s

Our Blog

M'Lou Bancroft receives Profiles in Leadership Award

On the evening of Wednesday, March 2, 2016, M’Lou Bancroft was honored with the Profiles in Leadership Award of the Southern Methodist University Women’s Symposium. The Profiles in Leadership Awards, initiated in 2000 at the 35th Annual Women’s Symposium, recognize women whose actions and example have served to advance the cause of women in the Dallas area. They are celebrated at the SMU Women’s Symposium as examples and mentors to women at all stages of life, and especially to young women at a time when they have many important decisions ahead of them.

 

M’Lou was recognized because she has “tenderly and doggedly mentored women who teetered at the edge of psychological defeat, giving them practical skills and the pride that comes with mastery.” Thank you M’Lou for all that you do!

Honduras Threads 2015 Mission Trip: The impact is building …

Small mission teams from Saint Michael and All Angels have been going to Honduras to work with women in rural communities outside the capital city of Tegucigalpa for the past six years. During that time a transformation has occurred. According to author Robert D. Lupton, in his book Toxic Charity, “charity can be either toxic or transformative.” As opposed to “relief” work, Honduras Threads promotes transformation by partnering in a continuing relationship with a group of women in a very poor country who are in chronic need. Through mindful “development” work over the past six years, the women of Honduras Threads have been transformed, afforded the dignity of working and earning money in their own communities to better the lives of their families and to educate their children by using proceeds to buy clothes, shoes and supplies required for school. Brigham Young is quoted as saying, “You educate a man; you educate a man. You educate a woman, you educate a generation.” Honduras Threads is impacting an entire generation.

Living in one of the poorest countries in the American continent, the women of Honduras Threads own their own businesses and build rewarding lives for their families, in many cases without electricity, medical resources, or clean water. They glorify God by using their abilities, productivity, and creativity in creating beautiful hand-embroidered products. They have become true artisans as good as any in the world.

Native Honduran Oto Manley, translator for Honduras Threads during the last five years, has been a witness to this transformation: 

I have seen countenances get brighter with light and hope, women that are far more confident than when I first met them, daughters learning from their mothers, expressions of love among the group united in one purpose, happy children, and motivation all around. I have seen women who know who they are, and who “believe they can.” Certainly “all things are possible to him that believeth” (Mark 9:23).

Likewise, those of us involved with Honduras Threads are transformed, as described by volunteer Valerie King:

I met these Honduran women years ago and I believe the impact of this embroidery cooperative has been life changing for them and for me. Although they come from different villages, they have forged a friendship and support for each other, which is just as important as the financial assistance they provide for their families. They are my heroes, keeping a positive attitude in the face of extreme poverty and adversity, maintaining a sense of pride in creating such beautiful embroidery pieces, and improving their business skills by learning the computer and cost accounting. I love being a part of this effort to support the women and watch them grow as they discover the best part of themselves.
 

In late June, a group of nine volunteers experienced a spiritual journey of broadening, deepening, and widening the way we understand and express God's love in Christ. We spent time teaching, learning, working, singing, praying, and having fun together in the small Episcopal Church in Santa Cruz Arriba with over thirty women, eight of their teenage children, and fifteen of their preschool children.

Each of the five rural sewing co-operatives has a small laptop computer to use in their business. This year, computer teaching focused on improving basic computer skills, using Excel to calculate the cost of production for each Honduras Threads project, and to keep accurate inventories of projects completed. In addition, each woman and teenager composed and typed his or her own personal story in order to improve writing skills.


 One of the highlights of the week occurred when the women were able to talk to former mission team leader Bill Bancroft on a Skype video call. The use of computers and the Internet has certainly broadened their world!

Last year the women earned certificates for proper use and maintenance of their sewing machines and refinement of basic sewing skills. This year, the women learned more advanced skills, once again taught by expert seamstress and sewing instructor Susan Oglesbee from Christ Church in Covington, Louisiana. They began work on a special commission to create clergy stoles designed by artist Pamela Nelson for the consecration of the new Uptown sanctuary at Church of the Incarnation.

All had a good time when certificates were awarded and we celebrated together on our final day.

The women appreciate the donated fabric that will be incorporated into colorful embroidered pillows, table runners and placemats sold in the Church Bookstore and online at hondurasthreads.org.

Mission team members appreciate the Prayer Partners who lifted us up each day, and thank God for allowing us to share our faith and friendship with this marvelous community of Honduran women and their families. They have demonstrated enormous capacity that continues to inspire us to build upon it.

Can’t go on a mission trip? There are many ways that you can be involved with Honduras Threads right here at home, where we are working to support the co-ops year round. Volunteers tag new products, sell products at events and shows, fill and ship orders, do photo shoots for our online store and more. We would love to have you! For more information, contact M’Lou Bancroft, mlou@hondurasthreads.org or Melanie McGill, melanie.mcgill@gmail.com.

“The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches, but to reveal to him his own.” ~ Benjamin Disraeli

     Melanie McGill, Honduras Threads Volunteer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Una Bendición de Dios
(A Blessing from God)

by Melanie McGill

In the spring of 2013, I was a newly widowed, burned out college professor looking for challenge, meaning, and purpose in my life. I had always wanted to go on a mission trip and there are many to choose from at Saint Michael’s. Still teaching at the University and longing for summer break, I read about a mission trip to Honduras coming up that summer. When I attended the first meeting for details, I met M’Lou and Bill Bancroft and was introduced to Honduras Threads, a group of women working in six embroidery co-ops in rural communities near the capital city of Tegucigalpa. I was amazed at the beauty of their brightly colored pillows and table runners, and soon my adventure began! Before I knew it, I was planning a curriculum to teach basic computer skills and cost accounting to the women in the sewing co-ops.

In preparation for the trip, I read three books: Enrique’s Journey (Sonia Nazario, 2006), Toxic Charity (Robert D. Lupton, 2011), and When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor … and Yourself (Steve Corbett & Brian Fikkert, 2012). These books were instrumental in framing my perspective for the trip and enhanced my understanding of social, political, and economic conditions in Honduras. The amount I spent on the weeklong mission trip was more than most Hondurans earn in an entire year.

Needless to say, I fell in love with the women of Honduras Threads! Even though I didn’t speak Spanish and we communicated through translators, I was welcomed and greeted with bright eyes and warm smiles, and I soon felt at ease. The women of Honduras Threads display a quiet strength, pride and dignity. Above all, they love God and love their families. Honduras Threads has provided them with a means to earn money to buy school uniforms and books for their children, as well as contribute to daily needs of the family. The children now see their mothers as productive wage earners. One of the best things about our mission is that we are providing a “hand up” rather than a “hand out” to the women; by working and owning their own businesses, they are empowered.

I returned to Honduras in the summer of 2014, and taught two levels of computer skills to the women and their teenage children while others learned about sewing machine maintenance and sewing techniques. The women learned typing in MS Word, using Excel templates to keep records, and how to email documents to us. Now, some of the women are even posting on the Honduras Threads Facebook page. In this photo you can see the excitement and joy they felt after receiving certificates on “graduation” day.