Thursday, May 31, 2012

A New Project

This month, as Troy filled two pulpits in Louisiana, I took three Sundays and spoke to the class he teaches at a local church about human trafficking. I greatly enjoyed my sessions with the class, and it showed me that I still have much to learn about this issue. Probably the coolest thing to come from my time of teaching, however, involves my latest project. I'd made up a packet of information to give to the members of the class. On the back page was a list of resources. Book titles, movie and documentary titles, as well as a list of anti-human trafficking websites to check out. Now, I've had this list since the beginning of November. And I've looked up a couple of the websites. But not all of them. In preparation for one of my last classes, I discovered that one of the links is to the Starfish Project. In further investigation, I was intrigued and very excited about what I found. The Starfish Project benefits previously exploited and/or trafficked women in Asia who have been rescued. This ministry provides shelters for the women, offers counseling, certain job training skills, and even provides them a way to earn a respectable living. By making jewelry. When I looked at the online catalog, I was amazed at what these women were able to accomplish. They are making beautiful products to sell, and in the process are gaining the self-confidence and self-assurance that providing for themselves brings. Many have asked me, "What can I do to help these women? I'm just one person." Yes, as individuals we can only do so much. The following parable was taken from their website and is a powerful reminder of what we can accomplish...even as just one person. One day, an old man was walking along a beach that was littered with thousands of starfish that had been washed ashore by the high tide. As he walked he came upon a young boy who was eagerly throwing the starfish back into the ocean, one by one. Puzzled, the man looked at the boy and asked what he was doing. Without looking up from his task, the boy simply replied, "I'm saving these starfish, Sir". The old man chuckled aloud, "Son, there are thousands of starfish and only one of you. What difference can you make?" The boy picked up a starfish, gently tossed it into the water and turning to the man, said, "It made a difference to that one!" YOU can make a difference for the women in these shelters. Proceeds from the sale of Starfish Project jewelry benefits their shelters and helps keep the ministry running. But the benefits don't stop there. I have just been accepted to be one of their sales representatives. Any purchase of jewelry you make THROUGH ME, will not only benefit the women in these Asian cities. It will also BENEFIT OUR FAMILY'S SUPPORT ACCOUNT, through a generous commission! What this means is that TWO ministries will be helped, and you get to have some truly beautiful jewelry pieces. I will be posting a link to the Starfish Project on this blog after my orientation period next week. You may click on that link, choose which pieces you'd like to order, and then in the final ordering screens, you'll have the option to choose which representative to order through. My name should appear on that list. If you have any questions, please email me ( and I will answer them as best I can. Along with that, I'll probably be hosting a few parties in the coming months. You can help by volunteering to host a party at your home and by inviting friends who would be interesting in this wonderful cause and ministry. You can also pass along the information to your friends. Word of mouth can be a powerful tool. Please be praying with me that I'm able to share with women everywhere about this cause that is dear to my heart, and that we're able to help the Starfish Project ministry and our missionary account with the sale of jewelry. Thank you so much!

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Adventures in Traveling

Perhaps we ought to write a book about our many adventures while traveling, it seems there have been so many of late. This week, we are in Asheville, North Carolina attending a conference our denomination is holding. As it didn't begin until mid-afternoon today, we decided to leave Jackson on Sunday after church in order to have a little bit of down-time in the mountains. The plan was to drive to Cherokee, North Carolina on Sunday and stay the night. Then, we'd get up very early so that we could see the sunrise from Cades Cove--one of the two best times a day to see some wildlife. Then, we'd spend the day driving through the park, enjoing the sights. We'd spend the night off I-40 and then have a bit more time to sightsee this morning before we needed to leave for Asheville. That was the plan, anway. Sunday, about an hour from our destination, the alternator decided to go out. Miraculously the van's battery held it's charge until a few blocks from our hotel. God protected us from breaking down---at night. In the dark. In the mountains, far from aid. We did make it to the hotel, but barely. The next morning, we discovered that the nearest parts store was 17 miles away. Noticing that the van's battery was registering at the same level of charge as the previous night (when we first realized it was dying, not when we stopped for the night), we decided to give it a try. After all, if that charge was enough for us to travel for an hour with the vehicle lights on, surely it was enough to travel 17 miles with the headlights off. Wrong. Although we were on a well-traveled highway, in the four hours we sat there while Troy pulled the old alternator off (it took so long because he had to practically take off the front end of van in order to access it), the wonderful guys at the Advanced Auto in Sylva, NC brought us a new one, and Troy put everything back together, only four people stopped. Four people! The worst, though, was the sherif that slowed down and gawked at us, then waved and drove on...without stopping. Wow. Whatever happened to "serve and protect"? And whatever happened to people who are willing to help their fellow neighbor?! We got back on the road a little after 1 and had the afternoon and evening to enjoy the Smoky Mountain National Park. We even spotted 6 bears in Cades Cove at dusk! Somewhere along our stops, we noticed that the check engine light had popped on. More car trouble. Discouraged, we decided it would be best to scrap plans of any further sightseeing and just stop for the night. Here is where the Lord blessed. We chose the town of Newport, TN (right off I-40) because it had plenty of hotels AND auto-parts stores in it. Checking in at the Motel 6, we were given a family suite that had 2 bedrooms (the master considereably bigger than ours at home), a living room, and a kitchen and bathroom (again, both considerably bigger than ours at home)! The boys slept on couches in the living room, the girls took the smaller bedroom, and we had the master--giving us all a chance to spread out and relax. The best part was that it was just a little more than an regular room would cost a small family--almost half of what we normally pay for hotel stays for our big family of 6! God truly blessed us. This morning, we had the van tested and it was fine. The check engine light even went off on its own. After some discussion, we believe that that warning light was God's way of telling us to "stop!". Our plans were for our own deteriment in that we were physically exhausted. And after the extra expense of a new alternator, we didn't need to be spending more money in gas driving to places we've already seen. So we slept in a bit, took care of the errands we needed to run in town, made sure the van was okay, and then drove to the conference early. This enabled us to arive early enough to set up our table display and unpack our stuff in the room well before the first session began. God enabled us to travel safely to our desination. He provded what we needed. He even threw in an afternoon and evening of fun for the family as well as a luxurious room to crash in last night. We are thankful for His many blessings and the many ways He provides for our needs. Please be praying with us for His will to be accomplished this week at the conference. Thank you!