Thursday, June 16, 2011
By The Work of Their Hands
Visiting one of the weaver cooperatives from which Rwanda Basket Company buys the baskets it sells in the U.S. was pure joy – a dream come true. When I started selling baskets on behalf of these woman a few years ago, I felt immediately connected to these other mothers so far away, using the work of their hands to feed their babies. But whatever connection I felt could not have prepared me for the joy of being in their company. It was an amazing afternoon of song and dance, smiles and hugs under a bright and steady sun. We met in the building that the co-op affords by their collective effort. They showed us where they dye the sisal that they collect – one step in a long process of transforming a valueless roadside plant into a beautiful and functional work of art.
These women are making it. By their hard work they are feeding their families and affording things like health insurance, school fees, and Vaseline to take care of their beautiful skin. The bright, hopeful eyes of one particular baby said it all.
Being with these women was like standing inside Proverbs 31. To my right and to my left, this passage of scripture came alive:
14 She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
My heart nearly burst with hope. It was an all-together amazing afternoon. I cannot imagine anything more satisfying to God than to see his beautiful daughters enjoying the fruits of their labor; small seed entrusted to his rich soil, now ripe and profitable.
In my lifetime, whenever and wherever, I hope to have more opportunities to bear witness to women who are honoring their talents and when appropriate, offer my own meager support. Lord, let it be.