Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Scarlett, where are you?

The hut on the mountain across from Flor
Suzy, Jimy, Menguin and I set out to find Scarlett today.  We were told she lives in a colonia about 30 minutes away with her grandmother.  The same grandmother who couldn't bear to be away from her, who petitioned successfully to gain custody of her.   

My last attempt to find her failed.  Walking through the awful street, fearing the men lingering on the street, I was torn between hoping she was there and hoping she didn't live in such a horrible environment.  I was terribly disappointed when we didn't find her but, in my mind, she was living in a poor but loving home with her grandmother.   It is hard to believe that that place was orders of magnitude better than where we went today.

Suzy and I left our bags, watches, and cell phones at Casa LAMB.  Jimy, who was here fixing a sink in the bathroom, said he was coming with us when he heard where we were going.  "Muy peligroso."  (very dangerous)  Menguin drove us and is the one who knew where Scarlett's grandmother lives.  We parked on the dirt road of a town similar to Flor but up on a mountain.  More dirt roads than Flor but it had the same feel.  We walked down the street towards the grandmother's house.  The farther we walked the more sense of deja vu I had.   It was so much like going to La Cantera, the squatter's village right next to Flor.  We finally were walking single file along a very narrow rocky trail on the side of a cliff.  Jimy was holding on to me.  At the end of the path was a hut.  Outside was the grandmother and two young girls, about 12 and 13.  A very scary man came out of the hut and pointed to the 12 year old, "She's mine"  and skulked back in.  (We cringed wondering exactly what he meant by that.) The front door was just an opening covered by a filthy sheet.  Inside it was pitch black dark - apparently no windows and likely no electricity.  The 13 year old was sullen and frightened.  
Close up of hut

The grandmother was cheerful, bubbly and very chatty.   "We want to send Scarlett to kinder (pre-school) because she is so smart!  Oh, I recognize you (she was talking to me) from the picture in Scarlett's photo album!"  She explained that Scarlett wasn't there, she had gone with her 16 yr old mother (I thought she was 17.  This would make her 13 when she got pregnant...) to the health center because the mother was sick.  She and the 12 year old said they are Christians. The 13 year old is not.  We started to evangelize her.  I told her I was her sister in Christ and asked her if she wanted to be my sister in Christ.  Looking down at the ground with tears and fear in her eyes she nodded.  Just then, the man came out of the hut, looked at her, and then strode down the path along side of the hut.  The girl immediately followed him.  Suzy thinks the girl is pregnant...  We learned the man owns the hut they live in.  We speculate how they "pay" the rent.   The grandmother then offered to bring Scarlett to our office Thursday morning.  

We turned around and skirted our way back to the van.  At the top of the hill we met Menguin's aunt, a neighbor.  We asked her how she thinks Scarlett looks.  "Baby?  There is no baby that lives down there!"   We were stunned.  No toddler, little girl?  No.  We realized, with horror, that the grandmother was lying all along.   We even went to the health center to see if they were there.  No. No one matching their description had been there all day.  

And so.  Again, we left without finding Scarlett, this time filled with fear and despair.   Suzy cautioned me not to "go there," imagining the worst fate for Scarlett.  "We aren't giving up yet!"  I want to find Scarlett and then go get the 13 year old for our Safe House.  I pray, I pray, I pray that the grandmother brings Scarlett to the office on Thursday.   I am sick with worry.  I simply cannot believe how the "justice" system could have taken her from our beautiful home to that place of horror and darkness.  

Today was a hard day to be a missionary.  Reality, poverty, evil smacked me in the face and kicked me in the stomach today.  Where is my precious Scarlett?  What is happening to her?  Oh, please LORD, bring her back to us.  Keep her safe from harm.  Bring her back to us.