I walked into this large building with huge stone walls. It was hidden away from the hustle and bustle of the city life. I went through one too many gates and then some more gates. I had absolutely no idea what I was about to encounter.
I had no idea that I would be left speechless, literally.
I tried to smile but it was hard because from within I was fighting:
My hatred for evil men–these thieves in the night that rob young girls of their innonce.
My anger against those who had taken the glimmer of hope out of those little girl eyes.
My overwhelming sadness.
I tried to hold myself together, so for the next 3 hours I held back the tears. But then I couldn’t hold in the dam any longer, as I heard each girl share bits and pieces of their “grown-up” stories that didn’t match their youth or age. I cried, I was afraid I wouldn’t stop.
I had no idea how the Lord was going to stir my heart that day. I was at a rescue shelter for girls who were in the sex trade industry. I wasn’t prepped before hand, given general information about the girls. I was told they are young, as little as 8 and 9 years old. So I knew ahead of time I was not going to be meeting college age girls.
But then I saw them with my own eyes and it was too much. The moment the first three little girls greeted me at the door, I was flabbergasted. I had a hard time getting past what my eyes were seeing–little girls.
My heart and soul kept yelling but, “They are little girls.”
Little girls whose innocence had been taken from them.
Little girls who should still be playing hide and seek.
But, unfortunately, life had taught them a new game. A dangerous game that involved selling oneself.
Some of these girls, were born into this lifestyle because their mom led the same life. Others were kidnapped and forced into that life, and some “chose” that because of their life circumstances.
The more time I spent with them, I began to see smiles come out from behind the hard exterior. We had prepared some silly “youth group” type of games and slowly I watched them open up. They played and laughed, it was as much healing to me as it was to them. Listening to their laughter and giggles echo in that cold social hall almost made me forget that I was in a rescue shelter for girls who used to lead a life of prostitution. Those child like giggles, that echoed pure joy, still give me the chills to this day.
I had one of the little girls grab me by the arm and asked to partner up with me so we could decorate heart shaped cookies. She began to share a little of her story with teary eyes she said “I was kidnapped” and that was all that she was able to murmur. I wanted to respect her privacy so I didn’t ask for more details. She had been in this shelter for 9 months for her safety and protection.
There was a sharing time, that allowed the girls to take turns and share whatever was on their mind or heart. One of the girls that was pregnant probably 13 years old said she had a song to sing for the group and it was her life story. Tears rolled down her cheek as she attempted to get the words out and finish the song. She couldn’t and as I looked around she wasn’t alone in her sorrow there were 2 other girls crying as well. Another young lady, sang a song of hope it spoke about how God sees us as His precious girls. By the time she was done singing we were all filled with tears. I was suprised at how vulnerable and open and these young ladies were with their emotions.
I left this shelter, speechless and broken. I didn’t really know how God would use this experience in my life other then giving me a heart of prayer for these young girls. But He did so much more that day and I had no idea, He planted a seed in my heart–a seed of hope. Maybe one day God would use me to bring them hope or at least laughter.
Today, I had the opportunity to hike up the Pichincha Volcano with 60 + other people for an organized even called the Freedom Climb. We hiked straight up, for two hours. I loved that amongst the crowd, were some girls who have been rescued from sex trafficking. We hiked the Freedom Climb, in hopes to bring awareness and raise funds for trafficked girls.
It was a strenuous hike like no other, but being outside in nature and connecting with God made my heart leap. As I was straddling up one of the more difficult parts where the mountain just cracked open an image came to mind as my foot slipped down the steep crevice, it was how these young girls lives are a lot like this hike.
Though they have found freedom there are so many challenges and hurdles to over come, and it keeps them in “slipping” mode. Though their past life haunts them and keeps them up at night, they find a strange comfort in it. The only way to make it out is to hold on to His strength and His truth. Slowly but surely, baby stepping their way out with assurance of the hope that lies ahead.
Unfortunately, so many of these girls choose to return back to the awful situations that they were rescued from. Why? I really don’t know and it boggles my mind. But for some of them that’s all they’ve known and they feel empty without it. We are all sort of the same way, continuously returning back to our comfort zone no matter how destructive it is, we go back to what we know and where we feel accepted.
Pray with me, that these young girls will cut the roots off and break the chains from their past life, the life that has kept them in bondage for so long. That they would stop believing the lies and promises it whispers to them on a daily basis trying to lure them back into bondage. This uprooted tree in the picture above reminded of this prayer on my way up.
Though the hike was strenuous it really was breathtaking to be so high above the city. Here are some pictures of the beauty that reminded me of His love and truth for us.
We went past many pastures with grazing cows, enjoying the good life on the grassy knolls. Again God using nature to teach me life lesson, if only I could be so content. If only I could enjoy my grassy knoll and stop wishing for something else.
Finally, we were able to quench our thirst.
As you can see, I enjoy being silly. I usually don’t take races too seriously. I don’t own any backpacks, since it cramps my style. So, I grabbed my 3 year olds SuperMe backpack that has a built in cape and eye mask, perfect for this occasion. I really think this company should make some of these for adults. They are perfectly silly for hiking and races!
I had the joy of hiking the Freedom Climb with a sweet and precious friend. We had soul bonding talks, some wonderful prayer time for the trafficked girls, for the rescue shelter and for our children and husbands.
And I even made some new friends along the way.
We crossed deep crevices in the earth, meadows, hills and creeks… (I ended up taking my shoes off and waded through the freezing cold water in this creek below.) in the freezing cold and rainy day.
Alas we made it to the finish line. I was very proud of us, we finished in the top 10! I headed back home and took an amazing tea bath to relax the sore muscles. If you haven’t taken one yet, it’s a must, especially after a long hike. This picture below, is of us at the top!
This guy in the picture below was playing pan pipes that echoed for miles over the Andes mountains. Simply majestic! The music traveled through the mountains and made it’s way to me, about 20 minutes away from where he was. It was so beautiful that at some point I just had to stop and spend some time alone with God. The music really helped keep my eyes on the finish line.
For those of you who don’t’ know much about sex traffickings you can watch this video or read this information. Most people think it’s a third world problem but it’s not: “When Americans think of sex trafficking, they think of young girls in Thailand and Cambodia being sold into the sex trade industry. What they don’t realize is this form of modern day slavery is happening in our very own backyards. Every day thousands of girls are kidnapped or manipulated into child prostitution in Atlanta, Phoenix and dozens of other cities.” quote from Day of the Girl.