It starts out simple enough. For every seasonal jewelry collection in LandMine Design (our job creation/education program in the MineField Village), our Creative Manager, Kristie, gathers paper beads (rolled by hand by the ladies in our program in Cambodia). With these beads, Kristie creates prototypes -- necklaces and bracelets -- mixing metals and beads together. What she creates is sheer loveliness. Seriously.
Using these prototype designs, the next steps are anything but simple. This spring collection is nothing short of a miracle. I just had to stop and write about these miracles because I'm stunned by the ways God works in bringing an entire collection from a MineField in Cambodia to our offices in Colorado. As my prayer team, I'd love for you to thank Jesus with me about this. I think you might be encouraged to read a little more deeply about the process and see the hand of God working even in something that may not seem super 'spiritual'. I mean it is just jewelry after all...oh but what miracles happen when God is at work, even in a jewelry program.
* In January, We hand carried these lovely prototypes across oceans, highways and borders to southeast Asia. Weeks earlier, we had made the decision to not purchase materials from our normal US supplier and instead took the dive to find a new supplier on that side of the ocean. It was a pretty big risk. Not knowing how or where we would find the supplies for this spring collection (chains, clasps, seed beads, etc), we spent the first two days in our fuzzy jet-lagged state scouring crowded markets in the bustling metropolis of Bangkok.
We had the prototypes in hand, strong coffee in the other, and we asked the Lord to supernaturally lead us to just the right supplier. We walked to countless hole-in-the-wall jewelry stalls. And let me tell you, these are truly holes in the wall places that are intermingled with crowds, street vendors, smelly food, humidity, heat, and people pushing from every direction. It's not the most fun shopping experience, but it is Bangkok.
Not finding any possibilities before lunch, we stopped to refuel and ate some yummy noodles at a sketchy looking street vendor (thankfully, the boiled water kills oh-so-many germs). Our search continued that afternoon and we knew God was leading when He directed us into a shop that didn't look anything like a jewelry supplier -- actually none of them look like what you'd expect a jewelry supplier to look like...again, it's Bangkok. Once inside the narrow little space, we met Charlie who spoke fluent English and was a jewelry supplier for such places as Nordstroms and Macy's. Yea, we were shocked by that too! He led us to the back of his shop where we were blown away to find all kinds of jewelry supplies imaginable; they were stacked floor to ceiling. We were overwhelmed and knew God had led us to our new supplier!
* Ordering from Charlie was easy enough; but the order couldn't be filled immediately, so we continued on the following day to the MineField Village -- without any supplies. Those would come several weeks later...we hoped. Once in the village, our team worked with the ladies to make sure they understood how to make each piece for the new spring collection.
* While in the village, we also spent time with the ladies teaching about the names of each piece in this collection. What isn't known on our landeminedesign.org website is that for this collection, each piece is named after the different fruits of the Spirit. You see, our work in evangelism and discipleship is of paramount importance in all our programs, including LandMine Design. What joy it was to teach these fruits of the Spirit to the sweet ladies of LandMine Design and for them to understand how God is growing these fruits in their lives. You can see the pieces here and the names and meanings below:
Lana -- Peace
Rae -- Grace
Adora -- Love
Elise -- Kindness
Eden -- Delight
Lily -- Beauty
Adelaide -- Forbearance
Maeve -- Joy
* We left Cambodia and returned to the states without any jewelry. The plans were set for the supplies (from Charlie in Bangkok) to arrive at the border a few weeks after our departure. Although the plans were in place and payments had been made, this was completely new territory. Would the materials actually arrive in our little village? Would the supplies be of good enough quality? Would the ladies understand the chain to be used for the different pieces? What if something didn't arrive? Oh, there were so many unknowns. We returned to the states and just prayed that God would supernaturally eliminate all our concerns.
* Three weeks later, we received confirmation that the supplies had arrived at the border and made their way to our little village. By God's grace, Charlie had prepared the order, packaged it up, sent it on the 4-hour courier ride from Bangkok to the border where our manager was able to somehow meet up with the courier and carry the package across the border. To be honest, that feat alone was an absolute miracle. Truly. Only God could have safely delivered that package where it needed to go. Praise Jesus!
* The ladies then went to work on creating all the pieces you see on the website for this spring collection. Weeks earlier, they had carefully rolled each bead (from paper) to be used for these pieces. With skillful fingers, their designs were woven together into the amazing lovely designs named after the fruit of the Spirit.
* Once completed, the jewelry was packaged up to begin its journey back to America. Earlier in March, I 'happened' to meet new friends who just 'happened' to be traveling to southeast Asia and just 'happened' to be returning to America via Bangkok at just the time that our jewelry would be completed. Imagine that! They graciously agreed to be our delivery people bringing this entire collection with them back to the USA -- saving us hundreds of dollars in shipping costs. The key was to get the jewelry to their hotel in Bangkok before they flew out...
I wish I could say we went online and scheduled a pick up and delivery with FED Ex, but it just doesn't work like that in those countries! Instead, our manager on the ground packaged up the various pieces and carried them by foot across the Thai/Cambodian border. Once across, she had to locate the courier -- whom we had frantically arranged hours before (a story in and of itself). Waiting along with a slew of other taxis and couriers, she miraculously found him and handed over this precious package, trusting he would be a man of integrity and safely deliver it in a timely manner to a specific hotel in Bangkok. It wasn't just any package. It was filled with lovely jewelry handmade by sweet ladies in Cambodia, with materials that somehow managed to find their way from a hole-in-the-wall shop in Bangkok to a remote village on the edge of Cambodia. Only God!
Because of the time difference (13 hours ahead of the USA), we went to bed that night asking the Lord to protect that precious package and miraculously deliver it to the hotel in Bangkok. There was literally nothing else we could do but pray, hope...and sleep! I awoke the following morning to a phone call from our friends in Bangkok. The package had arrived and was safe in their hotel room, packed up and ready for their flight back to America. What an enormous answer to prayer.
I know this email is full of details. But I hope that you will join me in thanking Jesus for the incredible ways He provided, protected, orchestrated and delivered this entire collection. We are affectionately calling it the Miracle Collection because bringing this collection from a muddy MineField in Cambodia to the marketplace of America is filled with miracle after miracle. I hope you'll take some time to visit landminedesign.org and see the lovely things that miraculously have arrived and are now being sold to empower and sustain women in poverty in remote Cambodia.
Miracles are happening; fruit is growing. And we are so thankful for His care in it all!
Thanks for praying and praising with me!