“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous hand.”
~ Isaiah 41:10
I’m a 7 on the Enneagram (which means in my mind there’s no point in doing anything if we can’t have fun while we do it). I’m not an anxious person. I tend to roll with the punches. In fact, one of my favorite sayings is “it is what it is, and God’s got it”. Whatever life throws our way, I am confident that God will use it for good and guide us through every hurdle.
So why do I get so anxious before every trip to Africa? Sleepless nights. The occasional cold sweat. A ball of nerves and adrenaline. What happened to my Enneagram 7 sense of fun and adventure?
At the moment I’m stuck on a tarmac, my flight delayed to meet my travel companion and good friend, Abigail Cancelliere of @harlinhouseatlanta. This is my 5 th BraveWorks trip to visit our artisans in Rwanda, Uganda, and Ethiopia since 2019. Each trip has been amazing in its own way. Each trip also brought so many challenges – some related to the planes, trains, and automobiles involved, not to mention the hundreds of pounds of luggage with which we travel.
But the real worries come when we get on the ground and hear the stories of the women we serve in each country.
Their plight in unimaginable, and it’s gotten much worse in the past few years with the pandemic. Our African artisans live in dire poverty with primitive working conditions. Many craft their goods while sitting on mud floors, barefoot, with no tools, tables or benches. I have back issues. Knee issues. And now hip issues (don’t get me started). I cannot imagine the toll these conditions take on their bodies as they work to provide for their children.
My anxiety leading up to these trips doesn’t have to do with the 28+ hours it will take us to get there (one time it took 54 hours. That was fun). Nor do I stress over whether we’ll have hot water or air conditioning. Even the State Department warnings regarding terrorism, kidnapping, and more don’t rattle me as much as they should. My anxiety comes from the enormous responsibility of finding enough work for these artisans so they can better support their families.
We know that if we can guide the artisans in the design process, then they will create beautiful things that you will want to wear, gift, or display in your home. The more items we all purchase, the more we will empower each artisan. We want you to love each piece! But on top of the working conditions, our artisans are limited in their skills as well as their access to materials and tools. This is not your typical design process.
Prior to each trip our team is working on ideas and prototypes, sending sketches and photos via WhatsApp, and doing all that we can to find new ways to make lemonade out of their lemons (special thanks to Mary Liz McDowell!). We strive to provide economic opportunities where they previously did not exist. To help the artisans create beautiful products we know you will love.
As I await takeoff, my heart begins to calm. My nerves are starting to subside. We’ve done all we can pre-trip, the bags are loaded, and as I like to say, it is what it is, and God’s got it. I know that my fears will be abated when we see our artisans’ smiling faces, when they greet us with their beautiful songs and welcoming dances. I know my heart will soar when we can hug them,
experience their palpable love, and provide them with economic opportunities. And most importantly, I know that God has the perfect plan for this trip and for each artisan. I know he will provide the strength we need to serve in the way he wants us to serve. I can take that yoke off my shoulders, push my worries aside, and trust in our God. Thank God. Here we go!
Ps - I couldn’t be more grateful for your prayers. Thank you for all you do to support our artisans!