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Friday, June 22, 2018

One Year Ago, Girls Home, Vineyard Jampa, Faith's Challenges




that was us, a year ago
One Year Ago


   A year ago on June 9th we went out on a limb and trusted that God was calling us to reach out to show His unfailing love to the girls and women in prostitution here in João Pessoa.  We had no idea what to expect, how we would be received, or what it would look like going forward.
 We have been amazed and encouraged by God’s constant guidance, the openness the girls have had with us, and the relationships that have blossomed.  There have been many mountain top moments and recently some very deep valley moments.
    

 
In our last update I shared that one of the girls who had left prostitution had returned, this month we had another blow.  The girl who left prostitution six months ago whom we have been meeting with weekly, trying to help her find work, figure out education, is back on the street.  This was a really hard hit, even though we knew it was a great possibility, there are often many false starts before someone is able to really break free, it's hard not to feel like we should have done more.

But the situation she found herself in was almost impossible.    
 Her husband had been shot, miraculously he wasn’t killed since the bullet passed through his groin, narrowly missing his artery and vein.  But because he wasn’t killed, he needed to go into hiding, they had to move from her Mom’s house and into his mother’s house which was at the end of a impassable bumpy road governed by a gang faction that would mean at least the people who tried to kill him couldn’t get at him.  We visited with them there, prayed with them and encouraged them to pray together.  But they were stuck, he is a fugitive from prison and now escaping gangs. 

I sat with her to go over her education and work experience (grade 4, no work experience), and monthly expenses and income.  We are trying to connect with other organizations that also connect people to work while also finding out how we could help her get back on to sorting out her education. 
They have little to no income.  She was helping her mother sell snacks at the market to the truckers who were unloading in the middle of the night, asking for fruit and vegetables or finding some that had fallen, unwanted to the floor. We were helping where we could with some basic food goods, but also trying to find a balance between helping become independent and her becoming dependant on us.   A very desperate situation that ended with her back on the street, feeling like she was out of options and us feeling a lot like we had failed her.
 Despite the fact that we know women who are trying to leave prostitution often make several attempts before successfully transitioning, we still felt sad and disappointed, not in her but in ourselves, in the system, we want to be able to do so much more but it takes time, resources and more people to do it.  
    
The next time we saw her on the street I was intentional about having a very frank conversation with her, I could see she was acting differently around us.  I assured her that nothing has changed about the way we feel about her, the hope we have for her or that we are walking with her.  She cried and I hugged her and we promised to continue to fight with her.

I recently read an article about women trying to leave prostitution, this is a quote from it,

Prostitution, if it is anything, is a choice between homelessness and having men we don’t like, do things we hate, to bodies we don’t know how to love.
For this reason, those in prostitution have a tendency to boomerang in and out of it, like the jaded wives of an unfaithful or cruel husband. We pack our bags, we leave in a triumphant storm. But we find few options available to us.
    Leaving Prostitution and Staying Out-Nordicmodelnow! The article was written By Alice Glass, a survivor of prostitution
    
We dream of a day when we see these girls freed from this emotional, spiritual and financial slavery.

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Missão Restauração


Not long after we moved to Joao Pessoa we were introduced to a couple who care for young at-risk girls.  Over the past 20  years, they have cared for over one hundred and eighty girls.  Some of which have been adopted by other families, some have been returned to their extended families, others lived there until they turned nineteen and then they were helped to find work and a living space.

It was obvious from our first meeting that this couple has poured a lot of their life into these girls.

We decided early on that we wanted to help, we just weren't sure how.  Homes like this for girls can prevent them from ending up on the street.

Working alongside another group called Ezekial 47 who had been looking for an opportunity to serve, we have started an Alpha and games night.  We go once a week with a snack and a fun game and then we watch a video and chat.  The girls are loving it and every time it's over they say, 'already?'.

We look forward to continuing the relationships with these girls long after Alpha finishes.
 

Vineyard Jampa

Three weeks ago we held our first Sunday with our wee baby church.  Right now it's more like a small group but the times we have had together have been rich.  We are forming the foundations of a leadership team, so we are focusing for now on getting to know each other, the values we hold, and praying about what God wants for this new gathering.  We all want to see a strong foundation built so we will take it slowly in these first steps.
For a month or so before we began we had been meeting with Ricardo and Nadir, current pastors of the Recife Vineyard, as well as a family from Joao Pessoa who are very eager to take part in planting a church with us.
    Sunday, June 3rd was our first official service here in our house, in our outside kitchen that God has so abundantly blessed us with.  We sang and prayed together, discussed the values we want to carry in this church and ate lunch together, it was a rich time and we are so excited to see this seedling of a church being planted.

Faith: Dyslexia+ADD+Central Processing Disorder + Second Language= A Layer Cake of Learning Challenges


Faith turns 12 on Monday! She celebrated early last week.

A month or so ago we were asked to meet with the coordinator of Faith’s grade.  She sat us down to discuss Faith’s performance in school.  She had been helping her on her tests and noticed that Faith couldn’t remember the context of something she had read, that she read very slowly, and that had difficulty writing as well.  She felt strongly that this was not only because she is working in her second language.
She was saying what I had already suspected for a while.  She recommended a psychologist and we began the process of having her assessed for dyslexia and Attention Deficit Disorder.  At the end of the testing we sat with the psychologist and she told me what I already knew in my heart; Faith, like her Daddy, is dyslexic.
 I cried.  Not tears of sadness or disappointment but instead of relief.  Now we knew why- now I knew it wasn’t because I had failed her as a teacher.  We now knew what we were dealing with and could confront it appropriately.

We were referred to a psychiatrist to complete the evaluation for Attention Deficit, she then referred us to an audiologist to see if Faith also has something called a Central Auditory Processing Disorder, which basically means her ears and her brain is not communicating properly.  This can happen with kids who had a lot of ear infections or who had hearing issues early in life.

When Faith was two her eustachian tubes were full of fluid, she heard as though she was underwater, for more than a year while we went through the process of testing and waiting for surgery.

This disorder can show itself with many symptoms that look like dyslexia and ADD.  The good news is there is a cure.  Several sessions of training will help to rewire her brain.  It doesn't rule out the possibility that she also has dyslexia and ADD.

On Wednesday we started the testing for this issue.  For those of you on Facebook, that is the explanation for the photo I posted.  Faith is in the little sound booth trying to decipher different sounds.  One of the hardest parts about this disorder is being able to hear in loud places.  Faith has often complained she can't hear what the teacher is saying when there is noise in the class.

This week Faith will finish the testing and we will know more.
  .
 We prepared her for this possible outcome by ensuring her that dyslexia, ADD or this new possibility doesn’t have anything to do with her intelligence, that in fact, most dyslexic people are smarter than your average bear, Einstein, for example, was dyslexic, Phil likes to emphasize this fact.

We have already begun working with a psychoeducational therapist to help Faith with reading and writing.
 Please pray with us that she can find her way with the help of the specialist and that we can help her too.

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