Friday, November 21, 2014

Fair Trade Friday: Box #2

So my 2nd Fair Trade Friday was super fun!  If you have never heard of Fair Trade Friday you can read more about it here! This was one of their high end boxes! Here's what was in it!

This bag was the first item in my box. It is handmade in Costa Rica by Mercy CoversMercy Covers is an outreach of the St. Bryce Missions that provides skills training, personal finance management, education, discipleship, and meaningful work for women in rural Costa Rica.

The next item was this gorgeous clutch from Korah, Ethiopia by Carry 117. Carry 117 selects carefully the women who are a part of this organization. Women that are affected by HIV, leprosy or some sort of sickness (because they are out casted from society due to the stigmas) and women that are supporting three or more family members would be given first priority in the program. Carry 117 means several things for them. First, it is named after Isaiah 1:17 “Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.” Secondly, “carry” refers to moving/carrying these women from where they currently are to a more sustainable position where they can support their families through the fruit of their labor. Their prayer is through this ministry; they would also grow to become more like Jesus, in hopes of winning all of Korah to Jesus.

This beautiful ruffle apron is from an organization called No. 41. You can read about it here from the Fair Trade Friday blog. Or you can watch this video. I think the video tells it best. 

The next item was this beautiful necklace. It is from Ecaudor! We were just in Ecuador so it has special meaning! Plus we have missionary friends who will be living in Ecuador very soon! You can find out more about them here. Anyway, this beautiful necklace was hand carved from a Tagua seed. You can find them at Yobel Market. Yobel Market exists to empower and promote the value of exploited, displaced and impoverished people groups of the world through the development of sustainable economic opportunities and fostering of education. Yobel conducts business trainings, contributes to product development, and expands global marketplaces utilizing fair trade principles while partnering with organizations committed to ethical and sustainable production processes. 

Last, was this cuff bracelet with one of my favorite verses on it! Micah 6:8! It is from Back to Africa.  In 2008 Heart of the Bride started a business development project called Back to Africa whereby hand-made jewelry was purchased from Africa and shipped back to the United States to sell in various venues. Their partners lived in extreme poverty before they began creating Back to Africa Jewelry. Today, thanks to the purchasers of their products, these same people are now able to consistently feed and clothe their children, send them to school, purchase other resources like farm animals and help their family and neighbors who are not as fortunate. As of December 2012, their artisans reported that the project is benefitting over 400 people. They have seen firsthand how a small paper bead or simple ceramic pendant can profoundly impact a community halfway around the world. Currently they have partnerships in Kenya to produce the BTA products available in this store and for home shows. In the near future they hope to expand their efforts to include Zambia and increase their partnerships in Kenya.

I think I've mentioned it, but I LOVE FAIR TRADE FRIDAY! Want to join in the fun with me? GO check them out! Thanks for loving mercy with and helping to empower women all over the world! 

In His Love, 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Fair Trade Friday: Box #1

So, if you've been reading my blog you already know that I love Mercy House Kenya! Did you know that there is a new ministry of Mercy House Kenya? It's called Fair Trade Friday!

Why does Fair Trade Friday exist? "Fair Trade Friday exists as an avenue for women to empower women.  We are tackling poverty through job opportunity and empowerment rather than enablement. 100% of the proceeds support the artisans, more than 300 women and their children from all over the world."

So, what's Fair Trade Friday? "FTF is a monthly membership club that delivers a box of 3-4 high quality items to your door by the first Friday of the month. The items in the box are fairly traded and provide employment to women all over the world. 100% of the proceeds from each box goes to the empowerment of impoverished women. Plus, they are really cute!"

Why does fair trade matter? "It ensures club products were made by artisans in fair working conditions who were being paid a fair wage. Basically, no child gave up his education, home and family to labor in a sweat shop so that your calves can be toasty in a pair of trendy boot cuffs. You can give gifts of handcrafted jewelry and unique home decor with a clear conscience. People say it’s the thought behind the gift that counts most. In this case, we’ve done some of that thinking for you."

I've been to other countries where women are a step above the livestock. I have a passion to see women know their worth and value in Christ. Fair Trade Friday helps women around the world work and earn an income to care for their families. This way they get to keep their dignity.
I love that FTF exists for women to empower other women around the world. 

So I ordered a box and then tried to wait- patiently. 

And then this happened. 

In every box there are 3-4 unique fair trade items, a one-of-a-kind handmade bag, and product cards with information about each of the fair trade items and the artisans who made them. 

This bag was the first item in my box. It is handmade in Costa Rica by Mercy CoversMercy Covers is an outreach of the St. Bryce Missions that provides skills training, personal finance management, education, discipleship, and meaningful work for women in rural Costa Rica.

Next was a fabric keychain that was made in Rajpur, India by JOYN. At the heart of JOYN lies a desire to see lives changed. To see those crippled by poverty and hardship dance for joy. To do this, JOYN has partnered with a nonprofit called JoyCorps to provide employees with not only steady jobs and a good work environment, but a daily meal plan, education for their children, English and vocational training, and medical care. Lives are changing as a result. JOYN continues to sell beautiful products handmade by artisans who do 100 percent of the work, from weaving to block printing to stitching. This brings JOY to those who make the products, and JOY to those who buy them.

Then, kid's boot cuffs made by the Refugee Project in Houston, Texas. The United Nations has relocated more than 50,000 refugees to Houston, Texas, due to religious and ethnic persecution. The Refugee Project exists to empower refugee women by teaching them skills and product creation.

My favorite item are these earrings made in Nairobi, Kenya by the Jacaranda WorkshopThe Jacaranda Workshop was started in 1982 to provide training and employment to mentally handicapped adults graduating from the Jacaranda Special School. To date, the workshop has successfully managed to train and employ over 60 ex-jacaranda school graduates and assisted them to improve their self-esteem. The workshop seeks to provide employment to those who may find it difficult to find employment elsewhere.

Last, but not least was this burlap bag by Mission Ethiopia. I love that this bag is lined with black satin. Korah, the city garbage dump just outside Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, is home to more than 120,000 people living in poverty, many with HIV/AIDS, leprosy, TB and other diseases. Mission Ethiopia, Embracing Hope for Ethiopia, and Carry 117 are a few of the many outreach efforts that were established to empower residents of this community, freeing them from a life of begging and scavenging the trash for items to sell.

I loved all the items in my box! I especially loved that the items represented women on three different continents! One box held items from Costa Rica, India, refugees from Burma, Bhutan, Nepal, and Thailand in Texas, Kenya, and Ethiopia! 

Each item reminds me to pray for the artist who created it! Would you pray with me?

Visit the Fair Trade Friday website above for more information on getting your own FTF box! Can't wait to see what you get! Another reason to love Friday! Thanks for loving mercy with me!

In His Love, 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Luke 10:8

In our family we've always made it a rule that when we're in other people's homes or in other countries that we follow the Luke 10:8 rule. 

"Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you." Luke 10:8

Since we often get asked what the weirdest thing we've eaten is I'll share some with you! I can honestly tell you that sometimes it feels more like we're on an episode of fear factor. That's simply because I'm not an overly adventurous eater. Eating different foods is way out of my comfort zone. But ya know, when in Rome... If you have a weak stomach you can go ahead and stop scrolling down now. You may have enjoyed a nice meal- you don't want to ruin that. 

So in Africa there were some fine delicacies. I'll show you a few of them. Again, perhaps not for the faint of stomach. 

This is crocodile bites. They were one of our favorites! We grew up in Florida so we've eaten gator before. Crocodile tastes like gator.  Imagine that! 

Maheu is a popular traditional drink made from maize meal that is fermented. Once fermented it has distinct sour flavor. Our friends made maheu fresh for us that day. It tastes like sweetened corn milk with chunks. So you had to drink and chew it. 

Friends, this is hippo. Yes. We ate hippo. Actually, it was the filet of the hippo. It tasted a lot like beef only chewier. It's not pictured but we also ate impala. Good stuff. 

This is dried fish. Normally, when you find them at the market they are covered in flies. You bring them home and put them in water to "revive" them and cook.

Rocks. Think of them like an African vitamin. 

Guess what? Yup, they taste like dirt. 

Dried mopane worms.

Cooking mopane worms. Enough said.

 Friends, meet kapenta. It's an African sardine. Pretty much all you need to know.

There was only one "different" delicacy in Ecuador. You're more likely to find them in a pet store in North America. Can you guess? 

Did you guess guinea pig?

You were correct!

They asked me to help roast them. Remember that whole "when in Rome thing"? Yeah that.

Roast guinea pig.

Tastes a lot like a mix of chicken and fish. One guinea pig is a week worth of wages. 

Obviously, we've eaten some different foods. In other countries and cultures you can offend easily by not eating their food. Even if it isn't your intention. When we go on a trip the goal is always to share the Gospel. To do this we use words and actions. Nothing is more important than that. Eating their food is an easy way to love them even if you don't enjoy it. 

Is there anything you wouldn't do for the Gospel?

In His Love,