We ended this week as we did on our last trip: washing the women's feet on Wednesday night and going to the beach on Thursday. All along we have wanted to love these women in practical ways, yet our deepest desire is to build up their inner person - that they would believe that they are seen, loved, and valued, so deeply valued.
(As a group of women we see that our health, creativity, relationships, and industry are directly related to where we draw our value. We believe that in order for these women to be self-sustaining, or rather God-sustained, they need to see themselves as they truly are. Not based on the defeat and disappointments they have experienced in their lives. Just as we do ourselves).
So we washed their feet in faith. And had delicious ros con leche. One of the Dominican leaders in the group, Ellie, spoke, "Thank you for coming here. We know you could have gone many different places to show God's love, but you came here. And we know that has to be God and His love for us." And she thanked us for sharing our intimate stories, for the training we offered, and for choosing to come back.
And the beach day was so very fun. There is nothing like some sand and sea water to level the playing field and to get grown women to act like little girls. I was especially glad to see Francie there. Francie is just 14 with an 8 month old baby boy. She lives with a alcoholic man that is at least 20 years her elder who beats her if she does not have sex with him each night. She calls him her esposo, but they are not married; one day he just "called her over" (as they say) and this orphan saw her chance at providing for her baby (whom she had before meeting her esposo).
We had helped Francie through out the week because her baby had a bad burn on his hand and needed medical care. Also, strangely, her esposo is the one that lets us use his yard for our meeting place. So we were around her quite a bit. Francie slowly opened up some over the course of the week, but this young girl, who lost her mother at 4 and was kicked out of her house by her father at 13 when she became pregnant, was understandably guarded. But at the beach, she came alive. And to see a 14 year old girl wake up because of a few moments of freedom is something to behold. What joy in the midst of sorrow.