Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Human Trafficking...

Hey All!

I just got back from a last minute decision to go to Azusa to see my good friend Corinne!!! I was only there Monday and then came back today, but it was awesome! We drove down the coast for a few hours and walked on the beach...it was exactly what I needed...some 80 degree weather and to see the ocean! The drive there is roughly six hours long...can I just say, "I love my HONDA!" I got 42 miles to the gallon! I want to have it forever! On the way down I listened to my first book on CD...I think I am now addicted to it! From now on, every time I have a long drive I am going to get one!

The book was The Road To Lost Innocence by Somaly Mam. It is her memoir of her experience with human trafficking in Cambodia. She was sold into a brothel at nine years old...This topic is something very close to my heart. In June, when we first went to Crossroads, a girl asked me if I wanted to go with her to San Francisco...seeing an opportunity to make a new friend, I went thinking we were going to go shopping...instead we attended an informational seminar on human trafficking...at this time my eyes were opened wider than ever before to the world we live in...human trafficking in a sentence is modern day slavery...over 27 million people are enslaved right now and growing! Stats say that every 90 seconds someone is trafficked...These victims are forced into slavery, forced to do everything under the sun from cleaning and farming, to sex and prostitution...My heart broke completely as I watched a video at this seminar where a man in Cambodia payed only $6.00 for a nine year old girl...to have his way with her and then return her to a brothel...Can you even imagine it? I couldn't believe my eyes and ears as I watched...learning that in Cambodia...girls as young as 5 years old are sold into brothels...women are forced into prostitution and beaten...they are left empty, bleeding, and feeling like trash in the gutter...I was even more appalled to hear that one of the largest places in the world for trafficking is in San Francisco...and that even in Sacramento girls and boys are sold to work for unpaid wages and prostitution! Again I ask, Can you even believe it? Over the last few months I responded to a call and open doors to get involved in the effort to raise awareness on human trafficking...I was affirmed in this calling at the Women's Retreat in November...Joanne Lyon talked about trafficking and how World Hope is getting involved...She told stories of girls that had nothing...no education, no skill, no money, no family, no friends...just a torn up body and a traumatized mind. World Hope rescues these women and brings them to Christ...their lives change dramatically and a new HOPE is restored in them! After the retreat, God began to open the doors to get involved...Elizabeth Holmes, our pastor's wife, began to tell me that she too was called to get involved. I was asked to join the mission's team at church. I prayed about it, asking God if He wanted me to add one more thing to my already full plate...after a few days, I got this overwhelming feeling in my quiet times...I began to hear "How could you not get involved?...You have the ANSWER! You have the HOPE! I have great plans for you to reveal that HOPE!" So I attended our first meeting. After discussing the agenda, our leader at then end asked if there were any more comments...I felt an urge to share my passion for anti-trafficking...for victims in Cambodia and in the US...after I spilled my guts not sure if I made any sense at all, it was to my surprise that other's felt the same way! God had already prepared our hearts to get on board...we just didn't know it yet! So, we decided to start by hosting an informational night at our church (will be FEB 28 at 6:30 - everyone invited!!) and explored the possibility of going to Cambodia in November to work in the after care process with victims...since then, I have done a lot of research on the issue...some which is overwhelmingly heart breaking...last week I attended a meeting for the Sacramento Coalition of Resources to Stop Human Trafficking...it was inspiring to hear so many people speak (including the leader of the human trafficking wing of the FBI!), but so disappointing to hear of all the loop holes and lack of resources there are to help these victims...I am looking for open doors...to see where we can help and provide clothing or food or shelter...we are starting from scratch...taking on the world just one victim at a time! I am constantly bewildered...there are so many things on my heart and I ask God all the time, how is it all going to fit? I only have 90 years or so! ha He reminds me everyday that he makes a way...I can see it happening already, the trail blazed before me to follow His footsteps! You and everyone you know are invited to attend our informational night on Human Trafficking...we are having incredible speakers come and share ways that we can get involved to stopping something so evil...some amazing websites are
http://www.love146.org/ (watch the video...it's amazing...) and http://www.notforsale.com/ and http://www.worldhope.org/

Thanks for reading another LONG entry!

Friday, January 16, 2009

New Year's Resolution: UPDATE BLOG

Ok ok so I have been getting a lot of flack (rightly so) for not updating...I SWEAR to you all I will not neglect the blog any longer! ha Truth is I was surprised how many people actually do READ blogs...So here I go

Matt and I are doing great! I feel as if we have taken a breath of fresh air. Not sure what attributed to that feeling, maybe a New Year turning...but I love it! I feel very optimistic, and like God has given me a vision for our future. A new season and a new time! I can't wait!

PLEASE be praying! We are hoping to move in March (would love a cute duplex)...I can't tell you how much I want this to happen! All of our stuff is in storage...and I am finally starting to realize, oh yeah I have a whole kitchen packed away somewhere, and photos, and cute candles, and a bunch of meaningless stuff that feels like home! While we have lived without it for a year now, I can't wait to make a place our own again! We have been blessed where we are, and I can't say thank you enough for such gracious hearts...but it's time for a change!

Also add to the Matt and Ashley prayer list (because I'm sure you have one racked up by now): Matt has applied for a promotion at work...his District Manager told his Store Manager (don't you feel back in middle school now) that she loved his personality and that she was looking forward to getting to know him better...that is REALLY good news and we will know by February if he has been accepted into the store manager training program!

School starts next week (Blah...) I definitely have senioritis...ALMOST DONE! I am taking a full load (won't tell you exactly how full). My classes are really good ones this semester...I no longer have to take random electives (like jewelry making or calculus). All classes from here on out are specifically for my major which I love. I am also going to be taking classes through the Wesleyan Church to become a licensed minister! Got my little packet and recommendation letters on the to do list!

Leading the college group is UH-MAZ-ING! We had group last night and the room was overflowing! I am going to have risers built to put along the back wall to accommodate more people! AH! I have been seeking God asking Him what he wants ROOTS Young Adult Ministries to DO! What is our purpose? How can we support our church in this growing time? What do you want to challenge us with? Well, He answered! The other week or so I was cleaning out one of our rooms in the church...(Side note: I moved a HUGE book shelf all by myself from one room to the other!...just wanted to brag!)...anyway I was sorting through a trillion different books and a few random items in the room. I came across this banner from like 40 years ago that said "Playground donated in honor of Irene Peace's mother." Irene Peace is one of the matriarch's of our church...you know the dedicated sold out people that support the church no matter what...no matter what style of music or leadership comes in...She just recently had a stroke, but is doing very well now with speech therapy...and she COMES TO CHURCH every Sunday...people like this are my inspiration! To say all that, my heart broke a little when I read that banner...I looked out the window at our playground...with it's broken swing and rusted equipment...no children ever play on it (mostly because it is unsafe) and it sits at the front of our church for all the world to see...Over the next few days the playground was really on my heart...just the sadness of the whole thing...what it symbolized...a church that has been through hell and back...a battered, tired, worn down place. Since we have been there in June, there is a new spirit there! There is a spirit of adventure, of life, of love, of community that has never been there before! It is a miracle! The playground does not fit into that...God told me he wants our college group to fund raise and donate a new playground. I cried thinking of the incredible symbolism that it held...so much more than a playground...but something to show the LIFE that is infused into our bones at Crossroads! To draw families and children (which we have none of yet...just college age and over 45 for the most part) SO I announced all that nervously last night and when I finished I heard a hearty AMEN from a girl in the corner! Everyone was super excited! We are going to have a planning meeting soon, so please pray if you think of it! I can't wait to see how God uses us to bring about His plan! I can't believe this is my life! I am so blessed and honored...I am constantly reminded that God uses the weak to lead the strong...humbling to be a leader of incredible people...it is for sure that it is ALL God and no me...just a willingness to be used...that's all.

There is so much more to say which I will save for my next blog...or six blogs! But I just wanted to end on a funny holiday memory! My sisters came to town for Christmas, and my dad and I went to the airport to pick them up...you will not believe your eyes when you see the videos below! Let's just say, I hope I am still as much a child as my father is at 45!