On May 13th, we will be launching the Fall 2016 Collection and the Se Llama Llama collection. Eugene Erkle from Zootastic Park will be coming to The Marketplace Friday from 6-7 pm to help us with the launch! He is a cute dwarf llama who has graciously agreed to be the Se Llama Llama spokesperson. Buy a Se Llama Llama shirt and have your picture taken with Eugene! Invite your friends. What a great way to share the ministry of The Marketplace, see a cool llama, purchase products supporting women who have been rescued from prostitution, and enjoy food trucks!
Re-entering my normal life after a crazy God adventure is never easy. I have seen too much. The question that always emerges is “What do you want?” I don’t belong there. I don’t belong here. I feel like I straddle 2 very different worlds. Days before I leave Charlotte to go on a trip, I start disconnecting from my life here. When I land, I become immersed in that country. I want to learn the culture, sit with the people, and try all kinds of crazy food. My trips are so different because I already have relationships before I go. Those relationships open doors. I could not have experienced Bolivia without the help of SutiSana and Word Made Flesh Bolivia. These guys opened their doors to me and changed their schedules to accommodate my visit. I got to see El Alto from a different set of lenses. I went to an aguayo factory and saw the whole process of making 100% sheep’s wool from start to finish. I experienced what I call the “anatomy of a bag”. It starts with a design then running through the market to get all the raw materials from various stalls to sitting with the artisans and creating a prototype to tweaking it to make it “just right.” I walked through brothels and got to see 1st hand why this ministry exists. I got to build deeper relationships. Why do relationships on these trips seem to happen quicker and deeper? I don’t know. Maybe because I am in the moment and I don’t have a million other things pulling at my attention. I got to take the teleferico to work aka the sky cable and eat cactus fruit from a street vendor. I ate these black potatoes that people stepped on to get the moisture out of them, dried them, and when we are ready to eat them they reconstitute them. Serious. I blankly stared at people as they were speaking Spanish a mile a minute to me not understanding a word of it. I realized I actually look Bolivian. Does it matter that I don't speak Spanish? You can get around. Take for example one of the common mode of transportation there is this big taxi van, imagine a 15 passenger van. Well, I quickly learned when I am sitting in the jump seat and someone behind me shouts something in Spanish, what they are saying is the name of the stop they want to get off at. So when the van stops, I jump out of the seat, lift it up, open the door, and let them get out. Then I jump back in, shut the door, pull my seat back down, and off we go. See no Spanish but I managed. smile emoticon #BOlivin baby!! I sat in the workshop and smiled as I heard the ladies singing while they were working. I teared up as I watched the ladies react to the new collection. They were so proud that they created this! It was 9 intense full out days of living. For me, God and I would start our day at 3 am and it would end at 10 pm. One of the things I love the most is that I hear God so clearly on the field. My relationship with the Lord grows so much because I have to fully trust Him. I do things I would never do and say things that are so out of character for me. The creativity is unreal. Who gets to experience all of this? This is my crazy life!!
So what do I do with all this? I go back to what my husband asks me all the time, “Where are you most effective for the Kingdom?” Here. I want to say this I give Word Made Flesh and SutiSana a standing ovation. I could never do what they do. But that’s the beauty of it. I am not supposed to. My assignment is to support them and do what God has called me to do; create sustainable businesses and tell their stories. It’s all parts coming together to be the body. When you guys come to the store and I share a story about SutiSana and I lose it, I am back there again. Trust me the emotions are real. Many people ask me, “Why do you go and put yourself through this?” Because I love it and I wouldn’t have it any other way. My life is so much richer for all these experiences. Bolivia, you managed to capture my heart and you taught me something about myself. What did I learn? Be open to new ideas and experiences because they will change you. Don’t allow the world to tell you who you are, let the one who created you define you. Finally, relationships are messy but sometimes in the mess you will discover the most beautiful thing, heart.
As you head into this week, be fully present and open to experience new things. It just might change you, for the better. Have a great week guys!
As I looked into each woman’s eyes when I was in the brothels in El Alto, I kept hearing, “Do you really see me?” I do see you, I really do. These women just wanted someone to see who they were inside and really care. This image really haunted me.
When we were outside, Andrea the Director of Word Made Flesh and I talked about this. She said, “You are the God who sees me.” I felt God’s presence in the brothel. He sees her. He loves her. He has not forgotten her. The thought ...haunted me.
Sutisana not only has a workshop but they also have a small storefront. It just had metal shelves in it and product. I mentioned to Andrea, “We could help change it.” Do you ever say something and then wonder to yourself- and where are we going to get the time for this? Andrea said that would be great. Oops too late, we were going to do this. When you design a storefront, you in essence create a feeling and tell a story in under a minute! That’s what we do in The Marketplace. I did not want to create another TMP, I wanted to create something uniquely Sutisana. So, we started to dream and then Jess started to draw. Notice how I said Jess. You see, I can cast vision but that is it folks! In the US, I have my master carpenter Lou to make it happen so in Bolivia I have Jess! The focal point of the design was a pallet wall. I woke up one morning at 3 am and knew what the anchor piece of that wall was. We wanted to do something special for Andrea and the mission of Word Made Flesh. We wanted to capture the heart of what they believed. We knew we needed to get “You are the God who Sees Me” on the wall. Some of my best ideas happen at 3 am! The minute you walk in and see the wall, you KNOW who Sutisana and Word Made Flesh are. Mission accomplished.