For anyone who’s ever gone out on a limb for love…
More of the “Raw Version” of learning to love in a brothel (and a war zone…)
It’s been a… tougher month. Let’s be honest for a second. (No judgments, k?) I laughed that we labeled it “Rescue Month” cause in the end, I was the one more aware than ever before of my need for a savior. It was I who was needing to be “rescued,” not just the child soldiers or little girls trapped in the sex industry.
It was a beautiful month of leaning 110% on my papa and knowing I can do absolutely nothing, NOTHING, if he doesn’t show up. And seeing however, that he always, ALWAYS does. I’m not sure if it was the collaboration of difficult stories, the reality of life in a war zone or laying your foundations in a brothel. I’m not sure if it was personal relationship drama or the fact that I was just ready for a cup of tea with all of my best friends… Either way- it was definitely painful at times, and had I had Kleenex, I’m sure the empty boxes would be strewn across my bedroom floor.
But to continue on the theme of honesty, laying my heart out in a blog post- it was perfect. Because in the midst of life’s imperfections, we’re reminded that there’s grace. And love. And joy. And a whole lot of it.
And in those times more than normal, when you are wonderfully aware of your own weakness, you see highlighted minutes when all the pain, all the processing, was completely worth it…
So here are a few moments where time stood still and love, as usual- prevailed.
- Thursday Club is a time when a few dozen girls get together and grow as a family. Every Thursday (hence the name…) we meet for a few hours and eat and play games and share life. 99% of these sweet girls have been prostitutes or stuck in child labor situations. Once during a “Truth vs. Lies” day, I was so humbled by the sweet love letters I collected from the girls. Such beautiful words the papa spoke to their hearts!! Each one of them testified how they used to think nothing of themselves but now they knew they were a princess. Loved by God. Worth everything. A Hero. Beautiful. Intelligent. Much of what they wrote we had never told them, it was just their listening and hearing what they mean to him as his daughters! I was so touched!
-Walking down the dirt roads speaking half Swahili / half English I tried to “play it cool” as my girls initiated conversations of their dreams and the “great things they’re believing God for for their lives” –What!?
-Shopping in the market and hearing the sweet call of “Sandrrrrrrrrrra!!!!” And then being tackled by a bunch of Somali refugee kids that cling to my side- smiles ear to ear It’s good to have friends in the neighborhood.
-Standing in front of the class with a picture she drew of herself and Jesus, our sweet girl “Elizabeth” (about 13/14 years
old) beaming with joy, testified that she used to be a prostitute, a thief and drank too much alcohol. But now instead she hears the sweet songs that her papa sings to her: “They are songs of love that he sings to me before bed and when I wake up and sometimes during the day. I can’t wait to go to sleep, because that’s when I get to hear him most. I know I am so so loved by him. And I love him too. I am not the same girl that I was before.” (!!!)
And then of course, more heart stuff…Weeks later while I was reviewing what I saw in Congo… Locked behind a title the UN calls “Rebel Held territory,” my family. My Friends, staff members and sweet babies that call me “Sandula”. Abducted, raped, forced to carry guns. …And everything hurt. The status of their lives… No human should ever have to live like that and here it was- my family. MY house being threatened to become nothing more than a leveled ash heap.
And as I buried my puffy eyes in the chest of my papa I caught the sweetest glimpse of his heart. He never, looks, away. Though so much pain I felt sick in my stomach– he never, looks, away. The very make up of courage, vulnerability and hope. He NEVER, looks away.
I have never been so overwhelmed with love for him and this…. Pride. Knowing that I’m his, and that’s all I want to be. This is why I gush, this is how I find so much joy when my everyday’s can be so full of stories of such violations against humanity. Cause his love is still– perfect.
Still sorting through more memories I revisited the negotiations for my life. “How much are you worth?” the Warlord asked me. And I rest, like a melted puddle in the strong, safe arms of a God who gave everything for both me, and that man. Again- it’s his love. And I feel so rich, so very very rich, for that one moment. For if nothing else, what a sweet glimpse into more of my papa’s tender heart of love, that overrides even the most tangible evil. To know his love, this is what it feels like to be alive.
I know. This might be a lot for some people. BUT, if you want the journey of what it looks like to move between some of the darkest places on earth as a twenty-something year old blonde girl- this is it.
Beautiful and messy and awkward and full of tears and laughter and Haribo gummy candies…
Take it or leave it but either way it’s my process. –The ups and downs of life’s beauty amidst life’s imperfections.