I hesitate to share because I only know the very beginning of this story. However, I’d still love to allow my friends and community to walk alongside me as this new adventure continues over the next couple months.
To make a long story short, I am going to Madagascar. Yes, this girl who has had a long prejudice against “mission trips” and more than a little irritation with Americans trying to save the world. If you think it sounds cynical and judgmental to make such sweeping generalizations – you’d be right. But this adventure just may be releasing me from a bit of that cynicism and judgment and I gotta say, I’m pretty happy about it!
My friend Michelle called one day and explained she was returning to Madagascar and asked me to consider joining her team. One of the team’s newest dreams is to teach Malagasy women a trade and she thought the jewelry trade was the perfect choice. It sounded really amazing…in theory. However, a few other thoughts were running through my head:
- Mission “TRIP”? No thanks. How about a mission “STAY HERE”? There are plenty of problems around the corner.
- Madagascar?? Excuse me, where? The cartoon?
- Thousands of dollars on a 22-hour plane trip? Ummm, I’m pretty sure someone who actually LIVES there can do the job just fine. This is not practical long term.
- Teaching 100 women jewelry skills? Not a teacher. I actually make things more confusing when I talk.
- Helping others? Often times our “helping” can actually hurt a lot of people. (But perhaps that is for another post.)
Even with all these negative thoughts, I called Michelle after weeks of phone tag. She happened to be a mile from my house, came over, sat on my couch and asked to pray about the trip together. You have no idea how much I love it when Michelle prays. She’s full of humility and honesty and skips the “this prayer has to sound good” stuff. So naturally, it sounds even BETTER…more real, more powerful, more beautiful. She helps me to remember and to more fully believe that God is real and is actually listening. So easy to forget the basics, is it not?
As she was about to leave, she mentioned the cost of the trip being about $4500 and suggested I pray and ask specifically for the money to come available. This made me laugh, because generally speaking $4500 doesn’t just “come available.” But I prayed right then and there and got straight to the point. “If you want me to go, show me the $$$.”
Three hours later, my husband (and CPA for Dora Mae) walked down the stairs and said, “So, I underestimated your giving for 2014 and Dora Mae still has about $4500 left to give. Any ideas on where you’d like to give that amount?”
“Stop it. You have got to be kidding me. $4500?? Well, babe…I guess I’m going to Madagascar!”
Excuse me what? Go where? To do what? I’ve seen that look often in Jake’s eyes. It’s the “my wife is crazy” look! But I needed that little $4500 confirmation to push me over the edge.
Besides the money “coincidence,” I’ve now had a couple weeks to begin processing why this trip is part of my story. Maybe our team will actually help people in ways we have been uniquely created to help. Perhaps it’s largely for our own benefit to learn from the amazing Malagsy people. Most likely we will all learn from each other because we are all fellow humans and strugglers fighting to find our way…fighting for faith and freedom and fulfillment. Madagascar has had a rough go of it the past decade and I pray we can help provide both spiritual encouragement and practical wisdom. But as a general rule, we are best equipped to help spur on victories, successes and healing in others to the degree we acknowledge and understand our own defeats, folly and brokenness. If there’s a recipe for helping others, surely humility is the key ingredient.
There are many components to our trip – serving orphans, empowering entrepreneurs, encouraging leaders, etc. However, I have a simple task over two weeks. Teach very specific jewelry-making skills to 4-5 leaders in a women’s school, and then entrust them to teach other women in the school who may have the interest and capability. Dora Mae Jewelry will be hiring them to create custom wire-wrapped chain for my coming collections. But here is my dream: to connect them with a larger company with jewelry manufacturing needs so that as many women who have the need and the desire can be employed with a living wage. Having a valuable skill and employment changes both individual lives and entire communities. I’m praying God will help make the necessary connections to provide that for these beautiful women. If you can help make this dream come true, let me know!
Looking forward to sharing more as this story unfolds.