About a year ago, I was having dinner with my friend Aya in Osaka and she prayed for me. At that time, Eric and I were unsure what God was saying about our future. We sensed change coming but had no idea what, when, or where. Nothing was really making sense. As we prayed together, she sensed that we were on a ship, and that God wanted us to trust Him even if we couldn’t see what was up around the bend. She sensed that God’s movement would be like that of a strong wind when it gets ahold of the sail and just moves the boat along – that God was going to take us to places we never imagined without tremendous effort on our part.
As this jewelry business has moved forward, we have had the sense over and over again of God’s blowing life into it, and moving us in directions we would have never imagined and that only He can do. Here are a few ways that we have seen God’s work in the past few months:
–We had two jewelry days here in Ishinomaki the week before our family left for the US. (see previous entries and photos). On the second day, we had a group come to visit Be One from a large church in southern California. We thought only two members of Asian Access were coming, so we were surprised when this large team showed up and came in to see what was happening in the jewelry business. Through their connections, they really wanted me to meet with a church member named Lisa who is making jewelry- they (rightly) predicted that I would love her and that she would be interested in what we are doing. The next week, after arriving in LA, we were in touch and our families had a chance to meet. We talked non-stop for several hours, and through God’s leading both she and her jewelry-mentor friend Becca are both coming here to train the ladies in jewelry making on September 20th for ten days. Amazing, amazing.
-They are bringing with them the supplies for us to make one thousand necklaces! It has taken a lot of faith to put out the money to order these supplies, but we see God moving this forward and can’t wait to begin producing. And, they have some AMAZING designs that they will be teaching the ladies. (Sorry- you have to wait!)
–While we were in the US, some of the ladies were faithfully meeting every week to work on techniques, design ideas, etc. This week we are starting some training and looking forward to getting back together again.
–Last week I was at a Samaritan’s Purse dinner for some of the carpenters who have been serving up here. I was introduced to a New Zealand volunteer named Asher…A professional jeweler! He is here until Sept 13th, and is thrilled to help in the shaping and training of the project. The timing of God bringing this amazing jewelry to Ishinomaki at just this time floors me still.
A friend in San Jose has taken an interest in the jewelry business and has been great at doing a lot of the research in the business aspects of this that Eric and I are not good at. He has recommended that we make the company an LCC, and we are moving in that direction.
Several friends who are graphic designers/PR types have been helping shape the direction we go in terms of name, website, etc. We still have inquiries out to a few people about doing the actual website. A number of friends from across the US have offered to be area reps for us when we get things started. (Let us know if you are interested as well!)
–Be One was given a grant that included a generous gift for the jewelry business. This and a previous grant are allowing us to purchase the tools, supplies, and jewelry pieces to make a really good start.
In addition to the “Shards of Hope” jewelry, there are several possible projects that we are looking at taking on as well – one is some kimono-fabric jewelry, and the other is some local postcards that we would print as note cards. Based on the recommendation of a number of people, and in order not to limit what God might do, we are calling the whole project “Nozomi”, and the pottery-line of jewelry will be Shards of Hope. Nozomi means hope, and is a female name in Japan, so it really works well for what we are about.
Last Sunday, we had a team of fifteen from a military base near Tokyo come and serve for a few days. We all went down below our time to the Valley of Life (note that I’ve changed what I call it!) and spent an hour picking up broken pottery that is all over. We got a great haul; then some of the team spent the afternoon washing the pieces so they are ready to go. We are hoping many of the volunteers who come through will spend an hour or so of their time doing this so we get quite a good collection.
We are praying about a possible home we went to see that we could use for the business. It is currently standing empty (just a block from the sea -but in good condition) – the owners were planning to tear it down but we are hoping they will rent it or we could buy it would another business and split the use of the house. Please pray with us for God to open this door! It would be really great if we could have a place dedicated to this.
There are so many details in all of this that overwhelm me at times. Last week, I was reading several books on social enterprise, and I read wonderful advice: “Do the next right thing.” I have been using that as my mantra in what I am doing each day, praying that God will show me step by step the right next thing. And all along I have had the sense of being carried by the winds of His Spirit to a place I couldn’t ever have imagined a year ago, working with people from across the globe and some amazing ladies in my city who blow me away.