Make Her Strong Again--CF Anti-Traffic/Indonesia

by Compassion First

Sarah’s House is full of excitement these days. Our friends John and Robin Vendelin have arrived at the shelter to support our clinical team to help them better serve the girls there. They will be staying for a couple months, and we are already encouraged by their reports.

We are excited to share that two of our residents are now enrolled in college and are working hard toward seeing their dreams come to fruition. These are our first residents to start attending college and they have shown great courage and determination to get to this place.

Additionally, we are preparing for the graduation of our first resident to fully complete the program. She is in the process of preparing her résumé and filling out applications. We expect that she will be rewarded soon with a great new job. She is currently working part time for Sarah’s House learning administrative skills while continuing to live at the house. Exciting days are ahead of her as she reintegrates as a strong and vibrant contributing member to her community. We are so proud of her.

The house has never been so full! While this brings all sorts of new joys and experiences, it also presents a new set of challenges to our staff. Having never managed this case load before, they are working hard to keep up with the girls and are also learning to adjust to the new life at Sarah’s House. God’s mercies, faithfulness, and joy are new every morning!

As we takeoff from Taipei, it has now been four days since we left Sarah's House. The emotions of wondering if we would be accepted are five weeks behind us and now we are only days removed from the hugs and hard goodbyes.

 

We restored friendships with two of the girls from two years ago and became “Oma” and “Opa” to the rest of the residents. We were there to greet the newest and youngest member of Sarah’s House as she was quickly adopted into the 'sisterhood'.

 

Falling into the daily routine meant greeting them as they finished breakfast and completed their morning chores. As we did our work and taught classes, each of the girls had their activities, whether it was school, crafts, computer instruction, preparing for home visits, doing their laundry, or learning to play the guitar. They are teenage girls with the same concerns as any teenager would have, and their house moms have to deal with the same challenges that other moms have to deal with. They want friendships and acceptance. They want to know what they will be doing in the next year.But they also have concerns that no teenager should have. They need to know that the God  whispered His love to them while they were babies, is a God that will still love them as they are dealing with a world that stole their childhood.

 

They are surrounded by staff who provide them with the resources to rebuild their lives. They have activities and worship time. They are constantly shown love, and I hope they can feel the power of the prayers that are sent up for them by saints that are now spread around the world.

 

Our small team was given the task of home 'beautification'. One of the projects was to build a fountain. The place we chose to build it was on a trash pile by the wall across from the entrance to the house. This area was the least likely space that could be 'beautified'. It seemed our best effort would fall short. Each shovel hit rock, ceramic tile, roots, or buried concrete. But eventually we scraped and dug and moved enough debris into a mound on the driveway--the size of a Volkswagen (which no one drives over here). We bought plants to surround the fountain, put steps up to it, and it actually was worthy of our project name. One of our team members saw a picture of the finished work since wasn’t able to stay; this is what he said when his responsed by saying, "That is so awesome! Just what the Lord likes to do…clean out the pile of junk and debris, replant, and build it into a fountain of bubbling living water for His, ours, and others enjoyment.”


At the moment, it is hard to know which world we are in… the one that we are returning to with our family or the one we just left.  We’re not omniscient but we have hearts that can love those in another world without diminishing the love we have for our family. And with all of our prayers we can help ‘beautify’ those who feel like they have lost their beauty.

On April 1st I boarded a plane for Indonesia to continue my internship with Compassion First at Sarah’s House. Nearly a month--plus the entire 24 hours of travel--was spent trying to prepare and anticipate what the shelter, staff, and girls would be like. Now, having experienced my first few weeks here, I can share that it is so much more than I ever expected.

I felt welcomed into Sarah’s House immediately; the girls even prepared a little cheer for my arrival. Every day the girls have planned activities and classes as part of their individual programs. I have been able to start teaching life skills and fitness, and the girls have been training me in guitar, the Indonesian language, and how to handle the spicy cuisine. We have set goals to improve morning workouts and to get my badminton skills up to par. I love that they are excited to share with me and am grateful to learn from each of them.

These girls are incredibly talented and smart, and have moved me daily with the happiness and hope they radiate. Each day is different, and no doubt hard times are felt here as well, but the sense of optimism never leaves. The ability for each one to wake up with a smile on her face and have ambitions for the day speaks volumes about the work of Compassion First and the environment at Sarah’ House.

The staff here truly gives all they have to support the girls through the program. Everyone works hard to ensure the success of each resident. Though the work is difficult at times, the same hopefulness felt throughout Sarah’s House exists in the staff office. Most days the hard work and focus is broken up by spontaneous lip-sync competitions and sharing some of the best snacks imaginable. Seeing the staff and girls approach each challenge with unfailing optimism and faith is what makes this such a special place.

Sarah’s House is constantly full of so much joy--music, laughter, and dancing are nearly constant. In my first weeks, I have realized the real magic is best seen through the small acts, done with great love. Moments like standing under a waterfall and having a girl lean in to express her happiness, or the whole group falling asleep in the van on the way home from a day full of swimming or simply eating fried bananas. Walking into the shelter each morning and sharing a joke or two with a few girls and house moms, and seeing two tables, full of smiles, on the patio at lunchtime are what turn the staff and girls at Sarah’s House into family.

Many early mornings as I arrive at our shelter and I head through our secure gated entrance, across the side yard towards the back of the property, I’ll spot one of our girls in the outdoor laundry area listening to some tunes while rinsing her clothes in the water coming from our newly dug well. I’ll head towards the house living quarters and, just as I’m entering, another girl will dart out of her room in a hurry, barefoot, all dressed, hair done and fresh makeup, searching for her shoes. She’s already a little late for her vocational training school, or perhaps a family visit. One house mom will be patiently helping her search. Across the room another girl sits on the couch playing the guitar and singing for her personal morning worship time.  I’m almost always greeted by whomever is there. “Hey Ka Becks, good morning.” They like to use the English they’ve been learning and I’m usually just as eager to use my Bahasa, “Pagi, nona! Apa kabarmu?” We’ll chat a moment for fun about absolutely nothing or catch up on what’s been going on. Then I’ll head out the back of the living quarters. 

Immediately I can hear chit-chat and giggles coming from a couple more girls hanging out with a house mom and a case coordinator at the breakfast table on the open-air patio next to the kitchen. One of the girls will still be in her morning tennis workout clothes, obviously needing a shower, while the other is still in her morning pj’s.  Across from the patio one of our teachers will be in an empty classroom preparing for morning lessons which start in about an hour. If I don’t get sucked into the conversation at the breakfast table I’ll head into our office where I’ll usually find a couple other staff members preparing their morning agendas.

Believe it or not, at Sarah’s House most mornings are just like this but obviously not all. They are teenage girls after all working through the emotions of their teen years with the additional challenges that are still being resolved from their past trafficking situations. However, much of their progress and healing comes directly from our ability to provide for them the every day love and basic needs that every kid should have.  A safe home with loving and caring people that come alongside them every day. A stable environment of healthy nurturing every day. An environment of learning and opportunity every day.  Thank you so much for helping us provide some of the most important things these girls need — this home, this place of hope and healing.

 

Indonesia bid us farewell in her characteristic way. One week before our departure we had a 7.3 earthquake, tsunami watch and torrential rains! Last year, it was a record-breaking flood! We like to think she just doesn’t want us to leave.

November 19th we flew home from a 2 ½ month visit to Sarah’s House. We are Robin and John Vendelin, known collectively by our ministry, Binding-Up Broken Hearts. Robin is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Washington State, and John is a pastoral counselor. We are called by the Lord to provide therapy and counseling to children, youth and their caregivers in this troubled world who are suffering the debilitating symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and have no access to mental health resources (due either to lack of available services or financial resources). We use cutting-edge techniques that work to assist the brain’s natural way of processing events to then process trauma that has been stuck in the “inbox”. These newer ways of treating PTSD typically work significantly faster than traditional talk therapy. Even during a relatively short visit of just a few months, we are able to see good results from our work. Last year we were with Compassion First (CF) in Indonesia for 3 months.

While at Sarah’s House this visit, we had the indescribable joy of working with CF’s precious residents as well as staff who recognized need for resolution of trauma that are part of their own lives. Especially exciting, our friend and colleague Cathy Thorpe, Licensed Mental Health Counselor, came to provide training to CF staff that broadened their therapeutic skills. Twelve staff took training, and twenty-two received treatment for PTSD with good results we have come to expect.

The changes in those whom we worked with last year were clear to see; they seemed happier, more confident, and peaceful. To hear them report that they had been “good” after their treatment during our last visit was wonderful. It was especially encouraging to see that residents had experienced an enduring change. Since the girls’ brains have not only sustained significant injury due to traumatic experiences but are also still developing, providing therapy for them is more challenging and change harder to sustain.

The stories, both the girls and staffs, are theirs to tell, not ours. The following, however, is a sampling of anonymous quotes about outcomes to therapy:

I felt like a smelly trash bin … a trash bin that was full but the trash is gone! I had no one to help me but I feel fresh now! I’m have more balance! No more oppressed!”

“I feel more confident and open. I can talk about the (trauma) now. I couldn’t talk about it before. Now, if it comes up, I talk about it without any problem!”

“I feel better and I think about it (her traumatic experience) different now.”

“I can feel the change happening!”

“It’s amazing!”

“I feel like I can fly!”

“Since last time (our previous visit), I’ve been good. I’m happier! I don’t get upset with other people like before! I don’t feel tired, overwhelmed; I have energy! Opportunities have just come and I’ve known what to do. I’m so much better now! Thank you!”

“The Lord is close to those whose hearts have been broken. He saves those whose spirits have been crushed.” Psalm 34:18.

Sincerely,

John & Robin Vendelin

 

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Organization Information

Compassion First

Location: Beaverton, OR - USA
Website: http:/​/​compassionfirst.org
Project Leader:
Kallen Hawkinson
Beaverton, Oregon United States
$47,790 raised of $140,000 goal
 
516 donations
$92,210 to go
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