After over a year of scheming with Sewing Seeds International and the regional government, Grace and Cesar's dream of a sewing school has finally been made reality. It may be the first step toward something much bigger- a technical training school- depending on forthcoming government cooperation.
After so many ups and downs with the locale, personnel, machines, funds and even furniture, it was truly a divine act that brought us all together to inaugurate the first set of classes on Monday.
Our first and second projects- a drawstring bag and child's outfit.
Our school is called "Semillas de Esperanza" (Seeds of Hope), as we hope that the new skills each student learns will give them the hope of more solid earnings to support their family. At the end of each day I have the privilege to share a short evangelistic devotional with the class, sewing seeds of a deeper and truer hope.
This first week has been a rough battle for some of our students. The women and man enrolled in the class are all over the board: field workers who have never touched delicate machinery to seamstresses who are looking to broaden their skill set. We have grandmothers, new mothers, and a couple of young singles.
Each project is demonstrated by our incredible teacher Sylvia, translated by Grace and filmed by yours truly in the hopes of using the same projects for future classes (if we can secure government funding). Each step leaves the ladies intimidated but excited to see their work coming together bit by bit.
These bags have been the most difficult project by far because of fabric, but they are all thrilled with how they turned out. It't the perfect bag for going to market.
I can't wait to see what the next week will look like. Even though the team is still here, I can't wait for them to leave and come back just to see what will be going on in February and April when everyone returns for the intermediate and advanced classes. What a beautiful program this is. Thank you Sewing Seeds International- thank you for your patience, for not giving up on our town despite all the challenges.
Somehow it's August already! Below is the newsletter I sent out a couple days ago via email. If you would like to receive these newsletters, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with your email address and I will add you to my mailing list.
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We are coming into day 3 of our VBS today- the first day we had nearly 40 kids and the second nearly 50. Pray that we can maintain energy and health throughout the week. We barely have enough space or hands for so many kids, but God is good and your prayers are helping- the second day went even better than the first. Please join us in praying especially for Friday's lesson as we will be giving an invitation to accept Christ.
'This Port Exists" read the banner we carried at the head of our parade. It quotes from a poem written by Blanca Varela as a response from a friend who had never heard of Puerto Supe before. Our parade was the first of a series of events within our cultural festival. The festival was planned and executed by Los Amigos de Supe Puerto to encourage children in our town to take ownership of their identity as Porteños, and to reclaim the days after the festival of San Pedro for the betterment of Puerto.
After the parade we started the day of poetry recitation, songs, and drawing. Children between ages three and twelve participated from nearly a dozen institutions.
Not to leave out the adults, we invited a contingency of artisans to come sell their goods.
At the end of the event we were able to give prizes to every child who participated, thanks to donations from various organizations and individuals private and public.
The second day of our festival hosted an abundance of dances from children aged three to five: indescribably adorable if not entirely skillful.
Almost everyone was happy. . .
In addition to dance we invited some groups to participate in theater and had a number of budding painters. Nearly all of the participants this second day were preschoolers.
Again, we were able to give each child who participated a prize thanks to generosity of local donors.
It was precious to see the excitement of parents, teachers, and classmates as each child participated. The most well represented school was a extremely low-income preschool from across town. Though they have plywood classrooms and a dirt play yard, their staff of teachers were united and excited, proud to show off the talents of their hard-working kids. We are hoping to work more with them in the future to benefit their school and reach out to their kids, some of whom have the blonde highlights of malnutrition and disintegrating clothes of poverty.
This port exists. This culture exists. Sometimes it just gets forgotten in the daily dramas and needs to be pulled out, dusted off, and celebrated.
Our church finally raised enough money to build this family (and this girl) a house! We aren't a particularly wealthy church, so the house is made out of reeds, but it is still better than what was there before- twice the size, stable, and insulated. The following is a step-by-step documentary of the building process (click the pictures to enlarge):
The house as we found it: the walls are disintegrating, the roof is made of cardboard and newspaper, and in one spot the wall is nothing more than the back of a cabinet and a fleece blanket.
Step 1: Load up your friend's taxi with poles and reed mats.
Step 2: Carry the materials up the rest of the hill when the street gives out.
Step 3: Take the front of the house off.
Step 4: Dig postholes, insert poles, and refill holes with stones and cement.
Step 5: While the cement is drying, rip off the door and re-position it as desired.
Take a step back and appreciate the view. . .
. . .have some juice. . .
. . .and play with the neighbor kids.
Step 6: Put up the walls of reed mats, fastening them with wire and the occasional nail to cross-pieces and poles.
Step 7: Lay crossbeams for ceiling supports, binding them together with wire.
Step 8: roll out cane mats for the first layer of roofing.
Step 9: Measure and cut plastic.
Step 10: Put the second layer of roofing on the house.
Step 11: Apply the final layer of roofing (we don't get rain, so the roof is more a shade and protection from the occasional misty drizzle).
Step 12: Adjust roofing so that it lays flat and throw old pieces of wood on top to hold it down.
Step 13: Line walls with plastic for insulation from wind and cool-blue light effect.
Since we are not a particularly young or masculine church, we partnered with another local body to provide the physical labor. Starting around nine in the morning, we finally went home at three with the house half completed. We will return in a couple weeks to replace the back half. It is a beautiful and uncommon testimony of cooperation between two churches to serve a family from a third.
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