#13 – Hugs, Cuddles, and Extraordinary Progress
Visiting Sweetie in Her New Foster Home
An Update from the President
What a blessing it was to visit Sweetie this year. So much has changed for her!
Four years ago, we were still visiting her in the brothel where she’d been born and raised, spending her infancy in a cardboard box and her toddler years tied to a pole. She was then two years old, going on three. When we visited a year later, she’d just been moved to the madam’s home—likely also used as a brothel, but much safer than where she had been. Two years ago, I again visited her at the madam’s house, where she giggled over her new toys and gifts before reluctantly giving them over to the madam’s little granddaughter. We yearned to see her free. Just a few months later, she was rescued from there and placed in a government orphanage. That is where I expected to visit her last year, but a few hours before my visit, she had been “rescued” yet again by a WAR, Int’l partner. Our visit with her in a transitional home was delightful, but her future was still very uncertain.
Sweetie is now almost seven. It was such a joy to visit her this year in her loving foster home! She recognized me, hugged, and cuddled. We brought gift bags–coloring books, crayons, Happy Meal toys, stuffed animals, flannel blankets, and of course, candy! She thanked me politely in English, then counted her crayons and markers aloud. While we had dinner with her new family (including caregivers and ten foster siblings), she politely ate her food, spoke perfect English, said please and thank you, and cuddled up to me.
The child psychologist traveling with me closely observed Sweetie that evening, and later told me, “She appears to be surprisingly normal.” From the way she cuddled with me and the staff, it was clear Sweetie knows how to attach. Given the horrors she was exposed to, this is a miracle! When it came time to leave, Sweetie came on her own twice for “sixteen hugs” (something I often do with my grandchildren).
We’re so pleased with her progress! When she first went to her new home, she would not cry; instead, she opened her mouth wide without making a sound. We soon learned the reason for this eerie behavior: when she lived in the brothel, she was beaten black and blue when she cried. Now she can cry without fear of receiving blows. When she first arrived, she also spoke words that came straight from the gutter—no wonder, since she was tied right next to one. When her shocked caregivers wondered what to do about her language, I suggested they start by teaching her nice words to replace the bad ones. Today, she speaks lovely, polite, and appropriate words. She’s also doing great in school. Although it remains uncertain, her situation keeps getting better. All this gives us much cause for celebration!
Thank you, precious WAR family. Your prayers, to a large degree, have helped shield her from danger. This is thanks to our Crazy God. Keep praying! Sweetie’s mother came to visit her after we left. We live with the reality that she can take her daughter at any time. In this desperate land where people do desperate things, she could force Sweetie to “take care of her” in the same way she had been forced.
Sweetie needs a wall of fire, a hedge of protection around her, and prayers to keep her in our constant care. I want her future to be as bright and meaningful as the lives of my own grown children and grandchildren! I’m dreaming big and holding my big God to big plans. There is no harm in that—but much harm could still come to her. As you rejoice, please keep praying for Sweetie, and for all the other children out there who need love and protection. We are on a journey to raise this child, and others who may come our way, to be healthy, happy, and whole.
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