Wednesday, June 22, 2016
Since we have a team with us (and therefore more bodies), we were able to take a new set of kids from Rehab to McDonalds this morning. As I walked through the gate and said my good mornings at the Rehab center, I was praying that little Stefi would be able to come today. She was my buddy last year on our McDonalds outing, and I pretty much fell in love with her sweet smile. Much to my delight, one of the staff members brought her out shortly after we arrived, and she was all dressed up and ready to go. I semi-smothered her with hugs and kisses and warmed my heart with her little giggle.
We had a great time on the tram taking pictures alongside Bailey and our little dude from last week (whose name I still can't quite understand). When we got to McDonalds, we got to go into the special birthday room, and it was like Disneyland for these kiddos. Can you even imagine McDonalds being the highlight of your month? Your year? Just something to ponder...
After lunch we headed to Chitila (an all girls' orphanage with girls between the ages of 9 and 22). One of the girls on the team asked me at one point today which group of kids is my favorite to work with. I couldn't give a definite answer as I like different groups for different reasons, but Chitila is definitely at the top of the list (along with Tei). Because so much changes in Romania, and so many of the kids and centers are different year in and year out, it is pretty amazing to me that I've been able to visit Chitila for over ten years. Although most of the girls are different at this point, it still holds a very special place in my heart.
We began with singing with Ana, which the kids always love to do. I was sitting next to another Ana, and she was insistent that I be able to see the song lyrics. Small gestures speak volumes. The team sang after that, and they began with "After All." Here is the chorus (I suggest you look up the entire song if you don't already know it).
After all, You are constant
After all, You are only good
After all, You are sovereign
Not for a moment,
Will you forsake me
Not for a moment
Will you forsake me
As I sat on the edge of the room and allowed the music and lyrics to wash over me, I couldn't help but look out at the girls and be utterly overcome. I had to fight back tears. For those who know me well, tears don't come very easily to me. I looked out at those faces and my heart broke more and more.
The abuse--verbal, physical, sexual. The trafficking. The prostitution. The pregnancies. The babies given to orphanages. The girls who run away. The endless cycle. It's just too much...
As I listened to the lyrics of the song and saw the girls' stories in their faces, I deeply struggled to reconcile the two. Our God is good, constant, sovereign. Our God will never forsake us. I know this is the truth with all of my being, and yet... What these girls go through every day... How is it possible? Where is the good in that? Where is God's sovereignty in that?
Don't get me wrong, I'm not doubting God for a moment. I know He is good and sovereign. I know He can and DOES work miracles. My humanity says these girls are destined to a life of abuse and trafficking. My faith in Christ says there's another way. It's just SO HARD to see these girls each week, hear their stories, and trust that God can bring good from them.
Then I think about Ester, the story the team shared today. Ester was an orphan with a seemingly bleak future, yet God used her in a mighty way to save her people. My prayer is not only that God will protect these precious girls TONIGHT and tomorrow and the next day, but that God would work miracles in their lives. I pray that one of them may be the next "Ester."
I have a love/hate relationship with Chitila. I love it because I adore those precious girls. I hate it because I get to know them more each week...and I hear more of their stories each week.... and my heart breaks a little more each week...
It's harder every time. Every. Single. Time. Yet, my heart longs to go back there right now... I don't know how the staff does it. They are beyond incredible people.
As I left Chitila today, Flori, a girl I've known for a few years stood there and hugged me. Last week the girls said she ran away, so we were praying that she'd be back today. I was overjoyed to see her. I asked her if I'd see her next week and she said she'd be there. However, as we were standing there, Florina told me her background story (in English) and I honestly had to fight to not cry and throw up at the same time. I don't even want to write it down, but I'll tell you when I see you if you're interested.
Please pray for Flori. Pray for all these girls. They have no future without Christ. No hope without his love. Pray that we may make even a small impact in their lives and that they CTL staff (with the power of God) may continue to do a MIGHTY work in their lives.
Our day wrapped up with a dinner at a former Home of Hope Mama's house for those of us who knew her. It was great to see her again and be able to decompress a bit. I was also able to spend a bit of time with David (Delia and Bogdan's baby boy) this evening and he sure kept me laughing. It was good for the soul.
Thanks for sticking with me through this gut wrenching (at least for me!) post. Thanks for your continued prayers. We all need them more than I can say, especially the kids and the staff. The iubesc si noapte buna!