Hello! My name is Lauren Gaines and I live in the Sunshine State, in a city nestled warmly between two coasts. I have a French bulldog named Ollie, whom I’m sure you’ll hear about on this blog. I love coffee, traveling, and am usually reading at least five books at one time.
If you’ve taken any personality assessments, you’ll understand when I say that I’m an ENFP, a Type Two Helper, and my top strengths are Connectedness, Empathy, Intellection, Developer, and Belief. But if none of that meant anything to you…
I love to serve. I think I always have. Whether on a high school mission trip or by encouraging friends when they were down, I’ve always wanted to create harmony, both in the world around me and within those near to me.
A little over 10 years ago, I became interested in International Development and nearly pursued a degree in order to gain employability and have an impact around the world. But life took me in another direction, and I received a yoga teaching certification and began leading classes in Vinyasa and Yin Yoga. And through yoga, I continued to find ways to serve, including leading a weekly yoga class for male juveniles at the local jail and teaching basic yoga and meditation to at-risk girls in middle and high school.
Over the last five years, I have gotten to serve hot meals at a homeless shelter, teach yoga to women rescued from trafficking, mentor women at the local jail, and serve in my church’s recovery ministry. I ache to see hearts healed, hope restored, and repair to things that are broken.
So it’s not surprising that, over the last few years, God has broken my heart for the forcibly displaced. More lives have been disrupted than they were after World War II, giving people no other choice but to leave everything familiar at home and seek safety in another city or country. I have been able to meet and befriend a number of refugees, and my desire is to help others learn more about the refugee experience, foster safe and restorative community around refugees in their cities, and create opportunities for friendships that lead to recovery and restoration for all involved. I want to be helpful in conversations with those skeptical about refugee resettlement in the U.S. and foster awareness that isn’t derived out of fear or misinformation.
I also want to be well-informed about the costs and benefits of immigration, to learn from experts and those with “skin in the game” so I can formulate my own thoughts on comprehensive immigration reform.
The intersection between immigration, refugee resettlement, and racial equality in the United States is not lost on me. This trio has caused anger, sadness, and a strong desire for change to rise up within me. I pray the appropriate words and actions will continue to follow.
Needless to say, I am on an educational journey, and I invite you to join me as I share what I am learning and the ways I am praying for our country, our administration, the refugees who are our neighbors and the ones hoping for resettlement, as well as the countless communities around the world are engaging in a similar battle for justice.