She was sitting in a small room, holding her baby close to her chest. To her right was a nun and to her left an IHNFA worker. She looked up at me with sad, desperate eyes as I listened to the details of the situation being explained once again.
4 days ago she had left her little village high up in the mountains of Copan and rode the bus alone, nearly 4 hours to get to the hospital. She had been running a fever and was due at any moment. She arrived and was treated with antibiotics as she simultaneously went into labor. The following morning, she called her husband to tell him that she was OK and that the baby would soon be born. Tragically, those were the last words she would ever speak to him. In the same hours as she labored and gave birth to their healthy baby girl her husband was murdered in the street near their apartment. It seemed God had traded one life for another. She was broken-hearted, alone and hopeless to care for her daughter. She had come here to the orphanage to leave her baby in the care of others, knowing she had no means to raise her daughter alone.
It was late on Friday afternoon and the last bus out of town had already left. She was hoping to spend at least one more night holding and nursing her baby. The Nun explained that the orphanage had no room for adults and this is why they had called me for help. I looked at the nun and back to the young girl. “Her name is Gladys”, said the nun softly. I smiled at Gladys and told her she had a beautiful name. She smiled at me weakly and her eyes overflowed with tears once again. She bowed her head as she struggled in vain to wipe away the tears before they fell onto her sleeping baby.
She followed me through the metal gates and high concrete walls of the orphanage and climbed into my car. We drove the short distance to the police station where the IHNFA worker got out to drop off some paperwork, leaving us alone in the car. I turned from my position in the drivers seat to face Gladys in an attempt break the tense silence. “What is your baby’s name?”, I asked. “She has no name”, Gladys answered flatly. I chose to gloss over her comment and encouraged her to think of a name. I wanted… no, I needed her to make a connection with her daughter. I felt desperate to keep this little family together. “Her name will be a gift that you can give her, something from you that she will always have”, I said. She nodded slowly in agreement, but said nothing. We talked of her village and the about her family who had never approved of her husband. It seemed that in their disapproval they had broken off communication completely years earlier. Even now, in the midst of this tragedy, they refused to answer her desperate calls. She broke down crying again and I just sat there, watching helplessly, as she wept.
Gladys spent the next 2 nights with us in Santa Rosa. She gave her baby a family name, Blanca Maria, and I encouraged her to write a letter to her infant daughter. Things were beginning to seem more positive and I was hopeful that she would decide to keep her baby, but on Monday morning a constant barrage of phone calls forced her to face the grim reality of her situation and visibly overwhelmed her once again.
The morgue had been calling, threatening to throw her husband’s body into a mass grave if she didn’t come to claim it. Her land lady called at least half a dozen times, screaming that if she didn’t come back to clean and wash the clothes she would throw all of Glady’s earthly possessions into the street.
Time was up. I watched as a change swept over her. She set her jaw, closed her tear-stained Bible and placed it into her bag. She nuzzled her baby under her chin and slowly climbed the stairs, walking carefully, still feeling the pain from the recent delivery of her daughter. She walked to the crib in the corner and gently laid her sleeping daughter down for the last time, then she turned to me and nodded.
I drove her to the bus terminal She wadded a tissue and pressed it tightly into the corners of her eyes, refusing to allow even a single tear to stain her cheek. As we drove I reminded her that Blanca Maria would be here waiting for her when she was ready. I encouraged her not to give up hope, to look for a job as soon as she was able, and most of all to visit her family. She was silent, staring out the window as I talked. At the terminal she opened the car door and reached out and I grabbed her hand. I looked into her eyes and pleaded with her to hear me. “You are a good mom. I know you love your daughter. Blanca deserves to know how much. She has a family; her best future is with you. Look for a job, talk to your family, come back to your baby. She will be waiting for you.”
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Gladys rode the bus to the bottom of the mountain nearest her home, only to realize that she had missed the last busito that traveled the steep road to her village at the summit. With no other options, she climbed the path on foot, walking over 2 hours to reach her town and claim her husband’s body. In the process, she tore out every one of her 15 perineal stitches. After laying her husband to rest, she spent the next 2 weeks in a small clinic fighting infection. Because she was unable to return to her apartment, she lost all her belongings which her heartless landlady threw into the street as promised. However, despite it all, she called frequently from her bed in the clinic to check in on Blanca.
Over the next 2 months, Gladys began to heal physically, emotionally and spiritually. She found steady work and reconciled with her family. Her sister had a baby only 2 weeks younger than Blanca. The whole family was anticipating the day Blanca would come home and meet her cousin.
One week before Christmas, we rejoiced with Gladys when she arrived at House of Hope to finally bring her baby home. We packed her a bag of clothes, diapers, blankets along with some bottles and formula. Happy tears were shed as a new chapter in this little families life began. What a joy to see a family restored and to be a part of this happy ending! At Legacy of Hope we look forward to these precious moments that make all the heartache, uncertainty and suffering worth it!
We still get phone calls from Gladys from time to time and several weeks ago we were so happy to have her and Blanca Maria back at House of Hope for a little visit. Their smiles were radiant and the whole morning served as a great reminder that we can trust the Lord to bring us through the lowest valleys and that He is surely faithful to redeem our sorrows and suffering for something beautiful if we will trust Him.