From Guatemala to Houston

During my sophomore year at Briar Cliff University, there was a lecture on campus about human sex trafficking that sparked my interest. I wasn’t very familiar with sex trafficking, but there was something about the small poster in the cafeteria that grabbed my attention. During the lecture, I was amazed by the statistics, stories, and how fast it is growing throughout the United States. However, I believed there was no way a young woman like myself could make a difference, or so I thought.

Before I knew it, I was graduating from undergrad and beginning a new chapter in my life at the University of South Dakota (USD) as an occupational therapy student. That fall, one of my classmates was working with sex trafficking survivors to better understand the role of occupational therapy for this population. On many occasions, I found myself asking questions to learn more about her experiences, however, I did not search for new information beyond our conversations.

A year passed and I was blessed with the opportunity to travel to Guatemala with other occupational therapy students to provide services for those in need. During this week long journey, I was reminded of my duty to serve others. I began thinking of ways I could serve individuals in my own country. This thought stuck with me as I began brainstorming ideas for my capstone project (the capstone project encourages doctoral students to enhance their skills in growing areas of occupational therapy).

One day, while scrolling through Facebook, someone shared an article revealing a Sister’s Plan to open a long-term home for sex trafficking survivors. Fortuitously, the Sister was a professor at my alma mater. While reading the article, I knew the Lord was calling me to work with this population. Therefore, I approached my professor who had experience working with survivors in a long-term home. A couple of meetings, several emails, and many prayers later, I was preparing my capstone to work with sex trafficking survivors in Sioux City, Iowa.

Then, in late October 2018, I received an email explaining that my capstone placement in Sioux City was no longer possible. With two months till my capstone project began, I quickly pivoted and texted my friend to learn more about her cousin’s organization, Rescue Houston. The previous summer at my friend’s wedding, she introduced me to Allison, the founder of Rescue Houston.

Allison and I were reconnected, and she invited me to join the Rescue Houston team. Praying for God’s guidance, He responded with three signs all pointing to Houston, Texas. Now, 978 miles later, I am once again amazed by how God shapes our experiences over time and leads us to where we are meant to be.

In May 2019, I will graduate with my Doctor of Occupational Therapy degree from the University of South Dakota. I haven’t decided where I would like to settle down and find a job, although my mom would love it if I came back home to Nebraska!