Thursday, February 17, 2011


Yolis and I sit together watching her new house being built. A sturdy shed-like structure is being raised up beside her previous place of living – a dark, tiny shanty made of scraps of wood and plastic and cloth. The road in front of us is a tangled mess of stones, and discarded objects – broken dolls, candy wrappers, flat tires, broken bottles, and various other unidentifiable scraps of trash. Children are yelling as they kick a soccer ball back and forth in the flattest parts of the road. Construction sounds mingle with this yelling; people are hammering, painting and cleaning as they attempt to squeeze the last bit of usefulness out of themselves before 5:00 arrives.

Yolis and I sit silently taking in the busyness of others. She is resting comfortably in my lap; her brown completion both contrasting and complimenting my fairness. Our lives are opposites; she has only known the cruelties of poverty and I the comforts of privilege and yet there is a sisterly camaraderie between us. Her eyes grow heavy in the warm sun and I gently brush her black hair out of my face. She leans back and smiles at me; we do not need a translator for this exchange.

Monday, February 14, 2011


My name has become like a cruel brand – burned onto my person ever reminding me I will never be able to give my father the one thing he wanted most from me.  He has said on many occasions with great conviction that he does not care who I marry or where I work so long as I am a Christian. He best expressed this expectation when he named me because Kristina means “follower of Christ.” Ever striving to make my father proud, I fulfilled this desire with ease – attending church faithfully, ascribing to evangelical dogma, and pursing vocational ministry. All of this made my father proud, and with his pride came a steadfast assurance of his affections.  He once told me he interpreted my dedication to Christianity as a sort of redemption of his failures.  This statement initially strengthened my resolve to follow Christ but ultimately it has come to haunt me.

Over the past few years I have become disillusioned; my faith has completely dissolved and with it my confidence in my father’s love for me.  I see him look at me with worry and disappointment, but he is more disappointed in himself than he is in me; the daughter who was meant to redeem him is now his greatest failure.  This devastates me.  My father has many wounds which have caused him to be distant and critical; I have always forgiven him for the pain he has caused me because I believed I could be the person he wished he had been.  I should have been a salve but now I fear I am the greatest wound of all. My father will always have my love and forgiveness, but I struggle to forgive myself for turning what he hoped would be a legacy into a lie – my name is a cruel brand.