Saturday, February 28, 2015

To Offer Hope

I've been a little quiet on here as of late, but for good reason! A friend asked me yesterday if being a missionary was everything I had hoped it would be. Many things are. Many things are not. And I'm still working through all of the rest! How is that for vague? You just can't imagine unless you've lived it.

What I do know is the God of the Bible who promises hope and a future, will fulfill his promises. It doesn't always look like what we thought it would, our future, but there is hope. 

And with that in mind, I want to share with you something so, completely, out of this world exciting. Someone once said "Fight the evil in the world, by putting more good back in."  We want to help put more hope in. 

Let me tell you a little bit about La Libertad, El Salvador. We serve a community of beautiful, hard working people who are trapped in a cycle of destitution. People who are generation after generation being held down economically by the gangs who control everything. 

To make money, many of the people do what their parents did, what their grandparents did, and so on. Which usually means, fishing, making tortillas, cleaning fish, selling coconuts, and walking the streets selling bags of sliced mango and papaya. This is all they know to do. It is a very, very hard life. To know that no matter how many hours you work, you will never stop the hunger in your children.

So the children and the families do not place a high value on education. Many do not complete high school, and instead drop out to help work for their families. 

But we have this group of children. We LOVE them. We are trying in every way we know how to keep them out of the gang's reach. The main ways we can do that are through their relationship with God. And by being God's hands, in providing that hope and a future, through their education.  I'm talking about a demographic in La Libertad who will never, ever have the opportunity to go to the University. Never, ever have an opportunity to break the cycle of poverty. But what if there was a way?

It started with a little dream. And then a bunch of people dreamed it together. And then the Holy Spirit kept whispering "YES!" And then the hearts and generosity of people started moving. Then the light of hope started shining in "my" girls' eyes. 

We thought, if we can sew some simple, but beautiful items, like so many organizations that have come before us, we can sell them, put the money in a trust, and our girls can go to the university...... they can go! Drawing on inspiration from Noonday Collection, Ordinary Hero, Project Tesfa, Amani and Amazima, we have begun a Girls Center at Iglesia Gran Comision!!!!!!! 

Here is the plan and the goals:
*Our girls from the nutrition and development program, take a sewing class each week.
*Gradually as they learn and become more skilled, they will sew items, available for sale in El Salvador and through direct sales in the United States. 
*While we are all very sweaty here, it is not in any danger of being a sweatshop. For our girls will receive ALL profits into a trust fund for their education. (profits as defined after material and energy costs). And it is completely voluntary!
*For their efforts, they will be offered a small payment from each item, to have or contribute to their families. In this way, we hope to help the families, as well as teach about saving. Think, keep 10% save 90%.  
*Our girls range in age right now from 10-15 in this particular class, so they have a solid 5-10 years to save for their educations. 
*Working in conjunction with the Bed-Carpentry project, they can earn money by sewing the sheets for the donated beds.
*Our long-term goal is to also invite the mothers of the children in our nutrition program. To help empower them, offer them hope, and minister to them in addition to their children. 
*Ultimately, to impact as much as the women and girls as we can. Studies have shown that when a girl or a woman is educated, she will change her whole community. 

I can't even begin to tell you the stories I know of abuse, and trauma and poverty.Desperation leaves the people susceptible to the gangs. So what if we can take the desperation out of the equation?!

A month ago, we quietly discussed the dream with some friends. Within 2 weeks we had 5 sewing machines donated from home churches and from friends stationed here in the U.S. Navy. 

Three weeks ago, we began the sewing lessons. It is no coincidence, that already on our nutrition center staff, is a woman who studied fashion at the university. Beatriz is incredibly skilled, very loving, and has the patience of a saint as she teaches. She is generous with her time and ready to volunteer extra weekend hours to the girls and moms. God knew. 

There is nothing I can say to make you care about these very real faces. If only each and everyone of you could have seen their eyes, when I explained what was going to be possible. That when I read to them from the Bible, and showed them that when Jesus said that with him all things are possible, they could actually believe it.  That was a moment in time that I will never, as long as I live, forget. 

Here is where you come in! Here is where the fighting evil with good happens. We need some start up funds. Our church works on a very limited bit of money. They do not have the money necessary to provide us with the initial costs of fabric, thread, and various sewing materials, shipping, etc. We have an opportunity to sell some of our Esperanza (hope) products in April at a women's conference, but we need to buy fabric to make this possible!! If you would like to be an initial donor to help get these girls off the ground, please follow this Go Fund Me link:

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