Coming home was easy. When we landed stateside in Chicago, I practically kissed the ground. For the first time in two weeks, I could actually read billboards and converse with English-speaking strangers and – gasp – I wasn’t the only tall, blonde person! Be still my beating heart..
While I was waiting to go through customs, all I could think about was the fact that my friends and family and my warm, cozy bed were just one more flight away. I handed my passport over to the customs agent (like way too enthusiastically) and then he said, “Welcome back, the States have missed you!” ……just kidding, he was grouchy and kind of mean and he just handed my passport back like it was no big deal. Psh. But believe me when I say, that did not stop me from literally dancing my way down the obnoxiously long hallway that we were forced to walk through in order to officially enter the U.S.
I was home. And it was hard not to be excited about that.
But it didn’t take long for me to realize that maybe being home wasn’t going to be as easy as I thought it’d be. People started asking me about my trip, which obviously makes sense… But I didn’t know what to say. The question, “How was your trip?” quickly became my worst enemy. I’d hear those words and it was like my mind would just shut down. Even three weeks later, I’m still sitting here struggling to put it all into words.
One word comes to mind: ineffable. My good friend Merriam Webster defines ineffable as something “too great or extreme to be expressed or described in words.” Sounds about right. I’m not going to sit here and write out every single detail about the trip because (a) who wants to read a novel and (b) words just simply won’t do it justice.
I mean, it wasn’t like anything huge and crazy and unbelievable happened… It’s actually the small things that stand out to me the most. Like when I saw Chisinau for the first time. Or when I noticed how ironic it was that such beautiful countryside surrounds a place that knows darkness and depravity all too well.
Like when I saw a blind woman being forced to beg on the side of the road.
Or when we stood across from a neighborhood entirely inhabited by pimps and just prayed.
Like when I realized that it’s still possible to worship, even when the song’s in a different language.
Or when I stood alone in the middle of an empty soccer field at the orphanage and cried, just because.
Like when Valentine and Daniel gave me flowers and I didn’t have the heart to tell them I was allergic to them.
Or when they’d laugh at me when I tried to speak Romanian and couldn’t roll my r’s..
Like when Cristie laid his head in my lap and fell asleep. Or when I was hugging him goodbye for the last time and I couldn’t bring myself to let go first.
It’s the smallest things that always seem to move me in the biggest ways.
And I’ll never forget the time my rowdy, ornery group of boys had to come up with our team’s name and motto. Amy and I were practically taking bets on which ridiculous name they’d choose… team awesome sauce… team chupacabra… team fire breathing rubber duckies.. No. They chose “Speranta,” which means hope. And they chose “Speranta Moare Ultima” as our team’s motto. Hope dies last.
I didn’t know at the time, but that was the first of many more surprises those boys had in store for me.
My heart breaks every time I see those faces. Who knows where they’ll end up? They belong to a culture that practically welcomes violence and oppression.
I’m gonna be brutally honest for a second… Statistically, the majority of the girls in that orphanage will end up in forced prostitution. And statistically, the boys in that orphanage will be the ones selling them. That’s almost surely the future that awaits those kids outside the gates of that orphanage if evil were to have its way.
Enter New Hope Moldova – the ministry we worked with on our trip. Lemme tell ya, that ministry is doing amazing things. Their passion for Christ and their passion for the children of Moldova are evident in everything they do. Their motivation and dedication to make a difference in their country is absolutely inspiring. The people at New Hope Moldova are the kind of people who make you question what you’re doing with your life. Not in a bad way, but in a way that truly motivates you to spend your time doing something that matters.
The people I met and the memories I made have truly changed me. Now that I’ve been there, now that I’ve seen, I can’t go back to the way things were. I miss those kids. It’s so easy for me to begin feeling helpless because I’m here in the States. But that’s absolutely the opposite of what I should be feeling. It’s my job now, to tell their stories, to be their advocate, to be their prayer warrior, and to enlist others to pray on their behalf!
Not a day goes by that I don’t think about them, and I pray that never changes. To my supporters: thank you. Your prayers and donations played just as big a part in all of this as I did. I have just one more thing to ask of you all: pray.
Pray for the children you see in these pictures. Pray for the people of Moldova. Pray prayers of hope and peace over the trafficking victims and pray prayers of revelation and heart-change over their traffickers. Pray for New Hope Moldova, that they would remain strong and faithful throughout their fight against human trafficking. And pray for me, that my life would be spent pouring into others, and that I won’t, even for a second, forget the things that truly matter.