The Weather in Our Neck of the Woods

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Life Stories from El Valle, Volcan, Panama-

A couple of prayer requests –

Kathy, the 16 year old mother of the beautiful baby, Valery at the side, is really hurting. She was asked to leave her home a few months ago. She did, with the baby. She went to her father’s house, where she stayed for 2 weeks before he took a riding crop to her, and she again was asked to leave. She is 16. She acts like most 16 year olds – she is a bit selfish, lazy and rebelling against her mother. Shortly after her stay with her father she went back to her mother’s house, and was told the baby could stay, but she could not. She left the baby because she had no money for food , diapers, or even a roof over her head. She has been homeless since that time. She had a job, but talked bad a bout her boss to someone, so lost the job. She had a room for a few weeks, but when she lost the job, she lost the room. She had quit coming to church, and even quit coming to visit for awhile. When she first left her mother’s house I talked with her mom and she explained that Kathy did not want to do her share of the housework, and when her mom yelled at her, she yelled back. She asked me not to take her in because she wanted her to learn responsibility and respect. I will not go into how much of that she had been taught during the past 16 years, but it certainly is not a problem that just popped up. I honored her wishes.

At any rate, Friday she came to bible class, and told me she was leaving for Panama City on Saturday to try to find a job. She did not want to leave Valery, but felt she had no choice – there were no jobs available here. I told her she should talk with her mom, apologize, and learn to follow the rules of the house. She said she did not think her mom would listen. She did go to talk to her, but nothing changed. Her mom said “Fine, go!” Later that night someone came to Kathy and said her mother had told family members that as soon as Kathy left her mother was going to try to get legal custody of the baby. So, Kathy did not go. She came to church today. I know that she is pretty messed up, but I also know that she wants to be a good mom, she just isn’t ready for the responsibility.

All my heart wants to reach out and take them both in. However I know that is not necessarily what is best for either of them. She is talking to me more and more, confiding in me, and listening to me. I am asking that you pray for her to 1) find a decent job, 2) begin to mature into the person she must be to care for a child, and 3) that God would give me the right words and actions to show His love and care, as well as His expectation that we be good stewards of all He gives us. I do not find her totally to blame. Her life has never been what we would call good. But I also know she must begin now to change the direction for her sake, and for Valery’s.

Another young lady very close to my heart is Yari. She has been bounced from place to place for several years. When she was less than a year her mom gave her to her grandmother. She stayed there until she was 12, when her mom was angry with her grandmother, so took her away. The grandmother is very devout in her religion. They are somewhat Pentecostal in that they only wear skirts or dresses, and do not cut their hair. Yari, at 12, was happy to be out of this strict church environment, and loved wearing jeans for the first time. We met her a few months before her mom took her to another part of Volcan to live. She was one of my first English students. At any rate, we have stayed close. She was the first person to be baptized in our congregation. She spends a great deal of time here.

Last year, just before the end of the school year she was caught skipping school. Her mom made her quit school as a result. She is not, nor has she been, a problem kid. She is now 14 1/2 years old. The situation in her house continues to deteriorate. Her brother, who is still in school,(ironically) has been in trouble with the law, stealing and fighting. She lives with her mom, her brother, an unwed and pregnant aunt, and her younger two siblings in a small apartment. When her aunt moved in Yari was moved to the couch in the living room. Her mom entertains men until late at night. I do not mean that she is inappropriate with them in the house, only that Yari’s bed is unavailable until past midnight most nights, and she has no place that is her own space. A few months ago she told me that she would like to live with her grandparents again, but that she was told she must renounce her baptism, and be re-baptized into their church before she can even spend a night in her grandmother’s house. She is unwilling to do that.

So Lynn and I have been praying and considering asking if Yari could come back to the States with us. We decided it would be best for her, so today I talked with her mom. She said that if we could swing the expenses, she would let her go because it would be an opportunity that she could never give her. So, we will begin seeing how legally possible it is in this short time that remains for us here this year. We really believe that Yari is on the edge of deciding which direction she will go. She really wants to do right, to follow Christ, but when she gets lifted up here, and fortified by God’s love and power, then returns to her messed up family at night, it is very hard. Please pray for her strength, and that if God wills, she can come home with us for the 6 months. Please pray, also that her mother’s heart will soften and she will see the desperate need that Yari has to be loved unconditionally and completely.

Well, this is what is on my heart tonight. I pray that God will bless you richly with peace, and unconditional and complete love. He offers both in abundance!

Joy & Lynn

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