A Wedding to Remember
Celebrating One Survivor's Big Day!
“Today is the day!!” wrote one survivor to another on a beautiful weekend in July.
“I am so happy for you!” she continued. “You have found your true love, and will be married! After everything you have gone through, and overcome, you are here. It is a long hard road, and you have a partner, a love, a husband, a father, who will be here on this journey with you.”
This precious encouragement from survivor to survivor is a beautiful testimony to the way God weaves broken stories together into strength and wholeness. These two ladies each have their own story to tell--but God has brought them together to bless, support, and cheer each other on during one of the most memorable occasions: a wedding.
Linda Tribbett, director of Adorned in Grace, remembers Mara from her daughter’s youth group. After she ran away at the age of 13, her daughter prayed fervently for her friend to be safe and return home. Many years later, after the initial Fairview Bridal Shop had been opened, Mara walked through the door.
“They were the starting point for me in recognizing the tragedy of trafficking,” she says, “and REALLY changing the direction of my life as a survivor. There is something so incredible to be shown so much love as they have, with no expectations...their unconditional love and support.”
You may recognize Sara from her role on the Junior League of Portland’s documentary, “Waiting for the Light.” She connected with a mentor after taking the risk to share her story with a stranger whose car had anti-trafficking logos all over it.
“She vulnerably shared with me, a complete stranger, how she had been trafficked a few years earlier and didn't know how to get the help she needed,” her mentor remembered. “But the fact that she kept noticing a car in the neighborhood, covered in signs against the very crime she had been a victim of for nearly three years, gave her hope for her future. Hope that there were people in the world that cared about people like her.”
After her engagement this year, Adorned in Grace was thrilled to provide her with a beautiful wedding gown for the big day. Our Hands of Hope mentor team and other friends rallied together as a fierce wedding planning force to be reckoned with. And Mara, who is now working as a successful hairstylist, offered to trade housecleaning help for getting Sara’s hair ready for the big day.
“The symbolism of you getting Adorned in Grace dress, to removing 9 years of black hair color...to be where you are today...and to hear you say that family has told you they finally see your face (as it once was) surrounded by your natural hair, and to see you so happy...it swells my heart with so much joy,” continued Mara.
Sara’s long-time mentor and friend had connected the two survivors based on their mutual needs. Sara, who wanted to be her natural blond for the wedding, and Mara, who needed help with house cleaning in her third trimester of pregnancy. Yet even she was surprised at the way these two ladies connected and supported each other.
“For this to happen between two survivors, is remarkable, as money exchanged for services can give way to feelings of awkwardness and even triggers. But just weeks later, I'd received a report from each of them that they were blessing each other with their gifts. It was a pure exchange and both were satisfied. Not only that, but they gained trust in one another and a friendship between them began to deepen!”
Stories like this are a reminder to all of us how our Heavenly Father delights to orchestrate even the smallest details to his glory. It’s clear God was weaving together a beautiful story to make Sara’s wedding day even more special. To all who attended the wedding, their vows to each other were a perfect example of His artistry.
“Before meeting you, I had gone through so many things in my life that I thought for sure there was no bouncing back,” spoke Sara. “Love seemed like a joke to me, it couldn't be trusted. I was so broken when you found me and you say it was the second you laid eyes on me I was the most beautiful woman you had ever seen? How could that be?
“...I used to pray for a guy like you...to protect us and lead the way. I hope we can empower each other as we keep learning and growing stronger together. I promise to be there for you like you have been for me. Honest, loyal, and faithful. I’ll never forget these moments. We've come so far together and we have even further to go. I can't wait to see what the future holds for you and I.”
“Getting married to someone who understands, and who loves you unconditionally is such a gift from God,” Mara encouraged Sara that day. “I am so excited and happy to be a part of the preparations of this monumental moment!!
“Champagne is on ice, and orange juice chilled. - Danishes are ready, stylists will be there, and we have runners to help also. This is YOUR day!!!!! Relax and enjoy every minute! Congratulations!”