“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1
A wise little girl who gets right to the point, thirteen-year-old Athena is glad to be living at OBHC and thankful that she doesn’t have to leave any time soon.
“I love it here,” she says, her expression serious. “I love everything about it, the trips, the donors, the mission trips, and my houseparents, all of it. It’s good for me!”
Athena came to live at OBHC two and a half years ago. “It was my stepdad’s idea. He thought a change of scenery and people might settle things down for me, and I agreed. I was sad about having to leave my family, but I knew that was the only way I would find peace. Once I got here, I realized that it was a really cool place with Christians who respected me in every way and truly wanted what was best and healthiest for me.”
“My houseparents, the Wieses, are great!” Athena says, cracking a smile. “They know how to comfort me when I’m upset and make me happy. I’ve learned a lot just by watching them. For instance, I’ve learned that you don’t have to be rough with people to get them to listen to you. Living in a cottage full of girls can get stressful, but they’ve shown me by example that if you make the most of a situation, it can be fun. Life doesn’t have to be hard. They are strict sometimes, but never mean. They stay pretty mellow and relaxed. Even though they have a cottage full of girls to run around and get to counseling and doctors’ appointments and stuff, they are usually all smiles.”
“And they never really argue,” Athena continues, admiration in her tone. “They discuss, but never raise their voices at each other, and their kids are really well behaved. I think that’s because they grew up in a home that wasn’t broken with parents that loved each other and were married. If I ever have kids, I’m going to raise them the way the Wieses raised theirs. I’ll play with my kids and have fun with them. I won’t always say ‘no,’ and I will trust them. I’ll also take time to listen to what they say because it might be important and help me in some way.”
The Wieses’ willingness to listen to Athena led to her accepting Christ as her personal Lord and Savior. “I had been here about seven months,” she explains. “The pastor was very collected and focused that day. He didn’t chase rabbits like pastors can do. Something he said hit me right in the heart, and I talked to Mr. Wiese about it. We talked about sin, God, and Jesus, and I understood it all. The next time we went to church, I got saved.”
“Getting saved changed me,” Athena confesses. “I just haven’t been the same. I’m not argumentative and don’t tell people that I hate them. I’m just more calm and loving to people. It helps that the Wieses take us to church every time it’s open and do devotionals with us every morning. I know that if I ever have any questions about any of it, I can go talk to them because they have already helped me understand a lot of things about the Bible that I didn’t get and have helped me grow with God.”
The Wieses have also helped Athena progress academically. “My family moved around a lot when I was younger,” Athena explains, “so I never got a good grip on math. When I moved here in the fifth grade, my math was at a second grade level. Now I’m all caught up. I’ve always been good at reading, so now I can do just about anything.”
Athena plans to be a robotic engineer when she grows up. “It’s going to take a while,” she says, eyebrows raised and chin tucked. “First, you have to go to college for four years to become an engineer. Then you have to do two years of anatomy and a couple more years of something else. Then, after eight or nine years of college, you get to start on the lowest level in the business, but I feel like I could do it.”
“It would be cool if I could go to Oxford to study!” Athena adds. “I am fascinated by accents, and British accents are the coolest. I actually have a pen pal from London that I met at one of the teas that OBHC takes us to.”
Athena is grateful for the many such opportunities to try new things and meet new people that OBHC donors have afforded her, and she understands that they are largely responsible for the new normal she is enjoying.
“I can’t thank them enough,” says Athena. “Without them, my life would be very different. I’d probably be off at a boot camp by now, feeling like no one wanted me or liked me, and I know that I’d be bad at every subject in school. I’m doing great now, though. I really am.”