We had to say goodbye to the lovely young women from the Safe House today. It was a difficult farewell after having spent the last week getting to know and bonding with this this amazing group of resilient, loving, affectionate, bright sisters in Christ.
When we met them, they were welcoming and polite but by the time our retreat was over, they had relaxed and morphed into girls who were comfortable laughing hysterically with us (and sometimes at us). Riding in the song taus (open air vehicles with bench seats) to the gardens, to shopping and to the bowling alley gave us plenty of time to get to know each other better (which the help of Leik and Irene as translators) and by the end they were hysterically admitting to jumping on the beds and pulling pranks on each other. They tried to teach us tongue twisters and in return we tried to teach them some of ours. The laughter was infectious.
This morning we had one last time of worship together, we gave them words of encouragement, and they gave us truly heartfelt thanks. We then had a last lunch, a tearful goodbye, then it was time for our team to board our bus for the two hour drive to GROW.
Having time on the bus was helpful because it gave us space to take a breath and process our feelings before meeting the kids at GROW. We wanted to be able to give them our excited best so the brief transition time was a helpful rejuvenation.
When we pulled into GROW, we were refreshed and ready. Those of us who are first timers on the trip were amazed and pleased to see how much space the kids have. There are expansive, grassy areas, basketball hoops, a ping pong table and large areas to run around. They welcomed us with open arms, a fun introduction all around, singing time, sharing time, and then playing time. Being in the presence of the joyful exuberance of the kids was the perfect way to end the day.