It is hard to really describe what we do here at The Living Vine Christian Maternity Home. It is one of those things that you can't really understand it until you are actually doing it, living it. But I think this story really sums up exactly what is going on here.
Saturday, July 19th, was visitation day. The girls spent the morning doing their chores and then later in the afternoon, they were allowed to go out on visitation with family, if that was at all possible. We had one girl going on visitation, one girl who spent each day at the hospital with her baby in NICU, leaving three girls that we were going to get to take to the beach for a fun day! That afternoon Emily, a summer missionary from West Virginia, and I were on duty, which is always a little scary since we are both just summer missionaries; we aren't fully accustomed to how everything works and how best to handle certain situations.
When I found out the previous day that we were going to get to take the girls to the beach, I had started praying for an opportunity to get to share Psalm 139 with the girls while we were at the beach. It was something that had just been on my heart and I really wanted to get to share it with them and talk about what it meant.
When we arrived at the beach, it was crowded. Traffic was bad and parking was next to impossible. The girls were just full of complaints and we finally decided that I would drop Emily and the girls off and go find a parking spot. When I met up with the group I was able to take pictures of the girls playing in the ocean and things seemed to just be going really well. They looked like they were having a great time!
I was still praying that maybe the girls would want to sit down and just rest for a little bit and I would be able to read them the chapter. However, that never happened. The girls were ready to leave after about 30-45 minutes and were not interested in hanging around.
So we started the trek back to the car and I was a little disappointed. I really wanted to share with the girls. As we were walking back to the car, the girls' attitudes and treatment towards one another took a turn. There is one girl here who just has a hard time getting along with the other girls. She is so desperate for them to like her and they don't. And they are quite obvious about it. It is a tough situation in that this girl isn't the easiest person to get along with and makes it hard to. Nonetheless, she can be seen as an outcast at the house.
This has been something we have all noticed for awhile now and seeing it come out so blatantly at the beach just really bothered me. I started praying for the Spirit to show me a way to get to talk to the girls and share with them and hopefully say something that they needed to hear.
As we were driving home, I asked Emily if she would read Psalm 139 to the girls since I was driving. I told the girls that this was something that had been on my heart for awhile and I wanted to share it with them and talk about it. I told them they didn't have to listen to me, but I was going to talk anyways. (Plus we were stuck in a car so they couldn't get away from me!). Emily read the chapter and I started talking to them about God's love and how much He truly loves each of us. I told them that at that very moment, God was forming their unborn children in their wombs! And that He is doing it the exact same way. That He formed all of us the same way! He made us all the same way. He sees us all the same. He loves us all the same. So why can't we love and see one another the same way?
I was hoping the girls would see that ultimately they need to be nice to one another. Regardless of if it is hard to get along with each other, or if they even like each other, they should still be nice. I finished talking and was greeted by silence. So I turned the radio back on and Emily and I chatted the rest of the way home.
At dinner that night we had a really good time actually. A lot of "what is your favorite" questions and each of the girls answering. I hoped it would be a good bonding experience
After the girl who was on visitation came back that night, things shifted in the house. I can't really even pinpoint anything specific that happened, but drama and issue after issue quickly ensued. When we picked up the other girl who was at the hospital, things only got worse.
Emily and I were just about at wits end. We had no idea how to really handle everything that was going on. Girls crying, everyone wanted to talk to us and complain and tattle, attitudes and disrespect worse than we had ever experienced before, on top of some serious rules we have here being broken. I felt unbelievably inept and lost.
Emily was in the living room talking with two girls, another girl was already in bed, the other two were in their rooms: mad, sad, scared, anxious, and broken.
I tried to do the chores that staff members were supposed to do, but I couldn't. I went into the office and threw myself down on my knees and just cried and cried out to God. I didn't know what else to do. I really didn't even know what I needed to pray for! I was so lost, discouraged, confused, and overwhelmed.
One of the long-term staff members came to the house, even though she was off that night, and helped calm things down. Thank the Lord. Emily and I talked to her for a good hour just decompressing and asking questions and looking for answers.
These girls are so wounded, broken, and deceived. They are consumed and surrounded by darkness. And I've never been around such a noticeable and heavy spiritual battleground. The spiritual warfare going on here, with the girls, is so much more than anything I've ever experienced. Because they are so damaged and have been abused so badly, you can't handle them like you would with other people. You can't approach situations with these girls like you might with friends or people you know back home. It is such a delicate and spiritual process. You live life with them everyday, you try and show them life and light, you pray that the Lord will intervene and break their chains of bondage, you pray the enemy will flee and leave these girls, you pray for strength for yourself to be able to love them, to have patience with them, for wisdom in dealing with blow ups and break downs, you pray to be filled up with the Spirit so you can pour it out on the girls, and you pray that it would matter to the girls, that they would begin to see that Truth and believe it and crave it for themselves. And through the midst of all that, you play games, you cook meals, you take them to the beach or doctor appointments, you do chores, you go through the day with them, you talk and joke and laugh with them, you try and comfort them even when you know the only way they can truly be comforted is by allowing our Savior to come in and make it all better.
As Emily and I ended Saturday night, which had turned into Sunday morning, at 1 o'clock in the morning, we prayed together. It was in the middle of my prayer that I realized that God was in control of that night. He knew exactly what was going on, He knew. And while Emily and I couldn't see what the big picture was or how that night might affect the girls in the future, He could. It was at the end of what felt like the longest day of my life, that I was able to take a deep breath, knowing that I didn't have to handle it all, I didn't have to understand it all. That a MUCH more capable and all-knowing, all-powerful, loving, and perfect Savior was just looking down and smiling because it was all going according to His plan.
Mackenzie McLain, a student at West Texas A&M University, is serving as a Go Now missionary in Savannah, Georgia.