Meet Mary + Loretta | Featured Students


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I (Molly) have always desired to have a quiet and gentle spirit, the kind that I have found exemplified so inspirationally in the bible. I think that this idea has been made all the more real for me after several trips to GSO, where two women in particular have lived out this type of spirit before my eyes. I have come to know that those with a quiet and gentle spirit are not necessarily meek and vocally silent, as we might think based on our own cultural perspective. Perhaps most importantly, these are women who serve lovingly, seek no self-validation, and have a heart saturated in compassion and selflessness, oh, and a slight tinge of orneriness. Loretta and Irene, the two radiantly beautiful girls described below, have been catalysts to my deepened insight into the quiet, gentle spirit.

At any particular moment throughout the day you are likely to find Loretta and Irene (who was featured in August 2014) attached at the hip. Loretta, with her humble smile, unmistakably embodies a quiet and innocent disposition. However, one is prudent not to overlook the influence that Loretta so naturally holds among her peers. Not only is she the clear standard bearer of Irene’s eye ("madam Loretta said"....or "madam Loretta wants to know if...." are common utterances of Irene’s) most GSO children have much admiration for Loretta’s unassuming wisdom. As the idiom goes, “with great power comes great responsibility” and Loretta uses her sway in a most charitable manner. Nightly, I see her helping the younger children with their chores or leading by example, making a seemingly mundane task like doing laundry something to behold. She is so remarkably graceful in everything that she does. This grace she processes, I believe stems from a heart that truly knows the simple yet profound joy of serving (in myriad ways) those she loves. Rarely is Loretta the center attention with most GCF volunteers, but what I feel blessed to have experienced firsthand is the brilliant wit and joy filled life that she so inspirationally leads.

Loretta’s modest disposition is all the more contrasted by Mary who is every bit the "handful" that I often tell her she is. Her laugh alone will put a smile on your face and the she seems to be perpetually dancing or singing. Not to mention, this girl gets stuff done! She runs the kitchen when the mamas are not around, always keeps tabs on the orphanage children, and almost single handedly sustained my "lucrative" rope bracelet business (which we sell here in the states for GSO fundraising). Mary is still quite young, but balances more responsibly than most of us state side ever knew at her age. She is not motivated by compensation per se, and complaining or protesting about what life asks of her just does not happen. As she would most unpretentiously tell you, she does it not for her own glory or validation, but rather because, "it's what you do, everyone is family…and because I can". Currently Mary is seeking apprenticeship through our new GCF Reorienting Program and the strength of her character could not make me more proud of her now and hopeful for her future.

My life has been made better because of the quiet, gentle spirits of these two young women; for them I am truly grateful.

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