Today we walked.
Down broken, uneven, seemingly chaotic streets.
But it wasn’t the dirt or the rancid air or the noise and air pollution that affected me.
I saw children selling wares, for adults who will take every penny they earn. Happy little girls who spoke to us in English and were the best sales people you will ever meet. Up-selling at age eight. For someone else.
Little girls who will grab your heart with their smiles just as easily as they will take your money with their spiel. Little girls who say confidently they want to be doctors and lawyers and teachers, but spend their days and nights on these streets.
These little girls and little girls like them will be what makes it hardest to leave in two days.
The beauty of their toothy grins sits in such stark contrast to the ugliness of their real world existence. But it is all they know. Does it have to be all they will EVER know???
We saw sexual exploitation right before our eyes, so subtle and intrinsic to fabric of this city that we wouldn’t have recognized it if Janay hadn’t made us aware.
Crippled beggars, missing limbs, asked for our money. Women who held unconscious toddlers, obviously drugged, to use them as bait for naive travelers who don’t know any better. Men pushing wheelchairs with deformed or handicapped women to plea for “riel”.
Janay has become street smart. She can bargain with tuk tuk drivers, ignore sales pitches and walk alongside cars and motos with a confidence that astounds me. She can find her way around this city that has my directionally impaired mind boggled.
But in her STREET SMARTS she has not lost her SWEET HEART. Those she has come to trust have her friendship and devotion (Phall, our tuk tuk driver whom she adores) The vendors with whom she converses and recommends their business. The young girls who flock to her for hugs (even when she won’t buy their wares).
I can’t even say, without tears, how proud I am of this girl of ours. She has integrated beautifully. She is loving fully. She is working hard and offering precious friendship and support to both her fellow ex-pats and those that live in this place she now calls home.
She will be the hardest little girl of all to leave…
But we can go knowing fully that God has said what He would do, providing for her financially (thanks to so many of you!), emotionally (thanks to her wonderful friends and family here and back home!) and spiritually (He reveals Himself in brand new ways through brand new lessons). She is stronger in every way than I could have imagined.
And I am more thankful than I ever dreamed possible….
Philippians 4:19 – And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.