Her name is Isabella. I saw her for the first time several years ago. We will both be forty two this winter. Past that, there’s not much in common. Though we grew up on the same planet, during the same time, we have lived in two completely different worlds.
When I was eighteen, I drove a 1971, Ford truck named “Ned Pepper” after the bad guy from True grit. It was a shinning time for me, full of music, friends, high school graduations and hope for the future. That same year, when Isabella was eighteen, her family sold her to the trash dump in Matamoros Mexico.
Across the river
The search for a better life had brought Isabella’s family to the border. They had heard there were jobs that couldn’t be found in the mountains of Southern Mexico. They didn’t find jobs but found hardship and predators that prey on desperate people.
After spending some time without a home, they were offered a piece of property with no money down, where they could build some kind of a house from things found at the nearby dump. What seemed like a good opportunity was actually a trap. Because they didn’t understand how interest works, it wasn’t long before they couldn’t make the payment.
The terrible ultimatum demanded by these Mafioso loan sharks is that your wife and daughters can either sell their bodies as prostitutes or the whole family can work in the trash dump. Of course they are promised they will be able to pay off the debt, and of course they are never able to. Years go by, people loose hope and slavery goes on within a few hours drive of where you are reading this now.
A cross to bear
I don’t know all the details but Isabella became property of the dump the same year I was eating ice cream at the Dairy Queen in Joshua. She paid the price for her family at the age of 18 and her family went back to the village. She was 36 now but looked much older, emotionally disturbed and a little bit crazy. Isabella had spent every day of her last 18 years in untold hardship and every night in unspeakable darkness.
Her “boss” was there that first day we met her. He sat in the truck watching her and some twenty others mine through the filth for anything of value.
Through several local people, we were told her story and we approached her about the possibility of freedom. I asked if it was possible to pay her debt and set her free. She didn’t say anything she just smiled and pointed to the guy in the truck. A local Pastor hacked out a price for this human being and all of us on the team collected our money. Out of the 10 of us we were able to muster $631.00. He took the money, went and had a talk with her and drove off to parts unknown.
We set Isabella free that day. Free to find her family. Free to live wherever she wanted, however she wanted. At that moment I felt like one of the most privileged people who ever lived. It was a good day.
Crossing back over
I visit the dumps there several times a year, so four years later it wasn’t out of the ordinary for us to be there again. When we topped the hill with our truckload of food and clothes, I thought I recognized her. There in the trash she was collecting cardboard. Isabella was back. My heart sank.
It wasn’t the loan shark or another con. She was there working on her own free will. “Forgive me”, she said to our team, “I don’t know how to live out there; I only know this place.” She looked for any sign of mercy and all I could do was hug her and tell her it was ok.
Every time I go there I see her now. She runs to the truck before we can even get out and we are always happy to share a day together. In fact we put special things aside for her and her family. I got to put brand new shoes on her little boy’s feet last week and my wife paid to put all of her kids through another year of school.- The Brewer putting new shoes on Gabriel
Yes, I’m disappointed she chose to stay in the dump, but she is still very precious to the Brewer bunch. I just don’t think Isabella could see her self outside of that terrible place. Because of her self-identity, the dump still has her. I wish she could see herself like we see her because we think she’s awesome.
I see all of us in Isabella. Christ has set us free and so many times we choose to go back to the trash. It’s hard to see yourself as clean and set free when on the inside you feel filthy and tied up. That’s why it’s so important to believe the truth especially when it comes to identity. When we believe a lie we empower the liar and that’s just a shame. May we all learn to see ourselves a little more like God really sees us.
And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. John 8:32
Contact the Brewer @ www.FreshFromTheBrewer.com