When I was growing up it was our family tradition to make the long trek north from California to Washington to visit family. Sometimes we went twice a year while other years, we only went once. I remember those roads, the boredom of it’s continuation into nothingness. When we would drive through a city my mouth would gape open in awe as I attempted to take in everything around me. I loved the thrill of imagining life in a city. City life was a far cry from life in a tiny country town of 350 people. And just like that, the city would pass by and the road would continue to plod along. Most of the time we set out with intentions of making the trek in one day, but like clockwork we would stop in desperation at some roadside hotel with hopes of finding a room. By that point we couldn’t handle another mile in the car or another minute together.
Despite the frustrations and tenuous drives, those were magical years. My mom was the oldest of seven children and my grandmother, in addition to foster care, adopted 5 more-all of them with special needs. At my grandmother’s house there was always a job to be done. I always felt useful. I would help feed the children who couldn’t feed themselves. I also learned to sign alongside the two hearing impaired children and loved asking them, in my broken sign, if they wanted to go out to play. I swaddled and changed the babies and pushed them around in strollers. I also learned to give them a bottle, being sure to tilt the bottle a certain way to prevent the ingestion of air bubbles, that way they wouldn’t have any tummy pains. I learned to burp them, how to place a burp cloth on my shoulder just right, and how to soothe them when they were fussy.
As a natural helper, this was my safe haven. In this place I knew I was accepted and appreciated. I remember how the tears would stream down my face every time we pulled out of her driveway. I never wanted to leave. I idolized my grandmother and all the work she was doing.
It’s funny how you look at things differently when you’re younger. What I wouldn’t give to carry that naïveté into this part of my life. At that point, it seemed possible to help those in need and truly make a difference, if only it was done with the best of intentions. From my grandmother, I believed it was possible to identify a need, and through sheer strength and determination of will, meet it. I believed that was what she set out to do through all her fostering and adopting of children. But, you see, I later learned, that in our finite human force we are anything but capable. As the years pressed on and the rose colored glasses wore off, I began to see things for what they were. My grandmother was tired and worn, and her lofty expectations of raising all those children in the manner which she had envisioned just didn’t pan out. She was only one person and believed she could do it ALL, but she couldn’t. You can’t, I can’t, we can’t……without the one that determines our every step, the one and only almighty God.
Later in life I was confronted with this same realization when my Pete was diagnosed with cancer. I believed I could find something that could save him. I scoured the web, begged my way into consults for second, third, fourth opinions, read about and researched alternative treatments, but none of it mattered because I was just one person and alone I wasn’t capable. That’s why I am eternally grateful to the hundreds of people who came together during our time of crisis to help meet our needs when we couldn’t do it alone. Whenever I think of it, tears of gratitude well up in my eyes, because in the darkest of places others showed us the love of God and that kindness I will never manage to repay.
But, I have to tell you one thing today, I have to tell you about others in pain. Others, who like my Pete, but for different reasons, have no hope. These are women who have some way or another found themselves trapped in the mighty jaws of sex trafficking. There is an organization working to bring them hope and free them from the terrible culture that has entrapped them and it’s called Exodus Road. A group of bloggers recently traveled to Southeast Asia and what they discovered will really blow you away. Read Kristen Howerton’s narrative of their time there. Then and only then will this be real.
I so wish I could just close my eyes to this and simply move on, but I can’t because I’ve seen it myself. While living in Abu Dhabi I was confronted with the terrible horrible truth of sex trafficking and abuse via the Philipina maids that live and work in Abu Dhabi. Something similar was happening next door when the maid’s passport was taken by her employer and she was being required to give a little “extra” affection to her boss. This is so heartbreakingly sad, but I have a renewed hope that Exodus Road is working tirelessly to help.
I still wonder. I still plead with God. I still look at my life and think it was all an illusion. I still wish God could have shown him some mercy and saved his life, but He didn’t. But, no matter what happened to my Pete, I am still here and I am still capable of doing what I can, with God’s help, to bring hope and light to others. This is why I share today.
There are so many unknowns in this life but I find it so reassuring that we do not have to do this alone if God is by our side. He grieves for my Pete, my children, and my family. He also grieves for you and those caught up in the sex trafficking industry. Sure, there are things He can control but there are others he chooses not to. Why? I don’t know. But I do know that some pain is a product of our own sinful nature. And I do know that when we can help, we should….with His help. That’s why I’m sharing about Exodus Road today. Join me in doing what you can to save lives, bring hope, and give others the future they deserve.
If you’re interested you can start by visiting their volunteer page today!