A saint, you say? No- just some one who says yes to God. Her countless "yeses" have lead to other countless "yeses". We have Jack because of Jennifer. And 11 women, formerly unemployed and unbeknownst to one another, now have full time employment and community because of Jennifer. (I am leaving out a little girl who, yes, has an arm because of her. A woman who can see, because of her, and many others who have micro business loans from the “Jukanovich” bank because of her.)
Let me explain. Joe and I were almost completely finished with the painful paper trail of international adoption when Jennifer got word that Rwanda was no longer going to accept paperwork. Within 24 hours. She called and told me “Get on a plane now to the embassy in DC. I am going to meet with the ministry of family and gender.” It felt hopeless- and yet her faith gave me faith. Our paperwork was signed and accepted. Then, Jennifer told us about a special little boy named Jacques. He had a unique and tough past, but she saw something in him, and she fought for us to get him home.
While in Rwanda to get Jack, Jennifer asked that I meet with a few of the women she had gotten to know in her neighborhood. Women whose stories included words like “genocide” and “abuse”. She wanted these women to sew for Noonday, if she could figure out how to get them through seamstress school. Mind you- at the time, Noonday consisted of me and a few other renegade women crazy enough to also say yes to God. Sales were picking up, but it was a HUGE leap of faith to look these Rwandan women in the eyes and give them the hope of work. Of opportunity. Of a new beginning.
But Jennifer’s faith gave me faith, and her yes created a yes in my heart. Our customers (you guys!) sent them through sewing school and within a few months, Matilda Jane asked to collaborate with us on a sewing project. This was a story God was writing because He is ALL about giving women work, opportunity, and new beginnings.
Jennifer believes in people. Not one of the new seamstresses had ever used a computer, opened a bank account, or for that matter, sewed! Yet Jennifer confidently emailed one day saying, “I am moving back to the States soon, and am starting to transition the women to take over.” Our ambassadors and a customer sent a laptop over, and, sure enough, I now get regular emails from Mary Sunshine, fabric options from Charlotte, and we will soon wire our first payment over to their account.
Norbert, our Rwandan attorney who oversaw Jack’s adoption is now a dear friend of Jennifer’s. He said, “I was orphaned once by the genocide, and now I am orphaned again because Jennifer is leaving.” I know he is not the only one who feels that way. Yet, because Jennifer SEES people, BELIEVES in people, and EMPOWERS people, she isn’t leaving behind a spirit of dependent “children”. She is leaving behind a legacy of Rwandans who are now saying big yeses to God because they had some one say yes to them.
Photo: Clementine named her baby Jennifer, for obvious reasons