Friday, January 6, 2017

A Tapestry Woven: part 2 (aka All Justin's Fault)

{First things first: If you haven't read part 1, you can find it HERE.}

Like I said before, it was all Justin's fault.

He had volunteered me to teach women to sew, but after my first trip, I was much less apprehensive about going. I gathered a team of wonderful seamstresses and we had worked hard raising money, collecting donations, and preparing to help set up this program. Little did we know how things would pan out.

It had been unclear what was going to happen before we arrived, but all of my expectations started unraveling:

I thought there were going to be six women; there were three.

I thought we were going to be making garments, but ended up focusing on making small bags.

I thought we had a Haitian sewing manager that was going to be there, but she was in the US when we arrived in Haiti.

I thought there was a plan for the program after we left, but it had gotten waylaid.

Things were not lining up the way we assumed they would.

The thing about going on a trip--really any trip--is that things often go differently than planned. Flexibility is the key. In addition to teaching the three women who had come, we decided to invite some girls from another orphanage down the road to learn to sew. It was perfectly chaotic and amazing.

I can't tell you the emotional exhaustion that comes from teaching sewing to women, especially in a foreign language. I tried to twist the same Creole phrase in order to communicate a multitude of things. I think I sounded like an idiot. But I tried.

Then came a pivotal moment for my life, although I didn't know it at the time. 

The president of Chances for Children, Kathi, broke the news to me: the Director of the Women's Empowerment Program had resigned and there was no one to oversee it. It would not go on after we left. She said, "It's great that you taught these women to sew, but I don't have time to oversee it."

I thought about University Fellowship who had supported our team, donated a ton of money and supplies to help make this happen. I thought about how this wasn't even my idea in the first place! We were there because it was what the Director of the program wanted to do! I thought about the money and time sacrificed by the team of six women who had come to teach sewing. I thought about the women who were counting on having a job to support their families.

No, the program had to go on. "We will oversee it," I told Kathi.

In my mind, the "we" in that statement was a multitude of people somehow. A village. A church. The "we" was certainly not a "me." After all, I did not think I was coming back, or was I? Details about the "we" in my promise was all starting to get a little fuzzy.

to be continued . . .

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