Our church has time for giving thanks, testimony, and asking for prayer. Today, Sunday, I gave thanks for being blessed with a wife I could only dream about and the improbable hope of having a daughter like Adriana at this stage of my life. My little speech was received with love by the congregation. But a few minutes later, I was thrilled and overjoyed to tears by Margarita’s testimony.
I heard things I’d never heard before and questions I would never have asked were answered before the church. She began by telling how much it meant to her to have found a Christian man who loved her and wanted to marry her. She spoke of her conversations with Adriana and how much it meant to the little girl not only to have a papi but to have his name. She’s so young and so little. I never could have imagined what it’s been like for her. It’s not like having your father die or your parents divorced.
But as Margarita’s story unfolded, she spoke of this man who lived with her in her house on her family’s property in Casa Blanca and was abusive to her, to the three kids, and to family members. There was arguing and Margarita felt helpless. Her father had died only a few years before. She knew she was pregnant by him but she never told him. I guess you could say she threw him out.
By this time she was in tears. When she returned to her seat next to me, I noticed Adriana had begun to cry too. They shared a towel to dry their tears. She said something to her mother about not knowing how much she, Margarita, had hurt. Later, Margarita told me how Adriana related how happy she is to have a father.
This afternoon we went to the park. Just the three of us. Margarita relaxed on a bench while I pushed Adriana on the swing, “helped” her climb on the monkey bars, and just did whatever she wanted to do. I felt half my age.
Then we walked to the street vendors and I bought them whatever they wanted to eat. When they finished eating we went back inside the park where Adriana climbed on anything climbable. She has more nerve than Evel Knievel. She’s strong and sure-footed. She has grown in confidence with my encouragement and isn’t afraid to take risks knowing that I’m there to catch her if she loses her grip.
This evening she came in from the street and sat in a chair crying. I heard Margarita say something about looking for the plastic ping-pong rackets and balls she got just the day before. I reached down to pick her up expecting in her upsettedness she’d push me away waiting for her mother to comfort her. But she snuggled my neck and held me as we walked to her room to look for her toys. It felt so good. There are so many kids here in El Refugio who have held me like that when they were sick, had hurt themselves, or just out of a love that had grown over time. But they weren’t my kids.
We played makeshift “ping-pong” on our bed for a while and then she devised other things we could do with the rackets and two balls. I thought of my brief experience in gymnastics a million years ago and I taught her a few “tricks” that we could do together. She enjoyed it immensely. Margarita had fun watching and even spotted Adri with her masa covered hands. She’d been making the tortillas. Adri got really good at one or two simple activities and I never got tired.
Then we began playing “keep away” with Duke the Dog’s new bowling pin squeaky toy. Adri kept ducking from Duke’s charge and hardly ever caught my tosses. So we had to chase the little rascal until we could take the toy back from him.
It was getting dark and I needed to get my shower. Adriana needed to have her supper. I sat at my desk and reflected on the day, on this past week and on the future. The church celebrated my last Tuesday’s birthday this morning with wishes for many more. I joined them in their wishes. I have so much to live for here. I knew that God has answered my prayers. I was pretty sure He had answered Margarita’s. I didn’t know He’d answered Adriana’s. I know of no one with more faith than Margarita. Her trust in God is so complete. And we know there is no prayer more powerful and sincere than a mother’s prayer. Thank you Father. Thank you Jesus. Thank you Holy Spirit for leading me away from the broad highway to the straight and narrow path to salvation and joy.