Of course part of this was influenced by a very dark and extremely cold Ukrainian winter and pregnancy hormones. However, now that I am in a life season of spring, I can reflect on the major issue that caused this emptiness and sadness in the depths of my soul.
I had left a climate of friends, family, a job I absolutely loved, a ministry I fully thrived in, a sense of purpose and worth, and a city I considered home. Generally I have a spirit of spontaneity and adventure. Moving abroad and not knowing what was ahead and what we would see was exhilarating. Although there were many exciting unknowns, I did have a plan for my life in terms of work and ministry.
Learning about Kiev I discovered that Ukraine has the highest rate of human trafficking of women and children in Eastern Europe. Human trafficking is modern day slavery which earns over $32 billion a year. It is the world's third largest organized crime, following arms and drug trafficking. Of the estimated 27 million people enslaved today, 80% are women and girls and 50% are minors. Men and boys are often trafficked for labor. Women and children are trafficked across boarders to service the sex tourism industry, forced into prostitution, or sent to live a life in brothels; at least until they are further tormented by a STD or are deemed undesirable by clients. Then these victims are kicked to the streets with nothing but the haunting of their betrayal and torture.
I learned about this global injustice a few years ago and since then I have sought for ways to get involved in anti-human trafficking efforts. Coming to Ukraine, my plan was to work for a NGO and fight trafficking of persons, through raising awareness and rehabilitation for victims. Once we moved to Kiev, a roadblock was everywhere I looked for opportunities to get involved. I became discouraged. I lost my passion, compassion, I let go of my passionate pursuit of God, and I went numb. I was empty.
Then God rocked my world.......
He called me to surrender my cares, worries, frustrations, and desires and lay them at his feet. I realized how judgemental, negative, lazy, and selfish I had become. I was so nearsighted on what I wanted that I was missing life changing and life impacting moments all around me. During worship at church God called me to my knees. Much more he called me to make a public confession of my surrender to him at the alter. I didn't want to go. I worried what others would think. Why must we care so much about not making others uncomfortable and less about disappointing our Lord? As I walked to the front of the church in obedience and total submission, the closer I got the more I just wanted to run and fall at His feet. I was broken. I fell to my knees praising and worshiping God ready to do his will and go where he leads. It was an amazing moment of cleansing and renewing of my spirit. I was overwhelmed and my peace and passion were restored.
To some of you this may not make sense, unless you've been in this moment yourself. What I want to share with you is this: Be open to God's plan for your life. It is a life of abundance and excitement. Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
My life since 2007 (after college):
Happily married to the most amazing man
Been jobless and homeless traveling
Served at an orphanage in Peru
Learned to love orphans and children
Helped bring water to a village who had none
Been an art teacher
A preschool teacher
An English teacher
A direct sales person
Event Specialist for Compassion International
Served children living in poverty
Been a youth leader and mentor
Suffered from blood clots
Seen God pay off my hospital debt of over $20,000
Seen my mom come to love God more than I do
Seen an incredible work in my uncle turning from a life of drugs and alcohol to hope in Christ
Seen peace and joy restored to my family after three years of hardship and pain
Host parent to an 18 year old Brazilian
Traveled to Europe, Israel, and Egypt
Been a PE teacher
Taught over 56 nationalities
Loved orphans in Ukraine
Loved and played with children at a boy's rehab center
And soon to experience life as a mommy.
Currently I am discussing opportunities to get involved in anti-human trafficking with IOM, and things are moving forward. I am excited for what God has in store for my life. Life with Him is a wild, passionate, and exciting ride! Hope you are on board!