Thursday, December 18, 2008

My First Shift

Tonight was AMAZING, just in case you've been wondering. It's after midnight and I just got home from my first shift with the Scharlaken Koord. It's too late to write now. I just wanted to thank everyone who prayed for me this week. Thank you so much! God is good, so so Good. I don't know how I'm ever gonna get to sleep tonight!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Prayer Request

My first shift as volunteer with the Scharlaken Koord in Amsterdam’s Red Light District will be this Thursday evening (9am for you NorthWesterners). All volunteers will gather for a Christmas dinner celebration, and then hit the streets. This night will be special because we’ll be handing out a small Christmas gift to each person we speak with. We desire to bring light (and a little Christmas warmth) to a very dark place. In bringing light, there's a spiritual warfare that is constantly present. I trust in God for confidence and his anointed protection. Please keep me uplifted in your prayers this week!

Here’s some information from the Scharlaken Koord website about what I’ll be doing:

A few times a week, Scarlet Cord staff members visit the Amsterdam red-light district with a team of volunteers to reach out to the women behind the windows. In addition to giving them some personal attention and care, they share with the women behind the windows the Gospel that there is new life through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

The volunteers have been trained to undertake fieldwork activities. A number are former prostitutes themselves. Like the prostitutes behind the windows, many of them are from different countries and are therefore able to communicate with the women behind the windows in their own language.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Update, December

Ministry/Outreach Opportunity finally presented!
I have finally been accepted as a volunteer with a prostitution outreach organization, but this isn’t just the average. The Scharlaken Koord is the most established and successful prostitution alternatives organization in Amsterdam! Of all the organizations I have had contact with, this was the least likely, yet most beneficial possibility, and best fit for me. I’ve had many frustrations with waiting to get involved, but God had everything all figured out. I will start on the 18th of this month, and will be on the streets with experienced volunteers 3 times per week. One shift each week will be with a Spanish-speaking volunteer / former prostitute. I will go with her to the Spanish-speaking part of the Red Light District to talk with the ladies. The Scharlaken Koord will use me as a volunteer, and they also recognize my desire to learn about the administration and behind the scenes workings of their organization. They will be looking for opportunities for me to learn from them in this way, along with field work experiences on the street.

The Scharlaken Koord
(look for the English tab on the left of the webpage)
The organization is called The Scharlaken Koord (Dutch for Scarlet Cord). *We at Scarlet Cord Portland didn’t know of this organization when we chose our name.* It was founded in 1987. What started as some volunteers talking with prostitutes in the windows a few times a week, has since grown into a respected and successful ministry and prostitution alternatives agency. The Scharlaken Koord provides fieldwork, prevention, information, advice, social work, publications and expertise in Amsterdam and other cities throughout the Netherlands.

I am humbled, thankful, excited and blessed to be welcomed into such an established organization. Considering I don’t speak Dutch, and I cannot make a commitment in regards to length of my stay in Amsterdam, I am amazed by this invitation and wonderful opportunity. God is so good!

Work, Family & Finances
It’s strange, but just as the door of opportunity for involvement in the Red Light District has opened up, several aspects of my life have changed in ways that could cause me to doubt and fear.

I have very little money, not even enough to pay my bills back home next month, let alone purchase a return ticket to Portland (whenever that will be). The little money I have earned each month from my work as au pair goes directly to the train and metro transit system for my transportation to and from Amsterdam several times per week. Despite financial need, I have decided to end my job here at the end of next month. I believe it is not what I'm meant to be doing right now. I wasn’t able to obtain a visa as I had hoped. If I continue to work, I run the risk of getting into trouble. Another reason for terminating my employment early is that my father's health is declining quickly and I want to be available to return to Portland if need be. Doctors say he may pass away soon, in which case I will go home to be with family. At the same time, I am looking for a job opportunity (visa included) so I can stay, as long as the situation at home is stable, or can return to if that seems reasonable.

I’m sure this is confusing to you…it’s confusing to me as well. There is much uncertainty in my future. Please pray for me as you feel led. Now that I have joined an organization (and have run out of money), PLEASE prayerfully consider giving a bit of financial support on a one-time or monthly basis. I know, the economy is bad and Christmas is just a few weeks away… but every little bit will help at this time. The Lord has assured me all along that He will provide, and I trust this is true.

Here’s an estimate of the costs I need covered each month:
Transportation: $120
Student loan debt: $400
Return flight to Portland: upwards of $2000 (ouch!)

You can send your tax-deductible donation to:

Imago Dei Community Church
2830 NE Flanders, Portland, OR 97232
*make sure to write “Amsterdam” in the memo line

Thanks so much for your continued prayers and support. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas time this year!


Scarlet Cord Friday Night Update, Nov. 28

Hello All,
There was a lack of communication in Scarlet Cord updates in the past few weeks. I did not receive any because they were not written. On behalf of my colleagues, I apologize. Here is the most recent update I have received...and still beautiful things are happening there each Friday night. ~Tiffany

So in thinking about Friday night and the events and conversations that occurred, I count it as one more thing in a line of very special events in my life that are blessings, one after another. I've volunteered around, here and there, and one thing that I shy away from in a volunteer situation is any sort of condescension on the part of volunteers. I love that Scarlet Cord women are SO not like that! Friday nights we get together and yes we give out some realistic aid to women through food, hygiene products and referrals for other services that we don't provide that may be needed. But more importantly, it is a time of making friends, of facing and eating with and talking with other people who are sharing our same needs. I don't know a whole lot about what has happened in the lives of some of the women who come and hang out on Friday's with us. But the most important part that needs to be attended and freely given to is the heart. And that is the same for each woman sitting around the table on Fridays.

It was good to see R, D, and S again, and to eat a DELICIOUS meal of Sandy's "chicken kisses", a fresh green salad, and some good Thanksgiving leftovers. The walkabouts went well, and as I recall Sandy and Sarah noticed quite a bit of foot traffic around 82nd and Powell, which can be covered again in the future.

See you ladies later, and to everyone last Friday thanks for being your beautiful selves.

Esther (SC Volunteer)