“Build houses and live in them!” (God’s message to some exiles, Jeremiah 29:1-7)
Now and then someone we have worked with starts to do something new. It is a surprising delight when someone’s life starts changing because they have embraced the vision of the gospel and God’s dream of Shalom for the place where God has given them to live.
Elcira Cayuman is a 38-year-old Mapuche woman. Her mother died when she was two. She was raised by her older sister and brother and has spent her life caring for her children and a disabled sister. She is a grandmother. She has never had a wage-paying job other than picking blue berries for $6.00 a day. All of those earnings she saved to buy a sink, with the dream that one day she would have a house to put it in.
She is an amazingly talented weaver. And her weavings are in demand in the markets we are discovering through our Missionary Partnership Network. You who read this have helped develop this market for fine Mapuche weavings.
Her earnings are now consistent enough to allow her to build a decent house. It will be a simple wooden house with a living and dining area, a bedroom, running water, a bathroom and electricity. All are luxuries that she has never been able to afford before.
Elcira, like many of the women with whom we work, has no formal education and little if any employment opportunities. The weaving project gives them the means to earn a sustainable income and/or make substantial improvements to their standard of living. We are often asked what the women in our programs do with the money they earn. Elcira is one example of what God wants to happen when the Gospel is lived.
Other women have purchased washing machines or refrigerators for the first time in their lives, while others use the money to buy much needed school supplies and school uniforms for their children. The degree of success that they experience depends directly on the amount of time and effort they invest in the quality of their weaving. Most importantly, they are given an opportunity to improve their lives. Each weaving group meets to study the Bible and pray together, and we use those times to teach some practical skills to be productive stewards. God’s love for them is confirmed when they see that He has provided a means for them to care for their families and lead their churches.