In the last few weeks, I have rearranged everything at Grace Gardens to take in 13 new girls who have been brought to us after being rescued from human trafficking. We have been having new beds made, digging out clothes, towels, and sheets. When a new girl comes in, we have to have them checked out medically, access their education, and make a plan for their future. So, as you can imagine, I have been pretty busy lately.
But, I have to share with you all what it was like to register these girls and to do their paperwork. None of them knew their birthdays or their correct age. All of them have obviously been told to say they are 18 or older, but most of them don’t look any older than 15. So, we decided the best way to assess age was to ask them how many years they have been menstruating. We assumed girls start menstruating on average at the age of 13 so we added their answers to 13 to guess their ages. One girl told me she was 21, but had only menstruated for 2 years, so we assumed she was 15. Some girls had not menstruated so we guessed age by appearance. Some are only 10, 11 and 12. Our methods are obviously not scientific, but everyone deserves an identity and part of your identity is your age.
The next problem is they don’t know their dates of birth, but at Grace Gardens, we celebrate everyone’s life, so they need a birthday so we can celebrate. So, I opened up a calendar, explained what a calendar was, and then let them pick a birthday. You should have seen the girls giggle. It was like I just gave them a huge gift. They were all so excited and each one carefully picked out a birthday.
Next, I asked each girl if they could read in any language. Not a single one could read or write.
These girls where sold for as little as $100. Never taught their age or their birthday. They were devalued, and now we at Grace Gardens have job/honor of instilling value into them. Teaching them that they were made in the image of the Most High God and that they were loved before the foundation of the earth enough that God would send His only Son Jesus to die for their sins.
I am always looking around Grace Gardens and seeing what still needs to be done. My dreams are always bigger than what I have in front of me and our needs always seem bigger than the money in our account. I want to help more girls, do more for the ones we have, and the list goes on and on. But today, I have decided to just thank God for all the little things. I know my age, my birthday, and I have known what it feels like to be valued and loved. I have also had the honor of giving those things to my children. And today, I had to have my husband stand behind me to keep me from falling over when I walked into Grace Gardens because so many young girls were trying to hug me all at the same time.
These sweet little girls have so much love inside of them, and I am blessed to be the one that gets to receive it. So today, I am choosing to only be grateful. Today, I am not asking God for anything. Today, I am only saying thank you! Because some young girls taught me how truly blessed I am!