return to paris

Eiffel Tower

A photo posted by Teanna Sunberg (@tsunberg) on

We stand at the edge of the Eiffel Tower and its noble heights remind us that we have passed this way before. Before there were girls and hair bows and makeup and purses, there was simply a boy and a girl on a journey.  

And he said to her, ‘Let’s wait to climb this great tower until we come again.’

‘Let’s wait,” she said, “So that we never forget to return to the city of lights.” Continue reading

a matter of shoes

foot

footsteps

Her screams tore through the night pulling us from the peace of our dreams and like dominoes down a corridor, blurry eyes peered around doors to encounter a woman deposited in the middle of the hotel’s corridor, like someone’s bag of trash.  She glared back at us from a defiantly misplaced heap.  

“What is wrong?” I muttered sleepily.  

“They took my shoe.” came the reply.

Sleep cloaked my brain in a thick fog as I strained to put pieces of a puzzle together.  I looked down the corridor at several sheet tussled but familiar heads belonging to a team of Americans who had come to Bulgaria to lay the foundation of a church.  There was a doctor, a retired editor of a popular magazine, a plumber, and a builder.  

Instinctively, I knew that if I closed the door and returned to the warmth of my bed, if I left her sitting there in a shoe-less heap in the corridor, one of them would attempt to help her.    

I glanced down at my grey, flannel long johns.  For a woman who loves fashion, this was not my apex.  My feet protested against the cold hotel floor.  There in the doorway of my room, staring at a prostitute in a heap on the floor, the warmth of my bed beckoned my return and I found myself wavering.

Glancing down the hallway again confirmed that the heads were still waiting.  The prostitute evidently intended to stay put.  I was the only one who spoke Bulgarian and obviously, I was supposed to do something to right the situation.  

Moments later, I had managed to locate a sweatshirt and socks, and I was feebly attempting to kick my sluggish mental faculties into gear in order to explain our situation to the desk clerk.  What Bulgarian words could I string together to say, 

“Excuse me but there is a shoeless prostitute sitting in the middle of our 

corridor”?  Could you help her please?”  

Croatia

homelessness

At my approach, the clerk blew a cloud of smoke and squinted through the haze.   A low murmur of background noise drew my attention to a television with Euro Sport broadcasting an earlier football match while the lights from the new casino threw ghastly hues of magenta and blue across the walls.  With a sigh, I began to explain the reason for my foray into his realm but only a few words into it the clerk held up his hand.

“Yes, I know the woman.  Just a minute please.”

He immediately reached for the key to the offending room and set off for the elevator leaving me to follow.  The ride together was interesting.  What does one say on their way to retrieve a shoe in the middle of the night for a prostitute?

“Lovely hotel you have here.”

The heads of my team returned to their positions to witness the resolution of this midnight production.  Curiosity mounted as the clerk spared not a glance for the woman and rapped upon the offending door.  Raucous laughter from unseen faces sliced through the corridor as a door opened and then quickly slammed shut.  The clerk waited as a muffled rustle of activity and more laughter skipped down the long hallway.

The woman now rose from her position on the floor and hopped on one foot to lean against the wall.  Suddenly the door opened wide and a shoe catapulted through the air of the hallway, smacking the opposite wall and falling limply to the floor.  Once again, the door slammed and the rumble of men’s voices died to a murmur.  In slow motion, the clerk turned, retrieved the shoe and handed it to the woman.

Silently, she walked past us, pulling a jacket about her in some semblance of, if not quiet dignity, then at least palpable relief.  The click of the elevator testified to its arrival and the curtains on the last act of the night’s program closed.  I muttered a good night to the heads and returned to my bed.

budapest

community

As far back as 1996, from my high rise in Moscow, I could watch a blonde with a white fur coat and long white boots sway along Leninsky Prospekt.  In Sofia, my mini-van of children shuttled by them each afternoon on our return from school.  They lined the road on our way to church each Sunday.  Their cigarettes glowed in the dark as we drive home after a ‘date’ on Saturday night.  Here, in the heart of Europe, we find some of the fastest growing percentages of human trafficking in the world.  Every border has a poster.  Every newspaper has an advert.

How did these women get there?  Why do they do what they do?

Some were orphans.  For their eighteenth birthday, their bed was given to someone else and they became free to discover their destiny.  Very few of them made it around the corner before Destiny found them.  He took an unwanted child and put a price tag on her wanted body.

For others, it was an exchange of one kind of abuse for another.  Some believed they were going abroad to discover the life of their dreams.  They handed their passports to their agent only to discover that their dream consisted of fulfilling someone’s warped fantasies.  The list of how and why is certainly as long and as varied as the line of girls that decorate the highway that borders the city in which I live.

So, here I stand in the corridor with Monday morning around the corner and Freedom Sunday fading fast. I am still wondering what do, what to say, how to help, how to pray.

Get your shoes. Put them on. Take a walk with me. Let’s talk, shall we?

Monday’s topic: vulnerability – understanding why it happens.

Frankfurt

open doors?

birthing freedom sunday

Bulgaria New Year

celebrate

Freedom.

It is on my mind like the impending labour pains for a mother to be. Sleep does not soothe, movement does not relieve; one never really gets away from the reality that something significant is happening just beyond our reach. We are in labour today for freedom on this glorious Sunday, 09 March, 2014. I wonder if we should cheer or weep? 

Our family has been celebrating freedom all weekend. At least we have been living in the warmth of its embrace. With a gaggle of girls packed into a van, we drove to Bratislava, Slovakia yesterday so that they could play their hearts out in a basketball tournament. Never mind the positive aspects of sports, there were adults all over that Communist-era school making sure that light bulbs worked, that bathrooms had toilet paper, that games ran according to schedule. The house was filled with adults watching over, providing for, protecting girls and nobody had to think about guarding our babies against pimps who would steal their soul and devour their bodies like a McDonald’s drive-thru. 

I am not saying that there were not girls there who are not at risk. I am saying that yesterday, there were adults making sure that nobody was vulnerable. And, that is cause for rejoicing.

Sofia, Bulgaria

say to the moutain, ‘move’

Plovdiv

if God is for us…

Freedom Sunday on this glorious 9th of March, 2014 is cause for celebration because awareness is being birthed. The bride of Christ is in labour pains today for souls that are so vulnerably, hideously exposed to the seedy side of passion. Celebrate!

My fear is, that once today passes into yesterday, the blogs fade, the Facebook posts move on, the Sunday sermon is filed, and we forget that Freedom Sunday is about awareness but Monday is about life.  Not your life. Not my life. The life of a vulnerable girl who has nobody to fight for her freedom. Celebrating a Sunday is absolutely pointless unless you are willing to fight on Monday. 

Rise up, Church.

Sofia, Bulgaria

a city on the side of a hill

By 2005, I was writing about the issue of prostitution because it was a constant part of our landscape. Girls on the Ring Road in Sofia staying warm with tire fires at night and flagging cars by day. Who does not see? Who does not know? Sometimes labour lasts through a long, painful night but, morning eventually comes. Morning is here. Put on your Sunday celebration this glorious 09 March, 2014. We need that. But, add this blog to your feed, share this blog with friends, pass by here again tonight. When the dishes are done and the evening beckons you to relax, check in and let’s talk about the dirty, thankless, tireless, back-breaking, confusing work that comes with the Monday after Freedom Sunday.

I leave you now with an excerpt from 2005. The rest of the story will be printed tonight, after Freedom Sunday begins to fade. If you want to talk about life after labour, I will be here on Monday, waiting…    

foot

footsteps

In the Footsteps of a Prostituted Girl.  Her screams tore through the night pulling us from the peace of our dreams and like dominoes down a corridor, blurry eyes peered around doors to encounter a woman deposited in the middle of the hotel’s corridor, like someone’s bag of trash.  She glared back at us from a defiantly misplaced heap.

“What is wrong?” I muttered sleepily.

“They took my shoe.” came the reply.

Sleep cloaked my brain in a thick fog as I strained to put pieces of a puzzle together.  I looked down the corridor at several sheet tussled but familiar heads belonging to a team of Americans who had come to Bulgaria to lay the foundation of a church.  There was a doctor, a retired editor of a popular magazine, a plumber, and a builder.

Instinctively, I knew that if I closed the door and returned to the warmth of my bed, if I left her sitting there in a shoe-less heap in the corridor, one of them would attempt to help her.

I glanced down at my grey, flannel long johns.  For a woman who loves fashion, this was not my apex.  My feet protested against the cold hotel floor.  There in the doorway of my room, staring at a prostitute in a heap on the floor, the warmth of my bed beckoned my return and I found myself wavering.

Glancing down the hallway again confirmed that the heads were still waiting.  The prostitute evidently intended to stay put.  I was the only head who spoke Bulgarian and somebody had to do something to right the situation.

Moments later, I had managed to locate a sweatshirt and socks, and I was feebly attempting to kick my sluggish mental faculties into gear in order to explain our situation to the desk clerk.  What Bulgarian words could I string together to say,

“Excuse me but there is a shoeless prostitute sitting in the middle of our corridor”?  Could you help her please?”

~ by Teanna Sunberg / Montana, Bulgaria  2005

I will see you here tonight for the next part of the story …

Hero Hope

sophie_water

Early morning moments with the Father.

The following post comes from an article I wrote that was just published in Engage Magazine. To see the Engage article, go to http://engagemagazine.com/content/ask-missionary-how-have-you-developed

Once upon a time, a little slip of a Kansas girl was planted in a rural hiccup between two lakes. She dreamt of slaying dragons on the oceans of a Green Peace ship and rescuing exotically unexplored rain forests. She spent her summer days imagining danger-treks through Harriet Tubman trails, but nearly a century had passed since those golden fields had seen slaves. Then, at fourteen, she became a Christian and the slaying of dragons faded. Green Peace was deaf to evangelism, the forests had no ears and the history books had already heard the journeys of freedom men. And God? God wanted orderly, Christianly homes with safe citizens and predictable sermons of happily-ever-after lives.

 So, it really is a shame that Baby X entered the picture a few years later.

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