Three years ago or so, a friend of mine needed someone to fill in for her interpreting gig. It was for a day-long class, and I was to interpret the English presentations into Spanish.
That friend later moved, and I took her place as the interpreter for this class. I don’t want to go into details about the class here, mostly because if I do, it will only be to brag. I really do love talking about the class, because not only do I enjoy the hard work of interpreting (and am proud of it), but I’m always learning and I think the participants greatly benefit from it.
During one of the sessions, a woman tells her life story. I feel privileged to have the chance to tell her story with her. Speaking the words of another person’s story into another language, is deeply rewarding and humbling.
I know I don’t do it justice when I’m trying to offer her words to Spanish-speakers. She and I are always trying to come up with new ways of saying phrases like “I was pistol whipped”. They don’t exactly teach you that one in Spanish class. Her story, one of abuse and a seemingly endless search for love, offers so many people hope as she shares how her life has transformed from one of deep longing to a life with great joy.
My friend is a graduate of the Magdalene Community. A two-year residential program for women coming out of lives of prostitution and addiction. Part of their healing includes learning to share their story. Each time she speaks, she does so with confidence and security. She makes a point to say something like, “this is part of my story. This is who I was, not who I am.” She continues, “I don’t say that I’m proud I was a prostitute, or that I’m glad it happened, but I can say that who I am today is because of my past. It’s a part of me, but I am not that same woman”.
Through Magdalene, my friend learned dignity, and respect. She learned that through years of searching what she really wanted was to know true love. Love not only given to her by others, but love for herself. To know that she was worth dignity, respect, and a life well-lived.
In the years I’ve been a part of sharing her story, I’ve seen continued new life. She’s no longer nervous when she talks, she gives dignity to every person she speaks with. Sometimes she shares more than she meant to, some days life is just difficult and she leaves out a few details. She’s incredibly vulnerable in offering deep moments of her life, and I’m forever in awe of her courage.
The women of Magdalene run a business called Thistle Farms. Their hand-made products not only smell delicious, but the money from sales goes straight back into the program so that these woman can live rent-free for two years.
I’m looking forward to their fundraiser this week. The theme, “Totems and Sacred Spaces”, is particularly fascinating to me. These women have so much to teach me, I want to soak up every word, picture, and moment.
Magdalene is one of many organizations that are truly changing lives. They are supported completely by donations and grace. Their success rate is outrageously high. I wanted to share a part of their story with you as a reminder that there are good people doing great things, living rich lives full of joy.
You should also know that it’s your story, your courage, that is changing the world.
Tell your story, we want to hear it.