Leaving Gloriavale hardest decision to ever make

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Leaving Gloriavale hardest decision to ever make

Post by LadyKiwi » Sat Sep 15, 2018 11:16 pm

Leaving Gloriavale hardest decision to ever make
Last updated 05:00, September 16 2018

Learning to wave and say goodbye, pay bills, use a phone and even  shopping have all been part of daily life for Lois Helpful over the past 11 months.

The 25-year-old mother-of-two left the religious community of Gloriavale almost a year ago, 32 weeks pregnant, with her husband Caleb and son Peter, for a new life in Temuka, South Canterbury.

The decision to go, prompted by her and her husband's gradual disagreement with many of the things they were being taught, was not made lightly. However, she does not regret it.

"We didn't feel comfortable with what they were teaching. They were not teaching according to The Bible," she says.

She is not the first in her family to leave the community. She has six brothers and six sisters. Four sisters and two brothers remain.

All of her husband's family remain.

"It was the hardest thing I have ever had to do to leave," she says.

"We knew in making this decision, which we thought about for months, we would never get to talk to a lot of our family again."

Lois' brother, who escaped Gloriavale with his family a few years ago, is also based in South Canterbury.

"I do remember talking to my brother on the phone to tell him we had left and would be there soon. When we left it was such a shock and it only sort of started to sink in after I'd been gone about eight weeks.

"I cried a lot as I didn't know how to handle it. It's just so very different."

By then it was time to have her second child, Mark. She says her brother's wife was very helpful when it came time to home birth.

She was scared of having a baby outside Gloriavale.

"Out here I did not have as many people to support me."

Babies were born in Gloriavale "all the time".

With daily routine a big part of her former life, in her first pregnancy Lois was still working when she began to have contractions. After her son was born she had a week off work. This would be extended to two weeks with two children, up to five weeks if the mother had 10.

"I was getting up at 3am to start work and was so tired."

Arranged marriage is another regular occurrence in the community.

"I had never talked to my husband in my life until the day he asked me to marry him. Eight weeks later we were married.

"I was 23 when I got married, he was 18."

A typical day for a Gloriavale woman would begin at 7am with breakfast with her family.

Lois would eat with her family and then drop her child to preschool.

Walkie talkies were used to communicate with mothers if their child in day care needed to be fed - breastfeeding "very much" encouraged.

"Then I'd get to work in the sewing room, or laundry room or kitchen.

"There was always a lot of work to be done."

Having never walked into a shop, she found her first shopping experience frightening.

"I had never posted a letter before and I had no clue about phones. I stepped into a totally different, new world when I left."

Along with her husband, she has also learned how to pay bills, and about common, friendly gestures.

"I have learnt about waving to people and that if you leave someone you say goodbye, you don't just leave."

The biggest surprise has been the caring community that has welcomed her family.

"I was left thinking we were going to be very much on our own. We were drowned in help and I have been left feeling like I was so loved."

She said showing emotion is looked down upon, so accepting compliments on the outside has been hard.

One positive Lois has taken from her time in the community is her talent for art.

That skill, which saw her painting backdrops for Gloriavale's biennial concerts from age 12, is something she has been doing on the outside.

One of her paintings Colour My World was auctioned for a Cancer Society fundraiser and she has set up a Facebook page to sell her work.

"It's something I really enjoy."


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