Time in Willow Creek: 1 year, 11 months
When Juliana arrived home from an incredible day with Kevin, she found a letter from home on her dresser. Immediately, she panicked and a dense feeling of dread and regret encompassed her space. It just occurred to her that it had been months since her last reply to Mamá. She was so absorbed with Kevin and her work situation, she hadn’t created to space to think of home. Did that make her a terrible daughter? Had she become selfish? She almost didn’t want to read it for it was probably filled with terrible news. Just think: Juliana living it up, dating a wealthy, handsome man and managing businesses while her family back home struggled and were probably dying. It wasn’t right, and sometimes she felt guilty for doing so well despite knowing that’s what she was sent there to do. Alas, there wasn’t much that could be done except help out as much as she could until things changed. Pushing back the guilt, she sat and opened the letter, praying for not-so-terrible news.
(translated for your understanding)
My Dearest, Juliana,
You amuse me so when you get worked up for nothing. Of course I wasn’t expecting you to announce an engagement already. I know you aren’t ready for that, and I’m glad you’ve realized it. I simply wanted you to admit what we both knew about your feelings for Kevin. Being in love is exciting news. It’s one of the best feelings in the world, and I’ve always wanted that for you. I’m glad for you! Just remember everything you’ve been taught and go into this relationship with your eyes open. I’ve seen enough American television to know how they operate over there. You’re very young and are experiencing so many new things right now. It’s like sitting at a banquet table filled with food. Everything looks so delicious, and your first instinct is to try everything. I will say this to you. Just because something is offered to you doesn’t mean you have to take it. Everything that is available to you isn’t necessarily good for you. Take from that what you will.
I still can’t help but be amused by how archaic you thought I was. We are the way we are out of necessity. I know it may appear that everyone does the same things, but it isn’t that way at all. I know quite a few people who never married or waited until later in life. They are rare, but they exist. You know how bad things are here. We marry early and have lots of kids out of necessity. Tomorrow isn’t promised, and we want to keep our families going lest they be wiped out by sickness or violence. I have had 12 children, but only 5 of you are with me. The pressure that is placed on us to marry and start a family or even agree to an arranged marriage isn’t some tradition or an edict from on high. It comes from a place of fear and self-preservation. If you were here and wanted to marry, I would be glad. But, if you didn’t, I would neither be surprised nor upset. I know you, my child. You think and see the world differently than I do. I am sorry you have not understood this until now. You are the first child I have seen to adulthood, and we are on this journey together. You are off in America on a grand adventure, and I am learning what I should be teaching the others as you uncover the mysteries for me. What a pair we are. 🙂
When you are a mother, you sometimes do or say things you don’t mean simply because they need to be said. When I told you not to come back here, I said it because I needed to. You weren’t as mature as you are now, and I needed for home not to be an option for you so you could grow. Before I heard from you the first time, I was so sad. We all were. I tried to explain it to the children in a positive way, but quite honestly it felt like I had lost yet another child. I hated telling you that although I knew it was for your own good. I never expected to see you or hear from you again, but at the same time it was all I wanted. I know I sound very contradictory right now, or maybe it doesn’t make sense. But, one day, when you have your own children, you will understand. I would love nothing more than to see your beautiful face!
The children are doing well, and you know your sister very well. Adrianna is charming all the boys. Ever since you sent those pictures, she’s been going on and on about getting a new shade of lipstick. She keeps saying, “Juliana has more than one!” I keep telling her you’re a woman now and you have a job. She makes me laugh. Maybe I’m getting old, but I did buy her a new shade. If it makes her feel closer to you, why not? Besides, she’s already wearing the stuff.
Andres tried out for the football team, but he didn’t make it. I can’t say I was disappointed. We can’t afford things like that. Mara won a spelling contest, and Vitorria has taken an interest in the piano! I’ll be glad when she’s really good so we can have music in the house again. I bet the Humphries love to listen to you play.
Speaking of the Humphries, it is rather strange they don’t care more about the library. I mean, even if none of them cared about it as you say, it seems like they would still want to control it and just hire someone to run the place. I’ll blame it on the cultural differences because I cannot comprehend that. If it were even possible for us to have some sort of inheritance, we would treasure it so much. But anyway, congratulations to you! You’re right. I halfway believe all of this is happening to you. It is unreal. Sometimes your letters are like pieces of fiction to me. I have to pinch myself to remind me that these are your words. God has blessed you so much. It is true when they say be careful what you pray for because you may get it. Your life right now is far beyond anything I ever dreamed for you. It’s scary, and I love it.
As always, you continue to amaze me, and I can never stop being proud of you. I love you so much, sometimes I think of you and burst into happy tears. Continue to do well, and don’t be distracted by things that will not suit the plans you have for your life. Take care, my love.