This weekend we took 7 of our senior high-schoolers to Blowing Rock, NC for a retreat. Our program was Dave Ramsey's financial peace, teaching today's teens practical money skills and life skills to prepare them for college. (Balancing a checkbook, creating a budget, etc.)
Upon arrival, we learned that Blowing Rock had gotten a blizzard the weekend before and it continued to snow the entire time we were there. I had never seen so much snow! It was beautiful! Of course, we took them skiing on Saturday and I being non-talented in the skiing department decided to stay back and go SHOPPING! (I'll admit I felt a little hypocritical talking about "saving money" and "smart spending" and then shopping the day away, but only for a minute.) Besides, I mostly window shopped and decided to only buy a thank you gift for Britt for puppy sitting and house watching and a little gifty for myself.
I met the most interesting shopkeeper, a fascinating man by the name of Steve West, owner of "Cross Trade Imports" Steve was a successful business man in Florida. He often traveled to Brazil on business. It was there God began speaking to him about the path he had taken and the extreme poverty in the slums of South America. It was then he decided to give up everything and make his life's work to help the "poorest of the poor" in Brazil. He practices Fair Trade, basically employing and commissioning local artisans that have no other source of income but have unbelievable artistic ability. His shop was lined with remarkable linens, art, jewelry, pottery, etched glass. Even more remarkable were the pictures of artists, the people that were given hope, financial opportunity, and most importantly Christianity through Steve's business. He knew each one by name. He knew their stories, their wives names, their family dynamics and living conditions. What started as friendly conversation ended with both of us in joyful tears. We talked about his 4 adopted daughters, we talked about Baby Deetz and our journey. He gave me advice about his adoption experiences. We talked about how God had blessed us. It was like hanging out with an old friend.
I bought a wooden spoon made by a blind man that carves all of his work from a single piece of wood using a piece of glass as his only tool. The spoon was as smooth as silk. I bought a couple of gorgeous necklaces crafted from seeds. The family that harvests and makes the jewelry lives together in a tiny home. In their picture you could see the water level that rises to shin-height that they stand and work in during the rainy season. In all their pictures they have huge smiles. Smiles of hope and smiles that say "I've been given a second chance". Through Steve and though a calling, God has given these people just that, hope and a chance to make a better life for their children. Powerful stuff.
Please check out his website and buy something! www.crosstrade.org
You'll be happy you did!