In 2006 I went on a 10 day mission trip to Moldova that forever changed my life. It sparked my passion for orphans and advocating against human trafficking. This passion has led me to pursue a Master’s Degree in Social Work with a dream to provide trauma therapy to survivors of human trafficking.
I have been blessed to have recently returned from my sixth mission trip. I had not been to Moldova in two years, as I got married around the time Rolling Hills Community church went on their annual summer trip to Moldova last year. While preparing for my trip I was anxious to see how things would be this year, and if I would be able to pick up where I left off with the children that changed my life. I have had the honor of serving at two different orphanages throughout the past several years, but this year I had to choose one orphanage to spend my time at. Three years ago, I had the amazing opportunity to live in Moldova and serve at the Grace House. The Grace House is a transitional living program for teenage orphaned girls who have no place to go after they graduate high school. I had the opportunity to interview and select the girls, teach life skills, bible study, English, and computer. I lived with seven amazing young ladies. I decided to return to Chisinau, and focus a significant amount of time with the Grace House girls. We spent several evenings together talking about trusting God with the future, trusting God with our relationships, and finding our beauty and identity in God. Six out of the seven girls that moved into the Grace House have transitioned from the program. Three of the girls are now married, and three have returned to their village to transition into adult life. One girl Natalia (who was severely burned as an infant), has graduated from fashion design school, and is going to start her own business. She showed us her final project, and we all were completely shocked at how beautiful her creation is.
I am thankful to have the opportunity to spend some final moments with the three remaining girls, as two of them transitioned into a new life during our time together. As the last “class” of grace house girls move on, eight additional girls moved in. Two girls that I have known since they were 9 -10 years old from Falesti are part of the new group, and I had the joy of seeing them move into their home! In addition to the new girls at the Grace House, a new boy from Falesti joined the Boys 2 Leaders transitional living program. His name is Egor, and I have also known him since the age of nine years old. Nothing fills my heart up more than seeing him develop into the young man he has become. God has truly transformed his life. He went from being the class clown and trouble maker, to a young man that loves God and leads others. It is such an honor to be part of these kids’ lives as they grow up.
I spent the majority of my time at the Internat 2 camp in Chisinau. I was assigned to work with 37 teenage girls from age 14-16. Every day we met for Bible study and discussed what it meant to have a relationship with God. We also met daily to discuss life skills including conflict resolution, healthy dating relationships, human trafficking prevention, and substance abuse. At the beginning it was difficult to maintain their attention, but as the week progressed the girls began to listen more and more. We handed out index cards for the girls to ask questions about God. The one question that resonated with me the most was , “Why do people tell me that I deserved a good childhood, but God did not allow me to have one?” We went through all of the questions and answered them to the best of our ability. We told the girls that if they wanted to ask more questions about developing a relationship with God, that we would like to talk with them one on one.
Throughout the week I developed a relationship with a girl named Darra (pronounced Diyah.) I pulled her aside one day during a free moment with a translator, and asked if she had any questions about having a relationship with God. She said that she had a question, but was not sure if I could answer it. She then asked the question that was asked a couple of days previously, “Why do people tell me that I deserved a good childhood, but God did not allow me to have one?” She was right. I did not have the answer to her question. However, I did have the opportunity share with her that whatever happened in her childhood was not her fault, and that she had a heavenly father that loved her more than anything. I prayed a prayer of healing, and protection over her. It was one of those moments where I did not have the words, but God used me as a vessel to speak to his precious child.
I am so thankful that I was able to return to Moldova this year. In many ways it feel more like home than the USA does. Even though I missed a year with the kids I love, I feel like I picked up right where I left off. I can’t wait to continue to see amazing young men and women develop through Justice and Mercy International’s programs.