The girl in my car handed me her phone. “Please talk to my father. He thinks I’m lying.”
The car swerved a little on the winding north Georgia road as I took the phone. I drove with one hand. “Hello?”
The voice on the other end was harsh and heavily accented. “Who this is?” He asked. “You are a teacher?”
“No sir. I’m a volunteer. I’m driving your daughter to a senior cookout.”
“A cookout? Where you are?”
I told him the city.
“Who this is?” He demanded again. “Who this is?”
“Mi nombre es Heather,” I tried, and then tried to spell it in Spanish. “Soy un voluntario en la escuala de tu hija. Vamos a la casa de pastor … ” I fumbled. My Spanish was rusty at best and I knew that even if my vocabulary was close to correct, my grammar was far from it.
“Give me mi hija, my daughter,” he said.
I heard him begin to shout as she took the phone. I understood fractions of the very one-sided conversation. He wanted to know where she was, really, and no lying. Who was the white girl on the phone? Where was the gringa taking his girl?
Her brother had been arrested again.
I listened as she sobbed. When she hung up the phone, I reached behind the seat and squeezed her hand. Can’t she catch a break, LORD? I prayed. She’s been through so much.
Many of the girls I work in the youth program have stories like hers.
Brothers, parents in jail. Many of them are pregnant; some have two or three children. Others are seventeen and divorced. There are stories of gang initiations gone wrong and overdosing on everything from cocaine to cough medicine.
And this is the easy stuff.
My day–conversely–consisted of a lunch meeting at a mid-range restaurant where I was showered with gifts and a morning of writing blogs. Some semi-stressful things were thrown my way, but they mostly consisted of running errands using someone else’s credit card and someone else’s gas.
Until I picked her up, my day felt overwhelming and crazy and exhausting.
But this girl, on her way to her senior banquet, experienced something I couldn’t comprehend–a family torn apart and a brother sitting in prison. I looked at her and saw a girl trying to be old beyond her years, but who was overwhelmed and exhausted in the face of “los dias locos”, “the crazy days.”
And to her, this life is a stream of los dias locos.
I wish I could say that I immediately recognized the innate differences between the difficulty of her life and the relative ease of my own. But I didn’t. I came home and complained to one of my roommates about how hard my day was.
In fact, I had every intention of writing a blog post about it here.
And then I started to actually write about it.
I don’t think I have any really pretty way to tie this up except to just ask you to pray for my friend, who is so young and so vulnerable. She–and the others I’ve worked with for a brief time–are what the news would call “minorities” and “at risk”. They’d probably be called a lot of other things too, mostly not so nice things.
Pray for reconciliation within her family.
Pray for her brother as he faces the judge this week.
Pray for her parents as they continue to work multiple jobs to make ends meet.
Pray for her cousin as her pregnancy continues.
Pray for her school as it transitions to a new year with new leadership.
Pray that I–and the others with me–are allowed back into the school in the fall.
Pray that my friend doesn’t give up.