Thursday, July 31, 2014

Happy Birthday to me.

I turn 37 tomorrow. Today my friend Maggie, who is 19, asked me if I felt 37. I thought about and immediately answered, "No. I feel 8." In my heart I am 8. I am naive and hopeful and gullible and expectant and adventuresome but sometimes 37 presses in on me. 37 years of disappointment and lack of trust and mean-spirited people and my own poor choices make me feel older. I even look at 19 year old Maggie and think how much more I have experienced. 18 years more of pain and rejection and witnessing bad things happening and being tragically disappointed. But the hopeful 8 year old is still there. Her faith doesn't waiver and she knows God to be good. She still sees good in others and is full of expectation. 

The 37 year old me bought reading glasses just this week, not that I NEED them but sometimes they help make all those tiny words that are so close together a little easier to see. Her hips and feet ache from hours of standing. She isn't as energetic or resilient as the 8 year old and her cartwheel is much more wobbly. The 8 year old is passionate and cries so easily. She is moved by hurt and pain and injustice. The 37 year old has seen so much injustice. It moves her to do what she does in life but rarely moves her to tears anymore. They seemed to have ran out. The 8 year old played with dolls for hours on end and always pretended they were all adopted and that her husband was far away at work on long business trips. She doesn't give up. She plays her heart out. I have let my aches and pains and anxiety and stress push her away. But she is still there saying, "See this! Do something! Don't stop! Eat ice cream." 

Lately my headspace has been filled with the worries of a 37 year old. I’ve spent way too many hours trying to figure out how to fund life. I’ve been consumed with worry over finances and the unknowns of a new life in Africa. I’ve been overwhelmed with trying to figure out how to raise money, create a school, a development program, get health insurance, help orphan kids, find a job, start social enterprises. In all the planning and laboring I forgot to bring the hope and trust and ice cream eating along with me. 

I pray 37 is full of all that. And that maybe one of those adopted baby dolls comes to life and the husband on the 37 year long business trip will come home and help me do the dishes. And if he doesn’t that’s fine too because the 8 year old has got this and the 37 year old can teach her a thing or two. And this year can’t be anything but extraordinary.

The expectant 8 year old who has never had to pay bills tells me I have the greatest life full of wild amazing adventure. And the 37 year old who has never lacked, always seen God show up, has been blessed beyond measure knows it to be true. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

this made my day, week, month, year, decade, century.

Interview with Mana Tina

Today we bring to you an interview with Mana Tina!  
It is our heart to share the stories of the women & men here at Galeria Dos Sonhos.  
They work hard to create products YOU love and are empowered to provide for themselves 
at the same time.  They each have a unique history that we would love for you to see!

-What is your name and how old are you? 
I am Tina and I am 27 years old.

-Where were you born? 

-Did you grow up with a father in your house?
Yes, but my mum died. 

-What happened to her?
She was sick - something wrong with her leg.

-Did your father have a job?
Yes. He is a farmer.

-Did you have brothers and sisters?
4 brothers

-Do you still live with them?

-What do your brothers do now?
The oldest are farmers and the youngest study.

-Did your mother and father work?
My mother did not work & my father was a farmer.

-Do you remember going hungry or without food when you were growing up?
Sometimes we had money to eat, sometimes not.

-What about clothes?
We didn't have as much of a problem with clothes.

-What kind of house did you grow up in/what was it made out of?
It was a wooden stick house. A circular, bungalow.

-Did you ever feel in danger in the village that you grew up in?
Yes, because we were living in the bush bush.

-What is dangerous about the bush?
There were animals that were dangerous, including lions that lived in the big mountain.
They can attack and eat people.

-Did you ever know of anyone that was attacked by a lion?
1 man name Gabrielle; the lion ate him...

-Among your people did you ever feel scared of violence or attack or anything?
Yes, I was scared. I was scared to be attacked by people.

-Why would people attack you in your village?
Because it was in the bush and they would try and to hurt other people.

-Did any of your family members or you ever get attacked by other people?
My Auntie, her name is Christina. She was murdered.

-Why was she murdered?
They raped her and they beat her up and then she died

-Is rape common where you grew up?
Yes, very common

-Were the men who attacked your aunt - were they arrested?
Yep they arrested them and put them in jail for a long time.

-What is the house like you live in now?
I live in bamboo baracas. It is a stick house. I live in the Baraca with my sister (friend)
who it belongs to.

-Does your sister use it as a shop in the day?
Yeah, but she doesn’t have anything much to sell.

-What did you do with your time before coming to Iris?
I was working cleaning job - washing, clothes etc.

-What does your friend do during the day?
She is a nurse.

-Did you go to school? What did you learn?
Yes; Portuguese and math and science

-Do you have any children? 

-Did you always have a job to provide for yourself?
Yes, most of the time.

-Before coming to Iris, had you heard of God?
I was Muslim and went to a Mosque with my family.

-What did you think about him when you were a Muslim? 
I just went there because of my family - I did not have relationship with God.

-When did you hear about Jesus?
He’s the one who loves me and defends me

-How long have you known Jesus?
This year will be two years.

-How has he changed your life?
My life is changed, now it is good, I enjoy having Jesus.

-Now you have come to Iris has your opinion of God changed at all?
Yes. Now, he’s ok.

-Do you go to church at Iris or any discipleship groups?
Yes at Iris.

-How do those help you?
I loved it, I enjoy being at the iris church.

Because he defends me. The old things He takes away.

-Like sin and troubles?
Ya, troubles and problems.

-How long have you been working for the vocational school?
I have been working since June or may 2013.

-How did you come to hear about Iris and the vocational school?
Andrea and Grace went to Rahab ministries and they invited us to come and do sewing stuff.

-How has your life changed since training in and working for Galeria dos Sonhos?
It changed because now I can buy food and my own plates. I can provide for herself properly.

-When you were doing the cleaning it was not enough to provide for yourself?
No, it wasn’t enough. I could not pay for everything i needed.

-How does working for Galeria dos Sonhos make you feel.
She’s happy and enjoys it, likes it

-What do you enjoy about working here?
I enjoy doing the job. In the future i wants to build my own house. 

-Is the money you are earning now going towards saving to buy your own house?
I'm saving money, a little bit. The friend who I stay with has a kid,
so I get charged rent to stay there.

-How much rent do you get charged?
500 mt - per week (approximately $17 USD/ week)

-What skills have you learned by being trained here?
I know how to sew the flowers, cut the material .

-What have you made here?
Napkins, Flowers, and tied things

-Do you enjoy working in a classroom with lots of other people?

-What is your favourite things about working in the vocational school?
If one of us doesn't know something, we teach one another.

-Are the people kind and patient with you?
Yeah, they are patient.

-Is working here different to what most of the other women in your village do?
Yes, different because the village people the bosses insult them and say
‘you cannot do this, you have to do that’ etc

-What dreams and ambitions do you now have for the future?
I have a dream to stay with my family and take them to go to school.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Tennessee Wooing Me

Belmont Plantation Children's Bedroom
I got to be a tourist today in Nashville. We went to the historic Belmont Mansion. It is one of the largest antebellum homes in the South. It was fun to stroll about her creaky wooden floors and imagine life in that day. The life of owner, Adeliecia Hayes, although incredibly illustrious, was  full of hardship. She seemed like quite savvy as the story goes that she negotiated the sell of her cotton with the help of both Union and Confederate soldiers to England for over $900,000. That was quite a lot of cotton. Apparently she was paid in gold and went over to get it and went on a grand European tour and met Napoleon, as one would. Only one of her ten children lived to adulthood. And, as I recall, she lost her first husband only after a few years of marriage. I cannot imagine that ship ride to England or life without indoor plumbing, no matter how fancy or gold inlaid the chamber pot. Her first husband owned over 850 slaves. Oh to have a seat at that dinner table. Looking so closely at the past makes me wonder how much more will we evolve in the future? Social issues like slavery and women’s rights finally having been settled so that I don’t have to live in the Old Testament, make me wonder what else we have been getting wrong entirely. 

After strolling through the 1853 Italian villa, we jumped forward to the 1950’s and had lunch at Puckett’s in Lieper’s Fork. It’s a dusty old institution and country store that serves BBQ and "meat and three". We were greeted by tall cowboys with handle bar mustaches and Wrangler’s, on horseback no doubt. I ate lima beans with a plastic fork and listened to sisters-in-law, sitting knee to knee at my table swap stories. We crossed the street and loitered about in shops picking up candles and soaps, sniffing and peering through glass cases. We went into the sweet little gallery of David Arms where your spirit cannot help but settle and be still for those moments, taking it all in. Admiration and peace. We sped back home with the top down in Dad’s little sporty car in this absolutely perfect weather here in these green Tennessee hills. My fickle heart once thought Georgia was the grandest place on earth, she still is. So is Pemba, Mozambique and slowly, of all places, Tennessee is wooing me. 
Italian Villa circa 1853
Puckett's Grocery- Lieper's Fork

David Arms Art Gallery
It's growing on me.