Thursday, December 12, 2013

Sewing Stories: Stitching together the kingdom

Grace and Cesar have worked hard over the last few years in trying to get our sewing school up and running. There have been countless meetings and empty positive vibes and meaningless promises. There have been plans a, b, c, . . . t, u, v,  . . . and only after months of trying different things did the school settle into its current modus operandi. 

Finding a teacher for the school between SSI classes was one of those things that took time. After a few false starts, a friend connected Grace with "Teacher." A seamstress by trade, she seemed the ideal candidate to be put in charge of teaching the students. We did not know that God was also working in her life, using her daughter’s illness and other external factors to turn her towards him. Once again God’s perfect timing met need with need in a remarkably choreographed dance.
As the sewing class met during the year, Grace walked with them through the Gospel of John for a few minutes each night. Teacher loved to read and always volunteered answers to Grace’s questions. She began coming to church in January, gave her life to Christ on Good Friday, and is now studying the Bible regularly with Grace outside of the sewing devotional times. Teacher has proven an answer to our prayers at the same time that our church is an answer to hers!

Teacher faces a struggle with her family: leaving the Catholic Church often leads to ridicule and rejection because Catholicism is as much culture as it is religion here in our community. She has shared her decision with family and friends, and despite the lack of support she receives, she is hungry for more of God’s Word. She seeks to live out the things she is learning, and longs for her husband and two children to know Christ. We are praying that Teacher’s testimony would soften the hearts of her family members.
Teacher is also one of the recipients of a micro-credit loan that she hopes to use to grow her business where she primarily makes sweatsuits - used by schools and businesses for uniforms. We are privileged to have found Teacher to both work with us and become a new friend. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Sewing Stories: "Short fat women with short arms"

We'll call her "Happy." With a smile larger than her stature, it seems an appropriate name.
"Happy" came into class last year when someone dropped out part way through the first week of our sewing bootcamp. I was astonished as she went from 0-60 within a few days, having minimal experience with sewing but catching right up to the class. Her positive attitude means that mistakes meet with laughter rather than anger, and though she is still in the learning process, her sewing is dependable and attentive to detail.

Happy is on the younger end of ten siblings and receives much support from her family. Her family is rooting for her and encouraged her to take advantage of the micro-credit loans offered as a part of this year's sewing program. With a child on the way, setting up a business to help support herself and her family is a perfect opportunity that will allow her to work from home.
When we asked her about her business plan, we were surprised and encouraged (and a little entertained) by how specific she was. She plans to sew for ten-year-olds and short fat women with short arms in the mountains who need warm clothes for winter. Happy explained that the highland women are generally shorter and rounder and have shorter arms than the lowlanders, making clothing hard to find (height, weight and race are not touchy subjects here). She would use her family connections to transport her goods to and from the mountains. The clothing she plans to trade for produce and livestock, money being not as easily come by on the isolated farms, that she will then bring back down to the coast to sell.

It has been an encouragement to see the faithfulness she has shown over the past year in attending the sewing classes and improving her skills. We were excited that she found a market and formed a well-thought-out business plan, earning her opportunity for a loan. With the support of her family and such an uncrushable positive attitude, we expect good things from Happy.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Seeds of Hope II

The last week in November a team from Sewing Seeds International came down to teach an intermediate level class at the sewing school they established over a year ago. It has been an uncertain journey to this point as Grace and Cesar looked for funding from governmental and private sources to help SSI establish the school, and what we have come up with is not what anyone would have expected, but it is exactly what seems to be working.
We had about 15 students this year all at the intermediate level. 

SSI brought four teachers for whom Grace and I translated. 

At the end of the week, SSI handed out 5 micro-credit loans to women who are planning on starting or growing their own businesses. 


And just like last year I had the privilege of sharing a daily devotional based on the Beatitudes. 

Here are some posts about specific women from our program:

It was a long week of 12 hour days, but for me it was a much needed break from the kids- it almost felt like vacation. Sewing Seeds International has started sewing schools in many countries all over the world and is currently in the process of opening more programs. To learn more about SSI, check out their facebook page. To see what last year's beginner class was like, check out Seeds of Hope.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Two Month Newsletter #9

As a part of my yearly newsletter redesign, I will be transitioning to three-month newsletters, so this will be my last two-month edition.
Somehow it's already December and our Christmas play is just around the corner- time to finish writing that script! Lindsey Jones and Emily Brown will be coming to town in a couple of weeks to add to the festivities, and I will be spending this Christmas in Pucallpa with Emily and some other SAM folks. Please keep us in your prayers with all our travels and plans during this busy season!

Here's a sneak peek from today's closing celebration of our week-long intensive sewing program. 
16 ladies, 4 teachers, 2 translators, 11 hours of sewing a day, 6 days a week
Our top sewers:

Friday, November 22, 2013

Cultural Festival 2013

Our annual Cultural Festival, made possible by Cesar's civic association "The Friends of Puerto Supe" is always a first rate spectacle. This years' was no exception. We have over 200 participants ranging from preschool to high school and hailing from ten local schools. Here are some snapshots to give you a feel for the show (Click them to make them bigger):
 We start off with a short parade around town to make sure everyone knows the event is about to start.

Then we get down to the oratory, dancing, singing, and drawing:

This father sang an impromptu duet with his son- precious!

One of the goals of this festival is to encourage kids to identify with their cultural heritage and to value their town and themselves. Incidentally, last year's festival is one of the reasons why I am able to work so closely with the local public schools. It's a lot of work to put together, but absolutely beautiful to watch as the town comes together to celebrate.

This is what last year's looked like. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Two Month Newsletter #7

The past month has stunned me. I wish I had words to describe the delicate beauty of the little sprouts that are finally peeping up from this desert ground. It will be sad to leave them in May (I will be back in the US between May 7th and August 8th), but I know that others, with more apt skill sets are on their way and that God will not stop making these little seeds grow in the meantime. Check out the newsletter below to see what has been going on.

If any of you would like to hang out, catch up, or meet while I am in the states, I would be delighted to try an make it happen if you give me an address and a time-frame. Please keep us in your prayers- marvelous things are in the works. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Spring Break Peru

I had always wanted to go on a spring break trip with XA while I was in college, but I always seemed to find "responsible" reasons not to go. But good things come to those who wait, and instead of going on a trip, one came to me! There is really too much good to explain from the week, so I will break it down into numberable and unnumberable outcomes. 

The Numbers:
14 university students + 2 interns + 3 local missionaries
Less than half speaking Spanish
2 impromptu but divinely occasioned local translators who got to see Christ living fresh and full in the lives of young people, something quite unusual in Puerto. 
1 bonfire attended by around 12 local teens
1 pre-school patio painted
1 extremely poor family fed for a week
About 75 man hours of labor towards building a new church building
1,000+ pre-school to highschool students and teachers reached with gospel-oriented dance, skit and testimony presentation
30+ mangoes consumed
40 alfajor cookies eaten
Upwards of 80 games of uno played
1 dog lost and then found

Teen bonfire with marshmallows and stuffed bananas a la campfire.

Pre-school presentation and service project sans electricity and water.


The Unnumberable: 
A strong testimony of passion, compassion, and humility shown throughout our little town to the credit of the name if Christ and worth of the Gospel
The building of our church both with stones as well as souls on our piece of property and in individual hearts
A fresh taste of the kingdom for all us here in Puerto
A new challenge for those of us in ministry here to leave no opportunity for sharing the Gospel untouched and to find the passion and power to do so daily in a greater appreciation and love for the Gospel. As we do so, sharing is seen not a task but a pleasure and a gift!

Making friends wherever they go.

Our variety show occasionally included fire breathing for more mature crowds.

A scenic trek through the desert to an elementary school across town. 

At this school the actors were so convincing that during the skit the kids mobbed the "sin chair" to see if they could also get stuck to it.

Waka Waka Dance Party

 Saying goodbye to the crew.

 To the friends and families of these top-notch team members, thank you for lending me your loved ones. The did their work here in Puerto to the utmost and beyond. They have left foundations, blessings, and positive challenges for our continued work. I feel fortunate to have been given the gift of this team, and only ask that they not forget us in their prayers, their words, and even their research papers. Thank you for nurturing the seeds long-since planted and planting some new ones of your own. Remember what good 'ole Ozzie (Chambers) says:

"Our spiritual strength begins to bedrained when we stop lifting our eyes to Him. Our stamina is sapped, not so much through external troubles surrounding us, but through our problems in thinking. . ." Be strong and courageous as you live in the same recklessly loving way in Cville. Be strong and very courageous.