I bought myself a new teacup yesterday for my new house. It’s yellow. I also brought fabric to make curtains for my room. They are yellow too, just like the sunshine that beams through them. There isn’t much in my new place as I just moved in yesterday. Just me sitting in my empty house looking out of my window through my yellow curtains and drinking tea from my yellow teacup. This feeling, this energy, this Spirit I feel right now makes me happy. Happy, thats an emotion i’ve felt a lot of lately.
I have come out of a really crazy season where happiness was something I had to really fight for. “Getting to happy” was a daily choice and practice. Those seasons are awesome even thought they hurt because it reminds me that God is in everything, even the really hard stuff. They help me not buy into the illusion that as long as I love God everything will always go perfectly, my relationships will always succeed, all my dreams will instantly come true, and I will always just naturally feel happy. Im so grateful that I am in a relationship with a God who isn’t as shallow as that. He joins me in my struggles and in every emotion and circumstance I journey through. He is with me when I’m rich and when I’m broke, when everything is going as I planned and when it all seems to be falling apart, when my date shows up and when he doesn’t. Those seasons remind me that He is there.
I spent the first three months of the year on a surprise adventure to New York City with Holy Spirit and lots of amazing people I met along the way, old friends and new. Holy Spirit, a part of the trinity I never really got to know as personally as Jesus and the Father, really encountered me during this time. Surprisingly, He manifested Himself/Herself as a woman, as a nurturing mother. Haha that made me happy! For three months She held me in her arms and gently dug into the depths of my heart and mined for golden dreams that had been buried deep down inside and covered by the dirt of titles, expectations, religion, lack of understanding and lack of self love. Surprisingly, the digging wasn’t painful. It felt good to get both the dirt and the gold from the inside out. And once they were out I looked at both of them, and I looked into Holy Spirit’s eyes, and hope rose within me, and then… something beautiful happened. I remembered the destiny God placed in my heart way before even the world was formed. I remembered what I used to dream about before life, adulthood, and trauma convinced me it was ridiculous. I grabbed hold to that golden dream and I ran with it. Thus, Art and Abolition was born.
While I was in New York I was supernaturally connected to an amazing group of women who decided within minutes of meeting me, that they were going to give of their hearts, time, finances, and energy to make my golden dream come true. Together with these amazing heroes of mine we created a movement called Art and Abolition. It is a movement that uses the arts to bring freedom, healing, and empowerment to child survivors of sexual slavery in East Africa, and eventually the world www.theartandabolitionmovement.org The most beautiful thing about this group of women is that they are all so different. After working as a missionary for the past few years with ministries that were predominantly white and 100% Christian I gained this false image in my head of what all “world changers” looked like. That picture of groups of white Christians (who are wonderful!) is always what came to mind. That image got demolished when I met these world changers. These women are passionate, beautiful and radiant. And, almost none of them look like that. They are of different races, religions, professions and backgrounds. In the beginning I kept trying to push them away because I thought for sure “why would these women want to support me, a Christian missionary with little money and a big dream?” But this time I wasn’t the one who got to demonstrate what real love looks like. They were. They accepted me for exactly who I am, created a circle of support around me, and launched me into my destiny. I love the beauty after the storm.
I am now back in Kenya. I have been for about a month now. I have moved to the city, Nairobi and I am working with our staff here and in the States to launch our work. Adjusting to a new city, especially a huge one like Nairobi, is always,well, an adjustment! This year we are rescuing 16 more girls from the sex trade and placing them (alongside four of my chick-a-doos from Mtwapa) into our program. For the next few months I will be continuing to work with our local partner organizations here in Nairobi to recruit our 16 new girls. In August the programming officially begins with our Relationship Building and Healing Orientation Weekend. I am so excited to have some of Kenya’s best trauma counselors and art therapists, an inner healing administrator flying in from Cameroon, and our Program Director from New York all coming together to make this weekend beautiful for our new girls. Following the orientation they will participate in 10 weeks of weekly gatherings which entail art training, counseling, and tutoring in preparation for December where they (alongside four of the chick-a-doos) will be the very first campers to ever attend the Art and Abolition Summer Camp! (December is summer for us) The camp will take place in Nairobi and is a two week sleep-away arts camp for child survivors of sexual slavery. The purpose of the camp is to bring healing through the arts and equip survivors with tools for success in their new lives. The camp experience will entail music, dance, drama, and visual arts classes on a daily basis taught by experts in each field who have dedicated their lives to this work. The arts training is not just art for art’s sake, but using the healing modalities of art to bring the campers into deeper levels of freedom.
In addition to the arts training each girl will receive one on one trauma counseling, spiritual discipleship, and attend daily self-empowerment workshops which will address issues of self-esteem, body image, sexual health,and personal and physical boundaries. They will also receive tools for social interaction, survival, and self-preservation. The camp will culminate in a big performance where their hard work will be celebrated. The Art and Abolition camp provides the building blocks for success for these young girls. It is the first step in our long term vision for providing healing and education. In January we will begin to provide education for each girl all the way through grade 12. I couldn’t be more excited!
So as I sit here in my empty house, looking out my yellow curtains and drinking tea from my sunbeam colored tea cup i’m reminiscing on the golden dream my God dug out of me. The wonderful thing about it is, its actually not about the dream, its about my God, who was good enough to dig it out for me. Whether I succeed or not, whether I fall flat on my face or soar into success, my good good God is the kind of Lover who holds me gently and digs through the dirt of my heart for gold. And that, that, is what makes me happy. Happiness always brings her friends Gratitude, Peace, and Surrender along with her. Im freely enjoying their company for as long as they choose to stay- immersing myself fully into this experience no matter what the outcome. I’m staying in the place of yellow.
*We are launching a Kickstarter campaign this Wednesday for $25,000 which will fully fund the Art and Abolition Summer Camp and would love your support. If you’d like to give you can do so here on my blog starting Wed, or on the Art and Abolition website or our Facebook page