July 14, 2019 sermon

Posted by on Jul 14, 2019 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

A Faith Story – Part Two

It was Easter Sunday, 2018, when Tamara watched her sister being killed. At least that’s what the records showed. But Samantha had died many times long before that fateful day.

Tamara and Samantha were born in the late 1960’s in London, England to parents from a multi-racial lineage. Tamara was two years older than Samantha and had a dark complexion with an oval face framed by dark, curly hair. Samantha had a narrower face with high cheekbones and straight, blonde hair that was of a fine texture. In the early 1970’s, the family immigrated to Canada and settled in the city of London, Ontario, hoping that the identical names of the two cities would bring them good fortune.

Two years later, when Tamara was eight years old and Samantha had just turned six, their parents were killed in a horrific traffic accident and the girls were left parentless. Fortunately, the younger sister of their mother had also immigrated to London, Canada and she took the two young girls into her home, becoming their legal guardian. For the next few years, the girls missed their parents terribly, but were managing to adapt to their new lives. Eventually, their aunt married and the girls now had a new father figure as well. Samantha was twelve years old when their aunt’s husband began abusing her. For some reason, Tamara escaped his abuse and never realized what was happening to her sister. Their aunt also seemed to be oblivious to what was taking place. Samantha was fifteen when she left home and began living on the streets. Tamara sought out her sister but was rebuffed by her. Samantha decided to leave London and moved away, losing all contact with her family.

Samantha was barely sixteen when she was recruited by a pimp who worked the streets of Toronto, looking for young girls who he could manipulate into doing what he wanted them to by promising things he would never provide. Samantha naively believed his promises, thinking he might even love her, and by the time she realized what he really was, it was too late. Addicted to the drugs he provided free at first, but then began demanding payment from her for, Samantha was forced into the sex trade with no way out. For the next several years, she was moved from one street corner to another and from one flop house to another, constantly separated from any of the girls she developed a bond with, and totally dependent on her pimp. A couple of times she was not careful enough and became pregnant, but arrangements were made for an abortion and Samantha was so drugged she hardly remembered what happened.

One day, when Samantha was in her mid to late twenties, a young woman approached her on the street corner and slipped her a small bottle of essential citrus oils. She told Samantha to peel back the label when she was alone. Samantha was able to hide the bottle in her belongings and when she finally had a chance to look under the label she found a phone number on it that it said to call if help was needed. Samantha was terrified that her handlers would find it so she hid it and forgot about it. Until the night one of her clients beat her so badly she thought she might die. The next day, Samantha was able to recover the bottle and managed to arrange for one of the girls she trusted to phone the number. Instructions were given and the two managed to slip away one evening, right from under the nose of their pimp, with help from a group of people who were dedicated to helping people like Samantha. They never saw him again.

Samantha didn’t know whether she could trust these people or not, but decided she had no other choice. With their help and the help of others at addiction centres, Samantha was able to escape the sex trade and stop her drug use. It wasn’t easy and took a long time, but Samantha began to look healthy and managed to find work. The lure of the drugs never left Samantha and she almost fell back into their grasp a number of times. It was only because of the help of her friends at the recovery groups she was part of that she was able to stay clean.

Then, one day, a man walked into Samantha’s life and she thought the universe was finally going to be on her side. Caught up in the emotions she was feeling, she allowed herself a romantic affair and became pregnant. When she was sure of the pregnancy and told the man she thought loved her that they were going to have a baby, she discovered that love was something she knew very little about. He left her without ever telling her his full name. Samantha gave birth to an adorable baby girl and named her Sahara, which was a combination of her own name and her older sister, Tamara’s, name. As far as Samantha was concerned, the only person she had ever really trusted was her sister, although she was not sure that even that trust was worth counting on. After all, Tamara had done nothing to protect her when she was a young teenager. Neither had her parents who died and left her alone to fend for herself. It was hard for Samantha to trust anyone.

Sahara changed Samantha’s life in so many ways. This young baby who grew into a young child gave her mother unconditional love. Samantha was finally needed by someone more than she ever thought possible. Sahara depended on Samantha for food, clothing and shelter. Just as much, and maybe even more, Sahara needed Samantha’s love, and she received it in such great measure that Sahara, despite all the odds against it, grew into a fine young woman who loved her mother with all of her being. It wasn’t that Samantha provided her daughter with the finer things that other children had, because Samantha could not afford to do that. It wasn’t that Samantha attended all of Sahara’s school activities because Samantha was often unable to get off work to do so. In so many ways, Samantha appeared to not be as good a mother as many of the other children had, but in the most important way, Samantha stood head and shoulders above many of them. Samantha’s love for her daughter knew no bounds. She would do anything to protect Sahara and while her daughter might have taken advantage of this, she never did. Somehow, the bond between mother and daughter was so strong and full of trust and love, that neither one would do anything to put that in jeopardy.

When Sahara went away to college in 2010, things changed at home for Samantha. No longer was she the centre of Sahara’s life. Sahara had always had friends and a full social life, but college life expanded her horizons and she began to spend more time with friends and was gone from home far more than she had ever been before. Samantha worried about her daughter, knowing how the world worked and could strike out against someone who trusted too much. She confided in Sahara about her own past, hoping that by doing so she might open her daughter’s eyes to what could happen to a person who is not wise about other people. Whether the sharing of her own history helped Sahara or not, Samantha would never know, but when her daughter came home, excited about the young man she was seeing, Samantha’s anxiety level went way up. Sahara brought him home to meet her mother one day and he stayed for an evening meal. Samantha soon saw how much the two young people truly loved one another and her fears were lessened. Still, she worried about what might happen, probably as the result of her own parent’s deaths and the other things that had gone wrong for her.

In 2011, Sahara moved into an apartment for her second year of college, rooming with her boyfriend who was in his last year and set to graduate the next year. When Samantha objected, she was assured by Sahara that she knew what she was doing and she would not repeat the mistakes of her mother. Samantha never let on how much these words hurt her, simply asking her to be careful. Despite all the promises and assurances, Sahara became pregnant and gave birth to a beautiful baby girl in 2012. Sahara and her partner loved this child so much that Samantha forgot about her fears and embraced the newest member of her family. They named her, Faith. Samantha was now a grandmother, something she thought would never be possible. The small family was extremely happy as were the family members of the young father. His parents were very supportive of Sahara and their son and offered to help as much as they could, as did Samantha.

Samantha could hardly believe it when the universe conspired against her once again. Faith’s father became ill almost overnight. Apparently his family had a history of congenital heart disease and Faith’s father barely clung to life. Despite the best efforts of the doctor’s, he died within a week of the first signs of any problems. Concerned about Faith, tests were carried out and it was discovered that she also had congenital heart disease that was not affecting her adversely yet but probably would, and could strike anytime, as it had for her father.

Sahara and Samantha, along with Faith’s other grandparents did everything they could to protect their daughter and granddaughter, but in 2016 Faith was admitted to hospital and was put under the care of a respected and caring doctor, named Tamara. Sahara noticed how quickly a deep bond developed between her daughter and this doctor who seemed to care so deeply. For some reason, Faith appeared to trust this doctor completely and told her mother more than once that she had nothing to worry about because Dr. Tamara was looking after her. All three of Faith’s grandparents came to see her in hospital but were never there when Tamara was, so she never met them. Faith would tell her all about them and how much they wanted to meet her. Eventually, Tamara was able to meet with Faith’s paternal grandparents and gather more information about their son, but Faith’s maternal grandmother was often working a hectic schedule and came in late at night when Tamara was either home or attending to other patients.

Then, one Saturday afternoon, both Samantha and Tamara were in the hospital at the same time and Samantha and Sahara were standing beside Faith’s bed, facing away from the door when Tamara walked into the room. Faith’s face lit up and she joyfully introduced her doctor to her grandmother. As Samantha turned to face Faith’s doctor, she cried out in shock, her knees buckled, and she almost collapsed onto the floor. Quickly, Tamara reached out and gathered her sister into her arms. It was only the day before that Sahara had shared with her the story of her mother’s difficult childhood and the name of her aunt and Tamara had put the facts together. She had purposely asked Sahara to bring her mother with her to the hospital to make sure that she was right before saying anything to anyone except her husband. She had not wanted to make a mistake and make things worse than they already were by telling anyone else that she thought she and Samantha were sisters.

Sitting down on the edge of Faith’s bed, Tamara held her younger sister in her arms, and gently stroked her soft, blonde hair, as she told her how much she loved her and was so sorry she had not seen her for so long. Samantha, overcome with emotion, sobbed as she rested her head on her older, sister’s shoulder and buried her face in the dark, curly hair she remembered so well.