Craftsman: Jon Tello
Photographer: Erika Tello
Crafting pens is a process that takes a raw material, reimagines it, and makes it into something new. The craftsman must have a vision for the potential and commitment to a painstaking restoration process.
Caring for survivors of trafficking means recognizing their need for healing, and empowering new beginnings. We have to see how their potential has been exploited and commit to supporting their journey toward restoration
The Beauty of Potential
The composition of the materials makes all the difference in the way the craftsman treats them. He must believe in the potential but take into account all the potential challenges as well. They are generally very strong, but some melt under pressure, some are narrow with very little room to work with, and many have hidden imperfections and hidden beauty that can only be seen when outer layers are cut away.
Survivors are inherently beautiful, made in the image of God, but exploited by men. We believe in their potential but recognize that the trauma they have endured has changed them. Great care must be taken to help them chip away the lies, recognize the scars, and rediscover the beauty inside.
Measuring for Success
There are dozens of steps required to make a hand crafted pen. It requires vision, skill, and strategy. Taking precise measurements, planning for how all the pieces will fit together, and preparation for potential challenges are all critical first steps in the process of making a pen.
Working with survivors is a complex endeavor as well. There needs to be a vision for what healing looks like, skills to treat them with the care they need, and strategy to do so in a way that is sustainable and dignifying. Developing a program that can be tailored to each individual and making provisions for challenges that will come up are important in order to set her up for success. And in everything rely on the Holy Spirit and seek His wisdom with every step.
After planning, the materials need to be cut down to the size needed for the pen that is envisioned. You can only cut once, so it’s important that all things have been considered and measurements are checked and rechecked.
Survivors must be given the chance to comprehend all that comes with a decision to escape a life of exploitation and begin the journey of restoration. Trauma has conditioned them to live in ways that enable them to cope but prevent them from healing and wholeness. They must decide to break away from much of what they’ve known to take the difficult path of restoration toward a new beginning.
At this point portions need to be cut away from the chosen portions of material. It’s a long process but each step of the way begins to reveal the beauty the artist saw at the beginning.
Cutting away is as uncomfortable as it sounds. This can be a very painful part of the healing process as survivors face parts of themselves that need to be restored. Like surgery, things must be opened up and cut away in order to be able to fully heal.
Seeing the Potential
The nib unit is the first part of the pen that is completed. It is the first glimpse of what the pen will be and an inspiration to continue creating the rest of the pen around it.
Breakthroughs happen and small successes are achieved that can be glimmers of hope for what a new life can be. As survivors realize what is possible it fuels them to continue on.
Creating New Pathways
We hand cut the threads so that all the parts of the pen fit perfectly together. This is done with tenderness and attentive care. It also requires flexibility to adjust plans depending on how the material responds.
As survivors learn about themselves and healthy ways of living, they begin to cut out new neural pathways and ways of behaving to replace former destructive paths laid down by trauma and exploitation. This requires tenderness and flexibility from the individual and caregivers.
To provide extra strength, some of the threads that were created are also glued together. This requires extra time to before moving to the next step but reinforces the cohesion of the pen and durability of it.
Maintaining the road to recovery requires repetition over time. Deep restoration and wholeness cannot be rushed or the resilience of the person can be compromised.
All of the work that has been done leads to this stage when the pen takes its final shape. The shape is refined by taking final bits away to give it the look that is desired.
Foundational recovery work brings survivors to a point where they can dream about what they’d like their new life to look like and chip away even more to see it take shape.
Refining that Shines
Now the pen has the right shape, but is not finished. The tooling marks are still there and some of the surface is still rough. A slow, careful buffing and polishing process smooths the pen until it has a glass like finish.
Huge steps have been made and now more minor work needs to continue to help a survivor fully transform from survivor to thriver. After all she has endured, she can shine especially if she chooses to look to the Light of Christ and seeks to reflect Him.
Ready to Write a New Story
The pen is now a beautiful writing instrument, complete and ready to be a functional work of art. It has realized the potential envisioned by the craftsman and ready to serve its new purpose.
Restoration is a lifelong journey but after undergoing an intensive recovery process they have transformed from survivor to thriver and are ready to write a new life story.