Nowhere to go
These words were spoken to us 6 years ago, the unforgettable day that Maria, our elderly neighbor, died suddenly while tending to her flowers in the front yard. Some years before, she had taken in a young Shuar girl named Cristina whose mother could no longer care for her. Maria provided her room and board in return for keeping up with chores around the house. With her passing, Cristina had nowhere to go.
During the funeral, Maria’s family heard mention of the Hope House and came to us and asked about Cristina coming to live there. Normally, we don’t take in girls from Sucua, they usually come from the far reaches of the jungle. However, as we met together with Cristina, we realized that she had nowhere to go, she had no options.
The Hope House became her home, and the girls and staff became her family.
Those first months were difficult for her. She had to adapt to living in a house full of girls, sleeping in a bunk-bed and sharing a small bathroom. She also had to attend a different church than she was accustomed to, as well as adhering to the rules of the house such as no boyfriends and a strict homework study time each day. Many of the girls struggle at first with these changes, Cristina had so much more to overcome.
Two weeks ago, I sat at my kitchen table having coffee with Cristina. She graduated from high school 3 years ago, moved out of the Hope House and is now married and has a son. As we sat talking, I had to hold my tears back. Her husband teaches in a remote Shuar village during the week and is only home on the weekends. She was sharing with me that her husband’s family, whom she lives beside, makes fun of her. They call her the “christian” and constantly badger her about why she doesn’t do Bible club for the children of that village. (Permission has yet to be granted, but she is persistent!)
While Cristina poured out her heart to me, I couldn’t help but remember her first years at the Hope House and how we weren’t sure that she would make it. She has stood strong through so many challenges and heartaches, even losing her second child to pneumonia last year.
Now, I was looking at a woman, a mom, and a wife, who has an unwavering faith in God - fruit of what offering a little hope in Jesus’ name can look like.
We only get to see her about once a month now when she makes the long journey to our town to attend a bible training course. She doesn’t have a women’s Bible study or even a church family to encourage her where she lives, but she has chosen a standard to live by and that is God’s standard. It was instilled in her those few years she lived at the Hope House and now it is being carried to the second generation of her family. Cristina has chosen hope in God and His promise for a future with Him. It isn’t always easy, but worth it.