By: Theresa Unrau

My family’s past wTheresaas not something that took up much of my thoughts until my grandfather took his own life on my 39th birthday. The reality of the pain of generational abuse and sadness for the loss of what could have been started to grow inside me. Bitterness took root as I watched my mother suffer from what she felt was so shameful. Bitterness toward my grandfather for not being who God created him to be. Bitterness towards an entire people group just because of where we came from. It snuck in and remained below the surface, unarticulated.

The idea of a women’s retreat weekend where I could participate as a stranger with no expectations of responsibilities or performance drew me in. So I registered and went to Pender Island on a MARK Centre retreat.  As we left the ferry to drive to our retreat home for the weekend I was put in a van with 4 women from Paraguay. God’s sense of humor strikes me sometimes. My grandfather was from Paraguay. I could feel myself on the verge of being quite uneasy, but only 2 of the women spoke English so they were busy translating introductions and asking questions about the island until we arrived at our destination. Trying to focus on the quiet I was hoping for during the weekend we settled into our rooms.

The retreat was filled with love, teaching, quiet times, creativity, wonderful meals together and listening to God speak to us in personal ways. Everything was all translated back and forth, English and Spanish. A bond was quickly growing. A softness was replacing the bitterness. And my eyes were opening to a people group that had nothing to do with the choices my family made and the wake of abuse that was left in my heritage. These 4 women were loving, authentic and easy to love back. By the end of the weekend I confessed how I was feeling about them and how grateful I was that they were what God chose to use to change me. Ruth, Lucia, Ingrid and Gloria travelled from Paraguay to Pender Island looking for a place for God to fill them with his love. But the truth is they were drawn here because I needed them. I needed the peace that they brought to my soul in order to be able to forgive my grandfather. Thank you ladies, until we meet again!


  • Lynn Tucker says:

    PO Box 1666 Stn Aldergrove BC
    Wow, I loved the story. Thanks so much for sharing Teresa. We all have a story of healing. Bless you. xxx

  • Lynn Tucker says:

    Wow, Theresa. Thank you for sharing your touching story. We all have stories of healing in our families and lives. Yours touched me today. Praise the Lord for how HE put it all together using the Mark Centre staff to care for your heart while it received healing from people God chose to do HIS work. HE is such a very, very good Faithtul GOD. We are blessed to be believers. What the world would look like if we all “chose” to believe in Jesus Christ and follow in HIS ways shown to us through HIS Living WORD! Living in Love … :o)

  • Rose says:

    Dear Theresa, I am so sorry that you had to endure emotional pain for the actions of your grandfather. I’ve had a similar experience with my father (alcoholism and attempted suicide). I had a lot to learn about my father. He experienced post tramatic stress disorder from fighting in World War II, the alcoholism developed during that period. I had a lot to learn about the reasons for the actions. Once I did my research the anger and the bitterness no longer made sense. You are very brave to share your story! I admire your courage and my prayer is that God will bless you for it. Rose

  • Marilyn says:

    Ruth from Paraguay, and her family, were our neighbours for six months here while she and her husband were in training with MCC. They were a joy to get to know. We shared Christmas with them that year, and with some other Indo-Canadian neighbours. We enjoyed the multi-cultural Christmas very much.

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