bearers of stories & keepers of dreams

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(me and sweet Jalia~who encouraged me more than I did her)

Today marks my second anniversary as a Noonday Collection Ambassador, and I realized one reason I love this work is because it’s not business, it’s personal. Ok, it is business, obviously. And our artisans need us to view it that way, because it sure as heck is a business to them—that provides a living wage. So it is business, a really good one. It’s just so much more than that.

I had the privilege of hearing, seeing, and touching Jalia Muwanga–our very first artisan–in January at the Ambassador Conference. Jalia and her husband Daniel live in Uganda and were suffering in poverty three and a half years ago. They had gone to university (a huge achievement in a country where only 38% of female primary school students graduate to secondary school), they had made good strides toward making a better life for themselves, to provide well for their children and serve God. But they were trapped in the oppressive cycle that many in their country experience, and there seemed to be no way out.

She shared her inner struggles, raw, desperate, and heartbreaking. And she shared the redemption that came when God brought Noonday. She swallowed hard and let the tears roll as she confessed, “You knew your work provided a business. But I bet you didn’t know it saved a marriage.”

It took two years of steady Noonday orders before Jalia let go of her fear of dying. Her fear of having to give her children up for adoption. And when she stood before us six months ago with beauty, dignity, and humility, I saw royalty. I was undone. I may never recover. I hope I don’t.

She courageously let us into her story. And there are so many more. Some artisans have never shared their story before…until they knew someone saw them. Someone wanted to know, and carried their story with care.

We do not share stories unless our artisans have given us permission to do so. How brave, aren’t they? Don’t you long for your story to be heard? To be received with such grace?

I think you should share your story, too.

We all should. We are indeed the bearers of one another’s stories. We are the witnesses to the struggle, the falls, the redemption, and it needs to be spoken. It deserves to be spoken.

I do not like to be vulnerable. I mean I LOVE when my true, broken self is received well, and there’s nothing more edifying than realness between people. I mean I live for it! But I also hate it. It’s just so…vulnerable.

A few weeks ago I confided to some close friends some financial hurdles we just couldn’t get over, and it had me anxious, and had me stretching in so many ways. They asked me if I was still able to take this trip coming up to Guatemala with other Noonday Ambassadors. I shook my head, no. Even with us making cuts and my husband encouraging me to wait it out, everything added up to no. I was trying to be noble. Saying, it’s ok. It just wasn’t meant to be.

They wouldn’t have it.

They prayed. Gathered a small team and threw a yard sale “for a good cause.”

$500 came in one morning.

For a trip.

For just a dream. Not surgery, not food. A dream.

Someone I hardly knew handed me a check for $150. To be able to “experience God in a fresh, new, exciting way.”

My family gave/gives relentlessly…money, time, watching and loving our children.

I’m going on that trip, y’all. (in 21 days!)

And I’ll tell you something, I feel certain a time is coming where I will be standing before a woman that I have never met, but is my sister in this business of Noonday, and she may need to hear my story, like I have needed to hear hers. I will look her in the eyes, and in mangled Spanish I will tell her, that meeting her is a dream that took lots of people to bring about. And she can dream, too. Because I will be the keeper of her dream, as others are the keepers of mine. And maybe if even a whisper of that makes its way into her heart, maybe she will learn to keep dreaming the dream God has given her, just as I am. (and part of my dream is that she understands English)

We are bearers of stories, and keepers of dreams you and I. Whether for someone near to us, or stranger it takes a passport to visit. And this is a privilege, and this is a burden. And I have faltered in this role.

Yet, I welcome the opportunity to keep on trying.

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. (Ephesians 3:20 MSG)

 

{Follow along Noonday’s #styleforjustice storytelling trip in Rwanda right now.}

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