What a way to end the trip. We went this morning to visit Jessenia. As usual we went through a number of side streets asking other home owners, Do you know where the house of Jessenia is? We find her home eventually. It is made of broken up old corrugated steel, cardboard and discarded plywood. The floor is compacted dirt and two rooms are separated by a bed sheet.
Jessenia was waiting at the front gate of her home for us. I was not sure if she would recognize me because we had not seen each other for at least 3 years, but the instant our eyes connected I was catapulted back to the small rural village where we met. When we had first met she had recently left a life of drugs and prostitution.
We were here at Jessenia’s home to do an interview. The idea was to leave this interview until the end to see if we could bring the final piece of colour to our journey. I had no idea what we were in for but what came out of it was a story of the battle to overcome struggle and keep on keeping on.
This morning I asked Jessenia when and where did your world turn upside down? She talked about drug abuse, getting into trouble, alcohol challenges…. She said that at 17 years old she had given up all hope for life, felt worthless and disposable. She conveyed through many tears that one morning she woke up and was in the house of a drug dealer, she was so disoriented that she couldn’t remember how she had gotten there. She said that while she was laying on the floor she cried out to God to help her escape from this drug house and from the lifestyle she had come to accept. She said that at that moment the door opened and she grabbed her three year old sons hand and ran. She shared, “I didn’t know where I was running but my son and I just kept running….”
As her teared face regained composure, I asked her what had happened in your life that led you into such a crazy lifestyle?
“I was raped when I was 9 years old by my father. It carried on for a full year. I remember washing the blood off of myself and trying to clean myself and wondering why this was happening.” Again the tears began to flow; “I felt worthless, why would anyone want to have anything to do with me. I didn’t care about my life.”
Now the rest of the story, Jessenia went to a small rural church in a barrio in Managua. Their she encountered the love of a pastor and his wife, Carlos and Mabel. The church embraced her and helped her understand that in God’s eyes, she was a new creation and that her past life did not have to be her future life.
Her whole continence changed at this point. She talked about the changes that had been happening in her life, about some of the setbacks and the battle to “keep the faith.” She told me she remembered the day we met at her church and the stories we shared about lending money to poor women to get a new start on life with a small business.
Jessenia is no longer a Lending Journey recipient but she wanted us to know that the proceeds from her business allowed her a new start. She was able to put a down payment down on this rustic home with some of the profits.
Lastly she wanted to tell me that because of the love of Christ in her life she has been able to look her dad in the eye and forgive him for the things he had done to her. To Christ she gives all the glory! How cool is that.