How I Found Thankfulness on the Other Side of the World



( Above are the before and afters of the The Shop)

You know the panicky feeling you get when you face an impossible deadline?

I had it in spades.

Where was all the shelving I sent specifications for from my stateside office? The pieces that were to be built and delivered so that when I arrived in Rwanda we could paint them?

Looming in front of me was a tired, dingy box of a room. A rainbow of merchandise hung sparsely in a vain attempt to liven up the faded yellow walls. An assortment of vivd purses and aprons lay folded on less-than-ample mis-matched shelves.

I knew lurking somewhere lie a potential for cuteness, but it had to be unearthed.

So tape measure in hand I began to lay it out…again.

When the sweet carpenter finally showed up, all was forgiven. I showed him where I wanted the new shelves and told him I needed boards all the way around the room at ceiling height so we could screw in cup hooks for hanging bags and lower boards for hanging jewelry.

And I needed them by tomorrow.

He smiled and nodded. And I said, “No really, I need them by tomorrow.”
When he saw that I was serious, his smile never dimmed. “I can get helpers and we will have them to you by eight o’clock tomorrow night.”

I could have kissed him.

I was sweating the fact that I was half way around the world—with a specific job to do—and worried I wasn’t going to be able to do it.

Now the next question. Was eight o’clock Rwandan time or American time? Rwandan time means the time set, in their eyes, is just a suggestion. Often they show up one to two hours later.

But darling Martin showed up early with our load of new shelving.
He walked proud. We smiled giddy.

Then the fun began. I had the privilege of working alongside Betsie, the gal who runs the handbag workroom, Umucyo, and her friends David and Kelly. We had to paint that evening so it would be dry enough the next day to second coat the shelves and began merchandising them.

But the paint we got was an oil base and the fumes so bad, even with the windows wide and the door open, we began to get dizzy and had to step outside for fresh air at regular intervals. Giggles ensued, as we frantically pushed to finish. By the dim light of one bulb we bonded and got it done.

And as midnight neared, exhausted but happy, I surveyed the results.

Thankfulness washed me clean.

Thankful for a carpenter who worked on “American” time.
Thankful for new friends willing to work hard alongside me through stink and toil.
Thankful for the women who worked long hours to provide beautiful handmade items for The Shop.

Thankful for a patient God who led me steady through my futile worries.

The grand opening of The Shop is today.

I solicit your prayer for it’s success.

Every item sold insures the employment of these women who have mouths to feed and many have little other options other than selling themselves.


(Vendors are Belay Global-jewelry, Umucyo-bags and aprons, More than Sparrows-homegoods. Look them up!)