Friday, August 30, 2013

Sewing Week in Rio Frio

Rebecca, Julie, Me, Julie, Karen and Stephanie

Commit to The Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed. Proverbs 16:3

Introducing our projects
It’s hard for me to think about what happened in the month because I can pretty much only remember what happened last week. Before that it was all a blur! Last week we had 5 woman from Ontario come to teach 60 women in Rio Frio sewing projects. It was a huge success! It was about 6 months of planning coming to fruition. For those of you that don’t know, Rio Frio is a little community about 45 minutes away from San Vicente. We have been working in that community a little over a year now building houses. We love this community because of the unity there which is lead by a pastor and a catholic representative, Pastor Pastor and Cesar. 

The women brought all the materials to make each project plus materials to put together 60 gift baskets of sewing supplies. Knit/jersey fabric and interfacing was cut for all. Contents included a notebook for records, pen, Bible, scissors, sewing kit with all the notions (thread, pins, needles, measuring tape, zippers, pin cushion, etc.), 3 fat quarters and a make-up item.
I adapted the bible study “Women of Worth” to an intensive 5 day study to do with the women. Julie Tiessen says it best in the ladies blog when she says, “But it's actually the most important as it's about the MAIN reason we are here ... not just for the sewing, but to build into these women's lives through our daily devotionals with them. These times have been SO blessed, and they tend to go way past their allotment, which is awesome! Women's lives are being touched for eternity ... we are seeing it through tears and laughter, which transcend cultural and linguistic barriers as womens' hearts have a way of speaking to one another. They are fully entering into this experience soaking it up like sponges. What a privilege to bring God's words to these eager ladies!” You can read their thoughts on the week at

Eating yummy lunch
We were also able to cook lunch for about 100 people, thanks to the funds raised by the Ontario team. Juanita did an amazing job cooking and we fed everyone that week and even came under budget! Why 100? We had 60 women, 5 canadians, 6 translators, 4 helpers and 30 kids! Rebecca was amazing and took all the kids in stride providing crafts, a bible lesson each day and all around great care.

I think for me, the week rekindled that fire I have in my heart for missions. It helped me remember why I am here and why I love it. At the end of the week, one of the ladies said to me that she was so thankful that we came because if we didn’t, they never would have learned the things they were taught. I replied “that is not necessarily true, God may have found another way to bring it to you.” To which she said, with tears in her eyes, “No, no one ever comes here to Rio Frio, no one, ever!” I will never forget this. What it must feel like to feel forgotten. We are currently building a sewing centre there that will house 9 machines and a working space for the women in this community to better their lives. I publicly made a promise to return there at least once a month to teach a class. I want these women to know that they are not forgotten. They are women of worth and they are important to me.
Guadelupe with her finished wallet and sponsor card 
I am also hoping that down the road I will pick up things that they have made and have the opportunity to sell them to teams. We will also be getting the website up and running to able us to sell on the web.

We do have some prayer requests.

We are trying to raise money for the website development, and we need your HELP, both financially and prayerfully, that it will be something that will advance our work here. Please click on the donate button on the side of this blog to donate.

We are still trying to keep the people in the sewing centre employed and are running out of work. If you, or anyone you know are interested in having a one of a kind quilt made or t-shirts or personalized tote bags made for your work, family etc. Please let us know by emailing us

Next week Jim comes and we will be having series of meetings with the in country leaders, building team, translators, cook, driver etc. and doing a sort of leadership training. Pray that it will come together . 

Thursday, August 1, 2013


Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
    whose trust is the Lord.
He is like a tree planted by water,
    that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
    for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
    for it does not cease to bear fruit
Jeremiah 17: 7 - 8

Although only two weeks have passed since we arrived back in El Salvador, it seems like months.  And it feels like an eternity since I put pen to paper, (is this still the correct term when I actually put fingertips to little rubber squares?) so I guess it is probably time to catch up a little bit.
I have been thinking a lot about roots over the last few days.  Back in March, we purchased a piece of land here in San Vicente and have been busy clearing the 25 years of jungle and garbage that had accumulated.  In April we hired a local man named Morgan as our contractor and he has been directing his crew of 11 men as they build perimeter walls and the first stages of the house/multi-use centre that we hope to build.  When we first entered the property over a year ago, one of the first gems that we encountered was an old Tempisque tree in one corner of the yard.  Nobody is certain, but my guess would be that this tree was 300 to 400 years old.  You may have noticed that I used the past tense, because on closer inspection we discovered that some bee-like insects had built their hive in the center of the tree trunk.  As the tree was going to pose a danger to our house as well as our neighbours, we made the decision that it would have to come down.  After five days of work for a crew of six, 3 chainsaws and a plethora of machetes, all that is left is a massive stump (probably about 2 metres in diameter) and giant pile of firewood.  Now comes the big job of slowly unearthing the enormous roots of this old monster.

At the same time we have been busy purchasing new fruit trees that will eventually end up in the new yard. Oranges, avocados, coconuts, lychee, and guava will eventually fill the vacant space.  Carie, the kids, and I have transplanted these new purchases into plastic pots so that they can grow a bit before we plant them in the yard.  Carefully we unwrap the young root systems and surround them with new soil and fertilizer.

I guess I have been wondering about the roots in my own life.  About 3 years ago, God decided it was time dig out some roots that had become old and maybe dangerous for myself and those around me.  Maybe my life was hollow due to complacency, comfort, seeking after my own wants and needs.  I think He needed to cut away the dead wood, so that he could plant me anew.  He wants our lives to bear fruit, and provide comfort and shade to those around us, and blossom to show the beauty that is Him.  As we begin to see this place as our home a little more each day, we are thankful for the new roots that God is planting.  And our prayer is that we as individuals and a as a family continually send out these roots to the stream.

Life tends to accelerate for us here in El Salvador.  When we arrived two weeks ago, Carie and I already had a laundry list of things to focus on over the next little while.  Thankfully we have whittled a few things off the list including renewing our immigration documents, being able to inform 25 more families that Shelter will be able provide them with a new home over the next 3 months, starting the construction of a new sewing centre in Rio Frio, seeing Diego’s first runway show for his design school, getting the kids back into the swing of things at school, troubleshooting a few problems in the sewing centre here in San Vicente, and probably most important we have been able to spend some time with many of our good friends.  We are truly blessed. 

We also are beginning to plan and prepare for the season of teams that will be upon us sooner than we think.  In fact Carie has been busy getting the details in place for a group of ladies coming from Ontario to help teach small sewing projects in the community of Rio Frio.  They arrive in 3 weeks and we are both excited for ways that God will work through this week, and also a little nervous as this is the first trip of its type that we have been involved in.  This season we will see more teams than ever, we are reaching further into new communities, and we pray that more families (both Canadian and Salvadorian) will be impacted by God’s abounding love. We are confident that many good things will happen over this next year in terms of the home-building project, but we also have a few things on our radar that are in the early stages of prayer and planning.  We ask that you pray over these things as well so that we may receive wisdom and guidance:

  1. A alcohol and drug rehabilitation centre in San Vicente.  Addictions are very visible here and we have been working with Oscar on the possibility of a location which would house 10-12 men for a one year period of recovery and restoration.  Our dream is for a holistic ministry in which those that commit to the program will leave with the right tools and hope to be a difference in their families and community.
  2. High School in Rio Frio.  We know that education is important to combat many of the problems of poverty and delinquency we see around us.  The community of Rio Frio is one of 17 small communities in an area about 45 minutes away from San Vicente.  There is currently only education offered in the area up to grade 9.  Those that wish to continuing studying need to travel to and from San Vicente or Apastepeque each day which is a cost of somewhere between $3 and $5 a day.  This is highly unobtainable for most families in the zone, so the rate of continuance into high school is less than 30%.  We have been presented with a proposal to work with the community in creating and building a school that would service that entire zone, providing both academic and technical studies.
  3. Bakery in San Vicente.  We have been working with a lady in our church to provide baking classes for groups of 12-15 people.  To date we have had 5 of the 3-week programs.  We would like to see how we can turn some of this into a sustainable business for some of the ladies that have taken the training.
  4. Farming God’s Way program.  We are in the preliminary stages of connecting with a program that is currently running in Honduras under the guidance of the Canadian Foodgrains Bank and the Mennonite Central Committee.  The purpose of the project is to improve farming practices to increase yields, improve land quality, and decrease reliance on expensive fertilizers and pesticides.  There may be a chance to visit the project in Honduras over the next little while, and see how it could function in our locale.
  5. Connections with our local church.  We believe that God is working great things in the church we attend here in San Vicente.  We see a strong vision developing of reaching out to the community.  We are always looking for ways that we can help strengthen and encourage leadership, form greater connections between the groups that come and the local body, and help show the love of Christ in new and powerful ways.

I would like to close by answering a question that I have been asked many times: “How can I help?”  Our first response to this is always prayer.  We crave your prayers for us as a family; for safety, for guidance, for peace, and patience.  We ask you to pray for the people that we share our lives with here.  There are too many to list them all, but specifically over the next while we know that Hector and Veralis, Carlos and Yanira, Pastor Jorge and Maritza, Oscar and Jackie, Juanita and her family, Tomasita and her family, Maria Elena, Don Pedro and his family, the girls (and Geovany) in the sewing centre, Basilio and Veronica, Noe, Roberto, Miguel, Fredi and their families, the community of San Antonio.

Finally, one of the big ways that you can support us is by supporting the small businesses that we are working alongside here.  Specifically the sales of quilts, t-shirts, and handicrafts directly impact the lives of 12 families, as they share the profits from all of these items.  And not only do these create financial blessings for the women (and man) involved.  We have been told by more than one of these ladies that they now feel that they are useful and have a purpose, where before they didn’t see themselves as having any value.  We constantly reiterate to them that in God’s eyes they are all beautiful creations planned out before the creation of the heavens and the earth, but we know that God often uses physical examples for us to understand as well.  In this case it is the ability to see a well-crafted product at the end of the day.
So we encourage you to support these people through purchasing and word-of-mouth marketing for us.  If you have a design that you would like stamped on a shirt or would like to pick some fabrics for a hand-crafted quilt, please email us at csmcalli@gmail.comWe are also currently working on creating an electronic storefront to display and accept product orders.  If you are interested in donating towards the cost of this venture, please contact myself or Carie for more information or click on the Donate button on the right hand side of this website.