$1100 for the Sewing School in Haiti

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We have $1100 to send to Pastor Cadet for the construction of a building for his sewing school in Haiti 🙂

That means that he will be just $230 short of his anticipated need for the project. We plan to send our donation in two weeks, so if you have any interest in adding to that $1100 number before then, let us know. The donation will be sent through Mission to Haiti, and the funds will be dispersed to Pastor Cadet throughout the project.

Thanks so much to everyone who has donated toward this very worthwhile project!

A Thank You from Haiti

My posts here have been few and far between because I am dealing with some health issues (and will be for a while) so you’ll have to bear with me. But I wanted to post this thank you we received from Pastor Cadet after working with his students in Haiti.  It was a great week 🙂

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I let you know that the Staff
> Manager and the sewing course students in Beudet say
> thank-you to you for the week of training that they received
> and also the ladies for the cooking training. we enjoy
> this  time to thank and greet  our two trainers.
> the young students really appreciated their way of teaching.
> they are Mrs KIM and Mrs JAN NELSON. We think that this good
> training will help the young to find their bearings in their
> social and spiritual life.
>
>  We would like to have another kind of activity like this as
> soon as possible in 2016. May God bless you all !!

Donate Your Wedding Dress (Large Sizes Only)

IMG_5486Do you have a large wedding dress taking up space in your closet or know of someone who does?

We are in need of wedding dresses (size 12 and up)  to ship to Haiti. Though the Dorcas Ministry Shop has closed its doors, Madame Benison still rents out wedding gowns and sells formals gowns through a room on the Mission to Haiti campus.

Mdm. Bennison

Mdm. Bennison

This endeavor supplies her with a regular income, and she provides an excellent service for brides in Port au Prince. During the one week my mom and I spent in Haiti, we saw her do fittings with 2 customers.

She currently has a large number of small dresses, but very few large sizes, so she has had to turn people away.

Donations can be sent us at 500 Dresses c/o Kim Harms, 314 Centennial Dr., Huxley, IA 50124

As always, thank you for your support of this ministry!

Thoughts On Child Sponsorship


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“Hello, how are you?”

When I had the opportunity to spend a little time with Lucson while in Haiti last month, he greeted me in English.

Pleasantly surprised, I asked him why he decided to learn English.

“So I can speak to you,” he said.

That was about the extent of his English (the rest of our conversation was held through a translator) but wow.

Just wow.

There I stood with my arms full of gifts I brought to give to this boy we sponsor through Mission to Haiti, and he, with nothing in his arms, gave me something much bigger than the soccer ball, the book, the clothes and the food I had for him.

He’s learning a new language so he can communicate with the American woman who has shown up on his island only twice in his 14 years.

That, my friends, is just a little bit humbling.

My hope for Lucson is that he will continue to improve his English, not simply so he can speak to me when I show up down there again in a few years, but so a world of opportunities will open up to him.

But infinitely more important than learning English, he is also learning about Jesus.

And I know that one day in Heaven, our native languages won’t matter. We’ll be able to hang out and speak whatever language it is that citizens of heaven speak, and the gifts we give to each other here on earth will pale in comparison to the gift of eternal life that we will enjoy together.

If you don’t already, I urge you to consider sponsoring a Haitian child. You can learn more about it at Mission to Haiti.

Needed: Sewing Supplies for Haiti

Photo courtesy of Mister GC at freedigitalphotos.net

Photo courtesy of Mister GC at freedigitalphotos.net

We are heading to Haiti in less than a month and are still taking sewing supply donations to use during the classes we will be teaching, and to donate to the vocational school for future use. Below is a list of suggested times

  • Fancy Fabric – satins, taffeta (anything you might make a bridesmaid or flowergirl dress out of.) We can take smaller pieces, but would prefer to have lengths of at least 4 yards.
  • hook and eyes and/or snaps
  • zippers
  • good quality thread
  • needles, both for machines and hand-sewing
  • sewing scissors
  • seam rippers
  • binding material and/or prepackaged seam binding
  • tape measures
  • rotary cutting board and rotary cutters
  • straight pins
  • misc. sewing supplies
  • cash donations to purchase new items

In addition, the head of the vocational school is interested in a serger sewing machine. If anyone happens to  have one of these they’d like to donate or knows of a way we could purchase one inexpensively, please let me know.

Feel free to email me at 500dresses@gmail.com if you have any questions. Thanks!

 

Sewing In Haiti

Boy sewing

This boy was one of our students on the last mission trip to Haiti. This time around mom and I will teach a small group of more advanced students. Mom is working on lesson plans for a halter-type bridesmaid dress and a bag that will incorporate practice with zippers and binding. (Then she’s gonna have to teach me, so I can help her teach the students 🙂 )

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh. Rather, serve one another humbly in love. Galatians 5:13.

How You Can Support Us In Our Haiti Trip

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Mom and I are heading to Haiti on November 14. We will be staying on the campus of Mission to Haiti in Port-au Prince, and will spend our week teaching sewing to a small group of vocational students in Beudet.

I am excited that mom is coming along for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that we will likely be working only on treadle machines. (If you want to know how well I get along with treadle sewing machines you can check out this old post from my last trip to Haiti – The Treadle Battle.)

People have asked how they can help us, pray for us, support us… Below I am listing a variety of ways you can join us in our adventure.

Provide Supplies – We will each take 2 checked bags which we will stuff with as many sewing supplies as possible; both for use in our classes and to leave for the women to use after we have gone. Here’s what we are looking for:

  • Fancy Fabric – satins, taffeta (anything you might make a bridesmaid or flowergirl dress out of.) We can take smaller pieces, but would prefer to have lengths of at least 4 yards.
  • hook and eyes and/or snaps
  • zippers
  • good quality thread
  • needles, both for machines and hand-sewing
  • sewing scissors
  • seam rippers
  • binding material and/or prepackaged seam binding
  • tape measures
  • rotary cutting board and rotary cutters
  • straight pins
  • misc. sewing supplies

Prayers

  • travels – that we make our connecting flights and our luggage arrives with us (When Corey and I went in 2012, our luggage decided to come a day late, and we absolutely should have missed a connecting flight, but God chose to show us how big he is by getting us on the plane.)
  • health
  • the ability to teach in a way the students can understand
  • to be able to successfully use treadles – Mom is practicing on her old machine 🙂
  • that the devotions I will be writing to present at the beginning of each class will be understandable and reach the students for Christ.
  • that my hubby and three boys will survive a week without me 😉

Financial – If you are interested in providing support financially either to defray the costs of our trip, or to cover the expense of supplies we will need to purchase, you can send a check made out to 500 Dresses, to Kim Harms, 314 Centennial Dr. Huxley, IA, 50124 (These donations are not tax-deductible, as 500 Dresses is not an official NPO.) Make note in the memo line what you would like the donation to be used for.)

Thanks so much in advance for your prayers and support. We’ll keep you updated as we learn more info about the trip.

 

Haiti Bound

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Mom and I are heading to Haiti in November. Yay!!

We don’t have a lot of details yet, but we think we will be teaching sewing classes to vocational school students in Port-au-Prince through Mission to Haiti.

We will also be attending and probably helping to prepare for Brunel’s wedding, which will be held on November 20. (You may remember this summer we asked for donations toward the cost of a marriage license for Brunel. We were able to send him $100.)

Brunel and his fiance

Brunel and his fiance

We’ll let you know more about the trip when we have more details, but in the meantime, you can start praying for us (and for Corey who will play mom and dad while I’m gone for the week. I predict much pizza and ice-cream will be consumed and very little laundry will make it into the washing machine.)

Handmade American Girl Doll Dresses Available @ Local Blend

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Handmade American Girl Doll Dresses are now available at Local Blend Coffee Shop in Huxley, IA (just off of Highway 69 in the Ballard Plaza.)

The dresses are available for a FREE WILL donation. Some of them are made out of small leftover pieces of fabric from dresses sewn for girls in Haiti and Africa.

ALL of the proceeds from these dresses will go to Mission to Haiti for the purpose of purchasing beans and rice for Haitian families.

$25 feeds one Haitian family of 5 for a week.

Stop in at Local Blend this month, drink a yummy coffee and pick out a  cute little dress 🙂

Thanks for taking part in this ministry!

The Poor and The Prideful – A Mission to Haiti Experience Changed My Worldview

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I wanted to walk into their homes and see and feel and know what their lives were like. The day-to-day lives of sponsored children in Haiti.

Traveling down the pot-holed back roads of Port au Prince with Mission to Haiti’s Bill Nealey Jr., two sponsored teenagers and an interpreter, I expected this day would conclude with Kim Harms feeling pretty good about Kim Harms. That I would go to bed encouraged in my gifts to the poverty-stricken.

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STEVE

But when 15-year-old Steve opened the rusty corrugated metal gate that led to his two-room home, I sensed this afternoon adventure would not end with the proverbial pat on the back.

“Welcome,” his mom Elmase ushered us to sit down on hand-carved wooden chairs. I was suddenly ill-at-ease; a long sheer curtain in the doorway tickling my leg as I glanced down at a page of prepared questions that now seemed trivial.

I had anticipated stepping into Steve’s home and taking pride in my generosity that was providing for a Haitian family’s comfort. I would ask questions about his life and be satisfied that my money was doing a great thing. That I was successfully answering God’s call to serve the poor.

The poor.

That was my problem. Sitting in a tiny Haitian home a world away from my own family, I realized that to me they had simply been the poor.

The tall lanky teenage boy seated beside me in a slightly unstable wooden chair. The boy who likes soccer and probably enjoys watching an NBA game when the electricity is working. Up until that very moment in his home, to me, this boy Steve was the poor.

As I was struck with this new insight, my pride dissolved into shame.

   Steve spoke,

and I realized

he could be my own son.

The language was unfamiliar, but the sentiment was the same. He’s fond of some subjects in school and could do without others. He loves his little sister, but sometimes she’s annoying. And he wouldn’t mind a little privacy.

“I dream of having my own room,” he laughed at the unlikelihood and glanced at the door leading to a small room he shares with two younger siblings. I caught a glimpse of my oldest son Carter in his humor, but his eyes revealed something my three children do not have; a somber understanding of their life circumstances.

 If he were my Carter, my heart would house a continual ache from seeing the world at large strip him of his identity and lump him into the broad and undesirable category of the poor.

Conviction started weighing me down as I thought about the apathetic attitude with which I often walk through life.

“What is it that gets you through each day?” I asked Elmase thinking of how exhausting it must be to work daily for survival, and feeling guilty about the times I’ve grumbled about having nothing in the pantry.

“We’re living by the grace of God. Day-to-day we struggle to live.”

I knew as she said it that she understood the depth of God’s grace and mercy. And I began to wonder if I did.

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KEVIN

By the time I sat down at the second stop on my excursion, I felt completely unworthy of this Haitian hospitality.  Shifting my weight in a cheap white plastic chair in Kevin’s one-room home, the bright bubble gum pink walls mocked the darkness that was being unearthed from my heart.

 What must they be thinking of me, this rich American coming to satisfy my curiosity by peeking into their private lives?

   I wanted to go home.

I wanted to go back to feeling comfortable with me.

But once God shows you something, there’s no going back.

And He had a purpose in mind for this trip.

So I sat and I talked and I listened and I learned.

Kevin’s cousin Rosanna opened up her home to Kevin’s family after theirs was destroyed by the 2010 earthquake. Since that awful day, six people have been existing in this space smaller than my bedroom. Neither work nor food was a sure-thing in thing in this household.

   “Sometimes we only have one meal for the day,” said Rosanna. “And some days we have nothing at all.”

Kevin’s father and mother, who are a mechanic and a factory worker by trade, often go months without work, making feeding a family nearly impossible.

It is relatively easy and unconvicting to think about the collective poor who do not have enough to eat. But I found it almost unbearable to sit in the Haitian heat next to Kevin, a growing teenage boy without enough food, and Rosanna who selflessly opened her home to her extended family yet often goes to bed with a hollow in her tummy.

CONVICTED BY MY WORLDVIEW

By the end of my afternoon with the Mission to Haiti sponsor families, I was deeply convicted by the shallowness of my worldview. God used that experience to clear some junk out of my heart. Instead of obtaining that pat on the back that I was expecting from this experience, I received a change in perspective.

As I thought through the day’s events, I became aware of a few areas in which God wanted me to change my way of thinking.

The first was that of presumption.

To an extent, I had presumed the poor were without individual identities. And when I did so, I stripped them of their God-given uniqueness.  Just as God created me with a set of gifts and passions, so he created Steve and Kevin. When I lump the poor into one category, it’s like dumping the pieces of a hundred puzzles into one box. There is no hope of seeing the beauty of each individual picture.

I will be much more apt to love my Haitian brothers and sisters and all monetarily less fortunate Christians around the world when I see them for who they are, beautiful individuals created by God.  Carefully knit together in their mother’s wombs just like me.

I also became sickened by my pride.

I am no stranger to pride. There are arenas of my life in which I struggle to get off the teeter-totter ride of pride versus insecurity. But my charitable giving is not an area where I expected to be convicted.

God showed me that I have a tendency to give out of my abundance and then to expect to be blessed. I was reminded that he did not call believers to give so we could feel good about ourselves.  He called us to give because we are his children and that’s what his children do.

When I give to get something in return, whether monetary or emotional, I am stealing the glory from God and missing the point of the call. I do not want my actions to steal God’s glory.

The final area in which I’ve had to shift my perspective is that of entitlement.

That feeling that because I am an American I deserve a certain standard of living. I am not saying that hard work doesn’t lead to opportunity, nor that taking advantage of opportunities that will improve our status in life is a bad thing. I am saying that at the root of all opportunities or lack thereof, is God’s sovereignty. Steve and Kevin may become the hardest workers in the world, but because of circumstances beyond their control, they will likely never reach the state of physical wealth with I am blessed.

Doesn’t it make sense that to be the best stewards of what God has given us, we should do what we can to provide opportunities for kids like Steve and Kevin? That maybe instead of feeling entitled to what we have and feeling a little too good about ourselves when we give mechanically out of our abundance, we should strive to be more aware of just how and what God wants us to give; not to the generic poor, but to his own children living in poverty around the world.

I’m just a regular American mom, leading a regular American life. And I plan to continue to enjoy an occasional caramel latte, family vacations and a membership to the rec center.

But I will never again look at giving to the poor in the same way. The poor could be me. The poor could be you. And it took sitting in a tiny little home on a back road of Port au Prince Haiti for me to realize it.

**Head on over to Mission to Haiti, if you are interested in changing the life of a Haitian child.

Disclaimer: Pardon the length of this post. It was originally written for magazine specifications, but that publishing opportunity fell through. Also, as the publishing world can be excruciatingly slow, the things I’ve written about are not new to me. They are things God awakened me to a couple years ago, but I am definitely still in the process of learning to see the world the way God sees it.