The last few months.

It began in June, when I left summer for winter, and my last flight for awhile descended into Sydney.

I walked out and breathed in the cold, crisp air, and finally felt I was home.

That night we drove to Lithgow. The town I was born. Back to the street where most of my childhood memories were made. The place I so longed to escape with all my impassioned teenage will, but now, having seen some of the world, drew me back with its peaceful streets and familiar faces.

It had been just more than a year since I lived in this country. A year characterised by a brand new marriage forging it’s way in a culture so foreign to me, full with brilliant victories and dismal failures, written over seven wild months of battling fear with growing love, and weaving myself into a community of individuals so unlike myself, yet so familiarly human.

A year that carried us from the island of Hispaniola to the island of Hawai’i – outwardly tropically stunning and alike, but inwardly a shift so striking and so desperately needed. We planted ourselves into a new community for some time, then flowed into a constant readjusting to new values and languages, as we trickled through Southeast Asia with a growing baby in my belly.

And finally we were here. The little country town where I was born. The world I first knew. The place we promised each other, before God, that through it all, we’d love each other.

Most of my life I’d craved adventure, and my feet felt insatiably wanderlust. ‘To live in Australia forever,’ was my greatest fear, and I envied those whose habitat was foreign and frequently changing.

Yet suddenly, this little country town was everything I needed.

The home-brewed coffee on icy mornings, the quotidian movements on the slow-paced streets, the simple conversations with familiar souls – I suddenly loved these routine moments, as they breathed calm over my restless mind.

Josiah came to us at 2.20am one winter morning, a little earlier than expected, yet so perfectly on time. As his little, beating body was planted on my chest and he stared up into my eyes, I wondered how such a miracle had been living and growing inside me.

077copy

  

I recounted my birth experience a thousand times in my mind that week. I was desperate not to forget any details of how in a matter of moments my life was indelibly changed. Hours of unbearable pain overcome in mere seconds by uncontainable joy – in every sense it was a rollercoaster of spontaneous emotion.

Motherhood surprised me – I tend to be underprepared for most events, but had tried to be more ready for this one, spending my sleepless pregnant nights flicking down my phone screen and googling all possible scenarios I could think of. What most surprised me about motherhood wasn’t the fatigue, or the thousand ways my body has changed, or sudden kindness from all female passers-by… but rather the way this child has overwhelmed my heart with love beyond what I ever expected. He is imperfect yet the most perfection I have ever known. He is far more than all I wanted in life, like a dream hidden in my heart that I never knew was mine.

And every day I stare at him in complete wonder. Sometimes thinking, I can’t believe you were there.


You were there, the smallest you have ever been, in our last days in Haiti, riding on motorcycles and feasting on rice under the burning sun, surrounded by so many loving souls.

You were there as I walked the streets of New York City for the first time, strolling from Starbucks to Starbucks. I wouldn’t have drunk so much coffee if I’d known.

Back in Australia, as I stood in tears when my sister walked down the aisle to the love of her life, little did I know your tiny heart was just below, beating even faster than mine.

And the first time your papa saw snow in California, we built a little snow family- a mum, a dad and a baby snowman, unaware that we’d be that little new family too.

You were there during those Hawaiian months, the place we first discovered you, amongst that community of many from different places and different stories, all now intertwined with yours.

When I saw you swimming around my womb on the ultrasound in Thailand, I saw you had your papa’s feet, and thought for a second your face looked my brother. I thought I might be imagining things, but in actuality you do.

When we drove over the river into the quiet village in Burma, and when we flew into the chaotic capital of Cambodia, you were there, furiously growing as we constantly moved.

And at the end of it all, at the beginning of it all, when we landed here, you were there. Home. One of them. I think you might have breathed a sigh of relief with me too.

Then, I knew you in twists and turns. Now, I know you in so much more. I know you in your furrowed eyebrows, your excited breaths, your sharp looks, your calm persona, and your sweet, sweet cuddles. I know you so much more than yesterday, and tomorrow I’ll know you more.

Though we fuss over your tiny feet and chubby hands like we’ve only just met – you’ve been with us for quite some time. From the very first moment you started growing in my womb, you were you, and that amazes me.

 

Advertisements

The journey ahead.

There’s a lot I’ve learned about this journey called life in the past year.

I’ve learnt that working and settling down can be a good and meaningful road, but sometimes God thinks learning from people who don’t have the opportunity to work, might teach me even more. I’ve learnt that pursuing a Masters Degree is not necessarily a bad idea, but sometimes God thinks being surrounded by extreme material poverty and seeming hopelessness might prepare me better for my future. I’ve learnt that wanting a home with a door that can lock and window with curtains is a great desire to have, but sometimes, God thinks being newly married and living in community might shape me more into who he wants me to be right now.

I’ve learnt well and deep that my thoughts and hopes and plans for my life are often good… but aren’t always the exact plans he wants for me.

And I’m so thankful for that.

As you might already know, the next step of the journey for Jacques and I is a two-month outreach we will be co-leading to Thailand and Cambodia.

There, our focus will be on ministering to women and children, especially those at risk of being trafficked into the sex trade, and those who already have been.

As we’ve been learning the stories of some of these girls, I’m horrified at the way their lives have unraveled in a way contrary to what they would have ever dreamed.

Some of these girls were sold by their families at age 6, to pimps or brothels, simply so their family could eat. Others at age 14 can’t bear the pain their single mothers carry alone, and choose themselves to join the sex trade, not knowing at all what kind of pain, emotional and physical, they will soon experience. Some girls at 17 are lied to and taken for ‘jobs’, but are later forced to strip, dance and have sex with men they’ve never met.

Whatever their age, and however they entered the world of selling their bodies for money they barely touch – they are living a life that none of them ever expected or hoped for, and certainly a life God never desired or planned for them.

It’s typical for a girl to sleep with 10 to 20 men nightly – each session costing the ‘john’ a few dollars, and the girl another piece of dignity from her heart. It’s common for girls to trapped by being told they are indebted to their pimp, a debt they are never likely able to pay off. It’s normal for a girl to be beaten violently on a regular basis by their pimp, for a ‘wrong’ as simple as speaking back to him.

As a team of 8, we will be journeying through the country of Thailand, and then crossing the border to Cambodia, to understand better the story of trafficking in these nations, and to do what we can in two months, to contribute to the story of justice.

We’ll begin in Chiang Rai, which as you can see is right up north. This is a key area where hill tribes and poorer communities live – the majority of these people are illiterate, live in poverty, have no identity records and have no access to healthcare, education and employment. Because of this, they are extremely vulnerable, making them a prime target for pimps and traffickers, who lure them into major cities such as Bangkok under the pretense of getting a good job, where instead they find themselves trapped in the sex trade or slave labour.

In Chiang Rai we will focus on ministering to children who are at risk of being trafficked, and also working with those who are trafficked over the borders of Laos and Burma.

We will then travel down to Bangkok (pray for a vomitless 10 hour bus ride, please!), where one of Thailand’s major red light districts exists. Here, prostitution is normalised and the stories of the women and how they got into the sex trade are often overlooked. We’ll be working within bars and night clubs to meet these women, and in a short time build relationships and show them the perfect, unconditional love of the Father. After crossing the border into Siem Reap, Cambodia, we will be again working with women and children in the red light district.

There are a lot of emotions that their stories make me feel. Sad, helpless, and furiously angry. But, I know that emotion-driven actions without the love of Christ are futile, and so we will go, armed with not much else than the powerfully transforming love and truth of God, believing that in two months, some change can be made.

We are so excited to be a part of this story. If you would like to partner with us either prayerfully, we would be so grateful. As always, we want to be partnering with you in prayer too – so let us know if you have any prayer requests.

With love and gratitude,

Emily & Jacques

Little moments

It’s all in the little moments.

Swimming in the bright blue ocean with naked little ones following you.

Riding on the backs of motorcycles in the pouring rain.

Setting up a temporary office.

Exploring new cities in new countries with husband.

Finding a new favourite nail colour for 30 pesos.

Grateful for the past couple of weeks and all the little, special moments that have made it beautiful.

 

under papa’s wings

The last three months have been a whirlwind.

Being newly married, leaving my job, moving to Haiti (into a home of eleven), piecing back together fragments of forgotten Creole and trying to start a few projects all at once was more challenging than I ever expected.
Fear, hurt and confusion crept their way through the doubting holes in my heart, and frankly, I was overwhelmed.

Thankfully, the graceful gift of change arrived when we most needed it.

For the past couple of weeks we have lived like nomads, drifting from place to place, sometimes leaving without knowing exactly where we are going, or how we will get there.
‘But how will we get to the bus station with all of our bags?’ I ask.
‘I’m not sure. But if we just start moving, God will make a way.’
And He always does.

Surprisingly, in this place of constant transition, it’s been peaceful. It’s been restful. In movement, and change of environment, my soul has stood still, and breathed.

Peace.

I am thankful my Papa in heaven knows all my needs, and loves me so that He gives generously to me when He knows best to.
And it’s under His wings that I find security in danger, comfort in trial, and strength in weakness.

Please do keep us in your prayers when you can, and let us know however we can be praying for you.

Here are a just a few of the beautiful people that have graced our lives these past few weeks.

image

image

image

image