The next time I write here, it will not be here. I won’t be sitting on my couch or on my bed (yes, I often write in my bed – I know). I’ll be far, far away from these comforts.
I know this isn’t special. I know that people travel overseas all the time. I know that people do a hell of a lot more to fight human trafficking and sex slavery than this little eight day trip. I know that people see worse things and endure worse conditions than I’m about to see and endure.
And I know that there are people who are probably better suited for this trip. People who have a better knowledge about human trafficking. People who know what it’s like to endure sexual abuse. People who are seasoned world travelers and know how to get from point America to point Moldova without being unclear exactly what it is that Customs DOES.
A dear friend texted me a few days ago and wrote, “Soak it up. Experience every detail. And do not fear. You will be filled.”
I don’t know if I can go without fear. I’ll be honest, the soaking up, the experience – these things frighten me.
But a couple of weeks ago, I sat with my daughters, 11 and 14, in our kitchen. We mixed blue kool-aid into a thick paste and spread it on their hair while we sang along with P!nk at the top of our lungs. The 11 year old wasn’t sure she wanted to go through with it even though she was the one who had chosen the color, so her older sister joined in the fun to give her courage to try. They snickered about their limp “unicorn horns” of saran-wrapped hair, and then laughed outright when their hands turned more blue than their hair.
These are the memories that 11 year olds and 14 year olds should have. Memories of being silly with their mom. Memories of a sister bolstering their self-esteem. Memories of pop music blaring in their ears and the smell of blue raspberry kool-aid filling their nose.
No girl should have memories of being stolen from her family and sold into prostitution. No girl should have memories of someone using her body for his own pleasure without regard for her. No girl should have memories of worthlessness and despair.
I can’t take those memories away from the young women that I’ll be meeting in a few days. I can’t change their past horrors.
But I can sit and crochet with them. I can join them as we polish our nails and learn to art journal together. I can, in every way that I know how and with every ounce of my being for that short time, tell them that they are beautiful and valuable. That they have worth, not simply as a product to be sold, but intrinsically, as a woman and as a beloved child of God.
It won’t erase their pasts. But it will – I hope and I pray – be a new memory worth holding onto.