It All Seemed Like a “Cinderella Story”….
But, let me take you back a bit……and share a little of how it began, to give you a better picture of what I am talking about. There is a part of me that wanted to leave this part of the story out…because it seems so negative…..but without it you might not fully understand the “Spiritual Warfare” I am speaking about that we encountered at the home. Also keep in mind, we were in a foreign country…away from our home and the people who know us. But God saw fit to allow this in our journey, so we chose to include it. It has it’s place and purpose in our story. This also is “not even all of it”, only small episodes, but hopefully it will be enough to help you to get a better understanding of this part of our journey.
“When we first arrived at the home, things were great, as the girls and everyone and us got along very well.”
In fact the girls were very respectful and smiled and talked with me normally, in a way you would expect them to be. And the head of the home, as a stepmom was also gracious to me.
But in time as I got closer with the girls, they became comfortable with me and a few of them began to share stories with me about the home, and about some “favoritism among certain girls.” and the head of the home. All of the girls should have been treated equally, but it seemed this was not the case.
“The favored ones became “watchers” of the others…,”
….so there was some division there. So some always received better treatment, and the others always received discipline.
I took their words to heart and tried to be there to comfort them. I wanted to help if I could. But soon word got out about them talking to me and they were told “what goes on in the home stays in the home”. They were told not to “carry” out things….which I believe meant not to speak of the things going on in the home with others.
“They were even told not to talk to me or they would be disciplined.”
So this is when things began to turn. The head of the home began to speak down to me and “yell” at me for little things. Daily my answers and words were being misunderstood and twisted. Whatever I said was turned around to mean something else.
Many other changes began to take place….the girls were instructed to do things that were disrespectful to me, or they were fed ideas that caused their behavior to become disrespectful to me.
“Some of the things I share may seem a bit nit-picky, but I only share them to bring out a point of the change.”
I was being continually rejected, and hated. Lies were told about me and I was beginning to be made out to look like the enemy by the head of the home. And the girls mimicked the behavior, and began to turn against me. This became daily accepted behavior toward me, and the head of the home did not correct it. On the contrary, it seemed encouraged. And anything I said, was misunderstood.
If any of the girls became friends with me or talked too much with me, they were punished. This was very hard for me and also for those girls that connected with me. They had to guard their actions.
At one point even the staff was penalized and reprimanded for conversing too much with me!
One day I was looking for some clothing because Nelson (Poppy) and I did not bring over the right clothing. Our clothes were either too nice for this “jungle living” or they stuck to our skin, getting soaked, because it was so hot. So I went into the pantry area where they kept the clothes that came over from the churches in the states. This was clothing donated to the home and the home would give them out to other Belizeans and the churches here. I had even sent over some of these things myself, when I was in the states. This pantry room was used as a storage for many other things also.
Finding the right boxes, I took a few things to my room to try on, to see if they fit, and if we could use them. My plan was to return what I could not use. I had the pantry key which I used at times to get things from there for the home. I was a part of the staff, sort of, working at the home, but I was also “family” to the head of the home. Although at times this was hard to believe, considering my treatment. “This day” I found out that I was being watched from the home, and was seen going in and out of this pantry with the clothing.
“So a lie began that I was stealing.”
The girls were also told that I was going to take some of their personal clothing that was stored in the pantry and give them away to the neighborhood people. The girls became very afraid of this and were angry at me because they believed this! No matter what I said to comfort them that this was not true, no one believed me. The head of the home was not convinced!
There were a few times when me and Poppy were not around when dinner time came…we might be out at the fish ponds or somewhere else when our food was prepared. When we were there, we would eat dinner with them. The staff use to prepare the meals for the home and if we were not there, set ours aside for us, covered from the flies and insects that were privy to that place. There were other times when the head of the home would cook.
At some point we began to experience coming into the home and finding our plates of food sitting out on the counter, uncovered, not knowing how long they were sitting there, open to the flies and insects. This might seem minor, or perhaps someone just over looked it, but with all that was going on concerning us, this was a part of it.
An episode happened one day concerning a Belizean fruit called breadfruit. As I shared, in the beginning, the girls were very respectful and would joyfully share things with me and Poppy. But now they were being instructed to do things that were not right. This fruit when you fry it, tastes similar to french fries, or fried potatoes. One day they fried some and brought them over to our place. They knew we both liked them, but the girls were specifically told to give them only to my husband. I was to get NONE. I answered the door, and they said, “Only for Poppy Miss!” And they were adamant about it! (Of course after the girls had left, Poppy shared with me.) I mention this to bring out a point of the change in the girls behavior and what they were instructed to do.
One evening I was sitting in the dining room reading the Bible as the girls watched TV in the other room. The girls were told not to keep excess lights on. I had the light on in the dining room as I was reading. They just came and turned it off without saying anything to me, as if I was not there. When I asked about it they told me, “Mom said to turn off the light”…and this was regardless of whether I was using it or not. And I was not suppose to turn it back on. If I did, I would be confronted about it, and it would be reported.
“I believe the enemy was trying to keep me from studying the word of God, which was my strength.”
I later learned that the light had to go off at 9:00 every night when the girls were done with their chores. Then they began getting their chores done earlier, so I was told that as soon as the chores were done, the light was to go off. If this was about 8:00, I could therefore no longer use that light.
Another night the girls and I were watching TV together. As the time approached for their bedtime, theyall began to leave the room. I was still watching the TV when one of them came back and clicked off the TV saying nothing to me. Mom told them at bedtime, to turn off the TV….so I was not even considered, TV watching was not the issue here with me, but respect. Before all of this happened, this situation would have been different. They would have politely asked me, “Are you still watching the TV Miss?” But these sweet little girls were being manipulated!
I was to say nothing to them, because it would be reported to the head of the home. What the girls said and believed was taken over what I said.
My every move and words were watched and reported. I learned I was even being watched from the main house window at night by the head of the home, observing when I went in and out of the kitchen to make tea.
The girls gave me “dirty looks” if I was in the kitchen making a “cup of tea”, which I would make often.
“Besides my quiet Bible times with God, drinking a cup of tea became my moment of normalcy.”
One time they even hid the matches from me so I could not light the stove….and another time they hid the tea bags.
They had taken them out and locked them away. (tea, matches) There was a locked cabinet in a locked room where food and things were stored away. The girls were given instructions to lock these away so I could not use them. Yes, they had the keys, and they were in charge. Anyway, something was said about using up the gas, and the tea bags, but I was never approached about it by the head of the home. Soon some friends from the church in the states sent some tea bags over for me, and I also bought my own matches although I did modify my use of the gas to heat up water.
One of the girls walked by the kitchen saying,
“…tea again miss?”
…and another asked me “Why do you drink tea?”. Each of these girls spoke to me as if this was a “bad thing” I was doing….so somehow and from somewhere they were given this impression. I would explain about how we drank tea in the states. These were seemingly simple questions from them, considering that in the states it is common place to see a tea or coffee cup in someone’s hand, but their questions were meant to taunt me. They were almost making me think of this “past time” of mine, as if it was a sin…and it saddened me that they would not even try to understand. But again, they were not going by their own minds. These sweet little girls did not seem sweet anymore…..I could do nothing but pray. The Lord knew my heart…and comforted me in these times.
“A Big Hug from God”
Which brings me to this wonderful story! One day the Lord Comforted me in such a beautiful way! Some Medical Missionaries came out to the home. One young lady took my blood pressure and let me know that I should renew my blood pressure meds. I had stopped taking them since coming to Belize. She was very nice. When Americans came I was encouraged, because I kind of missed the kind faces from home, especially since I was under such heavy oppression here. But I usually did not share any of this with them. ….and they could not see the pain in my heart. It was rarely apparent to anyone what was going on. Anyway, I didn’t always get to hang out with these visitors or to see them off as they rode to the city to leave. But the head of the home would go. This day when she returned home she handed me something….she told me that one of the Medical Missionaries asked her to give a package to me.
First I was surprised that the head of the home was giving “me” something because usually only the girls and the heads of the home received gifts from the states, and from these missionaries (except when we personally received something from the church in Sarasota) and second I was surprised that the young lady missionary thought to give me something personally. It was a Lovely Journal! On the Journal cover was a young lady sitting at a table in front of a cafe, enjoying a cup of tea or coffee in her hand! Now….
“….this woman who left me this package knew nothing of my situation here with drinking my tea! But God knew!”
And this journal was bought probably way before they came to visit us…..how would she know to pick out something like this for me? So this was a Big Comforting Hug from God to me!! He was saying, “It’s ok, I have your back….I understand…and it’s ok for you to drink your tea!!!”
“God is so Good and He has a beautiful sense of humor!!! He knows our hearts!”
I love that Journal and have been using it to record our experiences with God!
So continuing on with the stories….one day “I was screamed at in front of some missionaries” because the sink clogged up! I was in the kitchen and the missionaries were in the dining room. I caught the eye of one of the missionaries and they actually thought the yelling had to be perhaps a joke, because they smiled at first, but then realized that it was a real rebuke and were surprised. The angry finger pointing exclamation fired at me was
“You did this!….It’s because of you!”
But, I had to walk this out as gracefully as I could. A point to make here is that many times when I was reprimanded, it was in front of the girls, which only helped in their loss of respect for me.
Many times when these things happened, it made me a bit nervous. One day while reaching for a cup, “3 at a time” fell out of the cabinet and broke! I almost believe this was supernatural, because it was very odd. Of course I was looked down upon from the girls and the head of the home because of this. Then another day I burned something in a pot and the pot was ruined. I felt so bad. I was commanded to contact someone in the states to try to find that exact pot and replace it. The cost of the pot was taken from the stipend my husband and I received.
There were also many times when the girls refused to eat my food, not because they did not like it, but because “I cooked it.”
Instructions were given to the girls that I was “not” in charge of them. But my assignment was to stay in the home with them certain nights of the week. Unfortunately, at times I snored. When this happened, one of the girls threw toys at me to wake me up and sometimes they were not soft. As I mentioned before, I share this only to note the growing change in the girls and their behavior toward me. They would never have done this before.
I use to write letters to the Pastor’s wife often about what was happening at the home, good and well, also the negative things. This was the ministry in Sarasota that the Lord connected us with and they were sending some support to the home. So I would keep them up on things. For a while she was writing back, but then they began to wonder if I was somehow misunderstanding what was really happening. I’m sure they were thinking,
“Surely this could not be true!”
“A children’s home, wonderful children who needed help. How could this be?” (Some months later they met with the head of the home in the states, and her conversation and demeanor revealed to them that I was telling the truth.)
At times but not often my mom and my brother would call me from the states. They would call the children’s home phone, and sometimes I was in my place called the visitors quarters. It was just a few yards away. Normally one of the girls would come and tell me, or they would call my name. A couple of times the girls and head of the home answered the phone and told my brother I was not there. So he did not get to speak to me. But I was there and this was a call from the states! On at least 2 occasions they told my brother I was not there. I am not sure if they did this to my mom. But my brother became adamant about it when he did finally get to speak to me, and finding out that I was there on that occasion and that they lied about it. This was his sister in a foreign country and they were not telling him to truth. This particular thing was so wrong and unfeeling! And I am sure the girls did not understand the depth of this action.
“We began to believe that the head of the home had developed a jealousy regarding my closeness with the girls, and how the girls began to trust me and share secrets with me. This is how it all began…. how things began to turn.”
Many times when I would ask a question, I received a sharp answer back from the head of the home, so I came to “expect it”. Now… it always seemed that she and the girls were perpetually angry with me. They would frequently speak down to me. But the Lord instructed me….
“A soft answer turns away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger”. Prov. 15:1
….so I always tried to speak with grace, regardless.
God did not want me to rise up against them, but to walk in love. I had to stay close to the Lord and continuously seek him for peace at this time if I was going to be able to stand my ground.
“This was Spiritual Warfare.”
The staff was actually on my side and eager to comfort me because they had been treated similarly and saw and understood it all. Sometimes I’ve thought of them as Goodness and Mercy….walking alongside me as I walked through this oppression. But they too needed encouragement.
Most of these things were done when my husband was not there, or was working on the fish ponds.. They acted nice in front of him, and they treated him very nice. So when I shared these things with him, even he could not understand. It confused him. But then he began to pay closer attention and ask questions and things began to come out. The head of the home even tried to turn him against me telling him one day that I was not a good wife and that she knew people like me….and knew me better than he did. He confronted that saying,
“I know my wife, and you are wrong.”
My husband assured me that we did not have to stay there at the home and as soon as I said I wanted to leave, we would. He told me that “his first ministry was to me.” This comforted me. I told him I wanted to stay because I felt the Lord wanted me to stand through the test. I knew there would be a greater blessing for my obedience…and I wanted to obey Him. I didn’t want to miss whatever the Lord had ahead for us for our obedience. So we stayed.
“Did I Say That?”
At this point you may be thinking, “Wow, you had it all together! I don’t know if I could have done that!” Well ….I am human just like you!
“I had to lean on the Lord “constantly” to survive this.”
It was Him who kept me through these days and nights along with the support of my husband.
I daily tried to “keep watch” over my words, but it wasn’t always easy. In fact there was this one time in particular that I am not sure my words were so right. We had visiting missionaries at the home. We were all having a lunch of Tilapia, from our fish ponds. I began to share with them some of the Belizean customs compared to Americans. One topic was on the fish we were eating, because when we served the fish to the missionaries, we gave them the end part of the fish. But the plates for the head of the home and the girls had the whole fish. I told them that the Belizeans eat the whole fish… eyes, head, tail and all, as opposed to us Americans. They were surprised and saw this as a unique bit of information.
But the head of the home was listening and became very offended at my comments. This was not the first time this subject had come up. When we first arrived they all…..the girls included… laughed at me and Poppy as we were astonished that they ate everything. And even my husband tried eating the eyes. Now he ate just about everything……to their delight! While I stopped at the head and the eyes. So it was always a bit of humor to the Belizeans concerning the Americans. But this day it became a problem.
I didn’t find this out until later when we my husband and I went into the pantry along with the head of the home and another local person to get some things. Then she lashed at me with fiery anger! She said “Don’t you ever speak of my people in that way!” She began to talk as if I was offending Belizean pride. Yet in no way did I mean to share these topics in a malicious way. I looked at her face and all the anger that was there. Then all the experiences with her seemed to come to that moment. I was puzzled why she always got “so angry” with me. (Except I knew deep inside that the enemy knew what I represented. I was always praying, in warfare, trying to stay in the presence of God. And he hated this! I really believe she personified his anger toward me.) Well, surprisingly, out of my mouth popped this statement “Why you are so mean and evil?” I didn’t yell it out but it came out sternly. But I was astonished at myself that this came out! To this day I am not sure if it was the Lord that actually wanted me to say that, because she was so shocked! And from then on she talked about how I called her “mean and evil!” She never let it go….and it effected her to the core of her being!
“So yes, I am human! The main thing is to stay connected to God so you will do his will and not yours.”
I would always pray before I went over to the home, and also “while I was going”…..I had to stay in peace to be strong and ready for the battle, everyday, ready for the accusations that surely came my way! (return to previous post) “Continuing in Warfare”