The story below, I hope, can serve as a story of hope for any who might have been in a situation that perhaps, feels more than they can bear or overcome. It’s not a true story as such, but it is based on real life.
It’s set in 1970 New Zealand, and is about a young unmarried Samoan girl, recently arrived in New Zealand, who discovers that she’s pregnant. For a Sa girl in those days, that represented all kinds of stress that it doesn’t generally represent today.
So. Deep breath. What I am about to share, I don’t share lightly. Because I love my mother very much, she is the most courageous and beautiful-hearted woman I know, and I want to be just like her when I grow up. And I want to honour my mother. And by sharing this, I am in no way dishonouring her. Quite the reverse in fact.
Although this story is not a ‘true’ story (for one thing my father is not a white man!), it is based on my mother’s experience. You see, my mother was a young unmarried Samoan girl, recently arrived in New Zealand in 1970, who discovered that she was pregnant.
She was pregnant with me.
But you see, here’s where the hope comes in. Because she went from a stressful and uncertain situation, to 42 years later living the life she’d always dreamed of as a young girl.
She is now the beloved mother of 4 children who she loves with all her heart, she has been married to her best friend for 42 years and they are still going strong, and she has recently become a nana. Turns out that even though they’d only been dating a few months, my father already knew that my mother was the woman he wanted to marry. My mother looks back across the years and she sees how God had His hand on her even when she went her own way and found herself alone, unmarried and pregnant in a strange, cold country. She has experienced God’s restoration and can testify to His goodness.
My mother, she is an inspiration to me. I have watched her life, and I know that she is a woman of courage, compassion, strength, tenacity and integrity. And I see, in her life and in the life that she has shared with my father, how amazing my God is, that He can take what might look like a life in confusion and ashes, and make it into something beautiful.
And in the testimony of my mother and father, they give all the credit and glory to the God who saved them both and showed them how to love one another selflessly and fearlessly, as He designed a husband and wife to love.
So my message of hope to you is this. Whoever you are, whatever your situation…no matter how much it may seem you could never recover from whatever might have taken place in your life…my God, He is a restorer. He can take even the decisions you made without Him, and use them to bless you, if you trust Him.
I know for a fact that my mother is very happy that she decided to have me. That she decided to tell my father and face the consequences and risk the doubt and judgment of others in 1970’s New Zealand. The path from there wasn’t easy, but it has been a path of blessing not only to my mother, but to her family and to all who she comes into contact with. She has a heart of compassion and understanding on her that I have no doubt stems in part from the experiences and challenges that she has faced.
And I have come to realise that God was looking out for my mother even as He was forming me in her womb. Because for any doubters at the time who might have whispered to one another that perhaps my father wasn’t actually the father of her baby…God made sure that I looked like my dad! There is absolutely no question at all, who my Daddy is. God takes care of even the most seemingly inconsequential details! But I know, the fact that I look like my Daddy, it vindicated my Mama in a way.
So…a story of hope….enjoy 🙂
Two words. Two words that brought her whole world crashing down around her. She sat across from the doctor, completely stunned, trying to take in the meaning of those words.
This Samoan girl, who’d arrived in New Zealand only months before, was terrified. And all of a sudden she felt very alone in the world. She wasn’t married. She’d just had a huge argument with her boyfriend. Maybe they’d broken up, she wasn’t sure.
By being pregnant and unmarried, she would bring such shame to her family. What would everyone back home say? The Samoan rumour mill was vicious to girls who didn’t behave themselves. Her big sister, who was flatting with her in New Zealand, was going to give her a hiding for this. Her mother said that only prostitutes had sex before marriage. So now her mother would call her a prostitute. Good Samoan girls didn’t get pregnant out of wedlock in 1970.
She barely knew how to live in this country. New Zealand was so strange, and so cold. She was freezing cold all the time. And the people here were so different. So many white people. Palagi. White people were scary. When they spoke, they sounded so harsh. Her English was so bad, she was sure that they laughed behind her back after talking to her. She believed that white people were better than her. That they were somehow worth more because of their whiteness. She grew up believing that. Her mother said so, so it must be true.
How could she raise a baby all by herself in a strange country that she was afraid of?
She left the doctor’s surgery and walked home in a daze. It was so cold. She never understood what cold was until living here. This was the first winter she’d ever had in her life. Everything was so dark and grey. She hated it.
She didn’t want this baby.
A million thoughts raced through her mind. What should she do? The doctor said she could have an abortion. That would be the easiest thing to do. Her mother wouldn’t call her a prostitute. Her sister wouldn’t beat her up. The Samoan aunties back home wouldn’t talk nasty gossip about her. But somewhere in the back of her mind, she knew that she couldn’t do it. Even though she had hated her strict religious upbringing in Samoa, it did give her a belief that life was precious. But oh, abortion would be the easiest thing to do. Just as if it had never happened. No one would ever need to know.
And her boyfriend, Jonathan, would never need to know. She didn’t know why he had picked her out of a crowd. She was just a quiet Samoan girl. He was a charming white man with kind blue eyes and big strong shoulders and sandy blonde hair. White people scared her. But he didn’t scare her. He was caring and thoughtful. He was a good man. He told her she was beautiful, but she didn’t believe him. She thought he was the beautiful one. He looked like an angel to her.
Jonathan really seemed to care about her. She didn’t understand it. Why? What did he see in her? He said that he wanted to take care of her. But she didn’t trust him. One day he would wake up and want to throw her away. Why did he say such kind things to her? Why did he pretend to care so much? She felt it was cruel. That’s why they had argued last night. She’d called him a liar. Pepelo.
Did he really love her? Her mother said that men were only ever after one thing. That men were useless and stupid and selfish liars. Jonathan seemed different. She wanted to trust him, but what if her mother was right? She was afraid to trust him. But now she was carrying his baby. So she had to decide.
As she walked in the bitter cold night, she began to realise that she had been trying to push away the first man who seemed to really care about her.
But all he had wanted was to be with her. To take care of her. To love her.
She needed to talk to him. She needed to say she was sorry for being so crazy. She wanted to tell him she was scared. Scared and crazy. She wanted to ask him to forgive her for her Samoan craziness. This palagi man loved her. She didn’t know why. But she knew she wanted to accept his love. To let go of all the fear and prejudice that had been put into her, and to trust him. To accept him. To love him. To love their child.
For the first time, the thought of being a mother filled her with excitement. Their baby would be beautiful. Their baby would be loved and wanted and nurtured and would grow into someone who would make the world a better place and be a blessing. She knew it.
As she stepped into the flat she shared with her big sister, she decided that she didn’t care if her sister gave her a hiding. She didn’t care if her mother called her a prostitute. She didn’t care what the Samoan aunties might say. None of it mattered now. She ran to the phone to call Jonathan. She wanted to talk to him. Maybe it would work out and they would get married, maybe not. But she knew now that she wanted to try. And as she dialed his number, she knew that they would always be connected from now on.
Because she wanted this baby.
© Gloria Emmalene 2012