Lindsey and I met at Hartford Coffee Company after she heard about my website from Coffee #38 and #39. We talked for almost two hours about her job at The Covering House, her mission work in Jamaica and growing up in southern Missouri.
Before moving to St. Louis, Lindsey finished school in Springfield where she was working at a psych hospital and a church, and then moved to St. James for a job. She made a risky decision to quit that job without having another lined up, because the position was incredibly stressful. But, two days after she left her job, The Covering House called and asked her to interview!
St. Louis tops a list we don’t want to be on. We are one of the top 20 cities for sex-trafficking and The Covering House helps these victims. Lindsey and the staff work predominantly with female minors aged 13 to 17. With approximately 100 to 300,000 minors sexually trafficked each year (the numbers are hard to pinpoint because often the girls will lie and say they are not being coerced), they have their hands full offering counseling, workshops and helping them cope with normalcy.
I asked Lindsey if it’s difficult for her and the girls not to be jaded in relationships because of what she hears at work and what the girls experience. “We’re launching a male advocacy program and the idea is that we want the girls to be able to see healthy men. These are the men that will respect you. These are the men that are going to protect you. These are the men that are going to love and cherish you, because they’ve never seen it. It’s inspiring to see these really amazing men that are stepping up and saying, we don’t know how we can help but we’ll help with whatever you need.” I was also informed that it is becoming more common for women and parents to pimp children.
Lindsey first learned about the issue when she was on a bible school trip to Jamaica. After working with the kids, she asked someone what would happen after they left and was told that most would be adopted, but some would end up being trafficked.
Talking about Jamaica, Lindsey lit up as she delved into her favorite stories. She remembers waking up one morning and looking through her bedroom window (open-air with bars) to see the kids staring at her and waiting for the “white American” to wake up and walk with them through the village (or parish). But, Lindsey’s favorite story was when a young girl she had taught 10 years before approached her and introduced her daughter. “It was very cool. I even have a picture of her and her brother Kamani and I framed it. It’s still my one of my favorite pictures I’ve ever had. I have it in my living room.”
We both began to tell our travel stories. I told her how I traveled solo to Hungary and had seen traditional dancing. But, my favorite memories are from Turkey when I joined a group of dancers and when I was woken up before dawn with the call to prayer echoing all over the city.
Would we take the same risks here in St. Louis that we took while abroad? No. Lindsey and I asked ourselves why we don’t have the same mindset about trying new things when we’re in a place that’s familiar. “When you’re in another culture, it’s easier to lose your inhibitions… It’s like the inhibitions that hold me back, suddenly are gone.” Moving to St. Louis has helped Lindsey fill the void of needing new experiences. But she mused that once things settle down, it doesn’t mean you have to get into a routine, you can still wake up every day and think, ‘how can I have a new experience today?’
Speaking of experiences, Lindsey’s great aunts and uncles used to grow cane sugar or sorghum and they wanted her to have that experience. So, one summer for their family reunion they harvested the sorghum, built a fire and trained horses to grind it. Lindsey explained that it became a tradition because everyone had an amazing time, and soon people outside of the family began participating!
I had an amazing time with Lindsey. We discussed her travels to Alaska and China, staying in the moment to get the most out of life and how the small decisions we make can have a huge impact on our lives. Like moving to St. Louis. I asked her what she thinks so far. “You know, I love it. It feels like there’s always something to do. It always feels like people are friendly, much more friendly than I’d expect… it’s amazing to see how the small town feel is still there in pockets of St. Louis.”
Of course, who doesn't love hearing positive feedback on something you put a lot of time into? I really appreciated that Lindsey commented on my work for this blog and the amount of time I put into it. “I really think what you’re doing is amazing. I just think this is one of the coolest ideas I’ve ever heard. I love hearing people and hearing their stories, so when Laura told me about your blog, I was like that’s one of the greatest things I’ve ever… just the creativity of it and just the time!”
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