It’s really happening! This past Saturday the Nozomi Project was officially launched! It has been a wonderful ride over this past year in seeing the dream that keeps me up at night become a reality. God is so amazing.
We had an official ceremony for the start of Nozomi, and it was wonderful to have some members of the community and all but two of the participating ladies attend. We also had a chance to thank Lisa and Rebecca, who had spent nine days tirelessly working non-stop on getting things started and teaching all of us the many techniques to making jewelry. Lisa had spent countless hours before coming praying over and ordering all of the supplies for us. They are amazing, and everyone loved them and bonded with them.
It has been really wonderful to see God bring such capable women from Ishinomaki to us. Last week we officially “hired” two of the Y.s I have written about. Yuko (below) will be the team manager. Last week she learned how to make every single necklace and she will be the trainer and helping to make the business side of things run smoothly. She shared at the ceremony how she has loved making jewelry since she was a little girl — this in so many ways is her dream job! My other friend Y. will serve as a part-time office assistant, and help with printing, mailing, and admin things.
Here are some of the things that made me cry on Saturday afternoon:
- the slideshow that our friend Anika put together showing how God has been at work through these ladies and the amazing teachers and volunteers He has brought into our lives over the past few months
- the theme of how God loves to take what is broken and make it beautiful. There were just so many beautiful things, and beautiful faces on saturday. Don’t you think so?
- It was amazing to see exhibited all of the jewelry that has been made so far. These ladies are amazing!
- Our families were all involved — it was fun to have all of our girls pick out and model one of their favorite necklaces!
- Chad’s sharing the vision that he was given of the Nozomi project –not just being a place for the women to receive hope, but for them to actually be catalysts of hope being sent around the world. Their stories, perseverance, and handicraft can and will inspire many others as the jewelry is sold and distributed. I loved this so much! And I could see it on the faces of those all around me – just even the thought of this seemed to bring more determination, more hope.
- Three generations! Our friend Reiko (right) is the wonderful artist who drew postcards for us. We are hoping to print these and begin selling them, as well, through Nozomi. It was touching beyond words to see her daughter – one of the Nozomi members – just sob as we brought her mom up front to honor her. Later Tomoko said, “I never thought I could be happy again.” They have been through great loss, but her tears and smile were great evidence of God’s work in bringing about hope and healing.
- Sharing the vision and our guiding principles. I shared from Psalm 147. Verses 2 and 3: “The Lord builds up Jerusalem (Ishinomaki); he gathers the outcasts of Israel (Japan). He heals the broken-hearted, and binds up their wounds.” What I had discovered earlier that week was a prayer I had written in my Bible a year before – June 2011 – about these very verses. Eric had gone up to Ishinomaki a few times at that point – I had not been here yet — and we had no idea we’d be moving here. But I wrote, “God, please touch the people of Ishinomaki. Use our serving them to build your church, to bring hope. Keep us faithful to your calling.” It has been such joy a year later to see God beginning to fulfill this prayer.
- Praying over the jewelry and the ladies. Eric did a beautiful job of commissioning the jewelry; the Nozomi Project; the ladies. As we held hands in our circle there was a strong sense of blessing and joy; of God doing something unique and special in our midst. More beautiful than the jewelry is the community that He has woven together.
Tomorrow the real “business” of things is beginning, where the ladies will actually begin earning money for what they make. I have to say it is scary to begin having finances come into play. I have spent a lot of time consulting others and praying about the best ways to go about this; but we would love your prayers that we will keep things fair, open, and that money won’t become the central focus or a stumbling block. We have made it clear that we, Be One staff, are not getting one yen from the project – it is all being paid to the women and funneled back into the community. (BTW – if any of you know of someone who could give us some experienced advice on how to set up our business formally – i.e. as an LLC or nonprofit- please email me. Thank you!).
Since you have read this far, here is a sneak peek at one of my favorites. We have been keeping the actual styles a bit of a secret. Stay tuned for just a few short weeks until the website is available and all of our pieces are revealed!
Please keep praying for us and for each of the women involved. Each day holds its own challenges; we pray that our eyes and our hearts are set firmly on Jesus, the Giver of all Hope and the Creator of all things beautiful.