During my vacation with my family, we were blessed with the opportunity to work with an incredible ministry.
Remember Nhu is a beautiful program that takes in girls that are at risk for the sex slave trade.
The home that we visited is home to 42 girls aged four to twenty. They all sleep in one large room full of bunk beds – it’s a Madeline-esque feel. 42 beds, 42 sets of drawers, 42 laundry baskets, 42 bathroom caddies.
I was so challenged by the joy and servant-heartedness of these girls, from youngest to oldest. They were impressively self-entertaining, and all took care of each other. The older girls watched out for the younger ones, the younger ones looked up to the older ones. They hit volleyballs back and forth, played with a Chinese jumprope, sang worship songs together – it was really beautiful!
As soon as we walked in we were offered chairs, waters, and hugs.
My sister Anna is on a jumprope team, and we brought a jumprope for each of the girls. Within seconds, the small room was dangerously full of spinning ropes. The girls copied the tricks that Anna had shown, and their natural athleticism saw that they were soon more competent than I was!
We stayed for dinner, and we communicated as best we could with a language barrier. It’s incredible, though, how much can be communicated without words.
Our final night, we took the girls to the night safari. The best parts of the evening were the shrieks of laughter and excitement as giraffes, deer, and zebras stuck their heads into our trolley cars.
It absolutely broke my heart to think of the kind of life that these girls would have been living if not for the home finding them. They were so precious, so innocent, so full of love and joy and happiness. It hit me on the night safari train, as I loved on these girls, that so many like them are stuck in a living hell.
My friend Hannah, who volunteers at Remember Nhu, mentioned something interesting to me that I had noticed, subconsciously, but not stopped to think about:
This place was not an orphanage, but a home. This was something that they were insistent about.
And it was so, so clear as soon as she said it.
When I’ve traveled to orphanages, the children have been clingy, starving for love. They run up to you and don’t let go. These girls were different: they were warm, friendly, and inviting, but did not need us. They were content with their home parents, their fellow ‘sisters.’
They had enough love given them that they could focus on loving each other and on loving us.
We talked about the fact that many girls eat until they vomit for the first few weeks that they live in the home, not used to having the next meal guaranteed. After a while, though, they realize that they will not be going hungry anymore and that they can eat in a healthy manner.
I assume it’s the same thing with the love and attention. Although girls may be clingy or love-hungry when they first arrive, they soon realize that there is always love available for them here. That they don’t have to binge.
And the more I considered the fact that they could receive and give love in a healthy manner, I realized that it was a lesson that each of us can learn from.
Despite the fact that our situation is so different from these girls, we respond the same way to an insecurity in whether we are loved or not.
When we do not feel loved, we become clingy, we binge on any opportunity at receiving love. We become jealous and don’t want to share; we’re willing to sacrifice too much for approval or attention.
On the flip side, though, when we are comfortable in our relationships and in the fact that we will continue to be accepted, we are freed of our worries to love others well, to make sure that they are taken care of. We become willing to leave our safe-zones, to venture out and be away from the people that we love and love us back. We are less scared of rejection and able to talk to new people. We have received love and can therefore pass it on to others.
Wouldn’t the world be beautiful if we all lived this way?