As many of you know, our family has been back for US/Puerto Rico assignment this year, from August 2009-June 2010. We have been blessed by many friends, churches and family who have made possible for us to locate in the Philadelphia area, back to our origins as a family, where Ray and I met at Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary (now Palmer) twenty years ago!!!
Yes, time flies, and now our daughters: Michelle and Melissa are in 11th and 8th grades at the public schools in this area. We are so appreciative for the overwhelming love that has surrounded us from brothers and sisters in Christ who made possible our time here. We also love the fact that we have been invited as “Missionaries in Residence” at Palmer for this academic school year. So many wonderful memories! God willing, we will be able to attend the Seminary’s Homecoming this November, in the midst of all of our deputation among our American Baptist Churches.
We will be traveling around the country. So far we have several commitments in different regions to help spread the Good News that God is doing around the world, particularly in Tijuana, Mexico, where we serve at Deborah’s House.
Diondra Marchus, a member of Crosswalk, FBC Napa, CA, and our current volunteer at Deborah’s House shared with us last week:
I've been given a lot of great nicknames in my life (Punkin, Dio, Dinozaur, Dino, Diodactyl, "D.O. double G," Tiny) but I have to say, my favorite so far is "Cha Cha." I have been dubbed "Cha Cha" by our two-year old at Deborah's House, Brisa. Because Brisa is two and just learning to talk, she only says the ends of words. "Pelota"(ball) is "ota!", "Galleta" (cookie) is "eta!", and "Muchacha"(young woman) is "Cha Cha!" So, according to Brisa... I am "Cha Cha"
In the mornings when I walk into the kitchen for breakfast and I'm greeted by this bundle of cuteness clinging to my leg while squealing "Cha Chaaa!!!" all I can do is thank God for leading me to this place. I am so honored to be a part of this little girl's life.
Moments like this one, so full of joy, happen often with the Deborah's House women and children...to the point where I sometimes have to remind myself what they've been through and why they're here. In the past few weeks we've been able to take them to the beach, to the movies** and to the Tijuana Cultural Center where we saw an Egyptian mummy exhibit. It's wonderful to see that despite the horrors they've faced, they can still laugh and play and the kids can still enjoy being kids.
The reality is:
Teresa is tired some days because dreams about her father trying to shoot her mother wake her up in the night and she can't get back to sleep. Rosalinda and her three pre-teen kids were completely uprooted from their lives and friends in southern Mexico taking nothing with them but the clothes on their backs when they fled. They spent three straight days on a bus to get to the shelter. Ines left her job as a teacher to come to the shelter when she found out that her husband wasn't just physically and psychologically abusing her, but sexually abusing their five year-old son as well. Now, as she's looking for a job so she can start over, no one is hiring. Her old boss is begging her to come back but she can't because her husband has already been there looking for her... Domestic abuse is so much more than black eyes and bruises. It can be a total loss of freedom.
But, as I said, despite all the pain they've suffered, they are resilient. The happy times we have together here and the smiles on their faces are a testament to that. I'm sure that in their private moments and in therapy they are wrestling with the sadness, hopelessness, fear and anxiety that their situations warrant...some of them, in their first weeks here, were even made physically ill by the stress. But while their bodies may tire, their spirits are incredibly strong.