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PNW twin mama, advocate, coach, fashionista in training
I’m Elizabeth: wife to a youth pastor/seminary student, mom to twin toddler girls (Ada May and Libby Joy), milkshake hog, and part-time business owner as an advocate and stylist.
11 years ago, with a college degree in my hand, I left my summer job of zip lines and giant swings at a high adventure camp in Newberg, OR to start a new adventure with a ministry in El Alto, Bolivia – an adventure that would break my heart for injustice, teach me about God’s heart for the marginalized and the vulnerable, and catapult me into advocacy.
For four months, I spoke broken Spanish and ate lunch with women who prostituted, learning about the terrible effects of poverty like sex trafficking and prostitution. In this poorest city in Bolivia (and in way to many cities around the world), women sold their bodies so they had enough money to put food on the table. We would make brothel visits armed with jugs of hot chocolate to befriend girls in doorways of the red light district. I would spend hours in the little prayer room at the drop-in center of the ministry, reading Scripture, weeping, praying, and begging God for justice and freedom for the girls I now knew by name.
Needless to say, that experience wrecked me. I came home with a fire in my soul and a stamp on my heart to advocate and speak up for the women and young girls I met on the streets of Bolivia back in 2007. I told their stories to anyone who would listen and read everything I could find online that addressed modern day slavery (which, by the way, affects more people today than ever before). If only these girls had a way out!
That’s when I stumbled upon the world of fair trade and became a Noonday Collection Ambassador. I quickly learned that a dignified job, where someone could earn a fair, living wage, could prevent prostitution and protect and preserve families. With a consistent form of income, a woman doesn’t have to make the impossible decision to abandon her child at an orphanage or choose which child to send to school. When she can sell something she’s made, she doesn’t have to sell her body or her baby.
Noonday merges the skill of artisan craftsmanship with today’s style trends and creates a marketplace in the U.S. for accessories that are made in 12 countries. While I loved the products and the cause, this ministry-minded freedom-fighter knew nothing about fashion or jewelry or sales. But, if my “yes” could mean that a woman across the globe could have a job and leave the street, then I would do anything – even sell jewelry and ask women to host parties…and style them! Because what happens when a woman is empowered? She empowers others!
With every piece sold, we are literally providing dignified jobs for former prostitutes in Ethiopia, keeping families together in Haiti, protecting women's lives in India and sending children to school in Uganda. As Isaiah 58:10 says, “When you satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your night will become like the NOONDAY sun.”
Thanks for joining me here to change the world - we're better together!