She was 10 years old and homeless.
Both parents were dead. She was forced to live on the streets by her distant relatives who couldn’t afford to feed an extra mouth any longer and decided she’d had enough school.
Silent tears rolled down her cheeks as she told me what it was like to sleep on the street as a child.
It was a hellish nightmare.
My own 10 year old was sitting next to me and I simply could not imagine her alone doing what ever she could to survive.
But that’s exactly what happened to the teenager standing in front of me.
By 11, she was a mother.
At this point in her story, I can hear sobs from my husband sitting on the other side of me. Tears are rolling down my kids faces and I’m both horrified and relieved they are hearing her story.
The 8 year old autistic and epeliptic son was playing with a bottle of water at his mom’s feet. He was having a good day, I was told a few minutes later as she struggled to contain his flailing arms hitting her. It wouldn’t be long before he was bigger than she was. She showed us how she carried him up the sewage-filled path.
She broke mid-sentence and began to weep. We held her. I have been alone for so long she whispered.
We all broke.
How do you tell a girl who has been alone her whole life that Jesus is always with her?
I wasn’t sure if I should tell you her story. Mainly, because there isn’t a happy ending.
I want so badly to add the word yet to the end of the above sentence, but honestly, I don’t know if I ever will. When surviving is all you know, it’s hard to trust others. We came home determined to change her life, instead of our lifestyle (which is a constant temptation in our culture), but it will take a miracle.
Good thing I believe in miracles.
It was the hardest part of our trip to Kenya this Spring: walking into absolutely hopeless situations without having any answers. I’ve been working hard, traveling and speaking, reminding women of the world’s normal, feeling desperate to get as many people signed up for Fair Trade Friday as possible because it is employing women who used to be homeless 10 year old girls.
She holds little hearts in her hands, sewing them for tic tac toe bags and we are believing God to hold her.
I have been alone for so long. Her words have haunted me. Maybe because I struggle with loneliness more than anything else.
It’s plagued me my entire life. But it’s been worse since starting Mercy House because I’m the weird girl in the room who is overwhelmed, asking you to read hard stories, to purchase little felt hearts, and I’ll probably ask you for money to help me change the world.
Recently, I ran into a new friend at the airport on my way to go speak for Mercy House and I was such an emotional mess from this burden that she asked if she could pray for me and she did so right there in Terminal C. She emailed me later about meeting for breakfast and I had to cancel twice because of my husband’s broken leg and surgery.
We finally sat down for that delayed breakfast this week and my eyes filled with tears within the first 5 minutes. I told her plainly, apologizing as I wiped at tears, “You’ve met me in an exhausted, broken place.”
“Good. People don’t respond to perfection; they respond to brokenness.”
Oh, I can do broken.
As we’ve worked out a new normal the last couple of weeks, our community has brought us meals nearly every night. It has been a blessing. I told my husband as much and said, “Then why do I feel so alone?”
Because it’s a lie.
I can’t stop thinking about that sweet 19 year old momma. I held her face in my hands and I said the words over and over, “You are never alone.”
I vowed to stop trying to change my lifestyle. And instead change lives.
How do you tell a girl who has been alone most of her life that Jesus is always with her?
You start with the truth and you believe it yourself. We are never alone.
Please, watch this 90 second video, share it and consider joining the clubs that are changing the world for precious young women around the globe. We have 100 openings in our $12.99 Earring of the Month Club right now. Women in poverty don’t want a handout–they want a job. We can provide this and look cute doing it!