Thank you so much for your financial and prayer support for my service trip to Romania with Segue and Reaching Out Romania. This trip was an amazing opportunity to serve and learn from others whose experiences and lives are very different from our own.
While we were in Romania, we were working with a shelter for girls who have been rescued from the sex trade. Our task while we were there was to prepare the site for a greenhouse we had bought for them through fundraising efforts throughout the school year, and to help put up the greenhouse. This greenhouse will be used to provide food for the shelter, increasing food sustainability and food security, as well as providing a source of income as any excess can be sold, and an opportunity for the girls to be a part of the process of growing and caring for something. This task was a little more complicated, and more involved, than we had anticipated. The site that we had to work with was on the side of a hill, and the area that had been previously flattened was not big enough for the greenhouse. In addition to this, the greenhouse did not arrive while we were there, and is scheduled to arrive shortly after we came back to Canada. So instead of simply putting up the greenhouse, we had to hire an excavator do dig out and level a significant portion of the hill, while our team worked to build two retaining walls to keep the large amounts of disturbed soil from falling onto the house. It was a lot of hard work, but we had an amazing team, and the girls from the shelter were also very excited to help us in whatever way they could. These girls did not cease to amaze and impress us with their determination, strength, and desire to help. As a result, over the course of the week, we were able to not only build both retaining walls, but also to buy the supplies and show them how to build garden boxes for the plants in the greenhouse, as well as spend some time doing teaching on effective planting in a greenhouse.
Although we spent most of our time on the work site, we were blessed to also have some time to spend with the girls at the shelter, either eating together or just simply hanging out. In meeting these girls, who were all between the ages of 14 and 21, we were struck by the fact that they were just that – girls. These were not abstract ideas, nor simply victims or projects, but girls – who lived and teased and cried and laughed and loved Justin Bieber, who asked if we would sing Hillsong worship songs with them – girls who have seen and experienced many terrible things, things that defy even imagination, but who are still living and in and through whom God is working. In spending time with these girls, God reminded me of his heart for them and for others who society has abused or forgotten – the truth that these are His beloved children. My heart was broken for these girls again and again, and God showed me even more clearly His heart for restoration -bringing each of these girls back to Himself and showing them that they are loved and worth fighting for, and for bringing healing. He showed me the beauty in each of these girls, and the transformation that has been taking place especially in the lives of the ones who have chosen to trust in Him and put their faith in Him.
During our time in Romania, we had the opportunity to bless this organization and these girls with a greenhouse-to-come, with all the preparations taken care of in advance. But our time spent with these girls has also been a huge blessing and a learning experience for me, one that I will not forget and, I believe, one that will play a part in shaping who God is making me into as a person. Again, thank you so much for your prayers and support – without you this trip would not have been possible.
– Christina Cooper