Glenda, Class of 2020
WHY ARE YOU LEAVING US
She had a tiny athletic frame, beautiful complexion and engaging smile. She appeared timid, yet confident. This interview would prove to be an intense tear-drenched experience, and as she began, it was evident that she was ready. She had a story to tell.
“Hi,” she said. “My name is Glenda.” Glenda is from Honduras. She is the youngest of five. Her mother was a rare beauty; brown hair, green eyes, and tall frame, which was not typical. Her father was shorter, with dark eyes and a cruel demeanor. “When I was born,” Glenda said, “my dad beat my mom because I wasn’t a boy.” Her father told her mother that Glenda would not be given his name. He said, “She is not my daughter.” This dysfunction was not new in her home. The first child that her mother bore belonged to another man and Glenda’s father told her mother that if she did not give that baby up, he would kill her. So her firstborn would be raised by a family fifty minutes from their home.
“For as long as I can remember, my mom had cancer. She was weak. She couldn’t do anything…but she had to. My dad would beat her when she grew tired. She reached a point where she could no longer walk, and her hair was falling out of her head. One day we called an ambulance for my mom. I can remember that day. She was laying on the bed and talked to me. I didn’t know what was happening. I said, “Why are you leaving us?” She told me she would leave me Pacho, her curious orange and white cat. She said my sisters would be with me. She told my brother that he would be the man of the house. I never knew she wasn’t going to come back. When they buried my mom I didn’t know why she was in the ground. I kept asking my sisters, “When will she be back?” Six months later I started to comprehend death. I was suffering, I couldn’t eat by myself. I couldn’t shower by myself. My mom had always been there to help me. I asked God, “Why did you take my mom from me?”
After her mother passed, her father left their family, and when Glenda was eight years old, she saw her father again. “My dad was at my aunt’s house. He told me he was my dad. He had two little girls with him and I started crying. I asked him, ‘Where have you been, why didn’t you take care of me?’ I was so mad. He told me he would take care of me. He lied and then he went away forever.”
TRIAL BY FIRE
“I have one older brother and two older sisters who were twins,” Glenda continued. “After my mother’s death, the older twin sister asked my extended family for help and they would tell her that she was not their family and they would not help. I would always ask her, “What are we going to eat today?” She would say, “I don’t know, maybe nothing.” We never knew what we were going to eat, or when.”
She struggled to care for the needs of her siblings, and so she left for the United States two years after their mother’s death to seek out means for survival. She was sixteen. “She recently told me of this terrible trip,” Glenda said with reservation and sadness. “She came without money, she told me how terrible it was to be abused. She would often be very hungry, and people did not help her.”
“I was in a foster family, but they are not like the ones in the United States. I had to work, and I wasn’t allowed to study. I cooked and cleaned. I was eight and people didn’t care about me. My country is not well. Everyone is killing each other, and when women and children are abused, no one does anything.”
Glenda’s brother left for the United States two years after her sister left. When Glenda knew he was leaving she thought, “Man, God is taking another part of my life. I didn’t tell him I loved him or that I would miss him. I just said, ‘Bye.’ I was heart-broken. I asked God, ‘Who’s going to tell me that it’s going to be alright?’ When my brother and I were so tired, he would always be the one to tell me, ‘It’s alright, we’re going to get out of here someday.’ He tried to hug me, and I couldn’t even hug him back. I just told him, ‘Don’t leave.’”
“In 2015, I joined my brother and sister in the United States. I was nearly 14. I now live with a loving foster family, placed there through Bethany Services. They provided therapy, which was especially critical for me as I worked through my bad moments. There were moments that I wanted to forget, things like my mom’s death, and having a father that disowned me.”
“If my mom was here, I would probably still be in Honduras, working, uneducated, and struggling through poverty. It would be hard. All the pain is not gone, but there was a purpose for it. God took her away and did great things with my family. I remember my mom was always praying. People tell me that my mom’s prayer was that God would take care of us, and I believe He has.”
A PLACE TO CALL HOME
“I have been attending The Potter’s House for about two years. I like it here very much. When I came here there were all different kinds of people from different backgrounds and different countries. Teachers are helpful. Everyone talks and laughs together. We are a family. We have suffered and we can openly share these stories. I continue to learn more about myself and have been given opportunities in athletics and now robotics. I had some great experiences and learned a lot of new things, like how to have patience with my teammates and exploring engineering.”
To see Glenda walk the halls of The Potter’s House is to see a girl who connects with her peers and radiates joy. There is a bounce in her step, and a countenance that defies the dark horrors of a difficult past. It is the testament of a God who loves deeply through the hands of those who are willing to love the orphan and the alien, and it is a visual manifestation of an answer to a dying mother’s prayers.
It is testimonies like Glenda’s that remind us of the extravagant love that God has for each of us. Even in difficult seasons of life, even when the trial that we are in seems to be more than we can bear, God does not leave us. He is faithful.