Sugar-n-Spice and Everything Nice

June 18, 2015
June 18, 2015

Chatterboxes Pic

 

Sugar-n-Spice and Everything Nice

Every Thursday afternoon, for the past three years, four women lug their sewing machines, piles of fabric, buttons and bows into a conference room in Forest Hill Church in Charlotte, NC.  They are affectionately known as the M&Ms (Martha & Mary’s) and they are part of Forest Hill’s senior life group called the Chatterboxes.  The M&M’s create magic every week as evidenced by the $1.50 bed skirt purchased from Good Will and transformed into nine delightful ‘sugar-n-spice and everything nice’ dresses.  Not wanting the boys to feel left out, they also make shorts and couple them with t-shirts for a complete sleek ensemble. These labors of love have put smiles on the faces of little boys and girls in Haiti, Dominican Republic, Senegal and soon-to-be Bless Back Worldwide sites in Nicaragua and Haiti!

In addition to beautiful clothing, the M&M’s have taken on a new project. They make pouches for adolescent girls and women that contain greatly needed reusable sanitary pads, washcloths, underwear & soap. These items might not be as fun as the dresses to create – but they provide a very critical need as many females miss school or work during their cycles. Bless Back Worldwide (BBW) will be delivering these gifts to the women of Nicaragua and Haiti during Women’s Health Conferences this July.  The BBW team will also provide each child at a local school with a charming outfit that is sure to please! A huge thank you to the M&M’s for sharing your gifts with us!

The backbone of the M&Ms is their life group at Forest Hill Church. Every Sunday, this energetic and committed group of seniors, collect money so the M&M’s can purchase fabric.  They also donate crates of soap, underwear, t-shirts and washcloths.  BBW is about using your God given gifts, talents and resources to change the world. The Chatterboxes are definitely making a difference!

The M&M’s run their sewing circle like a well-oiled machine.  Each person plays a specific and critical role in the creation of their wares. Carole Parkinson is the chief cutter.  Dede Dewey is the master sewer and pulls the major pieces together.  Charlie Eichler does the beautiful finishing & handiwork and Carolyn Powell tags, labels and writes a hand written bible verse that accompanies each item. Before packing the wares, the four ladies gather around and pray for each child who will be receiving them and for the safety of each person delivering the items around the world.  The ladies have a “nothing is wasted” attitude. All scraps that are created during the process are collected and lovingly sewn into old pillow cases to become warm, comfortable dog beds for the local animal shelter.

It’s hard to put into words the love and joy that one feels when meeting with these women. They are humble, grateful, funny and charming. They share that “creating these gifts is every bit as much of a blessing as it is to receive.”  I am honored to have met each one of these special ladies and I am grateful to the life group that supports them. I am a better person in knowing them. They are the hands and feet of Jesus. They are changing the world.

A huge Bless Back Worldwide thank you to the M&M’s and the Chatterboxes.  We love you!

 

Another Year

December 29, 2013
December 29, 2013

By Lisa McCloy

 As I sit in my home on this Saturday morning before Christmas, I am enjoying a few quiet moments(in the midst of the holiday craziness) to reflect on the past year and to contemplate on the upcoming new year. The first thought that rolls through my consciousness is, “Where did this past year go?” That thought is quickly followed by, “What will the new year bring?”

As I think back over the moments of 2013, so many of the highlights of the past year are relational in nature. I am loving the new dynamics of interacting adult children, becoming an empty nester with my husband and having the time to reconnect with old friends and deepening relationships with new friends.  God made us to be relational, to be in community, to connect on deeper levels.  Relationship with others is a basic human need.

Building healthy relationships is also something that the core team at Bless Back has been discussing and wrestling with in regards to our service to others.   We are committed to growing healthy relationships with our ministry partners and with those we encounter in the areas where we serve. So as we begin to plan for 2014, let’s take a quick  look at how we might better serve those in need, whether through a BBW project or just on our own.  How can we actually build a relationships with those we serve? I’ll give you a quick peek of an acronym that will be the foundation for all BBW service in 2014 and forward.

The word is HEART.

Humility/Humblenesswhen we serve we need to humble ourselves and realize that we are just as broken and needy as those we serve albeit in different areas of our lives. We need to have a desire to serve rather than lead.   We need to embrace mutual brokenness.

Empower-we are in service to build up and encourage through long-term relationship. we engage those we serve in the process not just do it for them. Empowerment is a long term process.

Adaptability we serve with their needs in mind, not ours, local ministries take the lead, we slow down  and let the process become more important that the end product

Respectfulwe preserve the dignity of those we serve, we recognize and embrace cultural differences, we respect the authority of the local ministry partner

Thankful we appreciate and recognize what God has been doing in these communities for ages; we recognize and appreciate the assets of the local community

 So as we prepare for another new year, let’s reflect on how we can not only work on deepening the relationships in our personal lives but also with those individuals in the poverty stricken areas where we serve. We need to commit to valuing the person and building the relationship.  I invite all who read this to take time to serve in 2014.  We would love to have you serve with us at BBW on a short term team abroad or locally in the Charlotte area.

Have a blessed 2014!!

The Eyes – a Window to the Soul.

November 14, 2013
November 14, 2013

It’s the eyes that get you.  If you have spent any time in a third world country,  you know what I mean.  You try to avoid looking.  You smile and wave cheerfully.  You scan the ground, or study the trees, or admire the clouds.  You do anything to avoid the eyes.  But sooner or later, the moment comes when eyes meet and you know more about that person in the seconds of a locked gaze than you could ever imagine. There is no language barrier when it comes to the eyes.  The eyes tell it all.

You see fear in the eyes of the young mothers waiting in the clinic with their sick, limp babies.  There is desperation in the looks of the beggars on the streets, pleading for a coin, some food, or maybe your shoes.  Sometimes their anger flashes at you saying, “Why me, not you?”  But the most haunting eyes belong to the ones who have lost hope.  Those eyes have no words to say.  They have lost their speech.  These are souls who have reconciled that life will never be better for them. In fact, they don’t even grasp what better means.  They struggle to simply open their eyes in the morning, and pray they will be alive to close them at the end of the day.

And yet there is hope.  I see it in the eyes of the children, dressed in smart, ironed uniforms, lining up at 7 am each day.  Mission of Hope International in Haiti has opened its brand-new school building and through the gates come 600 children with eyes full of joy.  Doors open to a world of new possibilities for these young people.  The building is solid and safe, creating a tangible representation of the foundation education is laying in the student’s lives.  The halls and stairways are leading to a future that looks very different than the existence generations before have endured.  The teaching that goes on in the open and airy classrooms is, in the words of Socrates, the “kindling of a fire”. Lock eyes with a student and you’ll see it- light, promise, hope.

Mission of Hope International strives to provide high-quality educational programs to children of all levels and means in the Grand-Goave area.  They boast an unprecedented 100% pass rate among graduating seniors on the national high school exams. Bless Back is excited to support MOHI through a grant from our generous donors.  Funds from our recent Grateful Hearts Gala have been designated for the completion of Phase I of the Thozin School Campus in Grand-Goave.  The facility will house not only classrooms, but also a science lab, computer lab, library, activity room, cafeteria and bathrooms. It is difficult to measure the impact this blessing will have on the students at Thozin, but I suspect the 1200 eyes will say it all.

Nothing Comes Easy in Nicaragua

November 6, 2013
November 6, 2013

“Nothing comes easy in Nicaragua”

It was in January 2013, when Los Rayos de Experanza (LRdE), Bless Back’s partner in Nicaragua sent an email about the community they had come across in Nicaragua.  Sitting in my comfortable family room, reading the description of the living conditions was heartbreaking. The community is called La Paz de Reconcillian. It is about 20 minutes outside of Diriomo.  The people live in dilapidated structures made of scraps of plastic, tin and tarps. There’s no running water, no electricity, no hope. The children don’t go to school because they are so embarrassed about their clothes & hygiene. Unemployment and underemployment exceeds 90% in this community – and most of the communities where Bless Back serves in Nicaragua.  Reading the email, we were convicted.

Since that first email, Bless Back Worldwide has sent three teams to this community – with another team scheduled before the end of the year. Two teams have provided greatly needed medical care. One team spent a week loving on and caring for the people. They planted fruit producing shade trees, treated the women to a spa day, distributed food bags and led a Vacation Bible School for the children.  And… we’ve prayed. We’ve prayed for months that the government would take pity on this community and provide water to these sweet people.

Nothing comes easy in Nicaragua.  Naomi  Heidorn, with LRdE, worked feverishly with the community leaders mentoring them to advocate for themselves.  BBW raised funds to purchase pipes. We purchased shovels so the community could have tools to dig the ditches.  Many, many meetings – many, many roadblocks.  The government, the water company, the owner of the property where we needed a right-of-way, they all wanted a piece of the action and the goal seemed unattainable.  In October, 2013 our hopes were dashed.  After great consideration, we thought we would reallocate the funds we had set aside for this project to another need.

“Oh yea of little faith”!   Last week, we got word that the work had begun on the project! The government gave the go ahead. The water company lived up to their part of the bargain. The locals dug the ditches. BBW provided the funds and LRdE purchased and delivered pipes and spigots for each of the 100+ homes.  In less than five days… the water in La Paz is flowing!  The joy in the community is overwhelming! In a few short days, our people on the ground have already noticed a difference in the hygiene.  There is a renewed hope in the community of La Paz.   This is a gift that is changing the world. And as Bless Back teams return to La Paz to serve in other ways – we are reminded of John 7:38…. “Whoever, believes in me, ‘Out of his heart will flow waters of living water’.   Thank you to our generous donors and prayer warriors who NEVER give up hope.  Let’s go tackle the next one!

dirty barrio family