Linsey Jorgenson’s Story
As I take a look back when to it all started in 2008, it was all so different. What I valued was so different.
- Over 100 pairs of beautiful stilettos – check
- Sports car convertible – check
- Apartment in the city – check
- Exciting well-paid job – check
- Great boyfriend, well on the way to marriage and children – check, check, check…
I grew up without having a physical and material need that wasn’t met. I only knew about life in the Northern Virginia and Washington, DC area, and seriously doubted that there was any other way to live. Money and expensive things were what I strove for, and God was a part of my life but He had a small section.
But, in spite of being by my definition, successful, I couldn’t help but think, “Is this what it’s all about?”
In moments when I would sit and ponder, it led to bigger questions such as, “When I die, is this what I will say that I have done with my life? Does God care about my car? My job title? My impressive shoe collection?” (Maybe the shoe collection; it was impressive.)
I would wonder what am I truly called to do? There has got to be more and if there isn’t, then why do I feel so empty? Why is it that none of this stuff is truly making me happy, content, and joyful?
I thought if I volunteered more, I might find my calling, find what God wanted me to do. This led to a journey of numerous volunteer efforts, including becoming a member of the Junior League of Washington, DC. I worked in shelters serving food, I painted nails at elderly homes, I bought groceries for the homeless, and served in many other ways. I always enjoyed my time serving, but after it was done, still felt empty. The earnest drive to serve was there, but the passion was not.
Still, I kept praying and asking God, “Why did You create me? What do you want me to do?”
When the Earthquake happened in 2010, my boss who was ever the philanthropist and genius marketing professional, tasked me with hosting a fundraiser on Capitol Hill for the Red Cross relief efforts in 3 days. I worked around the clock. In the height of my stress I got a phone call from my sister saying, “I just heard this woman speak about an orphanage in Haiti; you have GOT to get her involved.” I was angry with my sister for adding stress, but felt something inside me say, “DO IT”.
The fundraiser happened, the Red Cross received over $200k in donations, and we were able to meet the woman who had an orphanage in Cap-Haitien, Haiti.
She ended up inviting my boss and I on a missions trip to visit Haiti and her orphanage. I jumped at the chance for the adventure. I needed to shake things up a bit in my empty, expensively boring life. Little did I know that this trip would rock me to the core and change my life forever.
I was petrified the night before I left. I was convinced I was going to be kidnapped, killed or something else that I had read about in the papers. I left full of fear but kept an open mind and leaned on the Lord wholeheartedly, having no idea what to expect.
When I saw the small plane that would take us to Cap-Haitien, from what felt like the basement of the airport, I was even more convinced that maybe this was not my thing. But, I did my best to conceal my fear and so we went.
Looking out the window, that first time, right before we landed…I was in shock. It was such a beautiful island, and at the same time seeing the homes, it was an island that had so much devestation.
I questioned,“Those can’t be homes. No way people live like this. Oh my gosh, is that chickens on the tarmac? WAIT – are people cooking on the tarmac???” Yeah.
I spent a week in Haiti in tears about everything, experiencing joy, shock, sadness and every emotion in between. But deep inside me, I knew I had found my passion. I wanted to make a difference and felt a peace about the choice.
As I prayed to God, I realized that it was good timing to take some time, perhaps a year and come down to Haiti.
I reached out to the orphanage I had visited to see if they would be willing to have a volunteer. I had a glorious plan that I presented on what I could do to help. Now I needed to find funding to go. I questioned if I could raise funding to provide for my living expenses for an entire year; it didn’t seem possible. I casually began pursuing this, even though I wasn’t completely sold on the fact that this would happen. Three weeks into my casual pursuit, I had found about 90% of my funding. I took that as a sign that God was confirming my plan even when I had doubted.
Since I was leaving for a year, giving up my apartment, and storing a few things at my mother’s home, I gave my clothing and shoes to a woman’s homeless shelter in Philadelphia. This was so difficult and painful. As I watched all my possessions pass by my eyes, the “successful achiever” voice inside my head said, “Now you are a loser. You are 28 with nothing to show for it. You are moving in with your Mom for a few months. You are pathetic.”
I panicked, questioned my choice and considered backing out. But once everything was gone, I stepped back into the apartment, and realized that I felt free. Completely free of any material restraints. I was ready.
I got home, finished fundraising, sold my car, went through “missions training classes” and left. This was much to the shock of family and friends who thought for sure this wasn’t going to happen. I was going to spend a year serving those less fortunate, and return to Washington, DC.
Over 5 years later, I currently reside in Cap-Haitien, Haiti. I have built a life here, and an organization helping street children that I live for and love dearly. After my year commitment was coming to an end, I knew I had to do something more. I had made strong bonds with some street children during my year of service and I just couldn’t tell them, “bye”. I still can’t.
My walk with the Lord has grown exponentially, although not evenly. I have had my share of tumbles and thankfully, He always picks me back up. Sometimes with both of His big arms, and sometimes piggy-back style, but always full of Grace.
I have survived many trials and tribulations, some unique to Haiti such as threats on my life, numerous parasites and infections, multiple scabies breakouts, malaria, typhoid, Hepatitis A, and the list goes on.
I have also seen God show up in a such a big way with miracles, healings, souls saved, communities changed, and kids thriving who were once considered trash.
I wouldn’t change a minute of it. I stand firm in believing that this is what God has called me to do, that I was created for this before the foundation of the world began. I have learned to walk in greater dependence on Him, to seek Him, and to spend time with Him.
God uses the mission to bring his us closer to Him. God doesn’t need us to accomplish His plan. He invites us to join Him, and grow in our relationship with Him as we do it.
I am eager to see what this journey has in store. I know this is just the beginning. The vision God has given me is big, but God is bigger still. I rest in that and Him.