Some of you may know me,
some may not.
My name is Kristina.
I have been a long-time friend and volunteer of Jasper House.
I started following Jasper House on Instagram in the very beginning stages.
I remember the day they opened their doors to women in Haiti.
I remember the struggles they went through for fundraising and support as they started their journey towards helping women rise and empower.
In January 2016, I had the privilege of living at Jasper House for 3 months.
We had a small group of girls. There were eight living in the home at the time, and I lived in the upstairs area above them. I got to learn some of their stories, share in daily tasks, grow and love the Lord beside them.
To this day, it is still one of my most cherished seasons.
My eyes were opened to Haiti in a new light.
I began to see and to process all of the many facets that going into being a woman in Haiti.
The struggles they have to deal with nearly every single day, whilst living in a culture that is patriarchal and does not promote women. Many women in Haiti will not even have the opportunity to get an education. From a young age, women have to work.
Whether it be cleaning, cooking, going to the market, fetching water...
They have these tasks as children in many circumstances.
Women in Haiti are also repressed from being placed as pillars in society. Though they are the backbone of the Haitian economy, they are not treated as such by the majority of their peers. They are not seen as equal when it comes to getting educated + gaining skill sets.
But this is why Jasper House exists.
This is why Haiti so desperately needs organizations like Jasper House.
In 2016, Jasper was just beginning their vocational training courses.
I got to work with the girls as they began to craft the prototypes for the first Rise & Empower line. They would work all day long, on new pieces of jewelry + they were so happy to do so. So happy to have been given the opportunity to take their life + bring purpose through their pain.
I remember one of the days the light was fading, and we normally would have been wrapping up for the evening.
The city power had not come on yet (and at the time we did not have a generator) so there was no lighting aside from outside.
The girls moved to the windowsill.
They moved to be able to continue to work, even as the light faded and the day turned to dusk.
I was moved by them.
I have always been moved by them.
The way they devote themselves to creating. It is so inspiring to watch, and be a part of.
In 2016, Jasper did not have all the classes it has today.
It started with a one-room class, where Darline (our now In-Country Director) was the Teacher.
She was teaching multiple grade levels to the girls who were in the program. I believe Jasper House totaled around 15-20 girls in the school + the home combined, at the time. Working out of one facility, one classroom, one office, and two bedrooms for the residents.
Even then, the girls were eternally grateful for the chance to grow, learn and to change their lives around.
Jasper House is two buildings, one being the Academy for Learning Centre, complete with multiple classrooms, a kitchen for vocational training, a meeting space, and offices for staff members. The second is the Healing Centre, or the resident home.
This home is beautiful. It is a space where growth + renewing happens.
The home itself is two-levels, with beautiful balconies on the top floor, open air breezes, a full-kitchen for the girls' to use, multiple bedrooms and bathrooms. The girls finally have their own space, aside from the Learning Centre, a place to call home.
Jasper House has multiple grade levels + teachers for each level. There are three different vocational avenues: sewing, jewelry, and culinary;, specialized teachers for each as well.
There are now over FIFTY girls who come each day to be educated. It is nothing short of a miracle.
I traveled back to Jasper House last month, for the third time this year.
I was sitting at one of the tables in the new Learning Centre home, and I was overcome with emotion.
I looked around, and I felt tears come to my eyes.
In that moment, I could see God so deeply at work. I have seen Him from the very beginning when the trusting was hard. When the seasons were difficult, and Jasper House was living month-to-month, praying to make ends-meet with fundraising.
I have lived with Maria, and seen firsthand the work God has done in and through her, in this entire process.
I have seen the girls who were the first residents in the home, grow + change + come to know the Lord in their lives. Not only have their circumstances changed, but their hearts as well.
I wish everyone could experience for themselves, what I have with Jasper House.
There is no explanation, except for God Himself, working miracles every single day.
I remember back in 2016,
I had read a piece of scripture that had stuck out so deeply to my heart, and still resides with me today.
"Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin."
- Zechariah 4:10
I had no idea what God was doing, or where He was taking Jasper House when I first started following their Instagram account years ago.
And even after living with them, I could not have predicted the miracles that have taken place.
But if there is anything I have learned through it all,
it is that we should not think of any task too small, or any answered prayer too menial.
God is working through it all.
He is faithful to His promises, and He is faithful to us in the process.
Even when the outcome looks bleak, and we are misunderstanding,
He is working all things together for our good.
Do not despise your small beginnings.
For they will take you to places you could never imagine.