She grew up in the infamous El Terminal section of Guatemala City. El Terminal is the hub of transportation and transportation related criminal activity for the city. Thousands of people enter and exit El Terminal daily. All kinds of people. The innocent travelers, bus drivers, gang members, car thieves, and sex traffickers.
Because of the high foot traffic, there is a large market here as well. Fresh produce, household supplies, stolen car parts, blackmarket goods, prostitutes, and slaves are all available for purchase. Competition for customers is high, prices are low. Criminal activity goes unchecked, as the area is dominated by gangs, extortion, and corruption.
Many children live in El Terminal and accompany their mothers everyday at work. They learn to work at an early age, in every type available. The pay is more important than school, the risk greater than safety. If you don’t work, you don’t eat. If you’re lucky, you won’t be sold or rented out. This is where Stella* and her siblings are from. This is where they were destined to live forever.
But one day Stella made a decision that would change the course of her life forever. She told her mother she was going on an errand. Mom barely heard her as she slept off the hangover from the night before. Stella grabbed her sister’s hand and walked away. The walk became a jog, the jog a sprint. They ran to not only flee their mother, but to flee those who would put them in despicable situations, and they fled from the only life they knew.
They eventually made it to safety, passed through the court system, and ended up at Shadow of His Wings Orphanage. But the heartaches didn’t end there. For they left behind a baby brother. And over the next couple of years learned that other brothers and sisters were born into their family. All they could do was pray. And pray they did.
Stella has desperately longed for her and her siblings to all be together. Being the oldest, she feels it’s her responsibility to gather them together, unite them as family, and provide for their future. She hasn’t even met them all. But they are her flesh and blood, and she loves them.
For a young woman to love strangers like this is amazing. To love her family when she was never shown love herself is a miracle. But our God is a god of miracles. For many years she has prayed for a reunion. She has prayed for their protection. She has prayed for a way to be family again. Her prayers include the opportunity to become a mother for her young siblings. She doesn’t pray for herself. She doesn’t pray selfishly. She prays for these strangers.
Her focus is always about them. Her education – for them. Her plans, her future, her purpose, is all for them. She’s been given a great opportunity and she knows it. She knows God rescued her for a reason and she knows His purpose is greater than hers. She has submitted to HIs plans, His ways, and His authority. He put her in this position because He knows she can handle it. She is His vessel. She likens her situation to that of Joseph, The Prince of Egypt. And just like Joseph, she is allowing God to use her life to save those she loves.
She doesn’t want to be called hero, brave, or valiant. She doesn’t want to be praised, complimented, or pitied. All she wants is prayer. Lots of prayer. She knows prayer works. She knows God cares. She knows God is in control. She knows this because she is seeing her prayers come true. Thanks to His amazing grace, she has been reunited with 3 of her younger sisters. They are now here at Shadow and they are now safe. But Stella’s fears are still alive because there are two others. Two brothers are still out there. So she continues to work, and continues to plead, and continues to pray.
Stella continues to fight for her family. The road is long and the way is difficult. But she refuses to give up or give in. Now that she is a legal adult, she is allowed to fight on a different level. She has visited and pleaded with one of the fathers in this mess, she attends as many court appointments as she can, and she is involved as much as she can be. She knows God is in control, but she knows she must do her part as well. And just like Joseph, she is using the opportunity that God has given her. Maybe one day we will call her The Princess of Guatemala. But probably not. She wouldn’t allow it. She would prefer her brothers and sisters hold any titles of recognition. She just wants to be known as sister.
*Name changed for protection of our children.