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.