if all my shit was inside it. after some discussion, we headed back to the office. afterward he was off to office max to get the thing ripped open. will he buy another briefcase? stay tuned folks.

back at the office, it took me quite awhile to put the story together. i wanted to write someting good and with certain stories it's hard to get into it for fear of screwing up (the family rejected an interview with AP, saying we were going over). by 10 i was done with the article and satisfied. krista said there was a wire story about the incident from haiti with comments from a police commander in haiti. she added it into the story. i also talked with congressman hoekstra and placed comments byhim in the article. overall, it was informative and well-written.

as of today, noon, snyder was still held captive. amber was convinced he would return safe and only a matter of when. she got my number and would call when the time came. that would make a good article, nice follow-up.


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