Sunday, October 14, 2018

The Girl in the Mirror

I am amazed at how quickly things can change.  My day was going great.  I was clicking along at a fast pace.  Moving from one project to another.  Seeing that our coffee was being planted, our construction on the house and road was moving along.  I was checking in on the status of our girls at a sports camp competition, which they were doing extremely well.  I was walking through the farm and my young neighbor called me to the fence.  She said hesitantly, "Do you know this girl?  She is looking for you."  A young woman stepped to the fence and said "Hello, Mom".  I looked at her trying to race down my memory bank and try to figure out who was this very pretty young girl, with very long wavy hair and different looking eyes. She would look at you like she was looking at herself in the mirror.   We have had way over 100 girls that have passed through our mission over the past 23 years.  Some girls have come for the day.  Some would stay a few days to a week and some just a few months.  Most of our girls stay for a year or for much longer, but she was not in that group.  She was familiar to me, but I just had a feeling.  I told her to come around to the front gate and someone would let her in.

When she started talking, I recognized something familiar about her voice.  I told Rosa, my assistant, to please go and look up her file so we could know more about her.  She was very tired and when she sat down, she fell asleep. Apparently, she had been walking for a very long time.  She had her backpack and a very long accordion file plastic file folder.  She wore soft white reebok tennis shoes that had been issued to her years ago when she lived with us.  When Rosa came back after lunch, we found out that she had only stayed here at the farm for only a couple of weeks four years ago.  She had a lot of emotional and mental illness problems. She had come from a family of mental illness and when her mother died, they moved her out of the volatile family situation.   She was place at our mission years ago, on a trial basis because no other center would keep her.  WE didn't know that the other centers had rejected her, but we had just started a new policy about temporary care.  During this time, there was two children's services operating at the same time.  One was being closed down by the government and one was being established.  Children were being moved around and it caused an instability with our girls, so we initiated this policy.  At that time, she was the only girl we asked the authorities to come back and get.  The young woman told us that when she was collected from our mission, she went back to the same situation with her family as she lived in before, even though the paperwork we had been given, stated that under no circumstances was she to live close by this family.  The governmental organization placed her back in that environment where she lived for four more years.

I asked her what her plans were and she just stated that she wanted to live and work here at the farm and to help out in anyway possible.  She pulled a keychain out of her backpack and said, "This is a key I took from you when I left, but I wanted to return it to you". I thanked her, but I was sure the lock was long gone.  When our girls who are normally very friendly, saw this girl with the wild look in her eye, they would kind of side step this girl and not speak.  She would do and say things that would catch all of us off guard. First, I called the public officials and they said call the children services.  I called the children's services.  She was eighteen and they had not jurisdiction over her, but they warned me, because I knew her and her actions before, that if anything happened to the girls while she was at my house, I would be responsible, because I invited her into our farm.  Then they said put her on a bus to return to her family, but it was very late, raining and she lived to far away and the busses don't drive to that location at night. 

So I called the Public authorities and they said the same thing, and because she hadn't broken any laws, she couldn't be sent back home.  So I called Human Rights and they said if I could get a doctor to say that she was impaired mentally, that she could find her a halfway house of sorts.  So I took her to a hospital so she could be observed and I could sleep safely, and they informed me that even though she was eighteen, I had to stay with her overnight.  The doctor who checked her into the hospital did a normal checkup on her.  She was very calm and shy.  When I told him what the problem was, he gave me two references, one to a psychologist and the other to a psychiatrist, who would come on Saturday at a private mini hospital in La Esperanza.

The nurse had taken her to a room and when the doctor got there, the young girl had locked us out of the her room.  The nurse scrambled around and got the keys, but they wouldn't open.  Finally she kept working the lock and the door opened, but the girl was on the other side and she stuck her head around and told us we couldn't come in because she was showering. So I told her to get back in the shower and I would come in.  There was no water on the floor when I came in. While she was in the shower, I went through her backpack to see if she had a cell phone or something that a would help us contact her family.  I found a bag of ten candles and a box of matches, a flashlight, and very large fluffy Sunday dress, toothpaste, no toothbrush, a comb and a PTC shirt that we had given her 4 years prior.  It looked brand new.  I told her I had a clean shirt for her and gave her the toiletries that were in her bag so she could be ready for bed.  She finally came out wearing her PTC shirt and a sweater that was tied on the side like she was going to a luau.  She had nothing else on.  I asked her to just wear what she had on before and she informed me they were not clean and she wasn't going to use them. So I went and got the nurse to give me a hospital gown.  Then I told the girl to go wash her things, which she was not happy about, but she did what I asked, but it took another hour.  Fortunately, Wesley and Suzanne were coming home through La Esperanza from Tegucigalpa late. I asked them to pick up Rosa, so she could get home and asked them to please bring me some food for the girl and myself. Rosa left with the Jarrard's  and I slept in the hallway on the sofa at the private hospital and the girl fell asleep after the doctor gave her a pill to rest.  

While I was trying to sleep, a little family was having a baby down the hall.  It was not all quiet and sweet.  The lady was stating very loudly, that she didn't care if they did a caesarean, but one way or the other she was ready to have the baby.  Since I couldn't sleep I decided that checking my Facebook in the wee hours of the night was in order.  All of a sudden, I felt like someone was over my shoulder breathing on me.  I was startled because it was the girl, and she was not sleeping.  She was two inches away from my face just looking at me very oddly.  I asked her to go get some rest and she just shrugged and said, "OK", and walked away.  I couldn't sleep after that. 

When I woke her up the next morning, she was not moving very quickly.   She didn't want to leave the private hospital, but I finally convinced her and I took her to eat breakfast. I needed to get to the house and my lawyer had contacted human rights and they had told us to go back to the Governmental agency.  The Human Rights folks said they would try to get her in a program sponsored by the hospital.  So we went to the public hospital.   They could not help her.  They contended that the governmental agency was responsible to do something for her.    WE went to all the agencies that we were directed to go to, but nothing worked.  This took all day. Everyone had the same response.  She was eighteen and hadn't broken any laws and so there was nothing they could do.  

We ended up where I started and the Governmental Agency said they would see us. Three lawyers were in the office.  My lawyer for the ministry and I went in and handed them our information from the Human Rights people.  They read the demands for help and scoffed at it.  They said they would like to help but, unless she has broken the law, they couldn't do anything.  They made a telephone call to the HR office and had a quick conversation. So, at that moment the girl came and stood behind me.  The lawyers started asking her some questions.  She started out talking to them using her very shy, fragile voice, until they said something to her that triggered a response from her that was apparently something pretty strong.  She said something back in her low threatening voice, that made the three lawyers in the room heads swivel almost completely around, eyes widen to the maximum level,  as they took a deep breath and looked at one another in shock.   I didn't know what she said, but apparently it wasn't a edifying word.  The head lady insisted for the young woman to leave the office.  She retorted, in her sassy voice, that she didn't have to go anywhere, or do anything they said unless Miss Pam said so.  The lawyer then swung around to me and said,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       "Please ask her to get out of my office, now! "  I asked the girl if she wouldn't mind leaving the office.  She kind of had a swagger when she left the room making eye contact with everyone.  I thought to myself as I rolled my own eyes toward heaven, " Well that didn't help our case at all"  The group of professionals restated their opinion about their limitations in these cases.  I hated that all of our hard work trying to find her some help, went down the drain.  I went out of the office to talk to her and she was nowhere to be seen.  

I drove around, after I dropped our lawyer for the ministry off at her place of business.  I felt like I needed to go around the park in La Esperanza one more time, and there she was, sitting on a park bench close to the Catholic church like she owned the area.  I got out of the car, and told her that if she would have just held her tongue, maybe things would have been different. She said she was sorry.  I told her I was sorry, but that I had done everything I could.  She nodded and shrugged.  I gave her some money to get back home, and she told me with a huge smile on her face, "Now that is a good idea! ".  I said, "Just let me pray for you before you go".  She declared through clench teeth and a stiffened body position, "I knew you were going to do that"!  So I prayed for her and gave her a hug, and she walked back over to claim her cement bench.  I took a few steps back to the van and turned wave goodbye and when looked and she was gone…. like she was never there.  None of the girls in the car could see where she had gone either.

There is not a safety net for mental health issues here.  I have had girls that had such tremendous trauma from their childhood, that it affected them on every level.  Years ago, we had a great psychologist that came for a season, but she took a permanent job in the capital.  Lately, I found a psychiatrist, but he wouldn't come from the city unless he had 5 appointments scheduled, even though I had two girls who really needed some help.  I did find a young psychiatric doctor, who is from a family of doctors that we have know for years , that used to help us with brigades.  I am hoping, when he graduates in December, that he will be able to help us.  Meantime, Jesus is their only hope.  Would you please pray for Honduras and all nations really, to come to the forefront and be more helpful to the precious people here, that have very tough emotional and mental situations in their lives.  Please pray especially for the little children, who are trying to wade through the muddy waters of their experiences and find a clear path to return home.   

Blessings, from the Hoping Jesus Will Help Us All Find His WAY Honduran MOM