“We Love because he first loved us”
(1 John 4:19)
Norma’s story was told to Mercedes and Gloria by Norma in Spanish and then translated into English for this newsletter. Mercedes met Norma at the market five years ago. At that time Norma was married to an alcoholic, had a newly adopted baby, and herself was suffering from chronic alcoholism.
STORY OF NORMA HERMELINDA GARCIA CANIZ
“By the time I was a seven year old girl my parents were still living together but my father’s problem with alcohol was growing very bad and he also had a problem with anger and violence. Things got so bad with he was incapable of doing work because of the alcohol and our mother would go out and sell fire wood so she had money to feed us. The days she did not sell anything he would get very upset and beat her and also on those days we did not eat. Sometimes when he would get really mad, we were very scared and I would go and hide in the woods with my sisters. We were 6 daughters with no boys and our father never really wanted or loved us. He used to say you women are good for nothing. He also believed because we were females we had no right to study so he just send us to work. I never went to school and when I was young, I never even thought of going to school. At 10 years of age I started taking care of a neighbor’s girl who was 2 years old. My bosses were good people. They fed me and treated me well and they gave me food. My mother only came to see me when she had to come to pick up the money I was making. It was a very difficult and painful situation. I never had the opportunity to play with toys or to own a doll. All I did was work growing up. In reality, I cannot forget those memories.
I worked and took care of this little girl for 3 years. One day the parents decided to move down to the coast. They offered to take me with them but my parents did not allow me to go. I went back to live with my mom at her house and started to sell wood also. I was without food again and was only able to do this work for a week.
Later when I was 13, I went to work with another lady in the village of Toticapan taking care of 3 children. The mother-in-law of that house was very mean and she did not want to feed me so I did not have much food to eat. I was mistreated in other ways also because there was no love there. She would only feed me a little food for lunch. Also at that time a young boy who lived with them wanted to abuse me and I had to defend myself with some sticks. When I defended myself, the mother did not believe me and instead accused and defamed me saying she wanted to put me in prison. I wanted to go back home but I did not know how to do it because this place was very far from my original home. Then the family went on a vacation and they left me locked in their empty house with no food or water. I was alone and had nobody to talk to for 3 days. I remember being very afraid being alone in that house at night. A neighbor was there but this family was also mean and did not help at all. Finally I was able to escape from the house but they saw me and got ahold of me and they took all my clothes off and left me nude in the middle of nowhere to punish me. Finally a woman saw me and offered me work and I started working and living with her for her the next two years. I was working for her in a very remote area.
At the age of 15 my mother came to pick me up. I went back to live with my parents but my dad was very angry and still drank. He did not want me to return home and the situation was very hard. I was very miserable with my life so when I was 16 I met a man and went to live with him. At that time I did not know that he was much of a drinker. After 3 years we got separated when I found out he was cheating on me with another woman. This really hurt a lot but he came back to me and said he was sorry so I forgive him. I got pregnant from him but he was still drinking and getting violent. He hit me so much that at 3 months I aborted the baby. Then I had surgery that took all my feminine organs out and was unable to have a children. I became so sad I was drinking more, even with him because there was so much pain. I drank more and more to the point where I started to have blood in my urine. One day I met a person who talked to me about God and I thought and thought about what he said. I knew I should give my life over to God and stop drinking but I was very stubborn and decided to stay with my husband. He was still drinking heavily and I was not thinking about God at all but only what I wanted. Physically I was getting sicker and now even bleeding from my nose as well as my urine. Now my health was completely gone and the doctor gave up on me saying he had no more solutions for me. I was very stubborn and did not give up drinking but I asked God to heal me and he did. I had given up on myself but God had not given up on me.
I was alone at this time, so very alone I asked God for a baby. I asked him for a son. I told Him that I wanted a son no matter how He makes it happen. I wanted a baby again. I really wanted God to respond to me quickly, even though I had been such a rebel. At that time I met a lady that was pregnant and she asked me if I wanted her baby. I told her no I didn’t want the child so she promised the baby to another lady. However, that lady never came to pick the child up. At this point I decided to take the child and was very, very happy. A month after the birth I went to the hospital and found out how needy the baby was. It was a special needs child. The birth mother knew this before the baby was born but she never said anything to me. I found out later that she did not want to have the baby so she drank venom to kill it. The baby did not die but he has many problems. My family told me, “Do not keep this baby but return the child to its mother.” I couldn’t do that as my heart wouldn’t let me. Even though my family strongly disapproved and looked down on me for my choice, and the birth mother did not want the baby back, I just couldn’t let this little one go. Even now I always remember how I asked God for this baby and I said, “God I want a baby no matter how the baby is” and God did listen to me and God answered my prayer. For me this means when you specifically ask God for something be ready to receive what you ask for.
Five years ago when all of this was happening I met Mercedes in the market place. While telling her my story she invited me to La Casa de La Paz. Now my baby is 5 years old and I really want to give thanks to God for La Casa de la Paz. There is a saying here in this ministry, “God is not the God of confusion but of peace” and I know this is true. I am very grateful for the words of Jesus because I am able to forgive others and myself and now I have peace of mind. Through the meetings I stopped drinking 5 years ago and now I am very happy to share the meetings with my other sisters because we find courage and love with God and each other. We know each other’s stories and I really feel so happy to be able to share my story with all of you. I ask you to please pray for a miracle for my baby. His name is Jose Federico Matzar Garcia and I love him very much. He really cannot talk or walk, sit alone, or feed himself and much of the time he doesn’t move very much at all. Thank you for hearing my story and for praying and helping us.
Follow-up on Norma
At La Casa de La Paz we thank God for our sister Norma and for her faith in Christ. She was instantly healed of her addiction to alcohol and regularly attends weekly meetings here in Pana. As with many in our groups she regards La Casa de La Paz as her family and is a real encouragement to all who enter our doors. Amongst other things her son Jose Federico has water on the brain and needs to go to a special clinic in the capital every few weeks. This takes two days whenever she goes and this is a financial burden for her. Jose Federico was operated on but she claims he came out worse from the operation. Her husband continues to struggle with alcohol but seems to be doing better, is not as harsh with her as he once was, is helping support the child more, and has now gotten a much better job working for the municipality – slowly comes the dawn. We have high hopes and continue to pray for all the men, especially those who have not abandoned their families as is the case with Norma’s husband Federico. We look forward to the day we have an auxiliary program for men. Considering her history, I am continually amazed at Norma’s steadfast love and faithfulness for God and her family. Where did it all come from? “You did not choose Me but I chose you” says the Lord. We love because He first loved us. These are two of the great lessons I’ve learned from the parable of my sister Norma.