I was hoping to have this post up almost a week ago, but time flies, and I wasn't able to get much online work done this past week.
I have been wanting to write a little story about each of our new kids so that those who know me well, can get to meet the kids that I am living life with here. The numbers of kids keep increasing, but I am seeing my heart expand to just love more.
When thinking back to the last time I specifically told stories about my kiddos, I think it was before Dora and Mary came along. It seems weird to think about as they have been with us for over a year now and are such a part of the story of CORM.
Dora was "discovered" in 2011, during Tom Goldner's (of Photos for Freedom from Melbourne, Australia) trip to the oceanside. He got to hear the story of a girl who was given to her grandmother to pay off the debt of her birth and her father's dowry. He saw how she was so neglected and abused and longed to find her freedom.
So, on his return in August 2011, he asked that John and Stacy work towards Dora's rescue. They investigated the situation, and found Dora, living with her grandmother in a house that also housed pigs. They also heard that Dora's sister, Mary, had been sold to a fisherman in Togo.
Dora and Mary have 7 other siblings. All of them have been sent away to work, except for the two oldest who are currently attending school. None of the other children were given an opportunity to go to school.
So, August 13, 2011, Dora and Mary were BOTH brought to live at City of Refuge Ministries. This was when we still lived in Downtown Doryumu...40 people in one house. I wasn't with them during this time, but heard that the trip from home was very tear-filled as Dora and Mary were unsure of where they were going. But, when they arrived at the Freedom Center, our Abigail took charge. Recognizing Dora, she grabbed her hand and showed her around and an hour later, the girls were laughing and having fun, realizing that they were finally free.
Last year was Dora and Mary's first year ever attending school. They went from no English or literacy skills to understanding Twi and being able to speak English, write, complete math problems, read small passages. Their growth was incredible...especially Mary's.
In July, I had the opportunity to interview Mary about her life for a video we were working on creating with our friend's, the Grupe family. I heard about the threats of death that her slavemaster placed on her. I heard about the abuse she experienced. I learned about her habit of stealing to survive. And then, I see her beautiful serene face, her laugh, her smile, her willingness to learn, and I know that God has changed her.
I look at Dora, remembering the pictures that Tom took only a year ago of a scruffy-headed girl without a smile and the look of death in her eyes. And then I see my goofy Dora, who laughs with such ease, giving love so freely, and pouring out her heart for all to see.
These girls are changed by the love of Christ. I am forever grateful for the place they have in my life. And I'm forever grateful that they have an opportunity for a future because of the love of one man from Australia...and this place.
I'm looking forward to seeing how God will continue to grow and move in them this next year, challenging them towards the future. If this year was any indication, we're in for an adventure!