Only Seventeen

As we were ambling through the department store’s lingerie section, my mom and big sister were giddy while they helped me pick out my post-ceremony attire and prepped me for the big night .  Between the school girl giggles, Mom would take the serious opportunity to tell me what a strong honest man of God Jerry was. She had the chance to meet him over the summer on her missions trip with my step-father to the beautiful, hot Bungoma, Kenya. They were there meeting the community, the orphans, & writing blueprints for The Jericho House, the orphanage our house church intended to build.  Jerry, 32, was their guide during their month there so they spent a great deal of time with him. Before the trip ended, he was calling my own parents “Mum & Dad.”

The Exodus House could not afford toilet paper a good majority of the time so there was definitely not enough finances to fund the whole group’s journey across the Atlantic at once; but news spread quickly in the village after Mom and Bill’s visit. It wasn’t long before Jerry called to tell us of 20 orphans, ages 4 to 7, who were hungry, homeless and anxiously awaiting our arrival. They were awaiting our love. I was being called to go ahead alone to start putting our plans in motion. For my protection, Jerry would marry me.

Mom was the first to see it hanging on the rack. It was a thigh length silky black nightie with tiny sky blue bows on it. To go with it was a black lace trimmed robe in the same sky blue color as the bows. Mom & Krystal went on to excitedly explain that because I was going to be in Africa, my ice blue eyes would be even more prominent than they are here. This wedding night attire was the clear choice because it would highlight my eye color and stun my betrothed.

That night as I lay in bed, my seventeen year old mind spun with nervous thoughts about my impending marriage. “Will he like me? Will he think I’m pretty? It will be so unnerving and awkward having sex with someone I’ve only just met.” I had to do it though. Besides, I had been prepped. The past year Mom spent preparing me and the other women in the house to be the best wives we could. We had homework and study sessions all about learning to be a good helpmeet. I knew what was expected of the wife in her role of support to her husband as he fulfills his destiny. Mom was the perfect example of this every day as she doted over her own husband. She supported his every decision, his every notion. She always served him before herself at mealtime. She clipped his toenails and cut his hair. She never told him no. He in turn spoiled her with handpicked flowers, compliments, poetry, & a man’s protection.

I wasn’t always sure about the God stuff. I had a lot of questions. There were many things we said and did that didn’t feel right to me. I learned to keep those concerns to myself and pretend when necessary. What I knew for certain was I was alive to impact the lives of people in need. I was alive to love the unloved. Those kids were in need. I would do it for them.

2 thoughts on “Only Seventeen

  1. I wish I didn’t have to believe this! I knew you were going to Africa but I surely never knew anything about you being prostituted (err… Married) off to a strange man! I loved your mother but I would have had plenty to say about this! I am amazed that you didn’t run away and that your dad didn’t go ballistic in the whole crazy bunch!!
    Your writing is beautiful and reads like a great novel. To anyone on the outside this is a major cliff hanger! What happened? How did she escape ?!?


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