Dear staff, volunteers and supporters of CWW and Courage House,
I had the privilege this weekend to spend all of Saturday afternoon at Courage House Nor Cal with my husband, Mike. We were going out there to love on the girls and the three Labrador retrievers. When we arrived, I was affectionately mauled by both dogs and girls who call Courage House home. After full-body hugs and lots of laughter, the girls dashed off for an art class. One of the girls stayed with us because she was coming to spend the night at our house. It was to be a celebration for remaining at Courage House for one year, working hard on her healing without once attempting to run away. It was an incredible milestone for her and for our staff.
Mike cut the grass, walked the dogs, and did other miscellaneous chores around the 52 acres at Courage House, while my young friend and I planted all three of the raised vegetable beds in the garden, after de-weeding them for two hours! You have a lot of deep conversations when you are digging in the dirt, some of them very difficult: “Why doesn’t my family care about me? Why didn’t they protect me?” Some I have no answers for. While we planted lettuce, tomatoes, squash, bell peppers, hot peppers and strawberries, our conversation turned to her future; her hopes and dreams. When she arrived, she had none, and now I saw new growth both in the garden, and in this young girl. The roses and lilies are thriving after the rain, and so is she. The creek has swelled, creating strategic waterfalls that soothe your spirit as you walk alongside it, producing an atmosphere that encourages healing.
Courage House sits on holy ground. I call the driveways the Highway to Wholeness and Restoration Drive – whether in Northern California, Tanzania, Africa or the places I only dream they will be. These homes provide wholeness and peace to our girls. They are a tangible representation that our God loves the least of these.
This weekend as I was planting red and yellow spring flowers on the front porch at Courage House, I thought of you. You who work for Courage Worldwide, you who pray for us, volunteer for us, give to us and financially support us. I thanked God for the grace you exhibit as you do the job He has called you to – whether that is loving girls who are just learning to love themselves, stuffing envelopes to help with one of our mailings, praying prayers for more girls to be rescued, or signing a check for your monthly financial contribution. My hope and prayer is that you do not grow weary in your task, because I know a great harvest is coming. I know more girls are going to be rescued and brought home. I focus on that fact whether I am pulling weeds in the garden, loving on our girls, speaking from a stage or fighting for law reform at our state or nation’s capitol. Everything we are doing — everything you are doing is to help rescue more girls.
After all of our chores at Courage House, we headed home to our house – giggling girl in tow. We had a wonderful time; laughing much more than talking. Friends came for dinner and we played a very competitive game of Pictionary. Our girl was delightful; well mannered and all smiles. She asked to help in the kitchen and made her bed beautifully! She identified the stars through an app my daughter had on her iPhone. We did normal family things, like going to the grocery store, sitting in church and snuggling up on the couch to watch Hawaii Five-0. It was a remarkable evening of making memories — replacing those she longs to forget.
Each of you made that overnight trip possible for this young woman – her success was because of you. You have all planted seeds into her restoration that none of us will really comprehend until we get to heaven. Thank you. Thank you. The first thing she said in the morning when she woke up was “I miss the girls – my sisters at Courage House.” Ahhhhh … absence does make the heart grow fonder. I pray she and each of the girls can experience more of these sleepovers with our Courage Families. This independence produces even more growth in them.
We returned to Courage House Sunday after church and lunch, and again I had the privilege of spending the afternoon there. Five minutes after arriving, our young houseguest had already penned a thank you note for me, happily greeted her sisters and the staff, and then promptly left for a workout at the gym. My heart was so full at how they all treated her when she returned –like a sister. She didn’t brag about her outing, but just communicated how much she missed them. After the girls left, Mike walked the dogs to the creek. I checked on the garden, praying a silent prayer of thanksgiving, and worshipping God for all He has done in her life and in my own.
I finished planting the spring flowers on the front porch, remembering when my mom and I had done that for the first time almost 4 years ago! It is our 4-year anniversary of owning Courage House – the anniversary of a miracle. I stand amazed at how much has been accomplished during that time; things I once dreamed about have now become a reality: girls, laughter and horses. Later that day, I got to brush Sassafras, or Sassy as we call her, our youngest horse. I had watched a staff member train her in the round pen. It was a lesson in trust, which both she and our girls must learn. She is 3 years old this month. She was born at Courage House. She represents new life; the same new life our girls have been given a chance to receive.
Wow. March is full of birthdays and anniversaries. One of our girls at Courage House turned fourteen. It was her very first birthday party. No one had ever celebrated her life, or the fact that she had been born – ever. We changed that. Willie, one of the lab puppies, turns a year old this next week! I remember when we brought him home. The girls treated him like a baby, carefully caring for all his needs. He also brought new life to Courage House, as well as wet puppy kisses and much mischief! Willie helps our girls be children. For some, that is very new.
I hope I have given you a glimpse into our world at Courage House, and the love that is shared there. Courage House is a God-sized dream fulfilled. It is proof that He loves these children so much. He is writing such a beautiful story, I love that He chose each of us to have a part in seeing these children set free. However, there is more work to do.
Since January 1st of this year, we have had to say “no” to 30 girls who had been trafficked, and who wanted to come home to Courage House. That number is staggering to me, but it represents so very few children that continue being tortured, violently abused and sold for sex every day of the year. Only 6 counties in California even know Courage House is open. When all are made aware, as well as other states, the number of girls needing to come home will be in the thousands. That is unacceptable to me. We must get these cottages built! We have room for 10 on our property. 10! We are preparing to build the first cottage, thanks to our friends at Bayside Church. We are waiting on the permit from our county. Please pray for that process to be expedited. We also need to raise funds to furnish the cottage, hire the staff and purchase a vehicle for transportation, all so more girls can come home.
This work to which we have been called is very difficult and emotionally draining. The pain we see in ones so young should not be a part of anyone’s story – much less a child’s. But we also get to see life-change; mind-boggling life-change, because of a place called Courage House and its healing environment. Thank you for helping make my dream come true and treating it as your own. I love you all and appreciate you more than I can articulate. You are literally changing the world – one individual at a time. Every task is critical. Every job important. Every prayer necessary. Every one of you — priceless.
Jenny Williamson, Founder/CEO