What Christmas Means to Me.

Throughout my life, I have gone back and forth on Christmas and what it means to me. My mom says I never believed in Santa as a child. However, I remember one specific year sitting in my room as a child looking out the window with the hope of seeing a glimpse of Santa.Image I never saw him. That very next morning, I started down the stairs and heard my dad say, “What just a minute!” My brother and I hovered on the top step as we listened to the rustling of our toys being set up. Santa must’ve woken up late. Oops!

Soon after that, during my young elementary days, Christmas was about Getting. I received so many presents from people, it was ridiculous. I would pile up all my gifts and not touch them until after Christmas so that I could count how many gifts I had received in total. I may have been a little selfish.

That probably lasted until I was a young adult. I received less anyways, so getting things was not as important as Giving. For a 19-year-old with a minimum wage job, having 30 people on my list of gifts to buy was crazy, but I loved giving! The more the better!

ImageThen, I realized there was so much love during Christmas, so it became about Romance. I always had a boyfriend. If I was single, my closest guy friend at the time and I would get together. I think we just wanted that emphasized feeling of romance during Christmas and a date for New Years, because we’d always break up by Valentines. Ha.

The past three years have been completely different and great all at the same time. I made the choice to live the way that Christ lived and my world completely changed for the better. It was hard, yes. It wasn’t an immediate transformation. In fact, the first year I didn’t even want Christmas to come because it was the first year that I was single since age 14 and wasn’t Christmas all about giving to others and being romantic? 

Last year I learned what true love was- from God. I decided to ask Him for a Christmas present, so I thought really hard. I knew I couldn’t ask for just anything. It had to be something that could be according to His Will.

So I asked myself, What is the MOST ROMANTIC thing God could give me for Christmas? Snow. So, I asked Him for snow on Christmas Day. I knew that this was a lot to ask for; especially living in the Dallas area of Texas. On Christmas Day, I woke up to a heavy snow fall and a very White Christmas: True Romance. 

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As a single 28 year old woman, Christmas is the one time of year that can make me feel more special than any guy ever could. It is the time of year that people stop thinking of themselves and give to those less fortunate; that people hold the doors open for you at the crowded mall; that bank tellers refund fees from that “mistake” you made; that someone offers a meal to that “drunk” homeless person and a place to stay during the ice storm.  Glittering lights are hung everywhere you look, actual MAILED letters arrive in your mailbox, music that have lyrics that bring hope and not depression play on the radio, that special red cup arrives at Starbucks, family comes together in spite of their differences, and innocent children look forward to the cute, chubby man in the red suit who brings them gifts while they are fast asleep. Most importantly, it is the celebration of the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ; the most romantic man ever. (That I found through relationship with Him, no other way.) I mean, who else can give you SNOW in TEXAS on Christmas Day??

Christmas is the one season of the year, that no matter what is happening in the world, you know it will be the same every year: Happy, joyful, generous, magical.

ImageWhat does Christmas mean to you? 

The Most Powerful Action

Every couple of weeks we close the office for a few hours and drive around the Dallas-Fort Worth area to locate places we feel that trafficking is probably happening based on research, or that we feel led to go to and pray over them. Yesterday we headed to an area in which we are thinking about starting a street outreach for the girls on the streets.  We drove up and down the main street of the potential outreach, praying out loud over the people, the area, the prostitutes, the pimps, the homeless, the families who live in the area; all who are at risk. Many of whom are already trapped.

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“Human trafficking victims are often found in street prostitution where they are forced to provide commercial sexual services by a controller or ‘pimp.’”  –Polaris Project

 

 

We realized that we were driving too far down the road, hitting unfamiliar territories, getting lost in the neighborhoods. Instead of trying to find our way back, we took advantage of the situation and decided to pray through the neighborhood we were in. It was a historic part of town. Every other house was run down, but some were beautifully taken care of, showing off their historical attributes.

Turning down a road of particularly well-maintained homes, we noticed a small white house on the corner. It was a little run down, very plain, kind of cluttered; definitely did not fit the rest of the block. We drove past it going about five miles an hour, silently praying over all the homes on this street. Just because houses look nice doesn’t mean the people in them are exempt from exploitation. You never know what is happening in any area!

A white minivan drove past us slowly, stopping behind us at the white house on the corner. “Elyse, do you see that?”

I turned around in my seat just as a young girl got out of the back of the van. She was maybe 18-19 years old. Her short wavy hair was disheveled, colored a fake-reddish color on the ends, the roots showing, almost orange from being fried by bleach. She wore a skin-tight black top exposing her flat stomach, the sleeves hanging off her bony shoulders. Her denim miniskirt barely covered anything, while the ridiculously high black heels make her legs look longer than they probably were. We were probably a hundred feet away, but to me her messy face seemed sad. As she walked toward the house, she looked down at the ground until she was inside. The man in the white van waited until she was out of sight and then drove off.  I obviously can’t be sure what her story is, but based on her appearance, I believe she was being dropped off either returning from or going to a job.

pros“In the “outcall” or escort service model, the women are ‘delivered’ to a buyer’s house, apartment, or hotel room, instead of the buyers going to a centralized location.”Polaris Project

 

 

 

No matter what her story is, I don’t think getting lost in this area was a coincidence and I am thankful. Thankful for getting lost. Thankful for witnessing her get out of the van. Thankful for seeing details. Thankful for noticing her. Because now she is on my heart and it’s up to me to choose to do something besides turn a blind eye.

I can’t do much. I can’t go rescue her. I can’t turn the situation into the police because there’s no evidence. I can’t do nothing! But I can do something. I can pray. I can pray until God tells me what to do next. It seems like nothing, but I believe it will open the doors to freedom. To me, prayer is the most powerful action there is.