.first. day of the month. ready to go. ready to jump out and hit the ground running. i wasn't expecting to feel this way..was glad i did though. on the agenda for today was to build relationships with the women and the children. to intentionally have conversations with them about their story. their experience or relationship with God. where they were in their journey with or to Jesus. we also were going to paint a mural on one of the walls of the dorm for the girls. i was heading up the "creative team". one of the ladies, Mindy, had shown me an idea she had for the mural and explained what she was thinking. it was a rendering of some thorns and vines twisting all together and then sprouting from them were vines of growth..new and fresh. i loved that idea. we then discussed which verse we could use to go along with God resucing and healing brokenness. i had picked out a few verses that stuck out to me the week before. i read the first three..and on one was really sold on any of them. then i ready Galatians 5:1 "it is for freedom that Christ has set you free. stand frim, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." as soon as i read this verse everyone confirmed this was the verse. it is for freedom that Christ has in fact set us free.
.as. we got all set up to paint the wall in the dorm a few of us were enjoying talking with the girls that had perched themselves on the opposite wall. Christy grabbed a broom and began sweeping the wall off. cleaning it to the best of our ability. we had to adjust many parts of this project in order to accommodate our humble surroundings. problem solving/solution finding should be a spiritual gift. we began painting the dirty walls a wonderfully bright shade of white. the consistency of the paint was best described by Anna.."it's like painting with glue!" ugh. painting with glue-like-paint is not fun. in case you were thinking about trying this at home. don't.
.the. girls loved watching us dance around and sing and just be silly while painting the walls. Christy was signing to them some songs and we eventually got them to sing some songs for us in Spanish. they started one by one signing some beautiful worship songs that they knew. we were able to recognize the tune of them and started signing them in English. i wish i had a picture or video of this. us on one wall..covered in glue-like stinky white paint singing in English. the girls sitting and singing in Spanish "our God is mighty to save". picture this..fifteen or so of the young girls who lived in the dorm..who have all been rescued from a brothel..or some form of sexual abuse..singing how our God is mighty to save..he can move the mountains..hope of the nations. isn't our God good? yes..yes..yes! tears filled my eyes and i had to face the wall as we all sang along with them. English and Spanish flowed together in the small front room of the dorm..praising God for how amazing he is. for who he is. for rescuing us all from the pit of ourselves..darkness. all of this from just painting one wall white.
.as. the wall was drying we all had lunch. during lunch we were able to hear some stories from the girls and women who live at HoH. it was amazing to look into the faces of one of the women, Angela, who shared her pain and her brokenness..then how God had and is rescuing her. putting a face to the stories we have heard in the Big Room at Blue Ridge. this made it more real for a lot of us on the team that day. brought it home to our hearts. just after lunch we all headed to the main building for a teaching time on healing from sexual abuse. i was scheduled to tell a portion of my story to the women and children. telling of my abuse. the pain it had caused. what affects it had in my life. anger. bitterness. rebellion. self-injury. etc. sharing what that looked like since stepping into a relationship with Jesus. what he was doing through it. in me. what healing and wholeness looked like with him. as i was talking i was looking deep into the eyes of those women. God's children. seeing them connect with me in a way that only God could orchestrate. some of the girls crying while i was sharing. brokenness exposed. after i shared i answered some questions from the ladies. one girl in particular had many questions. tough ones. "have you forgiven your father?"..later to find out this question was from a girl who was abused by her dad. the women had encouraging things to say to me. i was blown away by the love that they gave me. God's love was flowing out of me for them..and he was using them to love me well. oh he is so good to us!
.Shea. then came and wrapped up..giving them a practical question to discuss in their groups. a small box to paint the inside of. God makes us beautiful from the inside out. Shea asked them to share what things they do to "protect" themselves..or release the pain of their past. i later heard stories of the girls opening up like they have not done before. sharing with each other about their past. about their pain. about how they deal with it in negative/destructive ways. cicatrices..we all have them..just not all are on the outside. Kellie made that observation earlier and shared it with me. how she saw that the women and girls were drawn to me because of my scars. they were interested and wanted to know why. and they understood. that because i was wearing my scars of my past on my arm the girls could see that right away. no language barriers. God's restoration in action.
.that. evening we had the honor of dining with Oscar and Velma and their youngest daughter, Emily. dinners with Oscar and Velma were a highlight for everyone. getting to see them and hear their hearts for the girls was amazing. moving. challenging. feeling like we were in the presence of heroes for God. (that's because we were!) Shea had asked if Velma would be willing to some back with us to share her story with us. she agreed and we could hardly wait to get back home to hear her story. we were able to hear her heart. see her tears. see how God is using her ashes for beauty. this is God's heartbeat i'm realizing. up close and personal. ashes become beautiful things in God's hands.
.i. must admit though..i had begun to feel discouraged...or maybe like i had let people or God down with my story. with what i did and didn't share. the next morning i had voiced this to the group. knowing rationally that these thoughts were not of God. lies. still hard to move through. i couldn't explain to the group exactly why i was feeling this way..no truth to base it on. unseen battlefield. allowing the team to fight with me in prayer. this was my prayer to God about feeling discouraged..
"...i feel as though i failed you God. that i missed an opportunity. that i let you down. Jesus speak your TRUTH to me. God that i can see and hear your truth tomorrow. that i can and will feel you close. that i will see you move and work tomorrow. keep me soft God. to be open to you and how you want to change me. i feel my walls coming up. i want to be open. my heart is yours God. this love i am feeling is yours. i want to be in the pulse of your love. i don't want any of my walls. i want to love as you love. ..."
.walls. came up..and God burst through them.