God's Plumbline Ministries is called to repair devastation in the lives of God's people allowing restoration both physically and spiritually. Providing creative solutions for employment, education and life skills allowing God to repair and restore hope. Empowering each community to establish a secure foundation both inside and out, while keeping in tact God given talents and uniqueness, not focusing on man's ways but God's ways. Developing working relationships within social and economic circles, working hand in hand with community leaders to bring the love and compassion of Jesus Christ.
There are so many things in Haiti that don't speak of goodness and joy.
Yet, in the middle of so many things that seem hard for us to understand there is one thing that still remains wonderful, bringing hope and life.
Part of the women's program is to care for the whole woman.
We have cooking, literacy and business on one street and one block away there is the birthing center that speaks to the other part of a women - the mother.
This part is truly at the heart of helping women and children in the third world.
Bringing healthy life to a helpless child.
Creating a healthy pregnancy and a safe clean place for a child to takes it's first breath.
It is amazing what extra protein and iron can do to bring up the birth weight in a baby.
The mothers are allowed to labor with love and support around them.
Getting full medical care and monitoring before, during and after they have their baby.
After all my trips to Haiti I was finally able to be there for the birth of a baby (or two).
It has been a running joke that no babies have been born while I am in Haiti so the midwives will have a break for a few days. But not this time - yay!
Hours are spent caring for these ladies and their babies to make sure everything is good.
They are given help with breast feeding as well.
You would think that for women living in such poverty bottle feeding wouldn't even be a thought but it is a major issue that needs to be addressed with every birth.
Dirty water, incorrect amounts of formula and unsanitary conditions for washing bottles are cause for great concern that can take the life of a baby with in days and yet it is a battle for many reasons.
In this high-tech, quick paced life we live in babies are still such a gift!
After you have worked in Haiti you will hear yourself and others saying - "This is Haiti (TIH)".
It isn't that you don't know that you are in Haiti it has more to do with how things work in Haiti.
For example: we shipped a container in February of 2010 and it finally got out of customs so we could unpack it in December of 2010.
There is a never ending battle in the saga of containers coming into Haiti.
Most of the saga is because of what we will call "fees".
Hidden fee's, not so hidden fee's and just more...TIH type things.
When we left for India I said to Dan I promise you the fabric will finally be out of customs just about the time we finally get back from our trip after I have been waiting for it for months.
Sure enough we got home on a Thursday and on Tuesday I got an email saying, yes, come the container was out.
Yet, with all of that I have to say, I love it when a plan finally falls into place and we can get tons of hard work done and work we did.
Lots of us for a week.
It took a lot of sorting, re-sorting, packing and un-packing but it is finally done. We have fabric for sewing school, the sewing ladies who sew outside of the program and the ladies that sew inside of the program plus some.
We should be set for several months.
The great thing about this fabric is that it is very different and will allow us to come up with some new and creative things we haven't been able to make in the past.
Since our return from India I have been in a funny place.
Not funny Ha-Ha, funny like I don't fit in my skin.
Half of me thinks I should have a plan, "Phase 2" all laid out and ready to submit for approval.
To who, I don't know.
The other half of me is still numb.
I often think about what I want to say when asked "what we would like to do next".
There is the heart part, the business part and unfortunately the "in-style"part.
More importantly...there is the God part.
Here is some of what has been rolling around in my head.
Ever since I was a kid I have loved this one kind of fabric from India.
There have been hints of it in my clothes, my kitchen towels, place mats, table cloths and my bags.
I was surprised to see this fabric on every working man either as a farmer or a shepherd.
I guess I never really thought about what it was used for.
Don't get me wrong I love all kinds of fabric, but there is this one that I am drawn to for some reason. Without fail I have to stop, look at it, price it and feel it.
It just so happens that on this trip to India, with out me knowing it ahead of time, we went to one of the only two places that is known for making this fabric.
I can either believe that God is up to something or I can blow it off thinking that was weird.
If I believe the God part, I could say He just wanted to bless me with the desires of my heart or I could say, the things in my heart have been put there by God and He is trusting me with something bigger than myself and this crazy love for hand stamped fabric has a greater purpose.
I had a dream. (No pun on MLK)
Not the dream of my childhood, but a recent one.
My dream was about "Fishers of Men" and "The Message".
Both a play on words.
Get it, fishers of men (people working in created jobs) taking the message (the gospel) via the messenger bag (created from the fabric I love) to people in India by selling messenger bags to create sustainable business.
Dreams however are not always "bankable" or something people are willing to invest in.
They are not generally things you submit in grant proposals expecting funding either.
However, they are lessons in God's character.
Lessons in trusting that there has to be a bigger plan than what I know right now.
I have to believe that God is good, He loves me, I have had these dreams since childhood for a reason and He is working to bring them from heaven to earth.
Not just for me, but for many.
It isn't the fabrics that are outlined with a cotton-tipped bamboo stick and dyed in vegetable or mineral colours. Nor, is it the process that involves washing, rinsing, soaking and bleaching muslin, and applying mordants and dyes using natural substances like indigo for blue, madder for red, mango bark and dried myrobalan fruit for yellow, palm sugar and rusted iron for black.
No, it is for the love He has for people, the ones he died for 5000 years ago.
Our pastor says, pay attention to the things that make you cry, because they are the things most dear to the Lords heart.
Pastor Raju and Santhoshamma (Children: Thompson, Merb Divya and Samuel) Their vision for India:
1. To preach the gospel to unknown people groups 2. To build churches where there is no church 3. To build church buildings for others 4. To feed orpahn children 5. To help disabled children 6. To help women who are in poverty 7. To help widows 8. To conduct gospel meetings and seminars 9. To help victims of floods and tsunamis Raju works with a network of 30 plus pastors to help accomplish his vision. The churches have any where from 10 to 50 people. There are only a handful of larger churches.
Here is the break down of religion in India: Hindu - 81% Muslim - 14% Christian - 2%
They are big, they are small, they are everywhere - even on the beach. So much so that you kind of forget what they are and what they are saying. I know this seems simple, but if you think about the poverty in India, it seems to me a major part of that comes from trying to make 330 million gods happy by bringing offerings and building them temples that require constant up-keep.
According to the "Asset Mapping" we did with the pastors, each church sees only two salivations per year. Many who may choose to follow Jesus as Lord and Savior do not do so publicly because of the harsh consequences. Being a "Christian" is considered one of the lowest levels in the caste system of India. Therefore very few own property, farms, stores or business.
While talking to Raju I asked him if it was really true that India had 330 million gods and a temple every 100 feet. Yes, he said but, we have the only God who has risen from the dead. I explained that I had a hard enough time with just one God let alone 330 million of them. Later as I processed this conversation I also remembered we have a "Savior" not a god and what He gives us is a gift and we get this gift with out works, it is free.
The book of Romans seems to be speaking right to the heart of the matter. Not to mention Paul's point - that what I don't want to do I do and what I do I don't want to do. Jesus gave us salvation and it isn't by our works - it is a gift. Period. End of story.
I don't know his name or his age Nor do I know if he had a family He wasn't outside of his comfort zone, I was He knew exactly what he was doing, checking the trash piece by piece He was working, intent, with purpose He never looked my way, never distracted by the white girl with the camera Would I have looked away if he noticed me, maybe I wondered how much he would get for his efforts I asked if he went to school, no, I guess not Poverty A child without a childhood Getting a few coins Coins for... So much for the argument for basic human rights. I am guessing he didn't have someone to argue his case, he just needed to eat.
The Kalamkari fabrics of Machilipatnam, with their intricate designs, are used in clothing and wall hangings. Kalamkari refers to dye-painted cloths and the technique used to create them.
Their name derives from kalam, for a pen-like tool used to draw outlines on the cloth, and kari (work). Fabrics are outlined with a cotton-tipped bamboo stick and dyed in vegetable or mineral colours. The process involves washing, rinsing, soaking and bleaching muslin, and applying mordants and dyes using natural substances like indigo for blue, madder for red, mango bark and dried myrobalan fruit for yellow, palm sugar and rusted iron for black. The dyeing process is very elaborate and can take several days to complete.
While some pieces are hand-drawn, large canvas and sheets are block-printed. The work done in Machilipatnam, often using block printing in conjunction with hand painting, features decorative floral and vegetable designs that appealed to local kingdoms and to export trade. This culminated in European demand for Machilipatnam chintz, which derives its name from the Hindi word chint (spotted).
We spent one whole afternoon looking at fabric creation and production. This process can only be done when they are not in rainy season - leaving them jobless for four months out of the year. We talked with many workers about the wage they made and on average most worked twelve hour days making only one dollar per day.
Isaiah 43:18-19 “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.
Monday, October 18 we went from Atlanta to Chicago to Abu Daubi to Hyderabad to Vijayawada to Machillpatnam arriving at about 2:30 on Wednesday.
We had most definitely crossed over into a new land. The pastors and children lined both sides of the road as we walked into the compound. And the huge 15 x 15 sign, yikes, can you say akward? I guess they had been waiting for us. So much for being behind the scenes in my comfort zone.
The name of the town close to the Mighty Shepard Ministires is called Machilipatnam. It is a town of about 500,000 people in a district called Krishna . Outside the town, there are many villages and towns fairly close by. There are many farmers and field workers in the local area. The town, Machilipatnam, is in a state called Andrea Pradesh. There are 28 states in India . Andrea Pradesh (A.P.) has 26 districts and a population of about 100 million. Machilipatnam is about 10 miles inland from the Bay of Bengal.
As in all of India , Hindu is the majority religion there with great amounts of idols and idol worship in that area.
Deuteronomy 2: 24 “Set out now and cross the Arnon Gorge. See, I have given into your hand Sihon the Amorite, king of Heshbon, and his country. Begin to take possession of it and engage him in battle.
The big day was finally here! We had prayed, packed, planned, shopped and said our good-bye's. And then, Thursday we got bumped four times with our buddy passes. Missing all possible flights and connections. Let's just say I was sobbing more than once in the airport. We waited and waited for the Lord to pull some last minute magic. After nine hours at Concourse E in the Atlanta Airport, we returned home with the information that Air France would do nothing for us and not even let us pay change fee's. They told us we lost our money and that was just the way it was. Sorry! $2800 worth of sorry left a deep sick feeling in my stomach. We had hit a brick wall.
Even as we sat out side in the cool night breeze, I said, I still think something is going to happen. My mom finally drove up and we left with out our suitcase holding our gifts for the children in India. As we drove home I tried to process, how could we have missed God like that? I was making a mental list of the things that had to happen for all of this to work. What about all the extra side jobs Dan got at work, his parents coming to stay with the kids and all people who sent support. What would I tell everyone. Thinking about that was worse than missing our planes.
After the emotional roller coaster ride, we finally arrived home with no fight left. We fell into bed asking the Lord to work on our behalf. Through the night it was like was being jolted wake up thinking of one more thing we should have tried, only to realize that we did try everything while dozing off again.
When morning came I was numb. So many questions with no answers. While checking my email and drinking my coffee I watched David Copeland's video email that just happened to be on extreme warfare, bizarre and unusual circumstances and a unique new anointing coming from the Lord. Well, that fit, we had all of those things happen. Honestly, His words felt like being thrown a new life line. It was confirmation to what we had heard before we left - this was a new season. So didn't we miss God? So many things fallen into place for us to go there was still hope. We just had to keep pushing.
Friday morning I said to myself, OK - IF this was going to work it's gonna be CRAZY....and crazy it was.
While I was drinking my coffee trying to figure out just exactly how God was going to show up there was a knock at the front door. It was the meter man and he was at the house to install a new power source for the new digital meter. My thought was - for all I care buddy you can take the bricks off the house if you really want to. I really wasn't in the best mood.
We would leave and go to our favorite breakfast place and talk about what to do next. While we talked we got a few phone calls and a few text messages. Things began to shift!
Later in the day, as all of the God things started happening, I could hear the meter man's words, "you will drop power for a few seconds, but, it will come back more accurate with the new digital meter."
Indeed it did! Who knew the Lord made house calls.
We ended up getting in $2200 on Friday in various ways from our supporters. We went to the bank to file a "claim for no services rendered" with our credit card. To our surprise, the bank put the $2800 back in our account for the first tickets that we couldn't use while we dispute this claim. Plus, the new tickets we booked that evening actually ended up being $800 less than our first tickets.
So, with all of that we will try this again Monday! Now we just need our bag back from the airline before we leave on Monday! It seems it went to Paris with out us.
When the Lord said, begin to possess the Land, I had no idea it would begin in the Atlanta Airport with several "open book tests".
There are just as many funny things about Haiti as there are sad things. Well, almost. It takes time to see them however. Some days none of it is funny. It can be madding depending on the day you may have had. Some days it can be the fact that a man is wearing a pink t-shirt that says "baby on board" with a big arrow on his stomach. Maybe it is the words on a sign or picture on a tap-tap. On this day is was the words on a "take-out" food place. "Howdy, Now Git" It was something I would see in Georgia at a BBQ place in the middle of no where. Git? Was that really a word?
On this day, I was looking over the new cooking school text book and saw these words: Lesson One: Spam Really! What do I say about Spam, after all, some people like the stuff.
Friday was going to be a very busy day. I would need to talk to the current sewing ladies, all of the staff at the school and finally the bead ladies. So many thoughts, what to say? There would be some changes coming, no one likes change. I really don't like breaking the news that change is coming. How to make this a good thing. For me, I could see so much good, finally, good things are happening again in Haiti. But, in transition, things are not easy. Growing pains are exactly that, pains. The goal, going to the next level. Increase sales, develop a bigger market place, get wholesale contracts.... It takes time. Time is kind of like "wait". No one likes to wait. Again, it is a time of transition. How do you talk about transition, the need to increase sales and develop products. Wisdom. Lord, I need wisdom.
I would meet with the sewing ladies first. The ladies that started this whole thing. I would start with telling them, again, just how this whole thing started. How all the sewing machines got there and how the program started. It started for me on my very first trip to Haiti, being held at gun point and with the death of a little boy. These very women represented my dream and desire to bring hope to children, to keep families in tact. My dream was real and sitting on folding chairs in front of me. They all had money in their business accounts to help them in the lean times and all of them would be fine. This wasn't about money, it was about hope and dreams, believing for the future.
Meeting number two, lunch planned for the all the workers and the teachers. For me, to me, they are what I would call "Life Givers". They are, the women who impart the vision I have for these ladies. They are imparting new skills, new knowledge and the chance for a new beginning. Yes, it is a lot work and takes courage. But, when they graduate, they will have been taught more than just sewing. They are teaching team work, community, discipline - all things they will need to be business women. While I talked and Marjorie interpreted for me she lost her train of thought when I said, "there are one hundred fifty-nine ladies in the sewing school". What? She stopped repeating my words. We started laughing. I counted out for her all the classes, the number of women in each class and she said, "wow, I had no idea". Funny, right! In four years, we went from John telling me,"if I had one graduate, I would be doing good", to this.
Last, but not least, the bead ladies. These ladies are near and dear to my heart. I believe they have the ability to achieve greatness. I shared with them just how I came up with the idea for the bead program. Day after day I would watch women struggle with their struggle in mastering the skill of sewing. I prayed, Lord please give me an idea so that ALL these women can be successful. It was my hearts desire to have every single women be successful. Remnants! Everyday we had tons of them, not being used. Even the Lord used remnants, he often called them his "chosen" people remnants. We would take the remnants from the purses to create something beautiful. This is exactly what they are doing, creating something out of nothing. Beauty from ashes.
Artisan's... Last, but not least, we have a group of ladies working on many different hand crafts. They will learn how to work with what we call "sisal" as in sisal rugs. You may also know it from seeing bales of hay tied up with it.
Next they will work on embroidery and finally flower making and design. These are often the classes the ladies who have just graduated from our literacy class start with in continuing their education.
Please pray for our ladies as they begin a new year in school, learning new skills that will make their lives better. Not having to live on credit, paying for food, clean water, and their children's education.
This class was birthed out of my desire for every woman to be successful. After two years of watching ladies come to sewing school and not being able to figure out the skills needed for sewing, I began to pray for new ideas. Ideas for the ladies to make a living doing something different. Let's face it, even in the States you could have a PHD and still not figure out how to work a treadle sewing machine. Those things are really hard work. Everyday I would watch our yard guy, Billy, come in a sweep up all this fabric that wasn't being used. I began thinking there should be something I can do with the fabric. The sewing ladies wanted it all for making pillows at home and at times I would agree to give it to them. It was on a visit with some adoptive parents that this whole idea was birthed. Today we have seven ladies making jewelry full time and another ten in class.
Just before I was leaving for Haiti Marjorie emailed me and said she needed a Kitchen Aid and stuff for cooking school. I wasn't really thrilled about yet another trip to Wal-Mart, but I knew it would be good and I would be happy once I saw the ladies in class. Getting all my bags there would be interesting and costly, but again, so worth it.
In Haiti we call the man in charge "chef". This is Heartline's Chef (John) really being a chef or trouble maker for those in class. He was being good at taking hats and messing up stuff.
All the students did there own hand work on their aprons. They have learned embroidery in the Craft classes. Some have learned this skill much better than others. This is "Tata". She used to be a nanny at the baby's house before the earthquake, now she takes care of the kitchen at the women's house and is a student in the new cooking classes. Gotta love how happy she is...
This year Esther is the "professor" for cooking school. Last year she was teaching literacy, a very important class in my opinion.
Look what they did on their first day - pretty impressive! Plus, in tasted good! The big chef didn't have any because he doesn't like onions. I think they are off to a great start. I told them next time I want cake. We will be looking into creative ways to sell cake and other goodies at different programs and guest houses.
Monday, September 5, marked the beginning of another new school year on Claircine 21 in Tabarre. The house is packed full of ladies. They have found their name on the printed list put on the chalk board and packed in the classrooms. We have Literacy, Cooking, Sewing, Beading and Crafts... This is one busy house!!
There are now two sewing classes with twenty-five ladies in each class, one upstairs and one downstairs. Fifty ladies in sewing school, this isn't counting all of the other classes. In total one hundred and fifty-nine ladies will pass through this house each day. I will share those later...
It was so awesome to see them all in class ready to begin a new chapter in their lives. This was indeed a dream of my heart to see the house full of ladies willing to take the first step.
There are now thirty-four ladies sewing for Haitian Creations full-time. Each of them has money saved in her business account, that will allow their children to start school in October. It is amazing to see how these ladies lives have changed. Yes, they are better, yet still harder than what I can imagine. They are all my heros.