Wasn’t I supposed to be a good catholic girl? According to my birthplace, I should have been… instead I was atheist and never able to conform to my culture’s values. I was an outsider in my own country. Unable to conform in college or even keep a job, I was a loose leaf tossed around by the wind. I didn’t have roots to keep me grounded, so I was tossed here and there collecting a little bruises and marks in the way people collect souvenirs. Motherhood began to settle me down. Adamant as I was to remain faithful to my atheism, I couldn’t ignore the evidence of Creation. Inside of me there was a human being in the making, without my participation and yet I was necessary for the process. Was this a foreshadowing of my relationship with God? Was He was doing everything in me, through me, sometimes in spite of me, while also preparing me to do it with Him? I became a functional, productive citizen. Years later, bearing the marks of domestic violence and holding a precious seven-year-old by the hand, I immigrated to the United States. I found the strength to leave a ten-year abusive relationship because God had rescued me. He broke into my life with such power and gentleness that it was impossible to resist. I surrendered. I sat down at His feet to receive His healing, His counsel, and His love. I was no longer an orphan, a loose leaf tossed by the wind. I was a daughter of God, so I could leave my past behind.
Although immigrating to USA twenty years ago was a different story than today, at the time holding the right religious credentials - meaning “being Christian” - made it easier to find acceptance. I had no idea the kind of change that was in store for us. It was a paramount change; the first of which was the language barrier. Why did I ever think I spoke English? I knew enough English to survive, but I soon found myself an outsider again. People who have never lived in another country have no idea the difficulties of a language barrier. Good intentions aren’t enough to break through it. I maneuvered my way into Christian churches where often I felt even more isolated. One particular Bible church was offering something different in their women’s bible study. For starters, it was a hybrid experience where the books and discussion were in Spanish, but the “lecture” was in English. I loved it. I can honestly say that I learned how to be a Christian Hispanic woman in there. For the first time in my life, I was rooted, not to a church or bible study, but to my faith in Jesus Christ. Hard winds hit full on in a form of a second divorce crisis plus empty nest syndrome almost simultaneously. Of course it was hard, but I was in the hands of my powerful, merciful God who surrounded me with women - even a female pastor who understood my struggles and encouraged and supported me. That is the beauty and strength of a community of faith who is willing to understand each other - to give and to receive.
As safe and happy as I was in my little Robinson Crusoe island, life changed again. The new leadership had a different approach to a Spanish-speaking ministry and so my island disappeared. Now what?
There are times where terms like woman, Hispanic, immigrant, working class, divorce, liberal, or aging are causes for discussions, confusion, and possibly contention; they are all related to me in degrees I cannot separate. Where do I find a community that will accept me and even encourage me? The Marcella Project has offered me the community I looked for. For those of us who do not blend in easily because of the way God made us, Marcella becomes a beacon for Christians of different colors. The all-out commitment and rigor to interpret Scripture could be enough for a soul like mine. But God is a kind, gentle, and soothing healer who tasks The Marcella Project and its members with the mission of ennobling women, and that my friends, had me sold out to it. I am sticking to this community of believers, men and women alike, for the glory of God and the expansion of His kingdom.