Not so long ago I was living in a small town in southeast Haiti, spending my nights filling my journal with dreams.
Dreams of this crazy notion that maybe, just maybe, a transitional home for women who wanted to change their lives, and receive a chance to start fresh was possible.
At first, not much made sense. Not only did the numbers in my bank account not add up, but I had never attempted to embark on a journey of this magnitude ever before in my life. Despite all of the odds that were against me, there was a burning in my soul, something telling me that if I didn't take this insane leap of faith, I would regret it for the rest of my life.
So, 2015 began a wild journey to see this vision that was coming into view in bits and pieces, realized. I have to be honest when I say I really didn't know what I was doing, but I knew that I was headed in the right direction.
I never imagined myself doing this, I was never one who fantasized about starting a non-profit, let alone in Haiti. I wasn't the girl who first came to Haiti on a youth group mission trip and had a "heart for Haiti," ever since.
I was just someone who said 'yes'.
Nearly three years ago, I reached a point where I realized I was not satisfied with the direction my life was going. My five-year plans, to-do lists and agendas were not fulfilling a deep ache that resided in the recesses of my soul. My relationships, career achievements, and even some friendships all began to seem trivial. Something was missing, and that something was surrender.
Taking that first leap of faith back in March 2013 by telling God I would go anywhere and do anything He asked of me was a bit terrifying, but little did I know that first jump was only preparation for what was to come, and it was the greatest 'yes' of my life.
My 'yes' first led me to South Africa, which eventually led me to a place I had hardly, if ever, thought of... Haiti, and yet, it was exactly where I was always meant to be.
People often think of mission work in a glamorous sort of way. Not that you're life is luxurious, but that you've somehow achieved some level of sainthood. However, saying yes to God and following a path that leads you to a developing country is anything but simple, and is never, ever about you and your "goodness". It's a great way to reveal all of your flaws, weaknesses and inabilities, all of which are more proof that whatever your assignment may be, it's not happening because of your awesomeness, but the infallibility and all-powerfulness of the Creator.
The more Jasper House Haiti began to come together over the spring and summer of this year, the more I realized that none of this was ever supposed to be about me. My greatness, my ability to lead, my, my, me, me, me.
Nope. Not one ounce of it.
This job could, and at times, probably should be done by someone far more qualified, experienced, and credentialed than me. But you see, that's the funny and awesome thing about God, He never picks the ones you think He should. He always goes for the underdog, the outcast, the rebel, the loudmouth, the non-conformist, the cheater, the liar, the thief, or the harlot... because His purpose is far greater. Through our broken jars of clay, better known as bodies, His glory can be so powerfully manifested.
A true testament of His greatness, glory, power and love.
It's never about us.
My yes wasn't so I could enter into this glorious life of wonder, and the answers to all of my wildest dreams. My yes was answering the prayers of girls that had been orphaned, abandoned, abused, neglected and forgotten.
My yes wasn't for me to become an award-winning, decorated humanitarian, it was for the thirteen-year-old drinking herself into an oblivion every Mother's Day to drown out her grief.
My yes wasn't for me to be praised or exalted, but for the young mothers on the streets, selling themselves so their children can eat and go to school.
When we say yes, our prayers for purpose and understanding of why we were placed on this earth are answered by the realizations that our existence is answering the prayers of those of whom we may not even know.
Today, Jasper House Haiti is an officially recognized 501(c)3 non-profit organization in the United States. We have been open for almost four months and have served five women, with a staff of nine. This January our sewing, jewelry, and coffee programs will start full-force to create jobs for our women, and attempt more economic sustainability for the organization as a whole.
Most recently, we reached a milestone of transitioning our first graduate out of the program. A mother of three, with a heart of gold, she received a small microloan to jump start her business of buying and re-selling secondhand clothing.
On her last night with us, tears began to roll down her cheeks as she expressed her sheer gratitude for having the opportunity to live in the home and receive a chance to start her life again. She explained how she used to believe her life was over, and living on the street was all that was left for her, but no. God heard her prayers and she received a second chance. And today, she has been reunited with her beautiful children.
This is not a testament of my greatness in the least. This is a testimony of light winning the victory over darkness, the demonstration that through God, all things are truly possible. Through Him lives are restored, renewed, transformed and empowered.
Saying yes to His plan comes at a great price, but with an even greater reward.
It would be a falsity to pretend as if everything has happened smoothly and nothing has gone horribly wrong. From day one there have been battles to fight, mountains to climb, and giants to overcome. One of our most vulnerable women voluntarily left the program after only living in the home for a little over a month. It was so incredibly painful to see her go, but that is the nature of this work; you can't help those who don't want to be helped.
I've broken up more petty fights than I wish to recount, and have looked at the bank account wondering how in the world my staff are going to get paid.
Yet, in those moments of frustration, doubt, anxiety and questioning, peace finds a way to come sweeping through. Through the silent tears and moments of disbelief, a calm and gentle wind of peace blows into my aching heart, reminding me that adversity only means you're doing something right.
The beauty far outweighs the ashes, and the sunshine always comes after the rain.
It's those moments that keep me going, keep me saying yes.
While all of this may be one crazy venture that doesn't make a whole lot of sense on paper, as long as women are finding freedom from the oppression of abuse, prostitution, and inequality, this train is going to keep on chugging.
As long as children are being reunited with their mothers, and women are learning to read books for the first time in their lives, I'm going to keep saying yes.
Because this yes has never been, and never will be about me.