The [Mary Made] Sewing Project was a smashing success, and only by the grace of God. We had a whole ten minutes before our first class to figure the machines out. They are old-school foot pedal Singer machines. I’m sure it’s really cool to sew on a manual machine…when it works well. When we arrived the tensions on these were way off and the threads kept snapping and making loose stitches. It was a mess! Deb and I started to panic, wondering how we were going to teach the kids to sew if we couldn’t even work the machines ourselves!
God, of course, had a plan.
And it was perfect.
On our way to the village where we would be teaching sewing, we picked up a guy named Alfonso. His father is a tailor, so he was very familiar with how to make the quirky machines work. I believe he cracked a joke in Dinka to the students about the irony of these “great teachers from afar” who came to teach them to sew and didn’t know how to work the machines, because after he spoke, they all looked at us and laughed. To say it was humbling is to put it mildly. It was mortifying, ok?!
I began dialoguing with the Lord, “Surely you didn’t bring us all this way for nothing? That’s not like You. That would be a pointless waste of time, money and great effort.” He whispered something to my heart about relinquishing control. Dependency on Him was key. So we prayed, regrouped and re-strategized.
What did we have to work with? Alfonzo knew the machines. I knew how to teach, overcome language barriers and provide demonstrations for the projects. Deb is a pro and knew what materials we had to work with and how to guide pattern work. We ended up being a dream team, working together creatively, learning from each other’s experience, and then passing that on to the students.
And the students...oh my! They were amazing! They really wanted this. They were focused and hardworking. By the end of the very first day, they had successfully made some nice, sturdy tote bags to carry their school materials. It was awesome for them to make something that is practical and useful for the community. They--and we--were excited!
Within two days they were making bows, simple dresses, pants, and by the end of the course, they each made a complex patterned dress. It was amazing! My favorite moments were watching them teach the new students who came in and when they brought their family’s torn clothes for mending. The students quickly became the teachers, making this project greatly sustainable! Before it was all said and done, people in the village were bringing their clothing in for mending and alterations. One student even got fancy and started embellishing clothes for him and his buddies.
On graduation day, the community, along with its leaders showed up and all of the customary introductions and formalities took place. The leaders were excited about the fact that the community could now source their own clothing, provide uniforms for the students (especially the orphans), prolong the use of their tattered clothes, and continue to develop this great life skill in the current and upcoming students. This is a big deal. They have always had to travel very far to find any clothing.
God is good, folks. He dresses the flowers in the fields and His children in the bush.
SARAH SMITH | DIRECTOR OF REFUGIO SOLTÉ
Mere days after Jason, a Louisiana boy, and Sarah, a Honduran daughter of missionaries, were married in 2006, they were asked to go to Costa Rica to manage the construction project of Refugio Solté. With nothing tying the newlyweds down, they set off for a one-year jungle adventure, not knowing that 10+ years and two boys later the adventure would still be unfolding. Together they direct the happenings of Refugio Solté, leading retreats and trainings, and seeking daily what God's plans are for His mountain.