Before Shelterwood, I was completely lost and broken. My relationship with my parents was horrible; we fought all the time and had so much anger built up that we couldn’t even have normal conversations. I was spiritually lost. I hated God and couldn’t believe He could be loving or caring and yet still allow me to go through the suffering and loneliness I was experiencing.
I was told on Labor Day of 2011 that I would be attending Shelterwood. My parents told me a month before I was supposed to leave and I completely gave up on everything: school, life, coming home, and any sense of morality. Long story short, my parents ended up bringing me to Shelterwood two weeks early.
While at Shelterwood I asked Jesus to come into my heart and transform my life but none of it REALLY became real until I went to Haiti in spring of 2012. I cried for three days straight after returning home. God just really opened my eyes to the fact that every “problem or struggle” I thought that I had was there because all I cared about was myself. God broke me through the faces and experiences of Haiti.
In July of 2012 I graduated from Shelterwood and went home. It was SO hard going home. As a completely new person, I had no idea how to immerse myself back into my home life. I gave myself three months to adjust and after three months went by, I gave up. I fell back into my sin and depression, and I just kept telling God, “God, you are going to have to give me something to live for, or I quit. It’s too hard.” Three days into these feelings I had a powerful dream in which God told me, “Emma, you are just going to have to trust Me.” That next morning I woke up and said, “Okay, God…I trust you. I’m scared and confused but I trust you to give purpose to my life.”
Throughout the remaining two and a half years of high school I kept learning more and more on how to rely on God. I returned to Haiti with Shelterwood two more times and then this past summer (2015), I had the amazing opportunity to lead a team of nineteen teens and adults from my home town to Haiti through the Global Orphan Project. I am currently a student at Bethany Global University and I am studying Intercultural Studies/Bible and Theology with an emphasis in social justice. I feel extremely called to working with children in sex slavery and women who are actively choosing prostitution. I have struggled for many years of my life with pornography and I feel that God is leading me to spreading awareness of the devastating affects of pornography and to be able to minister to women struggling all alone with addictions to pornography.
I will forever be grateful to God for His divine intervention in my life; to my parents for listening to His direction in making the decision to send me to Shelterwood and to see it through to the end; and to the amazing people and friendships I made while at Shelterwood. A huge shout out to my counselor and his wife, for the impact they had on my life. They will also forever be my friends.