There is a world out there hiding in the shadows that we know nothing about, and that I am only now slowly being made aware of. It does not go away, because we choose to look the other way or pretend it isn't there. It does not vanish, because you are totally naive to it. Actually, it grows stronger and stronger every time we deny its existence!
I am having a very difficult time after last night's outreach. Having outreach at night lets us see the girls in a more weary and vulnerable state. They are filled with a sense of desperation. As the night falls and darkness envelops the corridors, the places feel even more dreary. Things are very different. The ladies look rough, tired, makeup sliding off their faces from their work. I shudder to think that we witnessed only half of their day, their noon, what we would consider our "lunch time". Not only did we get to see the girls in a bit of a different state, but there were many new girls including a few who looked under developed and too young to be there.
Two sets of Romanian girls were huddled together. Both looked young, but one set of girls looked maybe 3 years older than my 14-year-old son! They had teenage chub on them and they were the most covered up in one-piece suits. They have not reached that place in their sexuality where they were dressed in a very provocative way. But it also made me wonder if this was intentional. Is this a way of earning more money to the one in charge of these precious girls?
I have chills going down my spine as I think of this. The anger that fills my heart is so strong, and I am not quite sure how to handle this strong feeling I have inside. I saw the men that walk the halls of that place. I felt their stares and I heard their shuffling. Weary and sometimes bored footsteps as they looked from room to room with empty glares and dead eyes. The thought of old, worn-out men laying their hands on these sweet, young girls standing before me makes me want to scream!
It was too much to take in on one visit, yet the Lord allowed me to see a different depth of things. He showed me a glimmer of His vision, His pain for His precious Creation. My heart aches and I cannot take the injustice of it all! It is so wrong, but God needs me to see. He needs me to share this so that others may also know.
My first observation of these girls, which caused alarm in my heart, was their body language. Their shameful and protective way of hiding behind crossed arms. These precious ladies still had that young innocence about them. I sensed a lot of shame from these girls by the nervous laugh and the hiding behind one another. They felt very out of place, more so than any of the other women. One of our ministry ladies saw a bruise on one of the girl's arm, a bruise which was faint but a bit greenish in color. Was this an old, yet still visible bruise? Is this bruise telling a story of the pain this girl has endured to get here during the time of seasoning?
A combination of psychological manipulation, intimidation, gang rape, sodomy, beatings, deprivation of food and/or sleep, isolation from friends, family, and other sources of support, and threatening and/or holding hostage a victim’s children. Seasoning is designed to break down a victim’s resistance and to ensure compliance.
Maybe the bruise was from being handled too roughly by a John? The answers to these questions we will never know. But this bruise and the timid, shameful behavior made me wonder if in fact these girls are brand new to this nightmare. Girls not yet fully broken into this life. Girls who still seemed to have lively eyes, sad but lively. Girls who have not forgotten how to smile.
How and when does a woman come to a realization that this is a life which she cannot escape from? A life from which she will not run away? A life in which she loses all hope? A life to which she must protect herself with a wall so deep that nothing can penetrate? I shudder to think what will become of these precious, young girls.
As we moved on from room to room to one precious woman to another, we met yet another extremely young, underdeveloped, very thin and frail Romanian girl whom we also have never seen before. I automatically, supernaturally loved this girl. She made it super easy to like her with her gentle and inviting personality. This girl was very interested in us. She called us to come over to her, and she asked what we were all about and what we were doing. I was surprised by how nice her English language was. She told us that she works without breaks. Her work shift begins at 10:00am and ends at 4:00am.
"This work is without holiday," she said looking at us with pretty, yet tired eyes, "My body needs a break." Her body sure did look tired, frail, and extremely under nourished.
After this short exchange, she politely asked us to keep walking because she had to work. She needed work. She had a quota to make, and it seemed that at 8:00pm she had not reached that quota yet. With a sad heart, we respectfully said our goodbyes as we gave her a gift -- a Romanian pamphlet to read with the truth of God in it and a card with our number inviting her to coffee.
Her response, "I don't have time to read, and I don't have time to grab coffee. I work all day, every day, and in my free time I sleep because I'm so tired."
How does one just walk away from a conversation like this one? How does one not walk away wrecked and changed forever?
As we came back around, she was still standing alone by her door waiting for another client. In her sweet and extremely likable spirit, she waved at us with a big smile. My heart shattered into a million pieces. I had to take a deep breath to hold back my tears. I had to stay composed. There were still more women we were to see.
As we continued walking through the musty, smoke-filled hallways, I saw a Polish girl whom I met with before. I was so excited to see her again. But as I saw her this time, she didn't look like the same woman. She was sitting on her heels with her head down resting on her arms. I have never seen a girl do that before. They are usually standing up, ready and waiting for another client. As I came up to her door, she immediately looked up at me. Her face went from weary to brightened, even if just a little. She was glad to see me and I actually saw a hint of what could have been a smile on her precious face as she stood up and said, "I didn't think I'd ever see you again."
She had been waiting. She hoped I would come back! We started speaking in her language, and she shared that she had work until 4am and would wake up again at 10am to begin work by 11am. My mind and heart cannot take this!
Again, I felt so helpless. So without words. Seriously?! What impact are we making? We go, we smile, we give them some gift and booklets to read, then we leave. We go on with our comfortable lives, complaining about traffic and bad hair days while they are left there to die this slow death in every sense of the way.
To look into the eyes of a human without hope is indescribable.
Without hope, people perish. I see a perishing of a human soul in these places like I have never seen before. To look into the eyes of a human without hope is indescribable. It is absolutely too difficult to watch. Some girls do a great job and they learn to smile, but I tell you that Polish girl has forgotten how. She cannot smile. She has hopeless, sad, broken eyes. She likes me and wants me to come. It gives her something to look forward to. Every time I see her, she tells me, "I'm here every day if you want to come see me."
Yes, she wants to see me there, but she will not accept a card with our number or meet us outside. She stumbles over her words when I bring it up. Always some excuse. She is changing her story from last time about hating the work and feeling used in a deep conspiracy to this time saying that she likes it, it's easy money, and it's good for her there. I can tell she lies to me, but I cannot press or get her in trouble. I'm scared for her (I'm scared for them all).
How do we reach a girl who is so driven by fear? A fear so crippling that it keeps her in such a strong, invisible chain of bondage. A fear so conniving to the point where she tells herself that she is doing it willingly because it is easier to say that than to believe she is in captivity. Fear kills lives, it kills hopes and dreams!
So how does one stand up to fear? One who lives day and night in fear. I could write for hours. Instead, I'll just sit here and cry because for me it is too much to bear. I'm heavy today and I need time to process all of this. My heart is broken, and as I walked through the hallways being constantly bumped by very old and extremely young Johns, this growing gnawing feeling kept creeping over my heart that I am but one person. I am not going to make a change. Not until the world decides to change. But all I see is the world growing darker.
As we walked to our car, I saw many young people drinking, partying, smoking out in the streets in the night. Drunk men stumbling through the streets. There is no age limit for any of it. If you look old enough, it's okay. This country is seeing a shattering rise in youth alcoholism in young adults. And beer is for old people, they hit the hard liquor bottles. It's so sad for me to watch - as we walked both in the brothels and outside - the degeneration of youth. The young men lured into using women as objects to fulfill their own lustful pleasures, to fill the empty voids which only God can fill, then going out to drink away whatever human feelings arise in their hearts to the point where a generation grows cold and flippant to sin.
This world is on a major decline, and I am but one person. What impact can I make in this world? I felt so small and insignificant yesterday. The Polish girl loved the grapefruit-scented lotion I bought for her. She said she loves grapefruit and actually just got done eating one! How cool, huh? I'll bring her some fresh fruit next time. Grapefruit of different kinds!
I've been told that God is allowing me to see a bit of what He feels and sees. I get the honor of sharing in His sorrows. He has entrusted this with me. What an honor! I am not only partaking with Him in the blessings but also in the suffering! Wow! This shows me that He knows that I can handle more and more. This means that I am growing, and that I will continue to grow. I must remain close to Him so that I may fully lean on His strength. He has more for me, and it will be His strength with which I continue to walk in.