It’s 4am and as I sit here wide awake still trying to get over my jet lag from traveling I can’t help but still ponder on my broken heart. These past three and a half weeks have not been the easiest weeks of my life and I’m not sure if I could have ever been prepared for them.
The guy who I so clearly thought truly loved me, turns out so clearly didn’t, and hurt me so deeply in the process that I am still trying to find my way out of this mess.
I had a trip scheduled to the Philippines, a country I made a pit stop at on my way to Japan a few years ago but wasn’t able to spend time there, so I was excited. Excited to get away and excited to focus on other things rather than my heart which had seemed to turn to dust. I was ready to focus on anything that would not break me.
We arrived in Manila the evening of the 8th. Traffic blazed all around us as we made our way to our hotel. It was utter chaos and I liked it. I liked that there was so much going on around me I couldn’t think of anything else.
We worked with Wipe Every Tear, an organization that works to get girls who have been trafficked out of the bars and into school where they can get an education and eventually find a good job. They took us up to Angeles City, a place with a very large red light district where girls display themselves on stages in the bars hoping some white man will purchase them for the night so they can make very little money to send home to their families.
Nothing could have prepared me for what I entered into.
Thousands of girls dressed in bikinis that barely covered them standing on stages waiting to be called. Most of them looked incredibly uncomfortable, they didn’t want to be there. One girl I saw couldn’t have been older than 16. We talked to them and told them about getting out of the bar, going to school and coming to live in Manila at one of the Wipe Every Tear safe houses. Some seemed interested, some looked at us like we were crazy, it sounded too good to be true, but we still invited them.
We moved down the street to check out more bars, passing foreigners looking for a good time as we went. Some even stopped to look at me, having blonde hair in that setting made me stand out like a sore thumb. My skin was crawling from of the stares and comments I was getting from these men. I can’t imagine going through that every single night.
As bar girl after bar girl and ladyboy after ladyboy passed me while we walked I was suddenly struck with an overwhelming sense of brokenness. Tears began to stream down my cheeks uncontrollably, my heart was broken all over again. These are people’s daughters who have been forced here and are now stuck.
The following morning I called my mom to tell her about the things that I’d experienced. She listened intently to me pouring my heart out, and then broke the news to me that my Grandpa was about to die. He passed the next day. My heart broke even more. Could I feel any more beat down? “Lord will this heartbreak ever stop?!” I became so frustrated with with Him, I felt like my life was just falling apart, spinning out of control and I was ready to just scream.
And then He reminded me of the possibilities that are ahead.
We invited a lot of girls to come back to Manila with us to check out the safe houses and see what a different life would be like and 8 came back with us. I don’t know what they’ve decided or if they will live in Manila permanently, but there is hope and there are dreams.
God gives us hopes and dreams and that is what he gave me in the time I spent in the Philippines. I hope to keep helping Wipe Every Tear in providing these girls with an education and I dream of what that could look like.
Even through my utter and complete brokenness, He is still good and He is still working.
“To provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor”