I wrote most of this poolside at a hotel in Managua. We have a membership that allows us to enjoy lazy afternoons in a tropical setting that feels like a perpetual vacation. Saturday, we went to celebrate little Alissa’s 5th birthday. (Her family is here for a few months while they adopt a precious little Nicaraguan baby boy.)
As I was getting ready that morning, I had to walk to a neighbor’s house to pick up a special birthday present. When I left the house, my two girls were singing from The Sound of Music at the top of their lungs. I could still hear it three houses away: “Doe, a deer, a female deer… Ray, a drop of golden sun…”
It made me smile all the way down the street. Sure, we have our struggles. But I feel so blessed to be on this adventure. I love it.
I love how my kids are rising to the challenges. I love how we’re
surviving thriving together. I love all the lessons we’re learning.
And I love all the people we’re meeting.
We’ve been introducing you to some of those people through our monthly service project posts. This month, we want you to meet the Woughter family.
Their family of six moved to Nicaragua in 2007, after raising support and completing a year of language school in Costa Rica. They work with ABWE (Association of Baptists for World Evangelism) and, more specifically, help to train the Nicaraguan people in church leadership and evangelism. Richard and Cari live in our neighborhood, with their two youngest children. (The two oldest are grown and attend school back in the States.) Their web site states:
Our mission in Nicaragua is all about church planting, cottage industries, camps and compassion ministries aimed at the poverty stricken people of Nicaragua. We live in Nicaragua and have devoted our lives to this cause.
While Richard (shown right, with his youngest daughter, talking to a Nicaragua coffee-grower) works with the men aspiring to start new churches, Cari (shown below teaching a lesson to a group of children) is starting a new program to work with the pastors’ wives. In particular, she hopes to give the women skills they can use to support their new churches by opening a trade school to teach everything from cake decorating to woodworking. Her first project involves the creation of classes to teach the women how to run their own sewing businesses. Topics to be taught include not only sewing, but also design, marketing, accounting, and basic business ownership.
Many of the women already have basic sewing skills, but few own machines. The plan is to have them work off the purchase of their machines, by sewing bags that ABWE will buy to sell in the U.S. After they have paid for their machines, they will then be paid (per piece) for all work satisfactorily completed according to the project guidelines.
I first heard about this project shortly after we moved here. It was just in the brainstorming phase, but I was immediately interested about becoming involved. Cari was looking for someone with some design and business experience to help, and I eagerly jumped right in.
We’ve spent the past few weeks fine-tuning our first design: a string backpack that is both stylish and reversible. Without a Joann Fabrics or Michael’s, it can be challenging to find fabrics we actually think people might buy. But thankfully we have found some (after visiting dozens of shops). And, we’re super excited about our “sports-themed” bags, which can even be customized to showcase one favorite team’s colors on one side, and a different team’s colors on the reverse (for two-bags-in-one!).
Just today we traveled to Masaya, to inquire about purchasing some leather to carry our bag’s logo. We ended up having to purchase a whole cow’s worth, as we were unable to find leather for sale in smaller pieces. The whole trip was a big adventure, but visiting this particular shop was absolutely hilarious. Our conversation with the Spanish-speaking shopkeeper went a little like this:
Shopkeeper: You have to buy a whole cow’s worth.
Me: But aren’t there any from smaller cows? (I’m giving myself way too much credit here, because my Spanish was more like: “you have more small cows?”)
Cari: Yes, as in, baby cows?
In any case, we bought our cow’s worth of leather and it is absolutely gorgeous. My next step is to order a brand (as in a heat-it-up-and-burn-it-into-the-leather sort of brand) of the logo, which we’ll then look to have brought here by the next willing
mule visitor. After that, we’ll have a branding party to burn our brand into our leather.
Seriously, I love this adventure :).
We’ve created a bunch of bag samples already, and are just about to test the market by offering sales in the Baltimore area for Christmas. So stay tuned for an order form.
Well, I just asked Wyeth to preview my post and he provided the following two-sentence response: What’s all the bag talk? Richard really really needs a new truck, you know.
Sorry Richard, Cari’s bag project is way more exciting to me than your truck ;-). Oops. But I know your truck is super important to your work here, so I had to at least mention it. In addition, they are raising money to expand at their ministry center.
In closing, would you support this family with us? Their love of and devotion to serving the least of these in Nicaragua is contagious. Spending time with them over the past three months has both humbled and encouraged us, spurring us to be better neighbors, better friends, better stewards.
Please consider coming alongside the Woughter family, whether it’s through prayer, financial contributions, or purchasing the string backpacks (if you live close enough to Bel Air, MD that you could pick up your Christmas orders there on 12/23)… or all three!