You may remember some of Serey's story from our slavery book. About two weeks ago all of the Love146 staff rejoiced (in spirit) for Serey as she drove down the aisle (yep, she drove a bike) to be married. A couple of our staff, Paul (director of developement) and Steve (CEO) were lucky enough to celebrate Serey and RJ at their wedding.
I asked Paul if he would write down what the experience was like. Here's his story:
I travel to the Philippines often to oversee the Round Home building projects, and maintenance programs. During the last 3 years I have seen children come into the pink home (transitional home) and the Round Home in shock and pain, only to find them within a few short months dancing and singing, with smiles and laughter so beautiful I leave crying every time.
During my most recent visit I was able to witness “Loves fulfillment in perfection”. Serey (not her real name), one of our beautiful girls was married. It was there I saw the fruit of what Love can do. During the evening I kept thinking “How in the world can this girl, through all she has been through, ever learn to Love and trust a man?” It became clear to me when she gave a blessing to her family during the marriage ceremony. They embraced each other and cried uncontrollably, holding each other tightly while we broke into tears ourselves. We knew what the tears were. The gratefulness of her being free, and becoming a woman.
It was just a few years back when her father and brother traveled by plane to the brothel she was held in, only to be physically kept from her. I can’t imagine what it would be like for them to know she was only steps away, and could not change a thing.
Serey’s life began to change after she was rescued and brought to the Round Home. It was there she received therapy, schooling, medical support and most of all, Love. So here we were now watching Serey and RJ (not his real name) rolling down the aisle in the tri cart taxi (bike) we purchased for their livelihood, preparing to receive the vows that would start a family, and change generations to come.
She wore a pink dress with white lace, adorned with a silk veil, and carried a satin bouquet of pink flowers. RJ was dressed in traditional Filipino attire, black pants and a white barong shirt. The 2 hr service was well planned and executed, ending with Steve (Steve Martin, Love146 CEO) and I signing the marriage contract as sponsors, and finally the kiss that everyone was waiting for to seal their life’s agreement.
A Filipino style meal and traditional wedding cake was prepared and enjoyed by the 50 guests of family, close friends, Love146 staff and partners. We were honored and sat at the head table along with the immediate family, bride and groom. There was no loud music, and a very tranquil atmosphere ending with Serey throwing the bouquet over her head to be caught by a lucky girl whose dreams would soon come true.
I am grateful to have been a part of the wedding and to have witnessed the joy of freedom and restoration. It is through the efforts of all those who advocate and support the work of Love146 that make dreams come true, and change lives.
Restoration is a shockingly beautiful story. I hope in this season which reflects on hope, you are able to find your own shocking story of restoration.