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Wednesday, November 16, 2005 

The Shepherds: A Christmas Story

The Shepherds

By Davidae Stewart


        Each year, 50,000 immigrant visas are made available through a lottery to people who come from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. The State Department's National Visa Center holds the lottery every year, and chooses winners randomly from all qualified entries. Anyone who is selected under this lottery will be given the opportunity to apply for permanent residence. If permanent residence is granted, then the individual will be authorized to live and work permanently in the United States. Instructions are usually posted in August, and the registration period is usually held in October each year. None of these visas are available for people who come from countries that have sent more than 50,000 immigrants to the United States in the past five years. Mexico is one of those countries that do not qualify. [1]

And, thus is the problem with our story.

When you think of an illegal alien you imagine a bracero, a Mexican migrant worker. But not Georgia State Supreme Court Judge Babcock William’s Bahamian nanny, Martinique Rolle, or her fiancée, First Lieutenant Ricardo Velasquez, who’s been serving in Iraq since the war ended a year ago.

You don’t think of them.

But since we’re here. Let’s look at their predicament. It’s Christmas Eve and Martinique hasn’t heard from Rico. She would like to attend church tonight and pray for his safety, but the Judge and his wife has left Martinique with their newborn daughter, Lourdis, to attend a Christmas Party at the Governor’s Mansion. All the other domestics have gone home to be with their family. Rico is all the family Martinique has.

She and Rico came to America three and four years ago, respectively to find the American Dream. And to their surprise, they found each other, while working--more like hiding out--in the same affluent, Alpharetta neighborhood. Martinique, a caramel coated Betty Boop with dark flowing hair that fell well over her shoulders, fell even harder for Ricardo, a cinnamon-kissed, Columbian six-footer with a strong build and a stronger gaze, who worshipped the honeysuckle smell of her hair and the little bit of Spanish Martinique knew.

Rico became a US soldier, hoping for easy citizenship for the both of them. Yet weeks had passed since his deplorement to Fallujah. The last letter Martinique received Rico asked for her hand in marriage.

So sweet. Anyway…

It’s Christmas Eve and Martinique is sitting in the great room rocking the baby when someone knocks on the front door. People have been stopping by all evening, spreading Christmas cheer and dropping off gifts for the Judge. Nothing new.

But when she answered the door, to find Mavis Crawford, the Judge’s next-door neighbor standing on the front door, she wasn’t pleasantly surprised. Mavis’ husband had employed Rico before he enlisted in the military. Mavis didn’t approve of Rico’s leaving, and, of course, blamed Martinique for losing their best Ricky—as if there were many others.

And for that reason, to Martinique, Mavis’s resembled a crème colored crow.

“Neek Neek…” the neighborhood nickname for Martinique—Mavis squawks as she enters the foyer. “I received a letter in our mail addressed to you.” She pulls an envelope out of her coat pocket. “It’s from our best Ricky, but…”

Apparently, Mavis has read the letter and discovered Martinique’s illegal situation. For the crows’ silence Martinique must agree to watch her twin grandsons on occasion…like tonight.

 “The Judge’s already okayed the new arrangements. Mr. Crawford made our dinner reservations for eight-thirty. My son and daughter-in-law can bring the kids by around eightish. If that’s okay with you…?” Mavis’ heels click toward the Judge’s kitchen-her normal destination when he or Mrs. Besty isn’t home. “I’ll give you a little time to think about it.”

Martinique’s mouth falls open. She plops back down on the love seat and begins to cry. How can she care for three babies and study for her citizenship test? Why can’t she have a day off?

The phone rings. She picks it up. “Williams residence.”

“Martinique. It’s Sister Angelina, Pastor King’s wife.”

She places the baby in her day cradle that rests near the settee. Then leans forward in the chair, to see if Mavis is on her way back from the kitchen. No one’s coming.

She places the phone closer to her mouth and whispers. “I’m sorry. Can you repeat that?”

 “I’m Angelina King. Pastor Moses King’s wife. You and I met last month at Bethlehem Church….We have the ESOL Program?”

Someone rings the doorbell.

She hesitates.

 “Yes.”  She stands up. “I remember.”

“Well…I have good news. The Visa Lottery Program opens up tomorrow. You’ve a chance for permanent citizenship. I’m sending a yellow cab to pick you up, so pack your things. You have to be at the Capitol first thing Christmas morning.”

She tiptoed out of the living room. Couldn’t see Mavis. “But how? The lottery was closed in October.”

“It’s a miracle. The President has commissioned the State Department to give a few more people a chance—call it a Christmas gift. I don’t know, but I praise God for it.”

She stopped at the front door. “I can’t go anywhere. People are stopping by, I’m watching the baby again and two more kids are on their way. This is probably them at the door.”

“Look, Sweetie. This is a gift from heaven. One of our trustees’ son works for the State Department in DC, and he found your application for us. Do you understand? This is your chance for freedom, …for you and your fiancée’s own pursuit of happiness. Understand?”

The doorbell ringer knocks this time.

“Hold on…let me just...” She says as she glances through the peephole.

Two Marine Soldiers stand at the door. She grips the phone. Lordis cries. She looks down the foyer and gulps her conscience with her broken heart down her throat before she speaks into the phone.


Now I’m sure you’re wandering will Martinique leave that baby alone?  Will she shirk her responsibility for a newfound freedom just as the shepherds left their flocks for Bethlehem?

Would you?

Of course she doesn't leave the baby alone. But boy did Mavis get a big surprise when she returned from the kitchen to find she needed to add another member to the dinner guest list.

As you know--shepherds were underclass servants who brought the good news of Christ’s birth to the world. And delivered the message that all men are created equal under God. Here I have presented a fictional account of two migrant workers, who must choose liberty over their circumstances. I hope that we, the liberated, can be thankful for America’s gift of liberty to us. For like Martinique and Sal—we all were once shepherds.

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  • A literary journalist and publicist since 2001, Dee Stewart’s writings have appeared in RT Book Reviews, Spirit Led Woman, Precious Times,  Romantic Times Magazines and on The Master’s Artist Blog. Her work focuses on fiction, popular culture, media and their relationship to people who live according to a Christian worldview. She is the also owner of Christian Fiction Blog and DeeGospel PR. Moreover, she writes for Kensington Publishers under the pen name Miranda Parker. Her novel A Good Excuse to Be Bad releases July 2011. She lives in Atlanta, GA.

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