“You have prepared a table before me in the presence of my enemies,
You have anointed my head with oil,
My cup overflows
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Amen”
Ortencia Shares Her Story
(As told to Mercedes and Gloria)
I’ve been told I was 2 years old when my dad first abused me. I was still a baby when my mom said one night I cried out so loud from my pain I suddenly woke her up and it was then she knew what my dad was doing. Not only was I crying but I was bleeding as well. I was too young to remember or understand much of those early years and my mom did not want to think about what he did to me. Growing up she did not want to realize he was still looking at me with an ugly look, wanting to violate me. When I was 5 years old my fear grew as he came to me again touching me the wrong way. I cried and ran and he did not catch me. I gave an account of this to my mom, but she said she didn’t believe me. She grabbed me and hit me and she threatened me with a knife saying, “You are causing trouble provoking your dad”. As I grew more my dad was always looking for the opportunity to abuse me. Growing up I was always looking out where I was going and walking in fear. I was very shy and couldn’t look people in the face.
I also remember an important thing when I was six years old and my aunt died. My dad drink a lot and gave alcohol to my mom and they were both very drunk. I remember I didn’t like to see my mom like this and then she was starting to drink more and more. One night when I was eight years and was sleeping with my parents, my dad was handling my body and when I shouted my mom woke up. My dad was at the point of violating me again and things were so obvious my mom finally could no longer deny the truth. Crying, she yelled at him and hit him with a stick and then she hugged me and told me what had happened when I was 2 years old.I remember this was very important because now she showed she really cared for me.
I’ve worked all of my life but did go to school for two years where I learned to read and write. After that I no longer went to school but only worked taking care of babies and children. As I grew bigger I began doing field work on a cotton plantation. I was now growing up with adult workers and cried over and over because I did not see my mom and had no friends to talk to. No one in my family ever mentioned or talked about God. The only worship our family had was with the traditional spirits of the witches and healers and the burning of the candles and casting spells through Maximon (worshiped as a god here).
When I was 15 years old, an elderly man asked my parents if he could marry me. I did not want to marry him. Later, another man came to ask for my hand in marriage. He had killed his wife and this gave my older sister and me a lot of fear. My sister told me, “Those men are very bad and are giving me a bad feeling, it is better if we go to the capital to work”.
So then with my sister I went to the capital. We worked a long time for over ten years earning food for my siblings because my parents only drank all the time even my mom was drunk most of the time. It hurt to see them drunk like that. After working in the capital at a laundry for many years we left the hard life of Guatemala City and returned home. I was glad to be gone from the capital but returning home I was still feeling traumatized with all the memories of what my dad had done to me.
“My sister-in-law Catarina lives in another town but she would often come and visit our family. She would often talk about La Casa de La Paz and really wanted me to come to her house for a meeting. I did not want to go but my mother had stopped drinking, was attending La Casa de La Paz, was going to church, and her life seemed much better. (My father still drinks every day.) Finally I went to a meeting but at first I really did not like going.”
The first time Ortencia came to a meeting she looked so angry and hard, Mercedes and Gloria thought they’d never see her again. Both were pleasantly surprised when she came back for a second meeting and then a third and so it went for months without her ever saying a word. Finally the breakthrough came and Ortencia decided to share. At first she did not speak directly concerning her pain. Instead she asked the ladies if a meeting could be started in her home town because she had gotten a job and would no longer be able to attend meetings. The ladies were so delighted and thankful to hear her speak they said of course, they would be happy to support her and see a new meeting start in Concepcion.
“Behold the Lamb of God Who Takes Away the Sins of the World” (John1:29)
When Ortencia saw how happy the ladies were to receive her request she began to share some of her story how in all her pain she heard God speak words of grace through the ladies personal stories. She was hearing the words of Jesus, many of them for the first time “You have not chosen Me but I have chosen you and appointed you …”, that she was a part of something far greater than herself, that God intimately knew her pain, was and still is grieving with her knowing exactly what she’s going though, how at Calvary he himself suffered the same way she was at the hands of abusive men blinded by their own power, lust and sense of entitlement. In Ortencia’s darkest hour of pain and depression the ministry of Jesus life was coming to her through the ladies stories week after week. Their joy was echoing the testimony of Jesus that God is alive and his healing presence is available now and for real. “I will not leave you as orphans” (John 14:18).
“He who believes in Me, the works I do he will do because I go to the Father. The Helper, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. Peace I leave with you: My peace I give to you, not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled or let it be fearful. If you keep My commandments you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Fathers commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you that My joy may be in you that your joy may be made full.”(John 14:18-15:11) The result of Ortencia’s becoming a child of God, and being in the family of God is peace of mind; just think of it, peace of mind. She also understands that peace of mind is not found in the absence of conflict but in the presence of God, for “…God is not the God of confusion but of peace”.
Ortencia said the following, “Thank you for The House of Peace because here we learn what it is to forgive. I have forgiven my dad and now I am very happy to know the love of God and be in the House of God’s Peace. I am happy we can now have a meeting in Concepcion.” They were even more surprised when she said she wanted the meetings to be in her own home; the very same place her alcoholic father was and still lives in. “Whom the Son sets free, is free indeed.” (John 8:36)
Ortencia’s mom then spoke as she wept, asking for her daughters forgiveness for all the pain and suffering she had caused her. Ortencia forgave her mother, and after that began to slowly unfold some of the story of her tortured childhood. Those at that meeting were amazed at the healing power of our Lords words of repentance flowing through our young sister. Now you know something of how The House of Peace came to be born in Concepcion.
Grace and peace,