This post was inspired by the novel Prayers for the Stolen by Jennifer Clement. Ladydi grew up in rural Mexico where being a girl is a dangerous thing. She and the other girls were “made ugly” to protect them from drug traffickers and criminal groups. Join From Left to Write on February 18 as we discuss Prayers for the Stolen.
It was a regular day at the group home when *Anna arrived, escorted by a plain-clothes federal agent. We were told she would be tucked away in the group home where I worked while waiting for the trial. Anna spoke no English and was only fifteen years old. She had been taken from her home, stolen and sold into the sex trade. In a raid, Anna was rescued ~ she was one of few fortunate ones.
Anna was quiet, reserved, beautiful ~ long black hair and huge brown eyes that only looked downward when she first arrived. It took a few weeks for Anna to settle in, become accustomed to the other girls in the home and the different personalities of each of us house moms. Anna and I connected over books. She knew I brought in the young adult review copies I finished with for the other girls to read and eventually Anna shared that she liked to read as well. That sent me on quite a few fun trips to the bookstore on a quest for books in her language!
We learned bits and pieces about her life before she was stolen ~ thank God for Google translate! She lived near the ocean with her parents and siblings. She loved to do girly things like paint her nails and fix her hair. She was close to her mother. Their faith was an important aspect of their family and their lives.
A missing woman is just another leaf that goes down the gutter in a rainstorm. . . (p 62)
It took Anna a good year to stop hiding out inside the group home; to finally feel safe enough to smile. We helped her with her English as best we could until she was finally ready to attend an English as a second language class. Although she missed her family it was decided that Anna would become a citizen of the United States ~ it was too dangerous for her to go back.
I wondered how did someone get stolen from a small hut on a mountain by a drug trafficker, with a shaved head and a machine gun in one hand and a gray grenade in his back pocket, and end up being sold like a package of ground beef. . . (p. 6)
Have you ever known someone who complains about everything? Someone who just can’t seem to find any happiness in the world? Anna had every reason to be like that, to be bitter, sad, resentful but she was not. Anna had an inner light that shined. She never once complained, even when the other girls were arguing and whining. She had a strong faith in God and the knowledge that she was loved unconditionally by her family, and soon, by all of us in the home. Anna was gracious, kind and had a silly side that liked to play practical jokes on us moms. One time we were in a store towards the end of October ~ I was on a different aisle from Anna but when I turned around she was right behind me with a funny monster mask on ~ startled, I screamed and she laughed and laughed. All the girls thought it was so funny how sweet, quiet Anna scared Miss Stacy to the point I screamed in the store.
It is so easy to fall into the trap of “oh, woe is me” but life is just miserable when you do. We all have hardships. Some, like Anna, have more than most. But finding that reason to be thankful for each and every day makes us so much more pleasant to be around and creates a life that is much more enjoyable. I’m thankful to Anna for reminding us all about grace and showing the other girls in the group home how to be happy in spite of your circumstances. God speed dear Anna.