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, firstname.lastname@example.org or Melanie McGill, email@example.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